The term "Target" and Spells

[i](I'm putting this here in the hope that it can be referred to regularly, instead of repeating it every time someone gets confused by the term "Target" - which seems to happen weekly.

If someone disagrees, well, speak up, I have no monopoly on truth. And certainly if you spot a flaw or skip in my discussion, please!)[/i]

[color=darkblue](Edit - Note - in the next post (see same, below), the esteemed Mr. Shirley points out that in The Rules, when referring to the spell parameter, the word "Target" was intended to be capitalized, and when referring only to the desired location of the spell being cast, the word "target" was intended to be left lower case.

I am editing to stay consistent with those intentions.)

In several places, the Rules refer to "the target" of a spell. Generally speaking, there are two* entirely different possible meanings of the term "target". Both apply to spells and their use, but each has a very different meaning. And these two meanings are not always clearly distinct in the rules, but need to be in everyone's mind.

Because it's up to you to determine how to read those rules - "you" the Troupe, or "you" the StoryGuide, as best fits your Saga.(Note - The fact that the word "individual" can also be used with either use of the term "target" does not help any. A person is an individual, and can be a target of a spell, but Target:Individual refers to a specific, discrete amount of the Form being affected by the spell. The amount of a Form that is an normally sized "Individual" is defined in each of the basic Form Guidelines. Keep those two different meanings straight in your mind too.) One sense of the word "target" is the intended location of the effect, where the caster wants the effect to operate. Call that the victim, the beneficiary, or "ground zero" - it's where the spell will happen, and is limited by Range. This is the casual, everyday use of the word - "I target the bandit with my Ball of Abysmal Flame", or "We want the target of the effect to be in the middle of the group". This is the desired location of the effect, and might be a being or just a place.

This meaning is (almost?) always lower case within the rules, "target". (See MS's comments, immediately below)(The "Range" might give you more options as to what your target can be in this sense, but changing Range in the spell parameters (Range/Target/Duration) has no relationship to "Target", as in the next meaning...)
The other sense of the word "Target" is purely rules oriented, and is what is meant by "Range/Duration/Target". That is, the Target is what amount of the chosen Form is affected by the Technique. It is the Object of the Technique, the thing that is Creo'd/Intellego'd/Muto'd/Perdo'd/Rego'd. It is always the Form, and either an Individual amount, a Part, a Group, or some other valid Target amount of the Technique of that Form, as defined by the appropriate Form Guidelines. If the spell is an Ignem spell, then the Target (in this sense) is always Ignem, and so on for all 10 Forms.

This meaning is (almost?) always capitalized within the rules, "Target". (See MS's comments, immediately below) (When you select Target: Individual, Part, Group/Room, Structure or Boundary, this is the meaning of that term. This always refers to the chosen Form of the spell effect, an amount as defined by the Guidelines for that Form. Changing the Range never affects this, but might determine if it's valid - for instance, Range:Personal and Target:Group won't usually work, unless the caster is somehow, personally, more than one Individual.)
With the Forms of Corpus and Mentem, often these two "targets" are the same - you cast a spell at person X, and person X becomes both the location (target: "him") and the Corpus or Mentem amount (Target:Individual, or etc.) that is being affected. But with every other Form, the two have no connection, except that both senses of the word can be applied to describe different aspects of the same spell, the location and the thing affected.

The rules use this one term, "target", to mean both or either - it's often not perfectly clear (edit: though if one trusts that the capitalization is correct, it should be). But the two meanings are clearly different. The fact that an Individual amount of a Form (Target:Individual) is being cast at an individual person ("That individual over there!") is mere coincidence - the two "individuals", the two targets, the amount of the Form and the person with the bullseye on them, are not connected (except with Corpus and Mentem, usually), and should never be confused.(* To make it more fun, there are actually more uses, but not in every spell. There are Target Numbers, that you want to roll to achieve success. And Arcane Connections have both a Connection and a Target, the original thing that it is a connection to.)
(any/all Requisites are ignored for purpose of this discussion)

  • PeIg (Range:Voice, Duration:Momentary, Target: Individual)
    A person is on fire. Perdo Ignem destroys one amount of fire (about equal to a bonfire). The "target location" may be the person, but the Target is an Individual amount of Fire, not the individual person. If, somehow, there were even more fire than one "Individual amount" (about the size of a bonfire), the spell would not be sufficient to deal with it, and that person, that individual, is still in trouble.

  • CrAn (Range:Voice, Dur:Sun, Target:Individual)
    A mage wants to create a horse for a companion to ride upon, conjuring it beneath the person. The "target location" is that just beneath that person, but the Target is Animal, the horse, which is being Creo'd.

  • MuHe (Range:Voice, Duration:Sun, Target: Group)
    A maga wants to warp the wooden weapons or parts of their weapons of a small group of bandits that surround her - their quarterstaffs, bows and axe handles, MuHe. Just because the effect is centered on the maga does not mean that she is the "Target" of the Muto effect! Nor are the bandits! The Target of the Muto effect is Herbam (the wooden weapons), a Group sized Target for this spell effect. It is only a coincidence that the MuHe Target is Group and that fact that a "group" of bandits suffer. If one man was carrying all the weapons, or if they were scattered abandoned on the ground, the Target would be the same, the Group of individual amounts of Herbam.

  • MuCo (Range:Touch, Duration:Sun, Target: Individual)
    The mage wants to cast Eye of the Cat on a grog, MuCo. The Target of the spell is the Grog, what is being Muto'd, Target:Individual. (The base affect changes a person's senses, so the Target is not "Part", the eyes.)

  • InVi (Range:Personal, Duration:Diam, Target:Vision)
    A mage wants to see magic using InVi. Because this is an Intellego effect that changes a sense, the Target is one of his Senses (see p 113-114). The sense is the Target of the InVi, the mage is just the location of the spell and that sense, his vision.

  • CrTe (Range:Voice, Dur:Diam, Target: Individual)
    The mage wants to conjure a boulder to drop on someone or something, CrTe. The Target of the Creo is Terram, the boulder, an Individual amount of Terram. Who or what it then lands on is merely unlucky to be in the area beneath it, even if that was who or what the mage wanted it to land on.

  • CrAu (Range:Voice, Dur:Mom, Target: Individual)
    A Lightning Bolt flies out. The Target of the Creo effect was Aurum, one individual weather effect, a bolt of lightning, one "individual amount" as defined in the Aurum Guidelines. Some individual person or thing downrange gets hit by that lightning - the fact that spell is probably not being cast to hit more Aurum does not change the Target in that sense.


  1. The target = location, recipient, victim.
  2. The Target = a spell parameter, an amount of the Form being manipulated by the Technique.

Both are true, and both are clearly different. It's just not always 100% clear which one the rules mean, even with the capitalization different.


In the core rules at least, and by intent (although maybe not practice) in the rest of the line, the second meaning (the spell parameter) is capitalised - "Target", whereas the first meaning is in lower case - "target". However, typography is not necessarily the best method to avoid confusion!

Otherwise, I think you've explained matters pretty well.


Thanks! (phew!)

And yes, I thought about that same tendency, but since "Targets" are always capitalized at the start of sentences, and I wasn't sure if it was 100% consistent throughout, (and there was no formal statement to that effect), I wasn't sure if it was a valid assumption or no. But I do tend to use that same distinction myself, and so will make a point of it here.

But that will help in future readings and SG interpretations, and (if we can apply it ourselves), our own discussions.

(For one, it would mean that the discussion on the use of the term "target" in the Warping rules means whoever/whatever the spell is cast on, not the Form, so as intended characters are warped by more than just Corpus and Mentem spells.)

Anyway, I'll edit the above to reflect that.

Speaking of which, someone PM'd me a question and used that exact distinction...

No, no - pollute away! Questions welcome, because they fill holes in the topic. I'll post this here anonymously, for all to read, because it's a good question.

Wards are a special case, and have a separate (half) page devoted to them. (Okay, less than one column, p 114). And I find myself rethinking and completely re-writing this answer several times, because of it!

(And, of course, Warping is always subject to SG/Troupe interpretation, so I'll try to phrase my answer with that in mind, since your question is as much, or more, about Warping as targets.)

The short answer is “No, I don’t believe so” – but read on; Wards are a special case. And the classic Ring ward seems that it would work differently than a Personal ward, one cast upon a person.

Usually, the easiest way I find to keep “target/recipient” vs “Target:amount” straight (because with some effects or late at night, it can be a brain screw, no doubt!), is to ask "What is the Technique, and what is being Technique'd?"

So, wards are... Rego. Think of any canon ward effect - against faeries of the (element), against demons, against wild beasts. The spell is, at face value, targeted at the creatures to be kept out. At first pass, the mage or companion or grog is certainly not being "Rego'd", no "Control" over those individuals. But technically, neither are the creatures, not when it’s cast. The Target of the Rego effect is "Circle".

It is, indeed, the Aquam/Aurum/Herbam/Terram of the faeries, the Vim of the demons, or the Animal of the beasts that is being affected by the Technique, that is the technical R/D/T Target of the spell. Rego Animal, “I Control Animals”, & etc.

However, for Wards, the Target is “Circle”. Normally, Target:Circle is defined as "...everything within a ring..." And, normally, that could cause warping. But (and I cannot stress this enough), Wards are a special case.

The Ward "Circle" is not defined as working as normal, affecting all within the ring, but as a barrier, only at the ring, that keeps things warded from crossing the ring itself. If they are inside, they can’t get out, and if outside, they can’t get in – no crossing. You could have some on either side, and that’s where the ward barrier would try to keep them, no crossing of the Circle. That is where the Rego shows up, and only there, and only then. By that definition, nothing is affected, nothing is “Rego’d”, unless it tries to cross – and then it simply can’t (or simply does, if it’s powerful enough, depending.)

The very first line under the Magical Wards spell description (p 114) is "Rego spells can create wards which protect the target from things of the appropriate Form." So, there, it seems, that would be speaking merely of the beneficiary of the spell (or the recipient of a personal ward), not specifically implying anything about the mage and their companions and grogs who are merely on one side of the Ward or the other. Because, by the description, there is no difference in being on one side or the other of the Circle – it’s a barrier, use as you please.

That description goes on to read: ...These (spells/wards) use the nomral targets, but the target is the thing protected, rather than the things warded against, and the range is the range to the target, not to the things warded against."First, I'll suggest someone forget a capital "T" in at least one of those "targets".

But clearly, this specific type of spell does not work as usual, as any other such spell would. A Personal Ward would be easier to see. Altho’ the Rego with a Personal Ward is listed as targeting an Individual* of the Form in question, something more is clearly going on, and the recipient is in the middle of this magical effect, even if that effect is not targeted “at” them.)

(* A personal Ward is Target:Individual, from Ward Against Wood and other canon personal wards. Note that canon Rego Wards may or may not be a model for other protective spells, such as a Perdo or Muto “ward” – your Saga may vary, use with discretion.)

So – to get back to the question, yes, the Target of the Rego in a Ward Circle is different from normal, from what is expected, but it doesn't seem that it makes any difference as far as target/Target, by definition. The Rego affects the Form, but not the creature or element not until there is contact with the Ward itself, and that Ward exists only at the Ring itself, not on one side or the other. However, the recipient of the spell is defined as "the target". So, apparently, while anyone inside the Ring – creature or magi – is not under the effect, not Rego’d at all, any more than any outside the Ring are, Only when they try to cross it - the spell as defined is still cast "on them".

So the person where the spell is centered is also the Target of the effect, as described on page 114.

With regard to warping, then, the use of the term "target" seems to be both the sense of "the beneficiary" and Target:Individual, because on the one hand, with Wards (only?) a Ring does not affect what is within the Ring, only what tries to cross it, but on the other the beneficiaries are defined as the Targets. It's pretty clear by the definition that otherwise there would be no effect at all within the ring - not for a Ward, or creatures inside would be affected... somehow, instead of only being affected when they try to cross the Ring.

But that does not mean that Warping is completely inappropriate – those within a Circle for a long period, or within a very powerful Circle Ward, may or may not be interpreted as being “the target” in the sense the warping rules intended, but either way they are still arguably within that magical effect, certainly in the case of Personal Wards at least.

(It's magic, it doesn't have to make perfect sense to mundanes like us.) :wink: