Specialties: Gauntlet Manipulation, Naturalism, Necromancy, Possession, Spirit Dealings, Umbral Travel
Defining the ephemera between Quintessential and material, Spirit marks the creation of such stuff as reflects the world beyond simple human perception. Spirit is a homogenous whole, a sort of conceptual energy given a special form that can mirror or mimic the more mundane Patterns of elements. However, Spirit is much more. It is also the results of emotion, hope and thought — the intangible end product of the Mind's musing and shaping. The mage skilled in Spirit can touch the wall that separates potential from material and reach through to see entire realms formed of maybes, might-haves and never-weres.
Both spirit entities and spiritual landscapes form of a spiritual energy that hovers somewhere between Prime and physical Pattern. Ephemera or plasm, this intangible substance makes up the otherworlds, the far Deep Umbra, the Shard Realms and the myriad other places where mages explore magic in its purest states. Such spirits are responsive to impulses and materials, and so the entities of spirit often reflect human drives, belief systems, even gods or concepts — or is it the other way around? Regardless, most people remain blind to the spirit plane, while mages can reach out to interact with the half-felt dreams of the world itself.
The Umbra — the spirit reaches — is separated from the physical world by an invisible and intangible Gauntlet, a mystic barrier that keeps the dead or the spirits of nature from crossing into and affecting the living world. Other worlds are sometimes isolated from the Umbra by their own Gauntlets, and other times coexist with Spirit. Powerful mages can pierce this Gauntlet to reach different areas of die Umbra, but such a task is not without hazards. Journeying to the lands of the dead or to the far reaches of other dimensions is possible, but it is difficult in the extreme. Worse still, the Gauntlet itself, once merely a barrier through which mages had to exert their magic to cross, is now actually metaphysically dangerous. To traverse the spirit world risks injury, insanity and worse.
There are countless strange creatures and entities in the spirit worlds, many of which follow bizarre rules that bear no resemblance to the laws of Earth. A mage who would traffic in Spirit would do well to learn such rules, to discover the byways of the Umbra and to traffic in the currency of spirits — chiminage, or the bonds of mutual service. Near the Earth, the Mirror Umbra reflects physical reality as colored by Resonance. Deeper in the spirit worlds are the Dream Realms, Epiphamies, Astral space, Horizon Realms (other worlds in their own dimensions) and eventually the Deep Umbra — the great void beyond the stars. It's no wonder that many Spirit mages choose to stay on Earth and simply summon or converse with the spirits that happen to be there! In the Umbra, one can find any Heaven or Hell of mankind's creation... and perhaps be trapped there.
Technological students of Spirit magic instead study Dimensional Science, the ways to reach alternate worlds that coexist with this one. Though their means are different, their ends are the same. To such Technocrats, spirits are alien entities or otherdimensional manifestations.
Masters of Spirit have an otherworldly sense, a tendency to murmur to the air, focus on things that aren't there and hold to unusual taboos. They often indulge in unusual behaviors and sometimes talk to spiritual allies or enemies that nobody else can see. Technocratic Masters of Dimensional Science often carry specialized trappings to see (and defend against) the spirit world's intrusions. They range from distant psychic sensitives to powerfully rational mathematicians and physicists.
• Spirit Senses
Initiates in the ways of Spirit can sense the Mirror Umbra, the reflection of the material world into spirit energy. The initiate can see anima and ghosts, hear natural spirits and sense places where the Gauntlet between worlds thins or thickens. The mage can determine when an object has a powerful spirit component, like a mystic fetish. The mage's Resonance palls her most closely to objects, spirits and places of similar Resonance, but the mage can open to any spirit perception with effort.
Combined with other Spheres, the mage can sense objects that have connections to the spirit world or that have been somehow translocated there. The mage can also either combine her vision of animas with an awareness of emotions and auras, or detect the places most favorable for converse with specific types of spirits or where spirits might gather for energy.
• Detect Possession
A Chorister uses exorcism rites while a Verbena tests the subject's blood, but whatever the ritual, it's a simple way to determine whether another spirit rides within a material shell. The mage simply uses his spirit perceptions to sense the offending spirit's presence in a person (or object, in the case of a fetish). The mage may not be able to do anything about it, but it's useful to tell if someone's actions are her own. Of course, determining the exact nature of the spirit may require the use of the Cosmology Knowledge or Mind magic.
• Spirit Sight
It's usually a simple matter to shift one's sight into the spirit world. The mage can see what exists on the other side of the Gauntlet, although he may not be able to affect it directly. Thus, a mage might notice that an area has a very nasty or vibrant spirit reflection, indicative of some sort of problem or boon. The landscape of the nearby spirit world usually reflects the physical world of that area, but often with significant changes based on powerful events and items in the place. The mage can also see spirits as they go about their business, and some might even take notice in return.
With enough successes, the mage can translate multiple senses into the spirit world, allowing him to hear or feel spirits as well as seeing them. Usually, the mage can only sense one area at a time (spirit or material), unless he splits his senses and concentration with additional Life and Mind magic. The difficulty generally depends on the thickness of the Gauntlet.
• • Touch Spirit
For a brief moment, the mage can reach out to touch the spirit world. The mage can manipulate spiritual objects and interact with spirit entities, even pushing them around, conversing with or attacking them. The mage can affect the spirit world while remaining physical, extending his natural reach, voice and form across into the next realm.
By casting his control over the Gauntlet directly, the mage can also manipulate the strength of the wall between worlds. This difficult task can make it easier for a spirit to manifest, or the mage could protect an area from ghosts and possessions. Powerful spirit wards can keep out travelers who walk the spirit realms. Adequate preparation can also make it easier for the mage to reach into the spirit realms, if only for a time.
Combined with the Pattern Spheres, the mage can make items that can affect the spirit worlds, or give another creature a brief sense of spirit or ability to touch the mirror realms. The mage could also cause an area of the spirit world to suffer chaotic storms of spirit energy or use Correspondence to extend his sight to the many and varied Realms of Spirit.
• • Call Spirit
A sort of "Hey!" shouted randomly into the Umbra, this Effect lets the mage translate his voice into spiritual terms on the other side of the Gauntlet. The successes scored determine how pervasive and compelling the mage's call is. Powerful spirits rarely show up to such a call — they have better things to do, and they are usually too far out in the spirit world, anyway — but lesser spirits often flock to such. Spirits seem to love messing around with the material world. The mage really exert any control unless he has more powerful spirit magic, but he can attract attention.
If the mage uses Spirit Sight, he can call for specific spirits or even hold a conversation with something (or someone) on the Other Side.
• • The Spirit's Caress
A mage can reach across the Gauntlet briefly to touch a spirit on the other side. The mage could strike a spirit or just interact with it while remaining otherwise physical. This Effect is a perfect means of conflict if the spirit has no way to manifest in the material world to return the insult. Of course, the Effect just allows the mage to affect the spirit; it doesn't guarantee the results of any of his physical actions (the mage might pierce the Gauntlet and reach across, only to miss the spirit with a punch).
Combined with the Prime Effect Bond of Blood, the mage can share Quintessence with the spirit, or ask it to give up Power in exchange (treat them as interchangeable resources). This tactic doesn't work as well with ghosts although some wraiths have their own means of granting power to a mage, as the ancestor-spirits of the Wu Lung can attest. Note that Quintessence drawn from a spirit takes on the spirit's nature as its Resonance, so it's best to deal with a spirit that does the sorts of things that the mage wants to do!
• • • Pierce Gauntlet
Although it's dangerous to do so, a skilled mage can pierce the Gauntlet between worlds, stepping into the spirit world or back out to the material. The process of stepping sideways, as it's called, often relies on powerful rituals, and it works best at places of natural power to cross safely. Stepping across quickly is possible, but survival is not guaranteed – the Gauntlet is a dangerous barrier to mages.
A mage can translate himself across the Gauntlet, becoming pure ephemera (spirit matter). Bringing possessions takes more work and increases the difficulty of the trip. In either case, the mage risks injury. Mages with strong Avatars are especially susceptible to the storm winds that ride the barrier between worlds.
While in the spirit worlds, the mage obeys the laws of those places and interacts with them normally. The mage can deal directly with spirits, but he can also exert his magic directly against them. Once in the spirit world, the mage can travel to other spirit destinations, often by taking pathways known to Traditional lore. The mage might forge out into various near Realms or other worlds, but he cannot pass the Horizon — yet.
As the mage can alter the spirit world directly, he can also stir a spirit to wakefulness or lure it into slumber. Most objects and places have associated spirits, but the powerful Gauntlet and lack of connection to the mortal world causes those spirits to sleep, uninterested ingoings-on around them. The mage can stir those that hover on the edge of wakefulness, or briefly cause some to return to sleep. Most spirits are too weak, too far deteriorated and too unconscious to be so roused, but many places or items that hover on the edge of importance or that have strong Resonance have lightly sleeping spirits that can be roused. Similarly, powerful objects or fetishes have spirits that the mage can put to sleep temporarily, perhaps to avoid their wrath or to reach something that they guard.
With the Pattern Spheres, the mage can create ephemeral representations of material objects or forces, essentially duplicating the Pattern Spheres in the spirit worlds. With Mind magic, the mage can determine Resonance and roles of various spirits encountered, while Correspondence can ease the rigors of travel in the spirit realms. Prime magic lets the mage determine the boundaries between places of power and feel the flow of natural wellsprings of spirit energy.
• • • Awaken the Inanimate
By talking and crooning over a physical object, a Dreamspeaker or Akashic Brother may Awaken its spirit and rouse it into awareness. A Verbena might spread blood in a pattern over the object while a Hermetic mage would sprinkle it with dark dust and carve a seal onto its surface.
Objects, once their spirits are awake and aware, can be particularly useful. Their personalities tend to be very protective of those who have treated them well and ill-disposed toward those who have treated them badly. The object could not really do much on its own, but it might cause small coincidences that work for or against the mage.
For example, if a Euthanatos were to rouse the spirit of his gun, it might misfire in the hands of an enemy. Likewise, an aware Chantry house might take a very dim view of burglars, especially if they broke in — doors might slam, lights could go out (or on), and the alarm system the burglars disarmed might short out and go off anyway.
Rousing an object typically requires plenty of ritual successes — five or so for a gun, 20 or more for a house. This is slow, but often coincidental unless the mage wants an especially vulgar manifestation. The older and more psychically-charged the object is, the more powerful its spirit and the harder it will be to rouse. The newer and less important the item, the less powerful and less intelligent its spirit and the easier it is to rouse. A new knife from the knife shop, never used, would have less personality and intelligence than a cockroach, but could be made aware with a minimal amount of magic. Over years or decades, the objects would start to absorb some of its owner's personality. The knife an old shaman forged in boyhood would have a strong and active spirit (thought it might not be a fetish per se). As always, an object with strong Resonance similar to the mage's is more likely to awaken to his call.
An object with an awakened spirit exists in multiple worlds at once. A person can use an awakened knife in the physical world to injure spirits in the Near Umbra, or he may cut the silver cords that connect astral travelers to their bodies.
In the modern age, many objects resist awakening completely. The dullness of mundanity infects them and prevents them from taking on their own personalities. Even if a mage manages to awaken an object, there's no guarantee that it will be helpful, or that it will know anything of value.
• • • Stepping Sideways
Mages can push through the Gauntlet and into the Near Umbra. Once in the Umbra, the mage walks and interacts with the place just like always, but as a being of ephemera instead of as a material entity. The mage is always noticeable to those who know what to look for. Living beings stand out in the Umbra, especially if they visit the deadlands.
Traveling through the Gauntlet to the Spirit World is usually done as an extended ritual — the mage makes a real or symbolic journey and eventually passes into the spirit world. The difficulty of such a journey varies with the thickness of the Gauntlet. Should the mage botch, he may well become stuck. In such a case, only another mage able to reach into the Gauntlet can pull him out or push him through.
Crossing the Gauntlet is a very dangerous journey unless done with extreme care. The storm winds of the Reckoning lash the very Avatars of those mages who dare to cross into the Mirror Worlds unprepared. When a mage crosses into the Umbra unprepared, roll the mage's permanent Paradox + Arete (difficulty 6). Each success indicates one level of Aggravated damage as the storm winds flay the mage's enlightened spirit! In some particularly nasty cases, mages have even had their Avatars flayed apart by the storm winds, getting haplessly dumped back in the material world with less power and sometimes horribly Gilguled.
Properly prepairing to cross the Gauntlet and buffering oneself from the storm while sheilding your Avatar from its wrath is a difficult proposition and only achievable through extended ritual, or with a powerful Stormwarden to protect you on your journey across.
- Each point of difficulty to cross the Gauntlet requires roughly ten minutes of ritual and the total number of successes on your extended arete rolls must equal or exceed double the gauntlets difficulty. Bringing additional items on your person require additional successes.
- You make make one roll for every ten minutes that pass until you accumulate enough successes to cross.
- Even if you accumulate enough successes before the ritual time is up, you must complete the ritual as normal to be able to cross unharmed. Mages with 5 dots of Arete and 5 dots in Spirit may ignore this rule, as may those with the Natural Channel merit found on pg 295 of Mage revised.
- Returning to the Material world from the Umbra is far easier, and requires just a standard roll based on the Gauntlet of the area - the prior ritual protecting them on the journey back.
As an example, to cross over at a node is a difficulty of 3. To cross here would require at least half an hour minutes of ritual, and 6 or more successes. Whereas Crossing in most urban areas is a difficulty of 7, requiring over two hours of ritual (140 minutes), and at least 14 successes.
The Gauntlet may vary by up to two points due to local conditions.
|Node / Friendly Caern||3||One / Six|
|Deep Wilderness||5||Two / Ten|
|Rurual Countryside||6||Three / Twelve|
|Most Urban Areas||7||Four / Fourteen|
|Downtown||8||Five / Sixteen|
|Technocratic Lab||9||Five+ / 20+|
• • • • Rend and Repair Gauntlet, Bind Spirits
While lesser mages are limited to slipping themselves through the Gauntlet, a powerful mage can tear the Gauntlet asunder and create a gate between the spirit and material worlds. Spirits and other people can travel through this gate, but they risk the perils inherent in such a journey. The mage can also reinforce the Gauntlet against such breaches and repair or close tears that he or others create.
The mage's command over spiritual matter allows him to place powerful bindings and summonings over spirits. The difficulty of such a feat varies with the spirit in question; extremely potent spirits are still beyond the mage's powers. Still, many minor spirits can be useful allies, and can perform a variety of feats. The mage can even bind the spirit to an object to create a fetish, or form a sort of symbiotic link with a spirit. Doing so is similar to possession, but the mage remains somewhat able to direct his actions and call on the spirit's powers. Dealing with the spirit world in a cavalier manner can gamer a mage many enemies, of course, so Adepts must be judicious in their use of power.
A mage with this level of power can bring other people or objects into the Umbra or out of it easily. With other magic, themage can empower free-standing gates or doorways that leave one section of the material world to enter a different area in the spirit world. The mage can also create time differentials between spirit and material, or he can take control of a spirit directly and influence its actions and role.
• • • • Affix Gauntlet
By hardening the Gauntlet in an area, the mage can cause any number of effects. He can trap a spirit into a place or object, create a ward that ejects a spirit from a space, or tightly control an environment and protect it against spirit entry. Successes scored on such an Effect generally raise the Gauntlet, but they could have other consequences.
By warding an area, the mage can prevent spirits from entering or leaving a space. Successes generate an area and a duration for such a ward. This ward exists in both the material and physical world — any construct of ephemera cannot pass through unless it can defeat the potency of the ward.
An interlocking pattern of Spirit energy can trap a spirit in place, or force it out of an area. The mage's player must score more successes than the victim in a contested roll — typically the mage's Effect versus the subject's ability to travel in spirit form (be it through Spirit magic, a spirit's powers or whatever). If the mage succeeds, he can banish a spirit from a place or person (with exorcism) or lock it in place so that it can't escape. Such powers are a staple Chorus and Order of Hermes' means for dealing with demons and other evil spirit manifestations.
Trapping a spirit in an object creates a fetish. A willing spirit can empower an object deliberately; an unwilling spirit must have its will broken by the mage's Effect. If the mage succeeds, the Effect creates a temporary fetish. With a willing spirit the fetish lasts as long as the deal allows; for an unwilling spirit, the mage must use successes to generate a duration for the spirit trap.
Lastly, the mage can place a spirit in possession of a body temporarily. Most often this is done by wrapping shards of the Gauntlet around the mage, holding the spirit in place so that the mage can tap its power, but the mage could also cause a spirit to possess an unwilling victim. In the former case, the mage must best the spirit's will (if it resists), but can then draw on the spirit's special Charms and powers; in the latter case, the mage must overcome the victim's will, and then can inject the spirit into the victim for the determined duration.
• • • • Breach the Gauntlet
Like the earlier power of Stepping Sideways, this capability lets the mage cross into the spirit world — but he does so by tearing open a hole in the Gauntlet (or, perhaps, bringing spirit and material worlds completely together again). For the duration of the Effect, any being that's not specifically warded can travel the gate, entering or leaving the spirit world.
A breach of the Gauntlet is generally quite vulgar, but it can be the only way to get allies or Sleepers without Spirit skill into the Umbra. Some spirits also crave entry into the material world, but they do not have the power to cross over on their own.
Naturally, this Effect is very difficult; the difficulty varies with the strength of the Gauntlet, and the successes required are usually high (five or more plus duration and area affected). Note that passengers through the gate do take storm damage from the Umbra just as per the Stepping Sideways rote! (Sleepers, ironically, therefore enter the Umbra with the least risk.)
• • • • • Forge Ephemera, Outward Journeys
The most advanced understanding of Spirit allows the mage to shape ephemera as he desires. The mage can alter, destroy or create spirit material, force it to obey his whims or gift it with new powers. He can sense and affect the spirits of living beings and the dead alike, and journey to the farthest reaches of the spirit worlds, defended by his own mastery.
A simple spell enables the Master to heal spirits and restore their Power, which is a potent way to garner spirit allies. The mage can also reshape spirits as he desires, although particularly powerful spirits can take a long time to change, and most spirits will object to such treatment.
Shaping spirit energy into desired forms lets the mage create new Realms, though such undertakings are massive and require a great deal of Quintessence. The mage can create places in the Umbra where he can shape the spirit world to his liking and even build new Horizon Realms, but most Masters consider this feat extraordinarily difficult.
Because the Master can sense and interact with the living soul, the mage can now actually see the Avatar of a living being. The Avatars of Sleepers are little more than dim motes of magical energy, but mages often have powerful and active Avatars — and they may take interest in those who watch them! Most horrifyingly, the Spirit Master can perform the Gilgul rite, the vulgar magic that tears the victim's very Avatar asunder and removes forever his magical power. This last spirit ritual is one of the most guarded and feared powers, used only in extremis and as a punishment for the most hideous of crimes in magical society.
Guarded by complete control over the spirit world, the Master can forage at last past the Horizon and beyond to the Deep Umbra. He can explore the Far Realms and go where he pleases, such as other worlds, the many creations of human imagination and the dimensions far removed from his own.
• • • • • Break the Dreamshell
The Dreamshell is the Dreamspeaker term for the Horizon. To enter the Deep Umbra, a mystic must break through this Dreamshell, just as she must break through the Gauntlet when stepping sideways.
Ten successes or more are required to pierce the Earth Mother's Dreamshell. Other Realms might have weaker or stronger Horizons. If the mage uses an Anchorhead (a special Domain set amid the Dreamshell), the passage becomes easier and requires only five successes.
Fortunately, the Dreamshell is not overrun with flaying spirit energies, and crossing it does not carry the same inherent dangers as Stepping Sideways.
• • • • • Deep Umbra Travel
Surviving the utterly barren spiritual environment of the Deep Umbra requires a membrane of spirit magic. This spiritual essence creates a sort of.bubble around the mage, protecting him from the ravages of the Deep Umbra. The traveler must reach and enter another Near Umbra before the duration rolled for the field elapses, or he will die a cold death in the void.
Deep Umbral travel is a dangerous affair. Most distances are great but highly subjective. Mages often experience hallucinations or visions in the Deep Umbra, and they can encounter strange entities that make their homes there. Such creatures are rarely friendly to humanity.
A few bold mages actually build giant ships that travel the various dimensions, not only skirting space but piercing into the primordial Void itself. The Void Engineers are foremost among such, of course, but Sons of Ether also build great and fanciful Etherjammers to carry them to distant places. In the Deep Umbra, they look for other worlds, spirit realms beyond any known place, and clues to the formation of the Tellurian.