SR5:Magic:Spirits

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5th Edition Rules
Basics Combat Magic Matrix Driving Character Creation
Spellcasting Preparations Adepts Spirits Traditions Initiation Dark Magic
Spell List Ritual List Spirit List Adept Powers List Mentor Spirits List Metamagics List Traditions List

Spirits are naturally astral forms, much like you’re naturally a physical form. A spirit exists entirely in astral space, with astral attributes equal to its Force. A spirit can manifest (p. 314), use astral travel (p. 313), and get blocked by mana barriers (p. 315), just like any other astral form. Its appearance strongly reflects its type and the tradition of the magician who summoned it. A hermetic fire spirit might look like a traditional fire elemental, while a shaman’s spirit of air might appear as an eagle or a butterfly.

If a spirit wants to affect anything on the physical plane, it has to materialize first (p. 314). It gets physical attributes based on its type (Spirits, p. 303) and appears as a solid, physical version of its astral form—it’s relatively solid even if it doesn’t look solid, like a spirit whirlwind or a water elemental. The spirit is dual-natured while it’s materialized, which means it exists simultaneously on the physical and astral plane, meaning it can see objects in both places—and be targeted by both mages on the physical plane and astral entities, such as astrally projecting mages. When materialized, the spirit is able to perceive the physical world much as other material beings do. A spirit’s physical form is metahuman-sized or smaller and very obviously ethereal (there is no mistaking a spirit for something worldly). Its physical body is not subject to gravity—though most spirits stay close to the ground because that’s where all the action is—but it can be knocked around by other forces (which makes staying grounded handy at times).

Spirits follow the normal rules for combat, whether physical or astral. If all of the boxes on a spirit’s Condition Monitor (either of them) are filled, the spirit is painfully disrupted and is forced back to its home metaplane. Any services it still owes are lost.

There are all sorts of theories and traditions about where spirits come from, and it’s easy to get involved in the kinds of arguments that go on for days and don’t get anywhere, due to a lack of established facts. Some people believe that spirits are the souls of other beings that once lived on Earth, while others believe that spirits are beings who are extra-planar in origin and have no real connection to beings on the material plane. Then there is a whole host of beliefs that cover the middle ground between these two theories. In the end, it might be best to stop trying to know the unknowable and just focus on this: Spirits live on a metaplane related to their type. They come from their home metaplane when they are summoned, they go back when they are let go, banished, or disrupted. If you’re going for the Howling Coyote Prize for Magical Research, by all means keep digging for answers, but otherwise it might be better to just stick with what we already know.

SUMMONING

You can summon spirits of your tradition (p. 279). Summoning a spirit is a Complex Action. You can only summon one spirit at a time, and it only hangs around for a limited time—a summoned spirit will return to wherever it was when you called it when it’s either through with all of the services it owes you or when the sun rises or sets (whichever comes first). Here’s how to summon a spirit.

STEP 1: CHOOSE SPIRIT TYPE & FORCE

You can only choose a spirit of a type available to your tradition—most traditions have five types to choose from. You also need to choose the spirit’s Force (the higher the Force the more powerful the spirit), up to twice your Magic rating. You can call a spirit with optional powers if the Force you choose is high enough; spirits have one optional power for every 3 full points of Force (so Force 1–2 spirits have no optional powers, Force 3–5 have 1, Force 6–8 have 2, and so on). Once a spirit has been summoned, its optional powers cannot be changed.

GROUP SUMMONING

Magicians can use teamwork to summon a spirit. All of the team members must be able to summon the type of spirit intended, and team members who are a different tradition than the team leader suffer a –2 dice pool penalty on their roll. The team uses the normal Teamwork rules for the test (p. 49), and all of them suffer the same amount of Drain, which is twice the hits (not net hits) on the spirit’s defense test. If successful, only the leader of the ritual may command the spirit, so choose wisely.

STEP 2: ATTEMPT SUMMONING

Make an Opposed Test using Summoning + Magic [Force] v. spirit’s Force. You may spend reagents to change the limit of this test (Reagents, p. 316). If you get no net hits, the spirit doesn’t show up. If you get net hits, the spirit arrives nearby in astral space, owing you one service per net hit. The nature of the services the spirit can provide depends on the type of spirit and its Force and powers (Spirit Services, p. 302).

STEP 3: RESIST DRAIN

Whether you successfully summon the spirit or not, you must resist Drain from the attempt. The Drain Value is equal to twice the hits (not net hits) on the spirit’s defense test, with a minimum Drain Value of 2. If the spirit’s Force is greater than your Magic rating, the Drain is Physical; otherwise it’s Stun.

GLITCHES

A glitch on conjuring can result in the wrong spirit type (but still one within the summoner’s tradition), a spirit of lesser force (who makes the Opposed Test at the Force the summoner selected), or extra Drain (e.g., +2) to resist. On a critical glitch, kindhearted gamemasters could double the Drain the magician must resist or not allow the Drain to be resisted at all. More punitive (read: evil) gamemasters may see this as an opportunity to introduce the magician to a spirit of the intended Force who is not under the summoner’s control and wishes to have a “conversation” about how some spirits feel the practices of summoning and binding is a form of slavery.

BINDING

Binding is used to compel long-term services from a spirit that you’ve already summoned. This takes one hour per Force of the spirit and requires (Force x 25) drams of reagents to be used up in the binding. The test is an Opposed Binding + Magic [Force] v. spirit’s Force x 2, and it inflicts Drain equal to twice the hits (not net hits) on the spirit’s defense test, minimum 2. Additional net hits beyond the first add to the number of services the spirit owes.

Once the spirit is bound, then the spirit and its services do not expire at the next sunrise or sunset. A spirit’s service ends when it has no more services owed to the magician. The bound spirit can be called or dismissed with a Simple Action as they appear next to the magician from the metaplane, awaiting further instructions on the astral. A magician can bind up to his Charisma attribute in spirits.

SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIPS

The exact relationship between spirit and magician depends in part upon the character’s tradition. Various shamanic traditions provide offerings (not necessarily reagents) to spirits for their services. Magicians have offered physical gifts (like incense, leaves, beer, or lit candles), tribute (like praise, songs, stories, or just conversation), and promises (protecting a forest or watching over a community). Some magicians give freely and some see offerings as bait. Some magicians don’t bother giving any offerings at all.

The exact nature of spirits, how the spirits who are summoned are selected, and why they look the way they do is a subject of much debate among Sixth World magical scholars. What is clear, though, is that summoned spirits tend to appear in a way that is appropriate to the summoner’s tradition. This could be because the summoner’s magic helps determine what spirit is summoned, or the spirit could be trying to gain the favor of the summoner by appearing in a shape the summoner expects. Most spirits seem to like being on Earth, but the exact reasons are unclear and the spirits are not keen to share any information.

BAD FEELINGS WITH BOUND SPIRITS

Spirits are powerful entities, and the ability to call on their potent skills is formidable. While unbound spirits are limited in the services they can offer, bound spirits are compelled by the magical bond to do their utmost on the magician’s behalf, even if it means sacrificing their Force and disrupting themselves for a time.

Bound spirits find it distasteful being forced into servitude, and they sometimes struggle against the mystical bond. Such an effort is futile, though, unless the magician is on the brink of death. If the gamemaster chooses, a spirit that has been set on a particularly long and/or undignified task may struggle against their binding, which imposes a –1 penalty to all tests as the magician works to compel the spirit to do his bidding, like a dog on a leash (an analogy, by the way, that would not make many spirits happy). At any point, the magician can take a Complex Action to try to bring the spirit to heel through an Opposed Summoning + Magic vs. spirit’s Force + Willpower Test. If the magician ties the spirit or get more hits, the spirit is calmed down and performs their service without further penalties for the summoner.

This modifier should only be applied if the summoner is either cruel toward the spirits he controls or if he repeatedly puts them at risk (occasional combat is fine, but being routinely disrupted gets old). This magical power drain is the compelling reason why most magicians keep their bound spirits at rest. While the spirit is resting in astral space, the bond between magician and spirit has no effect on the magician. It should only be used when roleplaying calls for it, or to keep a player from abusing spirits in gameplay.

BANISHING

Banishing is severing the bond between a spirit and its summoner. When the bond is broken, the spirit returns to its own plane. This is not the same as disrupting a spirit and forcing it back to their home plane—while it interrupts the spirit at what it’s doing and may be annoying, banishing is not as downright unpleasant as disruption (and a spirit engaged in a tedious task might not mind being banished in the least).

Banishing is a Complex Action. You make an Opposed Banishing + Magic [Astral] vs Force (+ Summoners Magic if Bound) Test (you can spend reagents to set the limit of this test, p. 316). This test is opposed by the spirit’s Force (+ the summoner’s Magic if the spirit is bound). For every net hit you get, the number of services the spirit owes is reduced by 1. If you reduce the spirit’s owed services to zero, it’s free and departs on its next action.

The Drain Value for banishing is equal to twice the hits (not net hits) on the spirit’s defense test, with a minimum Drain Value of 2. If the spirit’s Force is greater than your Magic rating, the Drain is Physical, otherwise it’s Stun.If you (or another magician) has an action before the spirit departs, you can use Summoning (p. 300) to try to get it to owe you some services. It doesn’t matter what type the spirit is or which tradition you are in this case, since it’s already out and available.

SPIRIT-SUMMONER LINK

A spirit doesn’t have to speak to his summoner out loud. It can communicate telepathically with the summoner, even from astral space, so it doesn’t even have to manifest to receive orders or make reports. This link allows for communication over a distance but does not extend to the metaplanes, nor does it allow any other visual or audio connection. With this link, a summoner knows when a spirit he has summoned has been disrupted, as he will feel the loss of the link.

SPIRIT RANGE

Your spirit can’t move farther away from you than your Magic rating x 100 meters. If forced out of this radius, the spirit will try to return as quickly as possible. If you send a spirit beyond this range, it counts as a remote service.

SPIRIT SERVICES

Services are how we measure how helpful a spirit is willing (or required) to be to you. A service is a single task that you request (or demand) from a spirit. The number of services a spirit owes you is equal to the number of net hits you get on your Summoning or Binding Test. If the spirit’s time is up (like when the sun comes up and your spirit isn’t bound), then any services it still owes are lost to you.

The services a spirit can perform are based on whether or not it’s bound to you. Bound spirits are tougher to get, but are a lot more helpful. Each of the following cost you a service.

SPIRIT SERVICES TABLE
UNBOUND SPIRIT Services BOUND SPIRIT SERVICES
Combat Any Unbound Spirit Service
Power Use Aid Alchemy
Physical Task Aid Sorcery
Remote Service Spell Binding
Spell Sustaining

UNBOUND SPIRIT SERVICES

Combat
You can have a spirit fight on your side in combat. The entire fight counts as a single service.Power use: You can have a spirit use one of its powers on a target or targets of your choosing. If the power is sustained, it counts as one service no matter how long it’s sustained. If the spirit uses a power as part of another task (often in combat), then the power use doesn’t count as a separate service.
Physical task
A spirit can materialize to perform actions on the physical plane for you.
Remote service
If you send a spirit to complete a service beyond your Magic rating x 100 meters, it’s a remote service. Once the spirit is done with a remote service, it is released and goes to its home metaplane, no matter how many services it still owes you.

BOUND SPIRIT SERVICES

Unbound spirit service
You can have a bound spirit do any of the things an unbound spirit can do for you. If you have a bound spirit perform a remote service, you don’t lose any extra services when it’s done, and it comes back to you when it’s finished.
Aid Alchemy, Sorcery, and Study
As a service, the spirit can add its Force as a dice pool bonus to your Alchemy, Spellcasting, Ritual Spellcasting (for spell rituals), and Learning Tests if its type matches the spell’s category, as listed under your tradition (p. 279).
Spell sustaining
You can have a spirit sustain a spell for you after you cast it. It takes the –2 dice pool penalty per sustained spell, instead of you. It can’t do this forever—only for its Force in Combat Turns for each service you spend on spell sustaining.
Spell binding
This is like spell sustaining, but for a lot longer, at the cost of the spirit’s own Force. The spell you hand off is sustained indefinitely, but the spirit’s Force is irrevocably reduced by 1 each day (or part thereof) of spell binding. If the spirit’s Force is reduced to 0 this way it dissipates forever. This is very painful for spirits and

generally considered to be abusive—if you use this don’t forget that word gets around in the spirit world.

SPIRITS AND EDGE

Summoned and bound spirits don’t have their own Edge pools (or if they do, they don’t use them). However, you can spend your own Edge pool on your summoned spirits’ tests if you like.