Targets, targets, and collateral damage

Spells, it seems, might need to Penetrate the Magic Resistance of three different things.

The first is the Target. ReMe on a maga, for example.

The second is the target. CrIg against a maga, for example.

The third is collateral damage. Hitting a maga with a sword that has been ReTe'd to be sharper, for example.

The rules are clear that the spell must Penetrate in all three cases. However, when can I use an AC to boost my Penetration?

Obviously, I can do so to affect the Target. It seems clear that I can also do so to affect the target.

Can I do it to affect collateral damage? That is, can I use an AC to a maga when casting the spell on the sword to give that sword higher Penetration when hitting that maga? The ruling that Wards can't be boosted with ACs suggests "no".

But if no, can I boost the Penetration of a ReTe spell to slam a sword into a maga? If I can boost that, then what about a general ReTe spell to control the sword, that I then use to slam it into the maga?

I think we can get the distinction that seems to be in effect by saying that you can boost Penetration against someone if it is not possible for circumstances to change and for it to become unnecessary to test the Penetration against that individual's Magic Resistance. A spell that slams a sword into a maga (or lobs a BoAF at her) is committed to trying to affect her, but one that generally controls a sword is not — the caster might change her mind. That gets the Ward ruling right (if the thing is already in the ward, the Penetration must be tested). I am also sure that I can come up with some plausible-sounding in-game justification for it.

What do people think?


I would say no, but we need to be careful about defining when someone is a target and when they are collateral damage. For example if I ReHe an arrow into a mage I should be able to use an AC to penetrate but if I use reHe to set up a wall of thrashing thorny vines I should not.

The box on HoH:S p.113 also says "This could be due to a flaw in Hermetic theory, or it could be that the Columbine wards were never perfectly adapted to Hermetic magic" so it seems to me like something particular to wards only.

TBH, I never had a problem with what you call "colateral damage". As far as I am aware, nothing on corebook implies you can't boost penetration against specific targets outside a ward, this was something brought upon by HoH:S. I always ignored that bit and applied the particularity of warding only to specifying targets (that is, you can specify targets based on AC only with Warding, but for penetration boost you can use ACs both with regular hermetic wards or Warding).

Plus, we already have some trouble with Target X target. We'd be including a third category named "colateral" that works pretty much as a target, except that it's not one for penetration purposes, but only in regards to using ACs to boost penetration? Why?

Why with the thrashing vines you should not? What is the distinction in your mind that makes the arrow eligible for usage of ACs but the animated vines not?

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[quote="Rafael Bessoni, post:3, topic:172689, full:true, username:RafaelB"]. As far as I am aware, nothing on corebook implies you can't boost penetration against specific targets outside a ward, this was something brought upon by HoH:S.

Rego spells can create wards which pro-
tect the target from things of the appropriate
Form. These use the normal targets, but the tar-
get is the thing protected, rather than the
things warded against,
Core book p114

The Penetration
Bonus starts at one times the character’s
Penetration Ability, and the multiplier can be
increased. This requires that the character have
an Arcane Connection to the target of the
Core book p84

So, according to the core book you can only use an AC to boost penetration against a target of the magic. Warding spells target the thing protected, not the things protected against.
Logical conclusion is that you can't use an AC to boost penetration against the things protected against.

I stand corrected, and pretty quickly. Thanks.

My confusion/forgetfulness likely stems from the fact that wards do need to penetrate the things warded against. And you usally only need to penetrate targets. Which makes things warded against into weird targets/not-targets. But I digress.

I keep the rest of my points as they are. Might as well be a particularity of hermetic wards. No reason to believe it extends (or that it should extend) to other spells.

Actually you often need to penetrate non-targets.

Assume an enchanted sword. Doesn't much matter what kind of enchantment - might even be the infamous "pink dot". The enchantment(s) on the sword need to penetrate the MR of anything you try to hit with the sword - yet those beings you try to hit with the sword are usually not counted as targets of the magic - as least not as I understand the usage of the word "target".

Why not? Is there any useful distinction worth making them "not-target"?

What's the fundamental difference between a MuTe sword with a sharp edge (or a pink-dotted one) and a ReTe sword moved against a person that would make the person a target for the second spell, but not for the first one?

That very question is kind of what this thread is about, no?

My thinking is that a "target" is someone/something affected by the magic when it is cast, not at some time later. I don't know for sure if this contradics anything in canon, but I think not.

So using a Momentary ReTe spell to slam a sword into a maga - the maga counts as a target.
Using a D:Conc ReTe spell to control a sword, and after a few rounds slamming it into the same maga - the maga does not count as a target.

I don't know if this is a good definition of "target", let alone the best definition, but it does at least have the advantage of being an objective difference between "target" and "not target yet affected by the magic".

Yes, but I would note that wards are actually better at dealing with non-present targets in Hermetic magic than are non-wards. So the likely path would be to get this penetration into wards and then to expand to all of Hermetic magic. It seems extremely unlikely that the thing handling non-present targets best handles the worse.

If a spell places an arrow inside the victim, the victim is the target of the spell. If a spell animates the vines and someone nearby gets hit, they're an indirect target of the spell, right? (The book uses "direct target" and "indirect target" already rather than "collateral."

I just think it's very very slippery to differentiate between case 2 and case 3.
It seems weird to treat differently:
2. a spell to conjure a stick that will hit a victim
3. a spell to conjure a stick that will hit a victim if the caster so chooses.

Or maybe I am misunderstanding (but even then there may be a problem).
Personally, I think either of the following is fine - but nothing more complicated is:

a) only spells whose target is the Target can have their penetration boosted via ACs; those affecting the target through a Target medium (e.g. a Ball of Abysmal Fire) can't.
b) all spells can have their penetration boosted via ACs ... including Wards, yes.

I think it's actually a slippery slope not to differentiate. The biggest things in that case is actually with Warping Points. If I use a high-level MuCo effect on myself to temporarily make myself tougher, and I do it with huge penetration, should I warp every person I hug or shake hands with every time I do so? Hug and a kiss to each cheek: that's 3 Warping Points for you! There should be a distinction between them, and the core book already makes a distinction, just using different wording than what David wrote above.

To me this seems inconsequential in regards to penetration.

Then I assume that a momentary CrIg pilum can be boosted with an AC, but a sun duration CrIg bonfire could not?

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But then, I do not suffer warping from a ReTe missile or a CrIg pilum, do I?


Indeed. In terms of Warping, only the Target - not the target - gets Warped.
This has little to do with ACs though.

BoAF, the person is the target of the spell, right? Would that not mean they're "subjected to a powerful mystical effect"?

More to the point here, consider a ward. Should everyone in the world get warped by a ReCo circular ward I put around my sanctum with a high penetration? Notice that I'm the one who gets warped, not everyone else, and that I am consider the target of the spell, not everyone else.

Take a look at the rules on Warping and look at how wards work and the Target v. the target. You'll see that's incorrect.

Wards are their own thing.

As for BoAF, I'm not sure this (the target is warped) is a standard interpretation. It sure isn't on my table. But for academic purposes, let's assume I agreed with it.

You'd say then that animating a tree (make it a big one, so that it counts as a powerfull effect) to hit a particular individual warps him, but animating the same tree to hit whoever passes by over the next moon wouldn't warp them? That seems to lack coherence.

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Wards are always a bit iffy as an example.
That said, I fail to see how what I said is incorrect according to the corebook.
Even with wards, if I cast a ward on you to protect you from your ... spouse, it will warp you, not your spouse. And most definitely, an Incantation of Lightning cast on someone does not warp him, just like turning into a wasp and stinging him does not warp him; at least that's how it's always been read at my gaming table as far back as I recall it.

EDIT: I guess I'll just leave Rafael Bessoni to do the talking because he seems to mirror my views on this quite precisely.


I'm known for misreading peoples intentions and opinions, so please, don't rely just on me. :sweat_smile:

The warping rules really don't care if you are "the Target", or "a target" or neither of a spell.

They talk about "being affected by a powerful mystical effect" or "being continously under the influence of a mystical effect".
So pretty much anything affecting you that would have needed to penetrate your Magic Resistance (assuming you had any) could cause warping.