Fox’s Cunning – Where There’s Smoke, There’s Preparation

Last month I gave some nifty rules for a scaling fire hazard in “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire Rules.” This week I’d like to expand on a potential fire-fighting campaign with some rules for fighting fires! Due to the varied nature of emergency rescues, there can never be an absolutely comprehensive list of all available actions and consequences. But this list can help keep a group prepared both in and out of character to tackle the most common circumstances. Even in these cases, extenuating circumstances will come into play and require impromptu modifications by even the most prepared GM.


[one-action] Extinguish You attempt to extinguish a single adjacent 5-foot square of fire as an Interact action with an Athletics or Survival skill check at a DC equal to the fire’s level. This action requires the use of an item that may confer an item bonus. You can attempt to extinguish an additional square by spending [two-actions] or [three-actions] when you Extinguish, depending on the item. Certain items may be better or worse at extinguishing certain fires, especially when chemicals such as grease are involved that can combust when exposed to water.

*Cloak-like item includes but is not limited to a cloak, bedroll, tower shield, or tent.

Critical Success: You completely extinguish the square and one adjacent contiguous square for each action spent attempting to extinguish the fire.
Success: You extinguish one square of normal fire.
Failure: You fail to extinguish the square of fire.
Critical Failure: Make a DC 5 flat-check. If you succeed, the fire spreads to another square. If you fail, the fire spreads to your square and may incinerate the item you used to extinguish the fire.

Advanced Fire Fighting Gear

These fire fighting actions use no specialized fire-fighting gear, relying instead on existing equipment common to your everyday adventuring party.

Air Bladder
While not as comprehensive as a masked helmet for breathing in heavy smoke, air bladders are much easier to deploy to victims in a fire emergency, especially if they are panicking.

Axe (Tool)
Useful for clearing away rubble, chopping through obstacles, and defending yourself against arsonist brimorak demons. A leniant GM may allow a PC to use a Battleaxe despite the item’s description, but if you are looking for a weapon to double as a tool a Hatchet is a better fit.

Backpack Catapult
Filling the bucket with water or sand makes this a way to potentially douse flames from a distance. Used this way, a backpack catapult can Extinguish up to 3 squares as a single action; If used this way, the Extinguish gains the following critical failure effect:
Critical Failure You fail to engage the catapult properly, causing the water to eject onto your person or an adjacent square instead of the fire itself. You must spend a single action with the Manipulate trait to recalibrate the backpack catapult before it can be used again.

Bucket (Tool)
You can load two buckets with water or sand as a single Interact action, or load a single bucket with water or sand and pass it to an adjacent creature as a single Interact action. A bucket of water or sand can attempt to douse a single square of fire from up to 5 feet away. If the fire is not adjacent, it will never spread to you even on a critical failure.

Fire Retardant Cloth
Wearing fire retardant fabric provides resistance 3 to fire damage from hazards, which applies to all gear worn under your clothes. Clothing altered in this way has a Dexterity cap of +2, check penalty of -1, and Speed penalty of -5 feet regardless of your Strength. Fireproof cloth costs 420 gp, but confers resistance 10 to fire damage from hazards, rather than 3.

Fire-Jump Ring
While expensive, these rings can provide a firefighter with the ability to jump to an injured party or escape a collapsing building. Teams that make use of these generally wear them in pairs: one to enter the building, and one to leave.

Folding Ladder
In addition to being easier to carry into a building, experienced firefighters can more easily stack two of these ladders with a DC 10 craft check.

Fulu of Fire Suppression
While expensive, these consumables are among some of the best fireproofing and firefighting items on the market.

Grodair (Wagon)
The Grodair is a modified steam trolly, without an expensive steam engine. Instead, it uses an extra-large water tank that can be used along with a mechanical pump to spray water (see the mechanical pump for more information.). The cart does not include the price of equipment, including the pump and hose. A Grodair’s tank can handle up to 12 charges of pressure before a safety valve in the tank locks an attached pump into place. The piloting check required depends on the locomotion used; By default, the Grodair is pulled by a mule. Upgrading the Grodair into a fully mechanical Steam Trolley costs 130 GP.

Hammer (Tool)
As a Warhammer costs the same as the tool most firefighters wielding a hammer will likely wield one that can also be used for combat, just in case the source of the fire becomes hostile.

Hose (50 feet)
Made of a mesh of fireproof cloth and rubber, a hose can be used to pump water from a mechanical pump to wherever you need it to be sprayed. A firefighter can adjust the spray of a hose using a nozzle attachment at the end of the hose (switching sprays does not require a separate action). See the mechanical pump for more information.  A length of hose can be detached or reattached from the rest of the host with a single Interact action.

Healer’s Tools
Healer’s tools are an important staple in any firefighter’s arsenal, both to save victims and fellow emergency response team members.

An invaluable tool. Ladders can be stacked on top of one another when they are being put into place with a DC 15 craft check.

Masked Helmet
Functioning as a modified Plague Mask, these use filters to keep the firefighter safe from smoke inhalation and goggles that can reduce the penalty you take to Perception checks due to smoke by 1.

Mechanical Pump
A mechanical pump can adjust the pressure in a water tank to refill or vacate its contents. A character can Interact with a water pump to give it 1 charge of pressure. Clockwork or steam powered devices (or minions such as Unseen Servants) can automatically pump at a rate of 1 charge of pressure per round (Usually costing around 75 gp). Releasing a charge (usually using a hose) creates a spray of water that covers 4 squares, either in a line or area. A creature hit with a line of this water must succeed at a DC 15 Fortitude save or be knocked prone (+2 if you expend two charges). Releasing 2 charges at once requires an Athletics check of DC 15 to maintain control of the water:
Success You spray a 15-foot cone or 30-foot line of water.
Failure You spray the same area as if you only used 1 charge of pressure.
Critical Failure You drop the hose, which jets back 30-feet and douses the area between you and the hose. Any character within a 30-foot line behind you must succeed at a DC 15 basic Reflex save or take 1d6 Bludgeoning damage and are knocked prone on a critical failure.

Portable Ram
A portable ram is far more reliable than an axe or hammer when it comes to getting past a locked or barricaded door.

Signal Horn
Signal horns are often used by city officials and volunteers to alert a fire fighting force of a fire, especially at night when billowing smoke can be hard to see. Using an Interact action to blow these horns launches a hollow brass dodecahedron several hundred feet into the air, where it will whistle and spin in place as it produces a bright light that points downward toward the source of the horn, penetrating smoke and even magical darkness as a level 3 spell with the Light trait.

Signal Whistle
A cheap alternative to the standard signal horn, these whistles are also often carried by fire fighters to alert their teammates when they are in danger and in need of help.

Shovel (Tool)
A shovel can be used in many of the same ways as an axe, plus can scoop dirt or sand onto a fire.

Next Time: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Magic (and Alchemy)

Next time on Fox’s Cunning, we will go over some magical solutions for fire fighting and wrap things up with some new alchemical items!

Dustin Knight

Dustin has been playing and improving on RPGs since AD&D in 1999. He ran games and conventions around California while studying Graphic Design, Philosophy, English & Architecture. After developing a tabletop game seminar he began working freelance for Alderac Entertainment Games. During his stint on the East Coast, he became a Venture Lieutenant and began reviewing Pathfinder mechanics for Organized Play. After moving to Washington in 2019, he met Alex Augunas at Paizocon and developed, designed and wrote for Everybody Games LLC. He has since published work with Rogue Genius Games and Paizo. He can be found on the Know Direction discord where he goes by the username "KitsuneWarlock".