Theist culture magic

From: Joerg Baumgartner (
Date: Mon 16 Feb 1998 - 16:55:40 EET

>I think Divine Magic as well as Spirit Magic are not
>thought to be skills by the people who use it.

Divine magic is closer to an innate ability given by the cult, I agree,
but Spirit magic is different. It seems to require some aptitude, and it
does require physical aid (foci) to use it. IMG spirit magic is taught
by cults (as a means of income), by guilds (which have somewhat similar
structures to a worldly cult without the benefits of a deity or the
requirement to bind one's soul to them), and <gasp> by independent

I treat the (IMO badly described) procedure of beating a spirit to rob
its special power as only one of several approaches to spirit magic.

Shamanic cultures like the Telmori probably treat their prey magic
(spirit spells outside of the range granted via divine guidance, aka
cult spirit magic - even Telmor has preferred spells) this way, the
personal experience of the person learning the spell should be something
similar to a wolf finishing off a cornered, but still dangerous beast of
prey, and then to devour the hunter's portion of it. Spells from
Telmor's servants don't require that the spirit be fought to death - I'd
rather use the method presented in Vikings, a "spirit communication"
(using the same cranky and boring spirit combat rules) which is more in
the character of one wolf challenging another for position within the
pack, rather a cub training this with an elder. This method gives
respect to the teacher, after all a favoured pack member of Telmor (and
likely possessing an impressive power).

An Orlanthi hearth may have something like a tomte or landvaettir (from
RQ-Vikings) which the wise woman (or elder) may summon. I don't like the
rampant POW expenditure without non-combatitive means of regaining the
POW RQ rules seem to propose, so I don't require a permanent POW sack of
the hearth members to this spirit (while I do demand regular MP
sacrifices). Such a hearth spirit might be able to grant one spirit
spell to those who pass its tests (one for each point of the spell),
like riddle contests or the shell game - possibly abstracted by POW vs.
POW rolls. The clan wyter* may have a number of clan speciality spells
which the godi might be able to teach through his Orlanth spell teaching
ritual (or the gyda through Ernalda). To obtain such spells, the
recipient could relive a version of "Orlanth overcomes his brothers",
one test POW vs. POW per point of spell if the referee doesn't like to
roleplay such things, although no spirit combat to the death (of player
and referee through boredom).

I rule that the more localized (and available to the locals) a spell
teacher is, the less optimized he is. A temple spell teacher might have
1D3 POW per point of spell, as the rules suggest. The hearth spirit
might have 2D6 POW per point, and the clan spell teacher the (standard
shamanic) 1D6, or 1D4 for large clans.

The test of worthiness procedure (still some sort of spirit combat) of
rural temples (like the tribal major temple available during tribal
moots) might be replaced by a more RQ2-like teaching style in urban (or
more civilized, i.e. less close to nature and the spirit world) places.
I am not sure about the smaller Sartarite cities, though I think that
the larger cities would rather teach than test. (All for a fee, of

* KoS gives wyters only for tribes, maybe because clans are considered
united by a body of common ancestry. However, when new clans are formed,
something similar to a tribal wyter would have to be nurtured IMO.

As for casting the spells, just pointing with an engraved rod (bone,
whatever you use for a focus) and mumbling some formula while you spend
some MPs shouldn't be the end of it. I like the "spirit helper" approach
for spirit magic (instead of activating the spell yourself, you bribe
the spirit helper who accompanies you to do the magic; it will demand a
suitable gift of MP plus anything else it deems appropriate), which I
would propose for "primitive" cultures - Votanki, Damali hsunchen, etc.
(Telmori might well use the devouring method - they are feared for a
reason. Damali are hunters, but have no carnivorous totem; Votanki are
dog people, with dogs having taken humans as helpers, so why not spirits
as well?)

In the Kethaelan, Manirian or Ralian cities where henotheist Malkioni
and traditional divine worshippers coexist, I don't see great
differences in the spirit magic or low wizardry people employ. There
should be a gradual change. (Ruleswise, I allow the less orthodox
Malkioni peasants to learn several points of a sorcery spell, rather
than learn Intensity for it. Casting chance still is a percentile skill,
although the starting point will be a bit more reasonable (around 25%
for occupational spells, like for occupational weapons). If these
peasants get a useful score in (classical RQ3) intensity (or the
presence equivalent in Sandy's rules), he may manipulate the spell with
the wizardous method, otherwise his multi-point spell behaves like a
variable spirit spell.)

This way I sneak around the hairy question whether the henotheists use
spirit magic or low wizardry as their personal magic...

>It feels so wrong (at least to me) when someone who has cast his
>and failed goes for it in the next round again.

Tell him that his focus won't work right now, and have him use another
focus. He doesn't have another ready? In that case, he should spend some
minutes in ceremony to realign himself with the focus. Oh, he is in a
fight? Too bad...

Joerg Baumgartner (via Hotmail)

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