Fireball Spell Chaucer’d

I am, as noted, at a writer’s retreat hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal. I’ve been here an hour and already it is many shades of wonderful.

One of the great things about a retreat like this is the truly terrific folks you get to meet. Last year, for instance, I got to meet and hang out with Monte Cook, who is a Legend in the world of role-playing games. Plus, he is a helluva nice guy.

Monte is quite particularly known for his connections with Dungeons and Dragons, so I told him last year that I would Chaucerize one of my favorite D&D spells in his honor.

I then completely forgot about it.

Until this afternoon, as I was driving through Atlanta traffic on the way to the retreat at which I would see him once more.

So — and please don’t try this at home kids — I Chaucer’d the Fireball Spell right then and there.

I hereby present, in honor of his Monte-ness and with great apologies for its tardiness, the Bal of Fyre Spel:


Fireball Goeth BOOM.

First, the original, taken from the d20 site online (thank you, iPhone!):

A fireball spell is an explosion of flame that detonates with a low roar and deals 1d6 points of fire damage per caster level (maximum 10d6) to every creature within the area. Unattended objects also take this damage. The explosion creates almost no pressure.

And how Chaucer might’ve said it:

A Bal of Fyre Spell is a blasyng of flamme that goeth oute with a low noyse and giveth IdVI partes of fyre harme for eche witch ranke (up to XdVI) to everi creature nere unto hit. Thinges not helde taketh this harme als wele. The blasynge of flamme ne maketh not pushing of the aire.

There were some difficulties in translating this — being in Atlanta traffic being one of them — but the part that most bent my mind around was how a fourteenth-century fellow might think about our modern idea of air pressure, particularly of the concussive variety. I settled on a push of air, but I can’t say I’m completely sold on it.

Anyone else out there have a better idea?


  1. Perhaps it creates no change in the wind?

  2. It maketh not a change in the wind nor a bursting of a vessel which contains.

  3. Oooo… not bad, Leland and Richard. It’s quite a conundrum, but those are fine solutions!

  4. how about, “it passeth withe not aires breythe nor presseth uponne thine faece as to the wynde.”

    Although I too like the phrasings used thus far, both the “pushing of aire” and the “bursting of a vessel” connotations.

    Chances are, the description would be much longer anyway and include all of the above and more, possible even references to angels and demons – relating nonreligious things in theological terms was in vogue then too. 😉

  5. @Spiralbound Breath of air. … That’s pretty sweet. It’s good imagery, and you know Chaucer was all about that.

    While you’re right that many medieval writers would indeed get pretty theological on non-theological matters, my dear ol’ Geoffrey would probably only do so in this present case in order to make some stinging critique of the hypocrisy of the ecclesiastical elite … which also hasn’t changed much today, I’m afraid!

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