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D&D 5E o/~ We dislike the spells, the spells that go boom. o/~ (Thunder Damage)

Lyxen

Great Old One
Maybe we need to add rules for more granular representation of sound, the same way we do for light.

I.e. "this spell emits bright sound out to a 300 foot radius, and dim sound out to 600 feet."

You can certainly do that as house rules, but IMHO there is no need to complicate the system with this, or to add further radii for the scent of the ozone, of the radius that gives you goosebumps.

Especially since the lighting rules don't prevent a light from being seen from far away, the radii given as for the actual illumination provided, not the same thing at all.
 

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jgsugden

Legend
Do you want a real science explanation for magic?

We could concoct one, if you like, but it would only be a pleasant story to ease your fevered brow. It would not mean anything, or be true.
I want, and try to create, worlds where the events do not seem so unrealistic as to shatter the vermisilitude. I bring this example up because it is a topic that has often, in games in which I am a player, broken the moment by people seeing the situation differently.

The reality / fiction balance is a spectrum. We see it in films, books, tv and role playing. Everyone will see these spectrums a bit differently, but stories work really well when the level of fiction is kept light enough that we can accept it like reality without a second thought.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I want, and try to create, worlds where the events do not seem so unrealistic as to shatter the vermisilitude.

So, yes, you want your fevered brow cooled. That's fine. I just wanted to make it clear that the explanation will be no more real than the magical effect. The magical effect is already nonsensical in terms of physics, so the explanation is technobabble meant to make it sound good, but lacking in any scientific rigor.

Sound (even loud sound) is a repeating compression wave propagating through the material at the speed of sound in that material.

Concussion is about a single, high power compression front (sometimes called a "shock wave") propagating through the material faster than the speed of sound in that material.

The silence spell is capable of dampening the former, but not the latter. It is a low-power dampening of low-energy sound waves, but does nothing against shock waves. Asking why silence doesn't stop the concussive force is roughly equivalent to asking why you cannot stop a stick of dynamite from exploding with a standard kitchen fire extinguisher.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It is magic.

If you are standing 299 feat away from thunderwave it sounds like lightning sruck at arms length. At 301 feet it is library quiet. The magic that creates the spell also dampens its effect outside its area of effect.

If two npcs are talking to each other with one on either side of the border one is going to say ;"holy moly what was that"? And the other will say; "what was what?"
For me, that would just be weird if that happened to my PC. The sound from a thunderwave is a byproduct, not the effect of the spell itself. Which is why I just treat the distance the sound carries as the average that it will be clearly heard. There are spells that do funky things like silence or darkness, but for those the specific effect of the spell is hearing or sight. Sound is the side effect of a sonic attack.

Whenever making calls on stuff like this I always assume reality unless reality has been modified by magic. Sound and light carry just as far as they normally would. So yes, loud noises can be heard from a ways away, light from a torch can potentially be seen for miles under the right circumstances.

When you run the game, do what you want. Just explaining why I would find it odd.
 


Lyxen

Great Old One
I want, and try to create, worlds where the events do not seem so unrealistic as to shatter the vermisilitude.

And for me, in this respect, a lightning bolt that is soundless would be very weird. Or a fireball that creates no light (although I agree what it will not illuminate a distant wall, it should be visible from far away).
 

jgsugden

Legend
I wanted to bury my approach deeper in the thread rather than offer it first because I wanted to encourage people to offer their elegant solutions.

1.) I consider thunder damage to be more concussive vibration than sound, but they're still quite audible. When I describe thunder damage, it comes with more of a focus on the vibrations and bursting energy first, and the audible impact second.

2.) I used the 2d8 (average 9) of Thunderwave audible at 300 feet and 1d6 (average 3.5) of Thunderclap audible at 100 feet as benchmarks. Yes, that assumes low level casting. I added a third point of reference - 0 damage at 0 feet, then used the quadratic equation and rounded things off. The equation I received was thunder damage can be heard at distance in feet, in 'normal' conditions, equal to (damage squared) plus 25 times the damage. This gets us pretty close to 3.5 damage Thunderclaps being heard at 100 feet, and 9 damage Thunderwaves being heard at 300 feet. Using this formula, 50 thunder damage can be heard at 3750 feet.

3.) I overwrite this formula where another distance is specified (Thunderwave is always 300 feet, even when upcast) or where the text description calls for it (some spells make it clear they're loud). This is a judgment call.

4.) I generally figure it out based upon average damage rather than looking it up for every damage roll. However, if there is a really unusual damage roll and the sound could change the situation, I look it up. This has only taken place a handful of times in the last 2 years that I have been using this technique.

5.) Then I apply my judgment as to how muted (or amplified) the situation is based upon the conditions. For me, normal conditions are outside in a moderately filled setting such as a forest or a city with little sound pollution. The more noise pollution is present, or if there is dampening due to surfaces, I'll treat it as if the damage were less (resulting in a smaller area) - usually either half the damage or a quarter the damage.

With this applied: A Sapphire Dragon's breath can be heard in the wild from a bit over a half mile. A Steel Predator's roar can be heard from a quarter mile away. A sorcerer that swaps thunder damage for fire damage in a Meteor Swarm makes something that can be heard from a mile and a quarter away. A Booming Blade going off at low levels is ~ 125 feet, but might be as high as ~750 feet at higher level.

And for me, in this respect, a lightning bolt that is soundless would be very weird. Or a fireball that creates no light (although I agree what it will not illuminate a distant wall, it should be visible from far away).
For me this is less of an issue as I do not picture a lightning bolt as thunder and lightning, but instead as the arc flash, like in a mad scientist laboratory. I describe them with zot and zap - not boom. However, I get why others see it the other way.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
For me this is less of an issue as I do not picture a lightning bolt as thunder and lightning, but instead as the arc flash, like in a mad scientist laboratory. I describe them with zot and zap - not boom. However, I get why others see it the other way.

That's fine, it's smaller than natural lightning, and I don't use a boom either. But there's a zap or at least a clap (I have thrown lightning at Palais de la Decouverte with my daughter, and there is an audible crack when the air resistance is broken, even with a 30 cm purple lightning.
 

MarkB

Legend
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
In general, I hold that magically-created things die off much faster than physical ones You could view it as being effectively "double-decayed": the magic that permits the phenomenon to happen decays at some rate as you move away from the source, and the effect itself then also decays as you move away from the source. So, where totally mundane light IRL decays with the square of distance, an instantaneous light effect might decay with the fourth power of the radius. Move twice as far away, and you won't see a quarter as much brightness, you'll see a sixteenth of it. If 50 feet away, you wouldn't hear 1% what you would at 5 feet way, you'd hear 0.01%.

This also neatly covers things like why fireballs can set things on fire (magic flame/heat generating natural, and thus naturally-sustained, flame), but aren't useful for burning through things. Their reach simply isn't strong enough. They can hit hard within the narrow space that the spell is actively functioning, but lose steam far too rapidly to be useful for other purposes. It'd also explain why magic isn't thrown around willy-nilly to solve every problem ever. Magic is great, but subject to limitations that "ordinary" phenomena aren't.
Great ideas. For me, this sort of thinking also leads to more tech in my settings, as magic has frustrating limitations, and can be used to smooth over R&D difficulties, leading to people who want to be able to counter magic but have very little available to them, who turn thier small number of mages or artificers or whatever toward accelerating the development of mundane tools, which don’t have the limits of magic, and can be used reliably by mundane people.
 

This is why perception and fixed DCs in 3.5e worked so well in many cases.
Ironically, the first thing I thought of when I read the OP was a thread about how the 3.5e visibility rules technically made it impossible to see a torch in a dark cavern. Squares of darkness provided concealment that you can't see through, effectively making a torch with which you have direct line of effect invisible once you're outside of it's radius.
 

Horwath

Hero
Ironically, the first thing I thought of when I read the OP was a thread about how the 3.5e visibility rules technically made it impossible to see a torch in a dark cavern. Squares of darkness provided concealment that you can't see through, effectively making a torch with which you have direct line of effect invisible once you're outside of it's radius.
what?

I remember that it was that the light source is clearly visible from 20× it's normal radius, double for someone with lowlight vision.
 

guachi

Adventurer
BRB, going to make a PC called Tigra & Bunny that casts nothing but Thunder spells until someone gets the reference.

We're Tigra and Bunny and we like the boom. (also, I'm old enough to have heard the song when it originally came out)
 


what?

I remember that it was that the light source is clearly visible from 20× it's normal radius, double for someone with lowlight vision.
3.5 PHB page 183 - "A heavily obscured area—such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage—blocks vision entirely. A creature in a heavily obscured area effectively suffers from the blinded condition (see appendix A)."

Darkness creates a heavily obscured area, which blocks vision and also inflicts the blinded condition. By RAW, you can't see someone coming through the dark with a torch. This was a widely known rules flub back on the WotC boards when 3.5 was hot. Obviously, tables should just use common sense instead.
 

Horwath

Hero
3.5 PHB page 183 - "A heavily obscured area—such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage—blocks vision entirely. A creature in a heavily obscured area effectively suffers from the blinded condition (see appendix A)."

Darkness creates a heavily obscured area, which blocks vision and also inflicts the blinded condition. By RAW, you can't see someone coming through the dark with a torch. This was a widely known rules flub back on the WotC boards when 3.5 was hot. Obviously, tables should just use common sense instead.
Book; Underdark, page 106;
Complete darkness; In darkness light source can be spotted(DC 20) at 20 times it's radius of illumination, and automatically at half that distance.
Dim light; light can be spotted(DC 20) at 10 times it's radius
Using distant illumination: creatures outside illumination can see into it just fine.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
It's magic, it does not follow the laws of physics. It's why a lightning bolt travels a long distance in a straight line instead of grounding itself at the nearest convenient point.
 

Book; Underdark, page 106;
Complete darkness; In darkness light source can be spotted(DC 20) at 20 times it's radius of illumination, and automatically at half that distance.
Dim light; light can be spotted(DC 20) at 10 times it's radius
Using distant illumination: creatures outside illumination can see into it just fine.

Obviously, that makes much more sense! Too bad you had to buy a splatbook in 3.5 to see a torch in a cave. ;)
 

Horwath

Hero
Obviously, that makes much more sense! Too bad you had to buy a splatbook in 3.5 to see a torch in a cave. ;)
Too me it was obvious that you can see a torch in NATURAL darkness outside it's radius. :p

This just gives precise rule about DCs to spotting it and how you can avoid being detected in Underdark depending on your light source.

I.E. if you have a "Glowing orb" spell, you can have any light radius between 0 to 60ft. So if you are really scared about being detected, you can have only 5ft "bright light" radius so you can barely navigate in darkness, but you reduce your radius where you can be detected to 100ft.
Or you simply dont care and you blast it away to 60ft.
 

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