Big Circles

Easy question (Hopefully).

Should really big circles require size modifiers?

No - they require concentration rolls instead.

The Size Modifier (house)-rule for circles is what one of my friends uses instinctively, as he really doesn't like target: Circle - he feels it's too easy to use. However, as the previous poster said: that's a house rule, rather than an official rule. Personally, I see it as "the reward for taking your time" - targets like Group, Room, or Structure exist mainly so that you can cast in one round, or else cover an oddly-shaped building. If you don't need to cast in one round, you usually don't need to use these targets: you can just use Circle.

That being said, one issue is the Concentration check isn't necessarily a Stress die - ie, if someone isn't trying to kill you while you create the circle (or if you're not in the middle of a thunderstorm, or whatever your GM defines as "stressful"), you can't botch. and if you can't botch, then as long as your Int+Concentration(casting) is 6+, you can create as big a circle as you want.

And THAT, to me, is a broken game mechanic. Of course, there is a minor virtue that basically lets you do this - it's the warding(?) virtue from HoH:S, in the Ex Misc section. (you don't need to make a concentration check to walk a boundary, among other things.) So yeah - you can put a spell on an entire country, if you can walk its boarders without collapsing from exhaustion. (Assuming the Divine doesn't smite you for your arrogance.)

Without that virtue, I (as a GM) would rule that, in a non-stressful situation, you use the long-term Concentration rules: 15 minutes per level of Concentration. At 10 paces/turn, that's a decent size. However, that's a GM/Troupe interpretation, on my part. From the RAW, you only need to make the Concentration check - and if there's no stress die, there's no chance of failure (assuming you've got a decent Int+Con roll).

EDIT - the other balancing mechanic Is that, if the circle is broken while you're in the midst of tracing it, then you automatically botch. So you've got to be REALLY sure no one is trying to stop you from doing it. But yeah - if no one cares, then it's a really useful target.

That may be a house rule. ArM5 (page 82) implies that a Concentration Roll is always a Stress die.

That is, casting a spell while doing something else (like drawing a circle) is stressful.

Yeah, the main limitation is that something breaks the circle. Or something jostles your concentration. Or someone decides to poke you a few times with a knife. And these things can happen even without someone coming after you. What if a tiger decides to take a dump on your circle? What a wolf howls and forces a higher concentration check. Or a kid plays a prank on you? Or a mugger walks up to you. I really hope it doesn't rain. That could be just terrible. (Breaks circle, increases concentration AND might cause damage due to exposure.)

So its a cheap way to get really huge spells. Unless something goes wrong. Then... instabotch.

No. That is for spell casting, not circle drawing. Anyway, I think more things should be called "die rolls" instead of stress or simple. Unless you are doing something dangerous, like combat, or something that is meant to be inherently liable to blow up in your face. Otherwise its insufferably risky for any but the most important spells.

No, it's for maintaining concentration on the spell while tracing or drawing the circle. Keep in mind a circle spell requires a concentration check. The act of tracing a circle while casting a spell is distracting if it takes more than a round...

Hmm... so it is. That's actually pretty dangerous then. Actually, I question if the roll is only required for spells longer than one round. It clearly states "every round" In fact, 82 clearly states that one is needed for even walking, let alone tracing out a circle. Which brings me back to my point that such rolls should use "die" a lot more often.

I'd give the first round for free, as it is part of the design of the spell to cast it in a circle, and you're just extending the duration, holding the magic in until you've drawn/traced a bigger circle.

Could very well be - I'll have to go home and look it up later. Regardless though, the number of botch dice for the Concentration check, if you set it up right (ie, good lighting, no one to bother you, etc.) will only be 1 (assuming it isn't house-ruled as "this is always a moderately stressful situation" or something like that). Therefore, on any given roll, there's a 99% chance of succeeding: that is, you only fail if you roll 2 zero's in a row. And because this is the Concentration roll (rather than the magic roll), a botch here simply means that the spell fails.

And in doing the math, that basically means that for every turn that casting the spell takes, the chances of failing go up by 1% (roughly). ie, taking 5 turns means that there's a (.99*.99*.99*.99*.99)= 95% chance of success.

And if you fail? Eh, try again. Nothing was lost but time. If we assume that most folks will get tired if their spell fails half the time, that means the practical max size of a circle spell, under optimum conditions, is 70 turns (.99^70 = .49), or 2100 feet. (10 paces/turn? I forget.) Which is about 7 minutes or so of highly focused chanting-and-walking. Which, I suppose, if your magi gets unlucky and hits a run of bad luck, he'll have to cast 4-5 times in a row, and spend a half hour walking the circle. Which seems...actually pretty doable, to me. Ritual castings take about that time.

EDIT - and yes, walking a circle that big does pose its own risks, as have been stated: someone scuffing your circle, or it starting to rain (because this is almost certainly being done outside), etc. I'm just looking at the math for now.

EDIT II - and I think this may be one of those cases where "yes, it's always a stress die, but by the rules stress die don't always have botches" - ie, the rules for when one rolls botch dice are part of the general stress die rules, which includes the possibility that, under optimum circumstances, you don't roll for a botch. Therefore, even if this was a "stress die" scenario, we would still check to see if any botch die were needed, as per the general game mechanic. (However, I'm at work, and so can't confirm - I'll check later.)

Chances are botching the concentration roll counts as breaking the circle being traced, which means the spell botches automatically, which means that you add another botch dice and check for botch, so at least 2 dice+aura, if not magic+vis...

Hm. Really? Can you give me a quote on that? I ask because I thought I had gone through the rules pretty thoroughly, the last time I researched the Circle casting rules. I was under the impression that the language was something like "if you fail the concentration check, the spell automatically fails" or "automatically dissipates", or something like that. Not "the spell automatically botches".

No I can't, but a botch on a concentration is bad. Like you tripped and fell and couldn't keep it together. Note, I didn't say it was certainly breaking the circle, but I did say that chances are a concentration botch means it does. A botch is strictly up to the SG to adjudicate. I'm not saying what happens if the concentration roll fails, I'm saying what would likely or reasonably happen if the concentration roll botches.

Ah - gotcha.

Personally, when I have my magus doing large-scale circles such as this, it's done on functionally-unbreakable circles. ie, carved in the floor, or some sort of thick, wooden/stone ring set up via Rego Herbam/Terram that circles the building you want to affect. As such, "breaking the ring" requires some serious effort.

But yeah, I suppose if it's just traced in the ground, that's certainly possible.

Here's the line about breaking the circle botches the spell.

An interesting note is is that the spell botches, not even a check for botch, but an actual botch. I'd probably force the throw of botch dice to see if they add to the botch and it forces a twilight check, but that's me, I really hate large circle spells.

Yep. Hence the "use stone rings or something else that won't break easily" school of preparation. If someone wants to accidentally (or on purpose) screw your circle spell up, they're going to have to make some serious effort to do it.

What constitutes breaking the circle? it's carved into the floor and maybe you chip a piece off, and it fills in breaking the circle? The wood has decayed, it's pucky and the concentration botch results in the staff breaking the pucky piece of wood out. The stone piece has a hidden fault and it cracks under strain. I say this only to illustrate that large circle spells should be extremely dangerous and people, mostly players attempt to device all sorts of ways to make them really big. Keep in mind we're talking about a normal circle being a perimeter of 30 feet, which is a radius of just over 4 feet. Not huge, certainly, but still reasonably sized...

A botch is a bad effect, if I were the SG in a situation where the players tried to do something, I'd be really clear that a botch could still break the circle, despite any preparations they made.

Yes. You are making a roll to maintain concentration on spell casting while drawing a circle.

The Concentration Roll is for spell casting. ArM5 (page 112) "The casting of a non-Ritual spell may be extended out to allow the drawing of a large ring. However, the caster must make Int + Concentration rolls of 6+ every round to maintain concentration on the spell..."

I think that drawing out a very large casting ring is meant to be one of those things "inherently liable to blow up in your face".

Exactly. "Really large rings are unlikely to be worth the risk (ArM5, page 112)."

I'm not sure. Maybe just drawing a chalk mark can cut the circle. It depends on how you see it.

And since it's an automatic botch, that means at least 1 Warping point, no?

OK, I just got home and am looking at the rules - yep, it's a stress die. However, that means that it falls to the rules on pg. 6-7, which describe what a stress die is. Which is to say, there are (theoretically) some circumstances in which a Concentration roll will have 0 potential botch dice.

Can concentrating through a spell ever count as a "0-botch die situation"? Eh, if it did, it would probably be in the same circumstances in which a formulaic spell is cast with 0 botch die: that is, in good circumstances with no one trying to kill you. Other than that, I would certainly agree that it would likely be at least one botch die. As otherwise, it would be very, very difficult to practice this technique.

Which brings up the next point: the rules for formulaic spells kick in. (pg. 81). So, if you fail a Concentration check with a formulaic spell, but the magi is otherwise not under any pressure, there's no botch involved. Of course, this creates an odd scenario in which it's actually safer to cast a memorized spell than it is a Mastered spell (memorized spells cast with no distractions are simple die rolls. Mastered spells with no distractions are stress die with no botch dice.) According to pg, 82,

So...a memorized spell has no stress die, and therefore nothing happens. But if you've mastered it, then potentially your stress die goes from 0 botch die to 1.

Personally, this makes no sense to me. I'd rule that you simply can't botch a mastered spell when not under duress, even if you do blow the Concentration roll. Otherwise, there's a benefit to NOT mastering the spell, which seems odd.

Also, applying this rule universally to all castings wouldn't make sense: we can't say "regardless of memorization/Mastery, if you blow the Concentration you must roll for botch." - as otherwise, the first line of the Concentration rules wouldn't be there: "If the spell casting roll involved a stress die..." means there is and explicit exception for simple die casting. Which means Memorized, no distractions. Which, in turn, suggests that either memorized spells have an implied advantage over Mastered spells, or else Mastered spells are supposed to be included in that loophole as well.

Which also brings up the next issue: memorized spells, when not under duress, are simple rolls. Therefore, they can't botch. How do you "automatically botch" something that has NULL botch dice? (that is, not just 0, but actually uses a different game mechanic?)

EDIT - I suppose you could simply assume that if you auto-botch a simple die roll, you only roll for the Aura; ie, you don't assume the "normal botch dice" for a spell (it's 3 in our group) exist, and instead roll the ones for the aura.

EDIT II - where are the rules that say "you add botch dice when you're in an aura", anyway? That's another rule I keep on assuming, but can't find.

Mastered spells get a stress die without chance of botch (quality die in 4th edition) for non stressful situations. I think you are over complicating things by bring in mastery.

For concentration, keep in mind that most magi will almost always succeed in a non botch concentration check for casting ring/circle spells. It is pretty easy and reasonable to get an Int+concentration of 4 or 5. A couple more xp or higher int pushed it to six (Int 3 and Concentration (spells) 2 isa total of 6), meaning it can only fail on a botch.