Universal Spells

Universal Spells


Sense (2)
This spell can be cast in any of the four standard elements. It allows the caster to sense the presence, quantity, and rough location of elemental spirits (not kansen) of that element within the range of the spell. The default range is in the same zone, but shifts can be expended to increase the range as per the Arcane Ladder. This is most frequently applied when looking for spirits with which to Commune (see below), but can also be useful as a crude, basic location device. For example, a caster lost in the wilderness could cast Sense (Water) in hopes of locating a source of drinking water.
Divination, 1 zone

Summon (4)
This spell can be cast in any of the four standard elements. It allows the caster to summon a modest quantity (one cubic foot) of the chosen element. The summoned matter appears (usually in a rough ball shape) in any open space within the caster’s zone. This cannot place the summoned material inside another physical object or living creature. The summoned element will behave in a normal and mundane matter – earth falls to the ground, water soaks anything it lands on, air blows away, and fire winks out unless there is something present for it to burn. In generally, it is impossible to use this spell effectively in combat, although clever shugenja may find a few modest combat uses (such as using Summon (Fire) to ignite a foe soaked in cooking oil). More commonly, the spells value is in simpler functions, such as summoning water while in a desert, or summoning Fire to light a campfire without flint and tinder. Shifts may be spent to increase the range or the amount of material summoned. You can also spend Shifts to summon more specific type of the appropriate element such as wood or iron with Earth, or tea with Water – the GM will decide the number of Shifts appropriate. These shifts cannot be used to create rare/precious materials (such as gold) or spiritually powerful substances such as jade.
Creation, Permanent, Basic Spell (-5)

Commune (1)
This spell can be cast in any of the four standard elements. It allows the caster to speak with one of the local elemental kami, asking it a few questions, which it will answer honestly to the best of its ability. Typically this spell will invoke the most active and energetic spirit of the chosen element in the area of effect; if all of the local spirits are quiescent , the GM may require the caster to succeed with 1 or two shifts to “wake up” a local spirit enough to answer questions.
A spirit reached with Commune will answer two questions. The caster may expend shifts to get more questions (one per question) or clarity, to get a more accurate and informative answer to the questions (Kami are notorious for the inability to fully comprehend human behavior, and asking questions without shifts for clarity can often result in confusing, enigmatic, or incomplete answers). Spirits do not forget anything, so theoretically a shugenja could ask a spirit about something that happened decades ago; however, they also do not experience time in the same way as mortals, so trying to ask about something from long ago will usually require more Shifts in order to make the caster’s wishes clear to the spirit. The nature of the information which spirits can impart varies by element:

  • Air spirits tend to be playful and easily distracted, conveying information as emotions or riddles and jokes. Since they are more interested in feelings than in facts, and enjoy playing games with those who speak with them, communing with air spirits can sometimes be very frustrating.
  • Earth spirits are straightforward and matter-of-fact, often blunt, but are also often rather uninterested in the behavior of mortals, have a poor understanding of human emotion, and tend to be overly focused on obscure details such as the color of a piece of clothing or the weight of a horse.
  • Fire spirits are irritable and tempramental, and are often angry at eing summoned unless they are propitated with an offering of something to burn. On the other hand, if a shugenja can please them they tend to offer the clearest and most accurate information.
  • Water spirits communicate their knowledge through soundless visual images. This can be very helpful to a shugenja trying to investigate a past incident, but since the spirits cannot convey scent, sound, or emotion, the information they provide can often be incomplete or misleading.

The commune spell can also be used to “banish” spirits by entreating them to leave and be replaced with new kami. A shugenja can effectively wipe the zone of spiritual memory by succeeding on a Sense spell with 3 shifts and a Commune spell with 5 shifts for each element.
Divination

Universal Spells

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