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    Canonfire :: View topic - Purifying Food, Water, and...a Corpse?!
    Canonfire Forum Index -> Greyhawk- AD&D 2nd Edition
    Purifying Food, Water, and...a Corpse?!
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    GreySage

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    Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:54 am  
    Purifying Food, Water, and...a Corpse?!

    I could've sworn this came up somewhere in one of our many posts, but I cannot seem to find it, so here goes (another zany Lanthorn query):

    Will the 1st level cleric spell "Purify Food and Water" allow the caster to negate the effects of decomposition on a carcass or corpse?

    I ruled it would, whether or not the cleric intended to eat the carcass or corpse.

    To me, if the spell restores food (consisting of organic matter, whether flesh or plant in nature), then it shouldn't matter as to the 'type.' It either works, or it doesn't.

    Thusly, on the creative side of spell-casting, I had an inventive, if desperate, priest cast this spell on a dead comrade to reverse the disgusting effects of decomposition so they could more easily transport the dead person (with the ultimate hopes of Raising him). Perhaps, though, in this vein, it would only 'restore' the dead person's condition to 'freshly killed' status on the order of a day of decomposition per level.

    Ideas, comments, thoughts?

    -Lanthorn
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    Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:17 am  

    Ha Lanthorn - I cannot help but think of Miracle Max "Mostly Dead!" I think your rulling in the first instance would be the one I would have chosen, but there is a catch. I believe the spell works on once cubic foot of "food" per level of the caster. So if the dead fellow is small and lean a relatively low level priest could succeed in stopping the rot, however if Conan the barbarian is dead and the priest is but a novice ... it could get ugly -"hey man at least your face looks good!"
    In regards to the second aspect, I think a two or three days of composition could be cured by the priest in a single cast as long as they are high enough level to purify the total mass of the dead individual. A lot depends on the temperature and humidity though, as fresh butchered meat can hang for a long while in a cool barn in the fall before it even begins to spoil. Not true for the dead in a blazing tropical jungle where the dead bloat and spawn maggots in a matter of hours.

    -GreyMaus
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    Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:20 am  



    Last edited by BlueWitch on Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:50 pm  

    Excellent input, both of you. BW, great factoid about the mass of flesh. Morbid, but very interesting (that's the scientist in me).

    The main reason to cast this spell was to make transportation easier and less disgusting for the party. Besides, a rotting corpse is likely to fall apart, literally, in transit. Furthermore, horses are less apt to convey a smelly, decomposing corpse. Also, there's the very distinct threat of disease transmission.

    -Lanthorn
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:45 pm  
    Re: Purifying Food, Water, and...a Corpse?!

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Will the 1st level cleric spell "Purify Food and Water" allow the caster to negate the effects of decomposition on a carcass or corpse?

    No (mostly). You are grasping at straws a bit. Purify food and drink does not negate the effects of decomposition, meaning the physical changes. It only makes food/drink safe to consume. Besides, there is a spell that preserves corpses, embalm, from the Complete Book of Necromancers (I think there is another similar spell somewhere else too), and it is a 2nd level spell because preserving a corpse is more important in the game than it is to purify food and water. So, you should be taking the spell name a bit more literally, and apply it to carcasses (slaughtered and gutted remains that is) at the most and not to corpses in general.

    3E+ actually has a perfect spell for this, called gentle repose. See it HERE.
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    GreySage

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    Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:36 pm  
    Re: Purifying Food, Water, and...a Corpse?!

    Cebrion wrote:

    No (mostly). You are grasping at straws a bit.


    Maybe true, from a literal perspective. Embarassed But you make some good counters (more on that momentarily).

    Quote:
    Purify food and drink does not negate the effects of decomposition, meaning the physical changes. It only makes food/drink safe to consume.


    Not sure I agree with that statement, given the description of the spell: "When cast, this spell makes spoiled, rotten, poisonous, or otherwise contaminated food and water pure and suitable for eating and drinking."

    Rot and spoiling is caused by decomposition, after all, the metabolic toil of microbes. Thusly, the spell should negate their effects.

    However, I do agree that other spells do exist that are likely better suited for the task and purpose of preventing decomposition of corpses. You mentioned the 2nd level wizard (Necromantic school) spell, "Embalm." You are correct. It is tailor made for this purpose.

    Furthermore, in the same guide there is a 3rd lvl cleric spell (Necromantic sphere as well) called "Spirit Bind" that, when cast (in time), will anchor the dead recipient's spirit to the body permanently. This has the effect of increasing chances of Raising/Resurrection, 'holds' the effects of rotting and decomposition, AND keeps natural scavengers at bay (they avoid the body thusly protected).

    The only accessory question I may pose is, If the caster doesn't reach the body in the given allotted time to anchor the spirit to the body after death (only 1 round per level), even though the spirit is gone to the afterworld, is it still possible to reap the other benefits of the spell (preservative effects, for instance)? For a 3rd lvl spell, I'd hope so.

    Quote:
    3E+ actually has a perfect spell for this, called gentle repose. See it HERE.


    Thanks for the link to the spell description. The only 2e spell that comes close is the one I mentioned earlier.

    much thanks for your input,

    Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:39 pm  

    As an afterthought, wondering if "Cure Disease" could be used as well, even though the 'creature affected' is deceased (Necromantic spells can be cast on dead things, after all). But maybe that doesn't reverse the effects of rot and decomposition, but only destroys the agents that cause it.

    Coincidentally, there's a 3rd lvl priest spell in The Tome of Magic called "Slow Rot," but it only affects plants, darn it! Confused Nor is there an 'animal' equivalent mentioned either. Drat!

    This makes me think the closest equivalent for corpses and carcasses would be the aforementioned "Spirit Bind" spell.

    -Lanthorn
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:49 am  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Rot and spoiling is caused by decomposition, after all, the metabolic toil of microbes. Thusly, the spell should negate their effects.


    Oh no, you are totally not over thinking it. Laughing The spell is not called incorruptible corpse, but purify food and drink. It's purpose is very specific. The spell is not designed to take into account somebody saying, "You know, something might possibly be able to eat this, therefore I guess we could classify it as 'food', and so the spell will now affect it." In the broadest sense, it would be permissible to allow the spell to affect what the caster (or, more importantly, the caster's faith) would define as "food and drink". That would be the extreme limit of what I would allow, because the spell isn't meant to be used to the purpose you are arguing for. It is meant to purify spoiled, tainted, or poisoned food and drink, not make corpses incorruptible.

    Keep the spell specific and simple. It is a 1st level spell, so don't make it more than it is, because it is not, and should not be, more than it is. The spell will affect the moldering rations a character might find on the corpse of a dead adventurer, but it won't affect the dead adventurer's corpse because the dead adventurer is not *food*, but *dead adventurer*.

    Also, what I mean by not negating decomposition is that the spell doesn't turn dessicated food into plump, juicy food. It will still be dried out, rotten meat will still look gray-green and horrible, water will still taste "off" ("Hey! Did you just fill our water skins from the pond with the corpses floating in it?"), etc., but it all will be safe to consume. I also take it to mean that the food/water will not taste so horrible that characters would be choking it down, but neither are they consuming something that is oh so tasty. That might explain why the material components of the spell are a chlorine tablet and one of those tiny bottles of TABASCO. Laughing
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    GreySage

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    Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:09 am  

    I would agree with Cebrion's position if we were discussing a tournament-style game. However, D&D is all about creativity and PCs being able to do absolutely anything their player can think of.

    Therefore, I err on the side of allowing a PC to use spells in creative ways. That also represents the spellcaster tweaking the spell - experimenting - to make it do something slightly different. Tweaking too far increases the power of the spell and moves it to a new spell level (which is what I think Cebrion's main point of contention is), but that can be determined by DM and player.

    To balance this particular spell, I would simply suggest that you allow the PC spellcaster to use it in that manner, but make the duration about half what one of those higher-level spells would have. If the spellcaster doesn't have access to one of those higher-level spells, perhaps such experimentation is what leads to his personal discovery of one of them. Once he's cast Purify Food and Drink in this manner several times, he realizes how to perfect it, though as a higher level spell, and poof!, he's discovered Embalm, Spirit Bind, or Gentle Repose. Smile

    SirXaris
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    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:01 am  

    So, I guess that, through "creative interpretation", I can get this 1st level spell to affect pretty much any sort of substance that I want it to, just so long as I can think of something that would be able to eat said substance, and this spell will keep said substance pure and inviolable permanently. I guess that the spell is also obviously intended to be useful in preserving metal too, because metal is food for xorns, and xorns consider rust to be "decay"...er..."mineral decomposition". Yeah, that's the ticket! Happy

    "So, why has your steel sword not rusted into nothingness a long time ago Mr. Sea Elf? You've only had it in the sea for a few hundred years now."

    "I had a priest of the God of Rules Lawyers cast purify food and drink on it."

    "What?! what does the spell purify food and drink have to do with anything?"

    "Well, you see, it's all about the xorns apparently..."

    Razz

    Besides, if characters want to fight the effects of decomposition on a dead party member's corpse there are these things called barrels of wine/ale/mead/beer/spirits. Dunk. In goes the corpse. Fights decomposition for many, many weeks, and I am pretty sure that even 1st-2nd level characters can get hold of one of these rarities. That is called creative thinking. And nobody had to take a hammer to a spell/rule to do it. Wink

    This isn't about creative use though, but creative interpretation of capability that exceeds the spell's function, and more importantly that creates an effect that duplicates a higher level spell. There is no more obvious a red flag than that. Does the spell un-corrupt dead tissue? Yes. *But* only dead tissue that is food. Dead tissue that is corpse is unaffected. The spell isn't purify food and drink and corpses. Also, as if I even needed to go into it more, purify food and drink is an ALL Sphere Alteration spell. Spells that affect corpses are Necromancy spells, or Necromancy/Alteration spells. That alone should be enough to point one in the right direction as to not only what the purify food and drink spell is intended to do (if the spell name wasn't obvious enough), but also what the spell is capable of affecting. Basically, if you want to affect a corpse with a spell then you will need to use a spell with a Necromancy (and maybe Alteration) designation.

    Also, "tweaking" a spell is called spell research, and rules for doing so were purposely included. Even a 1st level character can use them, though what they can do is of course limited by their level. Existing spellcna give pleyr ideas, but the experiments don't give the desired results; only the end result - the successfully researched spell - does. Tweaking a spell is a bit different than creatively using a spell too. Using a web spell to catch a falling character and so avoid massive falling damage, instead of using it for its intended purpose, is a creative use of a spell. Using a purify food and drink spell, which only purifies food and drink, to preserve something that is obviously not food or drink, is not.

    Or just avoid all of this, think creatively, and just go get that barrel of wine/beer/ale/spirits and put it to good use. There's one right over there in the dungeon, and those dead orcs/cultists/whatevers that your characters just wiped out just so happen to not be needing it any longer.

    Just accept that some things are beyond the capabilities of 1st-2nd level characters, or even higher level characters who just don't have the right spell when they need it.

    Enter the barrel of wine/ale/mead/beer/spirits, and when the characters are done pickling a corpse buddy in their alcoholic beverage of choice, the cleric can cast purify food and drink and it can then be imbibed in celebration! Laughing
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    Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:16 am  

    They are certainly going to want that old purify food and drink spell to cast on the barrel of wine, ale, etc. once they pull their dead buddy out of it.
    GreySage

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    Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:28 pm  

    I agree with all your points, Cebrion.

    However, I think that denying any but the strictest interpretation of the spell description is more in line with 'rules-lawyering' than allowing such interpretation to be bent a bit. Wink

    My entire point was that there isn't a spell for every situation and many times PCs should be able to do something that their PCs don't seem to have the capacity to do because there is no rule/spell/ability for. I find it perfectly acceptable to allow creative bending of the uses of spells to cover such situations.

    Your idea for pickling a corpse in alcohol is an excellent one, and a good alternative to bending the rules for the Purify Food and Drink spell. Unfortunately, I hadn't thought of that possibility and I assume that neither Lanthorn, nor his player(s) had either. They did think of a different possibility, though. If they had thought about pickling, this issue would never have come up, but nobody can think of everything during the course of the game night. Alternatives should be allowed, though I admit that the extreme-ness of any allowable idea is up to each individual DM. Smile

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    Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:30 pm  



    Last edited by BlueWitch on Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:20 pm  

    I like the idea of players thinking outside the box and trying to come up with unique solutions to problems.

    I do not see much of a problem with a DM allowing this. Especially when the outcome probably didn't effect the game significantly. If I read correctly, they were just trying to save themselves some smell, etc problems.

    I think I would have probably thrown the players a bone and had some type of positive impact as well. Maybe not completely what they wanted but something anyway. Maybe cut down on the smell or maggot infestation for a little while.

    I do agree, however, that this type of DM interpretations have to be limited or scaled appropriately.

    Play on . . .
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    Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:00 pm  

    I like the out-of-the-box thinking.

    Certainly I'd allow it to make the dead fellow's meat suitable to eat, and hence not decay, so long as they can cast it on that volume of flesh.

    Resurrection is interesting. If the PCs let it decay for several days, then purify and resurrect I don't think it'll work. The ruptures from decay, holes from various burrowing grubs (like maggots), etc will result in many small injuries. Purifying won't remove those injuries, just result in meat that is suitable for human/demihuman consumption. So I reckon they'd have to purify the body daily to keep it in a fit state for resurrection.

    Just my 2cp, YMMV.


    Last edited by surfarcher on Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:08 am; edited 1 time in total
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:04 am  

    There would be no need to re-cast the purify food and drink spell daily because the spell has a duration of permanent, not instantaneous, so there is no need for re-purifying. Under your open interpretation, one casting of the spell makes the body not rot forever. One would need only keep the bugs and other critters from chewing on it. The spell does not replace material though, so anything rotted away/eaten would remain gone. Also, resurrection only requires bones (one assumes bone dust is sufficient for very old remains) to bring back the individual. Raise dead is the spell that requires a body with all needed organs present, attached, and relatively whole. If a corpse is shriveled up, but has all of its needed organs present, intact, and attached, you are good to go to raise dead. A body that has been dead for not even a minute, but that has half of its heart eaten away, requires a resurrection spell. Also, resurrection can be cast on a body that has been dead up to 10 years per level of the caster; raise dead can only be cast on a body that has been dead for up to one day per level of the caster. There are necromantic spells that allow for this time limit to be lengthened due to preserving the corpse. Purify food and drink is obviously not one of them.

    SirXaris wrote:
    However, I think that denying any but the strictest interpretation of the spell description is more in line with 'rules-lawyering' than allowing such interpretation to be bent a bit. Wink

    You need to look up the term "rules lawyer", because your usage of the term here is contextually the antithesis of what a rules lawyer is. A rules layer argues for their own benefit, and so would say that, since this spell eradicates decomposition in food, it can eradicate decomposition in anything similar; an accomplished rules lawyer (and I have known a few of them , which is why I am fairly competent in taking apart arguments such as the one in this thread) would say that it can be applied to anything that could be considered to be "food" in any way.

    SirXaris wrote:
    My entire point was that there isn't a spell for every situation and many times PCs should be able to do something that their PCs don't seem to have the capacity to do because there is no rule/spell/ability for. I find it perfectly acceptable to allow creative bending of the uses of spells to cover such situations.

    I agree that creative spell use can have its moments, but this is not such a case. There is a spell for the situation- the PCs just apparently don't have it. So, as DM, you would just give the players a mulligan rather than say, "Too bad for you." and force them to either live with it/extricate heads from betwixt buttocks and come up with another solution?

    [We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming: "SirXaris's AD&D Campaign! W00T!]

    Player 1: "...so the cleric is unconscious, and everyone else is wounded nearly to death, but my wizard can get plenty of [/i]mending[/i] spells. So...seeing as a body can be considered to be an animate "object", my wizard is going to, "creatively thinking", apply his mending spells as cure moderate wounds spells, and so "mend" everyone by altering their flesh/muscle/bone from a damaged state to an undamaged state, this mending them."

    DM SirXaris: "You sir, are a GENIUS! Go right ahead! No, never mind that you are using an alteration spell to create a necromancy effect, or that you are using a 1st level spell to create a 2nd level effect. Roll the dice my good man!"

    Or would that example somehow be flawed? Laughing Yes, I am poking fun here, but it is literally the same situation concerning the purify food and drink spell in the orignal post here, as "food" does not = "corpse", "alteration magic" does not = "necromantic magic", and "1st level spell" does not = "2nd level spell". If that still does not convince anyone of the error of thinking that it does, and that you would still allow this usage of a purify food and drink spell, I dub thee "Wuss DMs", and revoke your DM licenses! Razz
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    Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:40 pm  

    Yes it was Raise Dead I was thinking of, not Resurrection. Apologies for the mixups, it's been too long since I worked closely with 2e spells :) I'm preparing to run the 1e/2e Greyhawk material under D&D Next.

    Under "Next" Gentle Repose extends the time limits for Raise Dead and similar spells. Purify Food and Drink doesn't explicitly render target material immune to future aging and decomposition. The existence of Gentle Repose in that system implies that purify shouldn't be used for this purpose.

    I'm interested to know what the equivalent 2e Cleric spell is. I spent a while looking in my 2e Player's Handbook and online without any luck. If such a spell does exist it infers that purify shouldn't be used for this purpose.


    Last edited by surfarcher on Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:22 pm  

    Yes, Cebrion, that is all correct.

    However, my point, again, is that I am more willing to allow players to bend the rules in order to accomplish their goals than you, apparently, are.

    A D&D campaign is not the same as a MtG tournament. In such a tournament, if you don't have the exact card you need/want, you can't bend the rules of another card to do something similar. D&D is explicitly not that kind of a game. Players are supposed to be able to do anything they want. The spells listed in the game are only a sampling of typical spells available. In my campaign, I assume there is a different variation of Cure Light Wounds for every god that grants such spells to its clerical servants. However, trying to write out each of those variations is not a practical exercise, so we just use Cure Light Wounds as written as a good representation of the most common aspects of the 1st level healing spells granted by all such gods.

    Likewise with every other spell - divine and arcane. Many wizards, for example, have successfully researched and used various guardian spells, but most of them are far less efficient than Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound. Thus, everyone who has acquired access to that particular spell favors it over the other variations they have discovered and that spell is the one most familiar to all arcane spellcasters.

    So, in my campaign, if a party of adventurers happens to have a spellcaster, but that spellcaster (for whatever reason) doesn't have access to Gentle Repose, et. al., but does have access to Purify Food and Water and reasonably describes how he hopes to manipulate that spell to mimic the effects of Gentle Repose (albeit poorly), I am happy to grant that player some small success. I think it would be in poor taste for me, as the DM - charged with seeing to it that the players have the opportunity to tell a great story - to deny them this possibility simply because it didn't agree with the rules of the spell as written.

    SirXaris
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    Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:49 pm  

    Bending rules, sure that can be acceptable depending on the situation, but obliterating them, no. That is what is called a mulligan, not a great story.

    surfarcher wrote:
    Under "Next" Gentle Repose extends the time limits for Raise Dead and similar spells. Purify Food and Drink doesn't explicitly render target material immune to future aging and decomposition.

    A duration of Instantaneous would mean that this is so, meaning the spell happens, it does what it does, but that it is purified at that point in time and that the normal rate of decomposition would then continue again from that point. A duration of permanent means that the effect is permanent, meaning no further decomposition. The spell's description does countermand this though, and in the Priest's Spell Compendium Vol. 2 the duration is changed to properly to be Instantaneous for this reason.
    surfarcher wrote:
    I'm interested to know what the equivalent 2e Cleric spell is. I spent a while looking in my 2e Player's Handbook and online without any luck. If such a spell does exist it infers that purify shouldn't be used for this purpose.

    The name of the spell itself infers that it should not be used on corpse, let alone that the spell is a non-necromantic spell, such that it can't be used on a corpse. Also, an equivalent cleric spell is not needed to tell us intent, just as there being no wizard healing spells does not serve to imply the intent that a mending spell should be able to be used to heal people. The reason for that is because arcane and divine magic do not always interact with things in the same ways. As to the 2E cleric spell equivalent to embalm, there is none. The closest clerical spell is the 3rd level spell spirit bind, which does much more than just preserve a corpse.

    But that is what spell research is for, and clerics can research spells too- they just do it in a different way than wizards do.
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    GreySage

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    Sat Nov 23, 2013 10:13 am  

    Cebrion wrote:
    The closest clerical spell is the 3rd level spell spirit bind, which does much more than just preserve a corpse.


    If the priest fails to get to the corpse in time to anchor the spirit, but still intends to cast "Spirit Bind" to preserve the corpse, would this work? In essence, do the secondary and tertiary effects (preservation and repelling natural predators/scavengers) work regardless if the primary one (binding the spirit to the body) is in effect, or not? Is this spell an "All or Nothing" kind of deal? Or can the body be preserved intact by using the spell if the spirit is not bound to it? Just wondering your thoughts.

    -Lanthorn
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    Sat Nov 23, 2013 10:38 am  

    I'm not saying you need an spell equivalent to Gentle Repose to contraindicate using Purify in the manner we are discussing. I am saying the existence of an equivalent would support not using Purify in this manner. Certainly there are other ways to determine contraindication.

    Does undecayed meat enable Raise Dead? Possibly not. It may be Gentle Repose or similar does more than simply prevent decomposition. That there's some life magic aspect (hence the Necromantic tag). Yeah, I buy that.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Sun Nov 24, 2013 4:31 am  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    If the priest fails to get to the corpse in time to anchor the spirit, but still intends to cast "Spirit Bind" to preserve the corpse, would this work? In essence, do the secondary and tertiary effects (preservation and repelling natural predators/scavengers) work regardless if the primary one (binding the spirit to the body) is in effect, or not? Is this spell an "All or Nothing" kind of deal? Or can the body be preserved intact by using the spell if the spirit is not bound to it? Just wondering your thoughts.


    "Spirit bind must be cast on the body of the deceased within one round of the individuals' death, for every level of experience of the caster."

    The spell's effects are not compartmentalized in any way. Either the caster meets the time limit requirements for casting the spell, or they can't use it at all.
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    Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:43 am  

    Fair enough. I was discussing this with my fellow gamer buddy, and that was his assessment, too.

    I have enjoyed the dialogue thus far and appreciate everyone's contributions to this thread. As always, I thank you all for your input, regardless of your stance. Undoubtedly, there will be more 'Lanthorn Queries' to come!

    If anyone has something to add to this thread, of course, chime right in.

    -Lanthorn
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