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Thread: Grease spell

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Grease spell

    I've recently had a disagreement with a player over how the Grease spell works. I'm not invested in my ruling on it - I may well be running it wrong. But before I change the "official DM ruling" on the spell, I'd like to run it by you guys.

    Here's the spell text that matters:
    A grease spell covers a solid surface with a layer of slippery grease. Any creature in the area when the spell is cast must make a successful Reflex save or fall. This save is repeated on your turn each round that the creature remains within the area. A creature can walk within or through the area of grease at half normal speed with a DC 10 Balance check. Failure means it can’t move that round (and must then make a Reflex save or fall), while failure by 5 or more means it falls (see the Balance skill for details).
    Now I read that as meaning that when the spell is cast, the creature makes a save. If it succeeds, it is still standing. If it fails, it falls down.

    If it succeeded on that initial save, then on its action it can opt to move out of the area of effect without penalty, because moving out isn't moving "within or through". It's like Entangle - if you save, you can leave, but if you don't leave, you make a new save next round.

    If you failed on that initial save, then you are prone and get to retry the save each round, or crawl out, with the usual penalties for prone and crawling. Or it could remain prone and make attacks with a -4 penalty.

    Whether you succeed or fail, the only people who have to make Balance checks are those who move into or through a greased area after it exists, and who are not already prone. The Balance check is to resist becoming prone. As per Balance checks, they are flat-footed during this. If they fail the Balance check, their movement ends and (if they fail by 5 or more) they fall down. Once on the ground, they aren't flat footed or balancing, but they are prone.

    --------------

    The player's interpretation was different. He thought that once in the AoE, a creature made a save to determine whether it was prone or not. Each round it remained in the area this would be repeated. So far so good. But in addition, the creature was immediately considered to be balancing even if they made their save (along with the flat-footedness and half movement). Any attempt to leave the greased area required a Balance check and failure on that check stopped movement; failure by 5 or more caused the creature to fall down. Even if prone, a creature was flat footed, balancing, and required a Balance check to crawl out of the AoE.

    ---------------

    So what do you think?
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Player interpretation sounds right to me. Trying to move out of the grease area is the same as trying to move within it... you're within it as you move out. And yes, you're balancing as long as you're in there, though you might not be balancing terribly well...

    JaronK

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Another way to sum up interpretations:

    My original view:
    Foe has a save vs. prone, to be repeated each round.
    Foes moving into/through/within the area of effect are reduced to half movement, are flat footed for the round, have a 25% chance of ending movement in the Grease and a 25% chance of becoming prone in the Grease.
    Small AoE (10x10)
    Short duration (1 round / level)

    Player view:
    Foe is flat footed (no save) - vulnerable to sneak attacks, loses DEX bonus to AC.
    Foe is half move (no save)
    Foe has a save vs. prone, to be repeated each round.
    Foe has a check to achieve half movement (about 50% chance) and if it elects to make this check, it has a 25% chance of becoming prone even if it made the Reflex save.
    Small AoE (10x10)
    Short duration (1 round / level)
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Your player is right. You are within the AoE and *any* attempt to move requires the checks. If you can move far enough in one round under the given conditions (1/2 speed) to leave the AoE, you would only need to succeed at one check. Failing it leaves you either a)stuck where you started still standing and balancing or b)prone, where you started.If it takes more than one round (say 20 feet of grease to cross, 1/2 speed of ten feet) you would need two checks providing you pass them both, in two rounds. Or you could double move in one round (no other actions) but you still need to pass the two checks.
    Last edited by daggaz; 2006-12-04 at 03:12 PM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Remember though, that five ranks in balance negates being flatfooted while balancing.

    Anyway, I think... a mix is right. I think the player is MOSTLY right, I think that when you're prone, you are no longer balancing or flatfooted.

    That's my take at least.

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Quote Originally Posted by daggaz View Post
    If you can move far enough in one round under the given conditions (1/2 speed) to leave the AoE, you would only need to succeed at one check.
    No, two checks: the Reflex save and the Balance check.

    The 5 ranks of Balance thing hardly matters, because most non-DEX creatures won't have any and high-DEX creatures won't be the target of Grease.
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Mental note: Disguise Self is useful for the appearance of wearing heavy armor, so people will target their dex-based attack spells at me... because apparently, everyone can tell when to target what spell at whom.
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Quote Originally Posted by MrNexx View Post
    ... because apparently, everyone can tell when to target what spell at whom.
    Maybe it's just the people I game with, but the casters are usually very particular about who they cast their spells at. Just like the rogues in my game all instantly knew the target of the Grease spell was flat footed (even though it made the Reflex save) and began to close with it so they could get their extra damage.

    There is a level at which you really can't flog your players for using metagame knowledge. Well, I suppose you could, but they'll trot out the usual arguments about how their characters are highly trained adventurers, blah-blah-blah and how they'd know, from training or experience or magical theory or Knowledge: Whatever checks that X, Y, and Z spells work better on clumsy or burdened people and A, B, and C spells work better on frail and/or limber sorts.
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Nothing wrong with the characters knowing someone's flat-footed. By the books, you know if you're going to provoke an AoO if you do something. (Except, I presume, when you can't see the opponent threatening you.)

    Targeting spells right is usually easy. The guy in the robe and the dude with the mace and the holy symbol aren't good targets for anything that gives a Will save; the huge, half-naked warrior isn't a good target for anything that gives a Fort save; and the one in leather armor with a rapier (or, alternatively, dressed in a robe and with no weapons) is a poor target for anything that gives a Ref save.

    Surely casters have some basic understanding about whatever the saves their spells grant represent in-character. "Ogres are easy prey for charm spells! Undead are not affected by phantasmal killer..."

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    A bit off topic, but Grease is an awesome spell to apply the metamagic feat, shape spell.
    Grease is one of the best underratted spells.
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Underrated?

    It's right up there with Entangle for low-level, end-the-encounter spells if the player's interpretation was right. One spell and the enemy is mainly neutralized. Of course, as Logic Ninja made a bit deal of, that's how 3.X is. The previous editions put the power of the game in blowing things up. Third edition and progeny skewed things around with the save progression for monsters, Evasion, SR, built-in resistance to most AoE damage on a lot of monsters, and non-improving save DC so that battlefield control is a much more reliable and devastating way to operate.

    I'm not saying that's a bad thing, I'm just being clear that it is a thing. Anyone who goes for a blasty mage is selling himself short on raw power. That's fine and all.

    As a DM though, I am frustrated with spells that neuter the majority of their foes. I must say though that I've been amused as heck in the rare opportunities I've had to turn the tables. Blinding half the party with pyrotechnics was sweet. Fireballing their asses was sweeter still. Even though neither tactic hurt them all that much (it's no fun if they all die), I felt vindicated that they found the treatment as unpalatable as I do.
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas View Post
    Targeting spells right is usually easy.
    You know, I've been playing ToEE on the computer recently, and it's occured to me... given my inability to control precisely where I'm standing at any given moment (which is a bit more like real combat than D&D), spell targeting gets to be a bitch... and becomes something of a matter of "Yeah, I hope he can take it."
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Quote Originally Posted by MrNexx View Post
    Mental note: Disguise Self is useful for the appearance of wearing heavy armor, so people will target their dex-based attack spells at me... because apparently, everyone can tell when to target what spell at whom.
    Don't laugh, I've done it, and it's worked - not with spells, but it's the same idea. At the time, it kept me safe from some "kill the wizard" archers at low levels. Who's going to shoot the "tank with the shield", when they can pop the rogue in leather armour?

    I've also used the tactic against a (young) dragon, so he thought I was a non-flying tank guy (and thus no threat).

    Disguise/alter self is great against class profiling!
    Last edited by Golthur; 2006-12-04 at 10:10 PM.

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Yes the player appears correct. If you get up after going prone in the grease, you still have to balance to exit the spell.
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Grease + Shape Spell + 120ft Line + light push =
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Quote Originally Posted by Myatar_Panwar View Post
    Yes the player appears correct. If you get up after going prone in the grease, you still have to balance to exit the spell.
    I thought the best way to avoid Grease was to Jump out of it? (Those hulking brute fighters may not have high ref saves, but they do have higher Str and Jump as a class skill.)

    Move action to stand (no balance roll), Jump check to get out of AoE?

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    I'd rule that they have to make their reflex save inorder to jump, it just make sense, you ever try to jump a decent distance when on a slippery surface, NOT good.

    Then again, that might be bringing real world physics into the game, and we all know what that does.
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf53226 View Post
    I'd rule that they have to make their reflex save inorder to jump, it just make sense, you ever try to jump a decent distance when on a slippery surface, NOT good.

    Then again, that might be bringing real world physics into the game, and we all know what that does.
    I'd agree with this - either a Reflex save, or (preferred for me) a Balance check in order to jump. They can't jump without having steady footing.

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Isn't there some general rule that when exiting an effect (ie moving immediately from an effected square to the adjacent unaffected square) you count as not affected by the effect. So if you had to move to the edge of the Grease, then the player is right, but if you were at the edge, then you could step out without penalty?

    We've always played that you only make a Balance check if you move - standing there smacking the fighter is OK.

    And yeah, an incredibly useful spell - had my eyes opened when a guy in my group had a sorceror who took it at first level. My initial reaction was 'Where's your magic missile'. Until the first combat!
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Grease is a fun, fun spell. THis is probably against the rules, but I'd like like to say that in a game I was, we were fightign a barghest (as a group of five level 2 PCs without a healer, because our Favoured Soul was playing WOW... Grr.), and my Wizard casted grease on it which knocked it down for two turns... and then the rogue tossed a lit tindertwig on the greased spot. the DM ruled that the grease was flammable and did damage as nonmagical fire to all creatures in the area.

    It didn't end up killing the thing, but it certainly was fun!
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Jumping does work. As there's nothing against you JUMPING. And is incidentally the only way that frenzied berserkers can leave the grease.

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    I'd rule against it. You can't jump without steady footing.
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Quote Originally Posted by NullAshton View Post
    Jumping does work. As there's nothing against you JUMPING. And is incidentally the only way that frenzied berserkers can leave the grease.
    Quote Originally Posted by MrNexx View Post
    I'd rule against it. You can't jump without steady footing.
    Exactly. Try jumping off of glare ice (in lieu of a greased floor) some time without getting your footing first and see how far you get .

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Jumping works assuming your DM is an idiot who doesn't think there's anything wrong with people making huge leaps while lying on their back.

    Yeah, that's a great prospect.

    I'd also definitely make them roll a Balance check or a save or something to jump when standing in the area of a grease spell. Slippery, slippery.

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    I would allow jumping. I know it is not logical but I do not think that 1st level AoE spell should completely cripple frenzied berserker (who can't make dex based skill checks...).
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    Default Re: Grease spell

    He can still crawl away from the area of the spell fine.

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Jumping works. You stand up, and then jump. Jumping from a standing position isn't that hard, on something slippery or not (and, remember--Physics, D&D, dead catgirls).

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    In my games, I use your player's interpretation. Reflex Saves + Balance checks. I don't allow a Jump check in place of a Balance check, as you can't Jump without firm footing.

    You can crawl out of a Grease area, or just fight from the Prone position at -4. There's nothing stopping you or your enemies from just pulling out a ranged weapon and shooting.

    You can also Bull Rush your friends out of it. As hilarious as it sounds, a Rogue with a high Balance check can do it pretty easily, and the other player can choose to auto-fail their opposed check.

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    Quote Originally Posted by Gamebird View Post
    Just like the rogues in my game all instantly knew the target of the Grease spell was flat footed (even though it made the Reflex save) and began to close with it so they could get their extra damage.
    That's not metagaming, that's playing the odds ... most creatures and NPCs are flatfooted inside the area of a grease spell, that's simply an in game knowable fact. A fact which a rogue can be expected to be aware of.

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    Default Re: Grease spell

    So if you fail your Reflex save and fall prone, are you still flat footed from the Balance check?
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