Into the Lab: Dissecting T:Group & Individual

I'm talking specifically about targeting enemy grogs in the middle of melee with friendly grogs, while not injuring the friendly grogs. It is trying to manage both that I would think requires a finesse roll- mostly in choosing the placement of the various fires.

I would still go with what Ben said, though perhaps not how Ben would answer this. They go where planned by the design of the spell. Period. Thus Fan of Flames. This is how I distinguish between Multiple Casting and casting a spell with T: Group. If you really want to do a whole bunch of discrete individual spells (somewhat randomly) distributed, make one spell and learn Multiple Casting.

Now, Finesse can be used to slightly alter the format of a planned spell, which is what allows a spell to turn iron into an iron product to produce different shapes, but it always turns the touched iron into an iron product and doesn't miss. So perhaps a spell designed to make a hundred balls of fire in a line could have the line skewed into a sine wave or bend into a ring. But if those are different than the design, they require Finesse even if you're not going after anyone.

I think the trickier question to answer than BoAF is about hitting with Fan of Flames. Two people dodge away from each other, making themselves too far apart for it to hit both of them if they dodge in time. Is this like the pit or like BoAF?

Again, page 113, the Group descriptor, left column:

Breaking down your questions:

There must be a clear separation. As the example shows, (and to paraphrase) "six people out of a crowd (of ten perhaps?) are usually not."

If you can't differentiate them as a separate group (because you're essentially mapping your Group of fires to the group of people being affected), then you can't affect them separately. You affect the collected mob (of all ten) unless you can make the six you want to affect a distinct group from the remaining four, somehow. Some troupes might have you differentiate this group with a Finesse roll. I know I would, likely with an Ease Factor of 12, adjusted for the situation.

They need to match up, roughly, with the same criteria for the Target:Group, because, as I mentioned above, you're essentially mapping your Group of fires to the group of people being affected.

Why? Why does the group effected have anything to do with the nature of the group of grogs?

They need to match up, roughly, with the same criteria for the Target:Group, because, as I mentioned above, you're essentially mapping your Group of fires to the group of people being affected.
Sure, I am, but, if I'm creating 3 pace diameter spheres of fire, which you said what a BoAF is, I'd say I could launch the BoAFs in such a way to hit the 10 grogs, but maintain the consistency required with creating a group if fires in some sort of tight formation. The trouble is that Group rules are vaguely defined, and it can be argued that T:Group on a bunch of fires has nothing to do with a group of grogs it affects. Callen has a bit better idea, in designing the spells to create fires in a specific formation and require finesse to vary the formation. And I will still insist that this isn't clear, could do with clarification, because while you and I aren't on the exact same page, we are much closer than others I've had this discussion with.

There are no "saving throws" in Ars. No dodging. (There is an exception to this in one of the dragons in RoP:M, and I've discussed it previously with David during a different book's design. It is not a mechanic which should occur in the game.) The closest you have to a "dodge" is the Finesse roll and Aiming on page 86, and in that case, the "dodging" becomes part of the colorful description of the end result. Even in Arc of Fiery Ribbons, there's no talk of a Finesse roll. In your example, if I have two people fighting closely, and I want to BoAF one of them, and we all (I think, at least I know my troupe would) agree I'd need to make a Finesse roll. If I failed, I might hit them both, or miss them entirely, or if I botch, I could only hit the person I wanted to avoid.

Underlying all of this is the Central Rule, and if the Troupe feels an effect should be adjusted due to a situation or circumstances, then you adjust. Magic has quirks and might not always act the way you suspect; and that concept is also baked into the system through things like the Weird Magic flaw, or botches, or experimental results and the Central Rule.

(And I think your previous point was pretty close to how I would have explained it, too, callen.)

Because, as I said just above, and I'll repeat it again:

The group affected needs to match up to the Target:Group you're creating, because you're essentially mapping your Group of fires to the group of people being affected.

Ok, let's make this really clear, again. I am not saying BoAF is a sphere, 3 paces in diameter; it is not. BoAF is:

That's a single ball, up to the size of a large campfire, which is likely about a cubic pace. The larger size comes from your post here, where you talked about:

to which I said:

As described in the book, a BoAF is only about a cubic pace.

If I create a ball of fire that's 3 paces across (which requires +1 magnitude for increasing the Size of the Individual fire), and I want to have that ball of fire hit one person but not affect other people, that's what Finesse is for. It becomes a situation for Troupe adjudication when there is a strange cluster of targets. The SG may be adjudicating what other damage is inflicted in the cases of those only partially in the area of effect. YSMV.

Nope, no question about any of this. The part I fail to find support in the rules for is your assertion that the grogs (little-t targets) must fit the Target: Group guidelines, which describe the big-T Target, when the big-T Target is the fires, not the grogs.

If I create a Group of ten fireballs in a ring around myself, then that fits the requirements of T: Group, regardless of whether they then fly off to hit the 4 grogs inside the stone circle; or the 6 grogs outside the stone circle; or 1 grog inside the circle, 4 grogs outside the circle, 3 deer in the forest off to my left, and the pair of assassins who thought I hadn't noticed them sneaking up behind me. No matter how widely-spread, disparate, and/or selective the little-t targets may be, the big-T Targets were created consistently with the T: Group guideline.

And this is why I removed "The whole "streaking to the affected person" is really a cosmetic effect with no purpose, like a sigil." from the list of things I do not question, because there's a significant difference between "the fires are created at the little-t target, so the little-t targets must be fairly close together" and "the fires are created in one place and then fly off to hit little-t targets who can be anything, anywhere, without regard for the T:Group guideline". Even in the former case, though, I don't see a requirement in the rules for the little-t targets to fully conform to T:Group, as the Group of fireballs (the big-T Target) will still, presumably, be "separated from any other things of the same type" (i.e., separated from any other fireballs) even if they're picking and choosing individual fighters out of a melee with no common or unifying features connecting the selected little-t targets.

Except for one thing. We'd just discussed how the "streaking off at the target" is really a cosmetic part of the spell. Truthfully, when we CrIg in a group with no requisite Rego, we're making the fire appear where we want it to appear.

In this example, the "streaking off to targets" part is now not-so cosmetic, because while those 10 fires are being created in a group, you're then controlling where they go, and where they end up is obviously very separate. Those fires are not in a group when the effect is done.

Now, in your example, you need a Rego requisite and Finesse rolls to hit all your targets, because the effect wasn't "Create a group of fires," it was "Create a group of fires that I control as I like." (Unless all those people were in an easily defined Group, somehow) Better to give this a Concentration duration and then lob off as many balls of fire as you can accurately manage each round while (IMO, anyway) giving yourself a bit of a defense against people engaging you.

If you want your fires to automagically hit, then the objects/people/creatures you wish to affect must map to the same Group as your Target:Group, or you are not creating them in a Group; you are, instead, creating a Group, and then controlling where the Targets go.

You can't get the benefit of automagically hitting your intended affected objects/people/creatures with your Group, unless you map them to each other.

Again, there is no support to this in the rules. Say my group of 4 grogs and group of 6 grogs are separated by the width of a person, or the width of a BoAF with some reasonable amount of separation, why can't the spell hit 9 of the grogs and also occupy the empty space between the two groups? At this point, the balls of fire are created entirely consistent with the T:Group requirement that the components of the T:Group be close together.

So PoF with a T: Group can only target groups or can it pick out one person in a group?

Yes there, is, in the definition of a Group and the adjudication of the Troupe-- to me, being "separated by the width of a person" is not a separation (unless that "width of a person is occupied by some kind of delimiter, like a wall, or a hedge, or a mass of writhing, thorny vines), that's a loose group. The section on Aiming talks about exactly what you're discussing:

So, if you make a group of say Size +1, so this is the mass of 100 individuals divided as I see fit, and you had them appear at the battlements of a castle, using the archers you see there to mirror your group, you would hit each archer, and then make an aiming roll at +6 (Perception + Finesse + 6 + Simple die, unless we're being attacked when we do this) to affect other people. The archers, they'd be getting the full +30 + Stress die damage, and anyone else on those battlements would be getting affected as per the aiming roll and the adjudication of the SG.

If I made it that big and put it into the collection of ten grogs you've suggested, at its rough center (but picking one grog to be sure to hit) then that one grog would get the full +30 + Stress die damage, and anyone else in that gaggle would be getting affect as per an aiming roll at +12 (Perception + Finesse + 12 + Simple die, unless we're being attacked when we do this)-- and it's +12, because it is two steps larger than a basic Individual for Ignem. For anyone who's missed, the SG makes up a clever bit about hiding behind a shield, or diving out of the AoE to their feet, or using his neighbor to soak the blast.

There's no AoE template here, and there never should be. Consensus and adjudication are the Central Rule of the system which is then expanded by guidelines-- notice, these aren't definitions, they're guidelines, they're roughly kind of sort of what the magic can do at that base level. Combined with Range/Duration/Target modifiers, and consensus from Troupe in debatable moments, it is supposed to be flexible, because it's magic, and this is the great-grandfather progenitor of Storygames. It is mostly-not-precise by intention and design. Seriously, ask for your limitations, and sure enough, they're yours.

I honestly don't see how aiming applies here. If aiming isn't necessary for a single Ball of Abysmal Flame, then it shouldn't be necessary for a group version. Indeed the rest of the paragraph says

BoAF, whether T:Group or T:Individual is always resistable, and is not aimed, nor is it even indirect. It's not an indirect effect, either, like creating a Pit of Gaping Earth below someone. Although, raising a tangent, one can only affect parts of the T:Group that can be percieved.

Use of an aiming roll is inconsistent with the RAW, both in how BoAF, and, related to my tangent above, others within the group of archers may only be affected if they are perceived. This gets into an area where we can affect targets indirectly with direct magic, and I really don't want to muddle that area at all.

Let me make plain, this does nothing but reinforce my point that these rules could be further developed. Maybe we end up using your understanding, and maybe we come up with something else. But this whole gray area is a morass of potential disagreement between members of the troupe. The idea if using indirect rules to now calculate whether a direct damage spell hits others is inconsistent with RAW, as mentioned above. Further, if it is used to affect small-t targets hidden from the perception of magus inconsistent with Hermetic Limits.

Very well, the guidelines are incomplete, and now we're using guidelines consistent with indirect/aimed spells to resolve whether direct damage spells actually do their damage, and perhaps whether it does damage to other members of the underlying small-t target group, if those other members aren't actually perceived prior to casting. I'm alright with using T:Structure and T:Room to affect people/things within those Targets without being perceived, because one is perceiving the Target. I'm not alright with casting a spell at a battlement where I see 2 archers, but there are 6 others hidden behind him and my T:Group version of BoAF hits the two I see and the 6 others behind them.

I'm pretty sure non-Corpus spells used against people are more directed at their location, where they happen to be at the time of casting, than at the person. In that sense, if you can keep whatever you created as a recognizable Group (so no dividing around walls and such) then the target should be adjudicated based on mass and location. If you make an effect as wide as ten people and there's two people of space between the groups, you might get three from the four-man group and five from the six, or other combinations you can fit in that space, including dividing it apart into pieces, though you wouldn't be able to hit both groups with individual pieces if your fire wouldn't be a Group any more. Granted, with enough Size, you can make a Group that eclipses both groups, though it would also be hitting everywhere between the groups.

That's my troupe's reading anyway.

Finesse does not always have to be about aiming... though if you are talking about a dodge then that clearly is an aimed spell...

Seriously, argue for your limitations and sure enough, they're yours.

You have an absolutely glorious engine of a spell casting system that needs just a bit of adjudication amongst peers in tight situations and you want to argue it down into something less.

This system is the spaceship in Flight of the Navigator and you want to make it into a flying car.

Its flexiblity and adjustment by consensus are its strength.

I don't have time to make it anymore clear than I have, unfortunately. Good luck.

Fair enough. I had actually considered that, but opted not to bring up Rego because I suspected it would muddy my point. And, naturally, not mentioning it muddied things instead.

You have not, however, addressed the non-streaking case of creating a Group of fireballs at the grogs' location which hits two grogs inside the circle and three outside the circle. The Targets are a Group, even though the targets are not.

You keep talking about "mapping" Targets to targets, but you seem to be using that word in a way with which I am unfamiliar. In both math and computer science, a function "maps" input values to output values, but there is no expectation that, in the general case, related inputs will be mapped to outputs which share a similar relationship. Indeed, that's basically what made the Mandelbrot images popular to the general public - by using a Mandelbrot function to map XY coordinates to a color value, you can get some really cool images because, in certain border regions, (X, Y) will map to a radically different value than (X+1, Y) or (X, Y+1).

Which is a long way of saying that, sure, you map Targets to targets, but that implies absolutely nothing about where or how widely separated the targets might be.

No, there isn't. The definition you refer to applies to Target: Group, which is not the same thing as a group of targets. I'm pretty sure we're all in agreement that the big-T Targets must adhere to the big-G Group definition, but I'm failing to find any actual support in the rules for the assertion that the little-g group of little-t targets must follow the same criteria as the big-G Group of big-T Targets. For that matter, I can't recall the rules containing any restriction on the designation of little-t targets whatsoever.

And I'm not going to touch troupe adjudication beyond acknowledging that it's an effective method of resolving these (and other) ambiguities and discrepancies in the rules, but, even so, it does not remove them from the rules in any universal fashion, as other troupes may well adjudicate differently.

This is my last post on this thread for a while, as I have deadlines which do not permit me to dedicate any further time to this discussion until I'm done with them. I'll certainly read, still, but my ability to participate is extremely limited.


an operation that associates each element of a given set (the domain) with one or more elements of a second set (the range).

So, that's pretty straightforward-- we're associating each fire created with an affected object/person/thing. That's a common definition of mapping.

And page 113 says:

Meaning you can create a Group of 6 fires, that's not a question. However, you can't expect to have those 6 fires automagically hit 6 people in a crowd of people, unless you can find some obvious differentiation which allows you to map those fires to those people as a distinct Group, because those 6 people don't qualify as a Group. They're a subgroup of a larger crowd of people, and you're trying to get your fires to appear in that same configuration as those six people. Because you can't differentiate them as a Group (and you couldn't if you were casting a Corpus spell), you can't make your Target:Group of fires automagically map to them. (If you can differentiate them as a Group, well, then we're done talking, because you've met the condition.)

You could, however, probably make Aiming rolls to hit the grogs which you could not otherwise differentiate-- but to have your fires just automatically appear on the grogs (or cosmetically streak to hit just them) the grogs would need to be just as distinct a Group as the fires you are creating. If they're not a distinct Group, then adjudication is required because now we're not meeting the required definition of Group.

You can sidestep it all you like, but Troupe Adjudication is an intended part of the system, by design. The Central Rule on page 111 is there on purpose so that in cases where our troupe feels sniping six grogs out of a crowd is too hard without a Rego requisite or an Aiming roll, and your troupe feels it's completely reasonable, you can do that without monkeying with the rest of the system. That's why you don't need any specific "area of effect" constructs in the rules, because the ability to shape spells and affect things is already there by way of spell design, adjudication, and the Central Rule. The ambiguities in the rules (I don't see any discrepancies) are there on purpose.

I'll say it again, because it's positively crucial to this discussion: Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they're yours. By leaving the Area of Effect undefined, it is all Areas of Effect. It is the Area of Effect you require it to be when you create an effect which needs an Area of Effect, with adjudication adjusting the Magnitude where it needs to be bumped based on the situation. The system is better because of this ambiguity, but it occasionally requires more adjudication, and that's not a bad thing.

Which brings me back to my question on the last page which is not answered yet. Can a CrIg with T: Group target a single person within a group? Group of 5 grogs and you want to hit one of them with 10 PoF ( which is using small t target of part). It seems to me that the Target of the spell ( being the fire) is used in defining what can be hit which does not seem supported by RAW.

Yes, really, there is dodging. When you make that Finesse roll for Aiming, what do you roll against to get your Attack Total to determine if you hit or not? That would be against Brawl providing a Defense Total, and dodging as a specialty would apply.

But you end up contradicting yourself. If these two targets are at opposite edges so that only perfectly placing the Arc of Fiery Ribbons would hit both, how is that different from having to perfectly place Ball of Abysmal Flame to hit one and not the other? This was my point. A spell that goes after a large area, hoping to catch individuals within it becomes similar to opening a pit beneath a person. Now, if the person is chosen as the center for the area, yes, it just hits. And if the area is big enough, there are going to be a lot of +6s stacked so you won't miss anyone close to the middle. But when you're dealing with the very edges, you really can't talk about automatically hitting there and needing to roll Finesse to hit one of two people grappling without being inconsistent in how you're applying Finesse.

As for targets in a crowd and separated targets, I really think the thing everyone should consider is the difference between Pilum of Fire cast 10 times using Multiple Casting and Pilum of Fire redesigned as T: Group. The latter is essentially Arc of Fiery Ribbons, though it need not be designed in exactly that format (could be a shape other than an arc).

Duh, I get it now. The finesse is to create the shape of the spell (I missed your first post in this thread). If the finesse roll is successful, then you can create it in the desired shape. The spell with T:Group, when created has a base shape which needs to be noted, as well. The finesse roll is not to see if one hits, really, but to see if the magic can be changed from the design parameters on the fly. Presumably, a failed finesse roll sees a percentage of BoAFs miss their intended targets, but appear/hit something else. I rejected this out of hand as aiming, which it really isn't. It's about adjusting one's magic on the fly.

I like what you are suggesting here, that T:Group is an indiscriminate sledgehammer of an effect, while Multiple Casting is a scalpel. Someone who has a mastery score of 9 in an offensive spell like PoF is indeed a very scary force to be reckoned with. He's put 225 xp into mastering the spell (108 if he has Flawless Magic), and it is extremely unlikely he will botch any of his castings, unless he's in a foreign regio. I'll note that high finesse can then be used to overcome the indiscriminate nature of a T:Group spell, but then it leads to a chance of two botches on a spell, a botch on casting and a botch on creating the final effect's shape (I don't like to call it aiming, because it isn't really aiming), Cautious with Finesse is really the only virtue which mitigates a finesse botch (although I might give someone who put a fair bit into precise casting mastery the benefit of those points in reducing botch dice, too).

Callen, if my understanding is correct, in jebrick's question about putting the entire T:Group PoF effects on one individual recipient, one would need to roll a finesse spell for that, unless the effect creates all 10 at one recipient (which might not be a bad design, in the event of a finesse failure).