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Hey everyone.

I just had a question about flesh form insect spirits. Magic in the Shadows states that flesh form spirits have physical attributes based upon the hosts physical attributes. But what about the hosts other skills, magical abilities, critter abilities(in the case of Paranormal critters) and such? And how much of the spirit abilities cross over into the flesh form critter as well(Insect spirit abilities, Str S physical attack and the like)?

I would assume the good merges carry all of the old hosts skills, abilities and such and not the ability to rip a troll to shreds, while the lower flesh forms have the buggy type attributes(Claws and pincer attacks, bug spirit abilities and the like) but none of the hosts old skills or abilities.

Can anyone clarify this for me?

p.128 MitS: It only talks about 1) gaining the memories of the host. That may include skills, but I wouldn't say that would include abilities. A host mage is going to lose the ability to do magic if taken over by an insect spirit. They do gain the spirit powers, but are stuck with str M damage, which can be pretty high (minimal 6).

Workers do get the skill spirit ability.

Sorry, but an ant soldier ain't working magic, just cause his host was a vampire, or a mage, or a shaman.

There is a slight GM fiat here, in that a Queen could potentially gift her servants with some power, i.e. an innate spell or one that she takes the drain for. But since she's pulling the strings on when it gets cast, it might be okay. But, no. They won't get magical skills. The memories could and probably should give them access to the skills of the host, but that's about it.

Ancient History
"Good Merges" get all of their hosts memories and skills (not sure about magic, I would have to check); flesh forms do not retain skills.
A.H. check my page reference.

p. 128, MitS:
A "good merge" is created. The host body retains its original form and gains the power of aura masking. [...] Technically, it is a flesh form, but the spirit gains access to the host memories and can mimic the host.
(my bold).

I take this to mean that yes, it does get access to the skills but it does not mention the abilities of the host. Now you get down to the philosophical question, if it's not mentioned, does that mean it's valid, or if it's not mentioned, is it invalid. My interpretation is that abilities are not mentioned, therefore the spirit does not gain access to them.

Ancient History
Hrm. Bugs invested in paracritters retain the para-critter abilities.
A flesh form doesn't get the active skills of it's host, though it may get the knowledge skills. A perfect merge does get it's hosts skills, which make it a great spy for the hive.
Hmmm. From Threats2. Now we reach the problem. From a game balance POV, I'd go with no for letting the bugs keep magical abilities. It...just doesn't seem to work. Plus, the spirits are being invested in paracritters, i.e. things with paranormal, yet innate abilities. Magic may be innate, but I haven't seen a human learning paralyzing touch, SURGE notwithstanding. Yes they learn skills, but I'd argue that the connect between brain, genes, and the astral is replaced by the insect spirit's nature, which destroys the brain-astral connection by inserting the insect spirit nature.

Assuming that point, then the insect spirit isn't messing with genetics, thus letting the paracritter innate abilities remain available to the spirit. Then, the rare HMVV host would let the insect spirit make use of its powers, minus magical ones.

That's the compromise and probably best answer I can come up with based on what I know.

Ok here's the thing I'm most confused about:

There are several states of Flesh Form spirits, ranging from perfect merges to dual natured man sized bugs. Now the book states that the flesh forms don't recieve any natural armor, but can wear armor. But what about natural weaponry and such? I mean, I would assume that a good merge wouldn't have any natural weaponry because he/she doesn't have claws or mandibles or anything like that. But on the other end of the spectrum it would make sense that the low end flesh forms, that are basically just big dual natured bugs, would have some natural weaponry to attack with. However neither MiTS or even Bug City addresses whether or not these flesh form bugs have these natural weapons. Not to mention the half bug half human hybrid flesh forms whom would have arms and hands, but would also logically have claws and teeth as well. Can anybody clarify this in particular?

Also, as far as the magic thing, at second thought I think it would make sense for a perfect merge (and a perfect merge only) to retain Sorcery and spellcasting ability from it's former host. If it's purely up for a judgement call, I would side towards that way, but if anyone can site where it would say otherwise, I'd appreciate it. I could also argue the same thing for a perfect merge of a paranormal critter.
And I'd still go with no. It states that good merges get their memories, not their skills. One can take memories and the ability to mimic hosts as simply that, i.e. they can protray their hosts but they aren't their hosts. Magic is one of those things that remains intimately connected to the host on many levels and I'd argue it's lost when the merge takes place, even if it's good. Good doesn't equal perfect. Some part of the person is gone for good, and I'd assume it's the magical part. Remember, the flesh forms are permenant dual beings. Even a mantis spirit can leave her body sitting somewhere and take a jaunt on the astral. I'd go negative on this one. You're also comparing innate, paranormal powers with skills using talents. One is a genetic given while the other is a learned utilization of what may be a genetic talent. I believe Awakenings also makes reference to mages and shamans who did go and become hosts and ending up lossing their magic and being disappointed because things "didn't work out as they had imagined they would".

For the twisted flesh forms, if you want, go with they have armor equal to their force and (force + modified str.)M (actually, I might end up doing that in my games). I will admit that the stats don't exactly correspond to some of the things recorded in Universal Brotherhood, Double Expose, or Bug City, in that the flesh forms are supposed to "take a licking and keep on kicking".


A thought: It says they can mimic them.
Thus, I would assume that they retain access to all abilities.
After all, if Mechanic Joe-Bob is 'involved' in a good merge then that creature is meant to be able to mimic him- thus infiltrating human society, etc.
If Joe-Bob's mergee doesn't retain its skills then it cannot mimic him because it won't know which end of a spanner to club the tea-boy with (and other Car B/R related quirks).

However, as relates to magic, I'd in this case- and with the input given already here- be inclined to view them as the equivalent of a 'burned out' magician. That is to say: They have the skills, but the magic that went with them is gone- the magic they have now is the magic of the spirit itself.

Two-cents, delivered in a hopefully logically and vaguely concisely (oxymoronically) manner.
Ancient History
In the adventure modules, all good merges retain skills. But I haven't seen a case of a magician being a good merge (technically, you'd think they'd be perfect...high willpower, magical ability means aura masking doesn't stick out so much, etc.)
Fair enough, I see everyone's point on the magic thing. Really, the only reason I can see going for it is if a mage gets turned into a good merge by an insect spirit, his buddies would be pretty suspicious of him if he all of a sudden no longer can cast magic. That's more of a "to uphold the story" thing though, rather than a "does this ruling make sense".

It pretty much seems that the Flesh Forms are a pretty hazy subject within the published materials that I'll probably just have to essentially improvise(Which is fine with me). I'd also agree with Shad that some of the more twisted flesh forms would have armor and physical attacks. Just kind of makes sense in my opinion.

Thanks for everyones input!
Actually, this brought a new idea to fermentation. A hive should always have a shaman around for 1 important spell: boost willpower. Thinking in metagame terms, a good merge will tend to preculde having a high force spirit. High force spirits tend to cause either true forms or twisted flesh forms. If you want decent good merges, why not have the shaman summon the insect (without the +2 if the queen helps) and have put a sustaining focus with boost willpower on the subject/victim. The chances are better then that a good merge will happen and that it will be powerful. That is a good thing, from a hive's point of view.

::evil grin::

You sir, are on to something.

On the same note, if the bugs wanted to ensure the summoning of a true form(Which is pretty much the most sheerly powerful of the different forms), they could use a decrease spell to make the host more likely to emerge as a true form spirit.
Would you even need the sustaining focus? I mean the roll only happens when the spirit first takes possession, right? So you just sustain the spell and pop the spirit inside, then drop it after it's taken hold. Or use 2 shamen if it's an exclusive action (can't remember and don't feel like digging through books). Because if the Willpower needs to STAY high rather than just be high for the summoning, wouldn't Decrease Willpower be a popular bug detection spell? "Hey, our fixer's acting weird since he joined that freaky little cult. Maybe it's another Universal Brotherhood thing...let's see if he turns into a monster when the Rat Shaman reduces his willpower..."

The Abstruse One
Drug 'em using Novacoke or some Willpower boosting drug.
If you're the GM, and making flesh forms, make anything you want. Ignore drugs or spells. You're the GM.

If you're a player, and making flesh forms, you should be ashamed of yourself.
In the adventure modules, all good merges retain skills. But I haven't seen a case of a magician being a good merge (technically, you'd think they'd be perfect...high willpower, magical ability means aura masking doesn't stick out so much, etc.)

If you're hermetic, this makes sense. On the other hand, if you're a shaman, your magical ability comes from your relationship with your avatar. When Mr Dog Shaman gets invested with a Beetle spirit and becomes a Good Merge, Dog would drop him like a hot potato. Is he then a burned out Shaman, or would you assume that he's now a Good Merge Beetle Shaman that otherwise has the same Sorcery skills as before.

Other question: If you say that a Mage or Shaman does retain his magical abilities, how does he handle conjuring? Would this mean that he automatically gets promoted to queen-like status and able to summon more insect spirits (even if still subservient to the true queen)?

[edit] Good Merges seem to be pretty self-limiting, because to get the 5+ net successes needed on the host's willpower test, the bug's force will have to be 2 or 3 at it's highest. So now you've got a good merge that can't cast spells higher than force 3, and only has Willpower 3 for resisting mana spells. Not nearly as scary as the original mage was.

What's scarier is if the queen gets up to a decently high force, then goes free when you toast her shaman. She'll automatically get 1-3 spirit powers, which could include sorcery.
QUOTE (Calvin)
If you're the GM, and making flesh forms, make anything you want. Ignore drugs or spells. You're the GM.

If you're a player, and making flesh forms, you should be ashamed of yourself.

You so beat me to it!! Curses!

As for having flesh form hermetics...aren't these buggers tough enough as it is?

I come down on the side of flesh forms cannot be spell slingers. When the invading spirit takes over the body of the host it fundamentaly alters the host's aura, thus depriving that being of the ability to manipulate mana in the way it previously did. The conduit is severed, in a sense. Plus it would muck up Astral Projection.

By the same hand, a Conjurer Aspected Adept could not retain those abilities if invested with a spirit. Spirits cannot--with the exception of a "free" Queen Insect Spirit--summon other spirits. Period. So, why would a Sorcerer be able to cast spells. See above for the "Aura Altering" thing I pulled out of my...back pocket.

How's that sound? smile.gif
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