I Fell into a Burning Ring of Hellfire…

Ah, Hellfire.  How you vex me.  According to the core rules and the Grand Tome of Adversaries:

Hellfire (Malus & Veneficum)
This being has the ability to throw hellfire, which should be reflected in its stats. There is no standard way that hellfire appears or does damage. For some beings, the hellfire it summons appears to be animate flame, while for others it appears to be thick, dark smoke which takes the form of screaming souls. The most pernicious aspect of hellfire is that it will catch just about anything on fire. It can set metal, stone, even water itself on fire. Throwing Hellfire is a Quick Magical Attack action.

This description tells me…pretty much…nothing.  Well, that’s not fair.  It tells me using Hellfire is a Quick Magical Action.  And it catches things on fire.  But that’s it.  How much damage does it do?  What sort of Range are we talking about here?  What’s the area of the effect or how many targets can be affected by it.  These are big questions because in 1st edition Hellfire is devastating!  It does damage in whole INJURY LEVELS!  It’s nasty enough the writers limited it’s use to twice a scene.  But now?  Hell if I know!  It’s a lot of smoke and mirrors — a “design your own power,” which is cool, but not very practical in play.  Especially when a stat block just reads “Hellfire.”

The new Grand Tome of Adversaries gives a few more parameters.  Minions of the Howling Teeth and Stiltskins (Grims) have both a dice pool and a damage modifier associated with their Hellfire powers.  That’s an improvement at least.  It gives me something to work with.  So in lieu of an “official” clarification, I offer you my completely “unofficial” Hellfire revision:

Hellfire (Malus & Veneficum)

This being has the ability to throw Hellfire. There is no standard way that hellfire appears or does damage. For some beings, the hellfire it summons appears to be animate flame, while for others it appears to be thick, dark smoke which takes the form of screaming souls. The most pernicious aspect of hellfire is that it will catch just about anything on fire. It can set metal, stone, even water itself on fire.

Throwing Hellfire is a Quick Magical Action and targets a single individual within 100 yards (approx. 5 Areas) and line of sight.  The villain rolls the dice indicated by the power.  The target may attempt to avoid the Hellfire with a True Faith (Agility or Toughness, whichever is is more beneficial to the target) roll.  Each success rolled negates one die from the damage roll.  Armor offers no protection against Hellfire.  If the target suffers any damage from the attack, she catches “fire” and suffers ongoing damage each round thereafter.  This continues until the victim is dead or she succeeds at a follow-up True Faith (Agility or Toughness) roll.  This counts as a Quick Move Action.  Unlike normal fires, the victim receives no benefit for rolling on the ground.  Using methods to suffocate the “flames” may provide a circumstantial bonus at the GM’s discretion.

Rating Dice Pool Initial DM Ongoing DM Target Rec. Adversary Limits
Minor 4–5d +5 +2 Individual Minion
Moderate 6–7d +5 +2 Individual Minion/Lieutenant
Major 8–9d +6 +3 Individual/Area Lieutenant/Villain
Horrible 10–11d +6 +3 Individual/Area Villain/Mastermind
Terrible 12d+ +7 +4 Individual/Area Villain/Mastermind

Area Effect: Some villains and masterminds can employ Hellfire against an entire Area instead of a single target.  In these cases, all potential targets in the affected Area must roll to avoid the effects of the Hellfire as normal.

Trappings: As previously mentioned, this power does not always manifest as “fire.” It can take any form desired by the GM that suits the villain.  Any residual effect should mimic the primary form.  A “dark smoke of screaming skulls” might linger around the target, with ongoing damage mimicking suffocation. This is why there is no sure way to extinguish Hellfire.

Adversary Limits: The guidelines in GToA 1 and 2 suggest no minion should have the Hellfire power.  Clearly the writers don’t feel bound by their own advice. so why should you?!  But let’s be reasonable: minions throwing 12d Hellfire would be crazy!  These guidelines are meant to give a bit more practical advice in how powerful Hellfire should be for each grade of adversary.  This doesn’t preclude a band of minions having a 12d Hellfire power, or a Mastermind with a 5d variant of the power, but these recommendations should keep things more thematically in line.

Edit: While updating and testing my Hellfire macros on Roll20, I discovered a couple of details I hadn’t considered.  Text in this color has been updated to correct this oversight.

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One thought on “I Fell into a Burning Ring of Hellfire…

  1. Pingback: 2015: A Retrospective | …and a Brace of Pistols

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