Saturday, August 2, 2014

20 Balls of Fire: Spheres of Blazing Death HackMaster Style

Inspired by Rients' rant about fireballs from a few weeks back--and simultaneously filling in a glaring omission in Delta Dan's Spells Through the Ages Series--I decided to investigate the numerous versions of every one's favorite spell of incendiary devastation in the most beloved of all editions of D&D: HackMaster!

That's right, HackMaster has 20 different Fireball spells, at least 2 are available at each spell level (except 7th, which gets but one).  Yes, there are not one but two versions available to Prestifidigitatarions. And in case you have to ask: yes they're all "volumetric" and you will roast your party and yourself if you cast one in tight quarters.   

1st Level
Fireball barrage: Actually, this one isn't volumetric; it lets you cast a single-serving-sized fireball at a single target.  You get to blast one fire ball per round per level for a staggering 1d3 pts. of damage.  Presumably, the purpose of this spell is for the MU to light the candles in his laboratory without having to get up from his studies.
Sidewinder Factor 1: sidewinder fireballs can slither around walls and over obstacles to get to their target... where they will deliver 1d6-4 whopping pts of dmg/level of MU. Also, sub-freezing temperatures reduce the range of the spell by 10' per degree F below freezing.  So at 22 degrees F (-4 or -5 C maybe?) it's effective range is 0 and you've cast it on yourself.  Better have an accurate thermometer on hand.
2nd Level
Skipping Betty: a single 10' r. fireball skips across the ground each round until it finds a target and detonates.
Sidewinder Factor 2: as Factor 1 but slightly more damage.
3rd Level 
Fireball: Yep, here it is in all its volumetric beauty, except it's been de-fanged a bit in that it causes only 1d4/level damage.  Weird. 
Scatter-Blast: causes 1d6 separate 10'r. fireballs to go off in a randomly determined direction and distance.  Don't try this one underground... or anywhere else. 
Sidewinder Factor 3: as Factor 2 but slightly more damage.  
4th Level
Landscraper: Before I read the description of this spell, I thought it would maybe create a conflagration that would spread along the terrain conforming to contours sort of like how the mist from dry ice flows over the ground, except, ya' know, it would be fiery.  I was wrong.  Instead, it's just like a normal fireball but the "area of effect is increased by a 5ft. wide by 10' high parallelepiped* that extends back to the caster from the center of the main fireball."  Which is to say, after the blast fills its 33,000 cf of space, it then reaches out a little appendage in one last effort to reach the MU.  No idea why that would make it a 4th level spell, or what it has to do with scraping land.   
Sidewinder Factor 4: as Factor 3 but slightly more damage. 
Volley: Launch one 10' r. fireball per round for the duration of the spell, each does 3d6 dmg.
5th Level
Sidewinder Factor 5: as Factor 4 but slightly more damage.
Torrential: Area of effect is doubled to 40' r. sphere.  Does 1d6 per level.
6th Level
Show-No-Mercy: like a normal fireball but dmg is 1d8/level.
Proximity Fused: Spell is cast on a point in space and detonates only when someone approaches within 10' of this point.
7th level
Delayed Blast: just like it sounds. 
8th Level
Death Brusher: "This spell is the same as the 3rd level spell Fireball, except [the casting time is 8 segments instead of 3].  In addition, those taking damage from the Fireball must pass a system shock roll or be instantly slain."  I friggin' love HackMaster.
Maximus: Same as regular fireballs except damage is d10/level of MU.
9th Level
Lava Yield: Damage is 1d12/level and it melts stone within the area of effect.
Nuclear Winter: The spell description reads:"This spell has been rescinded in HackMaster 4th Edition."  And for good reason: the 20-mile radius area of effect, as indicated in the statblock for the spell, would make it more than a little ungainly.

In conclusion, there is no standard, 1d6/level fireball, but there are plenty of variants.

*A parallelepiped, as it turns out, is a rectangular cube, if that makes sense.  A very useful word, but so tragically cumbersome that it should not come as a surprise that the HackMaster rulebook is the only known usage of the term in a sentence.

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