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Spiritism

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Image:Scroll2.png "Threatened with expulsion from the Academy if my grades did not improve, I finally took Spiritism 1. I thought of the training ghosts as nothing more than an easy six credits. That was until I found out they had attended the same course in the last semester."
- Vuld Shaik, "Magic and I"
Spiritism
World magic
Full nameSpiritism
AvailabilityThroughout Mizahar
Learned fromUsers, books
Key conceptInteracting with ghosts and, to a lesser degree, undead
UsesCombat, manipulation, various
RisksDeath or worse


Spiritism is an ancient branch of world magic that deals with ghosts and, at high levels, undead. Born as a shamanistic form of magic, it was developed by Alahean wizards into an effective combat and support tool. A spiritist is a "medium" who can understand ghosts better than most, but he can also fight and enslave them if he knows how. He can withstand possession much better than a regular person, and actually turn it into a powerful symbiosis with the ghost. A Spiritist can summon ghosts and try to make them do his bidding, hiring them to defend him or carry out other tasks. They can generate Soulmist, the substance that makes up a ghost's shroud - often from the Spiritist's own body. By dressing a ghost with Soulmist of their creation, the Spiritists can gift the ghost with more powers or replenish their strength. They can also damage ghosts by shredding their Soulmist with suitable tools, forcing them away and giving them great pain.

Contents

Overview

Spiritists are a very old cadre of wizards, probably because unlike most world magic, their tools are simple to craft and use. Ghosts are a normal occurrence in Mizahar; people know they exist, and in many cases coexist, with the living. Ghosts are souls that extended their stay past death to take care of unfinished business, choosing not to reincarnate in the afterlife. Some ghosts, however, would do harm upon the living, and human wizards specialized in hunting them. This basic need led to the birth of Spiritism, though the discipline soon evolved past simple spiritual fighting as wizards realized that ghosts could make very convenient allies and servants.

Spiritism is a more social discipline than most, except perhaps Summoning. The two disciplines are similar in that negotiation and charisma are crucial to the successful medium. While they can engage ghosts in spiritual warfare, talking it out is often a more convenient avenue as it means acquiring a potential ally in the future. Of course, the Spiritist must take care not to be fooled by the ghosts he deals with, many of which are deceivers bent on his ruination.

Spiritists are not necessarily religious people, though they may act out of religious desire to liberate ghosts from their torment. Personal ethics range from total benevolence to malice, with every shade of gray in between. Every town and settlement tends to have at least one, and he is often called upon when an unfriendly ghost overstays its welcome. Spiritists are feared and respected, more so than most denominations of wizards, due to the creepy nature of their business. However, they also tend to make enemies in the spiritual world, whose inhabitants are known to hold endless grudges.

A majority of Spiritists can only affect ghosts, but experts and masters are also useful against the undead, especially those bearing the marks of their patron Uldr. The god of undeath has been known to send his minion after certain Spiritists who had incurred his wrath.

Soulmist

Soulmist is the matter ghosts are made of, replacing the astral body of a living soul. It is normally ethereal, though the ghost can make it corporeal through materialization when it needs to interact with the environment. When it becomes material, the ghost can, in turn, take damage and shed its Soulmist, which brings it great pain and cripples it. A ghost without Soulmist cannot do anything, not even be seen. The substance will eventually regrow, but this can take a long time, like wounds for the living.

Soulmist is the key to the Spiritist's power. These wizards know how to produce Soulmist and use it to their advantage. The material is created from food and a vial of blood. Spiritists have different recipes and methods, but the most common way is the following. The wizard will take an egg, flour and soft cheese (three foods from different sources) as well as the blood, and create a dough either in a bowl or directly in his own mouth. The dough must spend time in his body for the process to work; some just chew it for a duration, others will swallow and regurgitate. The wizard must concentrate and focus on what he wants to achieve.

In the end, the wizard will emit an off-white gel that can be shaped in his own hands or stored in a clean container for later use, though it will decay after a few days. This is Soulmist: the slight glow, as well the unnatural coolness of the material will signal that the operation was a success. Especially good Soulmist is made from the Spiritist's own blood, and it is said that pure creatures yield the very best Soulmist.

A ghost needs the Spiritist's permission to absorb his Soulmist. Ghosts can tell its quality from the smell and will be much more interested in rarer, high-value Soulmist. Absorbing Soulmist replenishes the ghost's strength, undoes damage (whole or in part) and is a soothing, pleasant experience for the ghost - one of the few it can ever experience. This means the Spiritist can trade it with favors and services from a freelancing ghost. It can also improve a sour ghost's morale, though care should be taken not to strengthen a hostile ghost that will find nasty ways to use the newfound power.

High-level Spiritists can make even better use of Soulmist: they can imbue it with a part of the skills and powers of the blood's owner. A ghost eating this Soulmist will then acquire these skills and abilities as long as the effect lasts (which is a few days).

Spiritual weapons and armor

When Soulmist is smeared over an item or body part of the living, it is quickly absorbed, disappearing from view. The object can then interact with ghosts and ethereal undead for a few hours. Weapons can then wound a ghost, and armor will prevent them from passing through, even though they are not invulnerable to a ghost's attacks. An experienced Spiritist has created so much Soulmist that his body gains the same ability at all times. The very best Spiritists can render the effect on items permanent.

Safe zones

A Spiritist can set boundaries that ghosts will be unable to cross, thus creating safe zones. Again, this is the work of Soulmist. The Spiritist will smear it on a series of small items connected through string (made from the Spiritist's own hair, if possible, or someone close to him otherwise). A popular choice among Spiritist is Ghostbeads, pebble-sized stones of considerable weight. These beads form a ring resembling a giant necklace. When thrown on the floor, the area inside the beads is off-limits to ghosts. The bare minimum is three beads charged with Soulmist, but the more, the better; seven is a favorite. The same principle applies to any closed shape and set of tokens.

Ghosts and their soulmist can't access safe zones (in theory; in practice, a motivated powerful ghost can eventually break through), but they can throw a knife from the outside into the safe zone. A Possessed person would either lose the ghost upon entering one, OR the ghost could hide inside but be unable to manifest or take over control while in the safe zone.

The reason ghostbeads are rather heavy is that an intelligent ghost may try to push or move them around with its powers. When the enemy is especially vicious, some Spiritists resort to driving stake-shaped pegs (Ghostnails) into the ground for better protection. In general, no defense is absolute against a resourceful ghost, though every little bit helps.

The Lie

In Spiritist jargon, it is called the Lie, as in "giving them the Lie." This can be a powerful tool, especially in a pinch, though it is still a form of bluffing. By smearing Soulmist over his face and deeply concentrating on a name or person, the Spiritist can make ghosts believe he is that person. Similarly, ingesting a tiny amount of Soulmist can make the ghost believe the Spiritist's voice is someone else's. This only affects ghosts, but will usually affect them even if they have special detection abilities, as they will want to believe the Lie. If the Spiritist does not concentrate on a specific person hard enough, the ability does not work.

Graceful possession

Possession is an ability that allows a ghost to take over a living creature for a duration. Spiritists undergo possession routinely as part of their training. Through this constant exposure to being possessed, they gradually acquire finer control over their state. While at the lower levels the Spiritist can only freeze and prevent the ghost from doing anything with his body, more experienced wizards can share control with the ghost or kick it out at will. Possession becomes less and less traumatic, and the Spiritist can even enter a symbiotic relationship with the ghost in which their skill sets and knowledge merge seamlessly. This state also makes it much easier for a ghost to acquire experience and progress in Skills other than ghostly racial skills.

At very high levels, the Spiritist can hold or trap a number of ghosts inside his own body. He can then communicate with them in his mind, and release any and all of them on a whim. This may have long-term adverse effects on his health, however.

Souldarts

High-level Spiritists are notorious for carrying creepy-looking arrows or bolts fletched from weeping willow and raven's feathers. They apply tiny incisions and fill them with high-quality Soulmist, thus creating Souldarts. The weapon of choice is often a light crossbow, though any ranged weapon works just as fine and the most adventurous wield them as melee weapons. If a Souldart hits a ghost, not only will it cause it pain and damage, but it may also pin the ghost to a wall or surface. Lesser ghosts can be blocked with a single dart, whereas greater ones can quickly break free and may require three or an entire quiver. Once blocked, the ghost cannot use any of its powers anymore. At this point, the sufficiently prepared Spiritist may proceed to dust the ghost.

A powerful enough ghost may be able to deflect a souldart by using Soulmist Projection.

Dusting ghosts

Dusting is the process by which a ghost is turned to dust. This can be done to get rid of the ghost, or to store them for later use. Dusting deprives ghosts of the ability to reincarnate in the afterlife as long as they remain in a dusted state; for this reason, it is said by many to be an immoral, unethical practice, but still widespread. The servants of Dira, the goddess of death, will pursue any who make use of dusting, and try to liberate dusted ghosts so they can reincarnate.

Dusting is performed by the expert Spiritist cutting his palm open and plunging his hand into the ghost once it is incapacitated or willing. Through the blood connection and deep concentration, the wizard sucks the ghost dry of any remaining energy, and the ghost will turn into a pile of cold ashes whose appearance depends on the ghost's soul. At this point any flask or vial will store the ghost. Weak ghosts are unconscious, but stronger ones can still weakly communicate by having their voices heard within close proximity.

Mixing a dusted ghost with fresh Soulmist will return it to its normal state instantly.

Evocation

A Spiritist of sufficient skill can 'evoke' a ghost. It should be noted that there is no 'spirit world' in Mizahar. The only places where a ghost can be are the physical world, the Void and the Ukalas. It takes a master to evoke a ghost from the latter two, but just an expert for the first.

Evocation is much like Summoning. For a normal evocation, the ghost "blinks" to the Spiritist's location wherever it may be at the time. The Spiritist must possess a vial of the ghost's Soulmist willingly offered. He will draw a small circle with a sixteen-pointed star in it, using his own blood, then place the Soulmist in it and call upon the ghost's name. If the evocation is successful, the ghost will then appear instantly. The Soulmist is then lost, so the Spiritist cannot evoke the same ghost again unless he is given more of it.

Masters can evoke a soul from the Ukalas, as previously stated. This is perhaps the most powerful ability of a Spiritist, as the souls in the Ukalas are those who have perfected themselves through countless lives, finally leaving the cycle of reincarnation to follow their patron deity. To a single man and woman, they are much more powerful than the average ghost and possess Gnosis powers of their god. This evocation does not require Soulmist, but it does require a pint of the Spiritist's blood offered in a cup in the middle of the circle, followed by an invocation. The souls of those who joined their deity in the Ukalas are NOT ghosts even though they can be called upon by a spiritist. They are more like ascended beings without a body.

  • If the Spiritist possesses one or more Gnosis marks from the god whose souls he is calling upon, then one or more will always answer the call; the more marks, the more souls will show up.
  • Without Gnosis marks, answering the call is entirely voluntary. The souls will do it if it benefits their patron god.
  • Evocation with negative Gnosis marks of the deity involved means asking for trouble.

The souls will stay for a short while, attend to their business, and quickly return to the Ukalas.

Skill progression

Novice (1-25)
The novice Spiritist knows how to make weak Soulmist in small amounts. It decays quickly and is only mildly appealing to ghosts; moreover, it is not really good enough for any offensive or defensive use. He can block his body if possessed, and prevent a ghost from doing anything until it leaves. A Spiritist at this level can sense the presence of nearby ghosts much better than the average person, and may spot the little tell-tale signs of their existence even when they are trying to hide.
Competent (26-50)
At this level, the Spiritist can make decent Soulmist which he can use to empower weapons, armor and other items. He can create safe zones through ghostbeads, ghostnails and similar items. He can give ghosts the Lie. He can resist possession from all but master Possessors, and can access the ghost's memories and skills to a small degree while he is being possessed.
Expert (51-75)
The expert Spiritist can fight ghosts with Souldarts and dust them for storage. He can also evoke ghosts from the physical world, if offered a vial of their Soulmist. The Soulmist he produces is excellent and very long-lasting. He can share control with a possessing ghost, deciding when to act and when to sit back. He can access a large portion of the ghost's skills and memories, and he can stop a ghost from leaving his body if he so wishes. He has a sixth sense when it comes to spotting ghosts, and can usually smell one a mile away. His Competent-level abilities, such as the Lie and safe zones, now apply to other ethereal undead such as Uldr's Desolate Ones.
Master (76-100)
A master Spiritist is truly a force to be reckoned with. His Soulmist is permanent no matter what uses he makes of it, and a ghost receiving it as a gift will gain a part of the skills of the creature whose blood was used in its making. He can touch ghosts without any preparation, and the ability extends to anything or anyone he is touching. He can evoke great souls from the Ukalas. His control over possession is immense, and he can become one with a ghost in this fashion while still functioning normally. He can store any number of ghosts in his body, either to interact with them or release them later. His Expert-level abilities such as Souldarts and dusting apply to ethereal undead. He can research new tools and rituals, and evolve the art in whole new directions.


Image:Skull.jpg
Part of a series of articles on Death, undeath and the dead
Concepts Afterlife · Soul
Gods Dira, goddess of death · Uldr, god of the undead
Ghosts Spiritism · Possession · Materialization · Soulmist Projection · Black Rock
Nuit Daek-nuit · Sahova · Zarik Mashaen
Other undead Chained One · Wretched One · Desolate One
Factions Returned
Other Embalming