I've seen a decent amount of people confused by the damage caused by spells, so I thought I would share something that my troupe and I have cobbled together to assist with inventing damaging spells.
There are three types of damage that one can do with a spell.
The first is the creation (with Creo or Muto) of a naturally hazardous substance e.g. Fire (ArM5 pg 140), Acid (ArM5 pg 123), Corrosive gas (ArM5 pg 127). This tends to be at damage = base level, with the exception of fire, which is a magnitude lower. These are the mainstay of the classic Flambeau magus. That being said, the example spell Sulfurous Membrane in Hermetic Projects provides an example of a useful low damage spell.
The second is used when throwing a projectile that is guided by magic e.g Crystal Dart (ArM5 pg 154), Dagger of Ice (HoH:S pg 35), Piercing Shaft of Wood (ArM5)
This is quite possibly the most confusing guideline to work with. The damage dealt by the projectile seems to be completely independent of the guideline used, and instead relies on the size and shape of the material. Note that Piercing shaft of Wood assigns different damage values based on size, as does Acorns for Amusement (ToME, pg 55). Ominous Levitation of the Weighty Stone(HoH:S pg 38) seems to support this hypothesis, even though it is aimed (or rather, dropped) towards the opponent. It seems to be that an Individual worth of mass can deal up to +10 damage, assuming that the projectile is vaguely pointy.
The third guideline for damage was introduced in HoH:S, and uses a base level as the damage. This differs slightly from the first guideline, as these particular spells must be aimed, and increased magnitudes throw the object at a higher force. These seem to be highly useful for a magus who is highly specialised in finesse, as they don't need to penetrate and thus high level spells can be used in combat. It seems to be up to storyguide decision whether one can create a spell at a base level higher than the +15 damage guideline.
Please let me know if there are any errors in this conclusion, I'd like to hear what the rest of you think!