Spells for Animating statues

An animated statue is a well established theme in fantasy settings. From tome guardians, stone juggernauts, creepy gargoyles, and so on; they’re a feature in countless stories. In Ars Magica rpg all the potential styles create a myriad of potential derivations in spell design. That said, a basic animated stone statue certainly has a “best” way of being performed.

A simple spell for creating a statue, called Likeness in Sculpted Stone, was published in  the Hermes Portal magazine, Issue 14, and is likely to be the best and simplest design for creating a temporary statue. The spell below follows that design, with key differences of extended duration and additional complexity to allow for the final shape of the statue selected when casting the spell instead of copying a specific person.

The Flattering Statue of Man, in Stone

Creo Terram 30, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Ind

This effect creates a life-sized statue, subject to the desires of the caster up to the size of a standard human. The appearance of the statue and the pose is determined when the spell is cast. As the caster chooses the shape, and the resulting statue may be deliberately far more or far less flattering if it is cast to copy a human subject.

A finesse roll determines if the result is a suitable impression, and what the aesthetic value may be; a Finesse skill check of 6+ is needed for a properly formed generic statue (which is suitable for animation, as different from a lumpy abstract sculpture of a person), and a 9+ indicates a specific subject’s appearance is represented by the result. A Finesse check result higher than this increases the aesthetic appeal of the final result, but has no other mechanical ramifications.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +2 elaborate detail, +1 flexible design when cast)

statue-singular

For conparison – a further version of the same spell effect altered to allow for very large statues which are also created permanent (i.e. a ritual spell).

The Wondrous Spectacle of my Heart’s Desire, in Stone

Creo Terram 25, R: Touch, D: Mom, T: Ind, Ritual

This effect creates a complex sculpture in stone subject to the desires of the caster, using up to 100 cubic paces of stone. The appearance of the stone could be a diorama, a single huge statue, or any other form chosen by the caster. This spell can also be used to form permanent immediate defensive walls, bridges, or other structures, due to the flexibility in the spell design.

A finesse roll determines if the result is properly suitable for purpose, and what the aesthetic value may be; a Finesse skill check of 6+ is needed for a properly formed generic statue (as different from a lumpy stone sculpture), and a 9+ indicates a specific subject’s appearance can be well represented in the result. A finesse roll of 12+ indicates the work is both properly formed and truly beautiful.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +2 elaborate detail, +1 flexible design when cast, +2 increased mass)

A secondary potential purpose for this spell is to create a large set of individual statues, each linked via a slim tether of stone to the next when the spell is cast. As presented the The Wondrous Spectacle of Heart’s Desire ritual would create up to 100 statues, which could be then untethered from each other to supply a large warband worth of animated soldiers.

And now that the wizard has a statue it can be animated in a few different ways to become a servant. An effect for animating a statue again from Hermes Portal magazine, Issue 14, page 13:

The Walking Statue

Rego Terram / Muto 20, R: Voice, D: Conc, T: Ind

Animate a stone statue to move as you direct. A statue is very clumsy but also very strong. Its combat statistics are Initiative -2, Attack +5, and Damage +6. While animated it is immune to most weapons but heavy, blunt weapons may be able to damage it at the storyguide’s option (its suggested Defense is +1 and its Soak, +12).

Besides fighting, the statue can be a useful servant. It is tireless and very strong. It is immune to hazards like poison and fire, so some magi use animated statues to perform certain laboratory work. When the spell ends, the statue freezes into its current position, which may be different from its original position.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +1 Conc, +1 affect stone, +1 precise control, +1 Muto)

I really like these types of spells, which evoke a truly mythic thematic style for Ars Magica. I can see this spell as an alternative to the Unseen Arm, and useful for a range of purposes. The trick I don’t like with this spell is the Duration and the fact that the statue will follow very simple commands while the caster concentrates but cannot act unto itself at all. If the caster ceases concentrating it will end, and I have in mind a stone servant.

Reworked – here is an alternative version with longer duration and added sentience, which turns the statue into a useful servant.

The Animated Statue, of Stone

Rego Terram / Muto Mentem 40, R: Voice, D: Moon, T: Ind

This effect animates a stone statue so it can move and and grants the statue a basic form of intelligence, akin to that of a dull human. A statue is clumsy but also very strong. Its combat statistics are Initiative -2, Attack +5, and Damage +6. While animated it is immune to most weapons but heavy, blunt weapons may be able to damage it at the storyguide’s option (its suggested Defense is +1 and its Soak, +12).

When the spell expires, the statue freezes into its current position.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +3 Moon, +1 affect stone, +1 precise control, +1 Muto, +1 Mentem)

I was considering the spell could be invented as Muto Terram with Mentem requisite, and forego the Rego component, as other Muto spells allow the affected target to also gain motion (such as Stir the Slumbering Tree (MuHe25) see Ars page 137). In this case the form is essentially nonliving matter which is gaining additional motion and intellect, so I chose to pay heartily in the spell design for the final spell effect; it is arguably 5 or so levels less depending on the interpretation of how difficult the base effect should be, or how hard it is to awaken stone to intelligence. With a final effect level of 40 it feels more than enough to address meta-game and power-game issues.

The caster might need to disguise the statue as a normal person for use around mundanes, and a Muto Imagonem effect will do, like Disguise of the Transformed Image (MuIm15) (Ars p146). A sarcastic magus might opt for this as their default shield grog.

Variations could be made for a range of metals by redesigning the animation spell to be +1 magnitudes higher. I am unsure how prolific bronze statues were in the period, and if unheard of, there will also need to be a spell to create a likeness in bronze, steel, etc.

The Animated Statue, of Bronze

Rego Terram / Muto Mentem 45, R: Voice, D: Moon, T: Ind

This effect animates a bronze statue so it can move and and grants the statue a basic form of intelligence, akin to that of a dull human. A statue is clumsy but also very strong. Its combat statistics are Initiative -2, Attack +5, and Damage +6. While animated it is immune to most weapons but heavy, blunt weapons may be able to damage it at the storyguide’s option (its suggested Defense is +1 and its Soak, +12).

When the spell expires, the statue freezes into its current position.

(Base 3, +2 Voice, +3 Moon, +2 affect metal, +1 precise control, +1 Muto, +1 Mentem)

The Flattering Statue of Man, in Bronze

Creo Terram 35, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Ind

This effect creates a life-sized statue, subject to the desires of the caster up to the size of a standard human. The appearance of the statue and the pose is determined when the spell is cast. As the caster chooses the shape, and the resulting statue may be deliberately far more or far less flattering if it is cast to copy a human subject.

A finesse roll determines if the result is a suitable impression, and what the aesthetic value may be; a Finesse skill check of 6+ is needed for a properly formed generic statue (which is suitable for animation, as different from a lumpy abstract sculpture of a person), and a 9+ indicates a specific subject’s appearance is represented by the result. A Finesse check result higher than this increases the aesthetic appeal of the final result, but has no other mechanical ramifications.

(Base 3, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +1 for metals, +2 elaborate detail, +1 flexible design when cast)


Aside – if you are interested in Ars Magica and have not picked up copies of Hermes Portal magazine (now out of print, but in pdf) or the Sub Rosa magazine (very much alive and well); then you’re missing out on great content.

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