Spirit-magic and Sensing Incorporeal Creatures

Notably, there are two spells I've found in published core ArM products that allow the caster to see Incorporeal Creatures had very high magnitudes.

Reveal the Lingering Spirit (InMe 30) (HoH:TL p.14, originally published as InMe 20 but later errata'd to InMe 30)
Reveal the Lurking Watchers (InVi 30) (HoH:S p.99)

Both of these are (Base 5, Vision +4, D: Conc +1) construction spells, with total levels of 30. Notably, these spells also require that they penetrate - meaning exceptionally high casting totals are needed to reliably detect incorporeal creatures of non-trivial might levels.

This can make situations in which an incorporeal creature has the ability to remain incorporeal and undetected - while affecting the physical world - effectively impossible to handle for magi without the relevant specializations. For example, an incorporeal, invisible ghost could be unable to be targeted by a mage - even one with Lay to Rest the Haunting Spirit or Coerce the Spirits of the Night - without an Arcane Connection. (HMRE p.78 uses a different example, but the idea of the caster needing to sense the target barring Arcane Connections or special affects like Opening the Intangible Tunnel remains).

Based on the Guidelines in RoP:M (p.111), it also seems generally significantly easier to Control a Spirit than to detect it (at least by sight, which is often needed to properly target the relevant spirit) - a Command the Airy Spirits of the [Magic] Realm with D:Conc can be made at ReVi20, for example. To get to a comparable caster level to a sight-based detection spell, we crank up the duration of said Command to up to D:Month- getting us spells along the guidelines of those possessed by Lugh-éccnaid (TtA p.105).

Second Sight is one option, though learning this in play is typically quite difficult for Magi. Even if you start with it, or can initiate it in play, the base ease factor of 6+magnitude still makes it take fairly significant investment to get it to reliable levels - although not having to deal with magic resistance is obviously a great boon. It was also noted in the Ex Miscellanea section on Sahirs as being a particularly useful skill for them, and I can see why.

As someone interested in spirit-mage concepts - I keep finding myself drawn to Necromancers and Sahir, then I reread the section on the Titanoi in HoH:S and got particularly hype - I'm curious as to what routes others have taken to help them detect/summon/banish/bind/barter with etc for spiritual entities generally. Because of the various limits of magic, detection is a necessary step 1 before all the rest, and I'm currently struggling with it a bit.

The guidelines on page 111 of Realms of Power: Magic also include In(Fo) guidelines which make it easier to detect more powerful creatures (before you take penetration into account, anyway) - it's only Base 1 to detect a Might 50 or above creature, so a level 10 spell. That's still not trivial once you take penetration into account, but it is easier.

Otherwise, Second Sight probably is your best bet. Note that naturally invisible things have an Ease Factor of 9; 6 + Magnitude of Might only applies if the spirit is actively creating an illusory effect/actively making itself be invisible, rather than just naturally being invisible.

Sense Holiness and Unholiness may occasionally work for weak demons, but needs to penetrate so isn't all that useful.

Yeah, even with the 2 magnitude 'discount' under those guidelines you're still looking at an InVi 20 spell to detect entities with a Magic might of 30+, the scaling just isn't great.

I'd also note that although it's not explicitly in that RoP:M sidebar with the rest, you could arguably use InVi variants for each realm along the same methodology as the InFo guidelines - at least, that's what Reveal the Lurking Watchers (HoH:S p.99) does. Even so, it's going to mean a lot of different spells and variants, so I'm leaning more and more towards Second Sight.

Different note, also spirit-magic related clarification in the rule set:

Notably, Ghosts are put in a seperate 'category' of magical being in RoP:M than Airy Spirits. I'm admittedly basically judging this on font-sizes to determine 'subsection or not', but it's worth noting that the ReVi guidelines in RoP:M specify this works to summon/control Airy Spirits - as opposed to magic-realm-aligned spirits or creatures generally. We need Coerce the Spirits of the Night for Ghosts, and a seperate ReVi spell for Airy Spirits - granted, these two spells in combination cover everything incorporeal with Magic Might that isn't a Daimon.

Spirits of Emotions are a subset of Airy Spirits in RoP:M, yet they get given Mentem-oriented spells in HoH:S. I guess since the example given is for a spirit of anger, and emotion spirits are mentem-aligned, this makes sense, but I'd think that a general Command the Spirit of the Magic Realm type spell would work on these as well. As with other forms though, a Mentem spell to govern spirits of emotion would also cover Fairie/Divine/Infernal versions of the spirit, unlike the more generalized Vim-based verison.

Many Hermetic magi commanding spirits will not be that much interested in 'seeing' those spirits which do nothing.

They summon and command spirits by their name, or by an AC they have to them. If an incorporeal magical spirit affects the mundane world, it will do so by a magic effect, which can be detected by InVi spells which do not have to overcome MR. Thereby Hermetic magi can very often locate that spirit.

Seekers, and Tytali expecting unknown spirits to spy on them, think differently. They want to be aware of incorporeal creatures asap and hence learn Intellego spells to detect them.

But note that ArM5 p.80 'sensing' a being to target it with a spell requires use of mundane senses perceiving mundane, not magically created, species: see for this MoH p.101 To See As Through a Plethron Distant. If you locate an incorporeal spirit you can not 'sense' and have no name or AC of, you can still cast a ward over that location and trap the spirit in place: perhaps it interacts with you then, and you can target it by its voice or such.


Well, incorporeal beings don't have much to be seen, what you actually see is pretty much a projection of your ideas about that spirit anyway:

And you don't actually need to see them, just to locate them to use magic upon them. So you could downgrade things a bit, and instead of...

...use a R: Smell, D: Mom. version which would be 15 levels easier and should be enough to give you a scent you could use to target the spirit.

But the easiest part is to trace them by their powers, as One Shot says: it's the only way they can interact with the physical world and, hermetic magi being part of that physical world, that interaction can go both ways. But always also try the yet one more Arcane Connection to your collection approach. The more the merrier.

Localizing something by smell alone is verrry unlikely. And sensing something by magically created species - like ArM5 p.113f Magical Senses spells - alone doesn't suffice to cast a spell on it.

I would allow finding the incorporeal spirit by Magical Senses or other Intellego Magic, and then casting a spell by R: Touch, R: Sight or such at the exact location you have determined. It certainly works with Creo spells creating something, with T: Circle, T: Room, T: Structure and T: Boundary spells, and with Hermetic Geometry - but better ask your troupe about generalizations.


Well, think of a magus with Keen Smell. I'd never seen that virtue in a magus ever. And it could be quite useful, R: Smell being two magnitudes below R: Sight.

I'd have to look into it more, but could you use InIm to add capability to your eyesight (and hearing to hear)? It would be like adding that aspect of Second Sight to your normal vision.

Pretty sure not. Second Sight is not just an aspect of sight. Infact it could very easily have a different name among other groups.

While TMRE allowed Second Sight to let you hear spirits as well, the core book uses "see" seven times and "seeing" once between the two entries on pages 48 and 76. Meanwhile it never mentions any other sense, and it doesn't just approach detection saying "sense." Again, I'm not saying this would necessarily work. But I am having trouble looking at the core rules and saying Second Sight does not just expand on your vision with all those instances of "see" and "seeing," regardless of its name, though the name does fit that as well.

This would turn out a trap, unless discussed in detail and house-ruled with your troupe before.


Just having an acute sense of smell does not overcome the interference of movements in the air (winds, gusts of wind, opening of doors, movements of cloaks, flaps of a familiar's wings etc.) with it.


I'm not completely convinced that magical senses aren't enough to overcome the Limit of Arcane Connections. The description of To See As Through a Plethron Distant describes it as not working with Sight range spells, not as not allowing the target to be sensed. It does go on the extrapolate that the reason for this is that the recreated species don't bear sufficient connection to the original target to support casting spells against them, but whilst that could be read to mean a species has to be natural, I think it doesn't rule out an unnatural species emitted directly by the target.

The very similar (if not the same) issue of targetting spells detected by Intellego Vim magical senses is possible (for example, See the Light of Magic on page 83 of Hermetic Projects).

The Flambeau section on fighting invisible opponents is less useful than I'd hoped - it says you cannot be targeted by spells unless the caster has an arcane connection or is able to locate them, but then doesn't list even Second Sight amongst the ways to locate them.

On a less "wording of the Rules" point, I don't like the idea which this seems to imply that if you're not lucky enough to have Second Sight (or equivalent virtue) you're completely out of luck directly targetting invisible things.

That's why I wrote above:


Ah sorry - missed that.

RE: Invisibility, the Flambeau combat section in HoH:S really does make Veil of Invisibility truly spectacularly good.

"He cannot be targeted by spells unless the caster either has an Arcane Connection to him, or is able to locate him. Area-affecting spells, such as Arc of Fiery Ribbons, work normally against invisible characters within the affected area. Aimed spells are treated like missile attacks (see the second point, above)."

"In order to target an invisible character with spells or missile weapons, an opponent must be able to locate her to within a half-pace or so."

This means you could target an invisible character with say, Ominous Levitation of the Weighty Stone or, most commonly, some variant of Invisible Sling of Vilano - any spell with a Finesse roll to aim, really - but not with a Pilum of Fire, at least under base rules, due to the Limit of Arcane Connection. One of the reasons the school of Vilano is such a common backup school - not having to deal with Invisibility or MR is quite fantastic.