Basic Combat/Spells question

I'm interested in how Fireballing (or Lightning Bolting) works in Ars, and I had a few questions when reading through the AM5 books.

  1. Damage of spells is Stress Die + X - as a stress dice, would you have botch dice for this damage roll? Presumably whether the fireball is generated or not is done by the casting roll- once your BoAF is created, then I could see it doing variable damage, but not how the damage itself would botch to zero - wouldnt this be "double jeopardy" for damaging spells to risk botching on both the casting roll and damage roll? Should botch dice be set to zero for damage rolls?

  2. Lets us say you are casting BoAF at an enemy in combat (or you've upped the level by 10 to cast "Big Ass BoAF" to affect a group) - how would this resolve in combat? From what I can see, a direct spell always hits its target (p.86 Aiming), so would you skip the Attack and Defence rolls of the caster and his enemy? If so, does that mean that the Attack advantage of direct spells is always zero? (p.171)

  3. The Damage Total in combat is "Str + Weapon Damage Mod + Attack Advantage" - so assuming spell damage counts as "Weapon Damage" should a Magus' Strength characteristic modify how much damage his spells do? That doesnt make much sense to me, but I cant see anything contradicting it.

  4. Related question -if a damaging spell is Range:Touch, would you use the Attack and Defence rolls to determine if the Magi can touch the target? Or is it more a matter of if the target has exposed flesh or not? (I'm not sure if a Touch range PeCo spell means youi need to touch their bare flesh or just their outer clothing or armour.



Hey, good questions.

  1. While it is a stress die, it is not one that can be botched, a 0 would just mean that it's 0 and not a 10.

  2. Spells like BoAF have no attack or Defense rolls, so whether its a group or a single it hits. Members of the group that are further away might be exempt depending on distance. There would be no roll to hit, no attack advantage etc. Only spells that need to be aimed would have to roll for that, and those are usually spells that move a physical thing into the enemy, such as taking a rock and flinging at an enemy or even just dropping it on them. In some of those cases that target's Brawl (dodge) defense is used as its the only one applicable (but a shield might help also), and the Magus uses Perception + Finesse + a die (stress if combat) to generate an attack total.

  3. Strength never really comes into a spell, at least none that I've seen. If a magus casts a spell that swings a weapon the most likely approximation would be the Magus's Finesse. In most cases though when a spell swings or hurls a weapon it often has a set amount of damage which is usually based on the weapon's mass. Something that is designed as a weapon (a sword being magically swung) would likely use its damage score + Finesse of the Magus, and also likely swung by the Magus's Perception + Finesse. Such an attack would be defendable by the target's defense though.

  4. For a touch spell the wizard must touch the opponent, so applicable defense would apply fully. For the Magus he'd use his Brawl score to try and make the touch, but could also use a weapon skill if he has a Talisman that is a weapon (such as a staff). Since armour in Ars only provides Soak and no defensive capability armor and clothes doesn't really offer any protection from the touch and so if the magus hits the armour the spell would work, but a shield would help as it adds to the target's defense and not soak. But needing to touch bare flesh usually isn't an issue.

Thank you for the reply.

Regarding point #1, I've just seen it argued that the rules for Injuries on p. 181 apply to spells. In this case damage is "Stress Die+ Damage of spell" resisted/reduced by "Stress Die + Soak", where typically the stress die comes with 1 botch dice. So its possible for either attacker or target to botch the roll and set damage or soak to zero total. Thats a little annoying as you then have double jeopardy on BoAF with 2 chances to botch.


Thanks for pointing that out, I never really looked at that little blurb. It does kind of stink, but for the most part, if you're hit by a BoAF, unless you botch or the target rolls some exploders on the soak, the target is ash.

The trick is to remember that for Fireballs and other spell effects, the damage is not "combat" damage. Although, of course, they might regularly be actually cast during combat.

For non-combat sources of damage, like spells, the Damage is: Stress Die + X, and the Soak is: Stress Die + Soak Total --- see the section on Injuries, near the end of the Obstacles chapter. Those rules indicate one botch die is usual, although, it is possible to imagine circumstances in which there might be more. A botch on Damage means no damage, apparently. So, it is a bit stinky that the Damage can botch, but on the other hand, the Soak can botch too.

Direct spells that are successfully cast and penetrate the Magic Resistance of the target always hit. The Attack Advantage is irrelevant because you don't use the Attack Advantage to calculate the damage from such spells.

Spells are not "Weapon Damage". Use the rules for non-combat sources of damage.

I think that normally just touching the target's outer layer of clothing or armour is sufficient.

If the target is actively trying to avoid being touched, then needing to make a successful Attack Roll would seem a reasonable game mechanic to apply.

Although, the defender probably needs to be cogniscant of the risk. A typical knight, who knows nothing of magic, might not try to stop a "weedy scholar" from touching him (at least the first time), especially if he has other armed combat opponents to worry about.