So how big is a lightening bolt?

Seems like a silly question it isn't. Thanks to the way target group spells are figured the answer to this question is very important. Just try estimating the destructive potential of this spell.

Zeus's Fury 35
R:Sight D:Mom T: Group
This spell causes a shower of lightning bolts to rain down from the sky striking any target the Mage can see. Each lightening bolt does +30 damage. This spell must be cast outside but will have the same effect no matter the weather.
(Base 5, +3 sight, group +2, +1 unnatural "allows for clear sky strikes if necessary" )

So how many lightening bolts does this spell create? Well the short answer is a lot more than ten. The longer answer is waaaay to many. Target Group spells effect a group of targets equal in size to ten of the base individuals. So if your trying to create a group of individuals that are significantly smaller than what the form sets for a base size you get some pretty huge numbers.

For example the base individual for animal effects is a pony. So any CrAn target group spell you cast will create a group that(tightly packed) takes up the same amount of space as 10 ponies So if you say one pony is about equal in size to 200 hundred rats a CrAn spell that created a group of rats would make about 2000 of the little vermin. Want to make bees or maggots the numbers go up even higher.

This gets scary when you realize the size of a base individual in auram is a weather phenomena big enough to effect an area 100 paces across. So how many lightening bolts would fit in ten of those? I think an honest answer to that question is more then whats good for most any saga. Heck even a conservative one lightening bolt per square pace would net you more than 75,000 bolts. If you estimated the size of the lightening to allow a handful of bolts per square foot then you'd have numbers in the millions.

Personally I would say since the Ind of lighting is one bolt then the Group is ten bolts.

If you go with the weather phenomenon and Aurum guide you would probably have to figure that a singe 100 pace thunderhead would probably produce only a dozen or so strikes. This is guestimation mostly, however I remember that the average strikes per hour in Chicago during a lighting storm is about 40. And that covers miles of weather, something by rough calculation 5 miles would equal 8,800 paces.

So a large storm would be +2 Group, +1 at least for a normal sized storm that would give you 40 bolts over and hour.

But if you are casting a spell with bolts, then it is simply one bolt = Ind, ten bolts = Group

All depends on whether (hah hah :laughing: ) you are affecting the bolts and guiding them, or affecting the weather and letting them strike where they may.

This is only opinion... I tend to ignore Aurum as any decent Necromancer should.

I consider one lightning bolt to be "one weather phenomena".

I do not think anyone is questioning that. The problem, if I understand correctly, is that when an Individual is much smaller than the base size for Individual, Group can create many more than 10 of them. So if you create wasps with Target Individual, you create one wasp per spell; but if you create wasps with Target Group (without size modifiers) you are creating "10 ponies worth" of wasps - something like half a million wasps.

The same goes for a lightning bolt, which is much smaller than the base Individual for Auram (1 phenomenon large enough to affect a Boundary). I would argue that, if you start concentrating many lightning bolts in a tiny area, you are making something really unnatural, with the appropriate modifiers. Also, you could argue that the lightning bolt is the whole package including the thunder, and that can cover a pretty large area.

Yes i understood that. My point was(i should have written it out better) that the base size of a lightning IS ONE lightning regardless. Target size is one weather phenomena.
Otherwise you could argue that by using Group, you could create metal boulders based on the size for dirt...

In short, you cant compare physical size of a lightning bolt with a storm or a fog. You have to treat every type of weather phenomena by its own size. Otherwise you could just as well argue that if you create a rainstorm, its size is limited to that of a single lightning bolt... A single large bank of fog can be freaky huge in rare cases(and if its over water, well then the "boundary" becomes the edge of that ocean), plenty well enough to create a hundred rainstorms within the same physical size. So, do you really want to transfer that size into lightning bolts? You will get trillions of lightning bolts as a minimum. Extremely gamebreaking.

Yes, but there the size is physically specified. With Auram, size is specified as "ONE"...

As you said yourself, that can be interpreted very differently. Including saying that a single lightning bolt is equal to that definition.
Personally i prefer to not stick so much to the "boundary" part, as that messes it up quite badly in some cases.

I agree with Direwolf in this instance. Reading the Auram description I am much more inclined to one lightning bolt as an individual thus leading to 10 lightning bolts being a group.


I agree too. Auram:lightning bolt is like Terram:gemstone or Aquam:poison - the base individual is smaller for these rarer forms. (Can't support it from RAW but it feels right.)

It doesn't mater that one lightening bolt is an individual. One wasp is also an individual. Neither a lightening bolt or a wasp is the "Base Individual" for there respective forms. The rule on how target group works is pretty clear. When you want to figure out how many wasps you get with a target group CrAn spell you have to figure out sizewise how many wasps (each an individual acording to animals guidlines) are equal in size to one pony (the base individual set for animal) then you just multiply by ten. Admittedly applying this formula as is to lightning bolts seems to give you a ridiculously large number. So I'm not opposed to making an exception for lightning bolts, but it would be an exception.

You could justify it by saying it's like how terram treats ratified materials or because lightning bolts are actually a lot bigger than they look. Or even because lightning, which any good medieval scholar knows is caused by a stone, is not well integrated into the auram form. Or you could let a Magus climb a mountain and destroy everything in sight with a single level 35 spell that produces a few million +30 damage bolts.

I agree that lightning is the diamond of Auram and that 1 lightning = 1 base Individual. This is supported by the fact that lightning, as a weather phenomenon, will not strike twice in the same 6 seconds round.

So, you can use CrAu to effect 10 lightning bolts, or you can use ReAu to affect 10 lightning bolts. Enough to lighten the darkness.

In the core book, page 125, under Auram Spells,

Pretty much says, Individual is one single bolt of lightening. A group of lightening would therefor be 10 bolts of lightening.

If I missed something then I am not sure where it would be to contradict this.

The base Ind for a animal is the size of a pony, +1 size. The example for the Cr/An spell for locust gives +1 Group, +2 size to make the total locust weigh as much as one thousand pigs. The +1 Group still confuses me, but I work around it.

Sidebar on targets and sizes page 113 explains what your missing about the difference between the concepts of individual and the base size of an individual (the concepts are not the same thing) and how that relates to group target.

As far as the locust spell the +1 for group is corrected in the errata to be +2. This makes the spell level 50. It works out and the swarm is still 1000 times the size of a standard individual. (x10 for group x100 for the other +2) Why it says pig instead of pony I don't know. Mind you thats a swarm of probably millions of locusts.

Ah errata... that pesky, tricky wicket.

I am reading it over and over and I keep coming back to the bottom where it states that "Individual is determined by Form"

At first it says target depends on kind of thing, not how big. Which is certainly true. A pebble is a Individual and so is a 40 ton pillar at Stonehenge, but with a spell you to affect a pebble you could not affect a 40 ton stone. Is this what we are talking about? That by using group you are increasing a size instead of quantity? I would see your point of view. If you wanted to affect a 40 ton stone, it would be Ind with a size modifier instead of making it group with size increases.

Outside of this it is written, second paragraph fourth line:

and ect.

It looks like when dealing with a "size" target, the the increase is done by magnitude to increase the actual physical space of a Ind.

But when dealing with a quantity, a Individual of a standard size for a typical Individual is increase by Group and then size modifiers.

I do not assume that I am right in this, only giving what and how I see this as applied. I am by far and away not as experienced in Ars to think I cannot be wrong about this. Perhaps we are not talking about the same thing?

PS. Now... a bad ass idea just occured. Going to post it as new topic under Zeus Legendary Bolt! :smiley:

Okay I think I see part of your problem.

You quoted the sidebar on page 113 where it said.

Now every form has a base size listed in it's description. Usually right at the end. Animal says that its a +1 pony for instance. For Auram the relevant text from page 125 is.

There is text before it that clarifies what can be considered an Individual

and a group.

To me the book is clear that these lists add to, but do not limit, what can be considered an individual or group.

Furthermore they don't have any effect on what the base size for Auram is.

Now since I'm a little quote happy here I'll also quote the relevant desciption on group and size from the sidebar on pg113.

So you see you can create a group of lightening bolts just like a standard group from any other form. You just have to figure out how big a lightening bolt is in relation to the size of a standard individual. And how big is a base individual for Auram?

Oh Yeah that big. :slight_smile:

What you´re saying is that the size for a Group spell creating Gemstones is 100 cubic meters.

No, the book even specifically states that the individual for lightning is ONE lightning bolt. Mass or size compared to OTHER base individuals becomes completely irrelevant. Unless you want the 100 cbm gemstone collection that is.

For lightning, its ONE lightning bolt... As it already IS a standard individual for Auram.

One lightning bolt is an Individual for Auram but it is not a base Individual. They are not the same thing.

When the rules talk about an Individual they are talking about a single discrete thing. A spell without any modifications can only effect a single discrete thing. To effect a part of a thing or a group of things you need to change the spell. This is explained in the general spell design guidelines in the main book.

Some forms, notably auram and auquam effect things that are difficult to describe in this manner. In their form descriptions that appear before the spells start they clarify what CAN be considered an Individual for those forms (a wind, a current, a cloud, yes a lightening bolt etc). They do this to identify what is considered to be a single discrete thing because otherwise player might have trouble thinking of falling snow as an Individual for instance.

These form descriptions also clarify what has to be considered a Group. For example a whole river has to be considered a Group because it is made of several different discrete phenomena. You cant just up your target size to effect one with magic you have to treat a river as a Group the same is true for a storm.

The important thing to realize about both the Auram and Auquam clarifications is that they in no way define what a base Individual is for their form. They show up in the form descriptions before the point that the base Individuals are defined for each form. The in no way reference the term base Individual or make any set statements about size. This is important because when the rules talk about a base Individual they are talking about a measure of size and nothing else.

Every form description except Vim has a specific section that defines what a base Individual is for that form. You can easily find it because it is the last paragraph before the creo spells start. It is also easily identifiable because the paragraph always starts with

In these paragraphs some forms like Terram and Auquam do clearly spell out differing base Individuals for different types of materials. So I am well aware that the base individual for gem stones is significantly smaller than it is for sand and I never said otherwise. Auram like most forms mentions only one size. It is a single clear and concise sentence with no reference to lightening bolts.

So just to reiterate
Individual: Single discrete thing.
base Individual: Measurement of size.

main75man, I think you have your answer.

You understand the definition of Individual as it relates to lightning bolts differently than others. For me and others, your spell would generate 10 lightning bolts. Seems right for the level. If you feel that a CrAu level 35 spell should generate more, than go for it. The final rule of spell design really does help you in this way.

Have fun and let us know how it goes!



I'm not really comfortable with this spell, since it is the same level as Incantation of Lightning, but 10 times as effective. That really doesn't mesh very well IMHO. Although I can't really fault the design as it is. It just doesn't compare to IoL. I know that IoL is 7th magnitude because of Legacy as well as in balance with BoAF, but IMHO you need to look closely at IoL's +4 magnitudes for being unnatural. How much of this is 'lightning coming from hands, rather than from sky" (meaning it works inside, under ground, under water etc.) and how much is "lightning comes as ordered and not from a storm cloud somewhat at random as it would naturally"
Zeus' Fury needs to be cast outside, so therefore it is easier than IoL, that's ok. But if it works regardless of weather, then I think only +1 magnitude is too little to add. But Base 5, +3 Sight and +2 Group seems appropriate.
But I'd seriously consider how the magus controls which targets get hit by the lightning. It seems to be a lot to do, ordering 10 targets simultaneously.

You've nailed it, he's very lenient with the "+1 unnatural", thus the easy spell

Note that if this is enough for a lightning bolt out of perfectly clear skies, what is the +2 magnitude good for?

I'd use this:

  • A storm going on: base guideline, as this is perfectly natural to have lighting then.
  • Grey to dark clouds without a storm: +1 magnitude (this is "slightly unnatural")
  • Little to no clouds: + 2 magnitudes ("very unnatural")
  • From your hands, in a cave, underwater: +4 magnitudes ("wholly divorced from its natural context")

So IMHO, his spell would require him to be out in the open, and be lvl 40.

On the whole "how big is a lightning", Rival Magic shows us that it is "bigger" than a thunderclap, which puts credence to the "rarefied auram" theory, so I'm with DW on this one.
Anyway, I wonder, with his idea, what's the point of a T:Boundary IoL?

Actually this spell was created with the idea that it was hundreds, thousands or maybe even even millions of times more powerful then IoL. It all depends on how big you say a bolt of lightening is wich was my original question.

Thats really the point going by RAW you can easily design spells that are head and shoulders above the example spells. Should you use them probably not but understanding how their built improves your understanding of the game. It helps you understand difficult terms like base Individual and lets you spot places where rulings should be made before it becomes an issue.

Actually the idea I had in mind when I said "any target" was more or less every target. Basically everything within sight of the mage would be hit by lightening. The mage could probably limit it to every thing I can see thats further then 100 feet away just so he wouldn't be torn apart by flying shrapnel. Actually he might have to go even farther then that considering what I've seen real lightening strikes do.

Well I think I'm way less lenient with the term then the RAW is. Considering according to the rules a +1 would allow me to create lightning indoors. Clear sky lightening is a common enough weather phenomenon you could even argue it doesn't require any adjustment by that scale.

Good question if +1 is good enough for an indoor lightening bolt then what good is +2?

Oh where is that in rival magic? That sounds interesting. I think the "lightening is bigger then it looks" theory is probably the safest way to keep this spell from being millions of times more powerful then IoL.

The "rarefied auram" theory is great if you want to go that route. But you must realize that the Form description of auram in no way supports it. As the base Individual guidelines bare no resemblance to the ones for terram or auquam.

I'm not sure their is any point of any Auram spells being T:boundary. Given what the size of a base Individual is I can't really think of any spell that would be better off as a target boundary.

They do NOT support your assumption either. RAW rather points away from it, it just doesnt spell it out in a way the specifies exactly so.
And in such a case, i prefer not to go rules lawyering by the letter but rather adhere to the intent of the rules.

HARDLY!!! "like a bolt from the blue" has become a saying exactly because its so EXTREMELY UNCOMMON! Not because its common.