Into the Lab: Dissecting T:Group & Individual

Ok, rather than derail the ArM6 wishlist further, I'll do this here.

Pilum of Fire is:

And Jonathan.Link had mentioned:

There's two misconceptions here.

Misconception #1: The base individual is incorrect.

Misconception #2: The damage does not match the individual.

For Misconception #1, the individual is a size which can be somewhat mutable, see below:


So, here, we have a fire that is the size "of a larger campfire or less"-- so we meet the terms of an Individual Target.

For Misconception #2, we have to look at the CrIg guidelines:

So we can see that we can adjust the power of the individual created by increasing the guideline. Now our fire is hotter and more damaging than normal. That brings us to the construction:

Base of 10 + 2 for Voice Range-> CrIg 20.

By comparison, this is a single fire. Arc of Fiery Ribbons states directly, it is "a dozen ribbons," so it uses the Target:Group, because there are 10 individual ribbons. If we wanted to turn Ball of Abysmal Flame, however, into something more D&D/Pathfinder-esque, we'd need to add either +1 or +2 Size modifiers to the Individual Target choice, to create a single fire which was very big. (For my own saga, we feel a large fire occupies a cubic pace-- this depends on your saga's definition of a pace as either a step, or two steps, we go with one step, or about 3 feet on a side.) Increasing it by +1 Size gives you 10 cubic paces, or about 9 feet across, 3 feet high, and +2 gives you an area about 15 feet across and 12 feet high (5 by 5 by 4 paces). By working in paces, you can adjust areas of effect afterwards, depending on your choice without affecting the construction.

Hopefully this helps.

First, let me say that I'm not necessarily disagreeing with what you are saying. I'm saying it's not clear within the text, and when it's not clear within the rules, that leads to disagreement at the table, and perhaps more discussion than is truly necessary. Putting this reasoning into the rules wouldn't hurt at all.

The misconceptions you list are common among players, and aren't necessarily mine, although I did have them early on when I started playing again, but my understanding has changed and is closer to your understanding. So, yes, you can have a fire that is smaller than base size, of course, and the guidelines detail creating hotter fires than normal. I'll stipulate to those two parameters.

Here is where it gets tricky. What is the difference between BoAF, Size +1 and BoAF Group +2? They are both supposed to be something with something that is a mass of 10 individuals of the base Individual for a form. If the only difference is an increase in magnitude for using Group. How does T:Group benefit the spell if they can't be targeted at say a group of grogs, with each BoAF being individually delivered to the group, then Size is clearly superior. Further, if the base individual size of the fire is that of a large campfire, then the BoAF is that same size (it's not defined in the flavor text, unlike Pilum of Fire) and so it is already a ball fire that is 3 paces in diameter, increasing to T:Group or T:Ind, Size +1 makes it 9 paces in diameter. Or is it?

You're not telling me how T:Group works in relation to sending spells to recipients who do not mach the underlying Form. And I've had disagreements about this in other games. If I create IoL T:Group, I should always create 10 lightning bolts. They should be delivered as I wish them to be to a group of people (or even an individual), so if a group of grogs is 3 in size, everyone gets 3, with the odd man out getting the fourth, if it's 10 they each get one. If it is a group of 12, how does that get resolved? Does it violate the rules of Group, and therefore makes the spell fizzle (again, I've seen it ruled that way) and I've seen it ruled that a group of 3 causes only 3 lightning bolts to be made. It doesn't make it correct, and it's not even something that's necessarily unreasonable, simply because the description of T:Group and how Targets and targets work in Ars 5th edition is incredibly ambiguous.

All I'm saying is that there is a huge room for interpretation of Group targeting, and Area of Effect spells, and all I'm asking for is clarity within the text. I don't disagree with your reasoning at all. I'm presenting you the arguments I have received.

I also have a question about Ovarwa's sight range Arc of Fiery Ribbons, because this would end up clearly violating the size/mass limits of T:Group at some point, and so how does that get determined? Even going out to normal distance violates the T:Group by your reckoning. The area covered by a 60 degree arc out to 15 paces is 117 square feet, and if an Individual Ignem is 3x3 in size, that's 9 square feet, which becomes 90 square feet. I'm willing to give it some leeway, but out to 50 feet if shouting, the area is 1300 square feet, and so how does that get adjudicated? Does it just cover the standard area, then, unlike Pila which could reach out to 50 paces? That's a reasonable interpretation, but again, the AoE effect stuff is muddy at best.

BoAF, T:Ind, Size +1 is a single ball, encompassing a volume of approximately 10 cubic paces.

BoAF, T:Group, Size +2 is 1000 balls of fire, each one a single cubic pace in size. (or some division thereof, maybe 10 balls, each 100 cubic paces)

Nothing tricky about it. Your example about targeting grogs is (again) confusing the group of grogs with the Target:Group of your example BoAF. Each one could streak to a different target, but different troupes might require a Finesse roll, others might be ok with them all simply streaking to their own target. That's what group does-- it allows you to break up the effect into multiple Individuals:

BoAF's size IS defined, by the structure. It's:

The Target is individual, so the ball of flame it creates is the size up to an individual for Ignem. That's how it works. The book doesn't define it every time because they defined it at the front of the Spell chapter. When it's different somehow, the text defines it.

And you call it "flavor text." It's not flavor. It's the descriptive mechanics and guidance to how the spell works-- the sample sigils on some spells are the closest to flavor text.

I'm not sure I understand the part about "recipients who do not match the underlying Form." Spells just hit, that's how it works. Finesse rolls are used to target things which do not automatically hit (and which usually are unaffected by the Parma), like the Sling Flambeau spells out of HoH:S. Otherwise, boom, it hits. That's magic. In your IoL T:Group example, your 10 lightning bolts arc out and yeah, if there's more than 10 in the group, it's up to the troupe how that goes. If they're tightly packed, then I'd say they all get nuked. If they're spread out, then just 10 of them light up, or maybe they all get hit, but we reduce the damage a little, so it's +25 damage instead. This is part of that SG/Troupe judgement that goes into adjudicating a spell in play. I once had a very heated discussion about how the effect of an Aurum spell would flow over buildings-- I felt it would pour over them like water, and the SG at the time felt it would flow over intervening alleyways and only spill into larger spaces. The rest of the troupe agreed with him, and play continued.

I would disagree on the point that "there is a huge room for interpretation." It's pretty clear to me based on the citations I've offered. Everything you need is in the first six pages of Chapter 9, and then in the respective Form descriptions afterwards, for the individual definitions.

Ovarwa is suggesting that if you increase the range to sight, then you get these really long, really thin ribbons of burning fire which do the damage all along their length, which would be pretty devastating to people or animals caught in them. I don't know that I, as the SG, would let it start many fires as it got further out, as they're small, hot, momentary threads, but that would be a troupe discussion if the player disagreed. Again, look at page 113:

That's the benefit of Target:Group. You can divide up those 10 individuals of mass a lot of ways.

If the target is the fire it's self, it would be a aimed spell them? Those 10 lighting bolts/fiery ribbons would have to target each person. Because the target of the spell is the fire/lighting so they are just going helter-skelter around a room.

Personally, I agree with JL on it being rather wishy-washy about the target. If you want an AoE then increase the size. If you want everyone in the room increase the size. or target the room. But targeting the room is better than using group and getting the room.

Nope. Pilum, Ball of Abysmal Flame, Incantation of Lightning, etc. all just hit whoever or whatever you direct them to hit. Spells can't miss if you're trying to hit your target (not Target, target) directly. You have to Aim for stuff like slingshotting a rock into the air so that it'll hit the target once gravity brings it back down (which is useful since gravity is not magical, and therefore the rock will no longer be resisted... Unless you made the rock with magic too!). But shooting lightning and fire and stuff, that's easy peasy, no aiming required.

i understand because the TARGET is Individual meaning a single person. That is why they hit their target. Aimed spells like Pit of gapping earth or Invisible Sling target the earth or a rock. So if Ribbons targets the fire it must become an aimed spell.

Yes. I knew it was in there, thank you for reminding me of the right term:

Spells just hit, unless you're going for an indirect effect. "As if by magic," one might say.

No, you are conflating the Target of the spell, in this case, Target:Group, with those who have been affected by the spell effect. Those affected by a spell effect are always hit, unless the effect is indirect, like Pit of Gaping Earth.

Spell effects do one thing, sometimes with multiple instances in the spell. They "shoot a flame spear at someone," or "open a hole in the ground," or "turn a person into a pig." They never do multiple things. There are a few which skirt this through complexity, but that's the system. One spell, one effect. Nothing ever sets you on fire and turns you into a pig while opening a hole in the ground. (We could, however, turn you into a pig made of fire, but that's a different discussion.)

Target:Individual does not mean "a single person." It means "the platonic expression of a single unit of that form."

So the Individual for Auram is a single weather effect, (a breeze, a lightning bolt, a cloud), the Individual for Terram is a cubic pace of dirt, the Individual for Ignem is a large campfire.

Only for Corpus does Individual equate to a single (Size 1 or less) person.

And how are those multiple individuals assigned to recipients?

BoAF's size IS defined, by the structure. It's:

The Target is individual, so the ball of flame it creates is the size up to an individual for Ignem. That's how it works. The book doesn't define it every time because they defined it at the front of the Spell chapter. When it's different somehow, the text defines it.

And you call it "flavor text." It's not flavor. It's the descriptive mechanics and guidance to how the spell works-- the sample sigils on some spells are the closest to flavor text.
Please. How many games has your BoAF, when cast, affected more than one recipient? I've certainly never played it that way, nor have I ever observed anyone play it that way. It goes to one recipient. If BoAF should be an AoE spell, then it should be clearly explained as such, I don't get that from the descriptive mechanics. The descriptive mechanics also specify a single target, yet it's large enough to affect more than one?

I know spells just hit. T:Group requires the thing created to be in relatively close proximity and form some sort of group, if you have a group of 4 grogs physically separated from a group of 6 other grogs, can you have a spell that affects all 10? RAW suggests you can't, that you have to pick the 4 or 6 group. Once you've picked that, how do you adjudicate 10 things hitting the group you've picked. That's not clear, I could come up with something, but again, in one saga, the group is size X, where X<=10, so the Group version of IoL creates X Lightning bolts, and not 10.

You know, you're not doing a great job at convincing me that there isn't room for clear guidance here, when you fall back on, it's up to the troupe. There's room for a vastly different understanding, and even now, your understanding is inconsistent. I mean, T:Group +2 should create 10 lightning bolts that are identical to a standard lightning bolt, so why is the damage spread out? Since the guideline for a single lightning bolt is +30 damage, and you're paying +2 magnitudes for 10 more in a spell that is harder to cast and harder to penetrate. I might agree with you on a T:Ind, Size +1 lightning bolt that hit a larger area as an area of effect spell, with those not in the center of the AoE getting less damage, but as it stands, there's no real guidance on this, and there needs to be.

That's simply not reasonable, when you go back to saying it's up to the Troupe. Of course, everything is always up to the troupe, and even if there were clear, consistent guidance from the line on how AoEs, and T:Group versions of PoF, IoL, BoAF work, some people would disagree with it, but there would at least be a starting point for discussion. As it is, we're at about 5 different viewpoints on how it should work.

And, as I said, those 10 individuals of mass pretty much encompass all of the possible area in a 60 degree Arc with a radius of 15 paces. Going beyond that does what, exactly? As you say, going on a sight range arc that is 60 degrees could encompass square miles of territory, and is completely inconsistent with the idea of T:Group = mass of 10 individuals.

The mage casting the spell decides who is affected, and must make sure there is a clear delineation of who is affected, as the book discusses.

BoAF has almost never affected more than one target, because, no, it's not big enough to affect more than a person, unless those people are close together, like two people grappling, or riding a horse together, or locked in an embrace-- because that's what the size of the effect is-- one large campfire. You suggested increasing it to T:Group, which allows for a pile of BoAF because of the nature of T:Group. Perhaps there is some confusion because I saw T:Group +2, which I read as "Target: Group, +2 for Size, or a Group equivalent to 1000 Individuals," and you meant it as "Target: Group, which is a +2 increase in magnitude."

The mage selects those affected by the spell. Your example leaves it unclear how we would delineate that separation...but going from the book's example, if I had 4 grogs outside a circle of stones and 6 grogs inside a circle of stones, then there's a division between them, and I can target them. If they're in a large mob of 10 warriors, fighting each other? No, I cannot affect separate members of that mob with T:Group. That's unfortunate for my grogs, unless I've previously protected them somehow.

No. I'm saying that on page 113, in the breakout box, it tells you that T:Group allows you to create an effect which has the mass of 10 individuals, but can be divided any way I like. I can hit a mob of 100 people with that T:Group Incantation of Lightning spell, but my troupe may feel that it needs a Size modifier because of the number of people in the mob-- if I want them to all take +30 damage. If I reduce the damage, they might be fine with it, or they may feel that's acceptable based on the nature of lightning.

Here's the thing you're sidestepping when you dismiss the fact that I allow for troupe consensus-- troupe consensus is part of the game. It's the Central Rule on page 111. Why would I ever dismiss it? Again -- this is a game about the ART of Magic, not the Science of Magic. There's leeway for differences between troupes, between Storyguides. You are *supposed* to reach that consensus through discussion at the table if you disagree.

Why do you feel the Troupe should have this consensus taken away? The Central Rule allows for common sense and table differences in power levels to be internally adjusted without altering the core rules.

There is plenty of clarity in the text. You seem to dismiss the fact that reaching consensus is a part of the game's resolution, and you seem be conflating T:Group with "a unit of people greater than one affected by a spell effect."

T:Group means you have an effect roughly equivalent to the mass of 10 Individuals. You may divide that mass how you see fit amongst a number of identical effects (Remember that bit about "ten thousand individuals, each one thousandth of the standard size?"). You select who is affected for these effects, but there must a distinct delineation between the people being affected.

I don't know what those 5 viewpoints are. Page 113 tells us groups can be extremely subdivided, so what's the problem?

Not at all. It means those ribbons become very thin, like threads of burning flame, spreading apart as they extend outward, likely hitting many, but missing just as many. Ribbons which are, for the sake of discussion, a few feet wide at the farthest end of the arc, would likely be like pieces of spaghetti at the end of R:Sight, depending on what that distance was---it's situational, and requires Troupe adjudication.

Let's start with IoL, modified to use Target: Group, since this seems contentious.

Target:Group does not have to mean a spell that throws 10 lightning bolts. It can, but it doesn't have to. (Referring to page 113.)

It can also mean a spell that throws 100 lightning bolts, each one doing 1/10th of the damage of an Individual Lightning bolt (So, +3 Damage, or +4 Damage depending on how your Troupe rounds).

It can also mean a spell that throws 20 lightning bolts, each one doing 1/2 of the damage.

As long as the mage can appropriately designate targets, then they are affected by lightning. If, for some reason, the mage cannot delineate a difference, then there are unintended targets affected or the mage doesn't cast the spell.

If the troupe feels 1/10th of a lightning bolt still does as much damage as regular lightning bolt, well, then, great. If they feel an extra magnitude would pump the damage up, super. If they think something else, then it's time for consensus.

It's not really contentious, so much as I see a lot of possible different understandings and none of them are all that unreasonable. You can explain it all you like here, but it's not in the book, and therefore doesn't exist to a lot of players.

I'm giving you page references. How can you say it's not in the book?


Spells always hit. The mage selects the effect when designing and what is affected. The mage decides on the Target of the effect when designing as well. It's all there.

Well, because there is a difference between Target and target, and a lot of people have trouble with that concept. And then they conflate Group with 10 targets.

I've argued something not unlike what you have done here, and I've given you arguments that were given to me. I certainly do believe that a T:Group version of a spell should allow the caster to divide it up however he wishes. So, T:Group BoAF could be one huge ball of fire, area of effect, or it could be 10 multiple independent target-able +30 damage effects, or somewhere in between.

Do I believe the text supports what you say? Without a doubt. Are there others who believe differently? Almost assuredly as people didn't believe Wards and the Aegis don't need to penetrate.

I think actually the key point is on p. 85 - "A magical rock thrown off the maga bounces off her resistance and the maga feels nothing beyond the warning that something has been successfully resisted" While this isn't talking specifically about attack spells or fire, it does make it clear that something created by magic can be resisted with magic resistance, even if employed with mundane means. So if I magically created fire (with say duration concentration) and attached it to a sword, the fire would still have to penetrate the magic resistance to burn the maga. If I "threw" a campfire with rego Ignem the force? Of the throw might have to penetrate magic resistance to have an impact, but the maga would still be on fire (as per magically thrown water getting them wet)

This seems to contradict your position that, in the case of CrIg, the Target is the created fires and not the people that they're hitting.

If you're casting a T:Group variant of BoaF and the Target is the created balls of fire, then "the components of the group" would be the swarm of fireballs, not the grogs they're hitting, because the grogs are merely the little-t target, not the big-T Target. Thus, it is only the created fireballs which must be "close together in space" and "separated from any other things of the same type" (i.e., separated from any other balls of flame). The separation requirement would not apply to the little-t target grogs, so picking out individual warriors within a large melee should be possible (although I'd say it would, even then, require a Finesse roll to avoid mistakes in targeting). Similarly, the "close together" requirement may or may not apply to the little-t targets, depending on whether the spell creates all the fireballs near the magus and then they streak off to their (potentially widely-separated) targets or the fireballs erupt from thin air around each target (in which case the targets would have to be close together to allow all members of the Target group to also be close together).

Ultimately, in practice, I do agree that the Target of CrIg should be read as the created fire, not as the target it's directed to hit, and that the little-t targets should have to follow the same spacing/grouping requirements as the big-T Target in cases like this, but I don't see that actually supported in the text of the rules. Regardless of whether the fireballs or the grogs are the big-T Target, the rules only place spacing/grouping requirements on the big-T Target, not the little-t targets.

Despite the "spells always hit" I would probably require a finesse roll to have a group of fireballs in a fairly close space only hit enemies and not friends in the middle of melee.

The Target is the fire. The Effect is a fire that appears where I tell it to appear within the Range, which happens to be on a person. The whole "streaking to the affected person" is really a cosmetic effect with no purpose, like a sigil. The fire appears where I want it to appear, because the Effect is "creating a fire in a place I determine." There's no question about this, is there? Do you make someone casting a Demon's Eternal Oblivion roll Finesse to hit? No, because it just hits, even though the target is the Might of the demon. Do you make someone casting Bridge of Frost roll Finesse to connect the end points? No, because the effect is making a bridge.

The Effect occurs where you tell it to occur, so it always hits, it always happens the way you design it to work, because it's magic. If it needs to be resisted, it's resisted, but it hits.

I agree with Ben, but I don't think it's necessarily clear what the difference is. Opening a pit under someone is not placing the pit where a person is. It's placing it nearby so that its placement coincides with the person being over it. You don't need to roll Finesse to place the pit at a specific spot in the ground, just like you don't have to roll Finesse to create fire on a person. But to make sure the specific spot in the ground is below where the person will be when it opens requires a roll. I would similarly rule that BoAF on a person pressed up against a second (wrestling, whatever) would require a Finesse roll if you want to specifically avoid the second one.

As for Creo and Target, I think it's a lot clearer than some have said, but you have to look at the note about Creo Targets for it to be clear.

What is the determinant of where a T:Group of fire's hit, though. The magus? So he can do a line of 10?





Which is why I asked how a group of 4 grogs separated from a group of 6 grogs, and how they can be targeted by a T:Group version of BoAF. How close together does the group have to be, since the group created is different from the group affected by the effect.