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GURPS Rules for Spirit Magic in Glorantha

Learning Spirit Magic

Spirit magic is the simplest of the approaches to magic available in Glorantha. Individual spells are learned as Easy (or rarely, Average) skills which are, unless otherwise detailed in this section, cast in the same fashion as normal spells from the GURPS Magic sourcebook. All that is necessary for a character to learn a new spirit magic spell (assuming they have unspent character points) is that they find a willing teacher to help them learn and can follow that teacher's instructions. Some sources might teach characters for free, while others may charge for the service. In most cases, learning from a shaman offers a wider selection of spirit magic spells to choose from but also comes with some risk; characters that learn from their religious cults rarely face any danger but often have drastically fewer choices for spirit magic spells.

Spirit magic spells learned from a religious cult assume that the spirit is willing - in game terms, so long as the character is not acting in direct opposition to his diety, the skill is based upon the character's IQ. In contract, spirit magic spells learned from a shaman assume that the spirit is generally unwilling - in game terms, the skill is based upon the character's Will instead of IQ. In rare cases the underlying attribute might change if the spirit's relationship to the character is atypical.

Learning from a religious cult

Characters that belong to a religious cult have access to both divine magic and spirit magic through their priests, although the particular selection of spells available will depend upon their god's particular areas of influence and the character's level of Religious Rank. Normally the character must travel to a temple or major shrine and make a donation (based upon a percentage of their total wealth; usually about 1%) to convince the priest to perform the ritual.

If, in the game master's opinion, the character has taken actions to anger or displease their god, the ritual of learning automatically fails; otherwise a Spell Spirit manifests and attempts to teach the character how to invoke its power over the course of 1d hours. If the ritual is interrupted during this time the manifested spell spirit instantly returns to the spirit realm (unless somehow bound by magic) and all characters involved in the ritual will be mentally stunned; they will have 1d less FP and POW if interrupted in this way due to energy expended during the learning ritual. If the ritual is not interrupted, the character may make a single roll against IQ upon completion; if successful they can expend one character point to purchase the new spirit magic spell skill while failure neither gains nor loses anything and they can attempt to learn the spell again later (after another donation, of course).

All priests of a given cult possess the knowledge to summon spirits that are allied to their god through divine magic - this knowledge and power are part of the requirements for priesthood and which define the role of a priest. A character that is a priest may summon allied spirits in any location of Very High Sanctity to learn new spirit magic spells - they are not required to pay a donation or find another priest. The ritual still requires 1d hours to complete, and is otherwise handled exactly as for other members of the cult.

Learning from a shaman

Any character may, in theory, attempt to learn spirit magic from a shaman. Despite this, few religious or civilized characters make the effort for practical reasons - shamans are generally difficult to find outside of primative societies and highly selective in their choices for students. If a character manages to find a shaman that they can convince to teach them then they will both enter a deep trance for the next 1d hours. Both the shaman and the character are helpless during this trance, as their souls literally leave their bodies to roam the spirit realm; they can not be awakened by anything except powerful divine magic or by another shaman (who must himself enter the spirit world and find them, a process that normally takes 1d times 10 minutes and a successful roll against IQ).

The ritual begins with the shaman transporting the character's soul into the spirit realm, in which the character can locate (with the shaman's assistance) a suitable Spell Spirit for the spell that they wish to learn. Once the Spell Spirit is located the character may initiate spiritual combat with the Spell Spirit (see the appropriate house rules for details on spiritual combat). Characters that defeat the Spell Spirit may compel it to teach them how to invoke its power; those that fail might be saved by their teacher at the last second or be possessed and subjugated by the Spell Spirit. Characters that compel a defeated Spell Spirit to teach them must make a single roll against IQ; if successful they can expend one character point to purchase the new spirit magic spell skill while failure neither gains nor loses them anything and they can attempt again to learn the spell from another Spell Spirit later (with all the time and dangers that another ritual entails).

A true shaman may, of course, enter the spirit realm anytime they wish and seek out new Spell Spirits to challenge and compel; the ritual trance still requires 1d hours to complete and is otherwise handled exactly as for other characters.

GURPS Statistics for Spell Spirits

Spell spirits generally never manifest outside the spirit realm on their own and therefore have no standard GURPS statistics other than Will, POW, and skill with one spell. A normal spell spirit's Will is equal to five plus the number of prerequisites that the equivalent spell has in the standard GURPS Magic sourcebook; e.g. a Bladesharp spell spirit (equivalent to the Sharpen spell) would have a Will of 15 while a Befuddle spell spirit (equivalent to the Mental Stun spell) would have a Will of 7). A normal spell spirit's POW is equal to four times the minimum cost to cast their spell; e.g. a Bladesharp spell spirit would have a POW of 4 while a Befuddle spell spirit would have a POW of 8. As the literal embodiment of a spell manifested in the spirit realm, spell spirits are considered to have an effectively infinite skill with the spell that they embody and can never fail to cast that spell - no dice are rolled as there is no chance of even a critical failure. Due to the reductions for their high skills, those spell spirits that do manifest in the mortal realm can cast and maintain their spell in only one second and for no energy cost - a spell spirit's POW is only relevant for spiritual combat and is never used to power spell-casting.

Casting Spirit Magic Spells

Unlike divine magic and sorcery, there is no bonus to spirit magic skills for levels of Power Investiture or Magical Aptitude; this is because spirit magic is actually cast by the spirits through the character, who acts merely as a conduit and source of power. Due to the nature of this connection, a spirit magic spell will always require at least one point of POW to cast regardless of any discounts for high skill.

Because all spirit magic relies on invoking the attention of a spirit, all spirit magic spells must begin by asking the appropriate spirit to intercede and cast the spell on the character's behalf. This plea doesn't necessarily have to be easily recognizable as such and some less knowledgable practitioners of spirit magic may not even realize that they are making such a plea - in effect mistaking it for part of the spell itself. In game terms, this means that all spirit magic spells normally require a minimum of one additional second to "cast", beyond what is stated in the GURPS Magic sourcebook for the equivalent spell. Characters with very high levels of skill learn how to make their invocations more quickly, and can therefore gain the normal reduction in casting times for high levels of skill, but this reduction can never reduce the time to less than two full seconds.

Casting a spirit magic spell requires a foci (usually a shamanistic fetish or religious holy item but can also include tattoos) upon which to concentrate, clearly spoken words, and some type of formal gestures and body movements. Characters that cannot speak and gesture, or whose foci have been taken, can not cast spirit magic spells. Note that each known spell requires a different foci - a religious character can not simply brandish a generic "holy symbol" to cast all their spirit magic spells. A character that knows Befuddle, Bladesharp, and Coordination might possess a coin blessed by a high-priest for Befuddle, a tattoo of a sword upon their arm for Bladesharp, and a tooth from a legendary martyr for Coordination. Note that while tattoos may seem like excellent foci, a character that is captured by an enemy could easily lose a limb if it's the only way a captor can ensure they can't use their spirit magic...

Common Spirit Magic Spells


Bladesharp
(Regular)

Temporarily produces an extraordinary sharpness on cutting and impaling weapons, giving +1 or more to basic damage. If exact blade lengths are not known, treat an arrow as 6", a knife, spear, or axe as 12", a one-handed sword as 18", and a two-handed sword as 30" in length for the purposes of this spell.

Power cost: 1 per 6" of edge. Double for +2 bonus or Triple for +3 bonus.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for half base cost (round up).

Time to cast: 4 seconds.

based on Sharpen, Magic p. 118

Befuddle
(Regular; Resisted by Will)

The subject suffers the effects of Mental Stun until a successful IQ roll is made to recover; c.f. page 420 in the Basic Set.

Power cost: 2

Duration: Until a successful IQ roll is made.

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Mental Stun, Magic p. 135

Bludgeon
(Regular)

Temporarily enhances a crushing weapon, giving +1 or more to basic damage.

Power cost: 1 per 2 lbs. of weight (round up). Double for +2 bonus or Triple for +3 bonus.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for half base cost (round up).

Time to cast: 4 seconds.

based on Sharpen, Magic p. 118

Control (species)

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Coordination
(Regular)

Raises the subject's DX temporarily. His Basic Speed and ability with all DX-based skills are also raised.

Power cost: 4 per 1 point of DX gained, up to a maximum of +5 points of DX.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for the full original base cost.

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Grace, Magic p. 37

Countermagic

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Darkwall Regular

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Demoralize

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Detect Enemies
(Information; Area)

Tells the caster if the subject has hostile intent, and what the degree of hostility is. Can be cast on one person or a whole area. If cast over an area, this spell will only detect that someone is hostile, without telling who.

Power cost: Base 1 (minimum 2).

Duration: Instant.

Time to cast: 1 second.

Detect Magic

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Detect (substance)

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Dispel Magic

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Disruption

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Dullblade

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Endurance

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Extinguish

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Farsee

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Firearrow Regular

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Fireblade (Power Investiture 3)

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Glamour

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Glue

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Heal

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Ignite

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Ironhand

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Light
(Regular)

When cast on a small object (up to fist-sized or 1 pound) or a small part of a larger object, makes that object glow with white light.

The curtain blocks vision from both directions, although the caster can see through it normally.

Illumination depends on intensity. For dim light this equals a -6 darkness penalty out to a range of 4 yards, after which darkness penalties begin to accrue at a rate of -1 per 4 yards. For torchlight this equals a -3 darkness penalty out to a range of 7 yards, after which darkness penalties begin to accrue at a rate of -1 per 7 yards. For daylight this equals a -0 darkness penalty out to a range of 10 yards, after which darkness penalties begin to accrue at a rate of -1 per 10 yards.

Power cost: 2 (dim), 4 (torchlight), 6 (daylight); .

Duration: Variable; roll 2d for number of days.

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Light, Magic p. 110

Lightwall
(Area)

Creates a curtain of light around an area. The wall is four yards high, but may be made higher; simply scale the cost as the height (e.g. double for 8 yards, trible for 12 yards, etc.).

The curtain blocks vision from both directions, although the caster can see through it normally.

Illumination depends on intensity. For dim light this equals a -6 darkness penalty out to a range of 4 yards, after which darkness penalties begin to accrue at a rate of -1 per 4 yards. For torchlight this equals a -3 darkness penalty out to a range of 7 yards, after which darkness penalties begin to accrue at a rate of -1 per 7 yards. For daylight this equals a -0 darkness penalty out to a range of 10 yards, after which darkness penalties begin to accrue at a rate of -1 per 10 yards.

Power cost: Base 1 (dim), Base 2 (torchlight), Base 3 (daylight); .

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for the full original base cost.

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Wall of Light, Magic p. 113

Mindspeech*
(Regular)

Allows full two-way mental communication between the caster and another character. The subject must be willing. Both the caster and the subject can choose what they wish to share, up to and including full sensory data in real-time. Other people can join the link by casting this spell themselves and targeting one of the current participants as the subject; all participants must be willing for the join to be successful.

If the caster and the subject know each other and the subject expects the contact, there is no distance penalty. Otherwise, assess penalties using the long-distance modifiers (Magic, p. 14). If the caster and subject do not know each other, there is an additional -4 penalty.

*This spell is more complex than most other spirit magic spells and is treated as a skill of Average difficulty.

Power cost: 4.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for the full original base cost.

Time to cast: 4 seconds.

based on Telepathy, Magic p. 47

Mobility
(Regular)

Increases the subject's Move and Dodge scores by up to 3.

Power cost: 2 per 1 point of Move and Dodge gained, up to a maximum of +3.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for half the original cost (round up).

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Haste, Magic p. 142

Multimissle

Stats are not determined yet; may end up being some kind of imbuement?

Protection
(Regular)

Adds to the Damage Resistance of a living subject. DR from this spell is treated for all purposes like DR from armor, and is cumulative with that from actual armor.

Power cost: 2 per 1 point of DR gained, up to a maximum of +5 points of DR.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for half the original cost (round up).

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Armor, Magic p. 167

Repair
(Regular)

Permanently repairs a broken inanimate object. If some small parts are missing, skill is at -5, and the appropriate materials to make the missing parts must be provided. Formerly magical items do not regain their magic when repaired (although weakened magic items can regain lost durability).

Power cost: 2 per 5 lbs. of subject's weight; minimum cost 6 for objects with moving parts.

Duration: Permanent.

Time to cast: 1 second per lb. (minimum 10).

based on Repair, Magic p. 118

Second Sight
(Information)

Creates a glowing halo, or "aura," around the subject which is only visible to the caster. This aura gives the caster a general insight into the subject's personality - the better the skill roll, the better the insight. The aura also shows whether the subject has any magical advantages or disadvantages (as well as at what level, if appropriate); whether the subject is possessed or controlled in any way; and whether the subject is in the grip of any violent emotion. A critical success will detect "secret" traits such as vampirism or unnatural longevity.

All living things have auras; inanimate things do not. A zombie is detectable by his faint, death-haunted aura, while a vampire retains the aura he had in life. Illusions and created beings have no aura, so a successful casting of this spell distinguishes them from a real person.

Power cost: 3.

Duration: Instant.

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Aura, Magic p. 101

Shimmer
(Regular)

Makes the subject harder to see and therefore harder to hit with attacks. Each point of Power gives -1 to the effective skill of any attack on the subject, to a maximum of -5.

Power cost: 1 to 5.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for the full original base cost.

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Blur, Magic p. 113

Slow
(Regular; Resisted by HT)

The subject is at -1 to his Move and Dodge scores for every point of Power put into the spell, up to a maximum of 4.

Power cost: 1 to 4.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for the full original cost.

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Hinder, Magic p. 36

Speedart
(Missile)

Magically throws any weapon, as if hurled by a man of ST 15 (basic damage is 1d+1 thrust or 2d+1 swing). Note that the caster does NOT have to be holding the weapon but that if they are not then penalties apply as per regular spells (i.e. -1 skill per yard of distance between the caster and the weapon). The 1/2D range is 20 and Max range is 40; Acc is 1. The attack is rolled against the caster's appropriate thrown weapon skill (or against DX for unconventional weapons that are not normally thrown) if the weapon is held when casting or else against the caster's Innate Attack skill.

Power cost: 1 per 1 lb. of weight; double cost for weapons that are not normally thrown.

Duration: until released; can be held and/or aimed.

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Winged Knife, Magic p. 145

Spirit Screen
(Regular)

For each point of Power put into the spell (up to 5), the subject gains a bonus of +2 to spirit combat and all attribute rolls to resist the special attacks of spirits.

Power cost: 1 to 5.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for the full original base cost.

Time to cast: 3 seconds.

loosely based on Magic Resistance, Magic p. 123

Strength
(Regular)

Raises the subject's ST temporarily. This affects damage, encumbrance, and hit points, but does not heal wounds. If, when the spell wears off, the subject's wounds put him below -HT, he will have to make a HT roll to live.

Power cost: 2 per 1 point of ST gained, up to a maximum of +5 points of ST.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for the full original base cost.

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Might, Magic p. 37

Vigor
(Regular)

Raises the subject's HT temporarily. This affects Basic Speed, FP, ability with all HT-based skills and ability to resist trauma and physical stunning. If the subject's FP when the spell ends is below zero, he will immediately take 1 point of damage for every point of fatigue below zero.

Power cost: 2 per 1 point of HT gained, up to a maximum of +5 points of HT.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for the full original base cost.

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Vigor, Magic p. 37

Visibility
(Special; Resisted by ST or IQ)

This spell transfers an otherworld creature from the spirit plane to the mundane plane, giving it a translucent form. The appearance of the form will generally be the shape which the invisible being had while alive, if any. A creature with this spell on it may cast spells or otherwise interact with mundane plane, and is subject to most spells that affect materialized spirits. While the subject is visible, it is still considered incorporeal and is not affected by normal weapons.

Power cost: 5.

Duration: 1 minute; can be maintained for the full original base cost.

Time to cast: 1 second.

based on Materialize, Magic p. 150