Fun with sand

I'm going to post a number of sand spells here as well as hopefully get some clarification on some magical effects.

Firstly I'd like to ask, moving through sand. Is it ReTe, ReCo, or something else. The idea is to walk through sand and be able to move up or down into it as you wish. How would one carry this out. I've looked around for a spell to walk through walls but haven’t found one. I am trying to avoid becoming incorporeal in the process. Any ideas?


Fin of the Sand Shark

ReTe(Mu) 15

R: Voice
D: Mom
T: Part

Causes the sand at the casters feet to become a 1 meter sharks fin with the consistency of sharp stone, that goes voice distance in the direction determined by the maga. Anyone caught in the path of the fin takes +10 damage and must roll Dex 9+ or be knocked to the ground.

Thank you for the rewording skridragon.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +1 Part, +1 Muto)

I would also assume this would require a Fineness roll to aim, correct? This is sort of a combination of crest of the earth wave (only much smaller in scale) and the crystal dart.

Eyes of the Desert Magus

InTe 25

R: Per
D: Dia
T: Vision

Allows the Maga to see through sand.

Base 4, Diameter +1, Vision +4

The closest I could come to was "see and object and it's surroundings". I considered using InAq as guidelines but decided earth would be harder.

Well, the first one would be a little harder than that, I'd say. The Muto requisite would probably determine the base, since you are, in effect, changing sand into metal to hold that edge (sand is not known to be very "sharp")

Base 4, & etc.

Then is the question of the damage. +10 is a bit on the high side anything that I'm picturing, but maybe, esp if it's large and moving very fast. Maybe 1 level of Complexity, considering the speed and control, etc. ymmv.

Well here is my thinking. The primary action of the spell is to move sand in the shape of a fin. The secondary is to do damage to what is in it's path. I considered the alternative though, both seem to have merit, But then looking at crystal dart it seems the primary action of that is to make crystal and the secondary is to throw it. Damage on the other hand I looked at Crystal Dart Level 10 +10 damage, and crest of the earth wave level 20 damage +10 to everything in a 30 pace wide by 50 pace long area. Would be somewhere in the middle like earths carbuncle. I also figured the impact of a 3 foot blade at high speed into someone’s abdomen and legs was worth at least +10. And considering they get a chance not to be hit, you realy still get more bang for your buck with Crystal Dart. If made it group level 15 you could hit 10 people with darts for +10 each, and there is not finese roll involved. What is your opinion?

yup. Sounds OK to me. Nop need for the extra complexity at all.

I guess the idea is to make it sand-specific, but the spell would work equally well with earth. it cannot work in rocky terrain, though.



The Silent Vigil (MuCo(Te) 45) is what I'm looking at to get a base for moving through sand:

Base 25: Turn a human into a solid inanimate object (Terram req.)

Silent Vigil has someone just moving into then becomeing part of rock, but if you want to specifically just move around in sand, which is easier than rock, I would allow you to move all you want throughout the spell duration, but only in sand. Spell guidelines for Silent Vigil gives +1 for special effect, and I'm not sure what effect it is referring to, so I am not sure you would need the +1 for your sand spell or not.

For the shark fin, perhaps just a different wording:

Causes the sand at the casters feet to become a 1 meter sharks fin made of sharp stone, that goes voice distance in the direction determined by the maga. Anyone caught in the path of the fin takes +10 damage and must roll Dex 9+ or be knocked to the ground.

This would follow Earth's Carbuncle, and it does +10 damage. If you still wanted it "as sharp as a blade," I would say bump it one level and add to damage. But this is just me.

Just some observations: As for the movement of the fin in the spell as worded, I would say the fin appears somewhere at range voice distance, and then moves in a straight line to another point in voice distance, and a finesse roll would be needed to hit anything in particular. Your target will also get the chance to resist the fin because it is magically created.

As for Eyes of the Desert, base 4 works for me, after comparing InAq and InTe charts. Just double check your math; Base 4, +1Dia, +4Vision = 25.

I don't have my design notes with me, but I've got one along these lines, except that it allows you to move through stone and dirt. I know I used ReTe, but I can't remember if I'd used any requisites.

Here's the thing though... with a lot of Ars spells there is more than one way to get to the same effect. For what you're thinking, you could do a number of effects-- MuTe (probably with a Re requisite) to shift the sand immediately around you to air but keep the hole from filling in as you move through it... or MuCo(Te) to make your body into dirt as you move through the ground... or ReTe have the ground part immediately around you, maybe with a Aurum requisite to let you breathe as you go...a ReCo with a MuTe requisite that allows you to "fly" through the dirt as it makes the dirt immediately around you like air or water, so that you can pass through it without issue.

The point being that you don't have to be limited in how you do the spell.

Comparing to the ignem guidelines, usually you increase a magnitude for every +5 damage you do or protect from. I would agree that sand doesn't usually harm people, but the muto to give the sand its edge makes sense, so maybe just an increase of +1 for additional damage. I see why you're starting at +10, comparing the Crest of the Earth Wave, but that has a much larger area.

I don't know that I'd worry about the finesse roll for targeting...for the most part, these sorts of spells just go straight to their target. Finesse seems to be more for when you're partially controlling an object to attack with it-- like [i]Strike of the Angered Branch /i or the parma example of ReTe'ing a rock like a catapult.

You skipped the bump for diameter, but that's easy enough to fix. Since this only allows sight through sand, rocks and metal will still block your vision-- if that makes a difference?

The Baseline effects for InTe 20 also show "make your senses unhindered by earth (for example, see through a rock.)" so I'd say start at InTe15... Which makes seeing through sand InTe 15 + 1 Diameter + 4 Vision, or InTe40. That would give you just sight through earth. For each additional sense, bump it by one. Rocks and metal would still block vision. It seems like a lot, but that appears to be the intention. I don't know how deep I'd permit the vision to go, probably something like seeing into water and dependent on the ambient light. It definitely highlights why intelligo specialists can be so valuable.

The Miner's Keen Eye gives an example where you can just see a single sort of metal through 3 paces of earth-- you could try modifying that spell to see a requisite through 3 paces, like Corpus? It might be less effective, but certainly less difficult to invent.


Yeah, it can become a morass very quickly, no doubt.

There are several balancing factors here, some meta-game, some in-game. And while I can point them out, and state what ~my~ preferences would be, each SG has to make those decisions for themselves, considering their own preferences, their players, their game style, their story line, and etc, etc, etc.

One is less arguable, that when using Requisites that are not "free", the base cost should be the highest of all combinations. That is, if the ReTe is Base 3, and the MuTe is base 4, then it's a Mu(Re)Te, Base 4, not the other way around. No freebies, as a rule.

Then there's Rego. Sometimes, adding a single magnitude of Rego to an effect causes something to move "as fast as smoke rises", and other times it speeds off like an arrow. A SG has to get their own handle on this, and ~try~ to be something like consistent, both with other new spells and with canon. Whether or not to require ~additional~ magnitudes for speed is a judgement call. ymWv, good luck.

Also, there's the description of the spell itself. Coming up with a ReHe spell that sends cottonballs at someone for d+10 would, I'd suggest, be higher magnitude than a spell that does the same with barbed oaken shafts. A "sand fin" does not strike me as a particularly deadly impliment, not even if it were razor-sharp, not when compared to the speed that an actual weapon would strike. It's not a D&D "... and now I touch you with my d+10 spell", but the result should make sense with the effect. If the "blade" is moving anything slower than a sword is swung, it should not do as much damage, I'd think.

Then there's game balance, which must be balanced and dovetailed with that same consistency above - if someone comes up with a clever interpretation that is a killer 2nd magnitude spell, do you allow it? Your spell does damage, and that's fine, but it also knocks people over - that's more than most other "damage" type spells do, so, imo, it either should do markedly ~less~ damage, or be higher magnitude than spells of equal damage, with regard to this consideration.

And remember, because a LOT of Storyguides paint themselves into a corner with this - if you're over-generous with a 3rd magnitude spell, what is a 5th magnitude going to look like later in the saga? And do you really want to go there? Your saga, your choice; but it's also you holding the reins, and you who needs to keep the coach on the road.

None of those are hard rules (even the requisite one has exceptions, iirc), but collectively they are the target that you're aiming for. Whether that means you are aiming for the mean, median, mode or rough middle (and how you interpret that last) is up to you.

Revisions above.

The purpose of this project is to make fantastical ways of using something we would all take for granted, sand. How do you make sand hurt someone , what other useful applications can you use it in, could you make a flight spell with it, ext.

I haven't played D&D in about 5 or 6 years and I couldn't tell you the rules if I tried. I don't like the system and I don't like the min/maxing it encourages. However, when I compare the effects of a spell myself, and with the other player that is working on this that had the initial idea for the magus, the first thing I look at is comparatives spells from the same category. Then I have to consider do I reward creativity. Comparatively if I make this spell level 20, then compare it to the effects of Crest of the Earthwave, why make this spell? Why not just make a sand varient of Crest and move on. Maga are intelligent individuals and just like us if you knew you were going to be in a combat situation, if I were a magus, would look at these 2 spells of equal strength and say, I'll take the one that causes a 30x50 pace spell that does the same damage and will more likely throw the target to the ground, not because it is min/maxing, it's simple reasoning. If this was the case I would just stick with crystal dart, it has more impact than an ignem spell, it always hits it's mark and will always comparatively penetrate more often.

The next issue is do I dock creativity. If I make something that does less cost more, why would players keep inventing new spells? Yes this system has plenty of room for exploiting, yes as SG has to have an iron fist when it comes to it and be able to tell your player no. But if you don't give a little when a player makes something new, and allow the spells in the book of the same magnitude to do more than what they make, they get disheartened quickly and stop trying to make anything new.

On another note, I will be posting a few new spell ideas today. :slight_smile:

It matters not a bit the mechanics of that other game. The point is that there is no semblance of reason behind the effects - it does "stuff". You could blow a handful of sand at a person and do the same damage as if you threw one grain or created a magical sand-slide - and they'd all be the same level. "Stuff", just because.

In Ars, especially with the solid/elemental forms, you create a tangible effect, and that does something appropriate. If the spell is not "effective", then a high level spell might achieve very little - my Darts of Cotton example, above.

poof poof poof, they went. Level 20, d-5 damage.

Creativity is fine, but merely saying "and this sand does d+10" isn't enough. Why not? Well, mainly because simply saying so just isn't enough. First, it's got to "feel" like it should achieve that effect, here probably by approximating a weapon that does that much. An axe? A glaive? Is it really approximating that? Is it really moving that fast? Would it really hit that hard? Be that sharp? First the effect has to be able to believably achieve the claimed result.

Not just do "stuff".

The balance question is up to you. ~That~ is where the creativity can be rewarded, or not.

(and please, I know what I posted, everyone who cares knows what I posted - if you're not referring to one specific part, you really don't need to quote the whole thing, not just to repeat what I posted right above it.) :wink:

standing by, readya later.

I apologize, I usualy just hit quote to refer back to what was written before while I am typing my reply.

I see what you are referring to, but I see this more of flavor text more than descriptive text. This may just be a difference in how you and I see a spell being build. When someone hands me a spell idea I usually make a few assumptions based on what it does. If it is an attack spell I assume unless otherwise described that it is going rather fast. Anything that happens in a moment tends to go pretty quick. So I don't expect it to be in the text. Then I take into account what I can assume from the element of said attack. For instance, a 1 meter tall compressed sand fin would have an impact of a thrown club or in modern terms baseball/cricket bat. I also assume the reason it can retain it's shape for the duration of it's attack is rego magic. Now I don't consider sand holding an edge highly unusual, it is unusual but not highly so, I've been spelunking in desert caves and old hardened sand can cut like glass, still breaks easily, but once again, rego and muto to have it hold an edge. These are all things I am assuming in my mind without text on paper.

I could write flavor text till my face was blue and make this a devastating spell based on the feel of it. For instance, "The fin has the impact of a thrown club or ax (+10 damage). If it achieves a medium wound assume the victims leg is broken by the impact and he is crippled until the wound is healed, if a heavy wound is achieved then the leg is severed and the pelvis is broken. This has the shear impact of that of a charging ram that causes the victim regardless of damage to make a dex roll of 9+ to keep his footing." and so on.

The sand to cotton ball comparison is a bit out of context here. Sand is like tiny pieces of glass that haven't been heated into glass, a 30 mph sandstorm can shred skin from you body, a 30 mph cotton ball storm can tickle you, and maybe make you sneeze. Sandpaper can shred skin, mettle and wood, cotton ball paper cannot. If you wanted to make a comperison with herbem i would lean more toward splinters or sawdust.

I disagree. Throw in a muto requisite and suddenly the fluff balls are razor-y bits of angry wire for the course of the spell, and then blood soaked bits of lint as the target bleeds out. But as you said, you're assuming some things in your head that we're not privvy to... I keep telling my wife I failed telepathy in school, but she doesn't listen.

The point being that establishing a baseline of what will cause how much damage is as important as the flavor is as important as the overall design. There's a balancing game there that has to be taken into consideration. Picking the starting point sets the tenor for the rest of the spells that might be invented. I think, and I'm guessing Cuchulainshound does too, that the sand, as a material just shouldn't start there, and that to put it at the damage you want, at least for my saga, I'd need another bump. You're asking for opinions...and everyone's got one. :wink:

Not only that, but I don't suspect that every magus knows about every spell in the ArM5 book. I figure they know the baselines (in a metagame sense, they are magic theory), and then they design spells to their strengths. Why would your magus design the sand fin as opposed to the crystal dart or the crest of the earth wave?-- there are any number of reasons, like foci, or limitations on Art, casting requisites, etc.

You design for the needs of the magus...but that's the overall strength of the system that we don't want to forget; there's more than one way to generate an effect, and that some are more costly than others. It's just a fine line in deciding what's appropriate in a particular TeFo combination.


It is by no means my intension to upset people, but I do believe that when an opinion is expressed that you don't agree with it should be challenged. When challenged you should show any relevant facts you can come up with from a source, in this case, the core books, and show why your opinion is what it is. Don't think of me as arguing for arguments sake, I am trying to get differing opinions yes, but if it doesn't mesh in my head I'm going to challenge it for clarification (in retrospect of re-reading this, how very Tytalin of me) Once again I apologize if my way of finding clairification upsets anyone.

On another note...

Razorblade Cottonballs of Bleeding Doom

MuHe(Re) 25

R: Voice
D: Mom
T: Group

The magus turns a handful of cotonballs into razorblades and fires them at a target at the speed of arrows. This hail of bladed death causes +15 damage to the target posible shreding any cloth or leather items on his person.

(Base 4 Change a plant product into metal, +2 voice, +2 Group, +1 Rego)

Knowlage of the Intuitive Husband

InMe 20
R: Touch
D: Mom
T: Ind

Lets the wizard know what is upseting the target at the time. This spell was invented by a Jerbiton who's wife would never tell him what she wanted and always insisted that he already knew.

(Base 15, +1 Touch)

:slight_smile: Sorry I couldn't resist.

However, I'm not mearly trying to insinuate that spells do "stuff". But I am saying magic is magic. And sometimes I think that the forems error on the side of over complicating magic. Magic is suposed to be fantastic and scary at the same time. I like to error on the side of fantacy when it isn't game breaking and it falls into the mechanics.

In that example, magic isn't doing "stuff". Razors are slicing a person up, and you've created those by the rules, all good. If I imagine razor sharp pieces of metal flying around, be they magically created from cotton or Jello or whatever, I can easily picture those doing d+10 damage.

But that's not the same as a spell that claims that a single grain of sand does +10 damage, (which is an exaggeration of the opposite view - your originally submitted spell falls somewhere between the two extremes.)

If you want "high fantasy" spells, that's your style, and no one should gainsay your gawd-given right to have fun. But Ars does not lend itself well to that - the magic system isn't designed with that in mind. So accept that you're bending the rules - which is fine - and not everyone else, perhaps not the majority, would run their saga the same way.

Good Gaming! :wink:

Perhaps a MuTe spell to change the sand so that you can walk through it, or a PeTe to change it's properties. Although of course, this will allow everyone to move through it. Some sort of MuCo(Te) spell might work too.

This looks basically fine to me. Possibly, I would make it a Group target, instead of Part (as it affects the Group that are standing along the line of effect)?

I think that to line up several targets would probably require a Finesse roll, with the Ease Factor depending on how many targets there were in the line (perhaps Ease Factor 3 + 3 per target in excess of 1).

Also I think I'd let a player use the Aiming rules to try to bypass Parma and knock targets over with this spell (force them to make the Dex roll), even if the targets manage to resist the actual damage part of the spell.

The sand being moved magically (Rego), it should be resisted, and, if it is, the crest will stop forclessly at the magus' steps.
You don't resist "the damage", you resist the magic, it's an all-or-nothing affair :wink:

Magic resistance doesn't stop the effect, it just stops the effect directly affecting the magus.

I think that you could contrive to write the spell description such that the damage was due to being hit by the fin and that the Dex roll was due to the earth being moved beneath your feet by the passage of the fin.

I think it would then be fine to use the Aiming rules to cause the fin to pass close enough to the magus that he is forced to make the Dex roll even though he might resist the effect of being directly hit by the fin.

It would be similar to how destroying the dirt beneath a magus can cause him to fall into a pit. Moving the dirt beneath him could make him fall over?

Your distinction being?...

(Not this again...)

No. Or, yes and no.

If you magically hurl a boulder at a mage, it stops dead if it does not penetrate. Just as a boulder hurled at "voice" range stops dead when it reaches the (arbitrary) limit of "Voice" - it does not keep flying on its own momentum. The magic is over, the velocity it imparted is over, the momentum was never natural, the boulder stops.

If you remove the earth beneath a mage's feet, or slide it, the mage falls, or might fall.

If, however, you try to "bash" the feet out from under him (which is what this spell does, as currently described) then we're back to the magically manipulated boulder.

However, yes, if you "pulled" the ground out from under him, I'd say that would cause the mage to fall (or call for a Quickness roll, more likely). But that's not how this spell is described, not currently.

(RL - If you know this, apologies in advance, but it's been such a point of confusion that maybe my kneejerk kicked in. If so, let's just say that this was "for any out there who do ~not~ understand the distinction".)

The effect is described as travelling along a line. It should still propagate along the line effecting those who do not resist it. Even if the magus is the only person on the line, the fin still traverses the line (temporarily) disrupting the earth along that line.


Clearly you take the damage (or not) depending on whether the fin hits you, ie the damage is due to the impact of the fin. Which would be resisted as normal.

However, I read it that you are taking the Dex roll to stop losing your footing due to the motion of the earth as the fin passed you. Just the impact itself probably isn't causing the Dex roll, as something like Crystal Dart doesn't cause a Dex roll.

Losing your footing due to the movement of the earth sounds very like the condition you quoted above.

No unfortunately this spell is very vunerable to parma. First because it is being completely propelled by magic, second, Muto. If a magi threw himself in the path of the spell before it hit his mundane comrades I would probably assume the spell stopped in it's tracks. The reson for the dex roll is to avoid the fine from "cutting" your legs out from under you, more of a trip from haveing a meter high piece of sharp, hard sand stone hit you in the legs and lower abdomen.

I read all this with the hopes of finding some desert/sand spells. I don't have my books with me so who is up to post:

Quick sand
See through sand
Screemer like vermin
The storm that peels the unjust