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Stark Rost, look away!

Version 2 of this question.

I've omitted most of the redundant discussion from this iteration of the question and instead focused on what changes I made and why. For the information on my party, player, etc. please see version 1 of the question.

My goal is to create an electrical thematic equivalent to Fiery Body and Corrosive Body. I've tried to balance this ability similar to Fiery Body and Corrosive Body. My primary concern is the balance and theme of the spell itself. Without further ado...

The Spell

Electrifying Body (Level 7) | Cast: two actions (somatic, verbal) | Duration: 1 minute

Electricity arcs across your body, and your form rapidly shifts to become nothing more than sheer electricity vaguely resembling a humanoid shape. You gain immunity to electricity. You gain resistance 10 to precision damage and a +20 foot status bonus to all Speeds you have. Any creature that touches you or damages you with an unarmed melee attack or a metal melee weapon takes 3d6 electricity damage, and your unarmed attacks deal an additional 1d4 electricity damage.

Your electricity spells deal one additional die of electricity damage (of the same damage die that the spell uses). You can cast Electric Arc as an innate spell. When you cast Electric Arc, you can choose up to three targets.

While under the affects of this spell, you gain a Swim speed equal to your Land speed, and you do not need to breathe.

Changes:

  1. I removed the complicated speeds through metal and Burrowing and replaced it with a Swim speed (which feels thematic) and a bonus to all speeds. I did this partially for the complexity reduction and partially to make up for the fact that Fiery Body just gives Fly. This feels slightly weaker than giving a Fly speed which is fine - I made some other buffs.
  2. I removed being flat-footed to metal weapons. I miss this interaction with metal a little bit, but theoretically electricity jumps to metal, not the other way around. This was the biggest weakness of the spell, and I'm hoping that by simply not having a weakness it's about on level with Fiery Body (which has a weakness but better movement).
  3. I changed it to damage people who attack with metal melee weapons or unarmed attacks, instead of non-reach melee weapons or unarmed attacks. This is a really niche difference (and probably a minor net buff) but I think it makes more thematic sense - while proximity to fire burns, electricity really needs a way to touch you to hurt. (*not a physicist)

Thoughts on it now? I'm still hoping for a spell that my player will actually use without it becoming so powerful that they eclipse the party or feel like they need it for every fight. My biggest point of discontent is that there isn't some weakness innate to the spell itself, but that might resolve itself with the overcharging aspect of the "item" I'm giving the player (see the first question).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Btw, what's the "Stark Rost, Look Away!" from? I thought it must be a pop culture refernce of some sort, but google brought up nothing... \$\endgroup\$ Sep 19, 2023 at 21:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin it's the name of my Sorcerer player - once I award the spell to him then I'll remove that bit, but until then I don't want him stumbling across this and reading it! \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Sep 19, 2023 at 22:00

3 Answers 3

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This looks pretty balanced now

Sligthly reordering for better comparability

Fiery Body Electric Body
Level: 7 same
Cast: 2 actions (somatic, verbal) same
Duration: 1 minute same
You become living flame, giving you fire immunity, resistance 10 to precision damage, and weakness 5 to cold and to water. Electricity arcs across your body, and your form rapidly shifts to become nothing more than sheer electricity vaguely resembling a humanoid shape. You gain immunity to electricity. You gain resistance 10 to precision damage.
Any creature that touches you or damages you with an unarmed attack or non-reach melee weapon takes 3d6 fire damage. Any creature that touches you or damages you with an unarmed melee attack or a metal melee weapon takes 3d6 electricity damage
Your unarmed attacks deal 1d4 additional fire damage, and and your unarmed attacks deal an additional 1d4 electricity damage.
your fire spells deal one additional die of fire damage (of the same damage die the spell uses). Your electricity spells deal one additional die of electricity damage (of the same damage die that the spell uses).
You can cast produce flame as an innate spell; the casting is reduced from 2 actions to 1. You can cast Electric Arc as an innate spell. When you cast Electric Arc, you can choose up to three targets.
In fire form, you have a fly Speed of 40 feet and don't need to breathe. While under the affects of this spell, you gain a Swim speed equal to your Land speed, and a +20 foot status bonus to all Speeds you have, and you do not need to breathe.

Changing the damage type is a useful minor upgrade -- as your own analysis shows, fire is roughly twice as oftern resisted or blocked by immunity as electricity; although, to trade off, there are also nearly 3 times as many creatures vulnerable to it, so overall that should not make too much of a difference.

The other four meaningful differences are:

Electric Arc vs Produce Flame. Electric arc already can target two creatures and therefore (even though save based instead of to hit based) has the potential to deal roughly twice as much damage. In addition, you add one potential target, rather than halved action cost. If I understand the action rules right, there is nothing limiting you from casting multiple spells per turn in 2e as long as you have actions to do so. This means at the cost of 1 action, you can cast produce flame twice instead of once. I think the benefit overall here is pretty comparable but yours is a bit stronger due to the higher overall damage potential (two actions for 3d4+3xSAM vs 2x(1d4+SAM)).

Fly Speed 40 vs Swim Speed and +20 feet to all speeds. Swim Speed is pretty situational, while Fly speed is likely the best speed in the game. For many characters the 40 speed is equal to a +10 bonus to their normal 30 feet, an nothing stops you from flying instead of using Land speed. In many situations, your version effectively is +20 feet to Land speed. It is more flexible in combinations (e.g. you can combine it with another fly speed, like form fly, to fly with +20 feet, no matter what your base speed may be from builds optimized to move fast). Still, getting the fly speed and giving up 10 extra speed and swim seems to be the better deal, barring special situations.

Non-Reach weapon vs Metal Weapon. I think you need to clarify what counts as a "metal weapon", as metal is not one of the weapon traits. Is a glaive with a metal blade but a wooden staff a metal weapon? How about a battleaxe? How about a sword with a wooden handle? If you count anything with some metal in it, then I think your version is stronger, as the vast majority of melee weapons contain some (except clubs, staffs, whips, lassos and a few others). If the entire weapon needs to be of metal, then yours may be a good bit weaker. If you take some practical middle ground, then it is probably on par.

Weakness 5 to cold and water vs nothing Dropping the weakness is obviously making yours stronger compared to Fiery body. Its a bit hard to think of another good weakness to use.

One recommendation I have is using the same language and word order where you effectively have the same function as in the published material. It just helps to avoid unforseen differences in interpretation.

Overall I'd say this is pretty balanced. The weaker speed helps to balance the potentially slightly higher damage from Electric Arc and lack of a weakness - I think due to the latter, it tips the scales slightly in being stronger, but you'd need to playtest to see how it really plays out. Always playtest.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Great analysis! On the weakness, one could potentially say the electricity immunity with no weakness is actually more balanced than it seems as fire is a much more common damage type and therefore more useful to have an immunity to; but either way I'd agree this is well within the general power level :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Lunin
    Sep 18, 2023 at 22:13
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Swim Seems Out of Place

Most elementals that deal electricity damage seem to be similar to storm clouds as air elementals like the living thunderclap, which generally have fly speeds rather than swim speeds. While existing body spells don't mention explicitly becoming elemental, they do reference becoming living flame/acid which seems thematically similar.

For a 7th level spell this could either grant or not grant a fly speed and be fine balance-wise, otherwise the bonus to all speeds seems thematically appropriate to the idea of moving like lightning.

Otherwise Things Look Good

This version's quite a bit more comparable to existing body spells, and it's not much better or worse than either.

It lacks the weakness to cold/water from fiery body, but corrosive body does too so that's not a problem. Distinguishing metal vs non-reach for melee weapon reflect damage is thematic and not going to change much balance-wise. Finally targeting up to 3 creatures with the innate electric arc is very consistent with the other body spells enhancing their cantrips in unique ways like reducing action cost or increasing splash radius.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ A lot of the air elementals are air elementals more than electricity elementals. They are all storm/wind based whereas I'm trying to go for more of a pure electricity vibe. I know that IRL electricity goes through water pretty well (thanks Pokemon) so hence the Swim speed. I could reinforce that notion more in the flavor text, perhaps, if that helps at all? (talk about arcing off the ground and nearby surfaces etc). I definitely want the narrative of the spell to make sense, so I really appreciate you noticing the disconnect here. My player will definitely spot disconnects better than me lol \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Sep 18, 2023 at 17:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah my hangup might be more on the idea of "swimming" as pure electricity. FWIW from a chemistry standpoint pure water doesn't conduct at all, it's the ions/salts in most water that increase it. Distinguishing on that would be way too much for this spell, but just increasing the caster's speeds would also increase the movement from Swimming. Making the status bonus larger than 20 feet could balance against not giving an explicit swim speed. \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Sep 18, 2023 at 18:29
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I think overall that spell is reasonable. Here I am mostly nitpicking.

You can cast Electric Arc as an innate spell. When you cast Electric Arc, you can choose up to three targets.

The main issue I see is the difference in wording. According to your wording, someone benefiting from Electric Body who casted Electric Arc in some way other than the innate spell granted by Electric Body would still be able to target 3 creatures, while someone under the effects of Fire Body or Corrosive Body would only be able to get the bonus on the cantrip if they were actually using it as an innate spell.

I suspect it won't matter most of the time, but that's still bad practice to have spells that should work the same differ on minor details like that.

You gain immunity to electricity. You gain resistance 10 to precision damage

Perhaps it could be nice to have some kind of weakness too, like Fiery Body gives a weakness to cold and water. Corrosive Body doesn't, but it doesn't give all the mobility Fiery (and Electric) does.

I suggest giving a weakness to being immobilized, something like "each of your turns you end while being immobilized, you take 10 damage", to reflect that electricity doesn't really exist outside of some kind of motion.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ oh hm - that is an intentional part of the wording, as my player can already cast Electric Arc. However, he's an Imperial Sorcerer, so per my understanding it'd have the same DC regardless. I'll update that wording though in case I expand the spell to other players. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Sep 18, 2023 at 21:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you think about adding a weakness like this: "If, on your turn, you do not take an action with the Move or Electricity traits, you suffer damage equal to double the spell level. You can dismiss this spell to avoid taking the damage." \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Sep 18, 2023 at 21:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE I don't think it changes that much to have it worded that way or the other, at least considering what I know to currently exist as options to sorcerers: most stuff either doesn't work with cantrips or doesn't care if the spell comes from you Sorcerer class or something else. That said, if it changed something you should consider to also patch the other XXX Body spells to work the same way. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2023 at 22:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE I thought about a very similar idea, but I think this is both too easy to always avoid taking the damages (I don't see any course of action where a clever foe could make you take them), and requires to always think about it ("wait, did you use a move action during your turn?" "I stepped up from prone, does that count?" "let me check..."). If it ever triggers it will be "gotchas" from the DM after the player forgot about this rule. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2023 at 22:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ fair points, I'll keep stewing on it. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Sep 19, 2023 at 21:59

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