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Why doesn't the spirit world take more initiative?

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  • Why doesn't the spirit world take more initiative?

    While pondering which spirit would my Hermetic style wizard call upon from the Umbra to clean an oil spill I had to wonder if there were spirits capable of cleaning it, why didn't they just do so without a promise of some bribe. If there is really an angel or elemental able to fix this wrong or that one, why does it feel like they are waiting around for someone to call upon them?

  • #2
    Probably because they're already preoccupied with their own responsibilities. Humans need to convince spirits to perform specific tasks over others, usually with a bribe. Especially for angels (or the Western Occult conception of them), they are specific beings with specific jobs; there are a finite number of angels in existence (that Hermetics are equipped to summon, anyway), each with their own name, rank, and job in the grand scheme of things. Elemental spirits aren't as restricted in number, but they still have things they must do.

    Keep in mind also that the vast majority of spirits are minor and, well, kind of dumb. Less sapient beings, and more forces of nature. A spirit of cleanliness might be the right being for the job of cleaning an oil spill, and might be inclined to do so...IF it knows the spill has happened. It might be so focused on cleansing a particular location, it doesn't realize there's a more pressing use of its talents elsewhere. Nor will it necessarily see that greater need as being reason to stop doing what it's doing.

    Finally, doing overt alterations to the material world isn't simple or easy, especially not on the scale of an oil spill. The task costs Essence to accomplish using the spirit's powers, which is tiring. It's like getting a janitor to walk away from giving a particular floor its weekly cleaning, in order to mop up a massive spill of assorted liquids because of an accident. The janitor isn't getting paid enough for this nonsense...which is why you need to bribe them. In the spirit world, there might not be an overriding authority demanding a spirit drop what it's doing to attend to another problem, like would happen with our janitor. In the looser hierarchies - like with elementals - you have spirits who attend to their area of expertise because it's in their very nature.


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    • #3
      I think there's also something to consider when we look at these beings and their potential motivation.

      Elemental beings generally don't subscribe to moral codes similar to humans. A water spirit might be very useful for stopping a forest fire or oil spill, but why would it bother? What benefit does that spirit gain from this action?

      Angels likely would have comparable morality, but they have a religious basis. From a Christian perspective: God gave humans free will for a reason. Why then would an angel act unbeckoned? Would it even be able to? What kind of rules would bind angels?

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      • #4
        There may also be a prevailing belief amongst spirits that the penumbra is already a lost cause. Saving parts of it expends energy, energy which could be better used for other things, so why bother unless they can get something else out of the deal?

        It could also be that the spirits nearby who could clean things up are the very spirits that were weakened by the spill in the first place, making them already pretty busy trying to contain the oil, especially if the oil have their own spirits within them that require containing.


        Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running UPDATE Chapter 31b: Removed

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        • #5
          Originally posted by kalinara View Post
          Angels likely would have comparable morality, but they have a religious basis. From a Christian perspective: God gave humans free will for a reason. Why then would an angel act unbeckoned? Would it even be able to? What kind of rules would bind angels?
          Not to mention, God is said to have given Mankind both the benefits and responsibility due to stewards of the Earth. If humans engage in poor stewardship - spilling oil, causing smog, driving species to extinction - then they should be ready to live with the consequences. That is the price of the Free Will the Lord, in His infinite wisdom and grace, saw fit to give humans. For God or His angels to wave a hand and clear the bad results of human action away, would be to render those decisions moot, and moreover would cause humans to not learn anything.

          Angels would only get involved if: 1) the mage compelled them to obey, like with the Solominic Code; 2) were bargained with, in such a way as to make the human understand the cost of making mistakes; or 3) the act of cleaning the spill just happened to further God's plan in some way, something that the mage cannot know in advance. In the latter case, the price the angel asks of the mage to perform the service may, in and of itself, be used to further the plan; like demanding the mage go forth and tend to the homeless and downtrodden (any one of which could go on to do great things, or at the very least turn to God because His "agent" aided him).
          Last edited by Bluecho; 04-15-2017, 09:31 PM.


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          • #6
            Quite so. Probably angels care more for the moral dilemas such a spill represents that for the damage it may cause.

            And about spirits of "cleansing". Just as there may be an spirit that can clean waters, there will surely be an spirit that it's concerned with poisoning them (the Wyrm has a vested interest in that). What if, in the Umbra of a an oil spill, there's a battle between spirits of "clean water" and spirits of contamination that want the spill to last?. More neutral spirits like those of the oil itself may be involved. Cleaning the spill may as well be an exercise of Umbral politics.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Aleph View Post
              Quite so. Probably angels care more for the moral dilemas such a spill represents that for the damage it may cause.

              And about spirits of "cleansing". Just as there may be an spirit that can clean waters, there will surely be an spirit that it's concerned with poisoning them (the Wyrm has a vested interest in that). What if, in the Umbra of a an oil spill, there's a battle between spirits of "clean water" and spirits of contamination that want the spill to last?. More neutral spirits like those of the oil itself may be involved. Cleaning the spill may as well be an exercise of Umbral politics.
              Water elementals, Plastic elementals, and Toxin elementals fighting it out for territory


              Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running UPDATE Chapter 31b: Removed

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              • #8
                Spirits are also very...alien beings.
                The vast majority of simple spirits serve their purpose, and that's it. They do not think like humans, their thoughts don't run along the same lines. Their whole being is more a concept or idea taken form than actually a complex creature.

                Think of simple spirits as 'natural' robots or automatons performing their functions. The more complex spirits are mentally more complex as well, but still nothing that thinks like humans (or even animals) do. Even if the more complex spirits might emulate it and make it *seem* like they might be humanish somewhere inside..they are not.

                Communication with spirits is possible, but it's literally like talking to exotic aliens. You need to explain your way of thinking to them, and convince them of your motivations by acutally making them understand them in the first place. Only then - maybe - the spirit will see why it should be doing something it normally wouldn't, and even then it's up to the spirit if it does it to either help you, because it furthers its own goals down the line, or because it wants a reward.

                The reason most spirits are not more proactive in regards to the World Of Darkness, is because it's simply not something They Do, nor is it Their Purpose. It is, as strange as it sounds, as simple as that.


                >> cWoD Dice Probability Chart | | >> cWoD Dice Statistics Calculator | | >> cWoD Alternative Armor System
                >> cWoD Alternative Damage Roll System | | >> My explanation of cWoD Damage Levels

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                • #9
                  Because whenever they try to walk out the door to go do something, the yellow exclamation point over their heads gets caught on the doorframe.

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                  • #10
                    I actually can't see the majority of things in the spirit world really caring deeply for a realm they barely interact with and have no real stake in. Some spirits would be concerned, sure, but most of them? I doubt it. As far as they are concerned, the world could end and they'd still be more or less in the same situation as they were before the world ended. Maybe some of them would change if things changed in the world but not in a way they'd likely find unnatural. So, what motivation would most of these guys who never cross over into our realm have to do anything in our realm?

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