Spirit Magic Tax?

Hi, I’m a virgin GM for Burning Wheel, and I’m making a setting for a game that I want to take place in stone-age Micronesia, with Spirit Binding as the main magic and a bit of Death Art and Enchanting on the side. However, the idea of forcing the spirits to do your will and them wanting to get retribution doesn’t really fit with my vision - I prefer the idea that the magic-users are simply channelling the power of the spirits to achieve their ends. So I’m thinking of simply replacing the retribution with tax - you have to roll for tax whether you succeed or fail the test, but you get bonus dice for extra margin of success. I’m also thinking that Reveal spirits will cause Perception tax instead of Forte. Is this harsh enough? Too harsh? How will it change the way that Spirit Binding is played?

A couple other edits: Spirits can negate disadvantages as easily as they can create them - using the rules for Hindrance in reverse the spirits can negate penalties for darkness, rough seas etc. - different from Help because it creates an effect like light or calming waters. Circination and Folklore are rolled up into one skill, and the Fortress Circle protects against undead and wrathful spirits rather than Retribution.

Pick magic types that fit with your desired effects, not the color. For example, if you’re channelling spirit power to achieve your ends as opposed to having a spirit do the work for you, your probably looking at art magic with spirits as the color, and the schools of magic written as something more akin to spirit marks and domains.

As for your specific question about swapping retribution for tax, how would that look within the game? With normal spirit binding you draw a circle and call the spirit in. Since the spirit undertakes the task (and suffers any consequences from those tasks) tax doesn’t particularly make sense unless you’re paying a tax on calling down the spirit.

Other things. Characters end up getting lots of tests on whatever happens to be taxed, so expect to see a disproportionate number of Perception tests from your mages.

The other edits: I’m going to ignore the first (since I chatted about it some above). For the Circination/Folklore join, I’d instead add Folklore as a valid FoRK for Circination which allows the skills to keep their separate domains but still has them help each other. Adding undead to the things protected by a fortress circle makes sense within your setting, and wrathful spirits should reasonably be synonymous with retribution in terms of effect.

Looking back at the art magic chapter, it does seem more like the effect I’m trying to achieve, I think I’ll just re-flavour schools as connections to particular spirits. I think tax is explained by the fact that it’s exhausting for the channeler to connect to the spirit realm, and also difficult for her to hold the spirit in her mortal body, even for a short while. And I quite like the idea of divers having quick perception advancement - the more you peer into the spirit realm the wider your earthly awareness becomes.

Yes, I like the idea of folklore FoRKing with circination, but do still want to boost its power a bit since I love the way it works and I want it to have real potency. Maybe it could FoRK with everything, like astrology? (Of course I’d get rid of astrology in this case)

Actually, maybe FoRK with everything isn’t appropriate. I think maybe a successful Folklore test can add +1D to any test - slightly more limited and requires the whole caboodle of folklore as per normal.