Kudos to Mark Shirley. Muspelli in play are awesome. Ok, I might be a bit late in saying this (Rival Magic is, what? 4 years old). But this is the first time I actually Storyguided one in my saga, "played by the rules". And (at least as antagonists) ... wow!
First, they are really flavourful. I don't know, it may be just my troupe and me, but their big Etin-mod forms drumming and feasting on their raised platforms with their gandurs while they work to call down Ragnarok ... in play it just clicks. It works. It enthralls.
Second, they offer cool challenges as antagonists, straight out of the box, without needing to "massage them" into shape by giving them special edges etc. Generally speaking, one of the same age as an (entire) Covenant of PC magi will be the perfect challenge level. Oh yes, they are powerful. But it's not just sheer power. It's power that's at the same time direct, simple for the Storyguide to understand and deploy, but still very varied -- allowing one to create complex and diverse challenges, easily. I suspect the key was the idea of starting with Supernatural Abilities and "extending" them with Utiseta.
Third, they have weaknesses. No magic resistance. No particular longevity. Trouble working together (or with pretty much anyone who's not a magically controlled minion, in fact). This is cool; it's very satisfying for PCs to find their proverbial chink-in-the-armour. Also, these seem to be weaknesses that one could easily and "realistically" patch to give a nasty surprise to players in a "return-of-the-villain" scenario.
And ultimately, they are more than the sum of their parts. There is some undefinable (at least by me) something that makes them work really, really well in play. If you haven't tried them as antagonists, do! Just create one (it's not really complex, less than a Hermetic magus or a Faerie/Magic character) and the story hooks will almost seem to write themselves out for you. And as you play them, it just gets better and better. Wow.
I love the Muspelli too. By far my favorite hedge tradition. The sample Muspelli in the book, Gunnvara, together with a follower of Aegir, are making my players sweat a lot in my current saga, set in the north-eastern border of the Rhine Tribunal...
Yes, I forgot that one. In fact... They will be on Spains since some strange Titanesque creatures are supposedly bond on the west medtierranean territories (Atlas and Geryon). But the genies are interesting too.
How did you manage the part about "can only cast spells aimed at a specific person" [not a direct quote] aspect of them? It appeared extremely limiting to me. (I really like the Muspelli, but aside from vaguely planning on inserting one into a saga I never actually used them.)
They create situations and watch from the sidelines, learning who their foes are before they engage and preparing for those encounters ahead of time. They have to plan for their engagements, and be clever, otherwise, unless they've got a gandur enchanted with an effect (rather than stored in it).
I am not sure what you mean. Could you be more explicit?
Perhaps you are referring to the fact that Utiseta rituals "held" in a gandur must have their specific target defined when the gandur is created, rather than when the effect is released?
Yes, that is my intent. It seems rather... limiting. Utiseta aren't just "ritual" spells, they're also "formulaic"-like spells, so they're missing in direct confrontations. And the Muspelli generally lack the subterfuge and magical repertoire to effectively spy on their foes ahead of time - or at least so I think - so that they'll be able to cast the right selection of spells (i.e. hold utiseta effect in their gandur) in advance. I considered simply dropping the requirement (although, as I said above, I never actually got around to the stage of statting out the Muspelli NPC I was vaguely keeping in the background).
Actually, it's not very limiting in play. Or, rather, it does limit the Muspelli, but in a "good way" and one which still leaves them a lot of power and flexibility. The non-utiseta effects are obviously not affected by this "limit". Nor are those effects that only involve the Muspelli: e.g. the ability to turn into a dragon, as opposed to that of turning your opponents into pigs, or the ability to bless yourself with good luck rather than your opponents with bad luck. Nor are (to a large extent) those effects that create/summon existing stuff: summoning an army of werewolves, or creating an army of undead (unless you just found the corpses), creating a vast blizzard or storm or the illusion of a large castle.
Shapeshifting into a bird, or a squirrel, or some other mundane and easily hiding creature and then watching as the covenant resolves something the Muspelli put into motion through other utiseta, or magical ally, or entranced pawn, and learning who gives orders and who throws spells, and where they make camp, (possibly collecting arcane connections), that's pretty much what they can do in spades.