Stupid Question no 5: Hurting people with magic

This is off reading 'Infinite Damage Levels' and just tonight attempting to run my first full combat with mages mixed in with ordinary folk.

Leaving aside Perdo Corpus effects which can just say: 'Poof! You've taken a (Light/Minor/Major) Wound!' let us look at hurting people by creating something with magic such as a bolt of fire or lightning or a Crystal Dart. You make something physical and chuck it at your target.

Now unlike a mundane javelin of rock thrown by normal means, this Crystal Dart here doesn't get an Attack roll, there is no defense roll, so if the spell works and there's no magic resistance to worry about it hits automatically. Right?

So then, I don't treat it like a weapon attack at all but look at the Injuries section (on p181) and treat it like falling into a fire or something. And in this case only soak is not treated as a total but is rolled and can be affected by Wounds. Right?

(And add here Stupid Question 5.1: What is a 'total' which is also affected by Wound penalties (according to p.178 under Wounds) if Soak is not one?)

(And add here Stupid Question 5.2: Are you trying to drive us newbies crazy with so many bloody different systems and exceptions! I found myself muttering tonight as I went for a loo break: 'I wonder if it's too late to try running this with GURPS....')

Correct. You only have to make rolls to place a magical effect if you are in fact not trying to hit a given target, but rather aiming at influencing them through their surroundings - which could be done to circumvent Magic Resistance (MR) - such as when using Perdo Terram to make a nasty hole beneath their feet or when making a iron cage small enough to hold them but big enough not to interfere with their MR..

Correct. And some of the Spell Guidelines will tell you the amount of damage done with spells of specific levels.

All totals except combat Soak. Just as Fatigue affect all totals except Soak (including the non-combat soak which is rolled). If needing a unambiguous reference to Soak and Wound Penalties there is one in the example on p. 172. It is admittedly not very clear unless you've read the example, and the combat system is probably one of the most House Ruled parts of Ars Magica, but also something we might see tweaked in a future release.

Because this is not GURPS. Because it has charm. And because you'll get the hang of it eventually... :wink:

Soak is basically a combined armour/natural toughness value inherent to the character rather than generated by the character. Just treat it logically. The soak value of someone wounded, or tired, or even unconcious slumped on the floor is not changed - they are still wearing the same armour and have the same natural toughness. If someone throws a rock at the unconcious armoured figure slumped on the floor. they are still fully protected by their soak - they are still wearing the same armour etc.
However if someone walks up to the unconcious figure slumped on the floor and cuts its throat, soak is pretty much bypassed. :cry:

This is in direct contrast to any other 'total' a character generates, be it for hitting someone, dodging a hit, casting a spell, swimming a river, riding a horse, searching a room, talking politely to the lady of the manor, etc, etc. All of these things are more likely to be less successful, or fail, if the character attempting them is wounded, tired, or slumped on the ground unconcious.

I'd be careful with that...In this case you are bypassing part of his/her soak by cutting around armor...If this were a rock elemental, dragon, or other such creature, you could still need to 'get through it'. Think of it as trying to cut a piece of number one steel with a plastic doesn't matter if its moving or not...the knife will break.

Generally. Two Opposable Digit Guidelines to consider here:

*An attack will either be affected by Magic Resistance, or will require a Finesse roll to hit. So you can create a Crystal Dart directly above someone's head and drop it on them, which would not hit automatically but would bypass Parma. Note that you would need a different spell to do this, but Crystal Dart would almost certainly count as "similar".

*Wound Penalties only apply once to a single total, which is why they apply to Soak vs. a non-aimed spell, but not vs. an aimed one (because in this case they apply to the Defense Total). In the first case the wound makes it harder for you to dodge; in the second it makes it harder for you to deflect the effect of the... whatever it is that's attacking you.

This does bring up something that bugs me slightly about the current system, which is that PeCo is one of the least efficient ways to Hurt People and Do Bad Things to Them. It's a minimum level 35 spell to kill someone outright with Corpus, and lesser spells have no chance of doing so; but someone with a decent CrIg total and a few levels of Mastery in Pilum of Fire can put some hurting on you pretty good. It's not guaranteed but it's pretty good.

There's probably not an easy fix for this, and it might not even be necessary. It just bugs me a little.

That's not a good example; anything Creo'd or Muto'd will be resisted even if you let it fall on them. Better go with a perfectly ordinary rock instead.

Not sure I entirely agree (except maybe with a rock elemental :wink: ).
a) Most creatures have some vulnerable part somewhere that will allow soak avoidance. With the dragon it might be a boarspear rammed through the eye, or the ability to walk straight to that missing scale, place the point of the greatsword against the bare patch and ram it home.
b) If a creature is incapacitated then even without any apparent weakspots it is likely that a party will be able to take care of it (should they be so inclined) provided they have something that can hurt it at all. Even if it is repeated axe blows to the neck.

this is storytelling, not pure mechanics, IMO...
If the characters are standing over an unconcious dragon and want to chop its head off, if they have anything at all capable of doing so, even if it is a hand saw, then IMO they should be able to do so, without rolling 187 rolls against soak trying to getting a big number.

of course, if the dragon wakes up when the sawyer has just gotten started... :open_mouth:

It needs tweaking! Important rules should be stated in the main text not in an example! Dammit....

I'm still not clear what 'totals' are being referred to in the wounds rules since they refer to both 'rolls and totals'.

Ah, this is obviously 'charm' in the estate agents sense when he tries to sell you on 'a charming period property' which translates as a tumble-down cottage with low beams you keep bashing your head on which you can't refurbish because it's under a historical preservation order.

Why (Stupid Question 5.3) on Earth is there a seperate rule for non-combat damage from combat damage? And why is it then necessary to import the non-combat rule into combat to deal with magic rather than treat magic as producing combat like effects in the first place thus integrating it with what most of the non-magi characters will be doing for the magi? Why not simply have the magic do the same damage every time and the soak absorb the same damage every time without (in this one case) adding a stress die to both sides?

Second question first: randomness is exciting. rolling dice for damage and soak is often a moment of high drama the players don't know what is going to happen the SG doesn't know what is going to happen.

First question: the rules are different so that combat can run more smoothly without the added complexity of damage and soak rolls.

Agreed, but also plus the fact that the damage from weappons has already been exposed to Lady Luck with the Attack/Defense roll, whereas the damage from all other sources haven't.

Agreed - and come available time I think this matter would be worhtwhile to send David Chart an errata-suggestion on.

Simple way to handle this: if a person is unconcious, he gets a defence total of 0 (as if he got a botch on his defence roll). If you have any skill, that should be enough to score a killing blow...

That makes not a lot of sense to me. The warrior has his moment of randomness when he swings the sword against the opponent. The wizard has his moment of randomness when he summons up the magic and wonders if he is going to vanish into infinity when he does so.

Why not have a parallel moment of smoothness when it comes to working out the damage? And bear in mind I'm talking about magic intermingled with combat where the SG really doesn't want to have to shift his head around different mechanics for different classes of character.

I would say that the fact that 'soak ain't affected' isn't in the main text is somewhere between an errata and a design flaw. When the Wound rules speak of 'rolls and totals' it implies that not just rolled values but also non-rolled ones are affected by Wounds. And then the Combat Example on p172 goes and tells us that the reason that Soak isn't affected is that it isn't rolled. My head spins....

If you do not want to roll soak, drop the damage of all spells by 5 points and roll only for the extra damage of the spell. That balances quite OK, with similar results to those of the current mechanics.



What 'extra damage of the spell'?

If I'm dropping the roll of the soak and I drop the roll for the damage doesn't that balance out?

Well yes, but no damage randomness at all is a bit too predictable.

He meant stress die + spell damage, minus soak. One roll.

I agree having 2 different methods for handling soak is a bit confusing. My hr for combat was :-
Defender doesn't roll for defense. Instead he gets a +6 bonus.
Attacker always rolls for damage, including combat. Only use bonus's/penalties that he would get using normal rules (ie, probably none)
Defender never rolls for soak. Instead he gets a +6 bonus. Use bonus's/penalties that he would get using normal rules (ie, form bonus, wound penalties if magic, berserker)
(note, since the soak is now mostly static, as is the wound table, they could be combined. Avoiding the step of deducting soak in most cases)

Not perfect, but smoother than the raw imo.

A known example to explain it may be in order

Ingnatio - Init +1, Atk +12, Def 17, Dam +7
Wound Penalties -1(17-21) -3(22-26) -5(27-31) incap(32-36)

Polandrus - Init +18, Atk +11, Def 15, Dam +8
Wound Penalties -1(13-16) -3(17-20) -5(21-24) incap(25-28)

Iniative, Ignatio rolls a 2 total 3. Polandrus rolls a 6, total 24.
Polandus rolls 5 to attack, total 16. Not high enough.
Ignatio attacks, rolls a 0, doesn't botch. Total 12, not high enough.
Polandrus attacks, rolls a 6, total 17. Not high enough.
Ignatio attacks, rolls a 6, total 18. Hit, advantage 3. rolls 8 to damage (1st new roll), total 18. Polandrus takes a medium wound.
Polandrus disappears.

I hope one day some better rules for combat are published, the current ones are too inconsistent and poorly explained compared to the rest of the book :frowning:

To be honest I've never applied wound penalties to any of the versions of the Soak. It hasn't been a conscious choice, as I havent been aware of any need to distinguish between the two, but I have to say that it's been working fine.

LOL, to be honest, i've never applied it either. I didn't realize you were supposed to until it was mentioned in this thread [url]].

Well, wouldn't it be simpler to assume wound penalties applies to any non-mental dice roll?

Wound penalties apply to mental rolls as well, as far as I know. They apply to everything that is rolled.

Wen do not roll for soak under any circumstances, but that is because we have house ruled all the damage systems of the game (including combat) so heavily as to have something that resembles more an invented system than Ars Magica.