Transformation into Gargantuan Creatures, Part Five. Cheating MR

Continuing from Part One, Two, Three, and Four

The rant I wrote at the introduction to this series has been bothering me a little. The Ars Magica rules are fair and reasonable, and solid in terms of they’ve not had a large degree of change since the very early days in terms of how Magical Resistance (a.k.a. MR) and Parma Magica worked. The rant is a criticism of that design, but I openly acknowledge that the game gave fair open warning to that aspect.

So what options does a transformation wizard have to still have wonderful and exciting forms, but also actually attack and defend themselves against opponents with MR?

Firstly defense is very (mostly) simple. In most interpretations of the MR rules a creature not under an active magical effect, or using an effect which is part of their essential nature (say a passive regeneration power in a supernatural bear) will be able to ignore the defending Magi’s MR, as the effect is “natural enough” to it’s essential nature.

There are some variations in the edge casts regarding the Pink Dot effect, but generally most games ignore those who use the pink dot techniques.

For attacking the rules are very strict with regard to penetrating MR. Essentially the attacker cannot “touch” the target because their attack stops short because the magic of the transformation cannot work through the defenders MR.

But for a moment consider a sturdy shield grog who happens to be carrying a few nasty but mundane weapons. That grog can kill a person with MR if they can get close enough, and no amount of MR will assist. The grog simply has to hurt the person the old fashion way, using their weapon of choice – say a nice sharp axe. That grog can also be teleported by magic behind the target, enhanced with magic to be physically stronger or tougher (ala Gift of the Bear’s Fortitude), and also be wearing magical equipment and they can still swing and hit the defender as normal, because the axe isn’t enchanted. Seems a fair way to kill a wizard, or a creature with MR.

This means that a person transformed or enhanced using hermetic magic can still strike and harm a defender with MR when they use a weapon that is mundane, or a part of their body is specifically not transformed (say a fist, foot, or face), or a mundane weapon is incorporated into it the form but the magic is not active upon it.

Here is a scenario – a special set of steel bear claws are crafted, think of them like a large set of fighting claws. Then the crafty wizard designs a hermetic spell is specifically to transform the target into a large hulking giant, and uses the bear claws in the design. When the attacker swings the claws will not be resisted, as they are not part of the spell.

When this scenario is expanded for the use with huge transformation spells it means that the caster needs to have crafted weapons appropriate to the form and design the spell with them in mind; and also need to have them on hand when casting.

That could be a Rego based craft spell to customise them in short order depending on size needed; but generally the caster should do some prep. Or they could be crafted well in advance, and then use Muto magics as lesser enchanted devices to transform them into something small an innocuous, and the caster ends the spell when the huge weapons are needed.

It is complex, but it means the 40 foot long dragon might actually have teeth, tail and claws that can inflict real damage to any opponent, not just a mundane target. A weapon set could be crafted as always present, magically hidden, and then appear to hand when needed but then be a normal mundane item with no active magic.

A cheat for MR? Kind of. Certainly better than fusking around with the MR rules.

Continue reading Part Six

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Transformation into Gargantuan Creatures, Part Three. The Leviathan

Continuing from – Transformation into Gargantuan Creatures – Part Two

Part Three – The Leviathan, a great denizen of the the deep.

A leviathan is common in myth, and could be viewed one of the variety of sea monsters, kraken, the Loch Ness monster, a natural alpha creature above sharks, or even constructed as a mega-shark.

The artwork reflects a quasi-sinister aspect of the creatures, and implies that many of the creatures have many multiple limbs, vicious teeth, and crushing powers. Some versions are still very fish or whale like, or sea turtles, or squid like, with others tending toward an under-sea dragons.

(a) Breathing underwater – is the first obvious ability, and either an additional option for fish-like gills or a huge capacity to hold its breath will do. I like the addition of gills as a secondary breathing method as it allows the lungs and voice to potentially still be present.

(b) Multiple limbs with specialised purposes – these could be the tentacles of a kraken, secondary grappling limbs, or still allow for arm and claw type limbs on a sea creature. Perhaps the creature can sense and see through it’s additional limbs, detect minor changes in temperate, or smell over great distances, akin to sharks.

(c) Underwater tail, fins, etc for propulsion – the beast needs to reflect a style of swimming. A huge tail, controlling fins, and all the small streamlining changes should be bundled together to form an aspect of the creature, so that it is essentially aquatic.

(d) Senses altered to suit aquatic environments. The creature should be thought of as an aquatic beast, but may then also be able to see, feel, smell, touch outside water as well. The artwork often has the monsters raising themselves out of the water as they attack, so they need to function in air as well as underwater.

This may be better facilitated in the creature by adding additional sensory organs into the design, which grant the abilities. i.e. The creature uses one set of eyes when above the surface, and another below. When using it’s underwater sense it should not have an penalties to perception.

(e) Crushing Grip and Deep Pull – this style of ability allows the form to grapple and crush a target, and draw it downward into the water. This should inflict damage proportional to the creatures size, and is mentioned specifically so that the form can also break apart boats or hold foes while it swims downward. The kraken has a mythic ability to entangle a ship and then pull it downward, using the water to kill the inhabitants.

(e) Tolerance for freezing oceans – the form is well insulated which means it can swim and function normally in even the coldest oceans and seas for very long periods.

(f) Cloud of Ink – this ability grants the form a reusable reserve of black ink which it uses to create a large murky slick within the water. This has the effect or blocking all normal vision in the effected area. The ability should only be usable once or twice before needing to be “recharged” over an extended period.

The size of the slick should be enough to comfortably envelop the size of the new form and the surrounding area, up to around ten times it’s volume. This grants enough room for the creature to flee. Optionally the ink may also have other side effects such as a revolting smell, or overly sticky.

(g) Universal Digestion – the form can digest almost any biological material for nutrition. This may mimic whale feeding on krill, or just ensure that other fish eaten will provide proper sustenance. This may assist the caster surviving in an otherwise hostile environment for extended periods.

The design of the transformation effect must increased to allow for the reference of many powers being both animalistic and aquatic in nature, which uses the Muto Corpus level 20 guideline.

Form of the Agile Leviathan

Muto Corpus / Animal 40, R: Personal, D: Diameter, T: Ind

The caster is transformed into a large (up to size 4) sea monster.

A green and blue scaled serpentine body, sleekly shaped for efficient underwater movement. Two stout forelimbs with grasping hands, and finned rear limbs used to add maneuverability in water. It also has a long neck and tail.

The  physical form as the following aspects: breathing underwater through axillary gills, enhanced underwater olfactory and visual perception, a set of six smooth long tentacles which can be used to grip and entwine, and long powerful tail to allow swimming at great speeds, a toughened skin which resists cold, and human-like speech.

(Base 20 size change into an aquatic for flying animal of max size +1, +2 D: Sun, +1 for an additional 3 size ranks, +1 for a limited set of physical abilities)

The purpose of this version is to provide a shape which can be used for undersea exploration rather than brute force.

In the design of this Leviathan effect there is less emphasis on the raw size of the creature and variety in its form. I also chose to make the effect last for Duration:Sun instead of a shorter time due to the risk of being caught underwater when the effect expired. This helps to counterbalance the increased base cost of transformation into an aquatic animal.

A larger and scarier version could be created by adding further size ranks, and dropping the spell duration down. This change from a MuCo/An40 spell effect for size 4, up to a size +10 beast at using a level 45 effect. At that size the creature can easily swallow or crush other large creatures.

Continue reading – Part Four.