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    Voices of the Dead: Part I (The Uli)
    Posted on Fri, May 09, 2003 by Trickster
    kirt writes "Wherein is described the ancestor-worshipping practices of the barbaric peoples of Ull. Two new spells for ancestor-worshipping priests are detailed: Summon Spirit Warriors and Limited Incarnation.

    Voices of the Dead: Part I (The Uli)
    By Kirt
    Used with permission. Do not repost or redistribute without the express consent of the author.

    The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer lists three peoples as practicing ancestor worship: The Wolf Nomads, the Tiger Nomads, and the barbaric people of Ull. In addition, this series of articles will suggest that ancestor worship is common among the Rovers of the Barrens and, for unique historical reasons, the Flan of rural Perrenland. I will present new spells for ancestor worshipping clerics and describe the ancestor-worshipping practices of five lands in the World of Greyhawk.

    The spells presented were chosen to highlight the cultures of their origin, but variations on these spells should be available to clerics in most ancestor worshipping societies. Since spirits (not divinities) provide the spells, they are limited to the 4th level. I know very little about 3E, so any helpful comments would be appreciated.

    The Uli
    Among the Uli, the dead are not worshipped so much feared and obeyed. In Uli society, the strong dominate the weak, and this continues after death. Powerful ancestral spirits bully and intimidate living shamans. In turn, the shamans capture and enslave the weaker spirits of the dead. The dead can take on the bodies of the living by means of Limited Incarnation, while the living exploit the dead with Summon Spirit Warriors.

    Third Edition Spell Version
    Summon Spirit Warriors (Conjuration/Summoning)
    Level 3 Cleric Spell
    Components: Verbal, Somatic, Focus (piece of armor)
    Casting Time: 2 rounds
    Range: 10?
    Effect: Summons spirit warriors
    Duration: 1 turn per level
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: None

    The focus of this spell is a small piece of armor (a square of leather, a scale or link of mail, etc.) that was worn by a person slain in battle, who has not received a funeral service. A cleric with knowledge of this spell must collect the armor piece within one week of the death of its wearer. The cleric then performs a ceremony that binds the soul of the slain person to the piece of armor. Thereafter, that cleric or another may use the armor as the focus for this spell.

    A cleric may cast the spell over multiple pieces of armor; each spell summons into his service one spirit per cleric level or per focal piece of armor (whichever is less). Although unable to speak, the spirit warriors are of average Intelligence and will follow the intent of the commands of the cleric who summoned them. They may move, but not more than 100 yards from the caster. If they are willing servants of the cleric (see below), the cleric need not maintain concentration on them. If they are unwilling servants, the cleric must maintain concentration for the duration of the spell. For any round in which the cleric loses concentration, each spirit is allowed to make a Will save at DC 15 with success indicating that they disappear.

    The spirit warriors disappear individually when ?killed?, or dispelled. For the characteristics of these spirits (including their Fear effect), see the monster descriptions at the end of this article.

    Among good societies, the armor bits used for this spell come from fallen warriors belonging to the tribe or family of the summoning cleric. Their bodies are burned so that they cannot be animated, but they are not given the funeral services that allow their souls to pass to the afterlife. Thus, the souls are available to bind into the armor and remain at the disposition of the cleric. Some warriors give permission to priests to bind their souls should they fall in battle, so that even in death they can continue to serve their people. Usually the warrior agrees to a certain period of service; after this the armor is given a funeral and the soul is freed. If a warrior had no such agreement with a cleric prior to death, his soul is unwilling to be bound. Each use of such unwilling souls is an Evil act, and if the souls used come from outside the cleric?s legitimate purview (village, tribe, etc.), it is a Chaotic act as well. Among the Uli, it is common to bind and enslave the souls of fallen enemies, and then to animate their bodies, as well!

    Limited Incarnation (Conjuration/Summoning, Necromancy)
    Level 3 Cleric Spell
    Components: Verbal, Somatic, Divine Focus (Symbol), possibly Material (Blood)
    Casting Time: 10 rounds
    Range: Touch or Self
    Effect: Allows spirit of a dead person to inhabit and control body of a living person
    Duration: 3 turns per level
    Saving Throw: Negates (if unwilling)
    Spell Resistance: Negates if target has spell resistance

    This spell forces the target to enter a trance-like state that submerges the personality and leaves the body open for a chosen spirit to enter and assume mental control (similar to a Magic Jar spell). The spirit has complete control of the body, but all abilities remain those of the body donor except for Intelligence and Wisdom, which are replaced by those of the spirit. The spirit can use the features of the body including class and level; it cannot use the body to cast spells, regardless of whether the body is that of a spellcaster or the spirit itself knows spells. Faith-based abilities of the spirit (turning undead, a paladin?s protection from evil, etc.), but not the body donor, may be used. Skills and feats of the body-donor (but not the spirit) may be used if they are physical and rely on body-memory (e.g., swimming and riding). Skills and feats from the spirit (but not the body donor) may be used if they are mental and rely on conscious knowledge (e.g. gaming and herbalism).

    Once a spirit is in possession of a body, neither the summoning cleric nor the body donor has any control over its behavior. The spirit may be forced out before the end of the spell duration by Dispel Evil or Exorcism, but not Dispel Magic. Abjure can remove a spirit if its name is known to the caster of the Abjure. The spirit is also forced from the body if the body dies. Removing a spirit before the end of the spell duration does not harm the spirit or the body donor. Whenever a spirit leaves a body, the body donor requires d4 rounds to fully regain control.

    Among the Uli, spirits often take flesh to threaten shamans who have not been sacrificing to them sufficiently, or to pursue rivalries by attacking the shamans who serve other spirits. Spirits who wish to incarnate tell their servant shaman of their desires, and the shamen then find a suitable body donor, willing or otherwise. The Uli favor captives of war to serve as body donors, though they must be careful to restrain them at the end of the spell duration during the few minutes of recovery.

    Because the spell involves a long and complicated ritual centered on the person who is to become the body donor, it may not be cast in combat. Unwilling donors typically are bound or otherwise restrained during the casting. Casting the spell on an unwilling donor is an Evil act, and the victim is allowed a Will save at DC 15. Success indicates that the spell fails, and may not be cast on that person again for 24 hours. If the person whose body is to be used is not a relative of the spirit, casting the spell is a Chaotic act as well. In this case, the body donor must be anointed with blood from a living relative of the spirit as part of the spell casting. If the blood used comes from a direct descendent of the spirit, the saves of unwilling donors are made at DC 20.

    In good societies, this spell is often used on willing donors to allow honored ancestors to attend family celebrations or ceremonies. It is also useful when a spirit wishes to make a public statement. There are even reports of it being used by spirits to father children. The most fulfilling use of the spell, however, is in allowing the spirit to perform some important activity from which an untimely death prevented it. Many spirits retain regrets and frustrated desires; revenge against a specific enemy, repayment of a debt, making a confession of love, etc. (Such motivations are obvious adventure hooks, with the PC?s helping their own ancestors to achieve goals). If a spirit is allowed to incarnate itself and successfully performs such an important act, it will be very relieved and grateful. The cleric who cast the spell will receive the favor of the spirit, plus 100 xp per level of the spirit (the highest level attained in life). The body donor, if (s)he was a willing participant, will receive 50 xp per level of the spirit, plus a bonus of +/- 1 on his or her next save or ability check. If the cleric is both the spell caster and the body donor, these rewards are cumulative.

    Second Edition Spell Versions:
    Summon Spirit Warriors (Conjuration/Summoning)
    Sphere: Summoning, Ancestor
    Range: 100 yards from caster, moves
    Components: V, S, M (Incense, Symbol)
    Duration: 1 turn per level
    Casting Time: 2 rounds
    Area of Effect: Special
    Saving Throw: None

    Unwilling spirits may make a save vs. Spells to leave the material plane when they are not concentrated upon.

    Limited Incarnation (Conjuration/Summoning, Necromancy)
    Sphere: Necromantic, Summoning, Ancestor
    Range: Touch
    Components: V, S, M (Symbol)
    Duration: 3 turns per level
    Casting Time: 5 rounds
    Area of Effect: 1 person
    Saving Throw: Spells
    A target of the spell anointed with the blood of a direct descendent saves at -4.

    WP, Skills, and NWP of the body-donor (but not the spirit) may be used if they are physical and rely on body-memory (e.g., sword proficiency, climbing walls, swimming and riding). Skills and NWP from the spirit (but not the body donor) may be used if they are mental and rely on conscious knowledge (e.g. disarming traps, gaming and herbalism).

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    Re: Voices of the Dead: Part I (The Uli) (Score: 1)
    by GVDammerung on Tue, August 10, 2004
    (User Info | Send a Message | Journal)
    This post addresses all 5 parts. I really like these posts, not so much for the spells as for the insight to ancestor worshipping cultures. You might consider drawing together and expanding just the ancestor worship material, excluding the spells, for a companion article that would be filed under histories. The two could, of course, cross-reference each other. Excellent series of articles. Very nicely done!


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