Is Muto Terram strictly better than Perdo Terram?

It could also mean soften, like turning hard stone into a softer stone which can be carved with a blunt spoon.

I am with you on this reading. I also would not expect weakened stone to fall apart, neither automatically nor under trivial strain.

That sounds more like a MuTe effect - like the spell Rock of Viscid Clay.
One example of a weakening effect is the spell Rusted Decay of Ten-Score Years which causes a metal object to be thoroughly rusted.

Good point. I still do not see an obvious analogue for stone.

Weakening metal by rust is quite a natural change. The change between loose and packed dirt is also natural.

Stone does not naturally change into sand, not within a time frame that we can comprehend, anyway. You are right that it does not morph into softer stone either.

It is not unreasonable to rule that weakening by a very unnatural process, as opposed to a natural process at unnatural speed, should require Muto. Is that what you suggest, too?

My intuitive idea was that the stone becomes cracked, and therefore easier to break using appropriate tools, but you still require those tools to break it.

I would imagine that weakening stone could leave the stone filled with lots of small cracks.
It won't cause the stone to fall apart on its own, but hitting it with a sledgehammer or similar should shatter it into smaller rocks and gravel.

... shatter into pieces which fall upon your head.

At least if this is a castle you are breaking into.

So again, assuming a given individual of Terram, you would have two spells:

MuTe 10 (Base 4, +1 touch, +1 diam / conc) versus a PeTe 5 (Base 4, +1 touch) effect. Here, we have an added magnitude because with a momentary duration, your muto effect would be pretty much useless at destroying a wall unless you're using a requisite to change it into liquid. This MuTe 10 effect would bypass a wall, with the stone adding up to the floor which is not cool for design but not a bother if you're just looking at a quick fix. But again, as described above, this would come with two side effects: If you're looking to dig a hole downwards, the MuTe effect will be a wasted spell whereas the PeTe effect a magnitude lower will work as intended, and if you're looking to dig a long sideway tunnel, you'll needed added labor to move the sand created by the MuTe effect before it reverts to stone otherwise it will just block up your tunnel under / behind you. Neither of those flaws would be applicable to a perdo terram effect, despite the lower magnitude. To get arround the extra magnitude, you would need an Aquam requisite, but here that uses two arts instead of one. Not a problem for the elementalist or for easy spells, but it will be a problem for the terram specialist looking to target an entire structure / mountainside with his spell at voice range.

On review, I believe you're correct - against a natural uniform stone wall. However, the PeTe 2 guideline can be used to weaken masonry or pavement to the point where it collapses into its individual bricks and stones, which would be just as effective to collapse a wall as transforming it into sand - but two magnitudes easier instead of the one magnitude easier for duration indicated above. See Undoing the Stonemason’s Handiwork.

As I say above, it is level 4 with Muto and diameter duration, so the Muto spell you are referring to is not MuTe 10 - it's MuTe 5 (Base 3, +1 touch, +1 diam) versus a PeTe 5 (Base 4, +1 touch), hence my point that it as easy to destroy armour etc. with Muto as it is with Perdo.

I guess I was applying the +1 magnitude for "to change to or from stone or glass" which seems to already be accounted for in the guideline itself, hum.

Ah yes, I made exactly the same mistake myself the first time I read it!

Sorry, I'm late and confused.

So this is the base premise? I just think that's wrong.

According to the rulebook (p. 78) Muto "can grant or remove properties something cannot naturally have". Ok, so we can give "liquidness" to stone. But just below it also says "Muto magic cannot affect the properties that something has naturally, although it can add other properties to them to mask their effects. Thus Muto magic can neither injure nor kill someone directly, although it could render her immobile, by turning her to stone, or kill her indirectly, by turning her into a fish on dry land so that she suffocates."

And I think "solidness" is a natural property of stone.

Also, look at MuCo spells on page 131 and 132 of the rulebook; if the premise were right Cloak of Mist would be suicide at the first breeze. But there it says "You turn into a thick, cohesive mist of approximately human size..." Or even more appropiately Transform into Water below seems to be the Co alternative to your MuTe(Aq) spell, and says "you turn yourself into water (...). As water, you can hold yourself together unless someone makes an effort to separate part of you from the rest (...). You cannot resume human form if a significant part of your body/water is separated from the rest. You pour a small amount of water into your hands when you cast the spell."

The implications are pretty clear I think.

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That reading is bound to lead to inconsistencies. There will be many cases where what you phrase as property which you can add, can equally well be phrased as an inverse property which you cannot remove.

More importantly, MuTe has an explicit guideline to change stone into a liquid or a gas. It takes requisites, but in analogous examples those requisites are Aq and Au, not other techniques. The initial assumption is exaggerated by ignoring the need for requisites, but it should be possible.

Which implications do you consider clear?

Firstly the text you quote confirms that you can separate the stone as water, as OP suggested. It may take some effort, but stone as water is not going to make a conscious effort to keep itself together like a human, or even an animal, can. Or do you assume that every stone is represented by a conscious spirit?

What worries me is that the spell does not end if a significant part is separated from the rest. That gives rise to magic of indefinite duration. Is that intentional? It would be a wonderful way to make two-component bombs. Take a big fire and change it into gas, which is separated into two vials. Then, when the duration has expired, you can bring the two halves together ...

I'm sorry I don't think I fully understand you, so I certainly don't see any clear implications.

The guidelines explicitly state that Muto can turn stone to water or gas, as @loke says. Muto can certainly turn things into other things which are then divided or broken, separated, evaporated, moulded, carved, etc. which raises the question - what happens to a divided thing when it turns back? This has been discussed many times before, which is why rather than discussing it again I provided the link to an old thread on the subject, where the consensus seems to be that if you turn stone into water then pour that into 4 jars, you end with 4 jars of stone when it turns back.

The alternative is that when a Muto spell ends, any separated parts instantly transport back to each other, reforming the original object whole in the position it was originally - most people don't seem to like this idea.

But if I'm understanding correctly you have an entirely different take on it, based on the Cloak of Mist and Transform to Water spells, where a transformed thing remains as the original, cohesive thing, but with the properties of the new thing. So a stone transformed to sand could not be broken apart, but would be a kind of bubble of sand that I guess could be pushed and moulded but never broken? Although it could be broken with tools that could break a stone, or would it be easier to break?

I kind of like this idea in that it retains the cohesiveness of whole objects and means Muto cannot easily destroy like Perdo can, but I also find it a bit counterintuitive and odd. I think most players will think that if they turn stone to sand or water, the result will be something that behaves like sand or water (and that also makes it a lot easier for players and storyguides to predict and describe the consequences of changes).

And I'm not sure if it has other weird implications. Is the cohesiveness of the stone the only thing retained after transformation, and if so, why only that? Why not its toughness, for example? But if its toughness and cohesiveness are retained, have I done much at all by changing it to sand other than create a rock that looks like sand but isn't? If I turn it into a rabbit, does that rabbit need stone-breaking tools to kill it?

I read the cohesiveness as a property of living things, which can, even in the transformed form, willfully stay cohesive. I have not seen any clear evidence in RAW to suggest that this cohesiveness extends to lifeless matter.

Yes I think that was my initial feeling on reading those spells that turn humans into water or mist - it was the will to remain cohesive that made them stay together. (I did also wonder what would happen if someone forcefully separated the water, and how much force it would take to do so)

So, I think it's important to start my statement off with:

Magic isn't balanced, and that's fine. Some kinds of magic may be broadly more useful than others for general purposes. Some TeFo combinations are less generally applicable. Magic is really textured, and that's fine. It encourages people to push the boundaries of magic with research, which is really fun and drives cool stories.

Additionally, Perdo Terram allows for some interesting effects that stem from the fact that it can permanently (or temporarily) cause practically any solid object to stop existing without any additional quibbles about where it goes.

Like, you can use PeTe to create a magic chest that causes gold and silver placed in it to cease to exist until the proper counter-incantation is uttered, whereupon it all appears at once. You can do similar things with MuTe, but it will always have to deal with the fact that something remains.

In my experience, TeFo combinations more frequently affect how players solve problems than if they are able to. Watching them figure it out is half the fun.

:exploding_head: I thought Perdo destroyed things permanently? Why would it come back? I would think you can only get such an effect with Imaginem to conceal the gold and then later cancel the effect and reveal it.

This is very true.

[Assuming you don't have Harmless Magic] Perdo permanently destroys properties that things naturally lose / be without. So, for example, existence, structural integrity. It only temporally destroys properties that a thing cannot naturally be without, for example weight or solidity.

So, basically, I'd agree that you can't make a chest temporarily disappear unless you had Harmless Magic

You could use Perdo Terram to make the metal components of armour weightless*, for example. The closest you could do in Muto Terram was to turn it into something that weighed significantly less, and that mnight well come with sigificant drawbacks (such as the new material not actually being that good at protecting you).

*There's a spell that makes armour "nearly weightless", "Hauberk of Sublime Lightness", on pg 38 of HoH:S. This does still leave the armour with a Load of 1 (partial) / 2 (full) - the wording states that the spell "eliminates the weight of the armour but not its bulk".

With momentary duration (and no unusual flaws) yes, indeed.
But what with longer durations? Both are possible.

I don't think a longer duration Perdo spell is doing anything fundementally different from a Momentary spell - it's just doing it for longer, so that the thing can't be naturally healed / replaced. For example, a Moon duration PeCo spell to create a Light Wound wouldn't heal until the end of the spell.

Page 112 of the corebook says:

A pit opened for duration Moon with a Perdo Terram spell cannot be filled in with earth for that period; any more earth dumped in it is destroyed as well...The destroyed earth still does not reappear at the expiration of the spell.