Fun with Circles and Rings

No I don't believe so. "By the Magus" and "at the time of casting" are both adverbial phrases that agree with "drawn". So they both describe the drawing of the ring not what is in the ring. This can be shown by using just one or the other.

The spell effects everything within a ring drawn by the Magus. This clearly describes who drew the ring that the subjects have to be inside to be effected.
The spell effects everything within a ring drawn at the time of casting. This clearly describes when the ring has to be drawn. And is by the way pretty similar to how ring duration is worded.

Something about the 'by the Magus" makes you want to skip to earlier verbs/adjectives when it comes before "at the time of casting" But I don't believe there is an actual rule that allows that. If you put the "at the..." ahead of the "by the..." you don't get the same effect.

The spell effects everything within a ring drawn at the time of casting by the Magus. See they both still agree with the drawn. To get grammatically close to what you want I believe you would have to put the "at the time of casting" to the left of the verb "drawn" so that they can not agree.

The spell effects everything within a ring at the time of casting drawn by the magus. In this sentence the "at the time of casting" now agrees with within. Of course again as I stated before the magus no longer has to draw the circle while casting the spell. Although you might also want to go one step further and write.

The spell effects at the time of casting everything within a ring drawn by the magus.

I may be off on how I'm reading it, but I believe grammatically for the sentence as written the time qualification has to be applied to the drawing of the circle not the when of effect. A Circle Target is a circle drawn by the Magus at the time of casting and such a spell effects everything within it. Just like a Room Target is a chamber and that type of spell affects everything in side one of those. But no rules spell out if those things have to be inside the target when the spell is cast.

This is going around and around as usual. The sentence can be interpreted perfectly legitimately in two different ways:

  • The spell affects (everything within a ring drawn by the magus at the time of casting), or
  • The spell (affects everything within a ring drawn by the magus at the time of casting).

In other words, it could mean:

  • The spell affects (everything within thing), or
  • The spell (affects stuff at the time of casting).

Any opinion that RAW specifies one interpretation over the other needs to be based on other data; this one sentence won't cut it.

Sounds like we need to consult David Chart on the matter.

Xavi lands in the debate with quite a headache after reading loads of stuff on circle asnd rings. He plans to propose the Spiral duration, usable in forum debates. :stuck_out_tongue:

@gerg, isn't the red interpretation ignoring half the sentence? "art the time of casting" is part of it, right?

I think nobody has copy-pasted the circle / ring rules yet. Going to the ArM5 RAW...

You can be inside a CIRCLE, have a spell cast on you (with a duration other than RING), leave the circle and keep suffering the effects of the spell until it ends.

You CANNOT leave a RING spell without the spell ending immediately.

Quite clear cut, ain't it?


No: the red interpretation is the one that reads "at the time of casting" as modifying "affects". The blue interpretation reads it as modifying "drawn". Both are grammatically valid.

it must be my faulty spaniard English, but I do not get the difference. :confused: Not that it matters much IMS, but hey.


The difference is this:

If you emphasise drawn at time of casting, then everything that enters the circle comes under the effect of the spell.

This means you can engrave a circle in a garden with a high-ish level CrHe effect (35) that will bring all seeds planted in it to full maturity in a day.

With nary a pawn of vis spent, and it would last forever.


If you emphasise in the time of casting then this can't happen so much.

Have some notion for exploring an ancient Columba-like Temple, where circles litter the floors. Some are wards holding powerful spirits. Some are circles of slumber. Some turn water to wine.

A Columba could also make a small fortune Using Circle/Ring Magic to have rooms where all water is wine while in the room, making running an inn very profitable indeed.

Another magus could make a living travelling from covenant to covenant setting up useful circles, as part of a star-up package for covenants (ring of truth, circle of fertility, circle of convalescence etc.)

Makes a huge difference in game play.

I'll try including some Spanish (automatic translation, YMMV).

The blue sentence

  • The spell affects (everything within a ring drawn by the magus at the time of casting).

can be rewritten as

  • Everything within a ring drawn by the magus at the time of casting, the spell affects it.
  • Todo dentro de un anillo drenado por el magus a la hora del bastidor, el encanto le afecta.

The red sentence

  • The spell (affects everything within a ring drawn by the magus at the time of casting).

can be rewritten as

  • At the time of casting, the spell affects everything within a ring drawn by the magus.
  • A la hora del bastidor, el encanto afecta todo dentro de un anillo drenado por el magus.

I believe that both of these interpretations of the original sentence are equally valid in English.

LOL. I can actually read your english quite well, but I failed my INT+English("lawyer parlance" specialization) language roll to interpret what the hell you were all ranting about :mrgreen: After vulcano's and gerg's clarificationsit I see the point. :slight_smile:


Because that sentence is a little ambiguous people see one of two slightly different sets of information that might be conveyed by that sentence. The problem is if you see one it's very hard to see the other. This makes it very hard to discuss. Even when you try to write a sentence that is less ambiguous people don't always see the difference because there mind snaps it back to what they usually read it as. I think listing out the information might help.

The first which I think the rules of grammar and the game support.
The spell effects everything within a ring.
The ring must be drawn by the magus.
The ring must be drawn at the time of casting


The Spell effects everything within a ring
The ring must be drawn by the magus.
Anything to be affected must be inside the ring at the time of casting.

I don't agree with the second set for a couple of reasons.
First, though the sentence could be worded better I think grammatically the first interpretation is more correct.

Even if the second set of information is actually more grammatical. I think the author meant for the sentence to highlight that the act of drawing the circle is part of the casting and can't be done ahead of time.

Also, I think a lot of people see all four bits of information in the sentence which is not possible, because there are no constructions in it that allow the "at the time of casting" to apply twice. It either expresses all the information in the first or second set but not all the information in both.

Finally, because the second interpretation says that a circle spell can not effect anything that wasn't in the circle when it was cast, it actually disallows a broad range of effects. Effects I believe are supported by RAW. For instance a Ring/Circle PeTe spell that destroys dirt would only destroy the dirt that was in the circle when you cast the spell. Dirt thrown in latter wouldn't be destroyed. Because that dirt was not inside the ring at the time of casting. This would make circles fundamentally different from other targets in the game.

Edit: Sorry to be late this one took me a little while to write.

I'm not David Chart, but I did write the section on the Columbae. My understanding of the rules for Rings and Circles is that they were written emphasizing the fact that the ring/circle is drawn or traced at the time of casting. That is, you can't just cast spells on any old circle, thus the whole "at the time of casting" clause. The Columbae-- who I imagine brought these spell parameters to the Order-- are really good at wards, so I would suggest you think of other spells using these parameters working the same way that wards do: that they target everything inside the circle, which is drawn at the time of casting, and any appropriate target that enters the circle is also affected as long as the duration continues, and anything that leaves the circle is no longer affected.

Personally I prefer the drawing at the time of casting. That makes circular wards make a lot more sense, though I can find ways to redefine circular wards so they work differently.


Last night, I remembered the spell Retreat as Flying Vermin (MoH p 13) which is a Sun/Circle spell that turns anyone in the Circle into bats. (Yeah, MoH really pushes the boundaries sometimes.) Since it is canon, it opens up some possibilities.

It is 2 magnitudes lower than Group but requires preparation time and some way to protect the Circle afterward.

It shows that only for Ring Duration must you stay in the ring to keep the spell active. It stil is not clear if it can affect late comers.

I think it makes an even bigger mess off the whole Ring/Circle thing as Sun/Circle feels immediate to me while Wards are sustained. I feel those pieces are pulling in opposite directions and cannot integrate them together.

Circle and ring are 2 different things....

My point has always been that since there are very few clear rules on the subject any given non-momentary Duration/Target combo can be either sustained or instant. Of course the Ring duration limits the applications of instant spells somewhat and for Individual it often will not matter. This has to be decided on a case by case basis when designing each spell.

My own admitted house rule is that usually spells capable of affecting something that enters it's target area after casting does not stay with a target if they leave the Target area. before the duration expires. Inversely spells that stick to subjects for their entire duration even after they leave the Target area are not capable of acquiring new subjects once cast.

Some special magics might be able to do both. For instance I think sensory magic might get the best of both worlds in RAW, but I'm still not sure personally

Of course not all effects are going to make sense both ways. Some times an instant or sustained version of a spell will be to powerful. You can just say no or tack on extra magnitudes. The point is that just because one Circle/Ring effect seems to powerful as a sustained spell doesn't mean that all Circle/Ring spells have to be limited to instant.

That's pretty much my opinion. I'll add that RAW is a canvas which we break when it gets in the way of a good story. I believe we must realize when we do so, or the incoherence will make the SG look lazy and capricious to the point of inimical.

Story beat rules 100% of the time. Othewrwise we are playing a computer game and that is always less fun than Ars. Except Tetris, maybe.


My concerns with the Circle target have always been for the ease of abuse that the target has, being at the same magnitude as Individual it's a tempting place for the player more interested in effect than story to turn their eye.

I also feel that I need to clarify my implementation of instant cast then sustained effect for Circle spells. I don't actually stop Circle spells from having an ongoing effect I just force my players to be more creative.

So for example the Circle of Sleep idea that people like to use. If cast as a ReMe spell then I'd have it take effect once and then keep people asleep for the duration, but a clever player could use MuAu (as an example) to change the nature of the environment so that the air no has a soporific (sleep-inducing) effect, so anyone in the circle and any new entrants are effected (probably with some sort of Stamina roll).

My knee jerk opposition to interpretations that allow for blanket effecting of new targets entering the area is probably due to bad experiences with players more interested in power than story.

At the end of the day as other posters have indicated story is more important than blind devotion to the rules. I just feel that too many people allow Circle/Ring abuse because it makes for instant cool rather than because it is good for the story.

Power generates its own stories.

And Circle has its own disadvantages. This only works if you can get your opponent to follow you through a circle, or predictably fall into such a trap. Not a guaranteed thing. At least, not if I'm ever SG.

Not much use when you enter a room and a dozen dudes with axes come a-charging. Then your character really wishes he'd remembered the virtues of target room, group or individual with multicasting.