As mentioned earlier, enchants on items grow weaker over time and eventually expire. How does this apply to shaping items with magic?
Let’s say you’re making a sword. Instead of hammering it out, blow after blow with a hammer you’re dealing equivalent blows with magic you are wielding. The sword will take on its shape and retain it either way. It was shaped by an external force. Whether that force was applied through blows of a hammer or through magic does not matter as long as the actual force is the same.
Now, what would happen if the sword was shaped by magic in other ways. A lump of metal is pulled and flattened and eventual attains the shape of a sword. Will this sword retain its shape or would it eventually return to the shape of the lump of metal it had when the magical forces were first applied?
I would argue that it doesn’t, but I’d be happy to hear arguments to the contrary. My theory is that the magic is applied in order to shape the lump of metal into a sword. The magic isn’t applied to keep the lump of metal in a sword shape. Once the shaping is done all magic is withdrawn and what remains is the sword. This sword will not start to spontaneously reshape itself into a lump of metal.
If however magic was used to keep the lump of metal in the shape of a sword things would be different. Once the magic started to wane the sword would slowly but surely return to its lump origin.
What about enchants?
Let’s stick with the sword analogy again. Once the sword is created – how is not relevant in this case – it can be enchanted. Enchanting the sword imbues it with magical energy/power which is use to provide the sword with some property it wouldn’t normally have.
Let’s say the sword is enchanted to retain its sharp edge. It won’t chip or dull no matter how you treat the sword – as long as the enchant is active. The enchant is always active, it prevents any change whatsoever to the sword. Whenever a notch or a scratch would appear in a normal sword the enchant prevents it. The enchant is a force within the material that makes up the sword.
The magical energy sustaining the enchant will eventually expire and when that happens, what happens with the sword? Will it all of a sudden acquire all of the scratches and dents it would have if it wasn’t protected by the enchant or will it stay as it is but start getting scratched and dented whenever used? I’m arguing the latter, but the former might provide for some interesting consequences. The sword won’t “remember” all the scratches and dents it didn’t receive due to the enchant, as they never happened.
Simple rule of thumb?
- If magic is used to apply external forces to reshape an object, the shape will be retained after the magic is gone.
- If magic is used to apply internal forces to keep an object in a shape, the object will return to its original shape after the magic is gone.
- Shaping = External
- Enchanting = Internal
There are sure to be all kinds of exceptions and these rules may need to be revised or even trashed completely.
The laws of physics as they apply to the internal composition of materials still apply. Things such as elasticity and whatnot still need to be considered. A lump of metal that has been magically shaped into a sword probably looks cool, but it won’t stand up to a sword painstakingly hammered out by a master smith.
It is likely possible to magically create a sword to rival that crafted by a master smith but it will require skill and power enough to manipulate the metal on a molecular level throughout the entire sword in order for it to last. The sword could of course be enchanted to grant the same properties and more, but as mentioned above; enchants expire.
It is not possible to permanently reshape living material/tissue. Attempting to use shaping magic on a tree or a human (or other living being) is possible but not recommended. Not only is the process itself is likely to be painful, it is also not permanent. Unless you are able to correctly modify the genetic code of your target (which you won’t, that’s just the way it is) the body will want to return to its original shape, or as close to possible to it. This is also likely to be painful.
The exception to the above rule about reshaping living things are the elven lifeshapers. These are elves with the ability to permanently change the shape of living things – including humans and other sentient beings. That however is not magic, it’s something else, more on that later.