Refresher: Spirit Manipulation, fetishes, and spirits

posted Nov 21, 2011, 9:39 AM by Peter DiGravio
Vampire is inherently a game about the physical world; while OWbN ofter makes it hard to keep this under control, it is not a game intended for large-scale manipulation of the spirit world. This email is a reminder to all those who possess Spirit Manipulation what limitations this Path has. To being with, this path's whole purpose is to compel and force spirits to do the magician's bidding - it is not nice, it is not polite, and it is very hard to convince a spirit to submit to this path. (Don't believe me? Read the MET Camarilla Guide. "Spirit Manipulation mimics many effects that can be created by Lupines and certain shamanistic mages, but it takes a completely different approach - instead of making a sort of an agreement with the spirit in question, the thaumaturge forces the spirit into a grotesque mockery of its normal behavior.")

Let's review:
Hermetic Sight: The basic use of this power allows you to see nearby spirits; to actually see into the spirit world (read: the penumbra) you must spend a Mental Trait. If you spend this Mental Trait, you must bid 2 additional Traits in all challenges in the physical world. For the purposes of Columbus in Darkness, this is the Middle Umbra - not the High Umbra (the province of Mind Magic and Astral Projection) or the Low Umbra (the shadowlands)
Astral Cant: You can speak with spirits while this power is active. Note that this means that no one without Astral Cant active can understand what you are saying to a spirit, or what a spirit is saying to you.
Voice of Command: This is the most complicated of the powers. It costs a Willpower to make a command, and requires a Mental Challenge against the spirit. Even if you win, the spirit will not endanger it's own well-being or conflict with its morals - to do that, you have to spend a second Willpower before making the Mental Challenge. Clearly, this gets expensive quickly, and even then, you cannot force it to perform possibly suicidal actions without a second Mental Challenge. Non-bane spirits do not want to have anything to do with vampires, specifics pacts or histories excepted, and no spirit wishes to be bound into a fetish by a vampire. Let me restate that: you'll at the very least spend 2 Willpower and have to win at least one Mental Challenge to force a spirit into allowing itself to be made into a fetish. 
Entrap Ephemera: Crafting a fetish should be a time-consuming process. Vampires are not Garou; they do not have ancient rites and agreements with the spirit world that allow easy fetish creation. If you wish to make a specific fetish, expect to engage downtime research and dialogue with the ST staff; if you are just creating a quick-and-dirty fetish, we will assign it whatever powers we think appropriate. There is an incredibly large number of magic items in this game, and many of those items will change through the item card audit.
Duality: This is one of the most commonly abused powers in the org. This power causes you to co-exist in the physical world and the Penumbra, and allows you to actually affect spirits physically and with Disciplines. However, you cannot ignore the geography of the real world in favor of the spirit world, and a barrier in the spirit world will prevent you from moving in the real world. If you fail the two Simple Tests upon activation, you fully enter the spirit world. If this happens, expect your PC to be destroyed - this is not a get out of jail free card.

Things Spirit Manipulation doesn't let you do:
- Identify spirits.
- Summon Spirits
- Make talens
- Awaken spirits
- Use Disciplines on spirits (except for Duality)
- Leave the Umbra
- Place things in the Umbra
- Affect anything not in the Penumbra.

If you plan on using Spirit Manipulation, I suggest you find teachers for the following Abilities:
- Spirit Lore (for identification and general knowledge of spirits)
- Umbra Lore (for information on the Umbra)
- Cosmology (understanding how to move about in the Umbra)
- Occult (for basic information, and retests for this Path)
- Spirit Accord (available only to High Saturday members)

Interaction with spirits will require roleplay, and do not expect most spirits to want to interact or help your PC. Do not expect a spirit of peace to want to hang out with you, and be prepared to terrorize or bully spirits to get your way.

For the purposes of CID, Astral Projection is limited to the Penumbra of the High Umbra, and not the deeper realms of the heavens and hells or Maya. 

-Alex R.