In the countryside, far from the security of city walls, the people often feel they need all the help they can get. As a result some strange and ancient traditions survive to this day. The art of making a spirit beacon is one such tradition, and most country hamlets will have one.
There seems to be no standard method for constructing a beacon. The basic item can be almost anything (a standing stone, a tree, an earthenware statue, a woven carpet, etc), nor is the physical size important (anything from a few inches to several feet tall seems to work just as well). In truth much of what is seen is really only decoration anyway, although the locals may not recognise this fact and will often, if asked, vehemently deny it.
Similarly there is no commonly accepted name for these items and each hamlet or village seems to use a different title based on such things as how the item is constructed or where its' power is believed to originate.
Despite all the variations all spirit beacons share several common design features, which is hardly surprising since they all perform the same basic function (see Magical Properties below).
First there is always an inscription carved, woven, painted, or otherwise indelibly inscribed onto the item. This inscription can be written in any language from some arcane runic script or virtually indecipherable pictograms to the normal everyday written language, but its' meaning is always the same. This is a spell designed to produce a kind of low powered magical beacon on the spirit plane. In some of the more religious areas the spell is often worded as a prayer to a favoured deity, although this is not strictly necessary.
Something indicative or representative of the type of spirit the beacon is intended to attract is normally incorporated into the design (a corn dolly for grain spirits, a lump of coal for spirits of hearth and home, etc). This is required to 'fine tune' the beacon, making it specific to the type of spirit required. In theory, several such items can be included, allowing the beacon to attract several different types of useful spirit.
There must also be a small quantity of dragons' blood which, being inherently magical, powers the beacon. Of course, since there are no more dragons (or none that anybody knows about) dragons' blood is rare indeed, however crystallised blood may still occasionally be found in the places where dragons once roamed, and this is perfectly adequate for the task (and much safer to obtain than fresh blood).
Finally there is something that identifies the village or community who created the beacon. This is essential, for without it the spirits attracted to the beacon might not be friendly to the community. It is this that leads to the many variations of form these items take.
Spirit beacons are most often used by small country villages to attract the more useful types of minor spirit (household/hearth spirits, grain spirits, healing spirits, etc). The village shaman is than responsible for negotiating deals between these spirits and the villagers (refer to Folk Magic for more information on this).
A spirit beacon, as its' name suggests, creates a beacon on the spirit plane designed to attract one of more specific kinds of spirit and guide them down to the mundane plane. In theory a beacon can be attuned to almost any kind of spirit. Note that it does not provide any means of either controlling or trapping the spirits it attracts.
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? Responses (15)-15
I like it. It is a general class of item, rather than a single mythic piece. It will define some of the campaign when used. Well produced piece that is fairly complete. While I know it is not most peoples cup of tea (insert caffinated beverage of choice)- and they will vote lower than I (which is good, I voted high to help balance that) - it is a perfect fit and feel for many campaigns.
Thank you Moon - from you that is praise indeed
too drowsey to review properly, but enjoyed it thouraghly
4.5/5 rounded up to a 5. I liked the post very much, just not enough to award top score. As an old 'RuneQuester' souls and spirits occupy much of my time ;)
As a sidenote Cap and I are working on an Ageratos city state. For this city I created two spirit items and thought of, but did not implement, a circle of stones that functioned much like this item (with the exception that priests had to pray in the middle of the stones to attract spirits). I discarded it and turned the idea into a sending (of dead souls) ritual instead. More will come in the Ageratos thread in the future as I and Cap begin fleshing the city out.
Now, you could also builda malevolent spirit beacon, attracting unpleasant spirits of madness, malady and misfortune, thus cursing a locale, much like salting the fields...
'And thus spoke the Conqueror Malevor to the defeated: 'This statue of me shall remind you of your lowliness and make sure your humility never falters.' and so it happened that smiles were rere indeed in Athamos.'
Yes Echo, you're quite right. Magic is neither 'good' nor 'evil', and any magical tradition can be used for good or ill.
Oh by the way AG, I too am a RuneQuester (mostly) so I tend to think in terms of spirits, ghosts, and the like.
Reading the comments I notised something, Moon voted high to hlp balance out other people votinglow, but 5 seemed to be a pretty common vote on this item.
Love it! plots forming in my head as I write this...
This is a wonderful submission. A fresh idea, to me anyway since it began back in 05, but it can be used for so many things. The 'salting of the fields' remark is a great idea and could even be used as a plot idea.
The players are sent to an area to find out why there is an increase in problems, undead, spirits, etc and must find the beacon and get rid of it or destroy it. Great ideas.
Deserves a vote, and a loud BUMP!
My crawlers dungeon was somewhat inspired by these. A version of the spirit beacons was used therein. It is Coldforged-bleak and macabre, so it is not for the faint of heart. (I put a link in suggested submissions)
4/5 very nice, Ill try to come up w/ an idea for this(eventualy)
A great basic idea with lots of potential uses! Great stuff.