Binding and Warping Points

P117 of RoP:I states that "Binding is the Goetic Art of changing a spirit so that it becomes part of a person or thing."

Later on the same page, it states that "a character with a spirit bound to him may learn to use the spirit's powers and might points."

Still later, we have "he may use it [the learned power] as if he were the spirit, spending the spirit's Might Points as if they were his own."

In many cases, if a spirit used one of its powers on others, those targets would suffer warping, but in no case would a spirit suffer warping for using one of its powers on itself.

One of the players in my troupe assumes this means that, if you have a bound spirit, and you use one of its powers on yourself, and the power would normally grant a warping point to the target as a powerful supernatural effect, you would not suffer a warping point, any more than the spirit would if it used the power on itself.

Is this correct RAW?

PS - We understand that he gains a warping point per year for being under a constant supernatural effect. We are asking about warping from powerful effects.

I will say that in order to use the spirits power you must first spend XP to gain it. Then you have to raise it to the might point cost paying for it like an Ability. Once said player has then spent enough xp he may use the power and spend the spirits might points as if they were his own. I don't believe you'd incur warping because you've spent xp to understand how to use the power. It is much more personal than designing a spell even.

Yes, sorry, didn't mean to misrepresent your interpretation. I was trying to cover those points by pulling summary sentences like "a character with a spirit bound to him may learn to use the spirit's powers and might points."

The spirit doesn't get Warping because it has Might. Might prevents Warping. So that part is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether you consider the character to be responsible for the effect or not. If the character is responsible, then he/she will only get Warping if it's a long-term effect. I would say in this case that the character is responsible because the character has actually learned to use the power instead of forcing the spirit to use its power. But I could see it ruled the other way, too, that learning to use the power is actually learning to exert power over the spirit to force it to use its power. Of course, this only matters if the power is above level 25.


The player's reasoning, if I may paraphrase, is that the spirit becomes part of the binder's "essential nature." I don't think this is the best way to look at it as it opens up other cans of worms. Your statement makes sense though.

Yes, exactly, that's the question I'm asking here. So, no RAW answer on this one then? Its yet another YSMV? This is frustrating.

The distinction, in warping points likely accumulated over time by a Binder, is significant. I know ArM5 isn't a "balanced" game the way, say, DnD 3.5 is, but still, I'm trying to keep this character on a relatively even footing with the other magus-level characters. If I allow him to do it without warping, does that make him way more powerful than someone focused on arts? If I force warping, does it make him way less powerful? I am an experienced GM of many systems, but ArM5 is uncharted territory.

The player was hoping for no warping at all, aside for the annual "constant effect" binding warping point itself. But I think he'd probably live with that ruling.

That was more the way I was reading the ability. But really, it could be either way in this "story" aspect, so if there is no RAW, the question for my purpose is, "which one is better?" in terms of the time invested in "learning to use" a spirit's power vs. learning hermetic magic.

Its ok if learning to use a spirit's power is as quick, or even slightly quicker, a route to power, given the story potential from infernalism and such, but if it is way more powerful, then it needs to be balanced out a bit in my game, and warping seemed the right way.

But, as we're all experienced rp'ers new to the system, I'm trying to stick to RAW as much as possible at this early stage. I'm sure my next ArM campaign will start with a 10 page list of house rules, but we need to learn how the machine was intended to work before we can start modifying it to our purposes.

Yes, that's what I meant by "circumstances where a warping point would be received due to a powerful supernatural effect." I left these related rules details out of my OP because, if I copied all the relevant rules from the book, I feel like I'm infringing on the rights' holder, and if I paraphrase too much, the conversation can get derailed over misinterpretations of my paraphrasing.

As for lvl 25+, of relevance to our story are things like "Leap of Homecoming."

Since your argument here begins with "to use the spirits power" and ends with "you've spent xp to understand how to use the power" I'm not sure that it is "more personal than designing a spell." When designing a spell, you're inventing something unique to your arts. When learning to use a spirit's power, you're learning to harness someone's else's power rather than your own Gift. That's less personal, even if the thing you are harnassing is bound to you.

That said, unless I get a more difinitive RAW answer, I'm inclined to go with the interpretation suggested above:

  1. Spirits have Magic Might, so they never get warping.

  2. Learning to use the power of a spirit bound to you makes it sufficiently "personal" that no warping is gained from powerful supernatural effects (lvl 25+) when the binder uses the power on himself.

  3. Constant supernatural effects that use learned powers, used by the binder on himself, do inflict warping on the binder.

  4. Since the binder is learning to use the existing power as if it were his own, rather than inventing a new hermetic spell, he cannot alter the design to tailor it to prevent warping to anyone other than the spirit and binder.

That seems to strike a middle ground between the player's initial "no warping potential" interpretation and my "lots of warping potential" interpretation. What do you think, Max (and other readers)? Fair?

I would use the interpretation given just above: the power works exactly as if it were designed for the user in terms of warping.
From a balance point of view, I don't think it's unbalancing. It's a slightly quicker road to power than Initiation, or having a magus design a magic item specifically for you; but it's also fraught with all the perils Infernal binding involves.

Yes, but... What worries me slightly is that these are mostly YMMV perils, since my serf's parma leaves me under the impression that they rely on discovery, being marched...

Worse: These rely on the GM actually going against the player if he screws up, something most GM are loathe to, whereas Warping is "punishment" in the hand of the player.

If the GM is loathe to, or not interested in, applying background-based consequences on infernal powers, are these so perilous? I'm not so sure, although it's been a long time since I've read that absolutely awesome book (yeah, I just LOVED it)

Been a while since I read those rules, so serf's parma.

If you are just using it like you would use a magic item, I would say it warps you. If you learned the ability/power et al (invested XP here) I would say that you do not get warping.

However, if you are using infernal powers you must know that you are basically playing a doomed character. So you cannot pretend your acts will not have consequences. otherwise the whole infernal and hell concept is cheapened a lot and I would simply ban the use of the book from play. being the best book in the line (IMO) that would be a pity.


I suggest you stick to your guns and give the character the extra Warping points. There is slightly more story potential, I think, in the character questioning whether the extra Warping is worth it, and it's a good way for you as storyguide to represent negative consequences for dealing with devils. Lots of infernal powers use gaining Warping as a tradeoff for more immediate power, after all. Binding should feel like the character has enslaved a dark passenger in his own mind and body, so to speak, that is constantly struggling against its master to get the upper hand in their arrangement. It is never a fair and happy partnership, as I see it. :slight_smile:

There is no way that is right.

If that was the case the Hermetics would be all over experimenting with binding in order to change the essential nature of something. even if it was against the rules.

Regardless, if Binding changed the essential nature of its target it would be clearly stated. (and of course the binding could not be undone).

IMS, I would probably give no Warping for use of Non-personal range effects. I would Give 1 plus 1 per season (for powerful effects not designed for you) for the Binding itself as this is a HUGE effect on the target. and for Personal Range I would give 1 per effect over 25/35, which ever is the typical Powerful effect level on the table.

In Covenants you get 1 Warping point per season for working too many hours in the laboratory (Overtime lab usage). To say that Binding a Spirit to your body does NOT cause warping is a "knee-slapper."

I say run with what the player has given you. Remember, you can get warping points from different realms of power. Normally they all translate to magic warping for mages, but the binding has affected his essential nature. And, of course, it's part of every human's essential nature to be able to choose the Infernal anyway..... So lie like a rug, tell him he doesn't notice or detect any warping. Keep a secret tally of the INFERNAL warping points he has collected, and when they exceed his magic warping points, switch his realm of power from Magic to Hell. No more Twilight for him, he gets to visit Hell! A happy, fun preview of his "Final Twilight".....

That is an awesome idea. I would just reiterate to the player what Xavi said.

Well. As the player who designed the character in question I just have a few points to add.

  1. My characters only infernal power would be Binding. Which is a supernatural infernal realm affiliated power.

  2. Under the rules you gain 1 warping per year for being under a supernatural effect (binding), so the warping you gain has been set by the book.

  3. As for discovery and being marched. Its a long ways off seeing as binding is the only infernal power I possess and for those of you who think the spirits bound to me can be detected thats a
    negative. "Once the spirit has been bound to a person it has essentially become a part of them and while there can no longer be detected." -Paraphrased from the book.

  4. Binding a spirit to a person is final. To free a bound spirit the person or object must be destroyed. Even a ward or Dominion aura wouldn't separate the binder and spirit. That being said something being bound to you seems pretty final unless the binder releases the magic

:smiley: Also just fyi. Binding isn't just used on demons. You don't have to have a pack of demons riding you. Could be more like a pack of fey or angels. So in this case. What happens when said character is sat down in front of the high inquisitor of the Church. Mkay. He uses sense unholiness. Well? How would that play out when you have a pack of angels bound to said person??

Angel's doing the Lord's work you've subverted to your infernal desires? Unholy.
Devils (fallen angels) you've subverted to your infernal desires?
Binding is an infernal act. By even doing it, you've opened yourself up to the dark forces of the infernal.

Assuming he penetrates, which is not necessarily easy? He doesn't detect the angel bound to you (can't be detected). But he does detect the infernal enchantment (the binding itself) on you (you and magic on you can be detected). That would be my take.


So, what would the MR be on this situation? Parma x 5 + Vim score as standard Magus MR? And then treat the mechanic like detecting a demon, just having it beat the MR by 1? That's what I'm coming up with. And that suggests why the Order is very proactive about hunting out Magi who have even a whiff of diabolism[1]. The diabolical magus can hide easily amongst the magi of the Order, protected as they are by their superior magic resistance. Rarely will Sense Unholiness penetrate such a high MR.

[1] That's a really tall order to detect Unholiness in a magus, but there are other telltale signs that magi of the Order might be more capable of detecting...

Yes, though penetrating in a Divine aura is much easier since Sense Holiness and Unholiness will get + aura while the magus's magic resistance will get -3 x aura (or worse if the magus is using the bound spirit's magic resistance). So that's a net shift of 4 x aura in favor of Sense Holiness and Unholiness. Not that this makes it easy, but it does make it much easier. It means you'll want Vim + 5x Parma Magica of 35 (12 for an aura of 3, 10 for Perception+Ability, 3 for Confidence/Faith Points, 10 for a big roll) or more to be pretty safe against Sense Holiness and Unholiness. I'd still steer clear of cathedrals without another 10 points or so.


Hermetic magic can detect infernal powers. It is unreliable where demons are concerned, of course, but a simple InVi spell should reveal the character has an active infernal ability, enough to rouse suspicions. This is why Ablating, Binding, and Commanding are much more dangerous Arts than Summoning, because they are actually infernal, rather than merely tainted. (Tainted powers generally don't read as infernal to Hermetic investigation.) Granted, just because a magus has active infernal effects doesn't mean he has dealings with devils, but it's a pretty good bet once the character runs afoul of another magus with an interest in investigating him that there is lots of evidence available. I suggest the character should be reclusive to the point of paranoia, or make some powerful friends who will back him if it comes to trial.

Embrace the infernal warping! It will only make you more powerful when you finally become an infernal spirit yourself. :wink: