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My GM and I are having a debate on whether or not you can ask a spirit a question as a service, pertaining to it's domain. Now, as he's the GM, his answers pretty much THE answer, in his game at least. But I'm looking for a little more feedback on the idea.

Basically the premise was a shaman summoning city or hearth spirits to get more info on the domain, like exit/entrances to the building, perhaps some info on security, like number of cameras or gaurds, or just how many people in side in general, that sort of thing. One question/per service. The particualr character in question also has spirit affinity for Spirits of man (urban shaman type), so hoping that would make some difference, as they should be more agreeable.

Quite frankly I like the idea - the same option is used fairly frequently and with my blessings by the shaman of the group I GM for.

The way I ruled it was that the spirit can give you any information you like pertaining to it's domain - each individual qestion taking one service. The answers are generally fairly generous in detail without being exacting.

As an example from last weekends session, when questioning a hearth spirit in a garage/service station that is doing a thriving side trade in 'warm' vehicle parts in a late night B&E session into thier storage sheds (I treated the entire service station area, including storage sheds as one hearth)...

Shaman: "Where do they do all the administrative work on the parts in the storage sheds?"
Spirit: (Dwarf greasemonkey appearance) - "Over there in tha office, d'uh."
Shaman: ""What security measures need I overcome to enter the office without raising an alarm?"
Spirit: "Lock on the door, alarm systems active, and yer better be good at hacking passwords on the computer."
Shaman: "Deactivate the alarm system and open the door for me please."
Spirit: "Sure."

Four services. And one drain check. The more intelligent the spirit, the more complex the questions you can ask.

Given that there's a check on rampant abuse in the form of the drain, there's the needed check to prevent gamebreaking. Elementals are of course ineligible to answer questions in this fashion by thier nature.

I'm not familiar with the canonical response though I have gone over the rules thoroughly at times and I can't recall any good reason why not. It's useful - to the NPC's as well as the PC's please remember. Spirits tend to be helpful to their summoners - poilte with it - until asked to do things that might actually hurt - in my game they are anyway.

yeah, to me , it made no sense that you oculd command it to attack something, but not be able to ask it a question about the domain that it's bound to. Since the spirit manifests as something appropriate to the area (like your grease monkey) they must have some sort of imprint of the place at the least. And I don't see them being hostile about this kind of service, since it's not like it's going to harm them. Unless they're somehow aspected, like the spirits of Kiliminjaro being questioned by the corps, or something to that effect. Probably wouldn't be a good idea to question the spirit of a KE building about security for example.
I would determine the proficiency of the spirit by the "age" of the domain in question. A serivce station "grease monkey" (nice manifestation, by the way) would know the codes and be able to operate the security system only if the place had been inhabited by the same owners for several years, to the point that the turning on and off of the locks was simply a matter of routine.

By contrast, when the shaman tries to pull a stunt like this in a brand new corporate zero zone, he is going to get a spirit who looks and talks like an Ares Arms shyster salesman.

Runner: What kind of security will we need to bypass?

Sales-Spirit: This facility is equiped with the latest and greatest in active anti-personel zone defense. The basic package includes motion sensors, smart hallways, and advanced target neutralization systems! Additional smart systems can be added by our trained technicians to upgrade the package.

Runner: But what is actually installed here?

Sales Spirit: This system is brand new, 100% underwarrenty, ready to protect YOUR vital assets!

Runner: Frag this....*dismiss*
Ancient History
... If you summon a hearth spirit in a room...and another shaman in the room tries to summon a hearth spirit before yours is done with...does an angel get its wings?
Groups I have been in always handled it as the spirit making a knowledge skill test. The GM got to assign the TN based on difficulty, and the shaman got to decide how Intelligent a spirit to summon. Each question was a service.
Herald of Verjigorm
Odd, no one mentioned yet that great form spirits of man get the divination power. Those ones at least can give you reasonably accurate answers.
I like Ranger's answer.

In some of the books there are instances of shamans summoning the hearth spirit of their home and regularly conversing (I think the character in question was Bandit, the Racoon Shaman.)

Of course, anything that would keep an astral intruder from knowing something could work against the spirit too. What's in the steel box transported in yesterday? Dunno, it was warded.
I would argue that it also depends on the question and the relationship to the type of spirit. For example, a city spirit, being a spirit of man, would be capable of telling you about people who travel along its streets in pretty good detail, but asking a forest spirit about the comings and goings of people on a super highway through its domain would likely net you complaints about how the road-makers killed the trees, how much the emissions stink, etc.

You have to look at things from the spirit's point of view -- a forest spirit is probably an ancient being that has seen centuries or even millenia go by. A few people travelling down the road won't be particularly eventful to it. But the super-highway being built? Big time.

A hearth spirit that is in a home that has been well cared for and lived in by the same family for generations is going to be very, very reticent on helping the shaman do something that is not in the best interest of the members of that family. It'll follow the letter of the orders, but it will resist and twist the orders within the boundaries created by the order.

A mountain spirit would barely notice anything at all; it would take some seriously bad stuff to pay attention. Blood rites, strip mining, etc. But other than that, probably nothing.
I like this idea as well, and would allow it, but the group I GM for isn't too keen on shamans so its nver come up.

I would make the spirit take a comprehension test (ala a command issued to a drone) to see if it understands the question and how much it knows.

I agree with Vaevictis in that spirits, being non-metahuman sentient beings, probably think very differently, probably have modes of perception we are unware of and probably have a very different consiousness altogether. I, for example, wouldn't allow a hearth spirit to deactivate electronic security measures, because high-tech stuff like computers are probably beyond the spirits realm of knowledge, (being as they are astral entities).
I allow this, but the question has to be well within the spirit's domain. A hearth spirit would know how regularly the place had been cleaned, and if any astrally tramatic events had occured recently, and probably would know the names of people who live there, but nothing about security codes and the like... no more than a decker would know how to cast spells.

I agree with Jaron... the more technical types of questions relating to security, computers codes, even papers... most spirits won't be able to answer (remember, you can't actually read from astral space).

For anything technical I would use a TN of about 1.5x the OR, and the spirit's intelligence to determine what it knows, depending on how many successes it has (0-4... the more successes, the more it knows)

For people, where rooms are, magic related... it probably knows. Spirits can be helpful.... but they really just want to get back to their astral couch.... so they'll give you direct answers.

i.e. a spirit might tell you where them security office is if you ask.... and not bother telling you there's a big meeting of honchos and tons of extra security in place just down the hall from that office.
Cynic project
Now I could be wrong ehre,I know have been. Where does it say that nature spirits are anything but manfatacions(sp) of mana? Where does ti say that they knwo anything that couldn't be explained away as the the sahaman makign the ipressions on to it.. After all twho shamans int he same room do nto always summon the same spirit. And 50 shamanscan summon up 50 spirits in a club....
Fygg Nuuton
As I generally see spirits coming from wherever they come from, and then returning to wherever it is they come from (metaplanes probably) I don't know how much the spirit would know.

I find it hard to believe theres going to be a spirit of the force you want and the type you want floating around in the area your in with the information you need. Also, it should still have an ettiquette test, forcing someone or somehting to tell you something won't always get you the answer you want.

As I rule spirits aren't always roaming around for no reason, except free spirits which you can't summon normally, you can ask all you want, but they probably won't know what you need.

Also, remember, summoning spirits to ask questions because you have low social skills is not a loophole wink.gif
QUOTE (Fygg Nuuton)

Also, remember, summoning spirits to ask questions because you have low social skills is not a loophole wink.gif

Etiquette is (street) 3/5 for the character Figgy. Not looking for a loophole, just trying to find more ways to relate the character to the world around him. I always saw spirits as someting that is going to interact more with the shaman than the more or less mindless elementals. Spirit Affinity especially seems to add to this, since spirits that you summon multiple times can remember you.

As for getting a spirit of whatever strength, I see the conjuring test as being able to strengthen the spirits ability by channeling more mana into it. After all, there's no way that every single building you go into is going to have a great form spirit. But with invoking, every spirit you summon has the ability to become great form, purely through the strength of the summoner. This seems to support the idea that the spirit's strength is based on how much mana the conjurer can push into it, much like casting a spell.

Quick reference on hearth spirits from the adventure Mercurial :
if treated with great courtesy, the spirit may take a liking to the shaman who conjures it (especially if the guy is knowledgeable about rock and roll and at least marginally cool). In such case, the spirit ma invite the shaman to drop by for a chat. But only after "You've got your act together dude. This shottin' and killin' stuff just ain't my bag, know what I mean? Peace, Love, and waterbeds!" Spirits often speak ancient tongues, abd this one talks in late 20th century rocker slang.

Basically saying that (at least to my interpretation) this isn't the kind of spirit that hangs around in a metaplane and only appears when it's summoned. It woulnd't have that much personality otherwise. And this isn't a free spirit, this is the hearth spirit of Underworld 93.

Like I said before Fygg, it's your game, and you do it how you want, that's fine. I agree with doing an ettiquette test as well as conjuring, because if you're trying to ask it questions and not jsut commanding it, assuming that it's an entity with a personality of it's own, then yeah, you would have to relat well to it. Otherwise you get all those cryptic answers that spirits and divination are famous for. Just my interpretation
Never mind
QUOTE (Cynic Project)
Where does it say that nature spirits are anything but manfatacions(sp) of mana?

it doesn't. but it also doesn't say that spirits are mindless automata, either. the books are very deliberately nonspecific on exactly what spirits are, metaphysically speaking.

personally, i'm of the opinion that it varies from summoner to summoner. one shaman might create a temporary mind-construct from the ambient mana and shape it into the personality he desires. one mage might have a list of elementals he's met and befriended on his contacts list; whenever he needs something, he spends a few hours contacting them and promising various favors, and they drop by to see what he needs.
Have done this very thing at least twice. The first and most memorable was the summoning of a sewer spirit that manafested as a talking pile of sewer crap. After we asked it directions the mercs we were tracking took though it's domain and dismissed it, I spoke up to the group and said "Do you realize we just summoned Mr Hanky and asked him for directions." Much to the mirth of the group who all got a good laugh out of it.
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