Some More Newbie Questions and Solicitations for Advice

Ok, my last thread was very informative (for me at least) about certain "edge" cases and uncertainties I had about the Ars Magica rules and setting. As promised, I did miss a few questions, as well as encounter a few new ones in the interim. So with the hopes of lightning striking the same spot with unnatural frequency, I thought I would solicit some more information for the forum community 8).

For the most part, I feel like I understand spell design. I have, however, run into one set of spells that seem to confuse me--General Spells. Now, I understand the basics. You learn a general spell at a given level, and then it behaves as a spell of that level which determines its effects. So a ReAq 20 ward against aerial fae would ward against Fae with a might score of up to 20 (inclusive). What confuses me, is the way effect level seems to be inconsistantly intermingled with other magnitude modifiers. Wards are special handled, I understand, but take for instance the following two spells:

Sight of the True Form (page 130), ReCo General
Allows you to see the true original form of anyone you look at, defeating disguises if level of the spell is 10+, and any spell effects if they are < level then the spell.

compared to...

Infernal Smoke of Death (page 127), MuAu 40
Which does +25 damage in a horrible smoke cloud...

Now the reason these two confuse me is as follows... Infernal Smoke of Death (ISoD) is level 40 because it's base is a general effect at +25 damage (base 25), with a range of Voice (+2) and a Duration of Concentration (+1). Perfectly straight forward.

But if I learn Sight of the True Form (SotTF) at level 40, it will have a base effect of.. well.. 40... and yet it is Target Vision (+4), which would seem to imply to me that its effect aught to be 20. So defeating spells of level 20 or less.

Ok, that was actually quite long, so maybe I'll just go with this one question for this post 8). Thanks again for your help, everyone!

In the case of Sight of the True form (and in the case of most Wards) the spell guidelines are a little odd... in that they are excepts to the regular rules regarding Range, Duration and Target. If you look at the Intelligo Imaginem guidelines you will notice that the general guideline for discerning illusions expressly states that the guideline has a Vision target rather then the usual Individual target. Other spells and spell guidelines similarly bend the usual rules... mostly in cases of "legacy" spells brought over from ealier editions of the game which did not have such well defined spell guidelines.

General spell often have their base retrofitted. That is, the spell was designed first, with an effect based on level, and then the modifier for Range, Duration and Target are subtracted to get the base. That's why you'll find some guidelines, particularly in Vim, with things like 'up to the base level + four magnitudes'. Then you have all the Wards against the Faeries of XXX, where the base level is, unlike for normal guidelines, assumed to include Touch/Ring/Circle (see Magical Wards p.114). Or discern the images of Truth and Falsehood, based on an InIm guideline that specifically says Vision Target.

Sight of the True Form at level 40 has a base level of 20, and if the base were listed in the guidelines it would be something like:
'General level: see through illusions and other spells of up to the base level + 4 magnitudes, and through mundane disguises with a base level of 2+' or, more likely: 'General level: see through illusions and other spells of up to the base level, and through mundane disguises with a base level of 10 (Vision target)'

Halancar seconded.

One thing to be mindful of is how some of the legacy refits of the general spells behave at very low levels.

As an example, Demons Eternal Oblivion (DEO) doesn't quite match the base description at low levels. The spell description states it destroys might equal to the level of the spell. The reason it unravels is because a level 10 DEO has a base level of 4, which implies it should destroy 14 might (4+10).

I'm assuming that most people ignore this little mathematical discrepancy and go with the wording of the spell itself - but this (and other) base effects do start to run afoul of the change from 1 magnitude = 5 levels to 1 magnitude = 1 level when you get right down low.

My personal advice would be run with the spirit of the spell rather than the math - but be aware of this for if your players decide otherwise.