Starting level

So long as you understand that you are making changes for your game, it's all good. The base game doesn't assume that armies and orcs know about fireball.
Well technically it doesn't assume they know nor don't know. But we aren't the ones calling others idiot DM's just because they run orcs differently or players play well and get an opportunity to fireball them all even when the DM is running them as aware of fireballs.
 

Reynard

Legend
Because armies walking in ranks implies that in the game world, either fireball isn't commonly known, or isn't encountered commonly enough to worry about.
Are you seriously taking one sentence in the PHB wizard description, written completely devoid of context, as a meta setting defining rule regarding the relationship between spellcasters and soldiers?

It is one moment in one wizard's life. It is not in any way conveyed to be how the world works. In this particular instance, a battle results in such a way that a wizard can cast fireball at a group of soldier's. that's it.

Now, take into account the fact that both the soldiers and the wizard exist in the world described by the PHB. Do you really think that tactics and strategy won't respond to the existence of fireball throwing wizards? That's like suggesting that wars did not take into account firearms or artillery or tanks or drones when those things came into use. It doesn't make any reasonable sense.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Are you seriously taking one sentence in the PHB wizard description, written completely devoid of context, as a meta setting defining rule regarding the relationship between spellcasters and soldiers?
So it's just that one army that's depressingly stupid enough to walk in ranks? Does that really make sense to you?

Now, take into account the fact that both the soldiers and the wizard exist in the world described by the PHB. Do you really think that tactics and strategy won't respond to the existence of fireball throwing wizards? That's like suggesting that wars did not take into account firearms or artillery or tanks or drones when those things came into use. It doesn't make any reasonable sense.
Given that statement, why would they take it into account. Where fireballs are not common knowledge, wizards are so rare that it would cause more harm than help to account for them, or some other similar situation.
 
I think I'd like to start more games at level one.

But it's actually more work than starting at higher levels.

Level one monsters tend to be pretty dull unless you reinvent them or make your own. Good level one dungeons that you can use to fill out a sandbox are rare, and they're more effort to write and make actually interesting than higher level ones.
 
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Coroc

Hero
So long as you understand that you are making changes for your game, it's all good. The base game doesn't assume that armies and orcs know about fireball.
This.
A common soldier and an orc might know or are pretty sure to know that wizards do exist, the probability of this is dependent on how common wizards are in the specific campaign world.

They also might know that wizards can cast spells. And that they also might know that some wizards can cast spells which lead to fiery explosions, which could injure or kill more than one enemy but that is not necessarily true, some might think wizards only have the power to divine things or make people fall asleep or charm them etc..

What they absolutely do not know is :

  • Whether it is a fireball that hit them or e.g. minute meteor or one part of a meteor swarm etc.
  • What range, diameter or damage potential a fireball has got (e.g. how far they need to spread out to prevent the wizard from hitting them all)
  • If any party member when they approach them is a wizard at all, unless e.g. every wizard wears a pointy head and a star spangled robe always.
  • Even if they know a party member is a wizard they eventually know nothing about what capabilities he might have


So they would have to act in a "spread out " just in case of the party having a evocation type wizard with the knowledge to cast fireball, although this might be giving them tactical disadvantages if said party is only made up of other classes than wizards (Think 4 orcs ganking 1 party "fighter" or 4 party "fighters" ganking 1 orc).
 

Reynard

Legend
This.
A common soldier and an orc might know or are pretty sure to know that wizards do exist, the probability of this is dependent on how common wizards are in the specific campaign world.

They also might know that wizards can cast spells. And that they also might know that some wizards can cast spells which lead to fiery explosions, which could injure or kill more than one enemy but that is not necessarily true, some might think wizards only have the power to divine things or make people fall asleep or charm them etc..

What they absolutely do not know is :

  • Whether it is a fireball that hit them or e.g. minute meteor or one part of a meteor swarm etc.
  • What range, diameter or damage potential a fireball has got (e.g. how far they need to spread out to prevent the wizard from hitting them all)
  • If any party member when they approach them is a wizard at all, unless e.g. every wizard wears a pointy head and a star spangled robe always.
  • Even if they know a party member is a wizard they eventually know nothing about what capabilities he might have


So they would have to act in a "spread out " just in case of the party having a evocation type wizard with the knowledge to cast fireball, although this might be giving them tactical disadvantages if said party is only made up of other classes than wizards (Think 4 orcs ganking 1 party "fighter" or 4 party "fighters" ganking 1 orc).
It is more of an SOP thing. In a world where the enemy is as likely as not to be equipped with short range artillery and/or sleep bombs (things that any soldier in a D&D world would be aware of, unless you presume a far greater rarity of spellcasters and other area attacks than the core 5E books suggest) not clumping up would be standard operating procedure. It's essentially the same reason they taught us in basic to practice "social distancing" -- not every enemy has a grenade or uses landmines, but some are going to and it would be better if you lost fewer soldiers when they were inevitably deployed.

Now, would soldiers still line up in great ranks at "official" battles? Sure. If thousands of soldiers stretch hundreds of yards or more along a battle line ten ranks deep, the overall impact of fireball is reduced. But in the guerrilla combat that is represented by tactical level D&D, any soldier(including orcs; that's what they do) is going to try an minimize the possibility of being the one killed by the fireball or dropped by the sleep spell. And of course, players can and should try and overcome that tendency with strategies and tactics, forcing choke points or doing a little ambushing themselves or whatever. But it isn't a foregone conclusion that humanoid enemies are going to line up to be slaughtered.
 

Reynard

Legend
I think I'd like to start more games at level one.

But it's actually more work than starting at higher levels.

Level one monsters tend to be pretty dull unless you reinvent them or make your own. Good level one dungeons that you can use to fill out a sandbox are rare, and they're more effort to write and make actually interesting than higher level ones.
You can do a lot with low level enemies by giving them a variety of weapons in any given gang of them, and using reasonably smart tactics -- especially if the PCs are invading their home.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Where are the freaking scouts/rangers/ forward patrol? And why didn't they spot the wizard before he threw fireball?
We only marched in ranks in places we knew were mostly secure. In the field we spread out and maintained our social distancing. AKA not in grenade spread.
 

Reynard

Legend
Where are the freaking scouts/rangers/ forward patrol? And why didn't they spot the wizard before he threw fireball?
We only marched in ranks in places we knew were mostly secure. In the field we spread out and maintained our social distancing. AKA not in grenade spread.
I think there is a tendency to want to use humanoid enemies as PC fodder. And that's a fine way to play if your goal is to make the players feel awesome. But I like the "oh, crap, we're surrounded!" tension or the "they have a cave troll!" moments. I want the PCs to worry about getting outflanked or not having enough ammo or worrying that they are being pushed into a trap or ambush. That kind of thing makes low level combat fun. Without it, it's just a slog and so why bother?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It is more of an SOP thing. In a world where the enemy is as likely as not to be equipped with short range artillery and/or sleep bombs (things that any soldier in a D&D world would be aware of, unless you presume a far greater rarity of spellcasters and other area attacks than the core 5E books suggest) not clumping up would be standard operating procedure. It's essentially the same reason they taught us in basic to practice "social distancing" -- not every enemy has a grenade or uses landmines, but some are going to and it would be better if you lost fewer soldiers when they were inevitably deployed.

Now, would soldiers still line up in great ranks at "official" battles? Sure. If thousands of soldiers stretch hundreds of yards or more along a battle line ten ranks deep, the overall impact of fireball is reduced. But in the guerrilla combat that is represented by tactical level D&D, any soldier(including orcs; that's what they do) is going to try an minimize the possibility of being the one killed by the fireball or dropped by the sleep spell. And of course, players can and should try and overcome that tendency with strategies and tactics, forcing choke points or doing a little ambushing themselves or whatever. But it isn't a foregone conclusion that humanoid enemies are going to line up to be slaughtered.
You're still playing idiots(int 7) as if they were at least average intelligence(int 10+). Playing creatures as if they were smarter than they are is as bad as playing creatures as dumber than they are.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Where are the freaking scouts/rangers/ forward patrol? And why didn't they spot the wizard before he threw fireball?
We only marched in ranks in places we knew were mostly secure. In the field we spread out and maintained our social distancing. AKA not in grenade spread.
Grenades are far more common in real life than wizards with fireball are in D&D. If the game is set in Eberron where there's a wizard under every rock and every 3rd tree, then yes, that makes sense. If it's in a game where wizards just aren't that common, the wizards that do exist don't all have fireball, and few of the ones that do are going to be running around engaging in battle, it doesn't make as much sense to account for fireballs in everything you do.
 

Coroc

Hero
Grenades are far more common in real life than wizards with fireball are in D&D. If the game is set in Eberron where there's a wizard under every rock and every 3rd tree, then yes, that makes sense. If it's in a game where wizards just aren't that common, the wizards that do exist don't all have fireball, and few of the ones that do are going to be running around engaging in battle, it doesn't make as much sense to account for fireballs in everything you do.
Exactly. Why is there an assumption by those that disagree that every wizard of fifth level upwards has selected fireball as his first level 3 spell, and is underway with an adventuring party?
 

Reynard

Legend
Grenades are far more common in real life than wizards with fireball are in D&D. If the game is set in Eberron where there's a wizard under every rock and every 3rd tree, then yes, that makes sense. If it's in a game where wizards just aren't that common, the wizards that do exist don't all have fireball, and few of the ones that do are going to be running around engaging in battle, it doesn't make as much sense to account for fireballs in everything you do.
I don't think the game says anything about the distribution of spellcasters.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
How big of an issue is a wizard/fireball going to be to an actual army? Even targeted at the optimal spot, assuming 1 orc every 5 ft you're talking 40-some orcs. If it's literally an army, that wizard just took out 1% or less of an army that is now going to destroy the caster. The range isn't really all that long.

As far as an orcish war band, I never assume they're organized enough to march in formation. But it will vary depending on campaign, situation and leadership.
 

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