Well, I just botched... (investigating an effect)

It's downtime between sessions in the game I'm running, and I'm rolling the results of the NPC Lab Rat magus as he investigates the magical effects instilled in a deceased magus' talisman.
First season, the magus discovered 4 of the 5 effects.
Second season, he botched. So now I need to decide what happened. This will be a nice way to start the next session. :smiling_imp:

There are 3 effects which could be the source of some amusement:
ReCo Transport 500 paces -- Perhaps he zaps away to an inconvenient location. Players need to find him / rescue him / smooth over a breach of code caused by his appearance.
Aura of Rightful Authority -- The players find themselves following the Lab Rat's orders against their will
Enslave the Mortal Mind -- (this is the undiscovered power) First player the Lab Rat sees is under full control

One other possibility, but I'm not sure if this really should be allowed. I'd love your thoughts.
The Talisman's owner is dead. The body is currently in the next lab over, inside a circular ward, protecting it against putrefaction.
Since the Lab Rat botched while investigating a high-level rego mentem spell on a Talisman, (which is mystically attuned to the dead guy), what if the Lab Rat switched minds with the dead magus (as in "Exchange of Two Minds," pg 152 of AM5)?
A) do you feel this is possible within the general scope of Hermetic magic? The other mind is dead....
B) If you feel this is possible, would he go into the body of the dead magus, in effect "killing" his own body? Or switch places with the Magus' ghost? The players killed the bad-guy magus in a high-level magic aura that happens to be attuned to necromancy, so I figured the magus' ghost is haunting the place, should the players ever return. Is the talisman an arcane connection to the ghost?

I can see either option being an interesting distraction from the main storyline. If the Lab Rat goes into the body, then it's a fun scene where the body of the players' nemesis is suddenly up and walking around, confused. (Also, The Lab Rat wouldn't want to go back to his original body. He happens to be hugely obese, with several other physical ailments, and a foul curse of terrible body odor. I can see there being an interesting emotional role-playing situation here where the players learn more about the lab rat's deep-rooted sadness over his body image.)

The other possibility could lead to a dangerous situation where the players are faced by their covenant-mate who's been taken over by a ghost bent on revenge.

I invite your thoughts.

Who cares if it fits Hermetic magic. This was a botch. The magic/realm overwhelmed the magus. So, we turn to (B) and ask, is this a story that would be fun to tell and fun to play out? It seems like it could have a lot of potential, especially if the evil magus weren't to let on right away in the new body. This is something that would not be easy to blast through with easily-penetrating magics even once you figure it out since you don't want to destroy your own magus's body. It seems like it has a lot of potential to it. You wouldn't want to take a player out for long like that, but this is an NPC so go for story potential and fun and don't fret that bit.

Personally, I think I would concentrate on the effect he was investigating when the botch occured. After all, he had successfully investigated the other effects.

Am I right in assuming that this is a single botch?

One possibility would be that this leaves the lab rat temporarily possessed by the ghost of the dead owner. Essentially, by botching he summoned the ghost of the dead magus, who used the talisman's power to possess the lab rat. If I understand correctly, this was an enemy of the covenant, so he would probably use this opportunity to cause trouble. On the other hand, since this is a ghost (i.e. an incomplete mind without a soul), then he would not necessarily act in the smatest way. I'd treat his behaviour more as that of a shade or spectre than that of an apparition (see RoP:M pp.115-116). This ghost could be either magical or infernal in nature.

A different possibility would be to inflict a new personality flaw on the character, that reflect the personality of the dead owner. This would have less immediate impacts, but requires a lot of cooperation from the player.

Another option is to have the ghost start haunting the lab rat. This may be an infernal attempt to corrupt him, by offering him ways to "solve" his body problems in exchange for "services", or simply an attempt by the ghost to reanimate his former body and transform into some form of lich-like creature. The offers should be tempting enough to the character that the player will at least consider them. The ghost should also be powerful enough so that the lab rat cannot simply destroy it easily. In short, a great potential story arc.

Have fun with it! You might also consider discussing it with the player, to see whether he will enjoy this story arc, even if it means trouble for his character.

A few options I would consider:

  1. The magus is in the necromancer's body, his own body is occupied by the ghost
  2. He is transported to the necromancer's lair, the ghost animates its own body
  3. the lab rat is enslaved to the neromancer's ghost.

Thanks all.

Arthur: Yes, it was a single botch.

More about the dead bad guy mage here: https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/raiding-an-enemy-sanctum-traps-obstacles-requested/10263/1
I shall henceforth call him "the Rogue Mage."
The Rogue Mage was insane, with at least two specific personalities: His younger, innocent self, riddled with guilt (Maris), and his self-righteous, over-confident, angry self (Talos). There are other personalities in there too, different personas that he assumed as he traveled the Mediterranean throughout the years, assuming different roles, trading with covenants under fake names, etc. He was Driven to keep an ancient magical artifact a secret. When the players accidentally stumbled upon it, they became his focus. The players were able to take him out when he got distracted by his own anger.

I don't want the ghost to be a spirit that can have new thoughts, etc. It would be a shade: Acting from the point of view of the Rogue Mage's final moments (which is to destroy the PCs before they are able to disturb the ancient relic.)

I like the idea of turning this into a longer story arc. The lich is interesting. The infernal spirit is also interesting to me. In life, the Rogue Mage used a lot of mind-control magic to get his way. This is certainly a dark path, and would attract the legions of hell. These could all be combined into the Lab Rat being enslaved by the the Rogue Mage's ghost, to work on a big project to transfer the spirit into the dead body, or even an infernal resurrection of sorts, where the soul (not just the ghost) would go back into the body.

Has there been anything published in the RAW about lich magic?

How does the Aegis affect this situation? If the talisman is an arcane connection to the ghost, is the ghost able to get in to the covenant, but it's powers are dampened by the aegis?

Finally, if I do go with this longer story arc, I'd love to hint at it with some silliness at the beginning of next session. Do you think it makes sense that the Lab Rat's mind would be transported into the dead body?
Thanks again!

Expanding on the Personality flaw type effect and the body image issue, having said lab rat simply become the Hermetic equivalent of a image conscious fitness enthusiast/nut might be an idea that could work long term.

Being a lab rat to begin with, an obsession with "weight loss" spells, magical "steroids", hygiene magic, rumours of (quack) cures of any kind, be they Hermetic, alchemical, or the gift of some magical entity on top of an interest in more mundane techniques would be doable. This sideline would certainly claim increasing amounts of the magus' time and make the NPC less available to help the PCs, so they may feel the need to act as the situation becomes more pronounced.

Just an option on the less serious side of things.