Game balance

This is a quote I picked up through the magic arrow topic. I think it points to a rather large problem in RPG's. IMO, game balance is more important than the suspension of disbelief, but both will have to be taken into account. My troupe switched from DnD to ArM mostly because of the utter lack of logic in DnD.
We do still cling to game balance though, even if the logic of magic theory would simply allow too powerfull effects.

An example:
MuAq has a base of 3 for changing a natural liquid into another natural liquid. Let's add a Corpus requisite to affect blood (a natural liquid) into sunflower oil.
This would require base 3, touch +1, concentration +1, (maybe part +1)
For a nice lvl 5 or 10 killer!!!

Now some troupes may think this is according to magic theory and thus allowed, but we surely ruled it out -> these kind of things destroy game balance, and that hurts the enjoyment of the game more than the disappointment of not being able to cast your munchkin spell.
(there's probably some small errors in the maths, but it will always be a lower level than an insta-kill corpus spell)

Muto can't destroy things by itself. It needs a perdo requisite (see the description of Muto).

If you're using a perdo requisite you use the highest applicable guideline (in this case the perdo corpus "kill someone" guideline).

This particular example does not demonstrate the problem that you described.

Muto can change blood into oil.
I think you wont argue with me that when all your blood is changed into oil, you die within minutes (and stop functioning almost immediately).

So by this example I wanted to demonstrate that MuAq(Co) is a better killer than PeCo.

The creativity of players should not end up in one technique or form becoming much more powerfull than the others. (the reason Intellego is so powerfull is totally different, let's not discuss that here) IMO all arts should have value. If you want to have a killer magus (aka Flambeau), take CrIg or PeCo as specialities, for those are the most dangerous arts. I consider Ignem superior in damage to the other elements. When comparing Ignem to Terram spells for damage, the same damage should be a magnitude lower for Ignem to get my desired effect.

Actually, without the Pe-requisite, you'd be giving the person the ability to have sunflower for blood - just like a faerie!

Also - remember, that since the requisite adds something (the ability to affect blood inside a body), you need to add one or more magnitudes...

So how does lungs of the fish (an example spell from the book) fit into this?

It's a MuAq(Au) spell, that changes all the water you inhale into air. It does not require a Pe requisite to keep the water out. In Ulfs desciption it would only allow somebody to breath air instead of water, which is doesn't help when submerged. So I conclude that changing blood into sunflower oil means that there is no blood remaining for the duration of the spell. (when Muto'ing a human into a pig, there's not suddenly two bodies, the human body is simply suppressed (changed) for a while)

This still leads me to believe that my blood to oil spell will kill you. I can live with the +1 to be able to affect a natural liquid inside the body, but that too can be challenged IMHO.

Lungs of the fish turns water to air -> it doesn't hurt anything!
Blood of the flower (tm pending) -> turns blood into oil. Without Pe it doesn't hurt anyone. With Pe (which is another spell entirely - being a PeCo that has a cosmetic effect) it kills.
Perhaps a better question would be how can a faerie live with sunflower oil for blood?

Hmm definitely an evil concept and one Im surprised never occurred to me lol.

That said, I do have to concur with Sophia. No Pe requisite is involved since nothing is being "destroyed", "reduced" or otherwise eliminated, merely changed from one natural substance into another. Since the human body cannot live without blood, the target would certainly die.

I would though concur with Agnar that an additional magnitude is necessary for the Corpus requisite.

An exceptional and brilliant instance of munchkinism if ever I read one though :wink:.

The human body cannot live without blood: It has blood; in the form of sunflower oil (and sunflower oil isn't poison - so you live on...)

If, on the other hand you'd consider sunflower oil poison (when used as blood), then the spell would require a magnitude adjustment to reflect the poison...

Sorry but that explanation is just ludicrous. Nowhere in the rules does it specifically state that any spell which hurts someone must have a Pe requisite else lets change all Ignem, Auram and Aquam spells so they have have Pe instead of anything else. Such illogic quickly makes a shambles of the entire magic system.

Furthermore, humans do not and cannot live with anything but blood flowing through their veins. What fairies do (as creatures born of human imagination) is immaterial to the argument.

This is just another minor loophole in the great argument about killing with Muto that can simply be handwaved if a troupe or SG deems it unbalancing (which in fact it is).

Doesn't a spell already exists which changes one's blood into poison, using the aquam guidelines for damage? I can't seem to remember...

Not in the core rulebook, no. However, kudos for making me look, for in examining the MuAq guideline box it is explicitly suggested that liquids within a person's body can be changed "if the spell is designed to do so (and with the necessary Corpus or Animal requisite form)". Add to this the guideline references according to each base level and in fact the whole argument is mooted, since specific reference is made to changing liquids into other liquids that do X damage on contact.

Changing blood into poison then (as you mention) would equate to unavoidable continuous contact and thus one CAN kill with Muto within the RAW.

Whether a given saga can tolerate such relatively low level killing methods or not is a matter already touched upon previously.

Let's see, as per pg 123 ArM5, Lvl 2 for change a natural liquid into another. "You cannot transform liquids within someone's body unless the spell is designed that way (and has a Corpus or Animal requisite)."
So that would be base 2 +1 Touch +1 Concentration +1 Part +1 Requisite Enhances Spell's Effect for a Level 10 spell that will turn the target's blood to oil so long as the caster concentrates.

This wouldn't be an instant death effect. IMHO, this would be a Deprivation (pg 180) situation and resolved that way. As such, I see no problem with the spell from a game balance or logic perspective. It's a good creative way for a Muto minded caster to harm or kill an opponent under the right conditions. Out of combat, with no one else around, this is an ideal assassination method as the target dies of suffocation but due to his blood returning to normal when the concentration ends, there is no sign of foul play. In combat, this is a much less useful spell as contact need to be made (Touch Range) and Concentration needs to be maintained for multiple rounds. It could be good for a display of wizardly power to an enemy you want to live but provide with an uncomfortable reminder of just what he's dealing with.

I'd say it's a good spell and I would allow it in my games.

or 1 more magnitude for Voice range and/or another for group target and you have a level 15 or 20 (respectively) variant that COULD kill one or more persons (again respectively) within combat.

Then of course the game balance wound is reopened.

But... Couldn't you cast a MuCo(Ig) spell to surn someone into flame? Would they take damage from the flame?

What if you turned just their skin into flame? What about just their eyes?

At what stage does the target start taking damage?

Muto magic can neither injure nor kill someone directly. If you make a change such that you turn a target's eyes to flame, the target has the property of having flaming eyes. Whether they can see or not is certainly debatable, but the body is not harmed through having flaming eyes.

Now, if you could add a Cr requisite to create additional flame? Or how about a Pe requisite to have the change actually harm the target?

But why is this? Does it break with logic? Does it make a nonsense? No, of course not. There's a degree of game-balance explained through the limitations and boundaries of Magic Theory. That's it. You could become a great Muto master, but your spells will be inherently harmless unless you do, as the rulebook provides as an example, turn someone into a fish and leave them flapping about on dry land to suffocate.

So, by the rulebook, giving someone sunflower-oil blood does not kill them, it simply changes and adapts them in an unnatural way.

I very much agree. Changing someone's blood--is it Medieval? We know this would be lethal, because 800 years of science tells us so... but the game is in a Medieval paradigm. Changing someone's humors... okay... now we're onto something

Amen! (Tho' she named the game that shall not be named!!! :stuck_out_tongue: )

Ah, not so fast, grasshoppers!

One of the chief beauties and attractions of Ars is, as Sophia points out in her wisdom, that it has a magic system that "makes sense". "Stuff" can't just happen - there is a logic and pattern to it (at least in the Hermetic model.) However, in codifying all that for a game, "the Rules" that BoXer refers to, tho' rarely complex, are expansive - 220 pages plus, almost 100 on magic and spells alone, for just the Core. And important details can get lost, or forgotten, or not seen as significant when read the first time.

While BoXer's statement is true, the assumption that this is relevant here is not. Reread "Muto", page 78 (where the Techniques and Forms are first introduced and explained.)"By using Muto magic a magus can grant or remove properties something cannot naturally have...
Muto magic cannot affect the properties that something has naturally* ...Thus Muto magic can neither injure nor kill someone directly..."

(* Like blood providing oxygen etc.)Turning someone into stone doesn't "kill" them, it merely means they need to be turned back into flesh to move around (unless the stone is Muto'd to be flexible!). Giving someone Cat eyes doesn't hurt, it allows them to see in the dark, and giving someone sunflower oil for blood... means their cholesterol levels drop temporarily, their stiff joints are lubricated, and ogres can fry them up more easily. You haven't taken away what their blood does for them*, you have changed them to have the ability to have oil for blood.
(* Which would require Perdo, to destroy those properties)

Rarely do the rules lose the continuity you admire, Sophia- it's just sometimes hard to follow the trail of that logic.

Didn't realize I had posted here, but glad to see your intelligo powers are stop scrying on me or face wizards war!

another minor problem with the spell is that you can't affect what you can't sense. so unless they are spurting blood profusely you have no target.

A reverse lungs of the fish would be a killer muto spell since it would transform the air into water and in no way effect the person.

I appreciate the description of Muto as worded, however it then does not gel with the MuAq guideline box itself. Considering that Medieval mindset would indeed know enough to know that anything other than blood flowing in the veins would result in death, certainly that loss of it as per any witnessed battlefield deaths, it doesn't require 800 years of medical science to conclude that.

That said, let us use the MuAq(Co) suggested guideline reference to posit a change from blood to "poison which deals X damage on contact". In this instance, though we are talking about additional mag(s) it is quite in keeping with the guideline box (and in contradiction to the glossary description of Muto) that one could kill with Muto. As said previously, poison in the veins is unavoidable continuous contact, thus continuous damage, and in keeping with at least a portion of the RAW insofar as X damage being dealt is concerned. In that case, no Perdo is involved.

As for sensing target, well if this is true then even the PeAq spells which destroy the body's water are unusable since you cannot see or sense the water inside the body anymore than you can sense their blood.

Edited to add: Sorry Agnar, I shouldve said "ulf". So much for not scrolling back to check posters' names. :wink:

Mark, as for what you have said about the glossry's reference to "cannot affect the natural properties", I think one must apply a somewhat loose interpretation to that caveat otherwise we might as well scrap any self transformation spell. The properties of being Human are NOT the properties of being a fish, a wolf, a dragon, etc. Sure a transformed human retains human intelligence and other properties of his/her human form but the body (which is itself a property) is indeed "affected" by Muto.

Does the idea of killing by Muto upset game balance? Most certainly given the realtively low level to potential power ratio of suggested spells in this category, but does it break with all aspects of the RAW? No, only some inconsistently worded sections.

Let us maintain a distinction between permissibility and viability.

Blood is somehow inherently life-giving, so we can't remove that property with Muto, but we can add a property - such as burning.

Fire from Within
MuAq 35
R: Voice, D: Diameter, T: Part
Requisite: Corpus

Transforms the target's blood into liquid fire, burning them from the inside. The liquid fire does 10 damage each round of combat.

In mean_liar's version of the spell, the target turns into a Nazi with a fedora at the moment of death and their eyeballs melt and roll out of their screaming skull.

(Base 10, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +1 Part, +1 Requisite)

I only chose 10 damage per round because the formula to calculate the final level is a little wonky due to how magnitudes work. Damage of 1-5 per round results in a final level of (damage * 5) + 5; damage of more than 10 per round results in a final level of (damage + 25).


You'll note that this is a lvl35 effect to slowly kill someone, which is probably in line with the lvl40 PeCo insta-die effect at Voice range.