D&D 5E Good Smoke Rules?

Chocolategravy

First Post
I don't have a good grasp on the lethality of smoke, but I know it's a lot more of a problem than the current rules make it out to be. Things like eversmoking bottle impose nothing but obscurement for instance. I've pulled out Flash Point before but it isn't ideal for a lot of situations.

I think something like...
- potential to incapacitate
- potential to kill
- potential to blind temporarily
- potential to confuse
- other effects based on type of smoke
- be able to adjust rate

For instance in a typical case where a dungeon has been filled with smoke, PCs should have no chance of being incapacitated immediately but after 10 rounds of exposure they should show signs of being weakened and some may be incapacitated. Thick smoke should effectively blind (which weirdly doesn't reduce movement.)

Throwing this into a skill challenge wouldn't work as there can be combat involved. The suffocation rules are fine for a sitting character but horrible for an active one and I don't even want to use them for suffocation. Holding your breath for 6 minutes while running around and fighting is Superman levels of silly.

I'm tempted to use the exhaustion rules with a save every round with a DC 10 CON ABILITY check for "normal" thick smoke, going up from there for thicker or more toxic smoke. This exhaustion is removed at 1 level per round while not breathing smoke. However, while it parallels other games version of smoke rules, I don't like it all that much. Anyone have a better one?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Hand of Evil

Adventurer
Epic
Don't forget that "blind" means you have disadvantage (PHB pg 7 & 173).

Also, think I would use poison rules for dangerous smoke, rolling every round.
 
Last edited:



Scorpio616

First Post
Don't forget that "blind" means you have disadvantage (PHB pg 7 & 173).

Also, think I would use poison rules for dangerous smoke, rolling every round.
Except is it not the case that since you are also unseen by your foe, you would be granted advantage, canceling both Disadvantage and Advantage out.
 


I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Exhaustion is probably the greatest, and I like [MENTION=371]Hand of Evil[/MENTION]'s idea for using the Poisoned condition.

You might make a new version of the suffocation rules -- something along the lines of "Every round you are holding your breath and engaged in strenuous activity, make a DC 10 Con save. Failure means you are forced to take a breath and suffer the effects of whatever you breathe in."

And the smoke, when breathed in, causes whatever effects you like -- Exahsution, poison, some level of stunning/nauseation/slow, whaver feels right to you.
 


Ed_Laprade

Adventurer
And don't forget that if they're breathing in heavy/toxic smoke they're probably coughing their lungs out as well. Disadvantage on everything, at least, IMO.
 


Chocolategravy

First Post
Exhaustion is probably the greatest, and I like @Hand of Evil's idea for using the Poisoned condition.

You might make a new version of the suffocation rules -- something along the lines of "Every round you are holding your breath and engaged in strenuous activity, make a DC 10 Con save. Failure means you are forced to take a breath and suffer the effects of whatever you breathe in."

And the smoke, when breathed in, causes whatever effects you like -- Exahsution, poison, some level of stunning/nauseation/slow, whaver feels right to you.

Can't really use saves which benefit from proficiency which why I went with ability check. A character can too easily turn a DC 10 save into "anything but a 1" and since you've hit the bound you get the problem of potentially failing in 1 round or having a high chance of being many many rounds, which isn't desirable behavior. Also it doesn't really make sense for levels (proficiency etc.) to give you breath holding ability.
 

Agglomérante

First Post
I did a little research into this in a thread two weeks ago, 5e smoke inhalation. I found a rule from 3.5e and injected a bit of reality from some firefighting websites.

The interesting thing is what happens in the two minutes (or less, your choice) up to the point where smoke would kill an average person of 3hp; that is, the first round you start doing damage of 1d6.

I figure poisoned up until damage rolls kicks in. And it sounds like confusion for the three rounds leading up to damage.

Are you giving the characters any way to mitigate the smoke? I've designed one!

Gnome Miner's Mask

  • Immunity to smoke damage
  • Advantage on saves vs harmful gases and vapors (such as cloudkill and stinking cloud effects, inhaled poisons, and the breath weapon of some dragons)
  • Glass goggles protect the eyes, as per traditional mining masks
 

Agglomérante

First Post
It's a weird omission from the DMG. Two DMs in two weeks posing the same question in one corner of the web suggests others will need a ruling as well. Sounds like fodder for the new Sage Advice column :D
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Can't really use saves which benefit from proficiency which why I went with ability check. A character can too easily turn a DC 10 save into "anything but a 1" and since you've hit the bound you get the problem of potentially failing in 1 round or having a high chance of being many many rounds, which isn't desirable behavior. Also it doesn't really make sense for levels (proficiency etc.) to give you breath holding ability.

My experience doesn't support the case that a DC 10 save is "anything but a 1," and I'm completely fine with higher-level characters being better able to control their own breathing.
 

Psikerlord#

Explorer
I don't have a good grasp on the lethality of smoke, but I know it's a lot more of a problem than the current rules make it out to be. Things like eversmoking bottle impose nothing but obscurement for instance. I've pulled out Flash Point before but it isn't ideal for a lot of situations.

I think something like...
- potential to incapacitate
- potential to kill
- potential to blind temporarily
- potential to confuse
- other effects based on type of smoke
- be able to adjust rate

For instance in a typical case where a dungeon has been filled with smoke, PCs should have no chance of being incapacitated immediately but after 10 rounds of exposure they should show signs of being weakened and some may be incapacitated. Thick smoke should effectively blind (which weirdly doesn't reduce movement.)

Throwing this into a skill challenge wouldn't work as there can be combat involved. The suffocation rules are fine for a sitting character but horrible for an active one and I don't even want to use them for suffocation. Holding your breath for 6 minutes while running around and fighting is Superman levels of silly.

I'm tempted to use the exhaustion rules with a save every round with a DC 10 CON ABILITY check for "normal" thick smoke, going up from there for thicker or more toxic smoke. This exhaustion is removed at 1 level per round while not breathing smoke. However, while it parallels other games version of smoke rules, I don't like it all that much. Anyone have a better one?

I like your suggestion. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
 

aramis erak

Legend
It's a weird omission from the DMG. Two DMs in two weeks posing the same question in one corner of the web suggests others will need a ruling as well. Sounds like fodder for the new Sage Advice column :D

There are several of those. Encounter ranges other than water, for example.

My experience doesn't support the case that a DC 10 save is "anything but a 1," and I'm completely fine with higher-level characters being better able to control their own breathing.

That would be DC 5 or lower... In one's best saves, DC5 is anything but a 1 at level 1. (Atts 12+ and proficient in that save, for those missing the math... which means a +3; a nat 1 autofails, but a nat 2 +3 is a DC5...)

DC10's fallible on nat 2 except at the very highest levels; Proficiency +6 and stat 20 (+5) hits +11, so if you want "Every PC can fail it with a nat 2", Try DC14.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I don't have a good grasp on the lethality of smoke, but I know it's a lot more of a problem than the current rules make it out to be. Things like eversmoking bottle impose nothing but obscurement for instance.
Stop stop stop!

You're heading down the "drop a mountain on top of the heroes" path now.

Don't mix up realistic effects with what can be allowed for balance reasons.

I mean, imagine a spell that simply puts a grain of dust inside somebody's heart. That spell manipulates the world to such a small extent that it surely should be a low-level spell, right?

Wrong. Since it will be able to auto-kill any living being, it should actually be very high level, if not removed outright from the game.

Same with "environmental effects". Creating heavily debilitating smoke is - IRL - very simple to do; just roll in a barrel of tar that you then fireball or something.

But since any level 1 character could use this to incapacitate even high level monsters the game doesn't work that way.

In order to incapacitate high level foes, you simply need "high level smoke", costing thousands of gold. (Compare poisons, or spells, or anything else really)

Anything else breaks the game. Period.
 

Chocolategravy

First Post
I did a little research into this in a thread two weeks ago, 5e smoke inhalation. I found a rule from 3.5e and injected a bit of reality from some firefighting websites.

The 3.5E rules are okay, but I tried to avoid the +1 per round thing, which, while it seems like a good way to model the situation, isn't very 5Eish.

Are you giving the characters any way to mitigate the smoke? I've designed one!

Savage Worlds gives you a +2 on your vigor check if you have a water soaked mask or some other device which is equivalent to an advantage in 5E.
 

Chocolategravy

First Post
Stop stop stop!

You're heading down the "drop a mountain on top of the heroes" path now.

Don't mix up realistic effects with what can be allowed for balance reasons.

I mean, imagine a spell that simply puts a grain of dust inside somebody's heart. That spell manipulates the world to such a small extent that it surely should be a low-level spell, right?

Spells aren't realistic effects, you've gone off the path of your own argument there.

Same with "environmental effects". Creating heavily debilitating smoke is - IRL - very simple to do; just roll in a barrel of tar that you then fireball or something.

But since any level 1 character could use this to incapacitate even high level monsters the game doesn't work that way.

In order to incapacitate high level foes, you simply need "high level smoke", costing thousands of gold. (Compare poisons, or spells, or anything else really)

Anything else breaks the game. Period.

This sort of thinking began and, thankfully, ended with 4E and every other game in existence isn't broken for it's lack of "level appropriate doors and smoke", they're MUCH better for it.
 

Pickles JG

First Post
This sort of thinking began and, thankfully, ended with 4E and every other game in existence isn't broken for it's lack of "level appropriate doors and smoke", they're MUCH better for it.

Actually I played Rolemaster in the 80s where the challenges got harder the more skilled the players got. It always has been in D&D as regards monsters & in the ealry days player as opposed to PC abilities overcame other challenges so it was not relevant.
4e sold it terribly. The should be that the doors higher level PCs meet are made of tougher stuff & so produce more of a challenge not that they must have appropriate challenge for the players level. Of course PCs can & do encounter "level inappropriate" stuff but then it is either a none event to be narrated over or an insurmountable obstacle.

It seems a very reasonable omission from the DMG as it has never come up in all the years I have been playing (obviously using movie burny fires rather than realistic smoke kills you fires)

The answer to the original post would depend on what you are trying to achieve. Are you trying to simulate firefighting in a sort of realistic way or create an interesting environment for one big set piece scene or string of scenes? Are you going filling out world rules & creating some sort of precedent or just specifics for a one off situation?

The game is a million miles away from realistic so pretty much anything that seems suitably scary/challenging/funny or whatever you are trying to capture could work.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top