# How does Firesnake work (RaW, RaI, or house rules)

Firesnake has a duration of instantaneous, but claims to be able to move 60 ft every round, and "A creature can only take damage from the firesnake once in a single round", both of which imply that the effect of the spell is intended to persist over more than one round, much like create water is instantaneous, but the water lasts forever.

I honestly can't quite work out what the RaW even say, and I sure as hell have no idea what the Rules as Intended are.

From my interpretation, the RaW are: You use this ability to create a Firesnake. In the first round, it extends from an adjacent square until it is 60 ft long. In subsequent rounds, you can take pieces of the tail and put them connected to the head, and that can happen 12 times each round. The duration is infinite, and you can have more than one of them in existence by creating one, taking a full round action to recover manuevers, and using it again.

Question 1: Is the above even a correct RaW? or have I missed something?

Turning to Rules as Intended,

Question 2: Is the spell intended to last forever, 1 round, or some other duration?

Question 3: Assuming duration is long enough to allow this to happen, is the intention that I can create multiple of these simultaneously?

And now to some house rules From what I am reading of this, a homebrew change to this spell makes it's duration unlimited, but the effect ends if the Firesnake ever reaches 60 ft in length. Still nothing is mentioned forbidding the creation of multiple of the things, still leading to the problem that someone could permanently set a small part of the world on fire every 12 seconds, with no way for the effect to ever end short of convincing the creator to end it.

Question 5: Does anyone have any links to official errata/posts on the subject(I couldn't find any), or any homebrew that they have used and found to be balanced, or that has attained widespread usage

Question 6: Failing anything, can I get a review of the following homebrew rules.

Duration: instantaneous then infinite(D). Creates a 60 ft line, which may move up to 60 ft from the head each round. The initiatior can only have 1 firesnake activate at a time. If they recover maneuvers, the maximum number of manuevers they can have prepared is 1 lower than normal, unless the initiatior chooses to end the effect.

Question 1: Is the above even a correct RaW? or have I missed something?

Well, there's a funny thing about firesnake's RAW. From an extremely technical standpoint, your reading of firesnake is incorrect. This is because Tome of Battle recieved an errata back in 2008. Firesnake's text was changed, clearing up the RAI on what it's apparently meant to do:

Page 53 – Firesnake
[Deletion/Substitution]

Naturally, this is not very useful for our purposes at all. So instead of using the completely true and 100% official RAW, I'm going to step through the maneuver itself:

Initiation Action: 1 standard action
Range: 60 ft.
Area: Special
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Reflex half

So, as a standard action, you initiate the firesnake maneuver and create a Special area within 60 feet. This is an intantaneous effect, and as such, you don't have to concentrate or otherwise direct it later. Reflex half, so anything that takes damage from it gets a save to reduce the damage. Now, let's see what it actually does:

When you initiate this maneuver, you cause a line of fire to twist across an area to burn your enemies. This line is 60 feet long. Unlike a standard line, a firesnake can bend and twist to hit your foes. A firesnake starts in an adjacent square.

So the first part of our Special area is this thing. It's a line that can be twisted as you like when you make it, and otherwise would function as a line. It doesn't quite define how twisty you can make it, but it'll do for our purposes. Next up, the fun bits:

It can move up to 60 feet each round. It can move out of your line of sight or line of effect, but you gain no special knowledge of the areas it moves into. If a firesnake moves into a creature’s space, that creature takes 6d6 points of fire damage, with a Reflex save (DC 14 + your Wis modifier) for half damage. A creature can only take damage from the firesnake once in a single round. It makes the saving throw and takes damage the first time that the firesnake touches it. After that, a firesnake has no effect on that creature. A firesnake must move along the ground. It cannot fly, and it pays the standard movement penalties for difficult terrain and other effects. This maneuver is a supernatural ability.

Note that since this is an instantaneous ability, and it doesn't have any provisions for you controlling it, you don't actually get to. Once you create the firesnake, it can move up to 60 feet each round, and it can move out of your line of sight or line of effect. It can only damage a person once, after which it stops being able to harm them, and it cannot damage objects, because it only deals damage when it moves into a creature's space. You can have as many made as you feel like, but you still won't be able to direct them at all without DM adjudication (although how they would move, not being creatures themselves, is up in the air. Maybe they're like curious puppies).

I would definitely caution you against wantonly creating firesnakes, on account of their mindlessness, uncontrollableness, and general immortality. Given the current time of year, maybe a public service announcement is in order.

Question 2: Is the spell intended to last forever, 1 round, or some other duration? Question 3: Assuming duration is long enough to allow this to happen, is the intention that I can create multiple of these simultaneously?

Sadly, we have no way of knowing what the duration of the maneuver was meant to be, and if multiples are meant to be allowed. They had their chance to fix it with the errata and managed not to do so, in the most spectacular way possible. The RAW is that it's instantaneous and you can have as many as you make, and that's all there is to go on. There are no references to the maneuver on the wizards website, and it doesn't even show up in the 3.5 FAQ.

The only real differences between the original firesnake maneuver and the homebrew fix is that the firesnake moves up to 60 feet as part of initiating the maneuver, that it can move over any horizontal surface, not just the ground, and that it is not explicitly noted as being able to move out of line of sight or line of effect. However, instantaneous effects don't care about range once they're actually used, so it doesn't do anything to solve the unlimited use and duration problem, nor the problem of the maneuver not actually allowing you to direct it (which is normally done in similar spells by listing an action to do so). I don't think this is a very good fix to use, myself.

Question 5: Does anyone have any links to official errata/posts on the subject(I couldn't find any), or any homebrew that they have used and found to be balanced, or that has attained widespread usage

There is no official errata or post that makes firesnake into something usable. Even more sadly, there's very little homebrew or fixes for the maneuver floating around on the internet. The one you linked is the only one I could find that actually attempted to fix it, even if they failed at it.

Question 6: Failing anything, can I get a review of the following homebrew rules.

These houserules for firesnake are fair. There are some minor wording quibbles; I'd change the duration of the maneuver to "Permanent (D)", and note that it's a free action to direct the firesnake's movement during your turn. One thing to note is that while this solves the problem of firesnake being completely nonfunctional, it doesn't actually make it a good maneuver. Were I rewriting it, I would probably make it deal 1d6 damage per initiator level to a given target, because it has a relatively low save DC for scaling into later levels, and a cool, flavorful maneuver dealing 6d6 damage at level 20 is pretty underwhelming.

• Thank you for being so clear with how you interpret RAI. It's one of the most misunderstood and contentious terms, and can cause a lot of disagreement. The clarity of your wording is exemplary. – Wibbs Dec 11 '15 at 10:48
• Aw! Such a missed opportunity for hilarity! Great answer, but you can have a little fun with these :P – KRyan Dec 11 '15 at 12:56
• Were it a spell, as an instantaneous (for lack of a better term) thingamajig given no hardness and no hit points, the fire snake isn't an object, and, given no ability scores, the fire snake isn't a creature, so the thingamajig would do what the description says it does and cease to exist immediately afterward, like any other instantaneous energy thingamajig (e.g. the orb spells). But as a maneuver? I've no idea. – Hey I Can Chan Dec 11 '15 at 17:21