Improving spirit abilities--possible?

From: Andrew Solovay <asolovay_at_...>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2004 17:29:43 -0700

Paul May <kax_at_...> wrote:
> At 07:24 AM 27/10/04, RRobertson wrote:
>> The "Spirit Ally as Sidekick" combines two rules concepts. One says:
>> "You can't make spirits stronger with HP". The other says: "You can
>> buy up your Sidekick's abilities with HP". My work-arounds were to
>> make Rule 2 over-ride to Rule 1. However, you can always decide to
>> make Rule 1 dominant and, even if the Ally is a Sidekick, not allow
>> HP increases to a Spirit Ally.
>> It's a Glorantho/philosophical point that is clouded by rules.
> Spirits are Otherworld critters and therefore can't change. Doing a
> HQ Challenge and /adding/ an ability (never 'adding to') is the only
> exception as far as I know.

But your *knowledge of* the spirit can change--and possibly the spirit can't use its full abilities until you help it.

Example: I ally my fetish spirit. It used to be a "sword combat" fetish. Now it's an allied spirit with "sword combat", "fight from horseback", and "seduce honest women". Has the spirit changed? No--but my new relationship has made more of the spirit's power available to me.

Example 2: A god can dwindle, through lack of worshippers, until it functions as a mere clan guardian. But as the clan grows, and heroes serve it, and holy men learn more about the god's history and quests, the god's stature can return to what it was. Again, the *god* hasn't changed--but the way it interacts with the mortal world *has* changed, because the mortals have changed how they deal with it.

Example 3: (Not directly apropos, but a useful model) Newby player wants to start out with a "Sword of Instant Death". Narrator says "Sure, put it down as 'Sword of Instant Death 17'." The PC can't use it to kill instantly with any reliability, but that's because he doesn't really know how the sword works. As he spends HPs to buy up his skill, his chance improves--not because the sword changes, but because the PC understands it better. A few campaigns down the road, the player has "Sword of Instant Death 10W3". At that point, he really *can* kill instantly with the very same sword--maybe just by casting the sword's shadow on a victim.

So given those examples, I don't think it's unreasonable to allow an allied spirit's skills to increase. What's going on (in that case) is this: The *spirit* isn't changing, but the character, by spending the HPs, improves his understanding of the spirit's abilities. Maybe the spirit is used to a sword that's shaped like *so* and used like *such*--the PC adapts his weapons and style, and the spirit can help better. Maybe the spirit's "throw fire" magic works better if the PC doesn't wear copper, or holds his hand like *so*, or always puts on the left shoe first--the PC has learned that, and now the magic works better. And maybe by devoting extra time (and ecstatic attention), the PC has enabled the spirit to provide more of the power it always *latently* had.

Does that sound reasonable?

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