The Crystal Dart

My question is simple: What would it take to increase the damage potential of this spell?

This isn't as simple a situation as Ignem where we do have specific guidelines, although we do have examples of Terram spells with increased damage potential (and different functions).
My guess is that a new spell, let's just name it "The Crystal Spear" for now, would probably require a casting total of 20 for +15 damage ( with a possible additional factor like "skewer"), but that is only my speculation on the subject.
I'm happy to hear your opinion on this.

Normally the big advantage offered by Ignem spells that deal damage is that the damage scales in a straightforward manner i.e. at higher base levels you can conjure bigger/hotter fires that as a consequence deal more damage in proportion to how much higher the base level of the spell is. Whereas damage dealing spells that are from other forms like Terram have a damage that is dependent on a number of external factors, like how big a boulder you can find to throw.

In your case I would say that you found a way to transfer the advantage of Ignem damage dealing spells to Terram as you are using the baseline for the crystal dart to make as you describe it a "Crystal Spear" because you are designing the spell that way you are I think it makes the most sense to have it deal more damage with higher level in the same way that an Ignem spell does.
Exactly how the scaling should work can be debated but I feel that you are probably on point in saying that a level 20 spell can deal +15 damage. I feel like I read somewhere that Ignem spells should always have the highest raw damage output but maybe its just my headcanon. But the spell that you proposed does preserve the superiority of Ignem damage spells because it doesnt have a Requisite.

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Use the +2 magnitudes to bump it to T:Group instead? Your additional factor could then be based on how many darts actually damage an individual target.

I recall the same, though I'm not sure if it's stated somewhere or just makes sense.

We have had the tendency of escalating non Ignem spells to do several degrees of harm, increasing damage +5 per extra magnitude, but it somehow dilutes the versatility of Ignem. It is problematic in the case of The Crystal Dart because it's damage per level +5 damage points more efficient than Ignem: a +10 damage Ignem spell should be a level 15 spell. That would make me say no.

Anyway The Crystal Dart is already a wonderful spell. Instead of raising its level and damage, if I were you I would just keep it low, allowing it to have high penetration. You can always master it, multicast and get your target pierced by a few Crystal Darts like a pincushion.

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Certainly a principle which has been stated before in the fan fora.
However, the Crystal Dart has already broken this with +10 damage at level 10. A +10 damage version of Pilum of Fire would be level 15. (OK, Crystal Dart has the disadvantage of having a requisite, and the limitation of requiring a dirt ground to draw from,, but still.)

Many good ideas, but the wizard's toolbox should also have a spell which is effective against high soaks. The player in question is clearly looking for that.

I agree very much with your concern about diluting the damage flexibility of Ignem. Ignem does not have much to offer. There is Lamp WIthout Flame and versatile and scalable damage. If you give Terram the same flexible damage, Lamp WIthout Flame is the only interesting Ignem spell. (OK, I may be exaggerating but only a wee bit)

Crystal dart already seems too cheap. I feel that crystal should be more expensive than dirt, and the dirt guideline is used If you want to boost damage, I'd say that it gets harder in more ways than one. A bigger piece of dirt or clay hitting head on, will not in itself make a significant difference. To increase to +15, maybe you need a sharper object, meaning you have to add one magnitude for stone/glass and one for more accurate shape (sharpness), making it level 20. Two magnitudes per 5 points of damage sounds fair enough.

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Too cheap indeed. Almost all magi we play, Flambeau aside, know that spell. It kind of is the attack spell for the not combat magus. If you need to pierce a high soak, well, get a combat magus. Also, being such a low level, high efficiency spell, I like to think of it as the product of a magus who got quite lucky in the extraordinary results table.

Another funny idea of getting through high Soak scores is a concept we got from a Tytalus (how not to love them): Statistical damage. In Sulphurous Membrane in Hermetic Projects does a +1 damage per round, which is a lame damage. But it does it for D: Sun duration (it's designed to cast on humans, but you can always design a variant of the spell being MuAu(An) with some extra magnitudes for size to affect let's say a dragon). Imagine that you face an enemy with Soak +20. He will probably laugh the first round the spell tickles him with its +1 damage attempt, sure. But casting it on the right time you are going to get at least 12 hours of effect, and these are 7200 rounds, so 7200 stress rolls. With that many rolls we can call in the Law of large numbers and assume that 1/10 of these rolls will be 1, something. We already got enough 1's to not get so happy about then until the second roll, because one can always roll a 1 and then a 2, getting a disillusioned 4, so let's narrow it down and say that around half of them, 1/20 rolls (which are 360) will be 1 and something bigger than 5, getting a damage in the nice range of 12-20. Still not good enough for the +20 Soak enemy. But 1/200, and 36 of these are to expect, will be 1, 1 and something bigger than 5, dealing damages in the range of 24-40. 1/2000 rolls, so 3 or 4 will be expected, will be 1, 1, 1 and something bigger than five, dealing damages in the range of 48-80. And there is always the chance of rolling the occasional 1, 1, 1, 1, and upper than five, dealing a damage between 86 and 160.

It's not good for bugging magi because the use to have the resources to get rid of the spell before it gets problematic, but in 12 hours there are few deadliest things than statistics.

I agree; that's a good thought. It is a pity that it does not say so in the canon level breakdown-

Auram is on par. Incantation of Lightning equals the Ball of Abysmal Flame. What Auram lacks is a lower damage version to pen on high MR enemies.

This is all an issue from trying to get the favourite legacy spells of previous editions to fit into 5th edition. Crystal dart is a bit more powerful for damage than its level, but requires a requisite so needs you to be good at 3 arts rather than 2. Incantation of lightning used to be massive damage but very inaccurate on aiming when compared to ball of abysmal flame, in 5th edition they are same damage, same range, same level, both automatically hit. Incantation of lightning has a +4 magnitudes for being "highly unnatural", so creating strong winds or a heavy downpour from existing weather features is very easy but magically projecting them from your hands is extremely difficult. CrAu at sight range, from a storm cloud to the ground, should be much easier than Incantation of Lightning but with the drawback of being useless underground and requiring preparation if the sky above is cloudless.

Still, these gaps in the grimoire allow room for player character magi to experiment, and maybe if they get lucky on the side-effects they can have a spell that does more than its level suggests. All things to encourage blowing up the covenant through experimentation and making life more interesting through player choices.

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I have stolen this idea and put the crystal dart being super cool in one of my 30 folios for november.


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I do this with quite a few spells, which allows spells in the corebook to be used as is, but restricts the ability of Magi to modify them. I am of the same mind as other who believe Ignem needs a near monopoly on damage spells to be relevant and allowing this spell to scale as-is pretty much kills that. Our saga is pretty harsh on combat spells (Magi are scholars not warriors!), bumping pretty much every damage guideline up a magnitude or else requiring it to be aimed (and still have to penetrate!). Creo Ignem for instance usually has to succeed on an attack, but we judge spells as being pretty point and click and so usually give them a +5 attack bonus like crossbows. This serves to make most Magi less effective in at just killing people, but can serve to increase a dedicated combat Magus's damage with the attack advantage.

To me the Rego requisite implies that a Finesse roll to hit should be required and, since there isn't, it's probably a major benefit from the experimentation table, worth at least a magnitude. The spell says it speeds off like an arrow which makes me think the damage value should be somewhere around 5 (javelin) to 8 (longbow arrow), so the fact that it does +10 damage means that the inventor took his already lucky spell and got another side benefit; if we assume a crystal dart is similar to a javelin in damage, that would be worth a magnitude.

So I would say that the level would be roughly 10+damage desired, which would make it 5 levels higher than a similar Ignem spell as well as require a requisite, which I think is fair. Of course, I am probably over-conservative when it comes to "combat spells".

On the other hand, what if you were to create an enchantment quiver that shrunk down crystal objects placed inside, say a sharp crystal the length of a spear but 3-4 inches in diameter that became the size of an arrow? Then use a Rego spell to fire it. By the rules it would be a pretty low level spell without Muto needed (5? 10 if it was decided it needed a diameter duration?) and could be used in such a way that bypasses magic resistance (with 4 pawns a vis and a ritual to create the crystal of course, though if your Herbam is good you could just have them made mundanely).

On the other, other hand, it seems that the damage of the spell comes from the force and mass of the material. Why does it create a 10 inch dart? Crystal is the equivalent of stone, so why not a cubic meter ballista bolt? That should work without increasing the level of the spell, though I might have (probably) overlooked something.

Overall I would go with my first suggestion, keeping it weaker than Ignem by a level. If you supply your own bolts you can drop the requisite, or rather, the requisite becomes the only technique needed. You could also get the same affect with CrTe(Re) and not have to worry about being near dirt. My justification would be that to accurately control the missile requires higher levels of Rego as it gets larger or faster (i.e. increases damage).

Definitely. If everyone wants the same spell, it's obvious that it is a great spell. Which is fine, some spells are "better" than others. The problem as I see it is if those better spells are allowed to be made even better or at least easily. If a Magus gets a good experimentation roll and shares his lab text, great. You can't just take that lab text and change the spell though, that would be the equivalent of saying every positive side effect is a very minor breakthrough.

If you accept that the Crystal Dart is a result of experimentation then you need to decide how that would interact with other Magi wanting to change it up. In our Saga, where my Magus almost always experiments, we don't allow someone who learns a modified spell from a labtext to change the spell in anyway that couldn't be done with the normal guidelines. The inventor himself however can reinvent the spell again with experimentation and possibly modify the spell with another side effect, good or bad. He may also attempt to invent the spell again, but create the effect +/- one magnitude. He must experiment but as long as he doesn't ruin the experiment, he gets the change, and quite possibly more depending on the experimentation results.

My 2 pence anyway.

I seem to remember that Incantation of Lightning ignores armor, but I can't find that anywhere now. Is this just a house rule we have or is does lightning ignore armor?

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Good input everyone, I find myself agreeing to most of what I've read so far (for pretty much the same reasons). I totally agree that we shouldn't cheap out Ignem by allowing the same damage per level or by inventing the same spell basically on different magnitudes just by changing the material to metal or make it sharper, heavier, etc. That is why I created (IMS) only one higher version of "The Crystal Dart" with 20/15 ratio (Cost/Dmg), which I consider it to be fair play, especially when it needs a requisite.

If I wanted an even more effective Terram combat spell, I would probably start looking at a completely different spell, like "Teeth of the Earth Mother" or "The Earth Split Asunder" do. Those are really powerful spells, like (small) army destroyers-like & I have always liked them.

If you look at another interesting magic system (L5R), there the Earth element is associated with combating demon-like creatures (Oni) by removing/purifying their taint, in the end crystallizing its targets. An interesting concept, perhaps giving ideas for other Terram spells and so on.

I too love L5R. ArM already has spells to clean up demons and it's PeVi.

It does not ignore armour, to the best of my knowledge. Given the damage it dishes out, armour doesn't really matter, it'll instakill just about anyone that isn't super optimised to soak everything.

Maybe you are confusing "The Incantation of Lightning" with "Curse of the Desert" & "Parching Wind" (which they do indeed ignore armor) or another spell from D&D (Shocking Grasp)?
Otherwise, in ArM5/4/3 at least, it doesn't.

I don't know if its part of the 5th ed, but I clearly remember from ye olde days (2nd) that IotL was getting a bonus to hit target in metal armor. It might have been for the Finesse roll but not for the damage, though.

No. He means that the damage level of incantation makes armour irrelevant because it is so high that it will simply go through it and still kill the guy wearing it. Maximum armour is +9. Incantation does something like +30 damage. 21 points of damage will kill most human sized creatures. (Yes, I know there are other factors like tough and stamina, but still)

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I'm definitively copying that to our saga houserules. I deeply miss having to aim all spells, not getting automatic hits just because it's magic and magi with the clumsy flaw not frying their shield grogs more often. And the fact that it's as easy to hit an elephant and a butterfly with a PoF: 100% of them hit target. Adding one magnitude for the automatic hit and giving a nice bonus by default sounds nice enough.

Plus the stress die. What a lovely spell.

Hmm. Since spell damage is basically considered environmental damage, doesn't the target get to roll a stress die to soak as well?

Right, the target gets to roll a soak die as well, but this is usually in favor of the offensive part because if the defender's soak roll is better he still gets damaged (just not as much), while if the attacker's damage roll is better it can potentially take out even tougher targets in one go. This gets even more pronounced with the use of spell mastery's "multi-spell" option when you can force many checks on your opponent simultaneously.

Even a giant with soak +25 will hit the grave in one round if he gets hit by a quadruple "Incantation of Lightning", his initial wounds making the soak roll weaker for the next ones, etc.