[RPG] How to handle the friend wanting to burn down a major city?


So one of my players just texted me and asked me, "Hey, how would you deal with me burning down a town"?

Honestly, I have no idea how to go about handling it during a game. And while I don't like the idea of it, I don't tell my players no. The player in question wishes to burn down a major city of an area I made up myself. Let us assume the entire city is to go up in flames. I understand this is a very broad question and is hard to answer.

I need help mechanizing how the fire plays out.

How do I deal with structure damage whether buildings are saved or completely burnt down?

Best Answer

There are no existing first party rules of this sort. Rules about fire in D&D are limited to fairly small fire spells and/or setting an opponent on fire at most. Related: How does fire work in D&D?

It's possible someone's published some third party rules in a splatbook somewhere, but they would likely be more oriented towards someone else set the fire and the PCs are trying to escape/stop it.

So what you'll need to do is take both a) your knowledge of reality and b) an appreciation for what will be fun and challenging in a game and come up with some rules yourself. There's not a "right answer" here. Don't put more detail into it than you really need to - you can make it as simple as a DC check of some sort (Int?) to see how well you get the fire going (<10 - someone sees you trying to start it, 10-15 the fire's seen as soon as it's started and it only affects the one building, 15-20 it really catches and burns down the building and adjacent buildings...). Once it's all done if the question is "did building X get burned down" say "20% chance it's still standing. yes."

You can make more of a minigame out of it if you want - lay out a map and there's a X% chance a round of adjacent buildings catching but local people fighting the fire make a DC Y check to put out a house, etc - but consider where there's any value to that additional work.

Needless to say things like this are always harder than they sound, and especially even if it works culprits are often seen or found out, and you have every right to sic a bunch of trouble on the PC from a) the law/ruler, b) everyone whose stuff was damaged or relations killed. In an at-all-realistic campaign, this is the point of no return, because after this the campaign becomes about the "Burning of Kislev" or whatever.