Crystal Dart vs The Earth's Carbuncle

So, these spells seem to have virtually identical effects, descriptions ("make the earth pointy and stab someone with it"), and use the same arts. Only one of them requires target part. This seems less than ideal, both because it's confusing and because if one of the spells is in error then they're instead redundant.


They are both legacy spells dating back to 2nd edition (possibly 1st). In 2nd edition

  1. the Crystal Dart was Mu(Re)Te 15, the Earth's Carbuncle Re(Mu)Te 15,
  2. CD was easier to Aim than EC (+4 vs. +1),
  3. CD reached further than EC (50 paces vs. 15),
  4. CD did slightly less damage than EC (+8 vs. +10),
  5. CD unlike EC affected only one target rather than everyone in a circle 1 pace across, and did not toss and partially bury the victim(s).

As editions progressed, things slightly changed for each spell, so one may be left wondering why they are the way they are now. In game terms, they may well be ancient Hermetic spells from the dawn of the Order, invented and passed down with their own quirks.

Given the descriptions I see CD as only hitting one person whilst EC is an area of effect spell that can hit multiple people in a small area. Like the dart is a bullet whilst the carbuncle is a grenade?

I considered that, but "one pace across" is not a large area at all, so you would be hard pressed to catch more than one target in it. It also seems quite counter-intuitive that going from individual to part would give you a larger area of effect, so I'm inclined to assume that's not the intent.

Serf's parma, and IIRC

You're targeting part of the Earth.
So the only size limitation you begin with is those of the Part target, which (IIRC still), are the same as Individual.

The difference is, you couldn't affect 100 cubic paces of ground with Individual, because it's not distinct from it's surroundings. You'd have to use Part, with size modifiers.
To give you a comparison, you'd have to use Part to target a giant's finger. If that finger was bigger than a normal human, you'd have to add size modifiers on top of that.

That's valid, but doesn't explain what's going on in these spells (also from the description crystal dart should also be target part by that logic)

I see two possible explanations:

  • The spell needs to be errata'd to have target Part;
  • It actually works like the Invisible Sling of Vilano by targeting a stone laying on the ground rather than the actual ground and the spell as a result is less clear than it should be.

@David_Chart this looks like something that might benefit from being clarified in errata?

This is probably the best fix. "The spell transforms a stone into a 10-inch crystal dart that rises…" Does that work?


That certainly seems like the easiest approach, in that it helps explain the inclusion of target part in carbuncle while being straightforward to update. Plus it means Crystal Dart can continue being a good entry level spell.

Having flashback to the time one of the magi in my troupe tried to use "Crystal Dart" against a whale while on a laden boat in the middle of the ocean.
I ruled that there was just enough remaining ballast to get off one shot.

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