This part is supposed to be a long dangerous slog up a volcano valley towards the volcano, so it's mostly combat. First a combat with a smoke drake, then a trivial encounter with a patch lavabriars, then a fire element bulette, then an obsidian ooze. All went fairly smoothly; I think I've finally hit a point where I can handle monsters with at least a few special abilities without making many mistakes.
The PCs had resist fire spells up for the first few combats, but not for the last two, and the difference was apparent--it's also apparent that Turok's fire immunity is a big help to him. But the other PCs have gotten a fair bit of opportunities to shine, I think.
I worked specifically at adding descriptive elements in this game. This is rule one of every piece of GMing advice, but I'm not always good at this. Monica said she appreciated it, and I'll try to develop this as a habit. (I was particularly motivated in this by bluelang's enthusiastic description.)
One surprising minor discrepancy between the story in my head and the way the story played out: I was imagining the party's travels through the valley of lava with occasional firestorms leaving them scorched, sooty, and dusty--but with a 0-level prestidigitation spell, dirt and grime is easily done away with. It's almost like Monty Python: "How can you tell she's a mage? She hasn't got soot all over her."
I keep wondering about the rules I'm using for impeded magic. (This area is fire-aspected; cold and water magics are impeded.) My starting inspiration was the Manual of the Planes, which requires a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell level) to cast an impeded spell. I made several changes to this:
- I switched it to be double the spell level instead of the spell level, because I felt it should be as hard for 5th-level wizards to cast their impeded 3rd-level spells as for 1st-level wizards to cast their 1st-level spells.
- I switched it to be a caster level check instead of a Spellcraft check, because I thought of overcoming impedance as requiring power more than skill. (This also makes it easier to answer the question "does a magic item of an impeded type work?" So I reduced the base DC from 15 to 12, because the maximum number of ranks for a skill is character level + 3.
But I've made some possible errors there:
- Assuming that Spellcraft skill is 3 greater than caster level is not quite right, because it ignores the Int bonus.
- The 3.5 SRD says that for impeded magic, the DC of the Spellcraft check is 20 + spell level.
So, really, there's a lot of room for doubt that I have the right formula. Unfortunately, I don't quite have a sense of how hard it should be for mid- and high-level spellcasters to overcome impedance to which I could fit the DC function.
I've realized that the impeded cold magics have been hampering Larissa a lot more than Liandra. Larissa's fireballs are fairly useless against most of the denizens, and her cold balls are impeded. But Liandra's resist fire and quench (two of her spells that have been biggest in this adventure) both seem more fire-aspected than cold-aspected to me. On the other hand, I wouldn't consider them so fire-aspected that they get the benefits that fire spells get in this area.