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Explosions and MP

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Okay so here's the laydown:

I have a character that create explosions using explosive flames. These range from small to room size (building in certain places and with buildup obviously). Is this allowed in any shape or form on the site?

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Take a read through the anti munch project and consider what you want to do and the pitfalls listed. Explosions come across as high accuracy (large aoe) and damage attacks. They’re attractive for that, I get it.

I’m not amenities, but I’d give advice. I just don’t know what the build goals are.

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Simply put, explosions are not disallowed. Like everything else, abilities are determined through output rather than type (mostly). So long as your character is not manifesting explosions inside other characters (or NPCs, really), then there isn't an issue. 

As for whether your output is allowed, small to building as you put it, this is a board specific issue. Magic in Lagrimosa has been limited to room building under almost any circumstance (ie without special permission). Renovatio, on the other hand, encourages building level destruction (with required build up, ofc). Smaller sub-boards might not even allow room level. 

So I would say yes to explosion powers as a general ability and look at the specific board for output level.

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Posted (edited)

I'mma draaaaag this off-topic for a second.

I figure the real test as to whether explosions fit into MP is less about the inanimate amount of space they can ka-boom, but more about how much leeway other characters have in taking a full-force blast and shrugging it off. I'm going to call this The Thrown Boulder Test.

Let's look at a sample explosion, based on the Kingery-Bulmash blast parameter calculator. For this test, I assumed we're using a more-or-less standardly-defined pipe bomb (force equivalent to 5lbs, or 2.27kg, of TNT, chosen because that's the blast force trash cans in US airport terminals are designed to be able to contain. And that should serve as your Fun Fact for the day) at a distance of 3m (roughly 15ft, which is a fine size for a "room"). 

TNT Weight for Pressure (kg):.  2.25 TNT Weight for Impulse (kg): 2.25
Incident Pressure (kPa): 208.71 Incident Impulse (kPa-ms): 155.14
Reflected Pressure (kPa): 706.53 Reflected Impulse (kPa-ms): 404.70
Time of Arrival (ms): 2.85 Positive Phase Duration (ms): 0.00
Shock Front Velocity (m/s): 565.51

 

For this comparison, we're primarily going to be looking at the Incident Pressure (the Reflected Pressure is the pressure that bounces off the walls back towards the central point of the explosion, also known as the "chunky salsa effect", and I'll be excluding it for the moment). It's crude, but I need the simplification in order to make a comparison in the following steps. So the incident pressure at ground zero is 208.71 kPa.

Keep that number in mind.

Now, let's see if we can calculate the force of a more common MP power: the power to throw giant boulders at people. I've picked this, because I see it happen reasonably often, and I also see characters tank the damage (either by reducing it to a glancing blow, or by falling down then painfully standing up and shaking it off, or whatever). Also, because I already did a bunch of that math a while back in this post over here. I assumed a 2-ton sandstone boulder measuring 3x3x3 feet (not enormous).

The mass of such a thing is 1959.51kg; just picking it up to begin with requires exerting 3950 kilogram-force (I used the wrong unit in my original post, calling this just "kg" instead of denoting that it was "kg-force"). I assume throwing it requires even more, but since I have a haircut appointment in 30 minutes, I'm going to skip that. Instead, I'm just going to make an assumption of the airspeed velocity of this thrown boulder based on some handy reference points. 

The distances thrown boulders cover in the timespan of a single post vary greatly all across Valucre, so I'm just going to have to pick a number. I'm going to assume that this boulder isn't been thrown at Nolan Ryan fastball speeds; rather, I'm going to assume it's being thrown at the average speed of an American football pass. While the NFL record is currently held by Colin Kaepernick at 59mph, we're going to go with the more average speed of 40mph (64.3kph), and I'm going to also assume the Physics Phantasy World state of "constant speed" rather than try to deal with acceleration (again, for time constraints; if this makes me totally dead wrong in my end conclusions, I'll happily accept correction, but please show your work).  

So we have 1959.51kg travelling at 64.3kph. This gives us a force of 34,999 N, with the force applied over a .75m^2 (roughly) surface area (the surface area of the rock is 1m^2, but most people aren't three feet wide; I'm a big guy and my shoulder spread is only just at 2 ft, so I'm using that). 

That gives us a total pressure of 457.63kPa. 

So yes, a character who can shrug off a strike from a 2-ton boulder can also shrug off the effect of an explosion of 5lbs of TNT, since the TNT has half the pressure strength of the boulder. So it should fit well within MP, as long as you don't get mad at someone tanking it and continuing to fight. 

(including reflected pressure in the calculation, however, gives us over 900kPa for the explosion, which is twice as strong as the boulder. Logically, it would be twice as hard to survive taking that in the face, so it may not fit under MP since the assumption could reasonably be "this is immediately lethal to any character", thus violating the spirit of the MP rule). 

 

 

Edited by Veloci-Rapture

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45 minutes ago, Fierach said:

He did the math.

What math? We know nothing about what op intends to do except explosions that stem from magical fire. 

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3 minutes ago, Akiris said:

What math? We know nothing about what op intends to do except explosions that stem from magical fire. 

Math with some operational assumptions to set a baseline from which deviation can be expected when vague parameters are more closely defined 

That said when I asked OP what the story was the response was essentially “no story or goal, just asking” 

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26 minutes ago, supernal said:

Math with some operational assumptions to set a baseline from which deviation can be expected when vague parameters are more closely defined 

That said when I asked OP what the story was the response was essentially “no story or goal, just asking” 

It’s a long winded way to say nothing. 

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51 minutes ago, Akiris said:

It’s a long winded way to say nothing. 

While I'm aware your jimmies are incredibly easy to rustle, I really didn't expect a bunch of math to trigger your unnecessarily-edgy mean-guy schitck.

Sorry, I guess?

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I wouldn't really use boulder survivability as a comparison for explosion survivability. The way the energy is transmitted through the body is very different.

Normally I wouldn't bother bringing up this detail, because I don't see it as being significant. However when you look at direct math comparisons, overpressure and blast waves, to say nothing of shrapnel, can't be compared to stone impact force imo.

But I guess it depends on how technical you want to get.

I'm more interested in the descriptive nature of the attack, than hard numbers. We are playing fast and loose anyway.

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3 minutes ago, Praetorian said:

I wouldn't really use boulder survivability as a comparison for explosion survivability. The way the energy is transmitted through the body is very different.

Normally I wouldn't bother bringing up this detail, because I don't see it as being significant. However when you look at direct math comparisons, overpressure and blast waves, to say nothing of shrapnel, can't be compared to stone impact force imo.

But I guess it depends on how technical you want to get.

I'm more interested in the descriptive nature of the attack, than hard numbers. We are playing fast and loose anyway.

These are all great points. The Thrown Boulder Test is incredibly simplistic, no doubt. I'm just trying to compare "things that Val characters routinely survive" to "things we don't see happen to Val characters as much" in a quantifiable way (even if that quantifiability is rudimentary). 

The typical problem with explosions (and other forms of damage-dealing that have real-world counterparts, like guns) is that there's an inherent bias in a lot of people to those effects being less survivable than magical effects (especially in terms of effects with magical hyperbole, like throwing large boulders). I haven't done the Thrown Boulder Test against things like a gunshot wound to the head yet (because it hasn't come up, but boy, I'm chomping at the bit), but my hypothesis is that the gunshot wound to the head is less deadly than a flying 2-ton boulder, but a character walking-it-off from a gunshot wound to the head would make more people upset than the same response to a 2-ton boulder.

I'm simply trying to introduce a (perhaps insufficient) quantitative analysis to preempt such mismatches of expectation vs narrated result. 

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I think there's value in reducing examples to simple models as long as we remember that the map is not the territory. I think you do a good job of getting that across in your posts @Veloci-Rapture!

And to the more general, rambling point I want to circle around:

I think the main thing I want to seize on and hold forever close to my heart was the little disclaimer at the end about if you consider x it violates the spirit of the MP rules. That's what it's about right there. You can lie with words, with logic, and with math / statistics, and use all of those to lie in RP, so your intent and end game in how things are sliced and inspected will say a lot about the viability of a tactic

For example, outside of our use cases, it usually isn't a flat comparison of SI unit measurement: "this has 100 watts, and this has 90, so they are within striking range of one another". If one is a light bulb and one is a laser, the same energy input looks different in output. If the beam is aimed at a hand or aimed at an eyeball it has a different result

I think people would be upset by characters who unilaterally tank anything, up to and including a simple straight jab to the face. If you just keep shrugging off attacks then the aesthetic might be different but the behavior is the same

A 2-ton boulder traveling at 40mph is more easily dealt with, fully or partially avoiding a direct hit or fully or partially mitigating a direct hit as both a function of its speed and its size, than an object the size of a finger that travels more than twice the speed of sound aimed at a place in my body that if it touches will most likely shatter my entire skull. The person wielding the slower, larger object is likely to be more amenable to mitigating than the person using the faster, smaller object ("no way how do you react to my bullet it's so fast, no way how does it just deflect off your forehead the amount of force would shatter it like eggshell, no way even if you avoided the first one I shot 29 more right behind it sooooo"). I say "most likely" v. deliberately because I've definitely encountered the inverse, with people using seemingly outrageous things but being open to their arbitrary failure, and other people who use seemingly basic things but insist to the point of attrition that the execution is flawless

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I crunched some numbers to gauge the strength of Caeceila's Telekinesis, and my take away was that powers need limits more than they need physics.

A good way to gauge powers, in my experience, is to find a character who has the same/a similar power and gauge how that power and that character are portrayed.  For Caeceila's powers, I referenced Jedi Grandmasters.  Now, some of the lesser known Jedi powers are straight-up OP, but I think telekinesis as portrayed in the old movies was cool and pretty balanced.

Spoiler

Yoda is able to lift around 55,000 lbs with TK.  Jedi Masters are able to lift around 44,000 lbs with TK.  Under ideal conditions, which will never occur in combat, Caeceila is able to lift 45,000 lbs with TK if memory serves.  I compared this to the weight of several objects so she couldn't throw tanks, information on survivable g-force so she couldn't kill people by throwing them too hard, and looked at the energy of certain bullets to prevent her from hitting harder than anti-material rifles to impose additional limits on her ability to move small objects and live objects.  Ultimately, though, limits must be defined and there must be gaps in a character's armor.  This is why I removed most of Caeceila's paranormal powers and left her with telekinesis, heavily modified telepathy, a plot power for plot reasons, and a cool power one of supernal's characters taught her to create a more balanced character than what I had before.

I followed a similar process with Camelia.

Spoiler

I read a bunch of tiger facts to assess how strong tigers are, swapped regeneration for mutation so I could dispense with the whole "werecreatures can't be killed by anything but silver" shtick while gaining access to a non-combat power that I can use to make horrifying things IC for other players to beat up, gave her an aura to counter regeneration and super healing and make injuries more important, hopefully precluding some of those "I impale myself on your sword so I can stab you better" techniques (which I've witnessed elsewhere), and gave the character form-restricted pyromancy that's good for fighting giant supernatural monsters and doing creative things but not as good as normal pyromancy for fighting regular dudes.  I didn't prescribe hard limits on pyromancy, but I am considering a five to ten foot range outside of which nothing can be conjured.

I themed both of these powersets and considered the role I wanted these characters to play as I was building/rebuilding them.

For explosive-themed powers, I think of Yoshikage Kira and Marvel's Powderkeg.  Admittedly, I don't know much about Powderkeg, but I know that Powderkeg has nitroglycerin-based powers and is probably the most comparable to the character you have in mind.  Yoshikage Kira is a decent example of a character with powers that might be useful for the purposes of this discussion- at least until Bites the Dust and air bubbles are involved.  I mean, there's a big problem with Stands in general because they're invisible to normal people, but one of Killer Queen's powers may be worthwhile to examine.

Killer Queen's delayed bomb allows Killer Queen to turn any object it touches into an explosive that can be triggered at any distance.  Turning anything into an explosive and being able to trigger that explosive at any distance is a little OP because there aren't enough limits.  However, this is mitigated to some extent by the fact that Killer Queen can only set one bomb at a time.  This limitation is the source of quite a lot of drama and is great for the narrative, in my opinion.

Nitroglycerin production is an interesting idea for a power, but it must have limits.  Is this nitroglycerin synthesized on the fly or over time and stored in an internal reservoir?  How much nitroglycerin can the wielder produce?  Can any body part excrete nitroglycerin?  Does the character have a supernaturally strong skeletal system and a resilient body so the character can throw explosive punches?  Most players don't really know how powerful nitroglycerin is; how will you make the destructive power of nitroglycerin tangible?  Is this character's nitroglycerin production influenced by the character's diet?

For the more general case of generic explosive power, what are the range limitations on this power?  How is the detonation triggered?  Will the explosion cause fires?  Is this a normal explosion that causes normal explosion damage or a special explosion that causes special explosion damage?  What's the biggest explosion the wielder can create and what does this explosion look like?  What's the smallest explosion the wielder can create and what does this explosion look like?

The more questions you answer, the harder your magic system.  The harder your magic system, the easier it is to determine if your character abides by MP.

Personally, I don't see how explosives are any more powerful than pyrokinesis, cryokinesis, electrokinesis, telekinesis, metal-bending, earth-bending, etc.  They work differently and they're more accessible to standard characters and that's about it.  Unless explosives have utility built in (rocket jumping in TF2, for example) those kinesis abilities might be more powerful because they tend to be more versatile and equally destructive.

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