Magi making mindless husks

A quick question about the 'turn a person into a mindless husk' PeMe guideline. I'd argue that when cast with instantaneous duration this is a permanent effect, as perdo effects usually are (unless things return/regrow/heal naturally of course).

On behalf of the poor victims it was argued the spell would need duration, and that afterwards, the targets would be ok again. The main argument was that some PeMe spells targeting emotions function that way.

What's the more sensible interpretation?

Whilst I lack my copy of A&A and can't give the full breakdown based on that, I think that in this case the guideline, being a high-level one and the ultimate expression of PeMe, must be interpreted as destroying the mind, rather than removing or hindering an aspect of it - the level 10 and 15 guidelines prevent the taget mind from doing certain things for a time, and the level 25 guideline destroys the possibility of doing so ever again. A 7th magnitude spell which irrevocably destroys one target at voice range, still requiring penetration, is about on par with other high level killing spells.

It gives you a nice plot-hook too, of an insane Verditius using mindless beasts of virtue in breeding programmes to fuel his item creation via the mystery which allows you to strip might to act as vis.

Why would something as normal as that verditius be a plot hook? I have a few dozens of those IMS. perfectly normal hermetic magi there.


Definetly require it to have a duration IMO.

(Certamen's Parma, I play in Spelarosa's group and sort of started this discussion)

PeMe guidelines state that memories are lost forever. Emotions however naturally reoccur when the spell duration is over. It doesn't specifically state anything about mental capabilities unfortunately. It does show that certain Perdo effects need a duration.

I would place mental capability closer to emotions than memories. I also compare 'making a mindless husk' to 'childlike faith' and 'insanity' spells. Those spells need a duration.
Therefore IMO the target regains all mental function when the duration ends.

The base level (25) is high enough to warant a 'killing spell.' I agree on that. This is not a matter of game balance IMHO.

Why? You are smashing the mind to nothingness. Why would it require a duration other than Momentary?


Xav - On the premise that "the mind" is not "smashed", but left empty (as the Guideline says!) - and once the spell ends, "the mind" returns. Or, at worst, on the theory that the mind heals, and that "nothingness" will start to be replaced by a healed mind as time passes.

But the Mind is not "emotions" - emotions spring as a product of the mind, and so are covered by Mentem - but they are as different as blood and the body that bleeds, or the song and the mouth that sings. (Without the difference in Form.) The Mind can create new emotions once the old are destroyed - perhaps similar to the point of being indistinguishable, but still new and thus "different" than those destroyed.

And making a ruling on behalf of the victims themselves is, imo, a poor basis. For what they bring to the story- yes, but for them themselves, sorry, but they're just so much clay.

Ultimately, there is nothing in the Rules or Guidelines that is definitive - it's all about ~your~ view of the Spell, of the magnitude, power and purpose of that Effect, and your view of how "the mind" works and heals. And of what makes the best story.

Several times the PeMe guidelines use the word "destroy" - that's fairly definitive and final. However, compare that to the effect of killing the bird created with Inmost Companion (MuMe 40), which says "...If the bird (the mind made "solid") is killed, the target also dies, as his mind has been killed."

That would imply that "leaving a mindless husk" is not the same as "killing the mind" - and anything that still lives can, to some extent, heal, if not completely regrow.

For me, it comes down to two things - first, the magnitude of the effect is the highest by 10 levels - this is far more serious than simply "driving someone insane", which can be cured. To require duration on top of that Level makes the effect available only to the most powerful magi - and if PeCo 30 can kill someone outright (or PeAn 30 similarly), if CrAq 25 can create a Fatal Poison, then it makes sense that PeMe 25 should be in the "I now END you" category. At some point, at its most extreme and powerful, PeMe should be able to take the Technique to its logical extreme - to utterly destroy a mind, period, this conversation is over, b'bye.

But otoh, from a Story perspective, anyone worth leaving "a mindless husk" (as opposed to just "killing" outright) is probably worth keeping around in the story - and the ~possibility~ of them healing and coming back, at some level and at some time, seems a valuable addition, if only to keep as an option, to keep your Players guessing.

Maybe they start out again with the mind of a child, a Tabla Rasa. Maybe it's all gone, nothing ever to return, an intellectual void that offers nothing remaining to heal, to hope for. Maybe something else. The Mind is a fairly abstract concept, and perhaps more so to the Medieval view.

If the Mage wants them dead, he should kill them. Anything less should not be as certain as death, even if it is ~almost~ as certain.

I think you are giving too much weight too words that, in all likelihood, were selected by different authors in different editions. The PeCo spell guidelines are a good illustration of this. Some things are "destroyed" with a healing guideline given. Other things are "destroyed" and no healing is mentioned. Other times things are destroyed, and the guideline specifically states no natural healing is possible. You would think that minor senses cannot heal because it's not specifically mentioned, but severing a limb specifically states that it can only be healed through magic, which seems patently obvious because the limb is detached from the body, but some author felt the need to spell it out. So should spell guidelines that say "destroy" be healable or not as a default? Who knows?

In the Hedge Magic book, I made the "destroyed" targets all healable, but as for Hermetics, I don't know according to the RAW. Bodies heal naturally, so I say if the wound is one that a person might naturally heal from, then allow it to heal. Anyway, all I am saying is that the guidelines are all over the map.

For the PeMe spell, I would say do whatever fits the needs of the story. It could recover as an Incapacitating Wound, if you don't want to worry about it. If it's a better story to have the characters seek out some magical cure for the person, then it only heals with magical help. Or, give the person a roll of stamina versus an ease factor of whatever to determine the length. Great roll and it heals as a Light or Medium Wound, mediocre roll and it heals as a Heavy or Incapacitating Wound, and a botch means not even magic can save him.

PS. Another example of the problem with the PeCo guidelines is the level 40 effect. How is that not a permanent MuCo effect?

Mind/emotions/thought etc is a very problematic concept if you want to stick with a paradigm, because there are simply too many of them from the time period to be able to have straight and simple rules.

An interesting sidenote to that is also that several use the idea about the heart affecting both thought and emotions, something which was later ridiculed as impossible but today has been given enough evidence behind it that its actually considered plausible(again)(the evidence mainly consists of several cases of heart transplant cases where the patient without knowing anything at all about the original owner of the heart still has changed personality more or less towards that of the original owner of the heart, and after this has been noticed, research has been done to find the donator).

Which is really a bit on the low side.

But should it? This kind of spell isnt JUST for killing, it can be a very useful utility spell, to avoid killing and still make sure someone is unable to run around doing things you dont want to, which can be worth alot in itself(want to rule a country? mind-blank the ruler and use Rego and Imagonem to make him look like he´s the one in charge still, for example).

That means for 1 magnitude less than with PeCo you get a killspell AND a utility spell all in one. No i definetly think thats too low to make it a permanent damage.

Thats actually a very good addition i think(with the addition that it cant by itself cause death to the affected person). This would mean that even used as a momentary spell the effect would last to some degree for quite a while, and if used with a longer duration then the potential healing wouldnt start until after the duration...

Indeed. Possibly even both. :smiling_imp:

Fatal poison is a bit easier to deal with than PeCo's I Kill You Dead, so I doubt 25 works. 30, maybe, which is touch range momentary mindless husk. Just say 'Base 25, kill a mind.'
30 isn't really low when you consider the penetration you need. Besides... it's pretty clear in Ars that, if someone wants you dead, there's a lot of ways to do it pretty effectively, especially with a month to spare. The trick is doing it without someone finding out, which is the hard part.

Against most Mentem targets you do not need penetration at all.....


True, but given how easy it is for magi to do horrible things to peasants, the real issue would be how easy it is to do to other magi or faerie lords, which should have magic resistance.

Most mentem magi taht I have met are specialized in manipulating mundanes, not fae lords, but hey.



Its still a spell with an effect that is alot more complex than "die sucker" as well as having more than one way of being useful.
Level 25 is ok only if you need a duration for it.
And you always need to have room for penetration for any "killspell", nothing exceptional there.

And it already IS base 25, that was the problem, since base level for Kill a person is 30, and you cant use it for anything more, as you can with a "mindkill" spell. So for 1 magnitude less you get the same ability but with extra options? Id place it 1 magnitude higher than the PeCo killspell. Certainly not 1 lower!

And as i said, having unconditional "killspells" really isnt much fun which is why i think all such should really be upped in level anyway.

This sounds mostly like an argumentation to houserule this, not an argumention on what the RAW indicates.
Personally, I note that the guideline for causing insanity doesn't ever offer the chance of healing, and the mindless-husk seems mostly a variant on this. However, a ritual CrMe spell might restore a person suffering from this.

Its both.

It doesnt say that it CANT heal/be healed either so you have no argument based on that.

And furthermore, the spell example using the base 15 "cause insanity" effect DOES indeed use a duration. And it allows a dieroll to resist the effect as well.

(The use of Durations and Perdo is not consistent between authors, Forms, and legacy editions.

Sad, but all too true.) :confused: