Changing a Man into a Pile of Dirt

My magus creates the spell, Reverse Transformation of Adam:

Reverse Transformation of Adam
Muto Corpus 40
R: Voice, D: Diam, T: Ind
Req: Terram
This spell turns a human being into an equal amount of dirt.
(Base 25, +2 Voice, +1 Diam)

What happens?

Does the pile of dirt remain man-shaped or does it spill and tumble into a loose pile of dirt on the ground?
What happens in two minutes when the spell's duration ends?
What happens if during the duration of the spell my magus disperses the pile of dirt with a burst of wind? Or a grog shovels out a few scoops of dirt from the pile?

Matt Ryan

If the humanoid form remains more or less humanoid for the duration, I would say that nothing happens. if significant damage is done, then the re-transformed human suffers a grievous (probably fatal) wound.

Tumbling to the ground means you will have quite an "eeeew!"-y pile of blood and meat when the spell ends. A sleeping person might not even notice the change


Personally, I'd tend to a less bloody interpretation. The target transforms into a pile of dirt, which falls to the ground. When the spell ends, the target returns to their true form, but having fallen to the ground.

However if dirt is removed or dispersed, then I can definately see the target reforming from the largest mass of earth with some potentially serious wounds. However, as with a target transformed into mist, the target would tend to harder to disperse then normal... making it harder to shovel out parts or disperse the target.

Depends on the intent and design of the magus. You could turn him into a statue of sand (this is Muto, after all) or into a pile of sand. Either way, he's not overly inconvenienced by this in the long term. If you split him up then, when the spell ends, he's still split up and might find that somewhat more of an inconvenience.

Or salt, yeah? Salt is Terram, right? It's a mineral. That has a nice Biblical ring, Transformation of Sodom.


Pillar of Salt is certainly possibly.

At the end of duration the target would turn right back into a human.

If the pillar was damaged, target takes same damage. Probably uses the soak of salt though.

Dust in the Wind
Mu Co 40
R: Voice, D: Diam, T: Ind
Req: Auram, Terram
This spell turns a human being into an equal volume of fine dust which is then blown away by magical a breeze over the course of two minutes.
(Base 25, +2 Voice, +1 Diam)

I like it.
Doesn't seem any worse than level 40, voice range PeCo spell. Maybe a little harder to pull off, but certainly cooler. :stuck_out_tongue:

While I agree with the base and the R/D modifiers, IMHO the Auram feature is an extra and thus demands another magnitude. After all, how will the spell work wihout the Auram thing? It would be silly if it was the same level.


Can't quite see the blow-away bit working without a Re requisite.

The Target is turned into a pile of dirt and has all of the benefits and detriments of being a pile of dirt. I would say that weapons do him no harm. Water would turn him to mud. I think that he would be sessile. Although turning someone into water allows him to move, but not uphill, and turning someone into air allows him to move, but not against the predominant winds, I don't think the same would apply to the dirt person, but I would allow the mud person to move slowly downhill.

The dirt would remain in the shape that the Target wanted it to be, as long as it was a shape that dirt could naturally take. I don't think that the dirt shaped person would necessarily break into a bunch of pieces anymore than a person in air form is blown apart by a strong breeze or a person in water form is diluted by entering a larger body of water. Nothing in either of those spells states that the water or mist person must come back into man shape before reverting to human form. It would be nearly impossible for someone in water form to take the shape of a person before reverting into human form.

The person reverts to human form, unless a substantial chunk of him is missing.

If a substantial chunk is missing, then he cannot reform into a person. This interpretation is based on the spell description in ArM5 131, Transform to Water spell. He does not become a pile of blood and body parts without a Perdo requisite.

I know that many were considering making this an insta-kill combat spell, but I don't think you can do that without a Perdo requisite. You could make it a long term imprisonment spell though. I could see a story seed where the players are investigating an old Terram wizard's lab and find a bunch of headless statues in one room and a bunch of stone busts in the next room. When the two are combined, the enemies of the wizard from the previous centuries are brought back to life.

wouldn't they still age while transformed to dirt?

I would have thought not - stone stuck in a room doesn't age, so whilst they're stone, they wouldn't age.

Here I have to disagree a bit - the spell turns someone into a lump of dirt, not a mobile lump of dirt, and not necessarily an aware lump of dirt either. Now, there's no reason for a magus not to design a spell to do just that, but I would certainly require an extra magnitude or two for unnatural transformation (ie. into unnatural dirt, since natural dirt is static and dumb.) I do agree that dissolution would be slow, but it would occur in the absense of either a Rego effect or a conscious mind holding to them together. Woe to the pile of dirt left out in the rain.

I do disagree that a Perdo requisite would be needed to allow the transformed target to be damaged - firstly because Perdo damages rather than allows to be damaged, and secondly because the new form is inherited complete with vulnerabilities and one of the weaknesses of dirt is that you can dig in it. Magi in animal form are not immune to arrows, and magi in the form of fire can be snuffed with water. A body of glass might be very good at impressing the locals, but wards against thrown rocks are all but required. The advantage of the spell is that it completely incapacitates your opponent, and does so with Muto. For most magi, this isn't really a massive gain, but for one with a Focus in transforming humans and deficient Mentem, it becomes a useful alternative to Call to Slumber.

The spell would operate the same way that the Transform to Water or Transform to Air spells do. It doesn't destroy the person's consciousness. It turns (Muto) the person's body (Corpus) into dirt. If you want to turn the person's mind to dirt you need a Mentem requisite.

Digging in dirt doesn't hurt the dirt. Turning soil actually improves the dirt and makes plants grow better in it. The transform water spell description is explicit that you don't hurt someone if a major portion of him is separated from the main body at the end of the spell. It says that he cannot transform back.
You can make the spell however you want, but the other spell in the section doesn't damage the person if portions of the Target aren't present at the end of the spell, they prevent return to human form.
In my saga, if you want an insta-kill spell, you need a Perdo requisite. According to your design, the person affected by Transform to Water would not be able to come back to human form if he was a puddle on the ground. That's not how the spell works.

Um ... that's not how I understand the Forms to work. Yes, Muto Mentem would turn someone's mind to dirt (thus producing a comatose body) but that's not relevant to my argument. My argument is that it is not necessary for the dirt to retain awareness - the spell could be designed to do such by the magus, but that is not part and parcel of the spell. The mind is not destroyed, merely made into the mind of a rock, with the slow thoughts that would entail (and entirely different from the above, where the mind itself becomes a rock), and so Perdo is not required. Nevertheless, the target is incapacitated for the duration. The Forms interpenetrate and affecting one will affect those related to it - PeAq can damage Co, ReMe can affect Co (inducing rage will have visible side effects, for instance) - and the guidelines for MuCo specify that mental quirks and mannerisms are retained after tranformation. The spells Cloak of Mist and Transform to Water are explicitly spells which target the magus himself, and thus would be odd if they didn't exclude consciousness from the transformation. Furthermore, both water and mist are capable of motion (and it specifies you are limited to the motion inherent in the form) and dirt is not. Are all magically transformed statues conscious in your saga?

The dirt is undamaged; the human to whom the dirt reforms is. If we add one magnitude and turn the person to glass, would you rule that they shatter when struck? If this occurs, what happens to the target when the spell ends? To use the old (canonical) example, a man transformed to a fish drowns on dry land. Or, for something analogous to the glass man, the spell Scattering Like Light from HoH:S. The spell has done no damage here - that has happened afterwards, and the spell just makes it easier or possible. And no, my design doesn't change at all if the man is a puddle - how do you mean it does? The complete puddle simply reforms into a man.

I have no response to the spells and their statement that the spell cannot end in this case save confusion. Clearly, the division involved cannot harm the dirt/water/mist, but allowing such a simple act to make a spell effectively permanent is ... daft, actually. I can see ruling that you cannot safely assume human form if divided (and in fact that is exactly what I'd rule) with the spell ending in such a state being disastrous for the magus concerned, but not allowing the spell to end at all is frankly odd. I suspect the word legacy is involved.

That is brilliant. Simply brilliant.


I've done some thinking about this issue since I last talked about Muto vs. Perdo on here. Logically Muto spells must sometimes result in instant death, else you have situations such as have been mentioned where turning a man to sand becomes permanent if some of the sand is removed. However, the spirit of the rules is that Perdo is the best at destruction. Else why bother with a discrete form for Perdo?

My solution is to make instant-kill Muto spells possible but with a 2 magnitude penalty to the equivalent Perdo guidelines. The base Perdo for killing a person is level 30, so the base for this Muto would be 40. I would however include the requisite for Rego to disperse the dirt within the two extra magnitudes.

Add in +2 for Voice and +1 for Diam and you get a level 55 spell, which requires a ritual. So it goes, use Perdo if you want efficient destruction.

While certainly interesting, one must be wary of opening up for the potential abuse of prolonging even short durations like Diameter to actually last for centuries, simply because you snal a leg off the man-statue. Also, I don't think the transformed magi are in mental stasis. I base this on the Entomb in Ice power of LordMarsyne the FAerie Lord from the core rules. This effect is Mentem because it stops the entombed person from thinking and needing sustetance. Does the rock statue? IMHO it would spoil things completely if all such effects need to be Mentem based. So I'd not rule the man-statue to have starved to death, since rock does not eat after all. But his mind would not have been dormant, granted rocks think notoriously slow, but centuries of domrancy might lead to madness...

That's even better. A deranged, centuries-old wizard suddenly brought back to life. I hope my players aren't reading this thread.