Seeking inspiration on magical spirits

Hi everybody

I'm currently designing a mongol warrior shaman who is going to be a future antagonist for my players. I've got my hands on the Dragon and the Bear from 4th ed, but unfortunately haven't got any 5th ed book regarding shamanism (is it in Ancient Magic?), so i've designed him from the information in tDatB.

He's got decent MR via a fetch (the shaman equivalent of a familiar), some martial abilities, a retinue of mongol horsemen (probably no MR) and the basic shamanic powers which enables him to contact and maybe even control magic spirits.

I'm looking for inspiration: Do you have any ideas on what kind of magic spirits a mongol shaman would be able to contact, perhaps even control, while scouting ahead of his army in foreign lands (Romania), and how might these spirits pose a threat to the players?

Well, basically i'm having some trouble wrapping my head around the concept of "spirits": What types of spirits are there? How many spirits might exist in a given locale? What might be their powers?

Any thoughts?


"Mongol shamans" in 5th edition - and more in general mongols - are briefly dealt with at the very end of tCatC (pp.179-184). They are not defined in detail as a tradition, but a number of suggestions of different power are given, including one npc example. In brief, they should probably have, at the very minimum, the Nightwalker Major Virtue (from HMRE) and/or the Summoner Major Virtue (from RoP:I, but it can be aligned with Magic - alternatively, use Sihr from tCatC or from HoH:S), plus possibly Mythic Herbalism (from HoH:S) and minor Folk Witch (HMRE) powers like Flight, Healing, Skinchanger, and Premonitions.

One crucial canon element of 5th edition is that no magic or faerie "supernatural traditions" have access to generalized Magic Resistance except for the Order of Hermes. So you can make your shamans infernalists (in particular goetic spirit masters) and give them access to generalised Magic Resistance ... but if they stay Magic or Faerie, no generalized Magic Resistance for them!

tCatC suggests that one may simply assume that mongol shamans can have access to spirits up to Might 30 - Magic, Faerie and/or Infernal - who can be bargained with to provide useful help.

Thanks Ezzelino, I'll look into the mentioned books.

Hmm... The 5th Ed canon on no generalized MR makes for a challenge. I'm getting tired of letting all non-hermetic foes be faithful churchmen, Might-creatures and fast casting hedge mages, so i'll consider the infernal angle.

To be more specific, a group other than the Order with Magic Resistance will either cause a war or a fundamental change in setting dynamics.

If you want a Magic shaman with MR as an adversary, that isn't impossible (though the most likely source is having stolen the Parma) - it just means that the Order is going to go Code Red if they hear about his capabilities. Not that I would necessarily deny a little infernalism to this guy, of course!

Hehe, I might consider that. We're several game masters in our troupe, so I just need to decide whether I want to make a dramatic change in canon or not.

There are ways to get general magic resistance, just very few and limited. Another option is to hide out inside something with magic resistance (some sort of ally).

The way I see it, the Mongols aren't from Mythic Europe, so if their magic breaks the Limit of Magic Resistance, all that means is that they've got a weird ability that makes them a serious threat to the Order.

It does raise the possibility that, if the ability is derived in some fashion from Great Tengri, kosmokrator-level magic spirits might be able to grant MR. I don't think that this is setting-breaking, though.

There is also the question of if the Great Tengri is considered a single, all-powerful god-type being while the lesser spirits are not really gods at all (as angels are not), then might they perhaps use the Divine?

That does actually make a fair amount of sense (Mongke Khan expressly defended the monotheistic version) except that the OP doesn't want to use it. Also, Tengri spirits are expressly not all agents of Tengri - they're not even all good guys, and they don't all demand moral behavior - and by ArM definitions, a religion that includes worship given to non-Divine spirits is probably not Divine. (Though it could be. Being a Spirit Votary is not incompatible with following a Divine religion. Further discussion will probably lead us to the realization that monotheism and polytheism are a continuum, not a binary.)

If you do decide to go down this (dark) path, you might want to check out my fan-piece on "More Mythic Mongols" in Sub Rosa #7. It has a shaman infernal tradition, and some other bits.

I don't really have any ideas on spirits beyond those you've already noted, however. I would imagine their shamans will have the ability to summon terracota armies, just because they're cool and all, and these guys did just conquer China. Summoning Infernal Dragons as per DtatB is great too, and I would also have them wield various minor airy spirits - spirits of disease, if they're Infernal - to use as spies.

But aside from that, I suggest actually letting them use local spirits. Let him walk the region, corrupting the local spirits or forcing them into his service. That makes him much more local and interesting, I think. It means the shaman likely travels extensively in the region, either in spirit form (Nightwalker?) or physically (with lots of MR?), and this gives opportunity to meet him as an "ally" or "third party" before his reveal as a villain. It's also much cooler to have to fight against spirits you know, or at least know about, maybe even your former allies, then some foreign beings you've never heard of.

I think a good start is to give shamans Magic-aligned versions of the Summoning, Commanding, and Binding abilities from the Goetic Arts. For some reason this is widely considered to be a no-no canonically but I find it fits the setting and the rules work without major additions or alterations.

I recently ran a campaign with the Mongols as major antagonists, and the way I worked Magic Resistance in was I had a few of the master Diedne (the ones who were never found after the Schism War) escape East through Arcadia, where they've been biding their time ever since. They've been shaping the Mongols, hoping to use them as a vehicle for revenge against the Order as a whole, and as part of this they may have been teaching Gifted Mongol shamans the Parma Magica while also training their own apprentices in Hermetic Magic.

This is also convenient since the times of the Mongol invasions line up really nicely with the default start date of 1220; around this time he is wiping up the Khwarezmian empire while his forces are raiding into Georgia. In 1240, the Mongols sack Kiev, and raid deep into Poland and Hungary. Had things gone a bit differently (e.g. had Ogedei Khan not died prematurely), they might have made a serious play for Central Europe rather than falling back after their victories at Mohi, Kiev, and Legnica.

Thank you everybody for your wonderful input. I'll open the story arc today - you've been a great help (...and made me want to try it all: Infernal mongols, divine mongols, magic mongols, diedne mongols, undercover mongols! - Though I think I better choose one or two angles) :slight_smile:



The root questions are: Who are your Mongols? What do ordinary Mongols want? Their leaders? Their magicians? Their religious leaders? What kind of magic do your Mongols do, if any? What supernatural sponsors do they have, if any?

No wrong answers here, but I think you are best served by being consistent.

Your Mongols don't even need to be human. Maybe all Mongols be Faerie, for example, a horde that keeps on coming and coming. Or agents of Magic, cleansing the land of unnatural cities and farms.

You can bend canon too; maybe Tengri represents an alternate Divine, and the Dominion we know is a fake of the (a?) Demiurge. Or the opposite. Or something weird.

Staying straightforward works too. Using either Sahir or Goetic Summoning works fine for shamans. I would avoid AM4 rules for Shamans, which are largely the AM3 rules, which are cumbersome, even by AM standards. I endorse the recommendation to include Nightwalker-like powers.

Being consistent does not necessarily mean forcing your Mongol magicians into a single type. Mongol shamans could run the gamut of folk and hedge traditions, representing disparate tribes and clans brought together by the might and genius of the Khan. Great for sub-villains of the week: Today it's a Goeticist who seeks to gain influence by demonstrating his power; tomorrow it's a hedge witch forced to serve; the day after it's a rogue Hermetic Magus. (Here, the organizing principle is the theme, rather than the tradition.)



I would add one observation here: there's no need to give all, or even most, your opponents magic resistance.

If you keep magic resistance rare and special, your troupe gets a double reward. First, hermetic PCs feel special. "We have the Parma! We are invulnerable (sort of) to supernatural threats! And we can destroy any other hedge or faerie wizard with our awesome powers!". Second, when PCs do face magic resistance, it suddenly becomes a big deal, because the players are less likely to have optimized their characters to punch through it.

Conjurers of spirits are particularly well-suited as antagonists without magic resistance, because they can work from afar sending minions against the PCs. The goal when confronting them should not be to punch through their high MR, soak etc. It should be to discover who they are, and find a way to reach them defeating wave after wave of their minions. That is the "victory condition". Once that is achieved, the PCs have effectively won and can gloatingly declare "We shall now strike you down, wretched conjurer; behold the power of the Order of Hermes!"