New-old topic, "Disintegration" by Muto... a cheat?

Page 86, Magi of Hermes

Return to the Earth
MuTe 20
R: Voice, D: Mom, T: Ind
Pen 10, 24/day
A metal or stone object targeted by this effect is momentarily transformed into sand. This is sufficient to destroy most handheld weapons, as they become metal grains around the feet of the wielder. But if the object remains undisturbed, it is unaffected when it becomes metal again moments later. The effect can target any single object that can be carried in one hand, such as a sword. The effect is triggered by pointing the butt of the staff at the target in a short jabbing motion while speaking the command word.
(base 2, +2 Voice, +2 affect metal; +5 Penetration, +5 24/day)

Now that this precedent has been set. Is the following possible?

Scatter to the void
MuCo(Te) 35
R: Voice, D: Mom, T; Ind
The target is changed into fine dust/ash/whatever which then collapses immediately and disperses through the air due to it's "weightlessness".
(base 25, +2 voice, +0 required requisite Terram)


HoH:S, in the Jerbiton chapter, on p.63 has something even more extreme. Scattering like Light (MuTe(Im) 30) turns the target into iconic species, which then get carried away by the light and get absorbed when they strike a non-reflective surface. The description is pretty explicit about the consequences: "This spell disintegrates objects, so it has obvious combat advantages".

I was just reading that but upon trying to make that affect a person, we are looking at:

Base 30 (Turn a person into an insubstantial object - examples gives are Aurum in guidelines, and Aquam in sample spells)
+2 voice
+0 required requisite (Ignem for light in this case)

Ends up being the same as PeCo40 cause a fatal wound funny enough :slight_smile:

You'll note that Return to the Earth explicitly requires some sort of external intervention to destroy the target. So does Scattering like Light -- even if the external intervention is simply being exposed to light. I'd say that if you turn a person into a pile of dust, in the absence of wind, shoving etc. the person will return safe and sound at the end of the spell. I think this is one of the crucial aspects of Muto: you can make an object extremely fragile, but you'll need external intervention, however minor, to destroy it.

Second requisite Rego to actually "scatter"? or Perhaps Fast-cast the spell and follow up via a "quick kick" to disperse the dust? Haha :slight_smile:

Or Perhaps a Perdo requisite to destroy the dust?

Something to keep in mind: "Muto magic can neither injure nor kill someone directly." (AM5 p.78). So i'm with Ezzelino: either you need an explicit action to destroy what you have made so fragile (which will be very difficult, because you have a very short window to do it in a Momentary spell), or you need a Perdo requisite. Or Rego, if you go for some kind of movement.

By the way, here's another Muto killer spell

Agony of the Fish, MuCo(An) 35
Turns a human into a fish
R: Voice, D: Conc, T: Ind
(Base 20, +2 Voice, +1 Conc, requisite is free)

Note the longer duration so the fish has time to die of natural causes... or any handy grog has time to spear it.

"Stop telling your fish story, Handygrog ... nobody believes it was THAT big." :laughing:

Or how about:
Painting the Pavement MuCo(Aq) 35
T: ind, R: voice, D: mom
This spell turns a person into water without changing their shape or position. The heartbeat or so that the spell lasts is just long enough for the water to collapse with a splash.
Base 25 turn a person into something inanimate but substantial +2 magnitudes voice range.

Hmmm, so does a Muto'ed object behave physically according to its temporary or essential nature?

Cloak of Mists: The person-turned-vapor remains cohesive, no rego requisite at all.
Return to the Earth and Scattering the light: The temporary matter does disperse and destroy the object. Seems like a contradiction.

Would a door turned into water splash to the ground?
Would a door turned into fire (non-momentaneous) be extinguished for lack of fuel? MoH's Transmutation of Fire answers no, whatever that's worth for canonicity.
Would the same door-turned-fire stop a rock thrown at it?

Whichever you choose when you design the spell, I guess. But a specific spell always work the same way. or more accurately, when you design the Muto spell you decide exactly which new properties you imbue, and you can decide not to mess with cohesiveness and shape if you don't want to.

However, I stand by my earlier opinion: if the Muto spell kills or damage someone or something by itself, without external intervention, then it needs a Perdo requisite according to Magic Theory. Momentary duration can last a few seconds, and gravity might damage the Muto'ed form in those few seconds, so that might be enough (and a low level fast-cast Rego spell just might be enough to counter it). In the case of that turn into iconic species spell, it's the same thing, except the light is what scatters the species, if you cast it into absolute darkness the species stay in place and the object reform.

Oh, and a note for all ST/troupes: remember that you are perfectly justified in arbitrarily fixing the level of any spell, or adding any requisite or even veto it entirely, if you think it is necessary for game balance. So if a killer spell seems too low level to be true, you can just raise the level, no matter what the guidelines say.

According to its temporary nature, but see below.

That's ok; you are not turning into a "normal" patch of mist, but a pretty cohesive one. Besides, clouds tend to stick together, right?

Not quite. Return to the Earth is very explicit about the fact that, if the object is left undisturbed, it does not get damaged -- it's only if you manipulate it violently that it's damaged. Similarly, as has been noted, if the target of Scattering the light is not exposed to light, or is exposed to light but prevented from hitting a non-reflective surface that absorbs it, it does not get damaged.

As for an object "collapsing under its own weight", keep in mind that gravity does not exist in the Ars Magica paradigm -- it's heavy objects that tend to "go down" because that's their natural tendency. So:

Yes, but would reform as a door in the same doorway unless you took action to mop it up.

Note that the base guideline of Transmutation of Fire is 5, meaning the outcome is "slightly unnatural". Whether a fire that keeps burning with lack of fuel is only "slightly" unnatural it's up to the troupe to decide; but given that examples of "highly unnatural" fires can be pretty wild, given that the essential nature of the underlying object is still one that requires no fuel, and given that there are many examples of Ignem that does not require fuel to maintain (say, pure heat) I'd allow it.

No, definitely not.

I agree for the most part but not with this bit - whether it's weight or "the tendency to go down" it's not the fall that splashes the the water, it's hitting the ground. As such, if the original change conserved shape then the disruption of shape should be conserved when the spell ends. Or at least can be conserved depending on how the spell is invented. A water man that splashes fatally, a water man that splashes harmlessly and a water man that stands would all be the results of spells of the same magnitude. Possibly even an animate water man could be achieved.

Let me state my position more precisely then. An unbroken door resting on the ground gets transformed into unbroken water resting on the ground.

You can make the water unnatural, so that it retains its shape as a door; battering the water-door down will leave you with a battered door when the spell ends. Alternatively, you can make the water natural, in which case it probably turns into a puddle of water, which in the absence of outside interference will reform into the original, standing door. Keep in mind that if you turn a standing human into a glass mouse, the mouse "appears" on the ground, and standing on all four legs -- it does not appear standing on two legs, or mid-air (so that it falls and crashes).

So far, ezze is making the most sense here.

People, be aware that we are looking at level 35 spells or above to kill a single individual. If your magus cannot kill someone with a level 35 spell he must be one of the most incompetent magi in the order or have a curse that prevents it. A level 35 is in the league of "Awesome Stuff of Cool", so no wonder you can kill someone with it. Even if it means bending Muto slightly. A level 35 spell is conjuring ther mystic tower, ball of abyssal flame, Incantation of lightning, Creeping chasm.... or a CrAq spell that causes +20 damage, enough to kill most humans in one strike. As such I would not consider that a "cheat", just a fairly bad spell to kill someone since there are alternatives 3 to 5 magnitudes lower that achieve the same end result.

Having said that, the water transformation would not kill the guy IMS, just throw him to the ground, where he would reform. Naked and tangled in his clothes. A useful spell to pass under doors et al, btw.


Exactly. This has been part of the game, if I remember right, since long before 5th edition. Muto changes and Perdo destroys. It's the spirit of Forms and Techniques.

I'm very reluctant to change this spirit through elaborating new concepts ("species" in the case of the disintegration spell). I've always like the old core Ars Magica and usually don't find that monkeying around with it too much improves the gaming experience. Some people seem bored with the old Ars Magica and want something else. That's fine, but it's not really for me.

I've no objection to awesome spells at level 35, using any Form/Technique combination. My objection to the disintegration spell is more basic. It uses Muto to perform what is undeniably the essential nature of Perdo.