Can Spirit Binding Make a Magic Item?

So a player of mine asked me a question about Spirit Binding, phrasing it thusly: “How can I use Spirit Binding to make a magic item?”

So I thought for a minute and said, “Well, if you have a stick, I’d call that a specific medium. Bind the spirit of that stick for some service for some specified duration. Done.”

And then I thought, “Whoa. Why did I never think to do that before?”

Is that a valid use of Spirit Binding? I was sort of under the impression that you had to be within the relevant domain in order to bind - once you leave that particular domain, it’s no good.

But what about taking a piece of a domain with you?

Like, I have a special rock, and I bind the spirit of that particular rock. Ask it to harm the enemy, and hurl it at them. Retribution is easy, because the thing is always there. You wind up creating this love/hate relationship with the spirit in question.

Seriously, have I been missing out on the full potential awesomeness of Spirit Binding?

If you’re looking at the spirit of the specific item (stick or rock) you’re really not leaving that domain, are you? The entire domain is moving! Just be careful of anybody who doesn’t like you approaching with a rock or stick in hand (good advice under any circumstances), because it’s likely that same one! Effectively, you’ve created a temporary-duration magic item.

For additional flavor, try this with Summoning!

Hrm. I dunno. I’m torn. The Spirit Binding chapter really seems to emphasize its “place magic” nature, and that certainly makes for interesting conflicts. Oops, you wandered into the druid’s grove! You’re hosed now! Or, on the flipside, a consequence of failure could be something like, “You’re not in a place where you can bind.” Lots of juicy stuff can be had by keeping Spirit Binders restricted in their ability to call on the spirits, and it gives the Spirit Binder a very strong drive to create conflicts and direct the story - instant buy-in!

On the other hand - shit, it’s cool to have a guy carry around an innocuous walking stick, or some super-rare rock, and have that be the source of his power! Elementalist wizards who need to use certain material components? A great use for a skill like, say, Rock-wise could be, “Well, sure, we’re on this plain, but that rock over there is actually a displaced chunk of granite from Mount Blah. I can bind here!” So I can put challenges and stuff in the way.

My concerns are two-fold:

  1. Allowing Spirit Binders to carry around domains with them is pretty abusive - it circumvents their restrictions, and it creates situations where the binder can almost obviate all other forms of magic.

  2. Removing those place restrictions removes part of what makes Spirit Binding so cool - the “oh shit, we’re in a forest” factor!

So I’m thinking that maybe a good solution is to relegate stuff like this to Spirit Marks and/or special tools, and allow you to bind whenever you’re either in a bound domain or you can use one of your Spirit Marks. Maybe a combination of requiring a Spirit Mark, and either some kind of rare tool or high-Ob Scavenging, -wise, or some such to get the power to bind.

This would also keep the specialness of the place magic in place. Sure, you can do stuff outside of your bound domains, but you don’t get to do as much. When you’re actually in your domain? Watch out, thar be trouble!

(Disclaimer: I don’t have the MaBu with me and am working off vague recollections here.)
Isn’t a spirit’s influence usually limited to its domain/medium? The effects that the spirit of a rock can do are different from the spirit of a mountain.

A powerful mountain spirit can bury your enemies under a rock slide. A rock spirit can only hit them with that one rock.

Basically, I think it works as written. The specialness of place magic is preserved by the specialness of being able to affect a place, not just a thing.

You’re right, but that’s more of a medium limitation. I guess my question is really: does a domain exist wherever any element of that domain is present, or do you have to be in that conceptual geographical location? The medium limitation makes perfect sense - I’m just not quite sure how far a domain should extend.

I’d say that depends on the domain doesn’t it?

The “Stone” domain should work on any spirits of stone, while the “mountain” domain would only work on an actual mountain. As long as the target spirit falls into the correct domain, I wouldn’t actually care where you are.

Again I’m not sure what the official ruling is, but I’ve always allowed a “domain” to encompass any category of spirits that I felt was reasonable not just a conceptual geographic location. Spirit Binding (to me) is about animism, not place magic.

Hm. I do dig the animism take. I think it might really depend on the campaign context. I’m running a Burning THAC0 game, and I use Spirit Binding to represent the magic of the Wychalarn of Rashemen. Their magic is heavily tied to geographic location, so Spirit Binding is a perfect fit when read that way.

The “Stone” domain should work on any spirits of stone, while the “mountain” domain would only work on an actual mountain.
The problem I see is that a domain is specifically defined as a conceptual geographic area, not an element. So “stone” would work as a medium, but the domain would be “Mountain” or “Mines” or “Caverns,” any of which may contain the medium “stone.” I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s intended to work in the rules, and that’s how I’ve run with it. Though if, as a player, I wanted this stone right here to be part of my Mountain domain, I’d probably try a Mountains-wise test with the aforementioned intent - “This is a stone from Mount Convenient.” I’d argue that would allow me to use my Mountain domain binding.

But the animism idea is certainly a good one. I think it’s a slightly different take on Spirit Binding, more in the spirit of Avatar: The Last Airbender. You could do elements in place of domains. But I think that’s more of a discussion for Sparks. I’m more interested in figuring out how people think it’s “supposed” to work, and their experiences with running it like that.

How’s your experience been with running Spirit Binding the way that you do? Do you find Spirit Binders sort of obviating other forms of magic?

Spirit Binding is animism and place magic at the same time. A given domain is a place, so no carrying around a pebble to call on the mountain on another continent.

It might be helpful to think of the succor actions as falling within the realm of the Influence impetus from abstractions.

Yeah. On closer inspection I’ve played a little loose with the Spirit Binding rules possibly mixing it up with Art Magic a bit.

Straight up as written, I don’t see how you could make a particularly useful magic item with Spirit Binding. You could get a spirit to perform a particular task bound to a specific medium for a long time and then try to move that medium around, but I can’t think of any particularly useful or clever examples off the top of my head. Also, since “spirits are limited to their domain” is one of the laws of service, it’s very likely that removing the medium from the domain prevents the spirit from acting on it.

Edit: Although, tinkering with what’s allowed as an domain can be a pretty cool way of radically changing the flavor of Spirit Binding without breaking the rules too badly. Also, some of the example domains given (storms and the north wind particularly) clearly aren’t geographic regions, so the domain=place rule might not be that firm to begin with.

However windchimes that go off anytime there’s an intruder to your camp while you’re in the bamboo forest it was cut from would be very useful in that limited area.

Being bound to a domain really means being bound to domains of that type. If you’re bound to mountains, each mountain is still its own domain. Concept is relaly important here.

For storms, the domain is the current storm. An expansive medium might be the clouds or wind or whatever. A specific medium would be a specific cloud of a tornado, etc. The storm won’t be able to tell you what happened last week (usually), but could tell you who else is in the storm. It won’t water your crops or fill your sails, but could slow your enemies, or let you pass unmolested.

Well, that’s actually not as problematic as it might seem. Technically, domains are places in a more conceptual fashion. If I have the Forest domain, for example, my powers are not limited to one forest - they work in all forests.

So I could, for example, bind a Forest spirit into a branch for an extended duration, to give a bonus to Staff or some such skill. I would say that the spirit binder could then walk into any forest for the duration of the service, scavenge a staff, and have it give the same bonus. Or he could take the staff with him, and it gains its power once it’s in a forest.

So I’m inclined to think that, yes, spirits are limited to their domains. But a spirit can exist in any part of the domain.

I think you could take a medium with you into a domain where you’re bound, and have the spirit of that domain act through that medium. That could make your Spirit Marks a lot more flexible.

What do people think about Domain-wise tests to say, “Actually, we’re in [blah] domain right now because of [blah] reason.” Seems like a great use of the skill to me.

I just reread a bit of the Spirit Binding chapter. Spirits inhabit domains and are bound to perform services for a time. They are not bound to objects.

But their service has to manifest through some part of their domain (the medium), right? I believe you list “a branch” as an example of the “specific medium” modifier.

So is the specific medium modifier intended to actually limit the service to being manifested through one object, or is it manifested through that manner? Going back to the previous example, if I bind a spirit of the Forest to provide +1D of Aid to Club tests, and I choose to have it manifest in a specific medium of a branch (thus creating a branch that gives +1D to Club tests), would that bonus apply only to that one iteration of the medium for the duration of the service, or would it apply to any iteration of the medium for the duration of the service?

In other words, if I bind the spirit of the Forest for a while, leave the place where I originally did the binding, then go to a totally different forest and grab a new branch, do I still get the bonus? I would think so.

Specific Medium, a branch in this case, tells us that your opponent gets caught up on branch while you attack, giving you a momentary advantage. This advantage is granted to you for the duration of the fight.
The length of a task is determined by the intent of the casting, but including a definite time isn’t valid. If length of service is more than what is immediately obvious, you can roll randomly. But you can’t demand an exact duration.

Place is also instrumental to Spirit Binding. While you are right that being Bound to the Forest indicates you can summon in any forest, it doesn’t mean that one binding in one forest binds all forests to you forever. If you leave the place, the spirit cannot help you (or harm you). Look at it from the other angle. If you earn enmity of a forest spirit by trying to bind the branches to aid you, not all branches everywhere are set against you. Only the branches of that specific place will hinder you should you be foolish enough to return.

Only the branches of that specific place will hinder you should you be foolish enough to return.
Hm. I haven’t been playing it that way. I guess I interpreted the all-encompassing scope of a Domain to also mean that the spirits we bind are just as all-encompassing. As in, the “spirit of the Forest” is just as conceptual as “the Forest domain.”

What about something like the “whole domain” modifier? Does that also affect iterations of the domain where I am currently not, or is it sort of limited to my geographic location? Like, saying “The Forest hinders everyone within” is limited to the forest where I am right now?

If you summon the spirit of Mirkwood, the binding only affects those in Mirkwood. It does not affect Galadriel in Lothlorien.

Stupid cheating Elves.

What happens in Mirkwood, stays in Mirkwood