When one thinks about stone one associates a sense of permanence, of elegance, of durability, and perhaps of precision. Combine these attributes with the person of your most hated adversary, or, on the other end of the spectrum, your most trusted minion, and you may well have the key to total domination whatever your overall story arc may be. The picture of a petrified treasurer-seeker or avenger is a venerable image from many traditions, as is that of the warrior whose rocklike flesh is invulnerable to steel. To whichever use you put this technique to, you are sure to attract the buzz of admiration.
- Rolled in nuts. The minimalist interpretation of petrification is the act of applying stones to the person in question. The best results are when you undercoat the individual's skin with sand or pulverized minerals, then use semi-flexible glue to attach small rocks to the surface of the body, with pea gravel around the points of articulation. A top coat of liquid plaster with elasticizing agents might then be applied to even out the surface. This is unlikely to be very effective as an attack against a foe, as the main penalty they would have to undergo for the considerable amount of trouble is some slight measure of discomfort, and is more likely to be employed to give yourself or a henchman a sort of armor which might be useful against edged weapons or projectiles.
- Porcelain. This is one step up in realism, wherein the subject is given a smooth, seamless, stone-like shell from head to toe, generally precluding voluntary motion. The ill effects on the receiver accrue from the rigidity of the skin and the obstruction of the airways impeding breathing, and the likelihood of overheating (especially if the subject has been fired in a kiln). When done well, however, it does give a very convincing effect of transforming the person into a statue, without the encumbrance a solid metamorphosis brings.
- Hard candy. This is the one that most people picture when they think of someone having been turned to stone — a man-shaped solid pillar made of rock and nothing but rock. It is the most demanding because one needs to emulate the way it is done in the natural world:
- Sedimentary. Bury the person in silt and mud, apply several thousand atmospheres of pressure and heat, then break the mold.
- Igneous. This is like the "lost wax" technique in casting metal, only instead of molten metal you are using lava and instead of wax you are using your subject. Start off with a rigid and thermally stable mold cavity smeared with high temperature mold release agent, and you can end up with someone you can truly take for granite.
- Metamorphic. This is a matter of refinement, where you take a petrified object prepared by one of the preceding procedures and then apply heat and pressure. It is pretty much the only way to achieve effects as solid alabaster figures, much sought after by collectors.
- Alien. This is where you break out the alien petrification beam and train it on your hapless target. Be careful, however, as a buyer, as a great many of these gadgets on the second-hand market turn out to be nothing much more than a firehose loaded with Portland cement and tricked out with a few spooky sound effects.
Strokes of genius
- Substitutes. These include such materials as chitin, bone, ivory, charcoal, and plastic composite, all of which have their own peculiarities of transmutation. Have the advantage of being much lighter, though it is a lot of trouble getting the true look of rock. Oftentimes, the best and most stylish approach is to abandon the idea of emulating inorganic material at all.
- Clothing. And other accessories. Most prefer to have these transformed into stone at the time of petrification as well, unless you are intentionally going for one of those bracing incongruous looks. Depending on the type of tech (or magic) you are using, this may either be virtually automatic or completely impractical, in which case the best recourse is to strip the individual naked around the time of transitioning. (Beforehand, if you can wrestle them into cooperating, since afterwards they will often freeze into an inconvenient position for easy pantsing.)
- Terra-cotta warrior army. This is where you transform a large number of your minions into fighting, living rock warriors or guards, causing dismay to any opponents armed only with flimsy edged weapons. Remember that if you expect your army to fight you need to make sure that the joints are articulated and that their rock-hard muscles must retain at least a little bit of flexibility to work.
Traps for mere fools
- Haste. Makes waste, especially when it comes to traditional (non-magical) petrification. Nothing is more embarrassing than having your chief enemy start to slip back from a supposedly stone-like state to a struggling, breathing pre-treatment condition, except perhaps having them freeze into a pose that flips an obscene gesture your way perpetually. Do try to avoid being rushed into doing a 90% job when it comes to such hallmarks of the villain’s art.
- Petrifier's remorse. For some reason the dastardly act carries an unusually high rate of second thoughts on the part of the villain (since it is typical that the recipient is in no position for second thoughts of any sort). This may possibly be because the petrified one strikes the petrifier as being much more fetching in this new form, motionless and incapable of making a sound, which says more about the tastes of the one doing the petrification than anything else. Be sure before you commit yourself to whichever grueling process you are using to execute the trick that this is indeed what is in the best interest of all in your evil enterprise.
- Unreinforced floors. As magical spells rarely obey the usual laws of conservation of matter and energy, the transformation of an average-sized human into a block of rock is accompanied by the increase in weight of a good fraction of a ton. Rethink your scheme if it calls for the deed to be done on your prized yacht.
- The gem-swallowing gambit.
Precious and needful
- Schist. Because it is fun to say.
- Spackle. And patching concrete.
- Neoprene gloves.
- Geologist's hammer.
- Whisk broom.
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- Image credit Golem by TheoJunior
- Image credit petrified (II) by Sumit
- Image credit Dave as Golem by davesag
Created by: . Last Modification: Thursday 07 of October, 2010 06:07:36 EDT by .