Muto/Penetration Question

I think I know the answer, but I just want to make sure I am right.

Magus Septimus faces off against a minotaur.

Magus Septimus casts a spell underneath the minotaur to turn earth into water in a 20 foot radius.

Septimus made a targeting roll to do this.


  • Does the effect need to penetrate the minotaur's MR to affect the minotaur? The water itself is magically transformed dirt (I believe the effect must penetrate the minotaur's MR but I'm just checking).
    [*]If the water doesn't penetrate, can the minotaur drown? If the water doesn't penetrate, can the minotaur even sink?
  • If the minotaur doesn't drown or sink, what happens? Does the minotaur seemingly walk on water? (I tend to think this)

The altered stone doesn't support anyone - so the minotaur sinks. If it doesn't penetrate, then the it doesn't bother the minotaur (by drowning him or hapering his movement). So the minotaur will be walking along the bottom of the pit/puddle. The fun part is ending the spell - because that will submerged in the earth...

I'm sorry, but if that is the result of the spell by the rules, then I say the rules are wrong. Sure, the minotaur sinks, I'm with you so far, but if the minotaur sinks so far that his only recourse is breathing water, dirt-turned-water nonetheless, and he doesn't feel the slightest bit uncomfortable?

It's an awkward thing.

It's easy to imagine variations that would be really, really deadly and relatively easy compared to other death spells. Consider variations creating turning a shaft of earth to mist beneath someone for concentration--quite easy to do and no penetration required--like a level 15 for voice range and a shaft 6'x6'x100' (or 9'x9'x33'). Let the victim fall then end concentration.

I'm not sure how comfortable I am with the entombing action at the end of the spell without penetration--maybe expelled like a creature from an aegis?

So the suffocating minotaur becomes the catapulted minotaur?

I think I'd rule that, if the spell doesn't have the juice to penetrate the minotaur's magic resistance, despite the fact that it wasn't cast on him, it doesn't affect him at all. He walks over the water as if it were dirt. I'd back this up by saying that Muto doesn't make a permanent change, and while the earth turned to water (or mist) is under the effect of the spell, it is magical. The changed atoms, or whatever they are in paradigm, are held in place by Hermetic magical manipulation, and Hermetic magic must penetrate a target's magic resistance to be effective.

I'd also anticipate an argument from the player who cast this spell after I'd ruled it thus.

Matt Ryan

Hahaha point taken Matt.

One of the best examples of an attack spell that doesn't need to penetrate is the gaping pit. You need to roll targeting to get it underneath your target, but since the pit isn't magical, it can't be resisted.

Your spell is rather similar, however the effect of the material changing back can vary... I.e. for the situation mentioned, the water may change back so slowely that one will climb out of it simply by walking... (each step finding new ground turned back...)

Is this perhaps like the example of the magical bridge? The water supports the minotaur's weight because the minotaur's Magic Resistance repels the magical water away from it? I suppose the same thing would happen if Septimus changed the dirt into a cloud.

What if he just turned it into a smaller amount of dirt, though? Like a pebble? The minotaur would have to fall, I think. Then when the spell ends, it would be entombed. I don't think that this would necessarily kill a magic creature, though... I'd probably have it dig its way out again in a few rounds and surprise the magus from behind.

Ulf, I appreciate your insights and although I disagree, your thoughts make it clear to me that this is a bit sticky rules-wise.

We agree that the minotaur shouldn't drown, but we disagree on falling through and what happens afterwards. The space made by a Gaping Pit is natural and permanent--not so for the MuTe--that's a key difference. Similarly, if a ReTe made a pit by moving the earth and then moved it back on top of the victim, I'd have to accept that. I think Matt's ruling is the best one in this case.

I do like that idea and will draw on it in similar sticky situations.


I might have it come back over a short period instead of in a flash. There's some sort of implicit movement in regrowth that could aid the vitcim (did the pebble fall and then grow back up?) Still... sticky.

In fact the bridge example is with creo magic. Muto is different in term of magic resistance. While looking in the core rulebook I found that :

So according to that, the minotaur would sink as in water but would not drown in it, he even won't be wet (except if it bypass his magic resistance). The spell must be aimed to function correctly.

So, if the water reverted to earth, he would be alive, but entombed inside a minotaur-shaped space... :confused:

However, the earth would be disrupted by his volume, and thus, loosely packed. So, if strong enough (hell, it's a minotaur we're talking about!), he could maybe dig his way out of it. Unless he runs out of air first

Good catch, Dalak.

As a SG, I'd first apologize to the players about the lack of perfect clarity in the rules, and the need for interpretation. But I'd rule as follows:

Because the mud/mist is magical, it would need to penetrate to effect - so no suffocation, but neither is there support. The minotaur sinks, but is perfectly fine otherwise.

(If it supported him, then any magical effect could be used as a solid object, and any magical creature could "climb" on any magical effect - no thanks! The dirt has been changed - it's just that the changed dirt doesn't "touch" the minotaur. If a stone bridge had been muto'd, the Mino would fall a looooong way.)

I would further rule that when the spell ends, because it would "break the game" to allow instant death, the minotaur is expelled- no, Matt, not spat out, "expelled". An even-more-pissed-off minotaur would be lying on top of the hole, perhaps with some clods of un-magicked dirt on it for effect.

If the players don't want to accept that, point out that their Parma wouldn't save them if some of the above interpretations went into effect, and apprentices could kill archmagi with some ease with some variation of the soon-to-be infamous "hole-to-solid" attack.

I had the same problem with a spell of one of my player's spell. Just a shame I didn't find it earlier.

So he is perfectly fine until he suffocates? (If he doesn't happen to be able to create some air before he loses consciousness)

Meh... SG judgement call. I would say that it shouldn't be immediate, not like being "underwater", but more like being in a small bubble/bag underwater. So if it happens, it happens slowly. Not sure what the medieval paradigm would be, but it strikes me that 1) it's clever enough to be rewarded, but 2) shouldn't be an easy/automatic solution.

Alternately, I could live with it not smothering the creature at all. If you want that, use a big Rego to dump some mundane earth on him. Magic Creatures are resistant to Magic for a reason. Normal solutions don't work when created with a magical substance.

(And above, I said "climb on any magical effect"- change that to "many". A Tree Muto'd to a sapling- would that still be "tree sized" for the minotaur? A magical fire can't penetrate the MR- does that make it solid? Nope.)

This is not really covered by the books, at that point I think we could argue for quite a while.

Personnaly i'd rule that while he cannot be affected by the earth-turned-water he would not drown in it so he can breathe normally while the spell is in effect.

But really, I think this is a point up to the Troupe or SG discretion. More or less realism

The minotaur is not underwater, it's under-magic. So it's not a question of "realism"- the dirt/mud/water is "magical", that's about as unrealistic as you can get. It's a question of Magic vs Magic Resistance, and, yes, each SG/Troupe is going to see that differently.

If a creature is impervious to small spells (ie, high MR), should a small spell that creates (magical!) water be able to drown that creature? I'd lean towards "no", not even if the Minotaur was unconscious and held under. Maybe there's an arcane connection to the air it needs to breathe, dunno- but the more I think about it, the more I feel that small spells just shouldn't effect it directly, regardless.

Creativity should be rewarded, but the idea behind the MR shouldn't be ignored, either.

  1. Hold on... I think we all agree that a sword enchanted with Edge of the Razor and an insufficient penetration would not affect the minotaur. Why then does the magic mud work without penetrating?

Perhaps at the end of the spell, the mud may turn back slowly and release the minotaur, and behave similarly with the water.

  1. Now, here's another question: Assuming Dalak is right for a moment, why doesn't the creature suffocate? It can't breath earth or water. We can cleverly finesse a situation with a minotaur (as Eric does nicely) but this situation could equally apply to a human vitcim (I used a minotaur only because it's clearer who is who in an example).

What if Septimus does this snappy trick to Crusader Kristoff? Kristoff has 10 Magic Resistance, wears full chainmail, sinks like a ball of lead, and does not have the ability to breath either earth or water.

Yeah, this is no fun.

Yeah I hear ya Dalak. Still, I think there's a bit of inconsistency in the rules on this point. I forgive it because MR is just hard to deal with as people get more and more creative.

Then again, because of the specific parameters in the system, I see more spells like shrinking someone's helmet until he dies--spells I find uninteresting and gamey--than I see spells like Teeth of the Earth Mother--spells I find interesting and magical.