Day 9: Atlantean Magic
Atlantean Magic is one of those virtues I've looked again and again as super interesting, even though the practical use of the virtue in a non-aquatic campaign is possibly quite minor. I also have difficulties operationalizing the virtue...
Body-of-water target is described thus: “A spell with this target targets an entire body-of-water, whether this is a lake, a river, or a sea. Use the same guidelines as water-way to determine where a body-of-water begins and ends. For determining the spell level, body-of-water is the same level of Target as Structure (remember to increase the spell magnitude to affect a very large body-of-water, like a sea or the ocean).” (RoP:M 43)
Every time I read this; I’m stuck with the same question: What is the base area covered before applying size modifiers? This is an important consideration since some water ways can become huge and cannot infinitely be subdivided in a coherent way, which may mean that spells which aren’t scaled up will fail. I doubt anyone will dispute the need for size modifiers for affecting the Rhine or a sea, yet how many magnitudes are added risks making this special target lose part of its interest, which is avoiding a ritual for casting a boundary-like effect. As an example, a base boundary covers an area equal to 0,00656933 sq. km. If we take this size as the base unit for Body-of-water, then a 1 sq. km lake (which is probably small enough for it to be unnamed in most campaigns) would need 3 points of size to be covered by a spell while something like Lake Geneva would need 5. It’s also a matter of spell flexibility, because unlike Aquam spells which will affect water regardless of the size of the local lake / river, this parameter doesn’t benefit from that flexibility, which means unless your campaign is centered on a particular water-way, size modifiers in spell design are hugely important unless the troupe decides to handwave that.
As a comparison, we have other mystery guidelines we can look up to. Road covers roughly 12,7% of a base boundary size, with a reduction of 2 magnitudes and no ritual. This ratio is kept for Road network which covers 12,7 times the size of a regular boundary. Arguably, a road of sufficient size is a boundary, much like a lake is, and using that mystery targets essentially lets the caster gain slightly more than one magnitude. Weird targets in the system typically lose a magnitude of efficiency. On the other hand, there are counterexamples. Dominion (target) for example, can affect everything within a given Dominion aura, which can be huge assuming Sight range, for the same magnitude price of a boundary target. There would be no obvious scaling here. Using Constantinople as the higher reach example, we’re looking at a spell affecting up to 14 square kilometers, which is equal to Boundary +4, unless you can argue it’s not the same aura across the city. For most other large metropolis of the era in Europe, we’re probably looking at a Boundary +3 effect for the price of a Boundary. While Sight is a price to pay for the extra area of effect, not all boundary effects are built using touch spell as a base parameter even in the base book, and Sight is a range that makes sense for rituals that aren’t intended to be friendly in nature.
To make a long story short: I need to make a design decision over how large body-of-water is intended to cover, because I can’t deduce a canon RAW answer. This incidentally means that, if you want to use this virtue in your game, your troupe may need to review my assumptions, and I recommend discussing it before you finalize your character, as it will impact how interesting the virtue is. Incidentally, how you balance this virtue is likely to impact how Water-Way works, since that range is likely to depend on a Body-of-water Intellego effect (if you could see your target, you wouldn’t bother with R: Water-way, you would be using Sight).
For the spells I intend to publish, my design assumptions will be as follow:
• I’m not going to pay attention to water depth at all, much like many spells treat the height of a room or boundary as irrelevant.
• For lakes, bays and seas, the basic unit I will use is 1 square kilometer of surface area. For comparison, Boundary +2 is 0.65 square km. This makes this less efficient than the most powerful guideline produced (Dominion), but still quite powerful, while keeping it in line with the text that doesn’t talk about size modifiers for large rivers or lakes. Sorry for those who enjoy calculating in square paces, but it’s easier for me to look up a body of water’s actual size on Wikipedia and say “yes, that spell works”.
• For rivers, I’m going to use a base length comparable to road network which is 9 km. Unlike road network, I’m not going to look at river width at all. This is partly because I don’t want to take a class in hydrometry to rate whether the spell succeeds and calculating surface area on a river of variable width which may also be influenced by the time of the year is going to give me a headache.
Using those assumptions, we’re looking at the following size modifiers, using some example body of waters from the Rhine Tribunal:
• Size 0: You’re looking at river tributaries and lakes that’s probably too small for folks to have listed in on Wikipedia in the first place. If you didn’t think of the name of the river or lake, it’s probably size 0 or size +1
• Size +1: Schwentine River, Stepenitz (tributary of the Trave), Nebel (tributary of the Warnow), Recknitz River
• Size +2: Strelasund (lagoon separating Rügen from the mainland), Trave River, Warnow River, Oder River
• Size +3: Danube, Rhine, Meuse, Lake Constance, Lake Müritz
• Size +4: Öresund, Wadden Sea, Zuider Sea
• Size +5: The Danish straits
• Size +6: The Baltic Sea, the North Sea
• Size +7: Nothing. In Mythic Europe, this is the Mediterranean Sea
As a reference, please vote in the discussion thread on whether this balancing makes sense to you. If you disagree, leave a comment. Hopefully this may be helpful to those looking to integrate that virtue in their game. I will give some time for folks to answer, as I'd ideally like to post spells that are easily adopted and if I see a consensus that my balancing is wrong, I will adjust my designs.