Talk:Lightning Spear (3.5e Spell)

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RatedLike.png Ghostwheel likes this article and rated it 3 of 4.
This is more what VH-level spells are supposed to be like when they focus on damage. The only change I'd make is to double the scaling (to 2d4 per level after first).
RatedDislike.png Sulacu dislikes this article and rated it 1 of 4.
Low damage cap and d4 damage dice notwithstanding, this is almost as good as a lightning bolt at 5th level (6d4 vs 5d6)
Longer responses to stuff below when I have more time, but this stood out as weird. Your complaint is that a VH spell does as much damage (with a smaller area) as a M spell 2 levels higher? The balance difference alone should justify the difference IMO. If you don't think it does, can you please explain why? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tarkisflux (talkcontribs) at
RatedDislike.png Eiji-kun dislikes this article and rated it 1 of 4.
Very High level or not, 4d4 is fatal at 1st level. 4d4 in a large area (admittedly a line, but still a large area) doesn't help.

Damage Comments[edit]

Yeah, its average damage of 10 is often fatal. Just like that 2d6+6 greatsword hit. Or sleep. Or color spray. As a VH spell, a lethal (or nearly so) hit in a decent area seemed pretty necessary to compete with other uses of the slot. Since you're also going to be casting all of 1 spell per combat and then falling back on something else, giving a significant contribution from it up front seemed reasonable.

That said, I'm not opposed to tweaking it if I missed a bad interaction somewhere. Like I'm about to do with the damage scaling. The only reason it went that high was to accommodate Cid (for the domain), and he's been successfully talked down from that position. - Tarkisflux Talk 16:12, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Just my opinion, but this spell hits an area as large as Burning Hands, for three dice more damage regardless of caster level, in a damage type for which resistance is less common. Burning Hands being the big damage hitter of level 1 spells, this spell is in every way better, even on range. As a level three caster, this spell does comparable average damage to Scorching Ray, at greater range and with no attack roll, to potentially multiple targets. This seems like the sort of spell that only level 3 spells would really trump. I'd have to say I wouldn't allow it into the games I run at it's current power level. It's simply too good a killer for a level 1 spell, it even violates the recommended damage dice cap for spell design. I don't want to dump on your work of course, these are just my thoughts. As this sounds like it was designed specifically for this homebrew Voltage domain, why not make it a domain exclusive spell, only available to a caster with that domain? Then it's relative rarity would offset it's sheer utility as a Weapon of Mass Electrocution. Tunganation (talk) 06:50, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
I'd argue that the more excessive part about this spell is that it is a Reflex Half spell. There are plenty of scary opponents at level 1 with 5 or less HP. --Foxwarrior (talk) 08:02, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
I would definitely not have made it a line spell. That's far too much damage in one turn for a 1st level spell, especially if you're dungeon crawling and can hit a whole corridor full of zombies at once. A 60 foot line is a lot of space affected, and it doesn't scale all that beautifully either. How about have the spear itself be a ranged touch attack with a few dice less, that doesn't allow a save to a creature hit directly and radiates out in a small burst that is Reflex half? That way it can still be pretty strong. --Sulacu (talk) 08:26, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
I feel compelled to say that any comparisons to lightning bolt as a spell are not really fair in my opinion, given that lightning bolt is pretty much a terrible spell from the standpoint of dealing reliable damage, even in an area to multiple enemies. The fact that this spell is stronger is, if anything, a good thing, since the alternative seems poor enough that I would barely consider getting it were it available at level 1, let alone its base spell level of 3. That said, since I relented to lowering the damage of blossom of razors, I think a reduction to something like 2d4 points of base damage at level 1 and then the same scaling thereafter would be a reasonable compromise.
EDIT: As a side note, if this gets changed, spew acid needs the same treatment. - TG Cid (talk) 16:40, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
I think it's fine; this is the power that VH-level spells should be at. The only thing I would change would be the scaling, as I'd increase it to 2d4 per level past the first level (so at third level, you do 8d4 in a line, which is 20 on average, or 10 on a successful save, which is much more fitting for a 1st-level spell at VH). You don't even need a cap necessarily, as the spell's VH (just a comparison to a different low-level spells, Glitterdust remains relevant at all levels). --Ghostwheel (talk) 17:56, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Back from a couple days off, so response time.
@Tunganation - Yes, this is better than burning hands, and yes this violates the WotC damage growth guidelines. Evocations are very rarely used in VH games because they underperform, and this was an attempt to find a workable formula for them in a VH context. That also means that I needed to violate the WotC scaling guidelines, because those guidelines were written back in 3.0 and were based on 2e quidelines, which didn't suffer from the same hit point bloat as 3e. They basically don't work for H and VH games.
I don't actually mind you dumping on my work, so long as the dumping is relevant. Similarly, it's fine with me if you wouldn't allow this spell in your games, that doesn't offend me at all. I suspect there's plenty of material here that you wouldn't allow in your games because it's not aimed at a power level that you enjoy playing. If you feel that the spell is too powerful for it's stated balance, I'd really like to know that and know why. But saying that the spell is too powerful for your games is not a useful data point to me, in that it just says you like a different type of game than I do. And that doesn't help me refine the spell to meet its goals (being a non crap level 1 VH evocation) very much.
@Foxwarrior - I'll kick around a save negates instead. I'm still not convinced it's too lethal as is, but given the other kill you things at this level are save negates (or attack miss, etc.) it wouldn't be too out of line.
@Sulacu - The range is up for revision, and might get knocked down to 45'. 12 squares is more than it probably needs, despite being a line. But the dungeon corridor comparison isn't really convincing, since you could make the same claim about color spraying a mob and getting maximum effect out of it. There are always optimal use cases that are amazing, but I don't see the point in planning around them. I think the average use case will balance out like the average use cases of the other AoEs at this level.
The lack of scaling is somewhat intentional, if an unpopular position here. I appreciate the alternate setup, but I don't think I'll use it in this case (probably an ice or fire case though). The damage is not changing though, not unless you have an argument that it is too strong for a level 1 VH spell. I'm not actually convinced that it isn't too strong, but I am sufficiently tired of evocations being crap at level 1 to think it needs a reduction of a few dice.
@Ghostwheel - I don't actually want it to continue scaling into usefulness at higher levels. Sleep, color spray, and others at level 1 drop off; even glitterdust drops off as people acquire blindsight and other things that mitigate it. I would honestly drop the scaling entirely or make it even more trivial, but the idea that spells have to scale and remain relevant (despite what that does to your number of combat relevant spells per day as you increase in level) is so ingrained into this edition that I suspect people would just dislike it for other reasons. Still, I'm glad you think the base damage is on the right track. - Tarkisflux Talk 05:33, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
Tarkusflux, apologies if I didn't really explain my point very well, I was rushed. Lets look at this spell both from the player's perspective, and the DM's perspective. A player can take this at level 1, and it's big damage, a sorcerer could spam it several times a day, potentially killing multiple foes in one shot each time, goblins, orcs, skeletons even zombies aren't going to pose a challenge, if it's CR 1 or less, it's dead in one shot if it fails it's save and with smart use of the battlefield the PC can hit multiple foes at once. That's at level 1, as the average damage (and with 4 dice average is fairly likely) is 9-11 damage. From the perspective of the DM, if any foe of the party has this spell, and uses it against those level one players with their maximum hitpoints, well if it hits the party cleric, he's probably in the negatives in one shot, same with the rogue, sorcerer, wizard, anyone who isn't a pure melee bruiser. Unless the melee fighters have some form of fast movement or the battlefield is really constricted, any spellcaster, be it a PC or NPC can hit people with this spell twice before they can close. So ranged attacks or spells like this one become the only effective counter. yes as you've written it, the spell loses it's ability to be a real player killer as levels rise, it's not much of a threat to a level 5 party, but a CR 5 caster will likely have moved on to something more effective with access to level 3 spells anyway, saving Lightning Spear as a nice cleanup spell. After all, it hits an area so that unconscious wizard, or cleric, if he gets hit again is just straight up dead, no save. I know it's not a Tier 1 class, but the Warmage is built for this spell! At level 3 a Warmage can take this spell, as it's on the Wiz/Sorc spell list and cast it at least 6 times a day. Each time he does, he also adds his INT mod to the damage, lets say 2 as a reasonable example ignoring racial mods to INT as a factor. It's 5d4+2, an average of 14 to 15 damage, to everyone in the area who doesn't save. Assume the Warmage is the challenge for a party of equivalent level. Most melee classes have less than a 50% chance to save for half, so likely they've just lost half or more of their hitpoints. The Rogue has by level 3, a better than 50% chance to make his save, all things being equal and if he does, he saves for none, lucky him. The Cleric, like the melee classes probably won't save so he's on his last legs after one hit. The Sorcerer or Wizard, probably wont save and if he doesn't, he's probably bleeding out. Oh, and an intelligently played Warmage, is going to get to cast it against someone on the party at least once more before a close range spell, or melee character can get close enough to do something to that Warmage. So back to my original point, this spell poses a serious danger of wiping out most or all of the players in just a couple castings at the levels it's most likely to be used. It also risks many sorcerers and wizards becoming one-trick-pony encounter enders at the lower levels. Hence my suggestion to restrict it to just the voltage domain spell. Then it will still be used, but only once a day by a Cleric of the relevant deity. Another option would be to cut the range in half to 30'. You could even widen it to a 10' wide line if you still want to hit the same number of squares, but that would cut down, though not eliminate it's ability to be used to double spam the enemy before combatants close on the caster. Why I wouldn't let it into my game, is two fold, the spell would get used by the PCs all the time to tackle mobs of low CR enemies early on for farming or to short circuit encounters, and if I used it on them with any regularity, it would just PK them. Which I personally do not like to do. Those are my thoughts on the spell as it's currently written. Tunganation (talk) 08:43, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
I understand what you're getting at, but the sort of spell behavior you're concerned about is the expected spell behavior for a VH option. Your concerns apply equally to all of the VH spells and do not show how this is out of line with the other reference spells, making your concern about 1-trick encounter enders weird in the context of rocket tag VH games. Saying that I'm making an option too powerful for a Moderate or High balance game (tier 4 or 3, sort of but not really, if the comparison helps) just isn't helpful because I'm not trying to make that style of option. Do you play with any other spells that end or substantially impact an encounter with a single casting (which are probably cast by some VH casters with a bit of selection optimization), such as color spray or glitterdust, on a regular basis? If yes, I am interested in how this is a problem compared to those spells, not how this spell functions in general.
That said, the spell was intended to hit foes at the edge of their charge range so they could close without getting double tapped. I didn't account for heavy armor or small characters though (and I don't want to account for both, because that maps to normal move range), so I'll probably drop the range to 40' rather than the previously considered 45'. Shocking medium creatures in plate twice with this is not intended, and a failure on my part. I may also change some other things because...
General musings... I can see several arguments that this is problematic compared to reference spells, but I was kind of hoping that more people engage on that point so I wasn't just arguing with myself (I get enough of that already). The reference spells are all save negates, as Fox points out, but even on a failure they won't kill a person. Someone has to come by and Coup de Grace them for death to actually happen, and it's possible (if unlikely) that the duration of those spells will run out before someone gets to take advantage of them. But, even if the targets aren't CdG'd, they're still out of the fight on a failed save for multiple rounds. The reference spells also cause effects that targets can simply be immune to, making their use somewhat situational.
This spell is more likely to simply kill a low CR target without requiring the CdG action, but does not remove from the fight anyone that it does not kill even if they fail their save. Anyone hit who doesn't drop could just keep on fighting, or heal themselves, or run away, or whatever - they're weakened as if they'd been hit by something else but not removed. They might still fall to a swording action by someone else on your team, but they're not defenseless before they get stabbed and might inflict damage on your team beforehand. Energy resistance isn't particularly common at this level though, so most creatures will just take it in the face regardless of type. It makes the spell better used against low CR creatures than high ones, to simply eliminate them, but it's otherwise more generally applicable in a fight because damage stacks and everyone takes it. Is that worth bringing it down a bit for? I'm not sure, and if it is the case it seems like a more general argument for evocations to be written up as slightly less than top of their intended balance category.
There's also the point that the overlap of the various balance categories at this level combined with the stacking contributions from dealing hit point damage and the lack of hit point bloat makes a VH evocation spell unnecessary at this level. A H balance evocation spell that did a bit less is almost as good at these levels because the line is so thin. There may just be no way to make a good VH damage spell at levels before hit point bloat really sets in. And I'd be fine with this as an H spell, since it was based off of Spew Acid, which started as a H balance evocation before going through some revisions. - Tarkisflux Talk 21:38, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
DislikedSulacu + and Eiji-kun +
LikedGhostwheel +