Binding Spirits

With the Goetic Art Binding:

  1. Once a spirit is bound, is it prevented from using any of its powers unless commanded or requested to do so by another? This is implied later in the description and would seem to make sense, otherwise many spirits would be able to escape on their own or immediately attack their binder.

  2. If bound within a person or object, does the spirit count as being contained within a summoning circle? Otherwise, to command a spirit bound within an object or person requires 2 x Might score to command.

  3. Is there a way of releasing a spirit from binding, short of destroying the object or person it is bound to?



Anyone? Erik?



Sorry, I missed this before.

It is prevented from leaving the bound object, though it can still activate any of its other powers. It can attack the binder, but if he is touching the object, or has bound the spirit to himself, it will have to penetrate its own Magic Resistance.

No, you have to summon the spirit first in order for it to count as contained in a summoning circle. However, you can still summon it even though it's bound, and then you can command it within the circle. When the command expires, it returns to the bound object.

Sure. If you Summoned it and then Commanded it to "Begone," it would be freed, at least temporarily (it might be able to return after the command expires, though). The Divine could certainly do it, either with a miraculous effect, a relic, a saint's intervention, or the rites of exorcism. Hermetic magic could possibly pull it off with a Perdo Vim effect, though that might require penetrating the spirit's Resistance twice.

So really, you're saying you have to Command the spirit not to attack you before binding it into an item or your person. Otherwise you have to get the spirit to accept a bargain (through charm, reciprocal service or coercion) before binding it.

Given that creature Penetration = Might - (5 x Might cost of power) + Penetration bonus, for a typical spirit without Penetration trying to affect a binder using it's own MR:

Penetration = Penetration bonus - (5 x Might cost of power)

... the spirit has no chance of affecting the binder unless they have a decent Penetrations score/sympathetic bonus and are using a low cost power. (None of the example demons in RoP:tI have a score in Pentration).

So in effect, it can't really affect the binder as long as they hold the object or bind the spirit to themselves (or have decent MR) - this means it can wreak havoc on those around the binder unless specifically commanded to stop by the binder or a bargain for "good behaviour" has been made...

Is this correct?

Presumably you can command it from within the binding object though without summoning it first if you accept the target becomes twice the Might score?

In which case, does the binding object count as a form of Arcane Connection to the spirit if you don't know it's True Name?

So apart from granting MR and possibly learning powers over time (if bound to a person), the main use of binding a spirit appears to be to help empower an item instead of vis as merely binding it confers no control over it?

Given most sorcerors don't have access to Maelficia (the non-Hermetic ones), what use is the opening an item aspect to them?

Thanks in advance for any clarifications,


You could do that, but you'd have to renew the command twice a day every day.

Those are good ideas, but I wouldn't say it's essential. Some spirits might feel that being bound works out well for them. The spirits of the Dread Host are generally pretty happy with the arrangement, for example.

That's true. I'd say they have an Arcane Connection to the object to which they are bound, though, so as soon as they develop a score in Penetration they will have a pretty good shot at affecting it. Until then, though, they can't really do anything to the binder.

Not everyone with Binding has Commanding, so I don't think that's very common, but yes. The spirit will probably continue to act as it normally would while bound to the target. For many spirits, it may be a very pleasant thing to have a body, even if they can't control it directly.


Well, probably not. That is, the spirit has an AC to the person to which it is bound, but the person does not necessarily have an AC to the spirit, because it can't be detected while it's there.

I'd imagine that the halt to aging is also a big part of why many sorcerers do it.

They don't get much use out of that, true, but most of the traditions in The Infernal that have access to Goetic Arts also have at least one set of Maleficia, too.


thanks for all the clarifications so far - as always you've been exceedingly helpful with your time! I think that's cleared nearly everything up for now.

Err, yes I'd forgotten about this and embarassingly this was one of the reasons my example summoner character (soon to apper at SHR) was keen to bind a spirit into his body...



No problem! Glad to help.

I found myself questioning one of the answers I gave, though. I said:

and now I'm questioning that. The book says that the spirit "cannot be detected" while it is bound, and I wonder if that means it also can't be targeted. If so, you would need an Arcane Connection to affect it; just being within Voice range wouldn't be enough. You could draw it to you by scouring with a Summoning power, though, and then targeting it with Commanding. What do you (and others here) think?

My intention was that it's like the spirit is possessing the person or thing, like it has become part of it. If it's part of a person or thing, it isn't in spirit form, and thus can't be affected by spells and effects that affect spirits, you see. It gets to hide inside the bound thing. That's cool enough that the spirit might not mind, once it gets used to it. Then again, it may hate being captive and lash out at anyone and anything within range. Both options make for interesting stories, but not so much if you can just DEO it while it's held captive.

I agree, but in practice given the totals needed to bind spirits or indeed to summon them in the first place, the binder would usually have an Arcane Connection of some sort (bodily remains of a ghost, a demon's True Name, a Faerie's hankerchief etc).

If you come across an entity however and just bind it straight off without a summoning circle, then I can see this would be an issue. Mind you, to do this you would need twice the entity's Might score as a total, which is difficult to achieve without some form of Penetration bonus / arcane or sympathetic connection.

So it may be a moot point.

Most entities seem to need to be commanded or bargained with in order to accept Binding - part of the Command or Bargain to enforce the Binding may be the coercion of an Arcane Connection from the entity to be bound.

This is possible, but in effect you'd still need a reasonable Peentration bonus as Scouring needs to double the entity's Might and uses a weaker formulae with (Area) Lore rather than (Realm) Lore - although (Area) Lore is a bit perplexing in this scenario.

If this is the case, then by that ruling the Ars Goetia of Summoning and Commanding will not work on it - this provides a major disincentive for summoners to bind spirits into anything as they essentially lose any possibility of control over it as their powers won't be able to affect it. (Note as above though, that if the summner is holding the item or the spirit is bound to their person, the spirit is unlikely to be able to penetrate its own MR that it imparts to the summoner).

A prior bargain with a bound spirit becomes essential for binding a spirit to an object or your person if the summoner wants more than MR and immunity to ageing - to make the spirit appear when requested or to invoke its powers/Abilities/Characteristics on behalf of the summoner as if this holds, the summoner is powerless to command it or prevent it from using its powers on those around it to harm/hinder the summoner.

Agreed both options make interesting stories, but more from the spirits POV rather than the summoner who sacrifices much control over the spirit compared to if they just Summoned/Commanded it when necessary. If you want MR and agelessness and powers, Ablation becomes a much more attractive option than Binding although it is more evil.

My impression was that Binding was meant to allow you to do the "genie in a lamp" / old ArM4 Mystery style Jar of Solomon effect - making the spirit immune to abilities that effect spirits once bound makes this difficult - unless a prior bargain has been made that the spirit will appear in spirit form when requested, at which point it can be Commanded etc as necessary.

Just my thoughts,


BTW: for an interesting concept of binding demons to yourself (or having them bound to you against your will for that matter), there was a trilogy of short stories by Gregory Keyes in DRAGON magazine (yeah, I know "other game" reference, bad form, tsk tsk etc etc...) about a character called "Fool Wolf":

* The Sleeping Tide [Fool Wolf], (ss) The Dragon Jan 2001

* The Opal of Nah [Fool Wolf], (ss) The Dragon Feb 2001

* The Hounds of Ash [Fool Wolf], (ss) The Dragon Mar 2001

The poor fellow has a rather uncooperative demon bound within him that he can sometimes persuade to help him, but sometimes she uses her powers on others to make his life a misery, stopping short of having him killed as their life forces are linked somehow. Fits an "involuntary" binding scenario well IMO.

I'm of the 'genie in a lamp' school as well. With that interpretation I'm not seeing much incentive to practice binding at all as opposed to spending your time on the other three goetic arts instead.