The “Create Object” spell
There’s a very curious spell belonging to the school of Illusion and Creation, “Create Object“, which allows the caster to cheaply conjure a simple artifact (cup, robe, sword, etc) of his choosing out of thin air, without a fixed duration or maintenance cost. Naturally, it is a very powerful spell in the hands of a creative player, so there are some major limitations in place to prevent abuse: objects only persist so long as they are very close to a living, thinking being, the created food will only appear nourishing without actually being such (there’s a separate spell in another school for creating actual food), you must possess related crafting skills to conjure complex objects and you cannot create information you don’t know. Furthermore, I’ve read that GMs tend to forbid applications that can be replicated by spells from other schools – for instance, one can’t Create a lit torch (~Fire spells, “Ignite Fire”) or a quantity of radioactive metal (~Energy spells, “Create Fuel/TL”).
Consuming Created food
Let’s say, an apprentice illusionist gets hungry during his studies, so he conjures (with Create Object) and eats a sandwitch to quench his sense of hunger until the proper lunchtime. The food eaten remains “close” to his body, so it doesn’t merely “vanish” at any point in time, and there’s nothing in the spell description suggesting that its biochemistry would differ in any significant way from a “real” sandwitch – so it should get digested by his stomach, broken down into “fake” nutrients and spread through his bloodstream.
Why the created food is not truly nourishing, then, if it’s so similar to the real kind, has the same mass and consistency? I can think of many possible explanations, but that goes beyond the scope of this question. For now, I think it can be safely assumed that it simply breaks somewhere within the body after too many divisions and alterations.
The “Transform Object” spell
So far, so good – not too much of an abuse potential. However, I’ve recently stumbled upon yet another fascinating spell called “Transform Object”, which belongs to the Making and Breaking school and is similar in a lot of ways. It reads like so:
Transform Object (VH)
Changes an object into another object of the same weight. The change can be anything – a gun could be turned into a rag doll, for instance. As with Create Object (p. 98), anything the mage brings into existence must be something he is familiar with. To turn something into a functional object, the caster must have the appropriate skill for making a similar object; the rag doll mentioned above will be a pretty poor rag doll unless the caster has Sewing skill, and if he wants to turn a rag doll into a gun, he’d better have Armoury skill.
An object held or worn by someone resists with its owner’s Will.
Duration: 1 hour.
Cost: 1 to cast for every pound the object weighs (minimum of 1 pound). Double cost to change to (or from) stone, triple for metal. Same cost to maintain.
Time to cast: Equal to cost, in seconds.
Prerequisites: Magery 2, Reshape, and at least four “Create” spells.
Unlike with Create, the Transform spell has a fixed duration – and once it’s over, the object transforms back into its original form.
So… What exactly would happen to an object, heavily altered during transformation, once the transformation over?
Suppose we take the rag doll from example in the spell description, tear its head off (sorry, poor doll) and put both pieces on separate surfaces. What will they change back to?
- Two deformed pieces of metal?
- Two accurate piles of components?
- Perphaps, one piece will simply vanish while the other reform into the whole and pristine gun – the “master molecule” theory?
- Something else?
And things get even more confusing when I start considering other applications for various objects and the questions that arise.
What would happen if one were to eat a gun transformed into a pudding?
- Will the metal dust reform in body cells?
- Will it reform whole and pristine inside the stomach (leading to quite a painful condition) or maybe even in a blood vessel?
- Heck, would the metal somehow “reinforce” the skin, perphaps providing an additional DR factor? This would, perphaps, fit a “silly” campaign, but not if GM is aiming for realism.
What would happen if one were to burn the said rag doll and breathe some of the smoke?
And what poisoning rules should apply in the pessimistic cases like inhaling or digesting the would-be metal dust? Could GM use HT rolls to determine what happens in each specific case, and what kind of rolls? A clever player could use this in place of a lethal poison – so… should GM forbid such cases outright because there are separate spells for poisoning food and the whole art of Alchemy, as well as the balance concerns?
Naturally, undocumented matters like these lie in the discretion of the GM. But surely there some guidelines one can use?
“Mr. Potter, suppose a student Transfigured a block of wood into a cup of water, and you drank it. What do you imagine might happen to you when the Transfiguration wore off?” There was a pause. “Excuse me, I should not have asked that of you, Mr. Potter, I forgot that you are blessed with an unusually pessimistic imagination-”
“I’m fine,” Harry said, swallowing hard. “So the first answer is that I don’t know,” the Professor nodded approvingly, “but I imagine there might be… wood in my stomach, and in my bloodstream, and if any of that water had gotten absorbed into my body’s tissues – would it be wood pulp or solid wood or…” Harry’s grasp of magic failed him. He couldn’t understand how wood mapped into water in the first place, so he couldn’t understand what would happen after the water molecules were scrambled by ordinary thermal motions and the magic wore off and the mapping reversed.
McGonagall’s face was stiff. “As Mr. Potter has correctly reasoned, he would become extremely sick and require immediate Flooing to St. Mungo’s Hospital if he was to have any chance of survival. Please turn your textbooks to page 5.”
— “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality”