Hitchhiker's Guide to the Planes
The orc chieftain’s massive frame shook as he let out a deep rhonchus laugh mocking the young sorcerer standing defiantly before him.
“Say it again so tribe can hear” He says, almost jauntily wiping a tear from his eye with a massive finger.
Caraldius just smiled and chuckled to himself. “I am going to kill you, with this” he says casually indicating the tiny crossbow he had placed on the muddy earth before him. “And when I do, the rest of your tribe will let us pass UNHARMED”
This time, the entire tribe of orcs break into howls of mocking laughter, the horrid stench of their breath washing over Caraldius and his companions like a wave. Eventually, they die down and the chieftain, barely holding barely holding back a mocking grin, responds.
“Yes. Kill me with puny weapon and you can go.”
Without another word, the massive orc composes himself and stands to his full height. The massive wall of flesh and muscle dwarfing the sorcerer before him. A wry grin crosses Caraldius’ face as he moves one foot forward sticking the toes up. He utters a single word.
“Please”. With that, the tiny weapon on the earth rapidly balloons up to a full sized ballista. Before the orc can react, the firing mechanism impacts Caraldius’ waiting foot and the ballista fires, impaling the now ex chieftain.
-From the biography of the renowned sorcerer Caraldius
Many mages attempt to circumvent the skill and power required to cast the spell polymorph by creating spells of a lower order that are limited to a more specific effect. The spells disguise and alter self have proven to be the most enduring examples of this. The creators of shrink item (a pair of prodigal but mischievous students) had intended to do the same by creating a spell specifically to reduce someone to a diminutive stature without the additional exertion required for polymorph. Unfortunately, being largely ignorant to the subtle nuance polymorph entails, they ultimately failed in their endeavor. Through their experimentation however, the crafters realized their spell was effective on inanimate objects and from that realization they created the spell we know today.
Shrink item effectively reduce every dimension of the target to 1/16th its original size. Due to the beauty of math, the volume and mass of the object are also reduced by a factor of roughly 4000. Shrink item lasts for several days, but can be ended prematurely by either speaking a command word (chosen at time of casting) or throwing the object against a solid surface.
Unlike its far more elegant polymorph counterparts, shrink item functions by creating a “map” of the object targeted and simply reduces the amount of matter contained within. This relatively simple operation makes shrink item substantially easier to cast than it otherwise would be but it also means it would effectively kill living targets (it should be noted that the spell simply fails when targeted at any living creature larger than a mouse).
Since shrink item alters the makeup of target (instead of shrinking every particle) there are some interesting effects that one may not expect. For example, a lit candle can be shrunk and will remain lit when returned to normal size (but will produce no heat or light while shrunk). Frozen objects can also be shrunk and will be unable to thaw for the duration of the spell. Another interesting interaction is that a caster can alter the composition of the remaining matter to be cloth like. This means that a metal sword can not only be rendered miniscule but also easily malleable.
When compared to the vast majority of spells, shrink item is relatively simple to cast. That said, its deceptively simple nature can prove next to impossible for casters who have yet to master the first and second orders of spells.
To cast, first you must place a hand upon the target of the spell. You may hold the object or simply rest your hand upon it. Next, you must focus intently on the object as if attempting to see its underlying framework, every piece, every material, every component. You then trace an outline of the object in as much detail as possible with your other hand. Finally, recite the incantation: “et omnia quae in eo loco” followed by the command word you wish to attach to the item. Three traces and three incantations should suffice, but if you are capable of casting faster, seven is ideal.
So long as you don’t attempt to cast the spell on something alive or exceedingly large there is little consequence for failure. The issue many casters have is with improper use such as attaching a command word that they use every day. Nothing punctuates a sentence quite like having your shrunken chest return to full size in your trousers.