Necromantic spells for moderation

Bind the messenger
Forces a ghost to deliver a message to another person. The message must be verbal and no longer than a few sentences. The ghost repeats the message verbally and makes it clear that it is commanded to return a similarly long message. The ghost moves at the fastest speed possible to it, going straight through intervening obstacles. The ghost to be compelled must be present at the casting of the spell. The ghost doesn’t necessarily need to know where the target of the spell is but is compelled to use any knowledge it has to find them. For instance, a ghost (and native to England) told to deliver a message to William the baker in the city of York, will be able to find its way to York through its knowledge of geography and will then search the bakeries of York until it finds a baker that it hears addressed as William. It is hence best to use the ghost of someone with a good grasp of geography.
(base 5, +2 voice, +3 moon)

Bind the Restless Spirit
With this spell the magus forces the targeted spirit into a receptacle. The spirit is confined to this receptacle until the spell ends or the magus releases it voluntarily. This receptacle is typically an object of importance to the spirit such as a part of its mortal body or a possession belonging to the spirit. While in the receptacle the spirit is aware of what transpires around it but is unable to leave the receptacle, talk, or use any of its powers. The receptacle is placed within a prepared circle. Tenebrous has rings carved into the eye sockets of the skull on his skull staff. He binds the spirits into one of a pair of small gems and places these in the eye sockets of the staff (within the ring).
(base 5, +1 touch, +2 Ring)

Tell me what you think.

Ghosts have major issues that typically prevent them from acting as messengers. You may comple them as much as you want, if they are, for example, unable to leave the site of their death, your message won't be delivered. And depending on how strict you want to be on the "ghosts can't change, ghosts can't learn" bit, they might be unable to carry a message in the first place.

For your second spell, there's also the small problem of being able to actually touch the ghost. Plus I probably wouldn't allow rings that can be moved around, like rings inscribed on a staff.

I like the first one, especially how it's dependent on the spirit available. The moon duration may bite you if your recipient is more than two week's travel from the point of casting, but since the spirit doesn't need to sleep... I guess that doubles the distance it could roam. A willful spirit might try to subvert the spell-- providing the message while the recipient slept and then just hanging around, waiting for the duration to expire. You could consider adding a magnitude for a degree of complexity that allowed the spirit to repeat the message whenever requested by the the recipient, to ensure its recipient was coherent when the message was delivered, and to return a "sender unlocated" result when necessary. I think at least two of those are worth one magnitude of complexity and would add a lot of value to the spell.

For the second, I concur with Fruny-- I think a voice range it better suited for dealing with spirits. Unless they can manifest into something solid, touch seems tough to justify unless your SG has deemed that you can touch the spirit, but that doesn't seem to fit with the usual descriptions of ghosts in canon-- the HoH:TL roman ghosts can't interact with the world without a power that allows them to manipulate a single item...that suggests that we can't interact with them by touch. Just a thought.

In my opinion, I think you need to inscribe the ring on the item to then move the item around. Otherwise, once you pulled the item from the circle the spirit would be free to leave... You might consider an additional magnitude for complexity as you're not requiring the spirit to be inside the circle when the spell is invoked. Really, you have two effects, don't you? The first forces the spirit into the item, the second keeps the spirit in the item with a warding for complexity's sake, you could say that you force the spirit in, then raise the trap? On the upside, since you're using an item related to the spirit, I'd imagine you would have an arcane connection benefit to penetrating its Might, depending how old the spirit is.

I like them conceptually, I think the diffence of opinion on touch is the only real 'mechanics' quibble with the second, and that's not something clearly defined from the Ghostly Warder on page 193. It's implied-- since it's non-physical, it can't be affected by you could maybe touch it, but you can't affect it...but if you can't affect it, then ... increasing the range to voice eliminates the debate. : ) The idea of a one-way trap isn't outrageous, but you have to admit it looks like two effects in BtRS.

As far as mobile rings are concerned, I don't see an issue with a mobile ring, it just would require a suitably small target to either be contained within the ring or kept from it. Spirits have no real physical size, I don't think there's a reason one couldn't force them into a small container or object. I think a small wooden box with a metal band wrapped around it or a locket sealed with a loop of wire is a bit more fitting than a gem, but that's flavor. ; )



That was pretty much the idea, i mused over finding a way to extend the duration but figured a month was probably sufficient for all but the longest distance communication.

Hmmm, hadn't thought of that, might have to have a look at maybe coercing the spirit into behaving itself.

On the touch range i believe you are both right, i was thinking of the magus shoving his hand into their ghostly form but working on voice range is better.

New version

Bind the Restless Spirit
With this spell the magus forces the targeted spirit into a receptacle. The spirit is confined to this receptacle until the spell ends or the magus releases it voluntarily. This receptacle is typically an object of importance to the spirit such as a part of its mortal body or a possession belonging to the spirit. While in the receptacle the spirit is aware of what transpires around it but is unable to leave the receptacle, talk, or use any of its powers. The receptacle is placed within a prepared circle. Tenebrous has rings carved into the eye sockets of the skull on his skull staff. He binds the spirits into one of a pair of small gems and places these in the eye sockets of the staff (within the ring).
(base 5, +2 Voice, +2 Ring)

As for the mobile rings, i've never seen it as a problem, the ring in this case is already inscribed into the eye sockets of a skull and this ring is traced by the magus. The gem fits snugly into the eye socket preventing the spirit from leaving.

As for the

I've always taken this with a pinch of salt, after all if they can't learn anything, then they can't hold a conversation as they would not remember what you last said, and i certainly want my ghosts more interactive than that. On the other hand you can go too far, if a magus dies, his ghost should absolutely not be playable for instance.
I think remembering a few sentences while magically compelled to deliver them is within the bounds of possibility but not introducing a ghostly lecturer (outside of the caverns of time of course).

One of the books talks about binding spirits into mirors for consultation...I beleive it's the tremere or tytalist that do this

I like both spells.

I see no problem with commanding a ghost to go over and deliver a message even if by it's nature it haunts a certain locale. I further wouldn't worry about the spirit subverting your message except for the most wily and canniving spirits - you coerce it to give the message per the guideline, it gives the message.

Regarding the binding spell, again an excellent idea. I would simply increase the duraiton to non-standard Ring+1, and bind the spirit into the item instead of relying on a ring. This would work just like a ring, but the item (rather then ring) needs to be broken to break the spell.
I don't like movable rings, and I do like the idea of small boxes or whatnot filled with people's spirits.

P.S, please do consider putting them on the wiki 8)

A ghostly lecturer seems to be the one thing a ghost bad at learning is good for. It can't learn new things, but can spount endlessly about old ones. A perfect pedagogue to torture young minds with. The less it can learn, the less it can be bored by its task.

I think 4e said that mage-ghosts were susceptible to Twilights, thus old ones weren't around much. 5e gives a level 40 ritual for summoning a ghost for Concentration time; it's not obviously easy to simply make ghosts out of dead magi. Who mostly "die" into Twilight anyway.

Its in HoH:TL, the Tremere section (by Timothy Ferguson). The spell is "Vocies from Hollow Spaces" (ReMe 35; base 15, +2 Voice, +2 Ring) and is essentially the same as the second spell mentioned except that given it's base 15 it can actually summon a ghost (within Voice range) rather than just compel it as suggested by gribble's spell (see ArM5 corebook, page 151).

It's a bit odd in that summoning a ghost within Voice range (rather than Arcane Connection as in the ritual "Incantation of Summoning the Dead") presumes that the caster knows there is a ghost within range to "summon" rather than just compel.

I think your spell at Voice range (Level 25) actually makes more sense. I wonder if this is effectively errata? The Tremere necromancy spells seem to have no trouble with binding ghosts into rings within an object (mirrors, skulls etc.). There's also a Virtue called Leadworker which helps boost Penetration totals, which is handy for would be necromancers.

There's a good section on ghosts page 126-129 of the same book. The new Broken Covenant of Calebais adventure also has a brief speel on ghosts and lots of example ghosts and how to use them in play - this slatter aspect is fleshed out in Erik Dahl's supporting article "Deconstructing Calebais" in the last Hermes Portal fanzine. I'd suggest both as good resources if you want to seriously play any kind of spirit master style necromancer.

Hopefully TMRE gives some additional ideas, but otherwise check out the 4th edition version of The Mysteries for some of the daemonology/theurgy spell ideas.


I've always thought a ghostly Librarian would be interesting as well.

THe ghostly lecturer is a bit Harry Potter (there's a History of Magic teacher who's a ghost in the books), so I'm not as keen on this.


Ghostly librarian can't reshelve the books, though. Or needs a lot of effort, for most ghosts I've seen. "Hikaru! Turn the pages!"

I'm not inclined to avoid a good idea just because Harry Potter used it. Of course, I first ran into casual consultation of the ancestral spirits in Fred Pohl's Heechee books.

Hmmm, is this by-the-book? I don't want to encourage my players to come up with new durations (or ranges/targets for that matter) without appropriate discovery time. Could you drop a page ref if possible so i can have a closer read.

It certainly would be better. I particularly like the idea of binding ghosts into their own skulls. I have an image of a book shelf full of skulls, each with the ghost of the owner bound within. Macabre, yes, but cool.

What i meant about ghostly lecturers was perhaps a bit more modern view, more tutors. Pedagogic old spirits do indeed seem possible. Indeed passing on of knowledge via ghosts is a central theme of my character. He aims to learn from ghosts of scholars and such like, maybe even the ghosts of magi.

Would imprisoning and coercing a ghost of a hermetic magus have any code violations or are you fair game as soon as your pulse stops

I need to pull out Calebois which I'll do in the next few days. I'm ok with the premise of compelling a ghost to do something out of the ordinary. I'm a big fan of summoning and binding. However I agree with the premise that ghosts are single minded focused creatures sometimes existing only at the location of thier focus. Because of that some spirits may not be able to leave their haunt and satisfy this compulsion.

It's been a while since I've looked at the new ghost rules, but don't they have strong personalities? I'm thinking on some level, that perhaps a personality roll in addition to superseceding their might is necessary. I'll post more later.

Of course, the whole point of real necromancy was learning from the dead. (Or divination via them.) Lecturer vs. getting a few questions in before they grab your blood bribe (Odyssey) is a bit different and extra-cooperative, but with the right rego, or with mages or ancestors mentally prepared to be cooperative after death (canon Criamon Primi, my Tremere, or Deryni-Furstan like psychics) it could make sense.

Of course, lecturer could take some Muto Mentem or Creo Imaginem spells or making sure all the kiddies learn Intellego Mentem real soon.

Ok, been thinking about this topic the last few days. First I want to point out that I have no evidence of this, but my gut says the Mysteries Revised may shed insight into this subject that we currently lack. That insight could easily resolve that matter. But lacking the book, we need to go with canon material.

I'm looking at the core book and Calebais.

My arguement is simple. There is a difference between a spirit and a ghost. Spirits are 'easy' to manipulate, ghosts are not.

Pg 184 of Ars 5 defines spirits. It is not a simple one sentence definition, but rather an explanation that spirits is a term that encompasses a wide range of creatures that are 'essentially spiritual'. That may be core definition, a spirit is a creature that is 'essentially spiritual.' Slightly self referential, but I hope for this discussion it is adequate.

Calebais pg 35 explains ghosts. Again it doesn't provide a simple sentence definition, but I think one can be derived. Ghosts are, "disembodied spirits still confined to earth because of their actions in life, or because of a supernatural desire to complete a task left unfinished."

Now that 'core' definition does not detail or bind a ghost to a particular site. However it does detail that what seperates a ghost from a spirit is motive. Ghosts possess 'a supernatural desire to complete a task left unfinished."

I argue that this desire to complete a task may be the thing that binds a ghost to a particular location. This is because the desire to complete a task is typically tied to a specific location. The location where the task was not completed. The ghost is where they are suppose to be, they simply lack the ability to make peace at this location.

Because of this, I think it would be very difficult to force a ghost to leave their haunt and complete an assignment such as deliver a message. Now I want to be clear, does it break a Hermetic Limit? No. So is it possible? Yes. But the focus of a ghost is so narrow, any sort of spell that would compell a ghost to do anything besides complete it's specific task should meet a great deal of resistance.

So let us work with the premise that all a Hermetic Magus need do is over come the Might of a Ghost to compell it do to something other than it's specific task.

If RegoMentum > than Might, the ghost is compelled.

Ok, fine.

I suggest that twice a day (sunrise and sunset) the ghost spend one point of might per magnitude of the spell it is compelled by trying to over come the spell that is preventing it from completeing it's chosen task.

I think this sort of focused fight makes sense for ghosts. It also suggest that a ghost would essentially destroy itself trying fight the magus that is compelling it.

Now this sort of destroys the usefullness of the spells detailed. The end?


First, it may be possible to find a ghost that travels. Perhaps the ghost of a Red Cap or a messenger. Such a ghost would be compelled by it's nature to deliver messages. This sort of ghost may be eager to deliver the message.

Second, I've tried to establish that there is a difference between a ghost and a spirit. Because a spirit lacks the determined focus of a ghost, I think that once one over comes them, that a spirit would be compelled to complete the task as detailed in the spells.

Perhaps it's simply symantics, but in my opinion both of the above spells would work quite well on 'spirits' and very poorly on 'ghosts'.

Ars 4 introduced spirits of artiface (sp?) and if these sort of spirits return in Mysteries Revised or a Hedgey Book, then I think we will gain more insight into spirits and the powers that can be used to compell them. I've always had a soft spot for necromatic magic, but that soft spot doesn't include depowering ghosts. I think ghosts should be tough because of their narrow focus.

Not sure i agree with your interpretations there Tuura.


Absolutely agree. Ghosts are type of spirit as humans are a type of mammal. To be clear, these spells are necromantic, they affect only ghosts NOT any spirit.

Again, totally agree. However, from there i differ with your conclusions. For a start, not all ghosts have a supernatural desire to complete a task that would force them to resist the magi. There are those that are still confined to earth because of their actions in life. I see no reason that these would fight a magus' control any more than a free willed human.

Secondly, Ghosts traditionally don't focus extreme effort on achieving their goals. In general they float about being vague. To be fair, ghosts have a vast amount of time to be filled simply brooding on their situation. Although they may be driven by an aim or goal, this goal is rarely something a ghost can actually achieve themselves. This is why they haunt people. To coerce them into doing something.

Another example. Horatio is obsessed with his palace, he had it built over the course of his life and is extremely proud of it. The idea of others moving into his palace is abhorrent to him. He dies (chokes on an apple, poor guy) and his ghost returns to drive others away from his palace. His driving goal in (un)life is to keep his palace. Such a ghost would be limited to a single location. The location is the focus of his existence. I'd give such a ghost a personality trait roll to resist attempts to make him leave the palace or to make him stop hassling intruders into the palace. However, to make him run errands within the palace itself would be easy, he has no particular focus against such.

Instead of your idea of a ghost resisting any complusion that isn't linked to its focus in unlife (assuming it has one), i would recommend only resistance for complusions that specifically go against that purpose.

In either cases, the best ghosts to use as errand boys are going to be the ghosts with low might who were probably not great and powerful people in life.

Well I that's nearly verbatim from Calebais, if you disagree so be it. But I'm trying to make an arguement based on 'sacred' canon material.

I'm not sure how to interpret this. Because imo, if rego mentem magics are use on any free willed human I'm thinking few if any would willingly accept their plight.

I agree. A Ghosts inability to make peace with it's own life is the source of various self destructive behaviors.

I guess I agree again. But the spell that turns a ghost into a messenger that could potentially travel all of Mythic Europe to drop someone a note seems in conflict with 99% of the ghosts someone is going to encounter. The spell doesn't reflect that most ghosts won't be eager to become a Mythic Pony Express. I'm not sure if the spell needs to change, so I thought it would be interesting to detail the resistance a ghost might offer.

Agreed. My point to was to express that most ghosts won't be eager to be a messenger boy. I still feel there is a difference between a ghost and a spirit, and the problems one suffers with a ghost can be avoided by useing a spirit, which is different. :wink:

The quote i based it off was

Emphasis mine.

I do agree with you on the distinction between ghosts and spirits and i do agree that spirits would be easier to manipulate. However, spells that manipulate spirits are not necromantic as mecromantic spells, by definition, deal with the dead. Ghosts are dead folks, spirits are not. The reason the spells i posted use ghosts is because the character that created the spells is a necromancer.

True, but most mentem spells ARE used on free willed humans and DON'T allow resistance. I fail to see how ghosts would be any different.

Having said that, i am re-reading the rego mentem guidelines and a better guideline to use (rather than my lvl 5 - control a disembodied spirit) might be the lvl 20 - Give a person a complex command which he tries to carry out to the best of his ability. Of course this adds a quick +15 to the lvl but does seem more appropriate.

These are both good points. Once you got someone in your thrall, you got em barring suicide or turning on true loved ones. I also like the alternatie of 'complex command'. Again, my fear was a 20-25th lvl spell is something a specialist starting character can have and any moderately aged magus can obtain. On a gut level it seemed real easy to push ghosts around. I kind of wanted to counter that.

Seperate from that, we agree that there is some kind of difference between ghosts and spirits. But why does that difference mean necromatic spells can't work on spirits?

Specifically you said a character in your game summons ghosts, but not spirits. What's preventing him from summoning spirits with the same spells? Spell Color? Personal choice?

As I see it, Rego Mentem is Rego Mentem. Unless we are making a distinction along the lines of fay. Such as a spell to summon a fay of the wood can not summon a fire elemental. If this is the case, then we need a lot more info on spirits and ghosts. But until that distinction is made, I think the same spells can work for both. That's why I haven't really talked about the design of the spell. I've tried to focus on attributes of the target, the ghost or spirit.

It's all food for thought. Hope your Necromancer never ends up on the wrong side of the summoning circle!

Mainly because of flavour. The character is a necromancer. He mess around with dead things. He doesn't have any interest in spiritual beings unless they happen to be dead spiritual beings. The spell is necromantic which means nothing from a rules point of view (and indeed an identical spell would be used to affect ghosts AND spirits, since i see ghosts as a type of spirit) but which means a lot to the character creating the spell.

As you say, its pretty much the choice of the character. Its not that he chooses to limit himself, more that he has no interest in summoning spirits and hence doesn't bother making his spells capable of doing so.