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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Water + Electricity?

    Are there any special effects that occur when you cast an electrical spell such as Lightning Bolt in the water?
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    I don't think there are any official rulings on the matter, but DM's can houserule it easy.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    read lightning bolt spell description. does it say there is anything special?
    then there isn't.
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    I'm 90% sure that previous editions ruled that casting lightning bolt underwater turned it from a line AoE into what we would now term either a burst or a cone AoE. Not sure if there's anything official that updates that to 3rd Ed though.

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    I generally let my players target the water, and the attack does its damage in a small radius around the impact point. They rapidly learn, however, that it doesn't work so well if they're just firing blind because the enemy is hiding underwater. As I see it, the increased utility of electricity spells is a counter for the uselessness of fire around water.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    I'm 90% sure that previous editions ruled that casting lightning bolt underwater turned it from a line AoE into what we would now term either a burst or a cone AoE. Not sure if there's anything official that updates that to 3rd Ed though.
    Second edition DMG, page 79:
    Spells are also affected by the underwater world. Not surprisingly, fire-based spells have no effect unless cast in an area of free oxygen (such as a domed city).

    Electrical spells conduct their energy into the surrounding water. Thus, a lightning bolt originating 60' away from the caster acts like a fireball at the point of origin.
    (note that, in the 2nd edition rules as written, a lightning bolt could originate anywhere the caster felt like, within range. But almost everyone played with it originating at the caster's fingertips, so that's what they officially made it do in 3rd.)

    This doesn't say anything about what other electrical spell would do, such as Shocking Grasp. I suspect that most 2nd edition DMs would have said that Shocking Grasp underwater acts like Burning Hands, and that Chain Lightning also acts like a fireball, but with better damage.
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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Yeah, early editions a lightning bolt underwater was like a fireball centered on yourself. At least, to my knowledge. You get some fun stuff underwater...

    Actually, I think in first edition fireball worked underwater, by making a spherical patch of boiling water/steam for a second.

    Now targeting water is an awesome idea. Gives me Bioshock flashbacks...

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    In previous editions, lightning bolts could also be reflected on walls and other objects, too. Which made for some interesting calculations during combat. This is sadly no longer the case.

    In second ed, we had questions like this: "Can I bounce the lightning bolt down the shaft of the well from a position 20' from the rim, so that it hits the water at the bottom where the body of this tentacled creature is?"

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtar View Post
    In previous editions, lightning bolts could also be reflected on walls and other objects, too. Which made for some interesting calculations during combat. This is sadly no longer the case.

    In second ed, we had questions like this: "Can I bounce the lightning bolt down the shaft of the well from a position 20' from the rim, so that it hits the water at the bottom where the body of this tentacled creature is?"
    This is the one reason I never used "Lightning Bolt" in Baldurs Gate. It kept killing my own team.
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    My first response to queries like this is usually: So you don't think it's strange that a person can create a flow of electricity out of nowhere, but it does bug you that the electricity doesn't behave as it should afterwards?
    As far as I'm concerned, the answer in both cases is simple: it's magic, it just works that way.

    Another point is, how well does water conduct electricity anyway? Well not the water itself of course, water doesn't conduct at all, but the ions in water, how well do they conduct electricity? It depends on the concentration of the ions, but in generally my guess would be not very well, better then air, sure, but with spells like shocking grasp I don't think there should be a lot of differences.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Ahh, I remember The Complete Wizard's Handbook had a whole chapter about how certain spells changed when used underwater. Always seemed pretty redundant, since really, how many of you have been in a situation where it mattered?
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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    My character died Saturday night because were-sharks don't qualify as land animals. About a dozen spells would have been able to save me if we had been on land. I would say this is a very relevant discussion.

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    I'd rule that the lightning bolt's energy "fizzles" quite a bit, changing the damge by a few dice (as in, from Xd6 to Xd3, dropping straight past d4) and spreads as a cone to the end of its line, becoming flat at the surface in the case of wierd angles.

    But thats me being a jerk and subverting the water+electricty formula people have mashed into their heads by TV.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sstoopidtallkid View Post
    My character died Saturday night because were-sharks don't qualify as land animals. About a dozen spells would have been able to save me if we had been on land. I would say this is a very relevant discussion.
    I don't see how it would matter unless the PCs were in an aquatic enviroment, in which case, the monster doesn't really matter much. A were-shark in human form on land would get its six handed to it the same normal twelve ways from sunday.
    Its should be the enviroment, and not the monster which takes precedence tin discussions such as this.
    Last edited by Thanatos 51-50; 2008-01-21 at 07:26 AM.
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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    All I was saying is that underwater campaigns actually do happen, and having RAW examples is a good thing for helping the people who read here. If you have half your spell list invalidated, you generally prepare different things.

    (we spent the entire session looking for the lost orb of plot in an underwater city, and I could have accomplished it in about 3 minutes if a certain spell had worked underwater)

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenix_of_Doom View Post
    So you don't think it's strange that a person can create a flow of electricity out of nowhere, but it does bug you that the electricity doesn't behave as it should afterwards?
    Yes. It's called verisimilitude, and forms the difference between coherent and consistent writing, and ad hoc plot devices whenever convenient.
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    Enguhl's Avatar

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Unfortunately, electricity does not travel well through water alone, so if using the above-mentioned DMG2 ruling, I would say 10' radius.

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    Imp

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    This sort of situation is when I get out my happy face/sad face die. I roll it in front of the player - happy face, things work out in his favor. Sad face, they work out to his detriment.

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Okay, I'm gonna go kill some catgirls now.

    The water would have to be salt water, or have some form of solute in it. Fresh water is a horrible conductor of electricity, so you can't cast summon water, dump it on an enemy, and then lightning bolt him. Electricity only flows so easily through salt water because the metals in it have free-flowing electrons, shared by all the nuclei, allowing for electricity to travel very fast and very far.

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    The water would have to be salt water, or have some form of solute in it. Fresh water is a horrible conductor of electricity, so you can't cast summon water, dump it on an enemy, and then lightning bolt him. Electricity only flows so easily through salt water because the metals in it have free-flowing electrons, shared by all the nuclei, allowing for electricity to travel very fast and very far.
    Let me coup-de-grace those nekos for you; you only stunned them slightly. First, while it's true that pure water is a lousy conductor, you've probably never seen water that pure unless you work in a laboratory. A natural lake with dirt on the bottom and air on the top and fish pooping in it has all sorts of things dissolved in it, and even expensive bottled drinking water still has some ions.

    Second, the way in which water conducts electricity is not the same as the way in which a metal conducts electricity. While most salts do contain atoms of metallic elements, while they're dissolved in the water, they're not metal. The electrons will remain firmly attached to ions, and the ions as a whole (both positive and negative) will flow through the water.
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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenix_of_Doom View Post
    My first response to queries like this is usually: So you don't think it's strange that a person can create a flow of electricity out of nowhere, but it does bug you that the electricity doesn't behave as it should afterwards?
    As far as I'm concerned, the answer in both cases is simple: it's magic, it just works that way.
    Suspension of disbelief does not work that way! I don't want reality, but I want a world that maintains the illusion of being so. I'll accept that magic exists and wizards can shoot fireballs, but I expect those fireballs to behave in a realistic manner.

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    Let me coup-de-grace those nekos for you; you only stunned them slightly. First, while it's true that pure water is a lousy conductor, you've probably never seen water that pure unless you work in a laboratory. A natural lake with dirt on the bottom and air on the top and fish pooping in it has all sorts of things dissolved in it, and even expensive bottled drinking water still has some ions.
    Really, I've always lived under the assumption that charged ions were left behind if you boil the water and the condense it, a process also know as distillation.
    Create water creates clean rainwater, as rain must have been gas in order to get up in sky, it must have been ion free.
    Also "water that pure" isn't to hard to find either, at my (foreign equivalent of) high school we used plenty of it.
    Last edited by Fenix_of_Doom; 2008-01-21 at 04:12 PM.

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenix_of_Doom View Post
    My first response to queries like this is usually: So you don't think it's strange that a person can create a flow of electricity out of nowhere, but it does bug you that the electricity doesn't behave as it should afterwards?
    As far as I'm concerned, the answer in both cases is simple: it's magic, it just works that way.
    Suspension of disbelief does not work that way! I don't want reality, but I want a world that maintains the illusion of being so. I'll accept that magic exists and wizards can shoot fireballs, but I expect those fireballs to behave in a realistic manner.

    Tacking on to what Kurald said, the ability to make an internally consistent and believable word is what makes Isaac Asimov a legendary author while J.K. Rowling is merely an accomplished storyteller.
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Voyager_I View Post
    Suspension of disbelief does not work that way! I don't want reality, but I want a world that maintains the illusion of being so. I'll accept that magic exists and wizards can shoot fireballs, but I expect those fireballs to behave in a realistic manner.

    Tacking on to what Kurald said, the ability to make an internally consistent and believable word is what makes Isaac Asimov a legendary author and J.K. Rowling an accomplished storyteller.
    Right, first, do you even know how electricity is supposed to behave? I know nature always takes the path which takes the least energy, but it ends about there, predicting effect of unrealistic action with science can be very difficult, so if you're going to rule it arbitrarily in some way, you might as well keep things simple.
    Second fire doesn't behave in a realistic manner as far as I know, how many clothes, forests, whatevers have you seen that burned realistically from magical fire?
    Third, I had an awesome third point, but I forgot what it was, I'll edit my post if I remember it.
    Last edited by Fenix_of_Doom; 2008-01-21 at 02:33 PM.

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenix_of_Doom View Post
    Really, I always live under the assumption that charged ions were left behind if you boil the water and the condense it, a process also know as distillation.
    Create water creates clean rainwater, as rain must have been gas in order to get up in sky, it must have been ion free.
    Also "water that pure" isn't to hard to find either, at my (foreign equivalent of) high school we used plenty of it.
    Rainwater has a fair amount of particulate matter in it. Raindrops are formed by water vapor condensing around various types of particles.

    The distilled water that you used in your high school science classes is not pure enough to be non-conducting, unless you went to a very abnormal school.

    Steam itself can carry particulate matter when it evaporates; it does leaves behind some of it, which is why you can distill water and make it purer, but it does not leave behind all of the particles.
    Last edited by Jayabalard; 2008-01-21 at 03:09 PM.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayabalard View Post
    Rainwater has a fair amount of particulate matter in it. Raindrops are formed by water vapor condensing around various types of particles.
    Quite probably true, I just doubt that there are metal ions high up in the sky.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayabalard View Post
    The distilled water that you used in your high school science classes is not pure enough to be non-conducting, unless you went to a very abnormal school.
    The type of water used does differ per location, I think we used water "cleansed" by use of ion exchange, I'm not 100% sure and I never tried it, but I think it should be free of conducting ions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayabalard View Post
    Steam itself can carry particulate matter when it evaporates; it does leaves behind some of it, which is why you can distill water and make it purer, but it does not leave behind all of the particles.
    Also true, but if I'm not mistaking that mostly happens to organic substances. e.g. if you mix acetic acid with water and then distil it, there will still a lot of acetic acid left, but any metal ions such as Na+ will not have been carried along.

    Edit: well maybe not just organic substances, but at least non-metal substances.
    Last edited by Fenix_of_Doom; 2008-01-21 at 03:36 PM.

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Really, I always live under the assumption that charged ions were left behind if you boil the water and the condense it, a process also know as distillation.
    Create water creates clean rainwater, as rain must have been gas in order to get up in sky, it must have been ion free.
    Sure, but how clean is your condensing apparatus? There's probably something to dissolve there. And in the air, for that matter. In fact, raindrops form by condensing around specks of dust in the air. Yes, rainwater is very pure, but it doesn't take very much impurity (which does not need to be metal) for water to become a half-decent conductor.

    And you may well have had access to deionized water in your high school science labs, but I'll bet they weren't serving it in the cafeteria. That's why I said you probably wouldn't encounter it outside of a lab.
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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    Sure, but how clean is your condensing apparatus? There's probably something to dissolve there. And in the air, for that matter. In fact, raindrops form by condensing around specks of dust in the air. Yes, rainwater is very pure, but it doesn't take very much impurity (which does not need to be metal) for water to become a half-decent conductor.

    And you may well have had access to deionized water in your high school science labs, but I'll bet they weren't serving it in the cafeteria. That's why I said you probably wouldn't encounter it outside of a lab.
    Enlighten me then, what solution that does not contain metal makes a half-decent conductor?

    And no, it would be a bad idea to serve it in cafeteria as it is tasteless and the salts in water is actually considered healthy, it's also relatively expensive compared to "normal" water. I get were you're coming from BTW.

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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    If you want to bring real-world physics into it, trying to hit someone with a lightning bolt while they're submerged in a conducting material would be useless if the material was large (like, say, a river or lake). The electricity would flow everywhere, and might not even touch them.
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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Now, I may be a bit rusty on my chemistry, but if I remember correctly, Graphite and some forms of Carbon conduct fairly well, and those are non-metals...




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    Default Re: Water + Electricity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenix_of_Doom View Post
    Enlighten me then, what solution that does not contain metal makes a half-decent conductor?
    For start, any acids or bases. As they dissociate, they form ions. A very simple example, is for example a solution of HCl on water. It has no metalic Ions, but still does have Ions, and therefore, is a pretty good conductor.
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