Gift of the Bear’s Strength, and Hybrid Transformations using Muto

Thank you to Theomund for the comment on another post which started me thinking about the limits of what Muto Corpus / Animal spells can do, and what the guidelines imply. Initially the suggestion was to use the gorilla as the base animal, however I’ve used a bear in the naming as I think bears are more prolific in medieval Europe and the bear has a very high strength star in the Book of Beasts.

To begin an answer – the MuCo2 baseline which is commonly used for minor transformations an abilities seems far too low to allow for a wholesale change. A full transformation into an animal is MuCo10, and birds or fish is MuCo20, and the themes of Ars Magica seem to imply that moving to a know form (wolf, bird, etc) is easier than a partial or unknown form. So I think a Muto Corpus 15 base is better to represent this type of hybrid man/animal transformation. The transformation might grant a few new attributes or adjustments as long as the additional powers or aspects are very similar and thematic. Further additional magnitudes should allow even more strange abilities, such as combining attributes from different animals.

This is aligned with Gift of the Bear’s Fortitude, which uses a MuCo15 base, which transforms all of the target’s body to grant a combat mechanic advantage and does not use an Animal requisite.

This is very similar to what  I suggested for the Monstrous Transformations of Behemoths and Dragons and also in a Discussion on Muto Transformation Magic in an earlier posts:

(based upon the appropriate guideline for land or sea/air animals) … A few similar thematically alterations only cost +1 mag, but many will cost another +1 mag. So the extra +1 mag allows for say 12-15 powers, where the limited one allows for a few.

This means that once the base level has allowed for an animal transformation, an additional magnitude should allow for a strange transformation (making a rough new MuCo Baseline of 15 for partial transformations), and then a further magnitude should allow for a good spread of physical abilities. I think it’s logical to use the same spells as a guide for a hybrid form; as that is basically what the Behemoth was.

Aside – There has not been a Muto Corpus spell which adds to a stat, probably as it is covered by Creo Corpus although the Ars Magica system seems to allow for many different ways to achieve an end.

New Hermetic Baseline – Muto Corpus 15 – Allows a partial transformation of a human to a land animal, granting aspects of both the animal form and human form. Requisites are probably needed.

New Hermetic Baseline – Muto Corpus 25 – Allows a partial transformation of a human to a sea or air animal, granting aspects of both the animal form and human form. Requisites are probably needed.

A spell transforming with an aspect of animal strength might be as follows. This uses a “partial transformation” of MuCo/An15. This is a useful spell as it allows the target to continue to use human sized weaponry and armor against targets, and not suffer a limitation of striking MR due to an active spell (discussed here).

Gift of the Bear’s Strength

Muto Corpus / Animal 30, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Individual

Changes the target’s body to gain the broad musculature of a bear which enhances their frame, increasing Strength by +3. Equipment and clothing are not altered by this spell and may no longer fit suitably.

(Base 15, +1 Touch, +2 Sun)

A spell to transform into a hybrid creature might be:

Form of Hulking Werebear

Muto Corpus / Animal 30, R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Individual

Transforms the caster into a chimeric blend of man and bear, resulting in a large bipedal hybrid. The humanoid form increases in size by 2 to a maximum of Size +2, retains rudimentary humanoid head, hands and feet, although the gross shape and size change causes most equipment to be difficult to wear. Replace all physical attributes with those of an adult bear (Strength, Stamina, Dexterity, Quickness, and Size) and average Perception, Awareness, and Communication. The bear’s natural claw and bite attacks are halved in effectiveness. Equipment and clothing is not altered by this spell.

(Base 15, +2 Sun, +1 additional attributes and bear themed abilities)

Related link on Ars forums http://forum.atlas-games.com/viewtopic.php?t=32533, and other custom spells for Ars Magica can be found on the new spells page.

 

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Quick example of how to improve a Magi’s lab in Ars Magica

I was initially baffled by how to spec and then alter a Magi’s lab in Ars Magica. These are my cheat notes for how it works… 

A basic rule is for every improvement you want it to make in a lab it probably requires an investment of a season to make the change, and first an additional space. The remaining space is represented by the size less the consumed space, and the process of Refinement adds more space to a lab by reorganising the current content. Essentially the Magus can reorganise the content many times but there is little benefit unless the new space created will be used for something significant. 

This means that a season is needed to refine a lab first, and then whatever enhancement. So most improvements need two or more seasons. In more detail…using an example helps. 

Firstly, a brief description of the initial lab should be written. This fluff allows a common view point for the starting conditions and a basis for expansion.

“The laboratory of Zharkune the Necromancer is located below the ground in one of the Covenant’s cellars. This is accessed by a secured stairway from an antechamber on the tower’s ground level aside the main corridor. Both the antechamber and the downward stairwell are secured by heavy wooden door, the inner door bearing Zharkune’s sancta marker. Inside  the cellar is cold and dark, with no natural light which insulates the lab against outside noises. The lab is standard size, with a two small storage chambers to the north, a side reverie for reading, and an unused but furnished sleeping chamber to the south, as Zharkune also keeps a larger residence in the upper levels of the tower. The ancillary chambers are not considered part of the lab proper, but could be converted for use in the future.”

The second task is to set the initial conditions of the lab, and those are based upon the construction, physical environment, and resources of the covenant. Some labs will start very plain with no special features, but many should start with altered characteristics. Further if the covenant has pervasive aspects like a regio or in an extreme temperature then this should be accounted for.

Laboratory of Zharkune the Necromancer – Starting characteristics. 

Working scores: +2 Safety, +2 Aesthetics, +1 Upkeep, -1 Health, +1 Terram, 

Attributes:

  • Well Insulated (behind two doors and underground): +1 Safety, +1 Aesthetics.
  • Subterranean (cellar): +1 Upkeep, -1 Health, -1 Aesthetics, +1 Terram. 
  • Guard (who protects the outer door): +1 Aesthetics.
  • Superior Construction (a conjured tower): +1 Safety, +1 Aesthetics

Laboratory of Zharkune the Necromancer – Modified characteristics. 

After a brief year (a season of refinement and a season to invest each of the two properties) Zharkune’s lab has become specialised to his tastes. 

Working scores: +2 Refinement, +2 Safety, +4 Aesthetics, +1 Upkeep, +1 Health, +1 Terram, +1 Corpus, +1 Creo, +1 Warping, 

Additional attributes:

  • Specimens (human body parts): kept for study and for reanimation. +1 Upkeep, +1 Aesthetics, +1 Corpus.
  • Preserved (a magical storeroom): which keeps content immune from natural decay. -1 Upkeep, +1 Warping, +2 Health, +1 Aesthetics; +1 Cr.

Advice for lab creation

A common example – a covenant tower created with a magical ritual or sources from some other supernatural source should start with the Superior Construction quality.

Also if the wizards have the option it is far better to create labs which are larger than the standard; meaning a positive size attribute due to initial construction. This is because each new aspect or quality which is added takes up a virtual point of space which is directly linked to size.

Then the players should discuss is any characters wish to gain highly customised aspects (such as a bottomless pit or sentient lab) as this will guide the flavour of the lab going forward.

lab1

I apologise in advance – three Ars Magica Haiku

Just when you thought this blog had moved past peak-nerd we have three (bad) Ars Magica inspired Haiku which are hidden below the read-more fold just in case they are too egregious.

Vogons have nothing on these beauties, and the posting date is indicative of quality too. Continue reading