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Thursday, December 3, 2015

RSA: Spiritwrack (-wrath)

Now, this spell is technically a 1st edition creation, but I decided to do a write-up for it because:

  • A version of it is in Labyrinth Lord's Advanced Edition Companion ("Spiritwrath")
  • It fits the obscurity test I generally apply to these kinds of posts (I've never seen it used or mentioned in play)
  • It is so darned cool!
The nature of the spell can be briefly summarized thusly:

The MU can create a scroll which, when read in the presence of a specific infernal/nether creature (e.g. a demon or similar), will A) root it to the spot, B) torture it for a for a bit, then C) banish to imprisonment on its home plane.

Nasty, huh?

Here are the basics (from AEC)

(MU) Level: 6
Duration: Special
Range: 10' +1/level

For starters, this isn't a spell that you'll memorize "just in case." You need blood from the type of creature you're preparing the scroll against. the individual creature's true name, and 100's of GPs worth of gems ground into the blood ink.

Spiritwrath can be used against demons, devils, powerful vampires, or liches. The description mentions that the spell is "often used to extort something from its victim, and may be stopped at any time short of imprisonment." This bespeaks a level of premeditated nastiness not typically seen in dungeon crawls.

The scroll is recited for several rounds, basically in effect until the mage stops reading it. It is interesting to note that the intervals listed are in turns (10 minutes). So this is an extended process, not fire & forget.

Another fun tidbit is while the entity gets a saving throw, even if it does resist, it can't directly attack the caster. The scroll acting much like a scroll of warding. It is most likely the creature will flee.

If the spell works and is read through to completion, the demon (or whatever) is banished to its home plane (undead are sent to the plane of negative energy) and imprisoned there for one year per caster level! Since this is a 6th level spell, under normal circumstances the caster is at least 11th level. So the nasty is gone for a decade or more. in practical terms, this means most campaigns will not see the banishee again. Of course, that demon the PC MU's mentor banished a decade ago might show up any time!

The description makes a point of explaining that the banished entity will likely harbor ill will against the caster. Also, if the spell is used to broker a deal, the caster better be pretty darn careful about the letter of the agreement, because you know the baddie will be looking for a loophole to screw him over with.

This spell is one of those very evocative and fun uses of magic that so rarely gets any table time that it's a shame. While I can totally understand PCs not prioritizing this one, I would love to drop a book or scroll into a game describing the ritual so that MU gets to add this to his grimoire. Once a PC has the spell available, who knows when they might decide to give it a whirl?

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