Phantasm of the Human Form clarification

Ave Magi et amicis, I'm new here. This is my first post. (Is there a place where we can introduce ourselves?)

My question is about the Phantasm of the Human Form spell (ArM5 p144):

Can the magus choose the appearance (face, gender, clothing, mannerism) of the human at casting time, or is this all determined once and for all when the spell is designed? Is this human form one very specific persona, or can the magus tailor the phantasm to the situation at hand?

Could the illusion change its appearance somewhat while the spell is active? For instance, could an illusory soldier take off his helmet while having a conversation with someone? Could a maid wipe her hands in her apron and will the stains remain there?

Since I have to motivate this to the game master that will run our campaign, I'd love some references to rules or precedences in other spells. But just your personal opinion would be great too.

Thank you very much in advance.

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While I'm not the best one to answer, wrong answers always makes people appear to correct you so something is something.
Imaginem spells generally have a set general shape "Maid", "Dog", "Hamburger" or so on. But detail can be made during casting with a Finesse roll, E.G. "Blue dress", "Golden Fur", "Chicken Flavour" and so on.
As a rule of thumb, regular Hermetic spells without Muto or Rego Requisites can't be transformed mid-duration (The dress remains Blue and so on) but they can be altered with another spell (Muto Vim to change the effect or Muto Imaginem to affect the species created by the spell).

A SG may allow a spell to do something like what you describe with Requisites or Arcane Experimentation though.

Hope this helps.


This is good stuff. Thx.

So, a soldier and a maid are two different shapes? A successful Finesse roll would not turn the one into the other? Couldn't the Human Form in the spell name be interpreted as the shape?

What about a second MuIm spell to tailor the original phantasm? What stats would be required? Level 10 (Base 2, +2 Voice, +2 Sun)?

Can a spell be altered while it is active? Do I need a Concentration roll for that?

I said I'm not the best to explain because I never understood how general things are but it's mostly SG Fiat at that point as it doesn't break anything.
About the MuIm, yes you can do that no problem, spells can be modified either with the Form of what they are doing (Ignem, Aquam, Imaginem) or with Vim.
You don't need a concentration check for that unless one of the spells is of Concentration duration (Or similar ones like Recitation from RoP:D).

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Since you asked. :smile: Muto Vim can't be used in a spell that is already existing, only on a spell as it is being cast.


My point was proven xD

There appear to be no examples of CrIm spells creating only specific illusions in ArM5 (like the p.131 MuCo(An) spells resulting in specific animal shapes) - but this keeps your question still valid. Was there some oversight when wording the MuIm and CrIm spells? Those who came from ArM4 knew.

But how to make sure from ArM5 material only?

There is the item Signet of Hallam from MoH (Magi of Hermes) p.93f, which in its wording makes clear, that the restriction of its illusions to replicate only features of Lord Richard of Hallam is specific to that item, not to the far more general spell effects worked into it.

The spell works just like
Disguise of the New Visage
, except that the effect can only
duplicate the face of a single person - that of Lord Richard of Hallam

The spell works just like
Voice of the Leucrota
, except that the effect can only
duplicate the voice of a single person - that of Lord Richard of Hallam

This implies, that the Imaginem spell effects listed in ArM5 allow far more choice at casting time - in fact as much as the wording of the spell examples leave.


1st, welcome to the voiced members :slight_smile: :smirk_cat:

If you want maximum flexibility to have the spell "change" as you go, make it concentration with a concentration roll every time you change something significant. Finesse will allow you to roll toward the quality of the illusion.

Alternatively, you can build in perfection into the effect by making static and it recreates something designed into the effect without the need for rolls but these can't be changed

In the middle, you have the effects that depend on the initial casting with a finesse roll so you can adapt to the situation but it will not adapt itself after casting. You can add to these effects complexity magnitutes. The more you add, the more flexibility you gain. In OoTHM, you have +2 mags so it obeys to you & +1 intricacy which allows you to custom the illusion. The higher level version has a +6 & Rq Memtem to mimic intelligence. I like to allow +1 mag for more flexibility such as the ones you are reffering to which is the ability to change clothes post casting or to give the caster +3 to finess rolls.



Great replies. Thanks so much everyone.

Ok, this is interesting. Does it apply to Muto Imaginem too? And does "as-it-is-being-cast" mean that someone else must cast the second spell, or is a rapid succession of both spells by the same caster enough?

I know this is nitpicking, but one wolf is not another. They differ in color and size, not to mention gender and race. Those MuCo(An) spells don't specify any of that either.

What do you mean by that? Were ArM4 spells clearer? Is there a reason those can't be used as valid references?

I don't think the first spell matters since it is a MuCo spell. But Voice of Lord Richard Hallam gives a valuable clue. However I don't know how to interpret the +1 Conc and the +5 item maintains concentration.

That would be great.

Does that mean I have to add a +1 Conc to the Phantasm spell, making it a level 30?

Is perfection a modifier?

That would concur with @OneShot's argumentation.

So, how much variation (at casting time) will a finesse roll allow? Can I change one single feature? Or can I make any type of human of regular size with garments and accessories I see fit?

Sorry, what is this OoTHM? Do you mean Phantasm of the Human Form?

Is there a rule reference that specifies this somewhere? Or do you mean when you SG in your campaigns?

Making the Phantasm spell concentration lowers the spell level from level 25 to 20. Typically, concentration spells are more flexible. Flight spells allow you to change course, InMe spells allow you to probe the mind.

Adding magnitudes can give a bonus to your finesse roll & the higher the roll the closer to perfection but I think you mean to refer about making an illusion of quality but that has only one aspect. Like the Signet of Hallam which was talked about before. Designed to do one thing perfectly... or as perfect as the initial finesse roll make at the creation of the effect.


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Is that of importance here? If you change a woman into a wolf, in general she becomes a she-wolf. Nit-picking in general results in SG decisions. :nerd_face:

Yes, 4th edition was overridden in ArM5.
But most early readers of ArM5 had 4th edition in mind - so it still helps to understand ArM5. The 4th edition spell list (core book p.102ff) lists "most useful, interesting and exemplary of these spells" - so clearly every entry there is a single spell.
ArM5 Spells (p.111) starts with spell guidelines, and the following spells do also exemplify the use of the guidelines. Hence it is is harder to recall, that they still also list (ArM5 p.111) the "most useful, interesting and exemplary of these spells", and that every listed spell is a single one - unless one entry like p.160 Wizard's Boost (Form) explicitly describes a group of such spells.

Fot this you need to look up ArM5 p.99 Effect Modifications. The Signet of Hallam is an enchanted item, and its effects have addtional properties and stats.
These don't have relevance for your OP, though.

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Ave Xenopsychophilos! and welcome

There is a certain lack of detail in the main rule book, but here is how I would adjudicate as SG, if it ever came up in my Saga:

Imaginem spells that are intricate and dynamically moving, such as Phantasm of the Human Form and Disguise of the Transformed Image can be thought as the magical equivalent of motion-capture computer graphics.
In the MuIm Disguise of the Transformed Image you are mapping the motion capture to the person underneath.
With the CrIm Phantasm of the Human Form the spell inherently creates the, um, not quite certain how to says this, perhaps theoretical image of an ideal human form (not Form) to map the motion capture onto.

The details of the motion-capture mapping are defined by a Finesse roll at the spell casting, and the spell design/nature of Imaginem is such that a generic shape/design/concept (eg maid, soldier, courtier, etc) of the mapping is so easy a Finesse role that it works effectively by default. You probably don't even need a Finesse roll to deal with mapping the changing lighting conditions due to light and shadow sources.
To get more detail in the image (increase the polygon count/number of bits in the colour palette), you need a better Finesse roll. Eg if the maid's dress has particular detail and/or design or wear and tear, or can twirl and reveal a petticoat, if the soldier's uniform accurately matches the local army, or if the helmet is a moveable separate piece or simply welded to the head.

Note that all the details of the image are decided at spell casting and Finesse roll. For the maid to wipe her hand and stain the apron, the stuff on her hands must be there at spell casting, and the Finesse roll needs to be high so that part of the image can transfer to her apron.

But always remember that the spell-caster's casting sigil is highly likely show up in the image.

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I personally believe the intent of the spell is it can be changed at the time of casting. If the person was meant to be chosen at the time the spell is learnt, one simple change in the rulebook "Makes an image of a specific clothed and equipped person that can make noise." would make it clearer. "specific" not being there suggests choosing the person at time of casting.

Also, not being able to change the person would make lab texts on the spell near useless. (ArM5 p102) under Using Laboratory Text "No features of a spell or enchanted item effect may be changed". It might be funny having the same illusory guy cast by a bunch of order magi, however, it greatly reduces the spells usefulness. This also suggests choosing the person at time of casting.


While not explicitly stated RAW, I have always used the guide in my sagas that the more specific the spell is, the less trouble it is to use. Okay, that's a crappy explanation: Lets example!

Disguise of the New Visage: Decide your new image, and make a Finesse roll to determine how good it is when mimicking.
Signet of Hallam: You always look like Lord Richard of Hallam. No finesse roll.

I also have a tendency to allow a bit more leeway when magi are casting spells as opposed to items, and allow pretty much no leeway for items that function without human activation.


Having the item be Concentration allows the spell to be ended at will - a Sun duration spell cannot be ended early by taking the ring off.


I'm with RM on specificity verse difficulty in casting and have made that argument on several spells in the Fan Grimoire. Another way I would allow an exact copy other than a spell specifically designed to copy one person would be with an AC. My group is fairly harsh on getting an exact copy of something rolling Finesse (you need an Exceptional roll), with success just giving you something close enough that those very familiar with the subject can notice something "off" with a Perception roll.

Disguise of the Connection: You always look like someone you have an AC of. No finesse roll.

Conc and Item Maintains is a very good combination for enchanted items. A disguise not shutting off when you want it to is only a minor inconvenience but there are easily several effects that starting and ending when you desire is important. Powerful offensive and defensive effects, changing yourself to lightning for movement, etc.


I agree, but there are spells where the Finesse roll is specified in the example text, while Phantasm of the Human Form does not. I don't mind it per se, but each extra roll requirement is a potential failure. I wish it were a little more precise and consistent.

Also, there are already a +2 move at your command and a +1 intricacy modifier included in the spell cost. Wouldn't that compensate for something at least?

We've had a food-moth infestation in our gaming room until recently. Nothing serious, but dozens of small yellow butterfly-like insects were flying around seemingly coming from nowhere, especially irritating the owner of the room. In reference to that, my mage has minute purple and golden butterflies spawning all over the place whenever she casts a spell. :-).

That's another very good point.

Yes, I noticed that too. But there is also the concentration test when the mage is being bothered, either at initial spell casting, or while maintaining a spell.

Phantasm of the Human Form has the particularity of being a Sun duration spell, where occasionally the magus has to mentally direct the behavior of the phantasm (moving and talking). So I imagine that when the magus does not think of the illusory character, it automatically reverts to its normal behavior like the spell description states. The soldier could start dreamily stare at the ground, occasionally shift his weight, but ignore whenever people address him.

Phantasm of the Human form doesn't have those specific rules, but the Imaginem intro rules do mention finesse, such as:

The Creo Imaginem guidelines sidebar explains the Complexity modifiers.

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Yes, you're right. Good point.