casting spells/using abilities in animal shape

I also posted this in general discussions forum, but I repost it here in the hope for a reply.

Hi Folks!
I'm sure this issue is carified somewhere in the forum, but after some time-consuming search I still can't find proper information regarding casting/using abilities in another shape then human. Apart from the issues of magic resistence penetration and form, which is clearly determined in mystery cults.

  1. Question
    If you cast a spell (spontanous or formularic) in animal shape lets say bear form, to which stats relates the casting total formula? To the stats of human form, stats of bear form or the combined stats of human/bear determined in mystery cults (p. 23 statistics of shapechangers)

  2. Question
    If you fastcast a spell in animal shape lets say eagle, do I get the Quickness of the eagle or of the human form to determine Fast Casting Speed?

  3. Question
    Determining form of magical effect, do I use animal stats for perception (an eagle has very good eyes..) and awareness, or the human shape stats? Or for aiming spells formula: Perception + Finesse, do I use perception of eagleform or human form (regarding to maystery cults you're allowed to use arcane/academic abilities, so I assume you can use finesse)

  4. Question
    ranges for casting spells: Range vision: Sight of an eagle is much better than sight of human shape, how does it behave while spellcasting to determine casting range for sight spells. For voice range its always 50 paces as far as I understood, independend of the "type/loudness" of voice, but for sight-range??

regarding the questions above, is there a difference beetween the following three types?

  1. as a shapeshifter ( maj. sup. virtue) ?

  2. in heartbeast-form ?

  3. while having MuAn -Effect to shapechange: ?

  4. Question
    If you temporarily increase Sta, due to creo magic, does it influence casting total or is it restricted by limit of essential nature? Is it a difference if I permanently increase Sta due to a creo corpus ritual? Do I change the essential nature with this ritual? How about permanent Int Increase due to Creo Mentem Ritual, does it influence Lab Totals? If not, why should I increase Stats with rituals then?

I hope somebody more experienced than me can help me understand the rules better than I do right now.

HoH:MC has in the Bjornar chapter rules for calcualting the characteristics of a Bjornaer magus in heartbeast form (also says 'and other shapeshifters'), derived both him human stats and those for the normal animal. Page 23.
Basically if both human and animal stats are negative, use the lower. If both are positive, use the higher. Otherwise add them together.
So a weak human taking the shape of a strong animal makes for a weaker than average type of this animal. A strong human taking the shape of a weak animal makes for a more formidable version. But a strong human changing into a strong animal does not become stronger than the strongest of the two, and vice versa.

This was simplified using Strength as an example, use other words instead of strong and weak for the other stats.


In general, you use all the Characteristics of your animal form when in that shape, and all the Characteristics of your human form when in that shape. So yes, you would use the bear's Stamina for spellcasting, etc.

There's nothing to indicate that the manner in which you changed form affects this; so the result is the same for Heartbeast, Shapeshifter, Skinchanger, and MuCo(An). Personally; I treat spell-like transformations (including Skinchanger but excluding Heartbeast and Shapeshifter) differently; the transformed person just gets the stats of the animal form, not adjusted by the human scores as per HoH:MC. But that's mostly convenience; spells tend to get used on lots of different people and I don't want to have to recalculate their stats every time. Someone who has chosen the Heartbeast or Shapeshifter Virtue has made a major decision about the type of game they want to play, and deserve to reap the rewards. Furthermore, it is likely to come up a lot.

As far as your 4th question; the spell Eyes of the Eagle specifies that it doesn't allow you to see further, just more clearly. I tend to assume that this is how an eagle's eyesight works in Mythic Europe, so R: Sight is not necessarily affected by shape. However, since I would penalize a badger's R: Sight in bright daylight, I don't see why an eagle shouldn't get a benefit if you wanted.

If you temporarily or permanently increase your Characteristics with CrCo / CrMe magic, then you would use the new score in all totals. As you say; if you didn't, then why would you do it? I prefer not to see these spells as affecting your Essential Nature (after all, they wouldn't work if they did), rather they allow you to use the full potential of your nature. The limit of +5 in a stat is imposed by Essential Nature, in my view. However, these spells do seem to be on the edge of Hermetic theory; I know some people ban them entirely.



Big thanks for your precise and quick answers. Sometimes all you need, is the affirmation that your previous thoughts were correct. All you said perfectly fits into "my world of AM-Understanding".
Cheers, G.

A Spell with voice range can reach up to 50 pace if the caster shouts, if he uses firm words its 15 pace only (ARM5 Page 112). Voice: There is also stated “Magical enhancement does not increase this range, and a spell cast silently at this range can only affect the caster.
In my point of view a Magus in animal form including a Heartbeast can use range voice (with penalties and or without in case of virtues like quiet casting) but in that case the effective range is Per. Only!

As the Heartbeast seems to be more 'natural' than normal magical enhancements, one would think that a lion Bjornaer would have a greater Voice range.

Slippery slope, to give certain animals a greater range than others. And some animals (even within the same species) are rather quiet voiced by nature. Best to leave 15 paces for firm voice and 50 for shouting period, as a kind of Hermetic distance limit, and it can also be mitigated by inventing sight versions of spells.

I think what you are saying is that a magus can utter a sound and take a penalty for not using Hermetic words in casting the magic, but using the voice, either firm voice or a shout, to project it to the desired distance. Does that sound right? If that is the case, I agree completely and it's even stated explicitly in the Mute flaw description that a magus can make sounds but has a -10 to spell casting, which can be offset by Quiet Magic.

The Voice range is the distance your words could be heard. If you use no voice at all it has range Personal. So better use this range in case you do a spontaneous spell. The louder you speak the higher is your range( up to 50 pace).
If you cannot form words because you are mute or in animal form you have a penalty of -10. If you have quiet magic twice the penalty is reduced to zero. Now the interesting question is: if you cannot form real words (Mute or animal form or Twist of the Tongue) will you be still able to cast spells with voice range as usual? I see it like this: If you cannot speak you form the words in your mind even if you make some noise or utter some sound this doesn’t carry your words. So the effective range is only personal. If you are a Magus with the Mute flaw and the quite Magic virtue you should design your spells with different ranges sight touch etc.
This is just how I handled it in my group. And yes that’s very strict. :smiling_imp:

My interpretation is just the opposite - if you are vocalizing in your spellcasting, Voice range will carry as far as the sound, even if you're transformed and the sound is a lion's roar rather than a proper hermetic incantation. In that case, you could potentially have both the -10 casting penalty for "no words" and the 50 pace range for a "loud voice". Your voice is still loud, even if it does not form words.

And it doesn't matter whether you use words or not, because it's your voice being heard. Any sound will do, since any sound your larynx makes is your voice.

Right, if you can't speak the words, you have a penalty of 10.

It doesn't have to carry your words, your voice has to carry. You even said it above, the distance your voice could be heard. Why does it have to be words? Why can't it be a sound? Again, it's made explicit that it's the range of the caster's voice, not the words. The words are important only so far as calculating a penalty to the casting total if the magus is unable to make the Hermetic words, not whether his words reach the target. Your ruling also has a logical inconsistency, if the target of a spell is deaf, by this understanding the voice can never reach him, and so should be immune to Hermetic voice range spells.

No, it's not, it's made explicit in the Mute flaw, and also explained in the Spells section on the Voice range, that it's the range that a magus's voice carries, not how far the words carry. Voice and words are two different things, and for the purposes of voice range spells you are making them the same.

It's strict and not logically consistent, it's a House Rule, not even something that could be called an interpretation of RAW, IMO. The RAW is clear, a Mute magus can vocalize sounds to reach targets at Voice range, but since he can't form Hermetic words, he's at a -10 penalty. I will admit that I deduce that all magi can do this, because why not? This makes the utility of the Quiet Magic virtue and Quiet casting spell mastery worthwhile, while your interpretation also neuters those virtues. Also, Voice Range specifically doesn't mention words carrying, the words are necessary for the magus, they are not necessary for the recipient.
Such a rule as yours requires the target to hear the words. Deaf people are therefore immune to Hermetic magic Voice range spells. I want to be a Deaf magus...

IT's explicit in RAW that Voice Range is 15/50 paces for firm/shouting voice, in the Voice section of the Spells chapter. IT's explicit that Magi need to speak Hermetic words, or take a penalty to their casting total, of -5 or -10. It's explicit that a Mute magus can make sounds loud enough to reach Voice range targets, but incurs the penalty of not being able to speak the Hermetic words, therefore any magus should be able to do the same.

Humans can variably be quiet voiced by nature, so we aren't differentiating things that minutely. We've established that intelligible speech isn't required for Voice range magic, and lacking sound prevents it from carrying. Therefore it's not slippery slope so much as expecting a vague nod toward consistency; is it the character's Voice carrying the magic or not?

That is not the language of firm, hard limits.

No, we aren't. You are, by saying a lion should have a greater range than other heartbeasts. What I am saying, is that by and large, Hermetic spells have a range of 15 paces, 50 paces, if shouting. What you are wanting to do is give a lion, or other "loud" creature a greater range. To contrast that a quieter creature should have a shorter range. Do you really want to do that, and what does it gain you? Isn't it just simpler to say that Hermetic voice magic has a 15/50 foot range

I will grant you that the language you quoted (and please include the source of that quote next time, because it took me a bit to figure out where you pulled it from) isn't a firm and hard limit. I don't see that it was necessarily designed to be, because their could be environmental factors that could change these limits, but I do see it as a limit of Hermetic magic voice spells being generally limited to 15 paces for normal voice and 50 paces for shouting, unless there are circumstances outside of the magus's control that change it. Meaning, environmental factors, and not factors such as having a heartbeast that's particularly loud voiced.

The slippery slope, is trying to mix and match the loudness/quietness of various creatures to come up with ranges for the relative loudness of animals. I hear mourning doves cooing during the summer, and I know their nest is about 100 yards from my house. Does that mean that their standard voice range is 100 paces? In this instance, an arbitrary limit is better than trying to monkey with the limits based on how loud an animal is.

I am not. A typical lion's roar is well over an order of magnitude from a typical human's shout (114dB vs 88dB); it's not minute to account for that. Just like it's expected that a fish heartbeast can't reasonably cast Voice range spells because they don't have a voice. If you're letting turtles, giraffes, and salmon be able to cast at 50 paces, then you're at least being consistent.

But you want it to be a hard and fast limit? Environmental factors are dramatically harder to evaluate than animal volume, which we can actually reasonably get information on; and I would think the person's voice is a greater factor when the rules explicitly cite noisy environments as not able to impact the range of a magus's Voice.

And I can hear people at the end of a 100 metre track, so it's obviously got hacks going in. I'd rather be arbitrary with something as objective as animal volumes than already arbitrary ones like environmental acoustic design.

Interestingly, the typical human speaking voice at 5 paces and shouting at 50 are both around 42dB.

Agreed about the hacks.

Going back to the lion example, lions already have a lot of advantages as a heartbeast. It seems... excessive to put another advantage of greater range than any other animal might get. And other animals can make sounds, every mammal can make vocal sounds, fish can make sounds through manipulating parts of their bodies, as can turtles, giraffes, since you mentioned them, whistle. It's simplest to just say 15/50 for firm/shouting voice, period. Is it arbitrary? Yeah. Is it reasonable? Yes. Is it reasonable to take all the different animals and figure out what their firm/shouting ranges should be? For me, that would be a no.

I would rather that the limit be hard and fast across the domain of magi, because it allows the players to create magi with the same level of capabilities as anyone else. I dislike the idea of a Bjornaer magus with Quiet Magic x2, to get around the words issue, being able to fling Pila of Fire from 50/100 feet just because he has a loud roar. That's one possible consequence of giving a lion's voice greater Hermetic range. Now, as to environmental conditions, that's the SG's domain. And if the party is in a labyrinth, could their voice carry beyond 15/50 feet? Very possibly, but that's the SG's decision, and it would, apply to all of he magi present...

I definitely agree with your preference, less for matters of "balance" than simply because, as a GM/SG, I prefer to avoid having to deal with things like coming up with a ton of character-specific sets of ranges. Too much work for too little benefit.

However... there is precedent in canon for something like different Voice ranges for magi transformed into different animal forms:

If a character with Performance Magic (Music) can extend Voice range beyond 50 paces by playing an extremely loud horn/drum/gong/bell/etc., then it would seem consistent that a character with Heartbeast (Lion) could do the the same by roaring. In both cases, the potential for extended Voice range comes about as a side-effect of a Minor Virtue, so it could even be considered balanced, since they needed to pay the Virtue for the ability - although a character simply MuCo'ed into a lion would not have paid anything, so the question remains open of whether they should also get extended Voice range if Heartbeast (Lion) gets it.

Again, much simpler to just houserule that the TMRE quote doesn't apply and Voice caps at 50 paces, no matter what...

I have to admit that I was wrong about the voice range. Thanks to the hint to the Mute flaw its clearly stated that even a Magus with the Mute Flaw can reach normal voice range. I think I have to discuss this with my group :frowning:

It probably hasn't as made a great impact on your stories, as of yet. Ars has several of these kinds of things buried in the texts. Wards and Aegis penetration is a famously controversial issue on the forum, despite the text saying all spells must penetrate. The Aegis needing to penetrate was only recently made explicitly canonical recently, too.

I have less of an issue with allowing Performance Magic allowing the range of the voice to extend beyond 15/50 paces than I do with the Heartbeast flaw being able to do it. At least it's consistent across the domain of magi who would take the virtue, still. Performance magic isn't a strong virtue (until you start trying to pair it with Single Weapon as the ability), so this is a good benefit. Also, the magi who take Performance magic, generally speaking, aren't interested in flinging their Pila of Fire as far as they can...