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Spirit Arcanum Practices

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  • Spirit Arcanum Practices

    I'm looking to better understand the Practices and dot values of spells in the Spirit Arcanum. By my reading they seem screwy, and in a way that makes it harder for a mage with dots in the Spirit arcanum to manipulate spirits than someone with an equal number of dots in Life or Mind to manipulate things that fall under their purviews. I'll give some specific examples.

    I don't understand why Spirit Summons is Perfecting, at 3 dots. Everything in the general spell description (calling a spirit, though default sensory range is strange) and most of the reach effects (giving a one-word command, giving a complex command) would seem to be Ruling to me, which would make this a 2-dot, rather than a 3-dot spell. This interpretation also seems to align with Life 2 Lure and Repel. This also applies to the similar spells for Ghosts and Goetia.

    There are also a whole bunch of 4-dot Spirit spells whose Practices different than I would expect based on their effects. Banishment (Unraveling), Bind Spirit (Patterning), and Familiar (Patterning) all deal with creating or destroying Manifestation Conditions, which the creative thaumaturgy rules say "generally require a Weaving (***) spell."

    A number of the effects of Shape Spirit also seem to me like they should be Weaving. I can definitely see that changing the spirit's fundamental nature, and could make an argument that redefining its Influences or rewriting its Ban and Bane, would fall under Patterning because they "completely transform a target" and line up with Life 4 Shapechanging. But things like "redistribute the spirit's Attribute dots," "heal one box of lethal damage from the spirit's Corpus," "add, remove, or replace one Manifestation," "add, remove, or replace one Numen," and "alter the spirit's size, shape, and appearance" (all of which must stay within Rank-derived maximums) don't look like they would require Patterning to me. They seem pretty straightforward Weaving, as to my eye they "alter nearly any property of a target without transforming it into something completely different." They also seem pretty analogous to the effects of 3 dot Weaving (or for healing lethal damage, Perfecting with Reach) Life spells like Many Faces and Transform Life.

    So, a pretty large chunk of Spirit spell Practices don't make sense to me, as opposed to the other arcana, which I think I pretty much get. Is there something I am misunderstanding about the Practices or about spirits that explains this?

  • #2
    In-game explanations (more like justifications):

    Spirit Summons is improving the spirit’s ability to be in the physical world, with the commands being conditions to the improvements.

    The 4-dot Manifestation Condition spells are so because they target the spirit, not the “ground” they manifest on. And for spirits, Manifesting is part of their fundamental nature.

    Similarly, as spirits are holistic in their status as ephemeral creatures, compared to mortal creatures, changing aspects of them amount to changing the whole, hence Shape Spirit.

    These are from the top of my head, without looking up the actual book, so expect contradictions.

    Your assessments do make sense, however, and I don’t see anything that’d immediately break the game by shuffling around Practices and maybe even dividing some spells to separate Practices.


    MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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    • #3
      I believe that Shape Spirit is a Patterning spell because you can perform any number of the listed changes (based on Potency, anyway), whereas while a Weaving spell could achieve similar effects, each would be under the domain of a discrete spell. So, there may be one Weaving spell to redistribute a spirit's attribute dots, another to change its Manifestations, and so on. Shape Spirit essentially lets you bypass having to cast multiple spells if you want to change more than one aspect of a spirit at once.

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      • #4
        Summon Spirit does much the same thing letting you cast one 3 dot spell with extra Reach to accomplish something it would take multiple 2 dot spells to accomplish.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the responses. The explanation about the nature of ephemeral entities being more holistic makes sense to me. In terms of these being higher level spells that combine the effects of multiple related lower level spells, isn’t doing more ambitious versions of the same thing was supposed to be what reach is for? I also definitely buy that a more limited version of Shape Spirit that only affects one aspect would be weaving, but the fact that none of those effects were listed at a lower level led me to think they weren’t available there. The only reason this was an issue to me is that Spirit already seems to be one of the more specific or situational Arcana, and this seemed to lock a lot of its’ potential farther down the line than with other Arcana.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by LearnedPig View Post
            A number of the effects of Shape Spirit also seem to me like they should be Weaving.
            The one the spell's primary factor aligns with as the main use-case is directly called out as a Patterning effect.


            Resident Sanguinary Analyst
            Currently Consuming: Changeling: the Lost 1e

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            • #7
              Originally posted by LearnedPig View Post
              but the fact that none of those effects were listed at a lower level led me to think they weren’t available there. The only reason this was an issue to me is that Spirit already seems to be one of the more specific or situational Arcana, and this seemed to lock a lot of its’ potential farther down the line than with other Arcana.
              Word count and the need to avoid too much unnecessary repetition can account for that.

              Although, in the case of Spirit Summoning, all of the Reach effects are listed as separate spells under the 2 dot effects.

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