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ID: 5769


May 17, 2009, 5:18 pm

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Spirits of Tradition


When a mission becomes something more.

They didn’t smell right, said Chras Angilar from the start. No one ever heard of their mercenary company, but they hired out pretty cheap so they were on board.

Mercenaries they weren’t. Too disciplined, too quiet, too well equipped, old weapons Chras has never seen. When others got drunk before the battle, they kept back. Grim fellows, looked like preparing for the end of days. But it was an easy job, minor noble got too big for his boots. Kill him and there’s gonna be cash.

The next day, when they formed, the sky suddenly went black. Unholy creatures swarmed out, the enemy looked like demons, that wasn’t in the contract!

Half of them were routed, many killed. But the outlanders held the line. Their odd weapons were effective on those monsters. If they were afraid they didn’t show. The survivors grouped behind them and the host broke through. The enemy has retreated.

It is nice to celebrate victory, but Chras knew that a) he won’t be paid and b) he won’t face those creatures again, not ever.

At night, when most were asleep, Chras gathered his men. They slit the throats of those ‘mercenaries’. Maybe they were heroes. But their arms were worth a fortune. And the bastards knew what they were facing.

Full Description
A Spirit of Tradition has a completely unremarkable face. Its likeness is defined by what it wears and carries, its equipment and ornamentation. It might be spotted among the members of its tradition, looking like the others do, doing what the others do, ignored as it does not stand out of a crowd.

If one were to look at it with the Second Sight, or in Spirit World, one would see the same unremarkable figure, with more figures standing right behind it, each becoming less remarkable than the one before, forming a large host fading into shadows.

Chras was running, they were close. Shouldn’t have killed that fellow, shouldn’t be caught. Where could he hide? Maybe that temple. They would offer protection, it was said. The priest wouldn’t let him in, until he showed the amulet, as a bribe. Instead he was allowed to rest, got clothes and money. Chras wasn’t stupid, he found that it represents some order or something. Getting money for nothing, that he could do.

A Spirit of Tradition was around for centuries, it cares little for singular men. Important are its symbols and mission; if it recognizes someone compatible, it will attempt to draw the person into its services.

Should it be you, think twice. You will be given power and meaning. But your life will belong to a cause from then on. A Spirit can easily dominate weak minds. Others will be drawn and manipulated to the right goal.

Besides their mission, these Spirits have few principles. Where the recruits come from, they don’t care about either.

Lucky day! Asking around, Chras learned about a cache of weapons that belonged to the order. Climbing up the hill, he was planning how to sell all the loot and where to get away. There were better place to be rich.

When he got out of the masked cave, hands full with treasure, two armies were standing under his hill. One of them had his company, he could see the shields. The other had demons and monsters. It was bigger. The city had no walls to speak of.

For the first time in his life, Chras knew the right thing to do.

This Spirit forms only with intense, multigenerational traditions. A simple army unit or knightly order is not enough. There must be a mission, a purpose, that too many members take too seriously. As generations come and go, the mission takes a life of its own. The mission may be ‘good’ or ‘evil’, doesn’t matter. Most often it is fighting for something or against something.

A Spirit guards over the members of its tradition. It makes sure they are properly motivated and don’t have to worry about secondary concerns. It can keep the business running smoothly for centuries. Few ever learn they have a supernatural support, it mostly works through minor nudges and is busy enough to not appear obvious.

But should its charges be wiped out (accidents happen), a Spirit will act quite desperately to revive its tradition. Nudging becomes much more obvious and painful if you disobey. It may invest significant power in one person, then things get scary.

- "Did I go crazy?" He coughed out some more blood. The battle was over and Chras was the hero. He rode in with a shining armor. He barked orders and they made sense. Men obeyed him. He fought in the first line and won. He knew all about the enemy. When his sword cut down the main bastard and he fell apart into ash, he knew it wasn’t over, that it will come back. And there was something he was supposed to say…
- "Take this sword."

Getting rid of one
This is not a stray ghost, it belongs to the world of Living. Forget your common exorcism.

Barring some extreme magics with unknown side effects, the only way to destroy it is to persuade it, that it’s mission was achieved. That might be hard.

You could also kill all followers of the tradition, destroy all of its signature items and all the documents, that can be found. Then hope the spirit doesn’t find anyone suitable. It should fade in a few centuries.

Plot Hooks
- The wrong guy - a wholly inappropriate person is ‘touched by fate’ and has to be rescued. What looks like random insanity turns out to be more of a spirit possession. The spirit won’t release him, unless if finds somebody more suitable.
- Bury it - after a certain group was exterminated and reassembled several times, somebody must find a permanent solution.
- Bring it back - a group of legendary warriors is needed, but they are dead… or is there a way to bring them back?

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Comments ( 11 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

May 17, 2009, 17:18
Updated: Out with ya! This was inspired by, of all things, "The Mummy". I watched it for like five minutes and wondered, how on earth would a small secretive society survive for three thousand years with its agenda intact, when there is no pressure to follow their goal (and the world doesn't stop turning either).

This spirit is an answer to this question - if you need it.
Voted DrTurtlesse
May 17, 2009, 18:54
I like the idea of a mission "taking on a life of its own" in this way. Neat existential enemy. Good sub!
May 17, 2009, 19:15
Thanks. Of course, it doesn't have to be an enemy - it may be your friendly supernatural sponsor you won't be aware of until it turns your life on its head. :)
Voted Scrasamax
May 18, 2009, 14:10
THe Mummy is a good inspiration, but I also found myself thinking of the venerable crusader from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, his mission to defend the grail. While he wa a single man supported by the water of a divine cup, an order with a larger goal could endure, creating these spirits. I like this.
May 19, 2009, 15:45
*pats head* Why did I get inspired by a cheap knockoff, when I could have been enlightened by the original!

Long live Indiana Jones!
Voted sverigesson
May 19, 2009, 10:49
Good idea. I was a little confused at first regarding the method of how exactly this works, but a good post nonetheless. It could be tweaked a tiny bit, but over all, a good sub.
May 19, 2009, 15:48
Most of the time, it wouldn't be really noticeable. It's the moments, when the mission is endangered, when things get weird.

(Now also linked to a few related submissions.)
Voted Cheka Man
May 19, 2009, 10:53
A very hard kind of spirit to beat.
Voted valadaar
May 21, 2009, 11:14
I get a feeling of the Force here as well. You could view both the good side of the force and the bad side of the force having such spirits available to them.

An excellent idea Manfred!
July 27, 2011, 15:33

A good and solid idea, but I cannot see how to make it useful. 

July 27, 2011, 15:57
Recheck the plot hooks and the comments. If you use some long-standing group in your campaign that your PCs will interact with, you may consider 'equipping' it with this spirit. Then, endanger the mission and let it either attempt to recruit them or work against them.

Why, if they destroy some opposition group, copycats arise again, and again? Or, if they got drawn into 'the mission', how can they get out of it?

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