I don't seem to have any LotR or Stargate challenges going. Are there any? I've only just gone back on "mail" on my LotR lists, so I'm a little out of the loop there. Also, I don't think I'm really in the LotR loop on LJ either. I went to the LotR BNF deathmatch thingy and looked at a bunch of the BNF LJs and it seemed to be actually Lotrips, which is not my bag. Hmm.
As the latest in my long list of questions about magic in Harry Potter, I present:
How the hell does transfiguration work?
I was talking with kestrelsan about my Remus/Snape story, trying to work out what Remus is doing with himself at the time I've set the story, and I got wondering about wizard wealth. Why is Remus poor? Why can't he just use magic to get what he needs?
It seems that there must be some limits on transfiguration, but the books don't really seem to support that. Sure, it's hard to do, but once mastered, seems to have a permanent effect.
In PS, Hagrid tries to transfigure Dudley into a pig. He fails, but Dudley has a pig's tail that has to be surgically removed. In GoF, Cedric transfigures a rock into a dog.
Do you need to learn a specific spell for each kind of transfiguration? It seems unlikely, since why would they teach students to transfigure teapots to tortoises, then?
Do you expend a lot of energy in the transfiguration? Does it take more calories to transfigure a stone into a bun than the bun has in it? The students complain about the difficulty of the spells, but they don't seem to be all that physically taxed by them.
(That would be an interesting wizard slimming programme -- transfigure all your food yourself so that you lose weight even though you're eating.)
There must be a limiting factor. But I just can't see what it is, given what we know so far.