Who gets fried/zapped by a spell?

In the last session of the campaign I recently finished running, the wizard cast a spell releasing a “tongue” of flame at his enemy during a climactic battle scene. I’ve resisted tactical positioning in my BW game, but I’m not sure how to resolve questions about “line of fire” without it.

The spell didn’t say anything about the size (the width) of the tongue, so I just wasn’t sure if it was very narrowly focused or billowing. I thought that maybe a higher IMS should mean a wider tongue, that a more damaging spell effect should mean a bigger fire. It seems reasonable enough. Maybe not. That still doesn’t tell me how to determine who is unlucky enough to be in the way of the flame as it billows out toward its intended target.

Maybe I can use a DOF to determine whether a character is in the way of the flame. I resolved it that way on the fly. For an I result, a 6 indicates the character takes damage, and the character escapes damage otherwise. On a 6 takes M, 4-5 takes I, 1-3 escapes damage. This scales leads to everyone getting hit on an S. One of my players suggested that characters should be able to Speed check against the spell, but this seems like an Avoid that should have to be scripted.

Other GMs, share your thoughts, please.

It’s based on the area of effect defined for the spell. There’s a section in the Sorcery chapter on this.

What was the AoE of the spell? Single Target? Measured Area? Natural Effect?

Were you using positioning rules? If you were, the spell would hit opponents whom the caster positioned against.

If you weren’t, it’s really up to you!

I’m presuming Fire Breath, which has paces for aoe. That doesn’t incur friendly fire. The rules are on pp. 515-516.

So the spell only hits intentional targets? How would a caster position against multiple targets?

  1. Larger AoEs can have friendly fire. I’ll refer you to the pages above.

  2. In Fight you need to be engaged with them all.

Don’t forget to apply your positioning disadvantages (if any) to the spell obstacles too (page 514) losing positioning can really screw up a mages spell (not to mention what the possible spell failure and greater tax could do to the mage).

Its no fun suddenly raising an Ob2 to an Ob5, especially when you have a B5 sorcery and forte.
(Challenging Tests, anyone?)

I’ve been reading the Fight! rules as only handling 1-to-1 engagement/positioning. I have another thread where I’ve been asking about this, because, in my last campaign, I had a very unbalanced party, with a very strong combat character and very weak combat characters. What are the mechanics for the spellcaster to engage with all of his/her intended targets? Does the spellcaster automatically become the intended combatant that those targets must engage with? Can those targets engage/position with spellcaster as well as with other characters in the spellcaster’s party who are threatening them?

So, for example, wizard, priest, and troll walk into roden visionary’s sanctum. There’s a visionary, a horned troll, an albino roden sorcerer, and a roden assassin.

The two trolls are going at it, the priest is praying, the albino casts a spell, and the assassin goes after the priest.

So if the wizard wants to target anyone other than the priest…the troll and the assassin are definitely engaged with other members of the party…?

You can only try to engage one foe, but any number of characters can engage against the same target. The wizard can pick whoever and vie for position.

So if my wizard wants to target the bandit leader while he and his nine henchmen are encircling my party of three (wizard, elvish wanderer, humand duelist) who should my fire fan effect? (We said everyone opposed to wizard as it is a presence area of effect spell)
Another usage by same group and similar situationran differently as the leader and his second were behind cover and the henchmen had declared a three on one engagement. That only allowed the fire fan to effect the three that my wizard was in direct conflict with at that time.

515-516 covers the rules for area of effect spell in fight and range and cover in regards to how those spells are applied against those you are engaged in combat with. But the problem still remains if you are only allowed to be engaged against a single opponent when you are casting an area effect spell. Simple way is to state your intent (blast all the goons) and your task (fire fan spell; Ob3^ 1 action).
I’ve never seen any special engagement rules for area of effect spells in fight (and if they exist, please point them out to me), I believe the rules for hordes of mooks on page 460 could apply if the hordes had reason to suspect they were facing a spell caster. If such things were beyond their kin, they may not even be aware that they had been engaged until the spell goes off.
If they remain in the spell area and the caster wanted to include them (by intent) in the spell, they should be considered to be engaged by the caster.

You may engage or be engaged by more than one opponent in Fight.

If you engage with someone in fight and they’re the only opponent that engages you, then that’s who your spell affects.

If you engage with someone in fight and a bunch of their buddies engage you as well, then you’ll be able to hit them with your AoE spell.

What you can’t do is target people with your spell that you’re not currently engaged with.

Well, you can only choose to engage one, but you can be engaged with any number of opponents who succeed at engaging with you. And your allies can engage into the mess, but there are rules for it that I honestly can’t remember since I use them so seldom.

I think the way we’ve been doing it follows this structure as in my first example my wizard had targeted (engaged) the bandit leader and all of his henchmen were opposed to the group (crossbows).
In my second example, bandit leader and his second were behind an overturned wagon and the nine henchmen engaged at three on one so the wizard could only target (engage) one of the three that were attacking him while his spell could effect all three attackers engaged with him at that moment, he could not include the other bandits that were not engaged against him at that time.

I don’t think the first example was right. If the bandits are using crossbows in a Fight then they need to engage targets with crossbows. Those who engage the wizard are within his presence. Those who engage and fire at the other party members are not. Even if all the bandits are lined up at the same distance, by the rules only the ones shooting the wizard or engaged by the wizard are legal spell targets for the wizard.

This may be a case when good sense needs to overrule the rules. But in a more chaotic situation, with bandits surrounding the party and shooting different people, it’s reasonable to say that presence only includes those targeting the wizard. Not because they’re closer, but because positioning is abstract and by shooting the wizard they have declared themselves closer.

Yes, it gets even weirder if the wizard is next to his friends, who are engaged in melee, while engaging spells and arrows with more distant bandits. In that case his presence affects those far away guys but not the closer enemies. Which may be better than the common sense approach of “fry everyone, friend or foe.”

The first example was of the “If anyone moves, Shoot them” variety. So, at point, they were all instructed to shoot (engage) who ever moved, my wizard moved (casting fire fan), ruling at the time was that they had to wait for someone to move before they fired, and that they were unprepared for dealing with wizardry as wizards were uncommon in this game.

What you’re describing sounds actually like an opposed Speed test between the wizard and the bandits. Winner gets to fire off the Fire Fan/volley of arrows first. Or you could say that the bandits are just slow and don’t react, but then you’re just Saying Yes to the Fire Fan. Or you could have the Speed Test and then just Say Yes to the result, so whoever’s quicker on the draw definitely deals egregious damage to the other in the standoff. Or you could just let 'em both roll to Fire Fan and volley and leave everyone hurting. What’s the area of Fire Fan? Definitely all the bandits, by intent. Maybe all the allies too. It’s a GM call.

Since what you’re describing isn’t possible using the Fight rules, as there aren’t rules for contingent engagement or held actions what the rules have to say about targeting in Fight doesn’t apply.

So we basically did that one wrong regarding it as fight. It should have been a versus or bloody versus test instead of a fight (it seemed to make sense for the gm at the time).