A Spell by Another Name

I was thinking through part of another thread and realized there is a confusing naming convention among the ArM5 CrIg spells. This involves trimming some of the fat within the descriptions.

First, the simple CrIg general guideline: "Create a fire doing Level +5 damage." (Remember that "Level" in the guidelines is "Guideline Level," not "Spell Level.") There is a second general guideline "Create a fire doing Level damage in an unnatural shape," but I'm just using the first one here.

Let's say I design a spell to create natural flame at a target's location. I'll throw in the cosmetic effect that it comes from my hand, but that's recognized as cosmetic and cool. I'll design this general spell to use R: Voice, D: Momentary, T: Individual. It's description would be "A ball/spear/whatever of fire/flame flies/shoots from your hand/palm to strike/hit a single target/individual, doing Level (Base Level) +5 damage."

Now I design two of these, one when younger and not as good a caster, another a few years later when I have better casting totals. The first is level 20 and the second is level 35. As a Mercurian, I choose the Mastery option Adaptive Casting so that I can use all those tricks from the earlier spell with the newer one. After all, these are "the same spell at a different level."

Sounds good so far. But I haven't named the spells I invented yet. Turns out the lower-level one is called "Pilum of Fire" and the higher-level one is called "Ball of Abysmal Flame." Yes, these are not just similar but actually the same spell. Yet they have different names to make things confusing. I would have been much happier if Ball of Abysmal Flame had something like extra magnitudes for size to create a big ball of fire that might catch a few people, and this would make them similar spells instead of the same spell.

Uhm, in the core book, I see no such guideline...
You may be extrapolating it from a number of distinct guidelines, but I'd note that there are a number of mechanical differences between having one general guideline and a number of "equivalent" specific guidedlines. Three that come to mind involve Adaptive mastery, Resistance Mastery, and the ability to extend the guideline indefinitely (e.g. it's not obvious at all that you can create a level 45 version of "Ball of Abysmal fire" doing +45 damage).

As I said, in the case of Creo Ignem there's no General guideline in line with your description. But if you went with Creo Aquam ("create a corrosive substance doing +Level damage"), you could certainly do what you describe.

Except that this is listed in the books (HoH:S?), or at least roughly? (I don't remember if the guideline is +45, +50, or +55, but it's there.)

No, I'm not. I could have written it better by adding "up to some limit set by the SG." But most the general guidelines implicitly have limits also and don't make that same statement, implying that that statement is not considered necessary. Thus I don't feel leaving the statement off is problematic. Even if you want that limit statement in there, that doesn't mean it's not a general guideline. And it's not extrapolation if there are limited values and they match the pattern perfectly. Please, explain the difference between these:

Level+5 for levels 5 through 20
10 for level 5, 15 for level 10, 20 for level 15, and 25 for level 20

(For mathematicians, basically the argument against this being a general guideline is the same as arguing a piecewise function is not a function.)

One is written as a formula ("general") and one is not (multiple listings). If the difference cannot be explained outside of describing one as a formula and the other as a list (or the equivalent with other words), then it's just a game of semantics.

What I'm saying remains valid: it's not clear from the corebook if a Ball of Abysmal Flame is as hot as it can get :slight_smile:

In mathematical terms, the first example involves one set with four elements -- the elements being (level, damage modifier) pairs. The other example involves four sets, each with a single element. We are talking about the same elements, but in one case they are placed all into the same set, in the other into four different sets. According to some mechanics, this does make a difference.

I have to strongly disagree here. We are talking about two sets in both cases. One is 5, 10, 15, and 20. The other is 10, 15, 20, and 25. The difference is how the mapping from one set to another is being described, not the sets themselves. Are those two mappings different or the same?

I am afraid we'll keep on disagreeing. Using your formalization, in one case (that of a General guideline) you have one mapping, from the set of all possible spell levels. In the other case (that of multiple, specific guidelines) you have four mappings, each from a singleton set of a given level.

One thing is to define a mapping that associates to each integer its double. Another is to define two mappings, one which associates to each non-negative integer its double, and one which associates to each negative integer its double. That said, I'm afraid we are boring the other posters, so I guess I'll stop at this :slight_smile:

Yes, as a general rule I would agree with you. At the same time, that does not mean the mappings do not imply the others must be true. Let's restrict things further. We are only talking about addition, and we are only talking about a specific subset of integers. I don't believe there is any difference between these where x = 5, 10, 15, or 20:

y(x)=x+5 for x=5, 10, 15, or 20



The former necessarily implies the latter and the latter necessarily implies the former. If the set were not so restricted, that would be a different matter.

In our specific case, if the latter necessarily implies the former is true, even if the two mappings are not truly identical, that is sufficient. That's because we would be saying the specific guidelines listed necessarily imply a general guideline also applies, and all we need is for the general guideline to apply, not for it to be written explicitly.

I checked the spell guidelines sheet I've kept (and needs updating). I saw nothing listed for HoH:S for CrIg. I just went and checked again. Apparently the line does not consider a CrIg Base 40 for creating +45 damage fire to be a new guideline from the core ArM5 guidelines. It's hard to say exactly what this implies about the core ArM5 CrIg guidelines other than to say Base 40 for +45 damage is not written explicitly but is considered to be expressed by those guidelines. Thus the line considers those guidelines to go beyond what is explicitly listed. This would tend to lend weight to the Level+5 interpretation.

The ReIg guidelines lend an interesting point as well. They have Base 3, Base 4, and Base 10 guidelines, not a general guideline, for controlling fire in certain ways. (There is a general guideline for something else.) But above it says to add a magnitude for each +5. That sounds distinctly like three general guidelines that writers found easier to express as three specific guidelines with a single comment about how to adjust them.

Both of these suggest there are general guidelines that are not written "general."

Wait ... someone else noticed?
It's not just me? Interesting.


I had noticed this as well. I assumed that the reason for the discrepancy is to prevent spells from having an arbitrarily high damage in one case, but to allow this in the other.

That is, if I have a general guideline of one magnitude per 5 points of damage, I am permitted to create spells with any damage I like. If I have specific guidelines for +5, +10... that stops at +30, I cannot create a spell with +35 damage.

Someone will suggest that I ought to be able to have my +35 damage too, and with that reasoning, I might also use CrMe rituals to get a +6 Int. (Scores above +5 are possible without Muto: Great Str @+5 and Giant Blood, for example.)



I'm fine with limits. But a lot of the general guidelines have inherent limits as well, usually at the other end. However, I think you will find that some damage guidelines are general and some are not.

That's exactly what I found.

I don't claim that the distinction between general and specific guidelines was implemented with any consistency (HA! :slight_smile:/2) But I could understand a distinction drawn between "natural" and "unnatural" guidelines. Thus, creating a more natural fire is more likely to deserve specific guidelines than an less natural fire, because a natural fire can only get so hot; I could similarly explain having specific guidelines from improving attributes.

Of course, this breaks down. Using CrVi to give people Warping Points is not at all natural, and the guideline is specific iirc.

OTOH, there's still the level 50 limit for non-ritual spells, regardless of whether the "cause damage" guideline is bounded or not. While a CrIg 60 ritual doing, say, +50 damage (base level 45, R:Sight +3) might seem a bit excessive, the extra damage is offset by the vis cost and inability to use it in combat. (And more difficult penetration, but Communion can work around that. And perhaps also the near-10% botch chance, depending on which side of the "mastered rituals botching" debate you fall on.)

I seem to recall a mention somewhere that CrCo/CrMe are specifically limited to increasing stats to +5 because that's the upper limit of natural human ability. I can't quickly find that, though, so I may have just imagined/assumed it.

One argument for capping maximum damage could be that it is limited to one can observe or somehow infer.

In this case, probably the hottest fire availabe is the one coming from a forge, glass furnace or volcano. I do not thing that a vague knowledge of how hot is the sun exist (and there is defintely no knowledge that it is a ball of plasma).
Since hermetic magic is heavily based on natural phenomenon (hence the limit of +5 to characteristic boosting through Creo), it is reasonable to believe that the most damage a spell can do based on Creo magic is limited by what mythic nature as to offer as reference.
For fire, it is probably lava, but if we are specific to naked flame the fire in a glass furnace (1000-1500 °C) or a forge is probably more appropriate. It is still plenty enough to design a Pilum of Cremation killing in one shot normal human being. After that, additional magnitude can extend the duration or the target size, but no more the damage bonus.

To be accurate, temperature is onyl a part of the equation when determining damage potential, we should be talking about energy load, which is a several centuries too early, so let's leave it there.

The CrCo and CrMe limits are a little odd. The book doesn't say those are the limits. It says going beyond there ceases to be the realm of Creo (explicit) and moves over to Muto (implicit). It's stated in the penultimate guideline on page 130. There does not actually seem to be a listed limit on the CrMe spells, but it's generally accepted that the same limit as for CrCo would apply for the same reason.

I would be fine with an SG deciding this. It is really a separate issue from the issue of a spell being general. For instance, a cap on damage would put a cap on the "general" MuAu guideline that does +level damage, too.

The rules include amount of exposure. Time shows up in multiple rounds of damage. Other things don't seem to, or at least not directly. The maximum non-magical damage I've seen for heat is +48 (full exposure, molten iron). That still gets us up to the ritual region.