Spell: Spray of Stone

Greetings Sodales.

My research into the art of Terram has yielded a moderately useful idea. However, I am unsure as to some of it's design elements.

Using the base 3 for Rego Terram to move a stone unnaturally (and to affect it in any way it could be done mundanely), using the target group, and a duration of momentary, would you consider the following effect to be range touch (as you are touching the stone at the time of casting) or as range voice (to give the effect reach) ?

The effect is as thus:

The stone, held in the magus' hand, shatters into 20 shards (approximately) doing +5 damage each. These are then flung away from the caster's hand in a roughly conical shape, spraying the area directed.

If this is range touch, my calculations suggest this should be a level 15 spell. If it is range voice, it is a level 20 spell.

Hm... There's a tricky bit or two to this, but by my reading of the rules, the answer is Touch. The Voice-range version might be useful anyway, though, since you can use it on any nearby stone instead of having to pick one up or keep a bunch in your pocket.

I don't have an answer for you, but please consider these thoughts:

There are two effects in the description as written, first the breaking at touch (which is akin to Fist of Shattering, Perdo Terram Base 4, altered to level 5 effect at R:Touch) and the second in the spraying of the shards at Range: Voice. Should you pay for the additional effect or consider it cosmetic? Is there enough mass in a stone to be broken into 20x pieces and then directed at somebody for +5 damage?

You need to use R:Voice range if the spell is controlling the shards to hit a particular target with no Finesse targeting rolls (like Wield the Invisible Sling, Ars p.155 or The Crystal Dart, p.154), or just the R:Touch effect if it is just flinging the shards into the air and using Finesse to try to hit a target accurately (more like Vilano's Sling). You've said that you're using T:group for the throwing of the shards, so it implies that you're auto-targeting.

There is also a scatter effect implied in your description which should make the targeting a little easier than a single stone, however also consider that a higher Base effect level should be able to provide more speed to the projectiles.

As written I think the breaking effect is more cosmetic than the Rego Terram effect to throw the shards, so I'd go with the idea that it uses R: Voice and basically hit automatically, and therefore can be resisted my MR.

The base effect being level 3 is different from what I'd expect. I'd have selected Base effect level 3, then added a +1 mag to allow for increased speed of the projectiles. It is tricky though due to:

  • The Crystal Dart is a Muto/Rego Terram effect, doing +10 damage at Base 3.
  • The Wield the Invisible Sling is Rego Terram, doing +5 damage or so damage at Base 4.

Last note: the scatter effect where you need to effect 20 shards and each is doing +5 damage has been debated on the forums before. A reinvention of Vilano's Sling to throw many stones had a quasi-consensus where it wasn't desirable to try to resolve 20x different attacks from one spell each doing +5 damage. It started a discussion of multi-casting vs multi-attack in spell design. It could be used as an area-of-effect spell which inflicts +5 to anyone in a cone, like the Arc of Fiery Ribbons.

You'll need to be guided by how your troupe wishes to handle that. I'd allow it, but I don't like a level 15 effect that can shred a mundane target like this.

Hope this helps.

FYI, CrIg25 Arc of Fiery Ribbons does pretty much the same thing, pretty much the same way.

I mentioned the AoFR later in the post, but I am unsure if that is what is being described in the write-up. Not sure if this is an AoE effect or a +5x20 attacks on a single target.

I disagree with this. T:Group can also imply that he's targeting the group of stoneshards. It's no different, really, from a reinvention of Invisible Sling for a scattergun effect. However, each shard should hit a maximum of one target. I agree that multi-attacks against a single target get kind of undesirable. Easy instant kills are within the capability of a magus, but a magus does need to work to be able to do that.

It's essentially something you use against a group of opponents with strong Magic Resistance, or else to use with a focus in this kind of magic.

Some thoughts -

I'm not sure about the +5 damage x 20 stones from a held stone; a fist sized stone is required for +5 damage from Wielding the Invisible Sling. Touch or Voice sure, but I doubt most magi could actually hold a stone the size of 20 human fists and cast the spell at the same time without some combination of penalties and/or Virtues.

If it's individually targeted attacks instead of AoE it's also open to some pretty insane abuse, since a re-invent with 100 individually targeted attacks is the exact same spell level/magnitude. Toss in a Wizard's Fork and you would end up with what, 200 x +3 damage attacks, each able to stress?

Expanding on the abuse theme, what happens [strike]if[/strike] when it makes it into an (optimized) item that even a grog can use?

Personally, I'd try to reconcile it's level vs. effect with some of the existing, "standard" spells, such as the Earth's Carbuncle, End of the Mighty Castle and the earlier mentioned AoFR. Otherwise, why wouldn't it have been invented and in use as a "standard" spell in its own right?

It's intention is AOE. The spray effect is intended more to be a bonus to the finesse roll (it's "Aim in an approximate direction and hope the target gets hit." a magical blunderbuss, if you will) than a chance for multiple hits, though if multiple targets are in the same area you can hit all of them potentially.

Ars doesn't do AoE very well, not like this potential scatter pattern. It's easier to do a many to one attack (multiple missiles, one target) than to do this many to many attack.

First issue is the base guideline used. You're using the guideline used for Wielding the Invisible Sling, if you want it to be finesse based, you need to use the guideline in Houses of Hermes: Societates on page 38. You're moving them unnaturally for a fraction of second and then allowing natural motion to take hold. So, to take one sling stone and fracture it, and make 10, sure, I'd allow that. I'd had an earlier post that I deleted that suggested some things about reducing the damage per bullet, but I think, all things equal, it's not overpowering to allow +5 damage.
So Wielding the Invisible Sling with a +1 Perdo Requisite and a +2 Group means it's a 25th level spell and you do 10 +5 attacks (I'm keeping the perdo requisite, because he's taking one sling stone and turning into 10, without any increases in mass, while a similar T:Group spell would have to have all 10 stones). How does one target these 10 projectiles becomes the next question. Many to one, I'd have it that finesse total - defense total >=10 is all hitting, and for each increment lower, there's a missed projectile. Many to many, I'd have to say that they would be rolled individually, and like multiple casting, each would get a targeting penalty similar to multiple casting. Note, I'm not applying a targeting penalty per projectile when you target only a single entity. And if you targeted two entities, I'd only apply a -1 to each finesse roll, two entities would be -2, and so on. This isn't, exactly an Area of Effect attack, it's a scatter attack, and there are a limited number of projectiles involved.

But, +5 damage is not a lot of damage, on average it's 11 damage, and the opponent gets their soak bonus AND a die roll, even after you hit. Having a soak of 5 is not hard, so on average, these attacks will do very little actual damage against even lightly armored opponents.

Or going the other way... If you want to do more damage, use a higher level damage guideline for the finesse based spells. If you want to increase your ability to hit, increase finesse and invest in spell mastery, precise casting.