Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Matter of Academic Curiosity

Fellow gamers, (particularly you DM-types) do you think a protection from normal missiles spell would stop a grenade, specifically one that had been launched from a device? I don't have my books with me, so I am guessing that the spell might cause the grenade to scatter, but would not protect the caster or anyone else from the blast. (Though perhaps it might block shrapnel, if not concussive force.) Thoughts?

Oh, and if any of my AD&D players are reading this, you have absolutely nothing to worry about... the question is entirely out of curiosity.



  1. Unless the grenade is magical, the spell should protect the caster, against both grenade and resulting shrapnel. I don't think it would protect against the heat from the explosion though, so an incendiary-type grenade would probably sneak some damage through.

    Considering the limited number of spells per day available to vancian casters, I tend to rule in favor of the caster in these situations, making spells as potent as possible within reason.

  2. I agree with Al. I believe it would protect from the shrapnel, but not the heat or concussion damage.

  3. Depends on how you interpret the word "missile". In another old school FRP, The Fantasy Trip (Melee, Wizard, In The Labyrinth,) there's a distinction between missile weapons and thrown weapons.

    A couple days ago, I commented that Protection from Normal Missiles should not protect against flasks of burning oil, on the grounds that they are thrown objects rather than missiles. However, in line with Al's comment, maybe ties should go to the caster and let the spell protect against any air-borne weapon or debris, but not against fire or being knocked to the ground.

  4. I would end up screwing the mage, I guess. A missile is an arrow or crossbow bolt or stone in my book. Flasks of oil, spears, hand axes, etc, are not protected by this spell. Protection from fire would protect against flasks of oil.

  5. Nah, the PHB is pretty clear that the spell protects from hand hurled missiles: By means of this spell, the magic-user bestows total invulnerability to hurled and projected missiles such as arrows, axes, bolts, javelins, small stones and spears.

    Whether that should apply to bullets, laser beams, heat rays, sonic beams, grenades, and attacks from a death star are open to question. I would probably say yes to conventional weapons, but not area affect weapons, since their damage is secondary to be being thrown or projected.

  6. I have to agree with the consensus. The spell should afford protection from grenades and bullets. Now, the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, being magical...

  7. Hmmmm, like Chgowiz I want to screw the mage (damn casters with their trixie spells always ruining my TPK's)

    Logically it should provide protection from the impact of the unexploded grenade if it happens to hit the caster but not from the explosion/shrapnel. But of course magic != logic.

    But, being a 3rd level spell (AD&D) it should be sort of powerful (caster picked this over fireball!) and provide protection from it all. Interpret it as providing invulnerability to normal non-giant ranged attacks of all sorts. To hurt the target of the spell you have to engage in melee or use magic or trundle up the catapult from the siege train.

  8. Good points, all around.
    I believe that the spell will protect against the shrapnel for sure, but I'm a bit on the fence about the concussive blast... perhaps the spell reduces the damage to half for the caster. (But not for his unfortunate friends) I would definitely say the spell protects against bullets.

    Lasers and other energy weapons, on the other hand, I would say still harm the caster normally. I might be inclined to say a protective spell against fire or lightning would block lasers. (Yes, I know lasers have little to do with electricity, but I will occasionally throw the players a bone.)

    Thanks for pitching in, everyone!

  9. DMG pg 114, second column under Spells heading (talking about mixing AD&D with Gamma World. Doesn't counterdict anything said above, but still pretty open to DM interpretation. Sounds like fun development in the campaign!

  10. I only have the D&D rules Cyclopedia (which is my game) handy, and checked it to make sure I remembered the interpretation right.

    Protection from normal missiles in Cyclopedic, only protects from "small" normal missiles. Magical and "large" missiles are not effected. Examples of large missiles are bolts and stones from siege engines and the boulders hurled by giants.

    In this respect I'd say a grenade is more on the scale of devastation of a siege weapon and therefore would not be effected by Pro Normal Missiles.

    As a side note, it would make sense to me to work grenades like a fireball with a save for half damage.

  11. I know you've got lots of conflicting comments, so I'll throw my two cents in as well (sorry). I go with the B/X version of the spell that prevents all small, non-magical weapons (specific examples of items not protected: catapult stone and magical arrow).

    I take a broad interpretation of the word missile...basically any non-spell object that is used in a non-melee attack. So things that would be protected against include:

    - a normal arrow fired from a magical bow
    - a thrown axe or hammer
    - a flask of oil or jar full of green slime

    Things that would NOT be stopped include:

    - boulders thrown by a giant
    - elephants dropped by a roc
    - any kind of magic spell (a fireball or meteor swarm)
    - any dweomered object (someone's hurled BOOTS OF ELVENKIND or a BLESSED arrow, for example).

    Illusionary missiles (for example, arrows from a phantasmal archer) are magical so they, too would pass through the protection...possibly alerting the caster to the illusionary nature of the opponent!