Opinions on the flexibility of formulaic magic (for MuCo/An)

I'm playing a magus in a pbp here on the forums and was pondering creating a set of spells to turn into a variety of animals. The character already knows the MuCo/An spells for a wolf, raven, and lion and has spont'ed a pony during play, however as I play I'm finding that the magus could spend endless seasons creating all manner of spells for specific beasts. Seals, otters, horses, bears, cats, sharks etc...

Question 1
But what about creating a MuCo/An spell which allows the caster to select a beast when the spell is cast? Is that just not possible with Hermetic Formulaic magic, or does it require (one, two,...) extra magnitudes?

Question 2
A second related question - MuVi magic could also change an aspect of one of the other spells; so could a MuVi spell be used to "make any spell cast which normally affects another animal now purposeful for cats"? I'd see this as a specific change, rather than a superficial (meaning MuVi Base level +1 mag).

So a spell which turns the caster into a wolf now turns them into a cat. Or a spell which normally affects a horse (Steed of veng..) now turns the target animal into a resplendent cat.

Question 3
Is the virtue Flexible Formulaic magic usable to add the complexity above? eg. Can the character choose to alter the MuCo/An spell using FFM to turn into a pony instead. I think not, but it could be a great solve for this character's goal here.

Personal opinion regarding question 1: I would allow a +1 magnitude for some level of changes, but not complete variety of any kind: For example, +1 magnitude I'd allow for 'select any bird of prey'. Maybe 'select any bird'. But not +1 magnitude, select any animal.
Regarding question #3, I believe Flexible Formulaic has specific things you're allowed to change.

I'd assume that this is not a parameter alterable via FFM. However, I do consider this a 'cosmetic change' for the purposes of Muto Vim*. Meaning it is very easily doable through that method.

..this is all assuming that I've understood your questions correctly.

  • As long as you change into another version of the same type of animal, or with some change of require Size modifiers. So, Shape of the Woodland Prowler is more tricky to turn into a spell to become a bear, because it that would require an extra magnitude for Size.

I probably wouldn’t consider it a cosmetic change given that animal forms have different attributes...

I wouldn’t allow it at start with Formulaic Magic but I could totally see allowing for research - especially by a magus or maga with FFM - to eventually make a generic +1 or +2 complexity guideline for MuCo spells allowing for more flexible changes. (Perhaps lower the breakthrough threshold for a magus that already has FFM or something?)


Kind of up to the group.

Changing into any bird stays within a single guideline, so based on precedents for other spells, one might argue for +1 or +2 magnitudes to change into any bird.

Once you allow that, the same holds for any fish or any land animal, etc.

And then iirc, existing rules would allow you to combine the guidelines, choosing the highest one, adding another +1 magnitude for each extra guideline involved, allowing transformation into any animal.

And then a group can simply say no to any of this, as desired, and argue instead that it doesn't make sense here.



You were looking at this guideline?

I'd let this spell give you a lot of leeway.

I'd let it change shape of the woodland prowler into shape of any mammal you feel like changing in to (of size 0 or smaller).

I'd let it change cloak of black feathers into cloak of any bird you feel like. I'd consider perhaps even letting a cloak of black feathers modified by a muto vim spell from that guideline change you in to a mammal or a fish.

Size +1 or smaller, surely? Since that the size of the base Individual for both Corpus and Animal.

But then it might not be 'cosmetic' any more, since you're changing guidelines.

The easiest way would be granting the Shapeshifter Virtue to that character. E.g. through a Twilight understood experience. Of course he could try to include the Ability Shapeshifter as a part of The Gift and/or the hermetic theory.

:blush: whoops. +1 or smaller, yes

Where does 'cosmetic' come from? The guideline I quoted says "significant".

My apologies :blush:
I was suggesting that as long as you used the same guideline (and parameters) from the MuCo box, I'd let you change the exact land animal as a superficial change (Ref: MuVi guidelines), which for some reason I recalled as being 'cosmetic' rather than 'superficial'.
Changing the MuCo-guideline might be more tricky, especially since you can usually only change 2 magnitudes worth of parameters, while the change in MuCo-parameters from 'turn to bird' to 'turn to land animal' is 3 magnitudes (base 25 vs base 10).

Or you could learn a version of the spell for land animals, and another one for birds & fish, to have two baselines to work from.
Going from 2 to 1 magnitude's difference about doubles the spell level that your MuVi spell can target (p159), and two spells to learn is already much better than one per species.
As a SG, I would problably require an extra magnitude to go between fish and bird (not quite as hard as changing by 2 magnitudes, but still)

Edit: btw, "Turn into a bird or fish" is lvl 20 and "land animal" is lvl 10, so that's 2 mags of difference, not 3 (p132)

So I have a question - If you learn a formulaic MuCo(An) spell such as Shape of the Woodland Prowler, can you use a simple MuAn spell using the level 5 guideline "Change an animal into a different animal." from that point to change from the wolf to whatever animal you want? You'd skip the higher guidelines of MuCo(An) and all the MuAn spells would count as similar? It wouldn't solve everything, but lower, similar spells are at least learned a little faster and it removes the need for a higher score in a 3rd Form (Vim)?

Yes you can. I can't see any reason why not. This has come up previously for bjornaer use and I recall that no one had any issues with it at that point either. (you'll have to deal with voices and gestures when in a critter form.

Base 5 range personal duration diameter target individual makes it level 10. There are a lot of characters who could spont that and thereby have any given creature available to them at any time they wished.

So it is. Mea Culpa.

Using a MuAn spell base 5 is a great work around! It’s base 5 regardless of the animal.
If the starting animal shape is already large then these are probably no additional mags for making it smaller too?

A transformed person/item can be targeted based on their current Form OR based on their original Form, right?

Right. That's nailed down explicitly on page 22 of HoH: Mystery Cults

the best way IMO to get that kind of flexibility in transformation would be to take some kind of magical focus for turning into animals and/or a faerie sympathy with doing so, and get to where you can simply spontaneously cast the spell.

That's a darn good suggestion too, and if I was re-inventing the magus from the ground up that would be very tempting. I'll have to re-read faerie sympathy.