Religion in ShadowRun (3 of 4)
Priests have the ability to call upon certain types of spirits to aide them. These spirits can generally be identified with those found in the various religions sacred texts. For example the houris and djinns common to Islamic traditions can be summoned by a Mulah, while Christian priests can summon cherubs, angels and even archangels (see Shadownet for stats). Taking a generic Christian priest as an eg they can summon more and more powerful spirits as they increase in grade, also they have a greater chance of bending the purpose of lesser spirits to their own will. The Christian priest can summon the "good" spirits to aide him but may also summon the "evil" versions if they know the particular spirits true-name. This is one way for example that a priest can excorsise a possessed person.
Summoning a ghost requires a Conjuring test, followed by a Communion test if successful. The requirements for such a summoning are the persons earthly remains and various religious fetishes. The longer since the persons death and/or less of the body left (eg cremated remains) the harder the summoning is. In general i would say it is impossible for a worthwhile summoning beyond 1 year and 1 day after death (TN>12), unless the body was specially preserved (eg cryo'd or embalmed). If present at the person's death the priest can offer last rites etc (simple Religion test, no drain) and automatically gain an audience with a departed spirit. For the purposes of a summoning the gravesite or cremation plaque are enough to act as a "body", just make sure you get the right grave or that the cremated remains haven't been mixed (grin). If there is no body then the priest must make an astral quest with a force rating equal to the desired strength of the ghost (see Metaplanes, limbo).
Priests cannot summon watchers.
Cherubs, Lemurs and other Grade 0 spirits are summoned as nature spirits are. After its' services are completed the spirit will return to the Metaplanes. If destroyed (totally) Cherubs will cease to exist. A priest may bind a number of these spirits equal to his Grade + 1.
Angels, Fiends and other Grade 3 spirits are summoned as either great nature spirits or as elementals. If summoned as an elemental it must be done in a holy place (church etc with no background count except of the same religious group, see Holy Sites) large enough to contain the circle if you were actually summoning an elemental of the same force. The priest will need a bible etc, holy symbols and vestments. The spirit when summoned will require an explanation of the summonings purpose equivalent to giving an elemental a remote service. The service however may well be to "protect me and my followers during our raid on the Satanist's den" for example and a priest can always Commune with one of his spirits to halt its activities. The purpose of the summoning must also be obviously good in nature, a priest may use only role-playing to convince the spirit of his intentions. Remember that a spirit such as this has a lot to lose if it does something "bad" or is destroyed. After its' service is complete the spirit will return to the Metaplanes. A priest may be accompanied by up to Grade/2 (round down) of these spirits.
Archangels, Archfiends and other Grade 5 spirits are also called "named" spirits because they are named in a religions texts (eg the Christian angels Gabriel, Azrael etc). These powerful entities are 2nd only to the deity in power. Unlike other celestial spirits who are summoned "whole" only a small aspect of these powerful beings is ever conjured in the same way that the "whole" of a totem is never manifest. These spirits also have significant free will and they may well appear of their own accord in certain situations, especially if one of their opposite number is involved (most religions have good and evil spirits/sides). They cannot be destroyed except by the Deity or a more powerful spirit of the opposite side. Otherwise the same rules apply as for Grade 3 spirits except that a priest cannot lie to these guys when communing and the purpose of the summoning must be actively Holy (or Unholy etc) otherwise they are likely to take you back to "meet your maker". A priest can only ever call on one of these spirits at a time.
Cherub (Grade 1) B Q S C W I E R F-2 F+3 x4 F-3 F F F F F+2 Attacks: none Powers: Psychokinesis, Guard, Search, Bind, Heal Lemur (Grade 1) B Q S C W I E R F-1 F+2 x4 F-2 F F F F F+1 Attacks: none Powers: Psychokinesis, Accident, Concealment, Fear, Harm Angel (Grade 3) B Q S C W I E R F+2 F+2 x3 F+1 F F F F F+2 Attacks: F(M) Reach+2 Powers: Human Form, Aura Masking, Flame Projection, Magical Guard, Compulsion, Guard Fiend (Grade 3) B Q S C W I E R F+3 F+1 x3 F+2 F F F F F+2 Attacks: F(M)Reach+2 Powers: Animal Form, Aura Masking, Cold Aura, Desire Reflection, Influence, Essence Drain(temp) Archangel (Grade 5) B Q S C W I E R F+4 F+3 x5 F+3 F F F F F+3 Attacks: F+1(M) Reach+2 Powers: Dispelling, Sorcery, Flame Aura, Flame Projection, Magical Guard, Magical Resistance, Guard, Compulsion, Fear, Wealth, Astral Gateway Archfiend (Grade 5) B Q S C W I E R F+5 F+2 x4 F+4 F F F F F+2 Attacks: F+1(M) Reach+2 Powers: Cold Aura, Electrical Projection, Essence Drain(perm), Fear, Possession, Noxious Breath, Influence, Sorcery, Wealth, Astral GatewayNew Spirit Powers
Heal A priest can sacrifice force points from a cherub to heal 1 box of physical damage per point.
Harm A priest can sacrifice fore points from a lemur to cause 1 box of physical damage per point.
The powers of priests are received directly from the metaplane associated with their religion. This means they have one definite advantage over other mages: Priestly powers and prayers are not susceptible to astral attacks as much as those of others. All links between the physical world and the magical realm go directly through the metaplane of the priest's deity. That means there are no links useable for grounding from the etheric plane. If a magician wants to ground a spell through a holy symbol, celestial spirit or holy ritual he has to follow the link to the deity's metaplane. Upon reaching the metaplane, the mage has to succeed in an astral quest of a rating equal to the relevant force. It is always possible to attack an astral entity directly (for information on astral entities see SRII p147 and Grimoire II p86) from the etheric plane and so destroy or disrupt it. The metamagical ability of dispelling also works normally as it is assumed to be mediated through the metaplanes. (Top!)
Heaven and Hell
Each religion has a number of associated metaplanes. These metaplanes are generally considered to be the home planes of the spirits associated with each religion. The christian metaplanes for example are Heaven, Hell and limbo. Heaven is where the angels etc reside along with the Big Guy Himself, but in much the same way as projecting shamans don't often see their totem it is very rare for a Priest to even glimpse the more powerful figures of his religion. On a successful journey to Heaven the priest gets to a sort of waiting room from where she can call on the various powers for aide or information. If information is the goal then it often provided in very metaphorical ways through the design or the "waiting room", God does move in mysterious ways.
Travelling to Hell is a very risky business : ) But here a priest can find out the true name of a devil or again seek information, but although the information sought may be gained it almost certainly won't be the whole truth and will always lead to trouble.
Limbo is the place where all mortal souls are said to reside awaiting judgement. You can't just wander in and talk to Aunt Mable. You can however find the information necessary to summon someone's ghost. This is the most dangerous way to do this as the priest is just as likely to end up a resident himself as he is to find what he wants.
With the advent of magic there are also many wonderful possibilities for the Evil GM (tm) [NB this is the one exception to the rule that there is no real Evil in the world : ], Satanists could really be infested by the Dark Lord and blessings at a Saints tomb could really heal the sick.
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14 February 1998 | Last
Updated: November 19, 2000