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Communing with a spirit

In 3.5 there is Speak with Dead which lets you speak with the body of the deceased. The next level of divination lets you contact your deity or agent thereof. What if I wanted to talk to a person's spirit? Lets say I wanted to talk to a person whose body is not available for whatever reason. Is there a spell to recall a person's spirit? Something almost like a seance? Most of the cleric divination seem to skip straight to "The man in charge" and the Planar Binding spells 1) are Sor/Wiz only and 2) Seem like overkill. Is this covered in a splat book somewhere?
 

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Celebrim

Legend
Séance and Call of Cthulhu style 'Contact Spirit' spells are a thing I really need in my current campaign. However, I'm unable to come up with anything like elegant usable mechanics in play. I don't want it to be a 'win button' where the NPCs do things for them, but I do want it to be a resource.
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
You could use "Contact Other Plane" I suppose to speak with the "spirit plane" that the spirit resides on.

Outside of that, sounds like a great excuse to create a Seance event. Not a specific spell, could be different for every spirit, but something the players participate in that takes at least an hour and gives them the ability to speak to the spirit for a concentration-check-based amount of time.
 

Dandu

First Post
Séance and Call of Cthulhu style 'Contact Spirit' spells are a thing I really need in my current campaign. However, I'm unable to come up with anything like elegant usable mechanics in play. I don't want it to be a 'win button' where the NPCs do things for them, but I do want it to be a resource.
Whip out an oiuja board.
 

Whip out an oiuja board.

Yea, but then the halfling would complain because they can't reach the board and the elf would accuse everyone of pushing the planchette. In the end the dwarf decides he's had enough and just breaks the board over the gnome's head.

Outside of that, sounds like a great excuse to create a Seance event. Not a specific spell, could be different for every spirit, but something the players participate in that takes at least an hour and gives them the ability to speak to the spirit for a concentration-check-based amount of time.

I think this is what I'm leaning towards. A ritual that the more deathly oriented churches could perform. Maybe even going so far as to have a holiday every year where they families contact their loved ones. Maybe something similar to Dia de Muertos? Or perhaps a Night Vale-esque Homecoming.

If I think of any interesting details for such a ritual I'll post them in this thread.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
'Round here we've always assumed that when using "Speak With Dead" you ARE talking to the spirit...you'd have to be, to get anything useful out of it.

Lan-"dead men tell three tales"-efan
 

[MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] the reason I asked is because the spell states you're speaking with the corpse and the memories retained in the body. That the soul has already departed to another plane. But, if that's how your group rolls, awesome. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
[MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION] the reason I asked is because the spell states you're speaking with the corpse and the memories retained in the body. That the soul has already departed to another plane. But, if that's how your group rolls, awesome. :)
Interpretations of metaphysics, I guess. We see the memories as being part of the spirit, with the corpse being nothing but a now-empty container for such with no "mind" of its own at all; thus to access the memories you by definition have to access the spirit.

But, one could argue the other way that the spell is hauling memories straight out of the dead brain. Then again, this idea falls apart if you're casting the spell on a skull...

Lan-"either way works as long as it's internally consistent within the campaign"-efan
 

Celebrim

Legend
But, one could argue the other way that the spell is hauling memories straight out of the dead brain. Then again, this idea falls apart if you're casting the spell on a skull...

Only if you have a materialist view of the world. You are reading the psychic impressions. The spell description makes it very clear you aren't speaking with the soul of the deceased.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Only if you have a materialist view of the world. You are reading the psychic impressions. The spell description makes it very clear you aren't speaking with the soul of the deceased.
Looking at the write-up in the 1e PH doesn't make it clear at all, leaving it open to interpretation. You need a corpse (or part) as in effect a material component, but it isn't made clear - or even mentioned - whether it's the corpse itself or the spirit that's giving the answers. To me, the requirement that the caster and deceased must have a common language implies it's the spirit answering; as if it were just the corpse the spell would in my view put the answers in the same language as the questions as the "speech" is being driven by the spell.

One thing we houseruled long ago was that you need at least the head of the corpse; you can't cast SWD on just a finger (the PH write-up implies you can by saying the spell can be cast on just a portion of a corpse, which seems like nonsense).

Lan-"dead men tell three tales"-efan
 

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