[item design] Bob the Skull (Dresden Files reference)

So, in Ars Magica, how would one create/model Bob the Skull from The Dresden Files?

In the TV series, Bob the Skull is the ghost of a magus who had committed some crime, and was punished by being bound into the skull and compelled to obey whoever owned the skull.

In the books, Bob the Skull is actually an Air Spirit/Spirit of Intellect who simply happens to be hiding inside the skull, which has been prepared as a receptacle to hold spirits. The skull serves as some kind of defensive structure which makes it harder to locate the spirit inside the skull, but also binds the spirit to the skull so that he must obey the will of the owner.

I suppose, in the simplest terms, one could model him simply by paying for him in Covenant Build Points as a Specialist Teacher, and handwave the rest. That's not very useful if you're trying to do it after the game starts, though.

Well, ReMe allows ghosts/spirits to be controlled (Serf's Parma). Enchant your Skull with a ReMe effect to control an bind a spirit, using the rules for "always on", and then spend some time finding a suitable ghost/spirit. Should be pretty easy.

Hi, adding to the Hermetic Projects helps with Lichedom and living corpse animated by ghosts, i made one to just like your idea, but i used the InCo(Me) in mine, and the ghosts are needed to be OK with the enchantment. In spanish here - mariojpcsimon.blogspot.com/2012/ ... jetos.html

There is a spell in the Tremere section of HoH: TL called Voice from Hollow Spaces which binds a ghost into an object. I think you could extraoplate from that into binding an Airy Spirit associated with any Form (though IIRC Bob-from-the-novels is specifically a Spirit of Intellect so he would still be associated with Mentam).

In the spirits section of ROP:I there is an ability that does basically that, bind a spirit to a receptacle so it can be commanded later on. So, it can easily be an item created by a person with this ability. An item created by a witch of Thessaly would be a good place to start.

A basic ability of magic in a lot of stories, really, so I would not put much fuss into having this. It should be easy to get.


I must se if that spell has been reduzed of level, because any spirit can be Controlled just with the base guideline of Rego Form 5, i think that like the spell is thought to Ghosts then the base 15 to control human is more accurated, but again i think taht the spell should be leveled to 25, changing the bae level from 15 to just 5.
So your intellect spirit could be bonded to one object thanks to one 25 spell or one enchanted item 24 + penetration modificator.

But how long would the spell last for?

I think that it should work while the object didn't go out of the Ring.

The spell has a Ring duration. An enchanted item with same effect could probably be made to be "always on."

I would say the skull is an Enchanted Item. The Binding is a Rego Mentam base 5, +1 touch, +2 sun for level 20, +4 levels for constant effect, + enough penetration to overcome the spirits Might (In the case of Hrothgar of Bainbridge (TV-show Bob) I would be inclined to rule that the skull gets symapthetic bonuses to penetration because it's his own skull). There is also a Coerse the Spirits of the Night or equivalent (ReMe 20, +10 levels for unlimited uses + penetration again) effect to allow the skulls owner to compel the bound spirit.

For a greater invested object out of the skull. I went with the Base 15 used in Voices because the effect I'm thinking about is creating a "safe haven" to harbor spirits in, not to bind them to their skulls -- which, as an aside, I am really surprised there is no canon example of.

The Secret Set of Commands, R Eye, D Conc, T Ind, Item Concs, Base 15 InMe30
Reads the thoughts of anyone looking into the skull's eyes, to allow for mental command triggers to be processed.

The Paupers Hut For a Valued Soul, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Ind, ReMe37
Creates a home inside the skull where a ghosts can safely reside. Once the spirit is inside the skull and the effect activated, the ghost is effectively trapped until the effect is turned off via mental command. It does not compel trapped ghosts to serve willingly, merely keeps them bound to the specific place. (Base 15, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +4 always on, +3 trigger effect) (Based on Voices from Hollow Spaces, HoH:TL 140)

Instructions from Within R Per, Conc, Ind, CrIm 15
(Base 2, +1 intelligible speech, +2 move under command, Item Conc, +3 triggered +2 extra uses) Allows any spirit inside the Unfurnished Home to project images and sounds out of the mirror. Images appear to be noticably “in front” of the mirror, so as to be easily distinguished from other projections. The effect can be triggered by both a human looking into the skull (see above), or the spirit trapped within.

(You'd also want the Coerce Spell mentioned above by LuciusT, so you could let Bob leave for Recon missions but demand he be back by sunrise. The version LuciusT recommends wouldn't give you that option.)

Am I the only one who wants to add a CrVi shell to "hide" the spirit?

The effects by amul should require some penetration, in case the user is a hermetic magus. Otherwise a magus would not be able to command the spirit :slight_smile:

I insist that you can do that with Binding from ROP:I with way less fuss.


Except ofcourse the infernal taint, obviously.
But that's just a detail, right?

But not with the character I already have in play, Xavi!

I'm trying to figure out if we need to. Human skull can only hold 90 spell levels, all other things equal. We're at 82 levels now, although that might be a good argument for skipping the mental commands -- that'd save you 33 levels.

I also really want to make little flames in the eye sockets which glow based on the strength and type of Aura the skull is in.

Base InVi2 Per, +1 Conc, Ind, +2 Creo Ignem requisite, +5lvl Item Concs, +3lvl environmental trigger, +10lvl unlimited = InVi(CrIg) 23.

And since you need one for each aura type, at this point, you've got to start decorating the skull to make it all Lich-King-esque.

If I make it ReVi instead of ReMe, can it house any magic-aligned incorporeal spirit? That's the sort of ace I could see a magi keeping in his pocket. "Look, on the OFF CHANCE that I run into a spirit that is on the run, the opportunity to offer it somewhere to hide in exchange for a lifetime of obedience is TOTALLY WORTH the extra 2.2lbs to carry around."

So, you can detect infernal taint with your magic? THAT MEANS YOU ARE A DIABOLIST!!!! BURN HEATHEN, BURN!!!


Gold plate it :wink:

Yeah, I did think about that, but I'd probably sacrifice the mental commands.

About the spell Rego Mentem 35 "Voices from Hollow Spaces" on page 140 from of HoHTL, it's one errata the calculation. I wrote to David Chart and this is his response.

So the level must be lowered to 25 by the base of 5. The binding/chained spells are really similar.

Coming back to this since the PCs in our game just obtained the body of a magi

So, using those guidelines and getting rid of the mental commands:

The Paupers Hut For a Valued Soul, R: Touch, D: Sun, T: Ind, ReMe24
Creates a home inside the skull where a ghosts can safely reside. Once the spirit is inside the skull and the effect activated, the ghost is effectively trapped until the effect is turned off via mental command. It does not compel trapped ghosts to serve willingly, merely keeps them bound to the specific place. (Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +4 always on) (Based on Voices from Hollow Spaces, HoH:TL 140). Add additional levels to overcome might, with Penetration Bonus for using the spirit's own skull.

Coerce the Spirit Entombed Within, Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Sun +4 always on = ReMe 24, plus penetration
Enforces the obedience of the spirit entombed within.

Instructions from Within R Per, Conc, Ind, CrIm 25
(Base 2, +1 intelligible speech, +2 move under command, +1 Conc, Item Conc +5lvl, +10 unlimited uses) Allows any spirit inside the Paupers Hut to project images and sounds out of the mirror. Images clearly originate from the skull.

Hrm...do we need to include something like "Visions of the Infernal Terror" as a stick to threaten the spirit with?

The body or skull counts as a Decades-duration AC, for +3 multiplier. We have the body, so drawing a symbolic representation (+2) should be easy enough. You'll be summoning the ghost to the body, which you have in front of you, so you know the current location, allowing for today's horoscope (+1). That's +6 to the multiplier already, without interrogating the spirit for its name (+1) or birthdate and place (+2).

Adding +6 lvls of Penetration gives a base Penetration of 12 times (1+6=7) = 84, and rounds the two ReMe spells to 30.

Now, we still don't actually have the spirit. Incantation of Summoning the Dead is a ritual, so can you enchant the skull to summon it's own spirit into it?

I think you've got the control spell, so that covers controling it.

Technically, no unless someone has intergrated the folk witch Ritual Items ability in your saga. Instead, I would say first your so the Incantation of Summoning the Dead ritual to summon teh spirit. Then once you have it, bride, coerse or bind it to the skull. Once in residence, there would be no further need to summon it.

Since you necro'ed the thread, I just wanted to say thanks. One of my players ended up building a spirit loosely based on Bob as a companion. Part of his inspiration came from me mentioning this thread. Though in our saga he's Apprentice transformed into a spirit of knowledge and magic. He was even built to serve as a lab assistant with superhuman intelligence with high MT, and Lores.

He still doesn't have a Skull to live in and probably won't.