No larks or nightingale heartbeasts according to HoH:MC!

In a recent game, I wanted to play a lovely, petite Bjornaer maga with a nightingale heartbeast.

So, I look up the size of a nightingale, which turns out to be some 20 grams or so, about three quarters of an ounce.
Remembering that birds are 1 Size larger than their weight would indicate (according to HoH:MC), the nightingale is then on the light side of Size -9. HoH:MC thus forbids it as a Heartbeast because it's "vermin" and thus not noble. Exceptionally, the Storyguide can allow it, but only if the Dwarf flaw is "obligatory" -- meaning the maga would be a circus midget the size of a small child.

The same holds if one looks up the lark and most other songbirds. Vermin, and thus non-noble. While a rat is perfectly noble, according to HoH:MC (and I seem to recall a rat Bjornaer in Normandy). I think this is really silly!

[Incidentally, the Thrush is described as Size -6, whereas if you look at the actual weight, different subspecies range (even with the +1 size correction for birds) from size -9 to size -7 at most)!]

Well, it appears that most songbirds are far tinier than the Size -6 given in HoH:MC.

Nightingales, slightly below 1 ounce, are on the low side of Size -9 (thus Vermin unavailable as Heartbeasts).
Bullfinches, at 1-1.5 ounces, are on the high side of Size -9 (thus Vermin unavailable as Heartbeasts).
Goldfinches, slightly above half an ounce, are on the high side of Size -10 (thus Vermin unavailable as Heartbeasts).
Larks weigh 0.5-2 ounces, putting them at Size -10 to -8 (thus Vermin unavailable as Heartbeasts).
Blackbirds, at 3-4 ounces, are on the low side of Size -7 (thus barely non-Vermin).

This part of HoH:MC seriously needs errata!

May it be that the scale is less extreme at that size range? There is a (mechanical) nightingale in Ancient Magic that is size -6.

In general I would disregard the rule and live happy. It is not a game breaker at all, after all. You will just have a very vulnerable heartbeast, but a perfectly feral and characterful one, so I would allow it without any second thoughts. Beware of hawks! :slight_smile:


Let's look at the examples in Mundane Beasts:

gyrfalcon: -3 & roughly 1.18-2.1 kg
other falcons: -4 & (Eurasian hobbies are around 0.175-0.285 kg; Eurasian kestrels are around 0.163-0.29 kg; male peregrines are around 0.424-0.75 kg while females are around 0.91-1.5 kg; male lanner falcons are around 0.5-0.6 kg while females are around 0.7-0.9 kg)

So by mass/weight we would think size -4 is around 2 kg and size -5 is around 0.5 kg (1 kg if the authors were just considering peregrines, lanner falcons, and the like. Now let's look at the size examples from ArM5.

size -3: baby (it doesn't specify at birth, so I'll go with the upper end of average at birth to account for a little time afterward, meaning about 4 kg)
size -5: rabbit (0.4-2 kg)
size -10: mouse (around 0.02 kg)

So we have a fair amount of agreement if we go by something like this:

Size 0: 60 kg
Size -1: 30 kg
Size -2: 15 kg
Size -3: 5 kg
Size -4: 2 kg
Size -5: 1 kg
Size -6: 500 g
Size -7: 200 g
Size -8: 100 g
Size -9: 40 g
Size -10: 20 g

This is roughly a multiplication of 2 to 2.5 each time, with some slight variation to make certain examples fit better. Based on this, I would agree with a nightingale being Size -9. Thrushes vary from around 20 g to around 180 g, depending on the species. Ideally the writer didn't use the blue whistling thrush since it's not European. Meanwhile the great thrush is around 140 g, and it's a New World bird. So I would not put thrushes at Size -6 since that would only apply to some non-European ones. So for the European ones I would agree with you about Size -9 to Size -7.

Let's see if this holds up with LoM:

partridge: -5 & about 400 g for the grey partridge - looks good
duck: -3 & about 2 kg with lots of variation - looks good
goose: -2 & 2-4 kg (assuming a European one like a greater white-fronted goose or greylag goose) - on the small end, but could be ok depending on the type
pheasant: -2 & about 1 kg for the common pheasant - I think this should be Size -4, not -3.
heron: -2 & 1-2 kg for the grey heron, purple heron, and bittern (I'm assuming the author categorize egrets separately.) - I think this should be well below Size -2 despite their height and wingspan.
crane: -1 & about 5 kg for the common crane - I think this should be Size -2, not Size -1.

Putting this all together... I notice that many birds are one Size greater than their mass/weight would indicate, as you mention is stated. However, I also see a number of birds placed about two Size categories above where their mass/weight would indicate. My estimate would then be that birds are typically about 1.5 Size categories higher than their mass/weight would indicate, one higher for birds with smaller legs and wingspans and two higher for birds with longer legs and wingspans. This estimate still isn't perfect, but it seems pretty close.

In this particular case, I would just say go with Size -7, smaller than the songbird entry. That's still large enough not to have to deal with the Dwarf Flaw. Or maybe you compromise and go with Size -8 and Small Frame instead of Dwarf as an obligatory Flaw. These options should make the player (you) happy while still not throwing the rules out.


Small Frame might be a good thing to take for someone with a heartbeast that small.

Are those lower limits upper limits or median. Otherwise I just don't see those lining up with the Small and Dwarf flaws. An adult who is just on the shorter side is ususually going to weigh a lot more then 30 kg that's what 72 lbs.

A common modern definition of dwarfism is an adult 4.5 feet (137 cm) or shorter as the result of a medical condition. Someone of that height will often weigh a lot more then 15 kg. As a reference my two year old is 30in and weighs about 31 lbs (so 78cm and 14kg)

They're rough estimates of medians or means. Dwarfism really doesn't work with Size -2 in any fashion except the statement within the Flaw itself. Your child is Size -3 according to the rules, nearly Size -2. (On average at two they're Size -3 and at three they're Size -2.) I could see adjusting the numbers a bit to something like

Size 0: 75 kg
Size -1: 40 kg
Size -2: 15 kg
Size -3: 5 kg

The Eurasian wolf then fits nicely in the Size -1 category. Small Frame also looks a little more reasonable. As I mentioned, real dwarfism will never fit because real persons with dwarfism generally weigh on the lower end of typical human weights. I could see Size -1 for the reverse of the same reason I pointed out puts some birds a Size category larger that might be expected when the are long-legged a long-winged.


Congrats maine! you can go to your kid and say "son, you are size -2! In a while we will be able to affect you with regular corpus spells!" :mrgreen:

So are you saying that if you where to make an Mythic Europe version of Tyrion Lannister you'd only give him the short flaw not Dwarfism. Peter Dinklage, the Actor who plays him on HBO is about 137 cm.

Actually I have reason to suspect he is associated with another form. :smiling_imp:

Yes, and did you note his weight? I've seen it listed in pounds in the 130's, but I haven't seen anything official. That would be on the light side of typical human weights.

Is there a Short Flaw? I'm not familiar with it. No, I'm not saying I'd use a different Flaw. I'm saying I think a character with the Dwarf Flaw should be Size -1 if we want a realistic gauge.


Small Frame flaw.

Great work researching and coming up with that size/weight table.

This whole conversation illustrates how great an expanded animals book would be...

In another thread I'd included it in my wish list for a new Wizard's Grimoire - mundane animals at least. I figured it would be nice to have more for familiars and Bjornaer.

Sorry Small Frame, I always forget what that one is really called in ArM. The same idea though. The range for size in an Adult Human goes -2,-1,0,+1,+2. With zero being average and virtues and flaws providing variance. The two minor ones Large and Small Frame going down and up respectively and seem to represent the top and bottom of normal human variation . What would be called Average Height by Little People. Giant Blood and Dwarf being the more extreme V/Fs change size by two points. The sort of stuff that in the real world only results from medical conditions like Marfan's or achondroplasia. In Mythic Europe there are of course other explanations. But that is still roughly the sizes I think about.

So, I've spent even more time looking at this. Based on the table on page 39 of HoH:MC, I did a decent job with my mass/weight estimates based on the animals I was reading. So there is a lot of consistency among the non-birds. That's good. However, it really seems the Size of a bird is more typically 2 above what its mass/weight would indicate, not just 1 above. That also fits with my earlier notes above for the ones outside of that table. I suspect the note about adding 1 to Size was a mistake and should have been written as 2.

This would make 2-oz birds regularly available as Heartbeasts. Even moving down toward 1-oz birds should be OK, meaning larks should generally be on the boarderline. This still doesn't handle the songbirds definitely below 1 oz, like the nightingale, but at least it makes more such birds available.


Fire it of to DChart then


You are absolutely right; for the most part, birds should be considered two points larger in Size than their weight would suggest. However, the table in HoH:MC is still correct (in most cases): a duck weighing 1.2 kg should be Size -5, but is listed at Size -3, a goose weighs 3.3 kg so should be Size -4, but is listed at Size -2, and a swan weighs 10 kg, and is listed at Size -1 rather than the Size -3 that its weight otherwise suggests.

Really small birds (larks and nightingales, 30-40g) have an adjusted Size -8.

When considering the prohibition about small sizes, you might want to consider the intention rather than its execution -- you can't have vermin as your heartbeast *, and most vermin are small. However, larks and nightingales are most definitely not vermin, and so are suitable heartbeasts. I stand by the rule for a character to be small in human form if they have an exceptionally small heartbeast: going from a 70 kg human to a 35g bird is a massive change, and that should be reflected somehow in the size of the human form. I imagine many Bjornaer magi with bird heartbeasts (at least those with non-predatory bird heartbeasts) will have the Small Frame Flaw, or be otherwise delicate in form.

[size=85]*yes, Luna in Lion and the Lily breaks this, but she's a highly unusual case. She was already a trained magus with a strong affinity with rats before she joined House Bjornaer and had her heartbeast awoken. She's a good example of how a good background story can transcend rules.[/size]