Faerie Becoming: Transformation of the Spirit

Reading the details on the process of Faerie Becoming in "Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults", I've encountered a conundrum. The enchantment level of the Transformation of Spirit phase of the process seems insurmountable unless one has an extremely specialised Magus with almost no interests outside of his principal Arts, and a Magical Focus to help boost the enchantment level.

As stated, the enchantment level is the sum of all the Magus' Arts. The maximum level cannot exceed Warping Score times Faerie Magic skill. Unless the sum of all the Arts is the LAB TOTAL limited to the Warping ScorexFaerie Magic limit, it is next to impossible for a Magus using his best Technique and Form to achieve a Lab Total that exceeds the sum of all his Arts. Conceivably, a team of many Magi with high Magic Theory all working to support the Magus undergoing the Becoming might pull it off as long as the Becoming subject has small totals in all except the principal two Arts, but otherwise I don't know how it could be done.

Can anyone clarify this point?

From my read:

A) It's supposed to be very hard to do.

B) Your Faerie Magic score probably has to be the most significant portion of your lab total, and has to be pretty high.

C) Yes, some specialization is necessary unless you have an incredible Faerie Magic score.

Keep in mind that the transformation of the spirit is basically changing the character's magical essence into that of a faerie. It converts The Gift and all associated powers into what boils down to a suite of analogous faerie powers and a Faerie Might Score. The more life experience the character has invested in these powers, the harder it is for him to transform them into powers associated with an entirely different realm. It makes sense, then, that a young magus would have an easier time of it than an older magus; the older magus is more set in his ways, while the younger one has less history to overcome.

Remember too that the magus can reduce the level of the transformation ritual by undergoing an Ordeal. For example, if he gains a Major Flaw during the process, he subtracts 45 from the required Lab Total. If he also gained a Major Flaw during his previous ritual or Initiation, he would subtract an additional 30. This can reduce the needed Lab Total by as much as 90 if the character has undergone three major Ordeals. Of course the character must still have a high Faerie Magic score, as well as a significant Warping score, in order to perform the transformation ritual, but it is quite possible for a relatively young character to manage it.

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That's about what I thought, Mr. Dahl. I believe that if any lab assistant has an appropriate Focus, it can be applied if the one undergoing the Transformation doesn't, which could explain why it is often done with the help of those who've already Become Fay.

There's a related question I have for you. Can a Magus undergo only part of the Transformation, pausing after one of the steps is completed without proceding directly to the next? Specifically, Transformation of the Body. The result would yield someone who is physically Fay, but who retains the metaphysical Essence of a mortal (and is still subject to Warping, Twilight, and the rest, but not aging).

On that note, does Transformation of the Body affect healing? Many Fay (and other "immortals") heal far, far faster than a mortal. What of offspring that they might have subsequently? Will they qualify as inheriting Strong Faerie Blood?

Yes. It is possible for a character to perform only one of the transformation rituals and then stop. Transformation of the Body effectively makes the character ageless, even if he never gets around to doing the other ones.

There is no accelerated healing specifically associated with the transformation ritual. I do think it is a sensible storyguide decision to give the magus's offspring Faerie Blood or Strong Faerie Blood, though I've yet to see it happen in game.

Ok, one more pivotal question. This one extends to a fundamental metaphysical level, and one that has been the subject of debate in the game.

What becomes of the soul of those who undergo Transformation of the Spirit? Technically, the spirit is separate from the soul in Ars Magica metaphysics. It is fully conceivable for someone to have an "altered" spirit, though there may be some cumulative influence on the state of the soul.

I was extremely pleased to see you reference one of the key Medieval myths which attempted to integrate the Fay (essentially, a Celtic and Germanic/Norse phenomena, though with parallels in many other cultures, including the Slavs and, further east, the Chinese and Japanese {I've long thought that Shintoism is extremely compatible with Faerie}) into the monotheistic tradition claimed that they were the "third faction" in the First War of Heaven. Those who chose to fight on neither side, holding themselves aloof from the conflict. As a consequence, they were supposedly exiled from Heaven, but could not be condemned to Hell, and so had their own realm. The reason I'm citing this is because it is one of the clearest indicators that, yes, at least some of the denizens of Faerie have souls. Not all of them, but some. This echoes an argument I've made since I was first introduced to the game.

I don't personally place them as part of the JCI cosmology, however, for those who insist on it, it is, I believe, one of the best arguments that those who join the Fay have not sacrificed their "souls" as part of the process of aligning with Faerie. It provides for Faerie as an alternative destination for the souls of pagans and for those who have chosen to walk a separate path. For those who have Become Fay, it is the strongest evidence that they are still fully "ensouled" beings and not just animated "nature spirits".

Any thoughts on the matter?

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My thought is that the same thing happens to those who die and become ghosts or vampires - the soul has moved on (somewhere), but the mind remains.

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Hmm... well, I'm reluctant to speculate about souls in Mythic Europe, mostly because according to the rules there's no way to know for sure. How could a character tell whether or not a faerie has a soul? The only way I can think of is through divine revelation, a miraculous vision granted to a holy character by God. Holy and unholy characters can, through various means, perceive evil in a target, but that may not necessarily prove that the target has a soul. Since this is something that doesn't have an effect on the game world, or only has an effect in incredibly narrow circumstances (maybe the characters break into Purgatory looking for the lost character?), I think it's a question that should not have a clear answer.

I suppose philosophical magi of House Merinita might ponder this question too, and one thing I imagine they would argue is that Hermetic magic cannot affect the soul, because that would break the Limit of the Divine. Therefore, assuming the maga had a soul before the transformation ritual, she must still have a soul afterward. However, this also assumes that the being that is the maga after the transformation is the same being that was the maga before the transformation. If a faerie takes over her being, and if faeries do not have souls, that faerie will not have a soul -- the maga would take her soul with her to wherever she eventually winds up. I doubt most Merinita magi are willing to discuss this as a possibility, though. Also, perhaps Faerie Magic can circumvent the Limit of the Divine in this specific circumstance? It seems unlikely to me, but it is possible.

I like that many people in the setting believe that faeries do not have souls, though; it makes it much easier for them to justify doing bad things to faeries without believing that they are doing anything wrong. This leads to interesting conflicts. :slight_smile:

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For me, it's not so much that faeries categorically don't have souls (although, given their reaction to the divine, that makes sense), but that the Merinita transformations are so much like the ReMe ritual that does a body-swap where the soul remains tethered to the original body, even when the mind moves.

Here, I'd say this is a ritual that destroys the original body, which quite possibly kills the magus vis a vis his soul (especially if we make the theological assumption that trading your god-given body in for a faerie one is contrary to the divine will). In that, it's not so different from attempting the same ends via vampirism or just wandering around as a powerful ghost.

About the soul argument, I would like to point out that IMO until Judgement Day occurs, it does not break the metaphysics of the setting or the Limit of the Divine to assume tha God lets humans exercise their free will by turning themselves into magical or faerie beings that may live as much as the world does.

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I didn't say that all denizens of Faerie possess souls--only some of them. They would probably come in two categories: those immensely powerful beings at the heart of Faerie, who may be among the oldest of all (however many cycles of reincarnation they've undergone); and those who were once mortal, but who have chosen to enter the Faerie Realm.

Note that the multi-step process of Transformation certainly allows the soul to be unchanged after the mere alteration of the physical body.

Research into the Limit of the Soul is, after the Limit of Warping, perhaps the most important of all the so-called "Lesser Limits" needing to be addressed. If nothing else, once those two have been overcome, Magi will be able to control the cycle of Metempsychosis/Transmigration posited and embraced by a number of Mystery Cults and most certainly many Merinita and perhaps Bjornaer (to say nothing of Ex Misc) Magi.

One special Virtue I introduced years ago was Old Soul (available only to Magi and Companions). The text of it read:

[i]Bound up in a cycle of endless reincarnation, you are eternally died the grace of Heaven--and forever beyond the grasp of Hell. You have lived many lives before, and will live many again, at least until the End of the World (and perhaps beyond, somewhere else). Echoes of the past sometimes intrude on your present*, and you often feel connection to others with Old Souls, as well as old friends and adversaries who endure from long ago.

Those with Old Souls may not possess Divine or Infernal Virtues. They are apart from both Realms, and beings strongly associated with either--Angels or Demons--may recognise that the individual with an Old Soul is "different". Divine and Infernal-related Flaws are generally unsuitable as well, though one can be Demon-Plagued to represent a persistent enemy who enjoys tormenting you life after life (one with Old Soul cannot, however, be Demon-Tainted, because Infernal corruption can never take root).

Magi with Old Souls do not succumb to Final Twilight. Should they reach that level, they are instead cast back to the Wheel to begin again, though they may first journey through the Magic (or Faerie) Realm, vanishing from the world for a few generations. Some may potentially be reborn as either a being of Magic or of Faerie.

*The Visions Virtue is free to all those with Old Soul.[/i]

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Visions is a Flaw actually, but I like the sound of Old Soul. Creative.

Old Soul was originally created for 3rd Ed., updated to 4th, hence the references to both Demon-Plagued and Demon-Tainted, neither of which exist in 5th Ed. per se. In those earlier editions, Visions was a Virtue.

Regarding Transformation into Fay, there is another combination worth considering: Transformation of the Body and the Spirit, but not the Mind. By retaining a "mortal mind", the two-thirds Fay would not lose any of his/her creativity, powers of invention, and ability to learn. Although, truthfully, in many regards even one who has completely Become Fay has a greater degree of ability to learn than other types of "immortals".

The two-thirds Becoming rather reminds me of Gilgamesh, who was "two-thirds a god".

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The two-thirds Becoming indeed looks like one of the more advantageous methods of immortality, from a certain POV (the one that maximizes freedom to do and learn as opposed to security), in a tight competition with the alchemical Elixir. It has been hinted by the author that in the end, the metaphysical "strain" of the incomplete transformation may slowly cause the mage to go mad in the very long term (ST's choice, but likley centuries).

However, I have to remark that the slightly greater ability to "learn", in a complete Becoming, is more than offset by the complete loss of creativity. An alchemical magical immortal has no trouble in making generous use of spontaneous magic, which a Becomed fae cannot use. This makes me judge that in the end, alchemical immortality remains the overall superior method, or two-thirds Becoming if your ST is generous and won't press creeping madness.

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Serf's parma on this, but as long as some part of our not quite completely a faerie is still human can't it still get warping? Warping doesn't only affect the body.

Technically, no. HoH:MC (p. 93) clearly states that Transforming the Spirit makes the mage "immune to Warping".

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Glad I used parma

Never mind. Even if I am subject to the indegnities of serfdom, too, I've noticed that having my collection of backup PDF files of RPG books, including available ArM sourcebooks, on my trusty mobile HD familiar is an excellent way of bypassing them. :wink: 8)

Now if John & co. stopped being so doggedly reluctant on parallel PDF/hardcopy releases and followed the example of most other publishers... From what I can tell looking at my gaming pals, they are just feeding the pirates (in that, those who want PDFs of Atlas books that aren't available yet from legitimate sources, and aren't wiling to cough out the bucks, can get them easily from pirated p2p channels, while folks that would be willing to buy a legitimate backup copy of all books, like yours truly, can't).

I know they have good reasons from their POV, for their policy (willingness to support LGS as much as possible). But I can't but regard it as shortsighted, with all due respect, from mine.

Any character with a Might Score is supposed to be immune to Warping, because the character is a supernatural being entirely part of that realm.

I like the two-thirds god idea. I did suggest that these partial faeries would have difficulty adapting to remaining partly human, as Wanderer mentions, but perhaps after years rather than seasons. Pressure may also be brought against the character from other Merinita magi who think it's lame that the character hasn't completed the full transformation yet, but since each ritual has its own advantages and disadvantages built in, it's not breaking anything to mix and match.

Ah, yes, that's the main justification for the Warping immunity, too.

Well, if I were the authority on this, and as current assistant ST for rule issues IMG, I would rule that any such difficulty should quite possibly arise, but only on a timescale fitting for immortal characters and comparable to the average lifespan of Hermetic mages with "ordinary" longevity. ie. ranging from several decades to a couple centuries of partial faerie immortality. Having them surface in a few years, much less seasons, would mean IMO the universe (ST) purposefully harassing characters (and players) who pulled the quite relevant magical feat of accomplishing a two-thirds Becoming.

Yes, this can be a factor. OTOH, Merinita mages as a rule are rather relaxed on enforcing conformity among their ranks, so I would expect it and boil down to little more than getting snubs from the most enthusiastic supporters of the Quendalon faerie transhumanism party line. E.g. the partial faerie magus could give a decent justification for his choice by stating that a complete transformation would damage his proficiency in his magical studies (e.g. if the mage is a spontaneous specialist like my character, or a specialist enchanter, or any other magical specialization that requires creativity for effectiveness).