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  • Spell Factors Explanation

    Hello there so after a bit of problematic journey with CoD 2e I finally got Mage 2e and I gotta say I actually really like the rules in the book. I also really like Reach and the general idea of Spell Factors and such.

    That said, I am not entirely sure how Reach and Spell Factor upgrades relate. This isn't me not liking it but rather me not being sure of how to implement its non-math math.

    So basically, while I get that Reach lets one go from the standard to the advanced in the charts and also boosts certain other traits the big question is how does one push up within the chart's themselves. The example they give doesn't entirely equate as they say Forces 3 which means it should let one boost upward two slots, but then they say 5 turns and that is three slots, and then they say -2 penalty but that is the 2 turns slot, so yeah, confusion.

    In an attempt to figure this out first before posting this, I tried searching both Spell Factor and Reach in this page and while some interesting elements were posted nothing truly leads me to go "ah, so that is how it is".

    I guess the basic thing is that Reach just lets one go from standard to advanced in each chart, but it doesn't boost the movement within the chart's themselves. Arcana Rank does that, though at a dot minus one. But then only the Primary, and not the others, which seems weird to me.

    This actually leads me to a question, so, is there a good reason why Scale cannot become a primary spell factor and thus benefit from 'free' increases?

    But yeah, how does a spell get figured out with Reach and Spell Factors and modifying things along the way.

    That said, it took me years many many years ago to figure out how Ars Magica did its whole big magical system and when Ii finally did it was like a bright light eureka moment and so I figure that will happen here.

  • #2
    Hello,

    For Reach and Spell Factors, you first determine which Spell Factors needs to go to Advanced and use Reach accordingly. Then, you set the Spell Factors, taking the appropriate penalty to the spellcasting roll.

    The text is not very clear about this, but you choose the penalty before applying the free boost for the Spell Factor. This is clearer in the Spellcasting Quick Reference at the end of the rulebook (starting page 325).

    In the example, you want a Duration of 5 turns on a Forces Spell you cast with Forces 3. To do this, you first take a -2 penalty to advance 1 step in the Standard Duration chart, and then you apply the free boost from Forces 3, putting the Duration to 5 turns.
    Last edited by Enmai; 10-17-2020, 08:38 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Enmai View Post
      Hello,

      For Reach and Spell Factors, you first determine which Spell Factors needs to go to Advanced and use Reach accordingly. Then, you set the Spell Factors, taking the appropriate penalty to the spellcasting roll.

      The text is not very clear about this, but you choose the penalty before applying the free boost for the Spell Factor. This is clearer in the Spellcasting Quick Reference at the end of the rulebook (starting page 325).

      In the example, you want a Duration of 5 turns on a Forces Spell you cast with Forces 3. To do this, you first take a -2 penalty to advance 1 step in the Standard Duration chart, and then you apply the free boost from Forces 3, putting the Duration to 5 turns.

      Okay. Thanks for the information. I appreciate it and think I got it.

      I think that makes no sense, the whole take penalty before taking free, but yeah, okay, I see how that would be rules as written.

      I mean seriously, if I have three free raises then I should be able to go from 1 turn (the base) to the 5 turns with no dice penalty. But if I want to make it 10 turns then I pay the -2 penalty because its one step above my free points.

      Is this something that is House Rules a lot, cause it seems like it would be.

      As an aside what stops me from saying "I'm not taking any penalty and then use my two free raises to go to 3 turns."

      As a related question. I spend Reach to shift Duration to the Advanced Duration chart. Using the same spell as above, Force 3, I now have a spell that lasts One Month for -2 dice penalty.

      Or for One Week at no penalty.

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      • #4
        Your spell casting pool is [Main Arcanum]+Gnosis. Dice penalties can be applied to this pool to get extra factors, normally at a rate of -2 to move it one step further. So -2 for one step, -4 for two steps, etc.

        All factors start at the first level of each chart, or of their advanced chart if a Reach was used. Primary factors get a boost of Arcanum-1 steps. Which means a Potency primary spell with [Arcanum] 3 starts at the third step, at the fourth atep with Arcanum 4, etc.

        Scale is not a primary factor because Withstand would make it shrink, which would render the resisting entities outside it, which would cause it to expand and so on. There is no elegant mechanical solution to codify those rules.

        Hope that helps clarify it.


        New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.

        The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists (Mind/Time)
        The Szary Strażnik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate (Fate/Prime)

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        • #5
          KaiserAfini thank you. That does help yeah. It makes sense as written. So yeah I kind of get it now.

          Rereading Withstanding a few more times leads me to a place where I am not entirely sure about it. It seems to be its own thing rather than something similar to how other supernatural powers are resisted, and that adds a sort of confused mess I think. I mean I might be wrong of course but that is what I first thing.

          That all said I gotta say I really love the Reach mechanic, like really love it. It is such a clean cut way of doing things. The same with the spells in the book. They are so much more clear and clean then in 1e. Its really cool.

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          • #6
            The order of applying penalties or free steps makes zero practical difference. The book may be written with a specific order in mind, but it's not wrong to do it however you like, as long as you remember that each step is a -2 penalty.


            "For example, a Forces spell with a primary spell factor of Dura-
            tion would last for 5 turns when cast by a mage with her Forces
            Arcanum rated at 3 and a –2 penalty to her casting roll."

            Two free steps plus one step from taking a -2 penalty equals three steps no matter which order you do it.


            And yes, steps carry over to Advanced Factors.


            Bloodline: The Stygians
            Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
            Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Tessie View Post
              The order of applying penalties or free steps makes zero practical difference. The book may be written with a specific order in mind, but it's not wrong to do it however you like, as long as you remember that each step is a -2 penalty.


              "For example, a Forces spell with a primary spell factor of Dura-
              tion would last for 5 turns when cast by a mage with her Forces
              Arcanum rated at 3 and a –2 penalty to her casting roll."

              Two free steps plus one step from taking a -2 penalty equals three steps no matter which order you do it.


              And yes, steps carry over to Advanced Factors.

              Awesome. Thanks.

              I kind of wish that the example didn't have the -2 penalty aspect to it and just said Forces 3 leads to 3 turns of effect at full dices. But if they wanted to make it last 5 turns it would be at a -2 penalty. I think that example would clear up a bit more problems.

              I also like how a Forces 3 spell with 1 Reach spent on advanced duration could last One Week with no penalty. Thats very nice.

              But I get it now.

              Its funny before I got knee deep into the spells themselves my immediate thought went "well if reach can't be used for spell factors then there doesn't seem much to do with them' and then I got to the spells and was like "oh, okay." hehe There is plenty of stuff to do with it.

              I still think Scale should become potentially a Primary Spell Factor but I will wait till I fully read and digest everything.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by KaiserAfini View Post
                Scale is not a primary factor because Withstand would make it shrink, which would render the resisting entities outside it, which would cause it to expand and so on. There is no elegant mechanical solution to codify those rules.
                Withstand is only checked against potency, even if Duration is the primary factor.

                Originally posted by MtAw 2e pg114
                Withstood spells reduce their Potency by levels
                equal to the Withstand rating. If this leaves the spell with no
                levels in Potency, it still counts as an active spell against spell
                control but has no further effect.
                Scale isn't a primary factor because Dave decided it wasn't.
                Last edited by proindrakenzol; 10-18-2020, 12:00 AM.


                Mentats - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Mind/Forces) built around being a human computer; Thaumatech Engineers - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Matter/Prime) focusing on the creation of Imbued items and the enhancement of Sleeper technology

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by LordHeru View Post
                  I still think Scale should become potentially a Primary Spell Factor but I will wait till I fully read and digest everything.
                  A spell's primary factor is the spell factor that allows it to do the thing that it does. Making Scale a primary factor on any spell means that the no-frills version of that spell lasts for one turn and operates at the absolute lowest level of effectiveness, to the point where if it's Withstood at all it does absolutely nothing.


                  Resident Lore-Hound
                  Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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                  • #10

                    Originally posted by proindrakenzol View Post

                    Withstand is only checked against potency, even if Duration is the primary factor.

                    Scale isn't a primary factor because Dave decided it wasn't.
                    It really does seem that way actually.

                    Have you seen House Rules that change that. I don't want to start messing with such things yet as I am still figuring out all the rules. hehe

                    Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                    A spell's primary factor is the spell factor that allows it to do the thing that it does. Making Scale a primary factor on any spell means that the no-frills version of that spell lasts for one turn and operates at the absolute lowest level of effectiveness, to the point where if it's Withstood at all it does absolutely nothing.
                    I mean I can see what your saying but even with just a quick read through I think that is not true - Mind spells designed for allies could easily have Scale be the Primary Factor. You cast a spell with low potency but high scale on a bunch of friends that all accept the spell and now you have the equivalent of a battle mind.

                    I could probably find others where in some ways duration and potency isn't the super focus but area of effect is.

                    That all said basically my thing is less that Scale should be a Primary Factor (though it should) but that it would be cool if other factors should also get some free steps along the factor chart. Basically I think powerful mages should be able to manipulate more things in a spell. This could be from Reach or it could be from something else.

                    ----

                    As a random question when a spell like Pocket Dimension says Add Time oo is that a reference to the Combined Spell rules or something else. (I think Combined spell but just want to make sure.)

                    Speaking of the above, I got to Pocket Dimension and now I want to have one in game. hehe

                    So i just bought a pod and pdf combo of Signs of Sorcery cause even with only having the book in my hands for less than half a day I am really loving 2e.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by LordHeru View Post
                      As a random question when a spell like Pocket Dimension says Add Time oo is that a reference to the Combined Spell rules or something else. (I think Combined spell but just want to make sure.)
                      A combined spell is two separate spells cast as a single spell with shared spell factors. "Add/Substitute [Arcanum]" just means that if you have the relevant additional Arcana you can add related effects to a spell.


                      Resident Lore-Hound
                      Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                        A combined spell is two separate spells cast as a single spell with shared spell factors. "Add/Substitute [Arcanum]" just means that if you have the relevant additional Arcana you can add related effects to a spell.

                        Ooooh really. okay. So honestly I origionally thought that, I know what I said but bear with me, but then I thought that was too easy and so I went the more complicated route. But I really like the idea that by simply having the other Arcana at the requisite level you can add the effects without any issue or needed reach increase or effect, it just is there. That is really cool to me.

                        So I am glad that that is how its set up.

                        Thanks!
                        Last edited by LordHeru; 10-18-2020, 02:03 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Here's my heuristic on what should be the primary spell factor for Creative Thaumaturgy: If the spell should be Withstood (i.e. some aspect of the subject is likely to pose an obstacle to the spell's influence) then the primary factor is usually Potency to overcome that resistance. Otherwise, the primary spell factor is Duration so that the spell lasts longer. So the primary spell factor is the one that is most critical for the spell to do anything meaningful. Considered that way, Scale is more of a "nice to have."

                          This is an important paragraph on the subject:

                          Most narrative effects will care less for Potency than for Scale, Range, and other spell factors. However, if the effect could have varying degrees of success (consider trying to calm a hurricane: There’s a whole range of possibilities between “nothing happens” and “a dead calm”), the Storyteller should establish Potency requirements. The guidelines for determining the number of successes required on an extended action provide a good rule of thumb.
                          One thing that confused me for quite awhile coming from 1e was the difference between Combined Spells and single spells that incorporate multiple Arcana. It's an intentional design decision of 2e for spells to use a single Arcanum in the overwhelming common case. In the context of Creative Thaumaturgy, it mostly only comes up for complex Patterning spells:

                          A spell that transforms the target into something that falls within the Purview of another Arcanum, like transforming into a living pillar of fire (Life and Forces), requires a mage to know the Practice of Patterning for the destination Arcanum.
                          1e often required at least two Arcana for spells: e.g. one Arcanum reflecting the nature of the effect and one Arcanum reflecting the nature of the spell's subject. The published spells for 2e rarely utilize multiple Arcana. And... these cases where they do are not super consistent. Many of them, I feel, would be better done through a Combined Spell, multiple sequential spells, or Reach effects. Using multiple Arcana in spells you create yourself is almost always an overcomplication; the rubrics for doing so are not even described in the Creative Thaumaturgy section (with the above-noted exception).

                          In fact, the subsection "Determine Arcanum and Practice" reads "determine which Arcanum and which Practice the spell falls under" as if using multiple Arcana in a single spell isn't even an option that should occur to you.
                          Last edited by galivet; 10-18-2020, 08:33 PM.

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                          • #14
                            So yeah, I see what is going on and I get why they might have done it that way, but at the same time I am not really sure I like it being that way. But I will withhold full judgement until I get a better grasp of the system.

                            That said, I do wonder, if there are say Merits or features or whatnot that grant more free Reach or Spell Factor raises, or lets them be spread out a bit wider.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by LordHeru View Post
                              That said, I do wonder, if there are say Merits or features or whatnot that grant more free Reach or Spell Factor raises, or lets them be spread out a bit wider.
                              Yes and no.

                              Any Merit that gives you access to a more potent than normal Yantra (such as Shadow Name) gives you more dice, which means you can take larger penalties for higher factors. There are places that negate or reduce the risk of Paradox from overreaching, which is effectively free Reach.

                              But having the amount of Reach available to you safely is a major core component of the game, most Paradox will be from overreaching to achieve the effect you want, so ways of making that less of a problem should be difficult or costly.


                              Mentats - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Mind/Forces) built around being a human computer; Thaumatech Engineers - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Matter/Prime) focusing on the creation of Imbued items and the enhancement of Sleeper technology

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