We came across an interesting conundrum last night in our Ars session and I would appreciate some feedback.
One of our magi has a lucky charm worn around his neck that summons, at touch range, a herd of ten dead elephants. He typically uses this to conduct "Bombing runs" on ground based targets as he flies above them.
In our last session he managed to get himself swallowed by a giant frog. While inside the beasites mouth he triggered his charm (i think for want of a better solution).
This presented a problem. Clearly the elephants manifest at touch range. While flying this isn't a problem as they immediately become subject to gravity and fall down. But in the mouth of a giant frog, where do they go?
As far as i can see there are a variety of possible answers.
The elephants manifest in the frogs mouth, since they are a lot bigger than the frogs mouth they burst it, effectively exploding the frogs mouth. I don't like this idea as it leads to all kinds of nasty "creo big stuff in the other guys mouth" spells, that seem to me to rather defy what creo is supposed to do.
The spell simply fails as it has no room for the elephants to manifest
the spell manifests as best it is able, i.e. the elephants appear outside the frog. This also seems a bit weird as the spell is then going beyond its range.
Has anyone else encountered this problem before and if so, how was it resolved?
Hmm - sounds like the description of the item is abit lacking - exactly how do the elephants manifest? Are they pushed out of the amulet? Do they simultaniously manifest, or one after the other (which would allow all of them to manifest at range:touch when he is flying)...
Having them appear outside the frog would be breaking a hermetic limit, seeing as it was non-sensed and there was no AC. Not to mention the item's limited range...
Oh, and lastly, just a thought... does the beast in question have MR? Because if it does, I would think the item would need to penetrate?
Creating things inside creatures to make them explode is really messy. Litterally and in term of rules. Personnaly I would not go that way because you open the door to really too much power.
If there is not enough space in the range of the spell i'd rule that it would simply fail or have a partial effect if this is small things that are conjured (like sand), not the full quantity will appear.
Yes, as a SG I too have had to suffer thru munchy players (or vice versa). Such is life.
However, the answer, imo, is clearly #2.
Anything else would open the door for truly cheesy combat spells, such as Creo'ing a simple object such that it would mangle a target, which is flat broken without additional magnitudes for "complexity". So, since the spell wasn't designed to do what it must, and it can't work past Touch, and it can't conjure only a Part, it fails.
The real solution? Depends. If you're all having fun- "all" being the key word here - then don't worry about it.
Otherwise, if the SG gave this dingus to the mage, they need to consider the ramifications more before doing such again. If the mage created it, we have to wonder 1) how they know about elephants, 2) if not why the SG allowed it, and 3) why they didn't just choose blue whales or brontosauri. I mean, if you're going to go there, why pretend?
I'd go with #2, personally. If I were really mean, 10 dead really little elephants would appear within the frog with the caster, making things even more crowded. For simplicities sake, though, I'd go with #2.
How did they know about Elephants? I believe they're in most bestiary of the day. Of course, you could do it the hard way, and take a trip to Africa like we did, and actually see them. We have 2 elephant related spells in our (slowly dying due to distance) tabletop game; The Elephant's Stride (as long as you keep moving, you get a soak bonus), and The Standing Elephant (the target is held in place, as if an elephant was standing on it's foot...)
My opinion goes toward #2 for a numbers of reason.
First, IMOO, to cast any spells inside a magical beast you absolutely got to penetrate the might of the beast(i know there was a topic with some debate on the making a magical dragon swallow a rock and then making it grow in size to kill the beast...)
After that, if you penetrate the might, does the spell penetrate your parma? Because if it does the mage is as dead as the elephant (i mean 10 dead elephants + a mage you gotta be crushed). If not, you got to consider that your parma will repel the created dead elephant.
Finally, smack your player for inventing such an item... Toutch range is especially a shock to me!
How does he manage not to get crushed? He fly and drop dead elephants? I would make that a Tribunal case for a local Quaesitor!
"No magi shall drop dead elephants in the X Tribunal"
So was Greek Fire, Trebuchets and pike formations, but I bet 99% of Europeans haven't seen them either. When was the last time an elephant was North of the Med?
People growing up in the information age seem to so easily forget that "word of mouth" and "local tradition" used to be the rule, and that unless it happened "here", and in the last few generations, it just isn't known.
Many Europeans - most certainly the literate ones - must have known about the existence of elephants, but the true question is how well a 'substance' have to be known for you to be able to create it with a Creo spell? In the end that is such a fine measure within rule-mediation that it can be little else but entirely a question of what stories the troupe and SG wants to tell.
I know what I would prefer - I'd require a more specific knowledge then hear-say and book illuminations alone - which would also happen to send the PCs on a possible interesting adventure to track down a living elephant. On the other hand any player of mine would probably have to have some longer debates with me on whether fly-by-elephant-carpet-bombardments would do the saga any good in the first place..
Indeed. Especially since it's a: "a lucky charm worn around his neck that summons, at touch range, a herd of ten dead elephants."
I can't help but wonder how ten elephants get at touch range of one charm... Or how small a margin of missteps would be needed to make the poor fellow snap his neck... And finally that if it's in touch range of a worn charm whether it wouldnt require the item to penetrate the wearers MR?
Well -even if being some partial against the object itself - I would advice that a) the charm has to penetrate at least the frogs MR; b) cannot harm the frog in this way (and at least not at all wihtout crushing the magus himself - what a mythic end..); c) he cant summon them outside without sticking the charm out the mouth of the frog. So all in all door #2 seems the best possible solution.
It's there somewhere, or at least it used to be. You could point to "The Central Rule" (p 111), that "...storyguides should not let players use the system to force things past common sense."
It's conceivable that in some troupes, 10 elephants could, arguably, perhaps, fall just beyond that "common sense" limit. A bit.
Actually, I don't think it is- iirc, it's in the rules somewhere. Isn't there a bit about a mage not being able to create something he's not familiar with? If he's only heard and read about elephants, but never seen one, I don't think Creo can help him out.
I'm reminded of way back in the day, with a certain other RP game, where a "thief" was bragging that he went up 10 levels in one session by flying around on a magic carpet and "backstabbing" dinosaurs. Yeah, well, he seemed to enjoy it, so...
But none of this should matter to them, only to this forum. This isn't my saga, and no matter how little such appeals to me, that has zero to do with someone else enjoying it. Breaking the rules is fine, so long as you don't pretend that you're not.
Some people like to play in a world based on Chaucer and Shakespear, some Grimm's Faerie tales and Arabian Nights, and some on Order of the Stick and Thundar t. Barbarian. Have fun, whatever game it is that you're playing, that's the important thing.
Yes, I think we are all aware of that obvious detail (tho' it worries me why you feel that necessary to point out), but we are also talking about knowing what an elephant looks like, as in "actually having seen one", not just hearing rumours or seeing a questionable medieval "depiction" (ha!) in a rare book somewhere (since neither of those would be close to adequate for the purpose.)
Since no "Big Book of Animals" is in circulation, there is likewise almost NO way a European mage could ever have done more than have heard vague rumours without actually having visited Deepest Darkest, or so.
The nearest extant elephants would be in India or Central Africa (nowhere near the coast), or perhaps in a private zoo in the Near East somewhere. (Constantine imported them to Northern Africa before ferrying them across the Med.) That's pretty far outside most circulations.
As I said, 99% of Europeans (even the "literate and educated" ones) haven't seen Elephants either. Not "heard rumours about" or "repeated tales of", but "actually have first hand knowledge of", the type that is necessary for designing a Creo spell.
That is what we're talking about here.
I'm not convinced that the Art of Animal confers a knowledge of "all animals" with it, nor even "every known animal", tho' perhaps it could. I would think more that an Animal magus would also pursue practical knowledge and experience of such. Dunno.
(Otherwise, we get back to the blue whale comment.)
Nor, as I said before, whether studying something from texts, even in-depth Hermetic Arts, is adequate "familiarity" to Creo that successfully.
To fill in the background around this character. He has indeed seen elephants. Despite being a rather cheeky player, his magus does actually do the research, including in one memorable case spending a season swimming with sharks (in aid to transforming into one of them).
I agree that a magus should be familiar with a beastie to change into it but i don't like the idea of taking it too far or the rule breaks down when trying to turn into something unnatural. i.e. he shouldn't have to know lots about how elephants work to turn into one otherwise when he wants to turn himself into water he should surely need a knowledge of fluid dynamics.
In the case of the elephants, he spent time in Africa (kind of magical, mnedieval safari). Specifically looking for elephants, lions, etc.
The MAGUS in question is actually a dick of the highest order. Most of the other characters despise him. He is however roleplayed consistently and entertainingly, we quite enjoy the massive in game arguements between himself and his fiery spanish flambeau sodalis.
Ours seems to be half Name of the Rose, half Monty Python.
When Creo:ing any natural object (such as animals) you draw upon the Platonic form that exists independently of yourself or your knowledge, so I would say you only need to know the animal well enough to distinguish it mentally from any other animal. I would consider having seen one or having read a detailed and reliable account sufficient.