Dungeons & Delvers: Burning Condition

Though they don’t have hard-set mechanics (as in, x damage type must have y effect), in Dungeons & Delvers the general theme for cold attacks is that they can hinder movement via the Slowed, Immobilized, and Restrained conditions, while lightning can impose the Dazed or Stunned conditions, as well as being more effective against creatures wearing metal armor.

None of the conditions seemed to fit fire, so to compensate we just had fire attacks and effects deal more damage—at least when compared to a talent with a similar Drain and Favor cost that also imposes a condition—and often have them affect an area. But, after talking with a few players about damage types, I’m thinking of adding a fire-specific condition: Burning, or perhaps just On Fire.

Mostly this would be for attacks and effects that permit saving throws: Lance of Faith used by a Fire Domain cleric would not (since it's an at-will all-or-nothing attack), but a cleric using the Fire Domain to deal automatic damage (with a save for half) could. Though, similar to fighter exploits, I could see a fire attack being able to cause Burning if the attack roll is sufficiently high.

Once you’re on fire, you continue to take damage until you put yourself out. The damage would be inflicted at the start of your turn, and at the end you get to make an automatic saving throw to see if you manage to put it out. The DC would be whatever the original saving throw DC was, or the saving throw DC the class would use for things that cause saving throws.

You can choose to use your Standard Action to try and put yourself out, in which case you get to roll twice and use the higher bonus (this replaces the end-of-turn save you get to make). Allies can help out, giving you a bonus on your save, and obviously doing certain things (like dousing yourself in water or jumping in a lake) would automatically put out the flames.

The big question, besides whether or not you think this is too damned complicated to be worthwhile, or even needed at all, is whether the damage should be a consistent amount, or should it scale, and if it does scale, how quickly? Here are three ways we came up with to handle it (but we’re open to other ideas):

1. Consistent Damage
You take a set amount of damage each round (like 1d6 or 3). The damage could vary by the effect: being lit on fire by Burning Hands might only do 1d6, while being lit on fire by a dragon's breath could be 1d10 (or 2d10, or 15, or more). The important thing is that the damage remains the same.

2. Scaling Damage Die
You take a single die of damage (the type depends on the attack or effect), and each round you remain on fire the die increases by one step: d4 > d6 > d8 > d10 > d12. D12 is the cap, and after that you just take d12 until it gets put out or you die.

3. Increasing Damage Dice
You take one or more dice of damage (varies by attack or effect), and each round another die gets added. So if an ability lights you on fire for 1d6 damage, the next round it becomes 2d6, then 3d6, and so on until it gets put out.

We started up a poll on G+ to see how we should handle the damage, so feel free to head on over and cast your vote! We were going to do a poll on Facebook, but for some reason it limits us to only two choices. Oh well, it’ll be easier to keep all the results in one place.

Another question is whether DR from worn armor should apply. I can kind of see a case for it, but then I think it would just be easier to say no so you don’t have to remember a probably minor detail. If consistent damage wins we'd definitely say to ignore DR because otherwise there'd be a good chance you you'd only take like 1 point of damage each round.

Here’s an example of what it would look like on a talent or monster’s attack:

Burning Hands
Prerequisite: Evoker
Drain: 1d4
You unleash a 15-foot cone of fire from your hands. Creatures caught in the area of effect suffer 2d6+Intelligence fire damage and must attempt a Reflex save: on a success they suffer half damage, and on a failure they suffer full damage and are on fire (1d6).

Again, we really want to know is whether this proposed condition is too complicated, or if you think it’s not even necessary. Also let us know if you have a better idea. If it helps you decide, Dungeons & Delvers is aimed more at the OSR crowd in terms of rules complexity. Just let us know what you think in the comments, over on the poll, via a private post or email, whatever works for you.

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

If you want more adventures, we just released Escape From the Flesh Catacombs: a bunch of 0-level characters need to escape from the catacomb-lair of a gorgon that was slain, causing everything she's petrified to revert to flesh and rise as undead.

Our latest Dungeon World class, The Ranger, is now available.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).


  1. I think scaling damage is too complicated. Maybe instead you could make it stackable? Like it does static 1d6 is reduced by Dr, minimum of 1 damage but you can keep applying more and more of the condition for added dice? Or like how the slowed and immobilized conditions bestow a negative to defense maybe burning could bestow a minus to attack because your distracted by being on fire?

  2. @Adam,

    The poll is almost 60 votes, almost two-thirds in favor of a consistent damage value, so that's what we're going to roll with. It makes sense because scaling damage, especially the third option, would make fire attacks obscenely powerful to the point where it's possible the ongoing damage outstrips the original attack.

    Are you thinking that if you get hit with ongoing fire damage of d6, that if you get hit again it goes up to 2d6? Or up to d8 (getting bumped up a damage die)? I'd like to keep things as simple as possible while giving fire it's own thematic thing to help separate it from the other types.


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