Incantation of Lightning - why R:Voice?

I just realized that Incantation of Lightning has a Range: Voice. Shouldn't it be Range:Touch? After all, Range is the distance to the nearest part of the Target (in this case the Lightning) (corebook, p.111, the very first sentence of the Ranges section).

Incantation of Lightning has always been Level 35, across the many editions of Ars Magica, and in 5th edition has been "harmonized" with Ball of Abysmal Flame. Thus, my troupe and I never even bothered to check the parameters, and found out only now about this weird inconsistency.

Creo Auram: ie: Create Lightning. You are creating the lightning and hitting the target with it. This is the same as BoAF. You are creating fire and hitting a target at Voice Range (How far away).

You could use Touch range if you wished, but the lightning would only hit what you could put yourself, or your Talisman in contact with.
For a more robust version,(example) you could use Vision as the range, and hit someone on the other mountain top...
You can also use Range Arcane Connection, and hit someone at any range (less regios), that you have and arcane connection to. The lightning would appear, and do bad things to the poor fellow... :smiling_imp:

If the lightning is the Target, why would it hit anyone? You would need to aim it at your foe using Finesse, and since it is magically created you would also need to penetrate.

The lightening is the thing that's being created. In Creo magic that makes it the Target. The Range tells you where you can create it. As you're creating something directly, rather than moving it from one place to another or creating it somewhere other than where you ultimately want it, you don't need to roll to hit. It's like you only have one place to keep your eye on rather than two. Your target, i.e. the poor sucker you're just about to zap, just happens to be standing exactly where you want to create the lightening.

But yes, you do need to penetrate as usual.

(In other words: the lightning coming out of your hands is just flashy cosmetics. The "real" target of the spell is standing some paces away. The same happens with pilum of fire and BOAF, for example. Having the lightning come out of your hands makes you look ubber cool, though, so it is well worth it* :stuck_out_tongue:


* This used to be my signature spell back when we started playing Ars, and I loved it. Back then we used strong gestures and voice in the +real* world, and it made you look cool when you stood on your chair shouting "Incantation of Lightning!!!" with your friends making a human wave and cheering. I fell off the chair once (we all did), but hey.

Now that's how it's done! :laughing:

AND, lightning being extremely random, aiming it would be a serious problem.


But, you see, the case of Pilum of Fire and Ball of Abysmal fire is different. What they do is create a fire at Voice range. The fact that it seems to fly out of your hands is purely cosmetic, and explicitly stated as such in the case of Ball of Abysmal Fire. If you were to "really" create the fire at Touch range, you'd then need to move it to the target (probably adding a Rego requisite).

But with lightning, you can create it arching from your fingertips to the target, and thus, create it at Touch range while simultaneously encompassing a target (which, incidentally, could probably be quite a bit further than Voice range, since a normal lightning bolt can be several hundred paces long). In fact, you are actually paying 4 full magnitudes because it's "really" coming out of your fingertips; and fpr the same reason there cannot be anything between you and the victim.

Hmm, where do you want to create the lightning? At the foe or at your hand? Or are you saying your lightning Individual spans from your hand to your foe?

CrAq20 Mighty Torrent of Water
CrAu35 The Incantation of Lightning
CrIg20 Pilum of Fire
CrIg25 Arc of Fiery Ribbons
CrIg35 Ball of Abysmal Flame

Are you saying all those spells are wrong and should be 5 level less?
Are you saying that I can PoF anyone I see?

Even forcing a Rego enhance requisite would still be better than the canonical examples, 5 extra penetration on foes beyond Voice range.

You're paying 4 magnitudes because there is no storm from which it should originate.

If you were to try this with me and really push it, I would probably reply, "Fine, I'll let it arc properly. Oh, you forgot you're the best nearby conductor and have thus targeted yourself?" With a Rego requisite you could make it arc unnaturally. Of course, then you'd need to handle how far away you'd move it, so you still lose out.


The lightning spans from your hand to your foe. Since Range is the distance to the part closest to the caster, Range should then be Touch.


Pilum of Fire and Ball of Abysmal Fire create a fire at Voice range. The fact that it springs from the caster's hands and lands a few dozen paces away is purely cosmetic, and mentioned as such in the case of Ball of Abysmal Fire. Were it not "cosmetic", you'd have to combine fire creation and fire movement. Their final level is correct.

Arc of Fiery Ribbons is trickier. One could indeed argue that you are creating the ribbons at Touch range, and they extend as far as the Voice carries, reducing the Range modifier from +2 to +1. However, this would be an Unnatural shape (and not with purely cosmetic effects - it would be one allowing you to reduce the range). Thus the base guideline should be level 10 instead of (the quoted) level 5. So it is clear that for the ribbons the "spring from your hands" effect is also cosmetic - it's a Group of fires created at Voice range. Alternatively, you could create them at Touch range with the Unnatural shape, and the level would not change.

Mighty Torrent of Water, however, seems indeed to suffer from the same problem as Incantation of Lightning. Range should be Touch, dropping a magnitude. On the other hand, a jet of water that can send a man flying from several dozens of paces away sounds to me more like "a geyser" than a "spring with a high flow of water", so I think the base level should be 10 instead of 5.

Summarizing, my view is:

Ball of Abysmal Fire, Arc of Fiery Ribbons, Pilum of Fire: perfectly correct.
Incantation of Lightning: wrong Range, 1 magnitude too high.
Mighty torrent of Water: wrong Range (1 magnitude too high) but also wrong guideline (1 magnitude too low)... so the result is correct even though the calculation is wrong :slight_smile:

No, because PoF creates a fire at Voice range. The "launched as a javelin" effect is purely cosmetic.

I'm not sure I follow you here. Adding a Rego requisite would increase the spell by at least 1 magnitude (in addition to forcing you to use the lowest of the two techniques), which would completely offset any gain from decreasing Range to Touch.

The one example that the guidelines give for a +4 magnitude is making lightning spring for your fingertips... Thus the "spring from your fingertips" cannot be a cosmetic effect, but one with substantial effect - allowing you to create lightning at Touch Range that hits your victim instead of you.

I doubt the notion of "conductor" applies in Mythic Europe. If you wanted to create lightning at Voice range (with the "spring from your fingertips" just a cosmetic effect), then it's probably just +2 magnitudes for Voice Range, and another +2 magnitudes for "highly unnatural" (create lightning at ground level). If you really pushed it, you could probably get one more magnitude for the ability to create it indoors (so +2 for Voice, and +3 for Unnaturalness) but that's really as far as it can go.

Please note that I am not saying that Incantation of Lightning should have a lower level. I'm just saying the guidelines do not add up, and may they should be changed.

And if you do that, you will have a 99.99999% probability of missing your target. Will require a Finesse roll.
AND the lightning will still have to penetrate.

Lightning doesnt automatically propagate in the direction you point it towards.
Lightning is instant so trying to control it while it strikes is futile.

Make it Touch and Diameter and you have something really scary to play with though.
Just remember that lightning is really REALLY powerful. There are real cases almost every year where lightning strikes does something spectacular for one reason or another, like a few years ago not far from here, a single lightning strike caused a 50m long 2m deep and 2m wide trench, by simply causing the dirt to literally explode away. And a lightning that is constant, ouchy, BIG OUCHY! Of course, the probability that the magi will get hit by something is probably very high indeed.

However, essentially, you´re trying to fiddle with the range rules. By your own argumentation, i can make PoF Touch range and still make it hit whatever i can see. Because all that is needed is that the effect BEGINS at "my touch". Its not a big problem to stretch a wirethin thread of fire from "me" to any target i can see which then gets hit by the remaining 99% of the fire from the spell.

Really? That surprises me, because I've never said so, and I do not believe this is the case.

That makes the shape very unnatural (+ magnitude). Also, it's not clear who much damage a tiny portion of such a fire would cause.

You said: Shouldn't it be Range:Touch? After all, Range is the distance to the nearest part of the Target

There is nothing what so ever preventing anyone from letting a PoF be created so that it moves out from "Touch".

BS. Not by your reasoning. And since you expect to have lightning actually strike where you point it at, this is waaaay easier and much more realistic.

Of course thats not the same as saying it IS realistic. It isnt. Which was the point.

I wanna cast lightening.

Well, I think we probably should wait until we get home.

No. Wanna cast lightening.

Really? You want to cast lightening?

Yeah. Lightening.

You know it's Sight range? So you have to choose somewhere you can see.

Yeah, I know. There.

But there's a man standing there.

Yeah, I know.

But he'll be in the way, won't he? And he does look quite important.

Yeah, I wanna zap him.

Well, you said that last time about the Bishop of Winchester and there was that awful kerfuffle with the Quaesitor and the Pope, do you remember?


(No, I didn't think so) So you're sure? You want to "zap" Lord William Marshall, the Earl of Pembroke, regent to the young king Henry, and favourite to successive kings since Henry II, through Richard and John, God bless their regal souls?






There. He's all burnt flesh and melted mail now. That's right, isn't it?

No... Wanted the other one.

Well, then, what's the point of the guidelines? There will be a thunderstorm somewhere. I'll just create a totally natural bolt from that storm. I'll use voice range, so it will have to strike somewhere within voice range of me, possibly traveling through doorways and cave entrances. After all, as long as part of it is in voice range and I don't have to use a size, it's fine. So I don't need any of those other guidelines, right?

I think it's pretty clear that this interpretation of the guidelines is inconsistent with them.

If you want to change things around and do a range touch version to do as you intend, you should put a size modifier on it so it's big enough to reach the target. That would make it consistent with the rules for the closest part being in range.


That I did say, and I'm fairly confident it's very different from what you attributed to me :slight_smile:

Let me try to clarify this one last time. Should I fail, I'll just give up. Pilum of Fire creates a fire at Voice range. These are the mechanics. The "visuals" are that the caster appears to throw this fiery javelin thingy. But it's cosmetic only. The mechanics do not reflect this. Otherwise it would be Touch range, with a Rego requisite for the throw.

Now, you could argue: what if the caster made a long, thin fire, extending from the caster's fingertip all the way to the target - maybe a target at Sight range? You certainly could. At the very minimum the guidelines say that you would be adding a magnitude, because it's an unnatural shape with effects that are not purely cosmetic. This is very clear cut.

Now, I am also saying, but this is far fuzzier, that a base Individual of Ignem (a volume equal to that of a campfire) stretched that long would be very thin, not enough to enshroud a human. This should cause a further reduction in damage, since the damage given assumes "full immersion" (see p.181) which can be achieved with a "glob" but not with a thin "ray". You could still argue: what if I made Ignem in a shape that was a thin, thin line expanding into a large bubble around the victim - with a minimal amount of volume spent on the line portion, and most of it on the bubble? At this point I would invoke the Central Rule and say that what you are doing is really equivalent to creating the Fire where the victim is, so pay the full cost and shut up :slight_smile:

I am not sure I can follow you here. I say "X". You cite it as proof that it's not what I said? You certainly have an odd, if forceful, way of arguing.

Note that you do not create the "beginning" of a lightning bolt, and let it propagate from there. You create the whole lightning bolt, placing each part of it exactly where you want (subject to the fact that the lightning still has to maintain the shape of a lightning...). So no need to aim, just like you do not need to aim a Ball of Abysmal Fire.

Uhm, no.

First of all, you really might have to use size. Like, a lightning bolt can be hundreds of paces long, but it really can't be seven leagues long, unless you use modifiers for size.

Second, and I think this is not clearly phrased but it's consistent across the examples and is vaguely mentioned in the Creo Auram guidelines, when you create a phenomenon that extends from some point or area (disregarding cosmetic effects), Range is computed as the distance from that point or from the closest portion of that Area, rather than from the closest point in the phenomenon's path.

Finally, I think that you would have to add "unnatural" magnitudes for a lightning bolt that sneaks its way through doorways and cave entrances.

However, I do think that to call a bolt from down from the sky, at a Target within Sight range, according to the guidelines should be level 20. That's level 5 for a lightning bolt, +3 magnitudes for Range. I would contend that since it originates from the upper air it is natural, both because "out of the blue" lightning bolts exist and because you can create a lamb without the need of a sheep. If you insisted on the need of a cloud, I could then move the Target up to Group, and create a Storm, with rain, wind, and all the bolts I wanted, within reason. This would be level 30, still below the current Incantation of Lightning, despite the multiple bolts and the greater range. Yes, this would not work indoors, but good luck casting IoL indoors anyways (that's the hug disadvantage of creating a lightning bolt - it's BIG).

I do not think the level of Incantation of Lightning should be reduced. I do think the results one gets from adhering to the guidelines are too low, and the guidelines should be adjusted.

Not a size mod, a lightning is pretty much "long enough" regardless. However what IS extremely needed is a Rego requisite to make the lightning go where you want it to. It most certainly wont go where you want it to "just because". And a Finesse roll to see if you DID manage the Rego part properly.
This version of the spell, i think i can accept it, because while it essentially gives Sight Range to the lightning strike, it does so at the cost of adding a Finesse roll for aiming it right and adding a Rego requisite.
If you´re equally good at Cr and Re, it will be a nice variation on the normal spell.