Thursday, September 03, 2009

The demise of the fireball

As I worked on the finishing touches of my new sorcerer character last night, in particular, selecting my spells, something occurred to me. Back in the "good old days", when your magic-user achieved the level necessary to cast 3rd level spells, it was a given that first one would be fireball. Oh glorious fireball, that mighty arcane fist of doom, the slayer of man and orc, the spell that all other offensive spells aspired to be. Asking how many 3rd level spells you had was virtually equivalent to asking how many fireballs you had prepared. Sure, sometimes you would throw a lightning bolt into the mix and at high levels, when you had a lot of 3rd level spells, you might even take a dispel magic or haste for variety, but you always made sure you had plenty of fireballs on tap.

Boy, what a difference a few editions make. With damage topped out at 10d6 and with evasion and fire resistance as common as +1 longswords, it hardly seems worth it. Sure, a wizard might prepare one in the unlikely event he gets to whack a large concentration of cannon-fodder that he needs to wipe out quickly, but for a sorcerer with limited spell options, fireball is a toothless dinosaur. Heck, even lightning bolt, long the idiot stepbrother of fireball is now more attractive since electricity resistance is ever so slightly less common than fire resistance. How times have changed.

On another note, I notice they nerfed ray of enfeeblement in Pathfinder. Not surprising, that spell was way too powerful as written.



Obiri said...

Too powerful? Just because I was disabling the BBEG with one 1st level spell does not make it over powered!

I agree. Enervation is almost as nasty and its a 4th level spell.

As I was reading the Grognardia blog, he pointed out that Fireball used to be awesome when even high level fighters had only 80ish hitpoints. Now that monsters often have 100+ or even 200+ hp the 35 point fireball is pretty useless except on mooks.

Rognar said...

That Grognardia guy takes rpgs way too seriously.

Obiri said...

Yes he does. He does make lots of good points even though I can't say I agree with them all.

I have to say I like the tactical nature and the complex rules that go with it.

I do rather miss building keeps and becoming rulers though. D&D has lost its end game.

Rognar said...

I believe that sort of empire-building campaign is still possible in D&D 3.5/Pathfinder. The problem is, there are so many cool character options to test drive, no one really wants to run the same character for 2 or 3 years. Once you've played a character for a few months, a new splatbook comes out and some shiny new hotness strikes your fancy.