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  • guiskj
    started a topic Spirit Life-Cycle, Explained

    Spirit Life-Cycle, Explained

    I have been re-reading WTF 2nd edition for the second (3rd?) time and I think I finally truly understand how Spirits operate (Hopefully). I see a lot of questions about this so I thought I would put this together. Not being one of the writers, I can only say this is what I got from the book, and it is in no way a definitive interpretation.

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    Spirit Life-cycle:

    Everything in the material world has at least a Muthra directly representing it in the Shadow. A Spirit that directly represents something in the Material is always dormant, as an awaken Spirit has become a symbolic, rather than direct, representation of something in the Material. Dormant Spirits of animals and moving phenomena instinctively follow their material counterpart in the Shadow. Dormant Spirits often look like translucent silhouette of what they represent (intangible material things generate amorphous Muthra, these Spirits only start gaining a more defined shape once they rise in rank).

    Muthrurum can never awake.

    All spirits, even Muthrurum, dormant or awakened, spend 1 Essence a day in order to exist. But by being next to what birthed them, which is resonant to them, they regain 1 Essence a day and therefore continue to exist.

    If nothing else happens, that Muthra will remain a Muthra for all time or end up being consumed by an awakened Spirit or starve of Essence and disappear. For Muthra representing fleeting things in the Material, they'll simply starve and disappear, since they'll no longer have anything directly resonant to them generating essence. Dormant Hursihim have the same fate, except they have a chance of awakening before starving.

    A material thing that no longer has a direct dormant Muthra/Hursih Spirit representation in the Shadow (likely because it was consumed or awakened) will eventually birth a new Muthra in the Shadow.

    As time goes on, for a few of the dormant Muthrum/Hursihim, their direct material representation will sometimes have a spike of Essence, allowing the Spirit to reflexively gorge and absorb more than just 1 Essence from its material counterpart. This can be for a number of reasons, such as an item becoming emotionally more important or an animal growing to be a great specimen, etc. As the Muthra is able to store a surplus of essence, it will eventually become a Hursih, albeit still a dormant one tied to the same direct representation in the material.

    Dormant Hursih are the only Spirits that can wake up, apart from Hursah or higher that have been forced into hibernation due to discorporation (more on that later). If the dormant Hursih is able to survive long enough to increase its rank to Hursah through the same process it went from Muthra to Hursih, it will automatically awaken. There are also several events that can cause a dormant Hursih to awake before becoming a Hursah, such as the death/destruction of its direct material counterpart (Muthra, unable to awaken, always simply disappear once their counterpart ceases to exist). Once awakened, the Spirit is no longer tied directly to anything in the Material, it is fully self-aware and can now obtain Essence from anything resonant to it. However, as an awakened Spirit, it immediately enters the Shadow's predatorial politics.

    As an awakened Spirit, day to day consists of at least being close to a resonant source of Essence so it can survive. If it can find a surplus of resonant Essence somewhere, it can try to gorge once a day. Failing that, it can hunt other Spirits that hold the same resonant Essence, including consuming dormant Muthra/Hursih (this is not as bad as it sounds as there are a LOT more dormant Spirits than there are awakened ones), or try to influence the Material to generate more Essence.

    All damage to Spirits is considered Bashing damage, even by Werewolves, unless using its bane, in which case it causes Aggravated damage if the Spirit is materialized or in the Shadow (Lethal if in Twilight). Spirits treat damage AND HEALING the same way as normal mortals do and they cannot use Essence to heal (which is why the only-Bashing-damage thing is not so bad). Aggravated damage causes Spirits to also lose Essence on a 1-to-1 ratio. Spirits do not need to roll to stay conscious when full of Bashing Damage, they do not Bleed once they are full of Lethal Damage and they have no Penalties attached to their Corpus last three boxes. Once a Spirit is full of Lethal or Aggravated Damage it discorporates in an explosive, albeit vanishing, fashion, flavored by their nature. If this discorporation happened when the Spirit had no more Essence, it ceases to exist. Otherwise, eventually it will return to the Shadow in some place resonant to it and will become dormant.

    A dormant Spirit from discorporation reforms with all Corpus healed (the lapse in time between discorporation and appearing dormant in the Shadow already represents the reformation of its Corpus). However, the Spirit will only awaken again once it has regained a number of Essence equal to its Corpus. Remember however, that ALL Spirits, be they dormant or not, spend 1 Essence a day, and being next to a resonant source of Essence only nets 1 Essence. Meaning they can remain dormant forever. Their only hope of re-awakening is going through the same process that Muthrum/Hursihim go to awaken. However, Spirits of higher rank have an ace lodged on Spirit politics: their Ilthum subordinates will likely try to find the dormant Spirit and Influence the Material to generate more than just 1 resonant Essence a day in order to kick-start the dormant Spirit’s re-awakening. A good plot hook is to have a discorporated spirit be reformed in another pack's territory causing a spike in that Spirit's Ilthum activity across the Gauntlet, which always generate trouble.

    As the awakened Spirit accumulates Essence and ingrains itself in its Ilthum/Umia politics, it naturally rises in Rank which causes its nature to slightly shift and become ever more symbolic and focused, trading bans and banes in the process. A Spirit that grows from Hursah to Ensih is not altogether the same being, having effectively become More. This is important to keep in mind as it applies to Totems as well, as a pack Totem increases in rank, its ban, banes and Aspirations shift, as well as its behavior and intellect.

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    OK, so that is what I take from it, please let me know if your reading is different than mine or if you think this is the cannonical interpretation.

    Thanks
    Last edited by guiskj; 05-04-2017, 01:31 PM.

  • Khanwulf
    replied
    Pleased to be of service.

    Let's step up the action a bit, literally: lets say you have humans in particular doing their thing, and generating emotionally charged situations in the material. This kicks off an appropriate Muthra or even Hursih--both dormant. If the situation continues to strongly feed resonant essence they could advance and awaken--perhaps quickly even (e.g. action in a charged courtroom drama, a several-hour medieval battleground, etc.).

    If awakened, obviously they have both mobility and agency to seek out or even influence others for their resonant essence flow. Very dangerous to the material world if that resonance is negative and/or rarer.

    But what if the impulse is not sufficient to awaken them? Then would the spirit hang on the individual (or "cloud" about him along with other dormant ones) until it can collect enough? Or would it sink into the location where it was spawned and wait? I'll toss out a potential answer: "it depends"--is the spirit really about the emotions/actions of a person, or more influenced by the place? Also, does the scene that generated the spirit end with a resolution of that resonance or does the person leave still in a generating state? (E.g. is the aggression contained in the courtroom, or does the person radiate it tangibly as their emotional state when they leave--indicating that they're generally inclined to produce that resonance).

    Likewise, a Pride Muthra created from accepting a challenge might be "scraped off" after two combatants face off in the ring, as the location is more attuned to that resonance. Eventually the boxing ring will be encountered by an awakened Pride spirit and it'll hoover up the Muthra who've accumulated there in drifts, releasing the emotional charge in the material. ("Yeah no, I don't feel like challenging him. You?" "Nope. Let's get a beer.")

    These are just examples, but the initial focus on location begs for commentary on the more abstract--and frankly more dangerous--spirits people and situations generate.

    --Khanwulf

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  • Malus
    replied
    Originally posted by Arcanist View Post
    Werewolves, however, inflict Lethal damage to everything with their teeth, no ands, ifs, or buts, unless they have an Honorary Rank high enough that they count as a Bane to lesser spirits.
    Tangent: Werewolves' always lethal damage gets downgraded if interacting with the spirit as it remains in Twilight, and if they sufficiently outrank the spirit, the aggravated damage should downgrade to Lethal as well. Apparently Materialized spirits or those encountered in the Hisil lack this property. /Tangent.

    I sorta regard Muthra as high concentration of ambient essence. I also assume that spirits that get discorporated tend to manifest ideally around an appropriately resonant locus, which causes to slowly soak in their essence, which eventually re-awakens them. Some spirits may have adapted to do this whilst embodied in the Heart of said locus, precisely to avoid others coming into them and devouring them. But, does it really matters? What if the spirit you discorporated gets eaten by another, the resultant spirit will likely remember the traumatic events that lead to it's previous prey's gruesome fate and may even still hold a grudge, and/or decide to steer clear of antagonistic behavior towards Uratha.

    What happens if, after discorporating several examples of a type of spirit (let's say, Fear) they all wind up in a spooky spot, comatose, if they're hybernating they don't spend the essence they require to remain active, so they will eventually soak up enough to re-awaken. Or maybe with such a density of spirits there a locus form. And then the locus starts birthing appropriate spirits.

    Lots of way you can spin it for plot purpose with a hypothetical approach. We don't really need hard and fast answers.
    Last edited by Malus; 05-04-2017, 06:53 PM.

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  • guiskj
    replied
    Nofather and Khanwulf, you changed my perception. I not only agree but also prefer your understanding that ALL spirits go into hibernation upon starving.

    As for a Material phenomena without a spiritual representation ''weakening", I would interpret like this:
    Loosing your Muthra is no big deal. Loosing your dormant Hursih is more meaningful, since that phenomena had to be resonant enough to begin with to uplift its Muthra. I would say in that case, that phenomena would loose something about it that made it special and eventually birth another Muthra, becoming again just yet another basic thing. An example would be a favourite toy falling out of favor because it lost its Hursih.

    It's also worth pointing out that a good way to determine what is Resonant to a spirit is through its Influences. Thank you for that Khanwulf.
    Last edited by guiskj; 05-04-2017, 04:02 PM.

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  • nofather
    replied
    Yeah. I could see why you'd want to avoid having a disproportionate amount of spirits like that, but considering they would be conceptuals, which are explicitly called out as having a short life span in Predators, it would make sense for them to be of the R-type, where there's lots of them but eventually one's going to realize they have a short time to live and eat all the rest to survive. You also are able to take advantage of the fact that, at higher Ranks, spirits expand upon their concepts. So while a bunch of Rank 0 spirits of fear may have been created during a blackout last night, and gone dormant afterwards, the Rank 4 Owl spirit, with a lesser Influence in Fear, can sweep it up like a whale gathering up plankton.

    Khanwulf, Gorging is depicted as just eating 'raw' Essence. From p184, 'Spirits may attempt to gorge themselves on a source of appropriate Essence. Once per day, when in proximity (even if it’s on the other side of the Gauntlet) to a suitable Condition, a spirit can roll Power + Finesse, regaining successes in Essence. If the spirit is still in the Hisil, the dice pool is penalized according to Gauntlet strength.' Not necessarily taking it out of another spirit, but potentially taking it from the same source another spirit was relying on.

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  • Khanwulf
    replied
    Originally posted by guiskj View Post

    I agree with you for once-awakened Spirits, if depleted of Essence they would indeed hibernate. For dormant Muthurum/Hursihim, I would pose they do disappear as that would reinforce the mirroring between Shadow and Material, but also because otherwise it would create a disproportionate amount of those Spirits in the Hisil, no?

    As to your other points, I fully agree. Thank you for the clarification.
    No? Well that would depend on the rate of predation by active spirits. Take a forest for example: an awakened tree-spirit could spend all day just grazing on sleeping Muthurum using this model (and... becoming stronger much faster??); I'd imagine a dormant Muthura shorn of its material resonance source would both stick out and get cleaned up pretty quickly. At least other Muthurum could hide within trees and the like and might be overlooked.

    So... does "gorging" include eating your neighboring tree-spirit while it naps? Or would a spirit in this example need a stronger resonance source? I'm struggling a bit with the model because I still see no check on rampant predatory behavior except between two awakened spirits, who at least could have sufficient survival instinct to avoid conflicting if there is enough (whatever that word means to spirits) dormant food about.

    So is there a "digestion" period if a spirit eats more than 1 essence/day? Also the granularity doesn't do much for both slowly awakening spirits (say, those gaining 1.1 essence/day thanks to the extra-treelike nature of their important glade, to push the example) and those being "nibbled on" by others (example: a Hursah breaking off a bit of 100 trees nearby, but not wanting to kill the spirits).

    Further to the last point, does not the spirit-world impact the material as well? So eating a tree Muthra entirely could sicken the tree itself, much as eating a dormant engine-spirit could keep your car from starting! At the larger scales it's noted that destroying the spiritual ecology (as unwise and impatient Urathra can do) tends to result in a Barrens as well as a bunch of pissed-off feudal courts!

    So... thoughts?

    --Khanwulf

    PS. Note this is a very good and worthwhile effort, and I for one appreciate the community's time in working toward an understanding of the ecology, which is crucial to good stories around the Hisil.

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  • guiskj
    replied
    Originally posted by nofather View Post
    I think they'd just go into hibernation, like dormancy. Since they wouldn't lose corpus, they wouldn't discorporate and disappear, they would just sit there until something happened to wake them or ate them.
    I agree with you for once-awakened Spirits, if depleted of Essence they would indeed hibernate. For dormant Muthurum/Hursihim, I would pose they do disappear as that would reinforce the mirroring between Shadow and Material, but also because otherwise it would create a disproportionate amount of those Spirits in the Hisil, no?

    As to your other points, I fully agree. Thank you for the clarification.

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  • Arcanist
    replied
    EDIT: Ninja'd by nofather

    That's almost correct. (Minus how spirits increase in Rank, we don't actually know how they do it, but your suggestion is as good as any.) Spirits spend a point of Essence per day to remain active, meaning that if they hibernate they just passively regain Essence from a source of Resonance. However, being depleted of Essence (and hibernating) is dangerous because other spirits might come along and just kill their rival or nibble on their slowly regenerating Essence stores as a means to feed themselves. Werewolves, however, inflict Lethal damage to everything with their teeth, no ands, ifs, or buts, unless they have an Honorary Rank high enough that they count as a Bane to lesser spirits.

    The Seek Numen also passively extends the range of the spirit's natural Resonance senses.

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  • nofather
    replied
    Originally posted by guiskj View Post
    For Muthra representing fleeting things in the Material, they'll simply starve and disappear, since they'll no longer have anything directly resonant to them generating essence. Dormant Hursihim have the same fate, except they have a chance of awakening before starving.
    I think they'd just go into hibernation, like dormancy. Since they wouldn't lose corpus, they wouldn't discorporate and disappear, they would just sit there until something happened to wake them or ate them.

    As an awakened Spirit, day to day consists of at least being close to a resonant source of Essence so it can survive. If it can find a surplus of resonant Essence somewhere, it can try to gorge once a day.
    I'd point out 'Spirits can sense sources of Essence appropriate for their needs from up to a mile away, even across the Gauntlet without penalty.' So they aren't just limited to whats within sight.

    As the awakened Spirit accumulates Essence and ingrains itself in its Ilthum/Umia politics, it naturally rises in Rank which causes its nature to slightly shift and become ever more symbolic and focused, trading bans and banes in the process. A Spirit that grows from Hursah to Ensih is not altogether the same being, having effectively become More. This is important to keep in mind as it applies to Totems as well, as a pack Totem increases in rank, its ban, banes and Aspirations shift, as well as its behavior and intellect.
    And probably important to note that lesser spirits often offer up tithes of Essence to higher ranked spirits of similar Resonance, forming a crude feudalism.

    Really well done, though.

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