Minimalist Modular Fire Magic
This is the blueprint for most fire magic. It’s what a 1st level fire spell would look like.
Each of the numerical elements – the radius of the sphere; the range; and the damage – can be increased.
Each increase in any of those three areas increases the spell level by one.
So a 1st level fire spell makes a sphere of radius 5ft, has a range of 120ft and does 4d6 fire damage.
A wizard can cast their 2nd level fire spell as any of the below:
- A 5ft radius sphere, 120ft range and 8d6 damage
- A 20ft radius sphere, 120ft range and 4d6 damage
- A 5ft radius sphere, 240ft range and 8d6 damage
Under this system, wizards can modify their spell to suit the situation they are in.
If a wizard with access to 4th level spells wants to cast a fireball with a radius of 40ft, then it can either have a range of 120ft and deal 8d6 damage, or it can have a range of 240ft but deal just 4d6 damage.
The power of the fireball increases in line with the idea of ‘Quadratic Wizards‘.
A wizard casting fireball as a cantrip would use the 1st level blueprint, except they would halve two of the values. For example, 4d6 damage but only 60ft of range and 2.5ft radius for the sphere.
In fact, the numbers I’ve use keep the power levels approximately the same as Firebolt, Burning Hands, Fireball and Meteor Swarm in 5e.
Fire Magic status quo
Here’s a brief rundown of the fire magic spells in the player’s handbook. I’m only including spells where the main purpose is fire damage and which wizards can cast.
|Spell||Level||Damage||Range||Explanation and details|
|Fire Bolt||Cantrip||1d10 fire||120ft||1 target|
|Burning Hands||1st||3d6 fire||15ft||Cone area of effect|
|Scorching Ray||2nd||2d6 fire||120ft||3 attacks at up to 3 targets|
|Flaming Sphere||2nd||2d6 fire||60ft||5ft diameter sphere, move 30ft each turn, damage each round|
|Fireball||3rd||8d6 fire||120ft||20ft radius sphere|
|Wall of Fire||4th||5d8 fire||120ft||60ft long, 20ft high, 1ft thick|
|Flame Strike||5th||8d6 mixed||60ft||10ft radius, 40ft high cylinder, fire and radiant damage|
|Delayed Blast Fireball||7th||12d6 fire||150ft||20ft radius sphere, 1d6 more damage per round for 1min|
|Incendiary Cloud||8th||10d8 fire||150ft||20ft radius sphere, move 10ft per round, damage each round|
|Meteor Swarm||9th||40d6 mixed||1 mile||40ft radius sphere, fire and bludgeoning damage|
- As they advance, wizards can use their fire magic attack to:
- Do increasing damage to each target
- Hit more targets at once
- Hit targets which are increasingly far away
- Most of the spells are fire damage in an area of effect, but some have their own gimmicks
- Flaming Sphere, Wall of Fire and Incendiary Cloud all persist on the battlefield
- Delayed Blast Fireball has a ramp up in its damage until it is released
- There is a mildly annoying lack of symmetry.
- There’s no 6th level fire spell for Wizards. They have Sunbeam but it only does radiant damage.
- Most spells use d6s but not all of them.
- Each spell takes roughly 1/4 of a page, so in all they take about 2.5 pages.
There is some functionality to the spells above which the modular system does not have. However, they can be patched on.
- At a cost of 2 spell-levels, a fireball can persist for a minute, and can be directed to move 30ft every round as a bonus action. Creatures inside the fireball make a save at the start of their turn etc.
- At a cost of 2 spell-levels, a fireball can be delayed for a minute, with the damage increasing by 1d6 for every round of combat that it is held for.
In fact, any desired functionality could be patched on.
The minor annoyances have gone since every level has fireball magic and it all uses d6s.
The modular version is also a lot more concise – perhaps half a page rather than 2.5 pages.
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