Spirit-calling is a magical tradition widely practiced in the Clanlands to the east of the Sianin Mountains. It requires substantial indoctrination before it can be practiced properly. When a would-be conjurer’s training is complete, a sponsor must perform a Spirit Call for the seneschal of a given type of animal spirit. (In the absence of a sponsor, the seneschal may be sought out in Dream, in a manner similar to the quest for an Animal Mask). The seneschal bears a scroll which the new conjuror must sign in blood. This covenant can only be sealed with one totem species, so would-be conjurors are advised to choose their sponsor wisely.
Thereafter, by shedding a drop of blood and calling out, the conjuror may summon a spirit of that animal type from Dream. If one knows the proper names, one may call specific individuals, or even a group all at once. The spirit animals summoned can speak the conjurer’s language and will usually cooperate, although it is wise to speak to a spirit with appropriate manners. (The bulk of a conjuror’s training is in this etiquette, and in the names and ranks of the various spirits.) Spirit animals may fight for their ally, help with a task, or even bring magical powers to bear on a problem. But none will fight to the death, because if killed, a spirit will never be able to manifest in the mortal realm again. In return for these services, the conjuror’s dream-self may be called on at times to aid his or her totem species in that realm.
The initial contract requires the permanent sacrifice of at least one hp, but the harm done when making a Call is negligible. The strength of the spirit summoned is proportional to the amount of strain taken while making the call: calling a small, weak individual might result in one strain, while at least twenty are necessary to call the seneschal… and more powerful beings exist who might be called. The base difficulty is d8. For each hp beyond the first in the initial sacrifice, the base cost in strain is reduced by one (to a minimum of one fatigue); for each doubling of the initial hp sacrifice, the base difficulty is reduced by one step.
This “spell” was actually inspired by the animal-summoning ninjutsu techniques used in the Naruto anime and manga. It’s an interesting setup that, at least by the time I stopped spending time on the series, had never really been discussed in detail.
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