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Spirits of Man are whatever you need them to be.
That would depend on your tradition. A mage sees a spirit of man as a simple embodiment of mans will on the astral plane, while a shaman might summon their ancestor spirits to give them aid.

I would say however that it is impossible to summon a spirit who knows everything a dead person knew, you could get a spirit who has a knowledge skill(this person) but it would be ultimately incomplete, much like e-ghosts.
I think it would be fun that spirits of men are echoes of individuals or of traumatic events.

Some how the spirit in death lives on as malformed of energy in the astral, that hideous strength of something that cannot die.
The Dresden Files approach: At one point Harry puts himself in an emotional near-death experiance to create the psychic disturbance to create a "ghost" with all the abilities and knowledge and personality of himself to help fight a badguy.

As to the poll, they both are and are not ghosts at the same time. Some spirits of Man are relections of personality idealisms, while others are completely convinced they themselves are deceased people.

Spirits are tricky like that.
right, from a modern, new Age view we have the issue of never being able to know for sure. A spirit may offer itself up as the spirit of your late aunt May or the rigger you owed your life to, but there's no way to really know. Writing nearly a century ago the Irish ghost hunter Elliot O'Donnell wrote, disparaging the craze in seances, that he hoped in theggreat hereafter that spirits like Napoleon and Dickens had better things to do with their time than seances.

It may be that a spirit of man might have some of the essence, if I can use that as a non-rule term, of what made up someone, like a photograph or reflection or footprint, but not be the all that the person was. It would seem highly unlikely you'd get all that is someone but a spirit might ocnvincve you they are that person. you'll never know for sure.
The real question is: "How much does it matter?"

The rules are not specific on this question for several reasons (the least of which are, of course, religious implications) that could negatively affect gameplay. I use Spirits of Man in whatever way I need them, though I do not often allow players to summon great forms for any length of time unless they come up with good role-played or storyline reasons. I am also very careful about ally spirits... I have seen them abused in many ways on many occasions.
Daddy's Little Ninja
Truly great people can impress their lives on the astral plane and linger on, joining the Kami, but most drift on the wind.
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