# Thread: how can you use a long range spell?

1. ## how can you use a long range spell?

long range spells have a range of 400ft + 40ft/CL.
AFAIK unless you heavily optimize spot, you cannot spot any enemy at that range... so how can you use such spells?

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/Spot.htm
you need to make a spot check at a penalty of -40 -4/CL to spot someone at the max distance of your spells; opposed by their hide check... ouch

2. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

How does anyone see the sun? Some things are just handwaved as you can easily see people at 500 feet if they aren't hiding in a field, or on a road.

3. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

hand waving it really hurts the rogue though; a tier 4 class. whiling helping tier 1 casters.

4. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

That and get a Spyglass, doubles the magnification of long range objects. Easy way to see far way things. Plus the spell usually used is Fireball which even if you are off by a good 20 ft. you still hit with.

5. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by Soonerdj
That and get a Spyglass, doubles the magnification of long range objects. Easy way to see far way things. Plus the spell usually used is Fireball which even if you are off by a good 20 ft. you still hit with.
but the rules just say you don't know where the enemy is, period.
Not that you know their "general location, off by X few feet". @400 feet away that means 80 squares away... how many squares are there? pie*r*r = 20106 squares... choose one.

6. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Hmm. If someone isn't trying to hide (say, a group of dumb, angry orcs is charging over the hill), a spot check isn't required, right?

Spot is opposed by Hide. So if one to be spotted declined to roll Hide, Spot success should be automatic. There are also suggestions that the DM may use spot checks to determine the distance at which the encounter begins, but that is, AFAICT, "only" a suggestion/optional rule.

On the other hand, if someone were trying to hide, someone at long (400'+) range would have a -40 penalty on the Spot check to notice. Ouch.

7. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by SRD
Sometimes a creature isn’t intentionally hiding but is still difficult to see, so a successful Spot check is necessary to notice it.
also, spot check determines at which distance "combat begins"

Originally Posted by Ernir
On the other hand, if someone were trying to hide, someone at long (400'+) range would have a -40 penalty on the Spot check to notice. Ouch.
yap... if both are untrained thats 1d20 vs 1d20-40

8. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Scouting? One good use for a familiar, I guess.

Though I wonder if it is possible for your familiar to convey to you the exact coordinates via telepathy, and you blast from that far away...

9. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

"Spot checks may be called for to determine the distance at which an encounter begins. A penalty applies on such checks, depending on the distance between the two individuals or groups, and an additional penalty may apply if the character making the Spot check is distracted (not concentrating on being observant)."

Distance penalties only apply on checks to establish encounter start distance.

Once you start the encounter, you can fly many feet away and shoot teh lazors.

Alternatively, you can just have a spot check that can reach that high, Like a Druid. Don't forget size penalties to hide checks.

10. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

I thought most long range spells (Fireball, LB, TK, CL etc.) just required Line of Effect, and not Line of Sight. So you can target something by scrying on it, or even just pick a direction and fire.

11. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

I used it to nuke enemy flag-bearers from the battlements during a siege.

12. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by Optimystik
I thought most long range spells (Fireball, LB, TK, CL etc.) just required Line of Effect, and not Line of Sight. So you can target something by scrying on it, or even just pick a direction and fire.
sure you can just "pick a direction and fire" heck, it also includes a distance and you never miss... but how will you know where to target? 400 foot range radius means there are 20106 squares. Which one of the 20106 squares do you aim at if you have no idea where the enemy is at?

13. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by taltamir
sure you can just "pick a direction and fire" heck, it also includes a distance and you never miss... but how will you know where to target? 400 foot range radius means there are 20106 squares. Which one of the 20106 squares do you aim at if you have no idea where the enemy is at?
If you're 400+ feet away from the target, just scry on them - epic level spot checks not necessary.

Unless it's a siege situation, in which case it really doesn't matter who you hit.

Clairvoyance

15. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

The question is: what is the base DC to spot something that isn't hiding? I can't find a reference to that anywhere.
Also groups of creatures should be easier to spot. Assuming you use the Swallow Whole conversion rate, 4 mediums become a large, 4 larges become a huge, etc. This would mean you'd get (effectively) a +4 to spot 4 guys coming over the hill (they count as large), and a +8 to spot 4 guys on horses (huge).

Finally I think they -1 per 10' should only apply on hiding creatures as it is otherwise just ridiculously unrealistic. I can spot a guy walking down the road from more than a mile off if I'm looking for him (the equivalent of taking 20 probably). I don't have a +508 spot bonus though (5280' in a mile = -528 spot check). For this to make sense the penalty should only be -1/250' given a lack of cover and attempt at stealth.

Some sort of exponential scaling would also make sense (-1 for 10' away, -2 for 20', -4 for 40', -6 for 80', -8 for 160', -10 for 300', -12 for 600', -14 for 1200', -16 for 2400', -18 for 4800' etc.).

16. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Spot is only necessary to spot hiding things. Since most people can't hide in plain sight, this means you can see stuff out to the limit of your LOS on a clear day if no obstructions are in the way. Kind of like the real world.

Also, some objects are easy to spot from a distance. You might drop your fireball at the base of the siege towers in the middle of a mass of enemy troops, or on the commander's brightly colored pavilion in an enemy encampment. These things are visible from great distances, highly flammable, and generally contain soft targets. That's prime fireball territory there, sir.

17. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by jiriku
Spot is only necessary to spot hiding things. Since most people can't hide in plain sight, this means you can see stuff out to the limit of your LOS on a clear day if no obstructions are in the way. Kind of like the real world.

Also, some objects are easy to spot from a distance. You might drop your fireball at the base of the siege towers in the middle of a mass of enemy troops, or on the commander's brightly colored pavilion in an enemy encampment. These things are visible from great distances, highly flammable, and generally contain soft targets. That's prime fireball territory there, sir.
I agree with you perfectly sir.

18. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by Ernir
Hmm. If someone isn't trying to hide (say, a group of dumb, angry orcs is charging over the hill), a spot check isn't required, right?
Nope. In D&D 3.5 an encounter doesn't start until someone makes a successful Spot or Listen check (except for forest fires and avalanches, which carry over automatic encounter start rules from 3.0). Those orcs aren't known to you until you hear or see them; of course if they're angry you're probably going to hear battle noises (-10 Listen DC) pretty easily. But the usual explanation is that someone is doing a proper scouting job with a spyglass, or using divination magic so they know trouble is coming. (Also, if you've got the gold, you can get a masterwork 8x spyglass for 16,000 gp instead of the standard 2x model for 1,000 gp.)

19. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by Curmudgeon
Nope. In D&D 3.5 an encounter doesn't start until someone makes a successful Spot or Listen check (except for forest fires and avalanches, which carry over automatic encounter start rules from 3.0). Those orcs aren't known to you until you hear or see them; of course if they're angry you're probably going to hear battle noises (-10 Listen DC) pretty easily. But the usual explanation is that someone is doing a proper scouting job with a spyglass, or using divination magic so they know trouble is coming. (Also, if you've got the gold, you can get a masterwork 8x spyglass for 16,000 gp instead of the standard 2x model for 1,000 gp.)
But the spot check for a bunch of angry orcs charging over the hill is probably 0 or less.
*where did you get that MW spy glass from?

20. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by Lord Vukodlak
But the spot check for a bunch of angry orcs charging over the hill is probably 0 or less.
Listen check at -10 is still easier.
Originally Posted by Lord Vukodlak
*where did you get that MW spy glass from?
I've lost the reference, alas. It was an item from a published adventure, probably from some Dungeon magazine. If you come across it I'd like to know so I can put the full details in my D&D notebook; all I've got is the magnification and price (which follows the usual bonus2 formula, so I'm sure it's accurate).

21. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by unre9istered

Finally I think they -1 per 10' should only apply on hiding creatures as it is otherwise just ridiculously unrealistic. I can spot a guy walking down the road from more than a mile off if I'm looking for him (the equivalent of taking 20 probably). I don't have a +508 spot bonus though (5280' in a mile = -528 spot check). For this to make sense the penalty should only be -1/250' given a lack of cover and attempt at stealth.

Some sort of exponential scaling would also make sense (-1 for 10' away, -2 for 20', -4 for 40', -6 for 80', -8 for 160', -10 for 300', -12 for 600', -14 for 1200', -16 for 2400', -18 for 4800' etc.).
Another problem runs in that you can see a person a mile away if the ground is flat with no obstacles but you can't recognize them until they get closer.

Thus, while you should be able to see a human a half-mile or so away, you shouldn't be able to identify that person as Thuda, the evil Barbarian who killed your golden retriever.

22. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by taltamir
long range spells have a range of 400ft + 40ft/CL.
AFAIK unless you heavily optimize spot, you cannot spot any enemy at that range... so how can you use such spells?

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/Spot.htm
you need to make a spot check at a penalty of -40 -4/CL to spot someone at the max distance of your spells; opposed by their hide check... ouch
With 0 ranks in spot I can see halfway down the block, 1340'. But only because the person is on the sidewalk, with no obstructions, and I expect him to be there, not somewhere else near the sidewalk. Spot is for when visibility is difficult.

In a wartime scenario, for example, it's easy to find your targets. Or in the open, flat plains. Or in the desert. Or sending a scout ahead to tell you "he's 5 feet left of the barracks right there." Then you say, "Oh, I see him now." These are not matters of spot checks, you just see it.

On a related matter you cannot hide without cover or concealment, and random ambush-ees aren't waiting in hiding for you, they're traveling down the road. It's the ambush-ers that are more trouble.

23. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

This is basically an editing error in 3.5, the rules for this got whiped out ... if you look in the 3.0 SRD you find this :

ENCOUNTERS
When an encounter between the PCs and an NPC or creature is imminent, follow these steps:
1. Determine vision conditions and terrain. Choose from the choices on Table: Spotting Distance.
2. If line of sight or illumination defines the distance at which the encounter occurs (as often happens indoors), start the encounter there. Otherwise, roll for spotting distance on Table: Spotting Distance.
3. All creatures involved make Spot checks. Success means that creature sees the other creature or group. See Table: Spotting Difficulty for modifiers on these checks.
4. If neither side succeeds, all creatures spot each other at one-half the rolled range.
The circumstances that can affect the DC of a Spot check are as follows:
Size: Add +4 to the base DC of 20 for each size category the creature being spotted is smaller than Medium-size or -4 for each size category larger. You can make exceptions for creatures with unusual shapes, such as a Large snake that's low to the ground and thus as hard to see as a Small creature.
Contrast: How starkly the creature's coloring stands out against the surroundings. It's easy to spot a brightly colored couatl in a dark jungle and hard to see winter wolves in the snow.
Stillness: It's harder to see creatures that are not moving.
Six or More Creatures: Groups of creatures are easier to spot, even if the creatures are smaller than Medium-size.
Moonlight: Nighttime, but with moonlight (or similar light).
Starlight: Nighttime with no moon but a clear, starry sky (or similar light).
Total Darkness: Overcast at night, or otherwise lightless.
Hiding and Spotting
If creatures are trying not to be seen, it's usually harder to spot them, but creatures that are keeping low to avoid being spotted also are less likely to notice other creatures.
If creatures are hiding, they can only move at half their normal overland speed. They also suffer a -2 penalty on their Spot checks to notice other creatures because they are staying low.
Instead of a base DC of 20 for others to spot them at the standard spotting distance, the DC is 25 + the hider's Hide skill modifier. The modifiers from Table 3-2: Spotting Difficulty still apply, except for the size modifier (which is already part of the character's skill modifier). A character whose Hide ranks, Dexterity modifier, and armor check penalty total -6 or lower is actually has a lower DC than if he or she weren't hiding. In such cases, simply calculate the Spot DC as if the character weren't hiding (according to Table: Spotting Difficulty). If a creature gets a special bonus to Hide because of camouflage, special coloring, and so on, use that bonus rather than the contrast bonus from Table: Spotting Difficulty.
Additionally, the other creatures do not automatically spot hiding creatures at one-half the encounter distance. Instead, that is the distance at which the other creatures can make Spot checks to notice the hiding creatures. These are normal Spot checks opposed by the hiders' Hide checks.
Table: Spotting Distance
Terrain Distance
------- --------
Smoke or heavy fog 2d4 x 5 ft. (avg. 25 ft.)
Jungle or dense forest 2d4 x 10 ft. (50 ft.)
Light forest 3d6 x 10 ft. (105 ft.)
Scrub, brush or bush 6d6 x 10 ft. (210 ft.)
Grassland, little cover 6d6 x 20 ft. (420 ft.)
Total darkness Limit of sight
Indoors (lit) Line of sight
Table: Spotting Difficulty
Circumstances DC
------------- --
Base 20*
Size +/-4 per size category
Contrast +/-5 or more
Stillness (not moving) +5
Six or more creatures -2
Moonlight** +5
Starlight† +10
Total darkness Impossible††
*x25 if one side is hiding, and ignore size modifiers (see text).
**+5 bonus on Spot check if the spotter has low-light vision or if he or she has darkvision that extends far enough.
†x+5 bonus on Spot check if the spotter has low-light vision or +10 if he or she has darkvision that extends far enough.
††Unless the spotter has darkvision that extends far enough.
Missed Encounters
The rules for spotting creatures assume that both sides will eventuallynotice each other, and they simply establish the distance at which they do so. But sometimes you want to take into account the possibility that the two groups will miss each other entirely.
To handle these possibilities, simply let there be a 50% chance that the other creatures encountered and the PCs don't get any closer but rather pass by each other, such as when one group is moving north and the other east. (Creatures following the PCs' trail, of course, always close with them.)

24. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

thanks everyone for clarifying things for me.
so, this is really only an issue if someone is hiding (in plain sight) then?

25. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by taltamir
thanks everyone for clarifying things for me.
so, this is really only an issue if someone is hiding (in plain sight) then?
No, it's not. Under 3.0 rules that might have been the case, but with 3.5 rules no encounter starts until somebody succeeds on a Spot or Listen check to notice a potential enemy. No hiding is necessary to fail an encounter.

26. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Also, the range of spells gives the maximum range. You don't have to fire it that far away; you can place it anywhere you like up to that distance.

27. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

I ran a battle on a pretty big battlefield. It begun with a spot check when the PC's sent one of their own to scout and he ran into an ambush. The battle took about 10 turns and one of the characters, the sorceress, was blinded and flew away 200 ft from the height of the action. While she was blinded the rest of the party defeated the enemies and one of them cast fly and tried to run away. The sorceress just recovered her sight in time to see it happen 200ft away but the battle had already begun and she knew where everything was happening so she didn't have to roll a spot check, she just saw someone fly away. She cast a fireball (long range spell) at him and killed him.

So the battlefield can potentially be big enough for long range spells coming into good use. This time it was already won but it might not have been.

28. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by Optimystik
I thought most long range spells (Fireball, LB, TK, CL etc.) just required Line of Effect, and not Line of Sight. So you can target something by scrying on it, or even just pick a direction and fire.
A fireball spell is an explosion of flame that detonates with a low roar and deals 1d6 points of fire damage per caster level (maximum 10d6) to every creature within the area. Unattended objects also take this damage. The explosion creates almost no pressure.

You point your finger and determine the range (distance and height) at which the fireball is to burst. A glowing, pea-sized bead streaks from the pointing digit and, unless it impacts upon a material body or solid barrier prior to attaining the prescribed range, blossoms into the fireball at that point. (An early impact results in an early detonation.) If you attempt to send the bead through a narrow passage, such as through an arrow slit, you must “hit” the opening with a ranged touch attack, or else the bead strikes the barrier and detonates prematurely.

The fireball sets fire to combustibles and damages objects in the area. It can melt metals with low melting points, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, and bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the fireball may continue beyond the barrier if the area permits; otherwise it stops at the barrier just as any other spell effect does.
If you fire a fireball at the target you see in a mirror when scrying, you'll just blow up yourself and the mirror.

29. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Binoculars, divination spells, that darn huge thing you can see miles away...

30. ## Re: how can you use a long range spell?

Originally Posted by Mastikator
If you fire a fireball at the target you see in a mirror when scrying, you'll just blow up yourself and the mirror.
Note that he said you still need Line of Effect, which requires a straight, unobstructed line from you to your target. You don't need to see the target though. What he was pointing out is that you use the scrying to serve as a spotter to get a direction and rough range, then fire it in that direction.

*Edit* Gah, grammar fail.

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