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Phylacteries and Other Beings

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  • Phylacteries and Other Beings

    So odd thought came to me and and I wanted to see if anyone knew of a canon answer to this...
    Let's say that a mage has a phylactery that is physical and portable - that is, something that can be lost or stolen or bequeathed (or stolen) in death, such as a ring, cane, staff, or other similar object that can, to normal eyes, appear normal itself. The Phylactery, as you may have guessed, had passed into or been taken by the hands of another being - but not a being who would be the inheritor of it. This is a being who provably has an avatar of their own, and an awakened one to boot - another mage, a werewolf, a changeling, what have you - or else clearly cannot be the next incarnation of that Avatar or its bearer (a vampire or wraith, who no longer has an avatar, i.e.) Also assume that the avatar is in some way otherwise compatible with the worldview of the thief/heir - if they are a mage, the Avatar's essence and prior magical associations are compatible with their paradigm, or if they are a garou, it belonged to a mage such as a dreamspeaker with a focus that fits in part with the garou's mindframe.

    Absent any powers placed in the Phylactery to make it a wonder that could otherwise be wielded, and other than as a possible tie back to the bearer of they yet live for sympathetic magic of some sort or another, would the Phylactery have any power of its own that could be wielded? Would the other being be able to coax out any willworking from it? Or is it, to them, just a curious trophy? Does it matter what kind of being they are? Or, if it could manifest in some form, could it act as a mentor (possibly in exchange for being kept safe and brought to its next life)?

  • #2
    If it's even possible for someone who isn't the owner to use a Phylactery for its magic, I'd rule that it could only be done with a specific magical effect or ritual that would allow its power to be "tap-able". Probably no small bit of magic, either. We're talking a capitalized High Ritual here. One that would require the caster to have done a ton of research into how Phylacteries and Avatars work, to have even an IDEA of what they're trying to do.

    Otherwise, it's not possible. If for no other reason than because the Avatar would be resisting such efforts the whole way through. The Avatar knows who their "person" is; in absence of the Mage's Will, the Avatar will do what IT Wills. This is why - according to Tal'Mahe'Ra: Guide to the True Black Hand - it's possible for a Mage to impart their power to a Vampire, given sufficient knowledge and a blood connection. A Phylactery is a different thing altogether.

    Not to mention such objects are far, far rarer than Mages themselves, so it's much less likely that a non-Mage could have studied it enough to exploit its power. Not impossible, but unlikely. It's why the Tal'Mahe'Ra has its Blood Familiar, but no one has even heard of exploiting a Mage's magic like this.

    Well, except for Samual Haight. But that whole angle with the staff was retconned later into him just having a particularly powerful Wonder. So references to him using True Magick must be taken with a grain of "Fuck That".


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    • #3
      • A phylactery allows you to preserve a part of your consciousness outside your mortal body. That body may be destroyed, but your soul and consciousness live on until or unless the phylactery is destroyed. With Mind 4, you can project that consciousness into another body or an astral form, while a character with Mind 5/Spirit 5 can place your Awakened consciousness into a new body for you.

      This is the important part of the Flaw with regards to your question. Yes, anyone who receives the item can "use" it... in the sense that the item can, with Mind 4, possess them and gain a new body. Of course possessing a random mortal occultist is easy. Possessing a random Garou/Vampire is VERY hard. And a Mage, especially, can resist with countermagick as well as their high Willpower.

      If another Mage wanted to make use of a Phylactery, their best choice would be to ally with the Mage held inside. Transfer them to a Golem, Frankenstein, Animal, Comatose Body, Computer Mainframe...

      If the Mage were destructive and wanted a quick result, they could try and get Quintessence out of the patterns held within the Phylactery, but that would be dangerous and resisted by the Phylactery's host.

      EDIT: Just had an idea for an NPC Mage for my setting; a "first year" who became a Mage when they inherited their grandfather's ring... the grandfather, being an evil bastard, has just given up on the idea of being mortal and wants to use possession as a workaround. Better than being a lich after all!

      I imagine the only solution to the problem that would let the kid continue to harness the power of the Phylactery would be to use Mind magick to warp the mental pattern within the ring until it was essentially just a copy of the kid's own mind that would grow alongside him.
      Last edited by 11twiggins; 04-10-2019, 12:03 PM.

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      • #4
        Yeah, M20 Phylacteries are very much alive, the way they're described it's not much different as how a mage that went Astral and lost it's body (like, he was killed) or had his Silver Cord severed can use Mind 5 to retach the silver cord and possess another body.

        Having that in mind, taping into a M20 Phylactery isn't very different from taping from a living mage a lo Blood Familiar. I would argue a simple variation of that ritual/Discipline (to tap onto an object rather than a living being) would work here if you want to "have" the Avatar's power w/o dealing with the mind inside.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Aleph View Post
          Yeah, M20 Phylacteries are very much alive, the way they're described it's not much different as how a mage that went Astral and lost it's body (like, he was killed) or had his Silver Cord severed can use Mind 5 to retach the silver cord and possess another body.

          Having that in mind, taping into a M20 Phylactery isn't very different from taping from a living mage a lo Blood Familiar. I would argue a simple variation of that ritual/Discipline (to tap onto an object rather than a living being) would work here if you want to "have" the Avatar's power w/o dealing with the mind inside.
          Blood Familiar is that whole True Black Hand "Vampires who are Mages" deal right?

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          • #6
            Yup. It is.

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