Spell (un)balance: Offensive teleport with Terram

You were the one who first mentioned what could be held in two hands, so I don't see Callen arguing for anything of the sort. Also the guideline indicates object "larger than" what ca be held comfortably in 2 hands, not heavier than, which to me suggests that the guideline is based on volume, not mass, as most guidelines in ars magica are. From that 2 cubic feet is 3456 cubic inches or just over 15 inches on a side. I can certainly hold an object of that size comfortably in 2 hands.

You might want to reread the posts.

Ignore boy was the first one to point to the guideline with page number which has that statement. My reply was specifically to the guideline which he pointed to with book and page number. He then countered with his little boy argument. I called that a patent falsehood because no little boy is lugging around the better part of 200 pounds. He then made his "me childhood He-man" argument after which I decided his input was no longer of value to me and ignored him.

He apparently does not like being ignored, since I have gotten repeated notifications of ignored content since then.

Agreeing so hard that I'm quoting all of that so it can be read twice. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that spell. If only, I'd consider increasing the base so it can include stone instead of dirt. Part of me is inclined to suggest to join the fall & drop damages in a single roll, but part of me is loving to have two damage rolls there for a single spell as it fits more with the steps during the spell execution.

I just love the spell. I also like the idea that it got many obvious follow ups for any interested terram magus; another iterations with more size magnitudes, another with the base increased to include stone, another with a muto requisite that turns to metal (that one wouldn't get away from Parma, but it looks beautiful anyway) the chunk of dirt before the drop...

That should be taken with precaution because there are some serious counterexamples out there (the obvious one being The Crystal Dart: base 3, damage +10) but extra size magnitudes tend to increase that damage, and this spell got two of them.

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I actually think they are consistent, it's just that TME is defining a new base individual for using Terram to affect mixed substance inanimate objects rather than pure earth. This is consistent with the core rules for Terram because it already has different base individuals for dirt, metal, glass, stone etc.

So the guideline is definitely level 4 and the base individual is:

Material Base Individual Additional Magnitudes
Dirt/Sand/Mud/Clay 10 Pace3 +0
Complex Inanimate Objects "can be comfortably held in two hands" +0
Stone/Glass 1 Pace3 +1
Base Metal 1 ft3 +2
Precious Metal 0.1 ft3 +2
Gemstone 1 in3 +2

Of course you still have to decide exactly what size object can be "comfortably held in two hands". But I think this is a case of the description being vague, rather than inconsistent with the other rules. Personally I'd think a cubic foot, but I could see an argument for a bit bigger or smaller than that.

But the spell in question is targeting dirt, not a complex object, so the base individual is going to be 10 cubic paces here imo.

edit: also on the actual question of how to balance the spell, I would suggest:

  1. The spell is already more situational than you might think. The median depth to bedrock in Europe is just 4m, and the mean is just 6.9m [source]. That's not even considering if the material above bedrock is all dirt (which it almost never will be because there will usually be a layer of regolith made of mostly broken stone on top of bedrock). In the majority of places in Europe you won't find 3m of actual soil, never mind 6! This in addition to the points other people have made about being indoors etc.
  2. It should probably take two rounds. One to cast the spell, a second for the earth to drop and hit the ground. 15m (21 if you consider the depth of the hole) is pretty high and the time it'll take to fall is probably enough to react. Not much use for mundanes who fell in the hole, but a magus can cast a range of spells to escape/negate if they aren't stunned by the fall. For an idea of the distance imagine someone tossing the soil from the top of an 8 storey building - not exactly an instantaneous drop.

So I don't think it really needs balanced beyond applying a bit of realism. The majority of time it'll be <50% effective and it'll take 2 rounds, giving foes a chance to react to the "falling earth" part (but not the pit part, which is instantaneous).


One little thing still: TME p.107 box has been errataed.

The ReTe guideline for general non living objects is now level 10.

One of my players in my old Brunnaburgh game had this spell, or a slightly more powerful version, I forget.

It was indeed very powerful. But as others have noted, its also situational. Its not got the sheer versatility of a Pilum of Fire. Against mundane enemies, in open ground, yeah it rocks.

One thing as a GM you should think about is how challenging you want an encounter to be, and knowing that this mage has this spell, whether you want it to bea cake walk or not.

If you want to give them a moment to feel badass, then yeah, mundane targets in a field. Bam.
If you want them to really struggle against a tough foe, have an enemy magus with passable terram or corpus or Imaginem and have them use a low level but potent defence. A corpus mage, as noted, could teleport out of the effect. A terram mage could move the earth back into the pit, created ground underneath him, etc. An imaginem mage isn't actually standing where you think he is and carries on casting even as the earth showers down through him. A vim using mage can cancel the spell as its cast. An auram mage might swish himself out the way with a powerful gust of wind.

And of course as noted, you can always change up the location. Have the enemy mage fly, have the confrontation on rock or sea, or indoors.

The trick is to let the player get some good use out of the spell without making it an instant win. So let them get it to work sometimes, especially on mundane targets that often cease to be an issue for mages capable of busting out level 30 combat spells. But more powerful targets are going to require more legwork (gathering arcane connections, working out birth charts, finding true names, etc), or at the very least, a long and protracted spell battle.

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Great, call me names while being the one who ignored that I cited both of them, and they disagree with each other. Later I addressed that very issue and said which one is more consistent. Please don't call me names while ignoring what I actually wrote.

Your scale is so far off. If you check, this falls in the "intermediate" category, which isn't anywhere close to competitive.

I haven't marked anyone as ignored.

One little thing still: TME p.107 box has been errataed.
The ReTe guideline for general non living objects is now level 10 .

Has it? The errata on the website makes the Animal and Herbam guidelines level 10 but the Terram one isn't mentioned.

Is there another version of the errata floating around?

Yep. The correction by pencil in my TME copy - which mixed up ReTe with ReHe. Sorry.


And I have known multiple children, depending on the age range you are talking about, who can and do haul around that sort of weight- I like in the midwest and many of them are farm boys and as I mentioned I could bench over 200 lbs when I was 13. As a result I find your snobbery and ad hominems out of line and offensive.

that is a subjective call.

Are you sure? I don't see that in the errata. Also, The Ambulatory Laboratory still uses base 25, which corresponds to the original ReTe guidelines. There are three places that would need that in the errata (Covenants, MoH, and TME).

Oh, the newer posts hadn't shown up. Never mind.

Sorry, I should have written "pre-pubescent, still just barely still Size -1, tween boy." I was way shorter and less heavy than average even before hitting puberty late, which made that even more significant; I thought "small" was a good word for that.

How much do you think your average hand-farmer (doesn't use mechanized machines, farms every day by hand) who weights roughly 160 lb (middle of Size 0 and average peasant situation) can hold up using both arms? (Do note that, if you're not picking up the trees, rocks, etc. this definitely is not as dense as packed earth/clay unless you happen to be in just the right sort of spot.)

On that above ignoring, how do you ignore someone? Could it have happened accidentally? How do you find who is blocked and turn in off if so? I can probably hunt for answers, but it will take a while and someone reading this probably knows.

To ignore someone - click on the user logo or name to go in his profile. To the top-right corner of the screen, under message, click on normal. This gives you the option to mute or ignore the user, or remove someone from your ignore list by returning him to normal status.

That being said, I highly suggest you both take a deep breath. And Troy, yes, I agree with silveroak that there's no need to attack anyone here, and re-reading the thread, I have no clue why you took callen saying he could lift this much as a personal attack.

From my personal experience, I would estimate that a 160 lb male used to doing intense physical labor like farm work could probably lift and hold up with both hands (such as lifting to a second floor or loft) about 250-300 lbs. This does depend on things like shape- a balanced hay bale is a lot easier to lift than say a sleeper sofa.

Note though that being able to lift and hold something is not quite the same thing as being able to hold it comfortably with two hands.

I'm thinking lift above your head and pass to someone a floor above you. I didn't actually ask how comfortable that was.
Then again, I am under the impression that the point of the guideline is to define volume, not weight, since a very large object which is light can still be awkward to hold- even a 50 pound sofa, for example, is not something that one person could comfortably hold in both hands though it could be done. The whole weight tangent is in my opinion only relevant to your (Erik's) ad hominem assault on Callen. And while I do understand being annoyed with callen and have had my own issues in the past, it really is not warranted here.

To avoid accidents drawing someone else in, I believe you meant me rather than Erik.

If we are talking about a size that you could comfortably hold in two hands, then something about a square foot seems to fit. As you stated, a larger and lighter object could be hold but would be awkward.

I do believe you have confused me with someone else, since I have not made any assaults of any kind on Callen.

This is what bothers me most with the guidelines. Suddenly, we're looking at how much strength the magi would have to determine what a base individual is, and debating what is normal weightlifting practices at a given age. And we also have to evaluate comfort. Makes me miss the base individuals of each form.