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Crel

Summon Ancestor Questions and Tips

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So I've been fiddling a bit with the Summon Ancestor spell in our RQG game (and to a lesser extent with its adjacent spells) and it seems both powerful and fun to use, but also a bit incomplete. Thus I figured it might be interesting to see how others have used the spell, and if y'all feel similar holes exist in the description, and how they've been filled.

One of the first things I've done is, at the start of play, let an adventurer who knows Summon Ancestor have D6 ancestors generated using the charts on p. 342-343 of the Core. To my mind this represents past use of the Summon Ancestor spell, which can then be called up if Summon Ancestor is stacked with Summon Specific Ancestor per those spell rules.

For me, generating some of these random ancestors was a big revelation. Over time, even just an initiate of Daka Fal generates a huge pool of different ancestors they can call upon, giving access to a wide variety of spirit magic spells for 2 RP (well, for friendly ancestors). Although there are some limitations involved, often substantial, it still introduces a great deal of strategic flexibility for the adventurer.

That being said, there are several gaps in the spell's material as written:

  • Ancestors are described as being able to engage in spirit combat, but have neither a skill percentage assigned nor a CHA characteristic to roll for determining SC damage. INT can sometimes be relevant too--for instance, ancestors probably possess INT and therefore require a 3-POW Binding Enchantment to be contained--but this isn't as important for spirit mechanics. My solution was to approximate the ancestor's POW roll on the Ancestral Summons table to the POW and CHA rolls for random spirits on p.165 of the Bestiary in order to determine the ancestor's CHA, and then determine SC damage as usual.
  • Additionally, there's no Spirit Combat skill rating attributed to ancestor spirits. I assigned such spirits a Spirit Combat skill of POWx3% because they're the spirits of random mortals from stickpickers to shaman-priests. A POWerful ancestor (5D6+6, average 23-24, SC 69-72%) still maybe doesn't have the high percentage it ought, but this felt more representative than using POWx5% for unremarkable Uncle Joe who's spirit has POW 12 (max of 1D6+6). As far as I can tell, there's no actual generic entry for ancestor spirits in the Bestiary. Ghosts have a flat Spirit Combat 70%, but that didn't feel right as an approximation of an ancestor spirit due to a ghost's malign nature.
  • I'm not certain what to do if a randomized ancestor's spirit magic is rolled twice. My solution, for variable spells, was to roll 2D6-5 again and add the new points atop the old. In one case, this resulted in a spirit which knew Heal 9 (which was interesting, but is basically fine). I think I've been rerolling non-variable spells.
  • I'm not certain how to handle ancestral spirits which know enchantment spells (like the Magic Point Enchantment, random spell 52-54 on the D100 table). For the moment if a player brings it up, I'm thinking to handle it that if the caster sacrifices POW in worship of the summoned ancestor, the ancestor would then use some or all of that POW casting the relevant enchantment. Alternately I suppose you could use Control Ancestor Spirit on one, and force it to cast the enchantment, but even doing this on a malign ancestor feels super sketchy and Chaotic to me...
  • Finally, ancestor spirits who have Rune points only know Daka Fal Rune magic; but most Daka Fal rune magic deals with summoning more ancestors, or manipulating ancestor spirits. This feels... odd, to me? For the moment, I'm ruling that such an ancestor can use spells like Spirit Guardian and Spirit Melding upon its summoner, and the result is effectively as if the summoner had cast the spell himself. Or maybe an ancestor's Discorporation can target willing mortals, to bring them into the Spirit World? I could see myself varying up the cult from just Daka Fal, depending on the caster's culture. For example, a Bison Tribe worshiper of Daka Fal might call forth an ancestor who worshiped Waha, Eiritha, Storm Bull, or even perhaps Orlanth.

Does anyone else have tips for utilizing ancestor spirits? Felt there are gaps in the spell description too, and filled them another way?

 

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The obvious gap is *known* ancestors. In  a tribal community, everyone is somewhere related to everyone who came before... Which would include tribal shamans, priests, heroes etc.

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11 minutes ago, Shiningbrow said:

The obvious gap is *known* ancestors. In  a tribal community, everyone is somewhere related to everyone who came before... Which would include tribal shamans, priests, heroes etc.

Nice spot. Even moving past the obvious "I call the spirit of Sartar/Tada/famous ancestor X/Grandfather Mortal" cheesiness (which I feel a GM probably wouldn't allow unless the adventurer's big and bad enough to actually get those folks' attention) surely the spirit of the shaman who initiated you into adulthood and died a few years later would be someone you know, know well, and who would be a pretty significant spirit. I suppose for some you could just futz the Ancestral Summons table to give a 4-5D6 Friendly, Neutral, or Malign spirit (maybe that shaman's pissy about getting woken from his nap).

Another question that came up for me was, don't other cultures worship ancestors too? Maybe not in the full shaman path that Daka Fal does, but it suits my imagination (although I got no clue if it exists in canon-Glorantha) to think that matrilineal Esrolia, for example, has Earth priestesses casting Summon Specific Ancestor to call upon the great mothers of the past for advice and succor. Would ancestor worship exist in Esrolia or Sartar as a sub-cult of one of the big gods maybe?

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Ancestor worship outside of Beast Rider culture only makes sense when it works without requiring a shaman. Duke Raus was an ancestor worshipper, and as head of the family also the chief priest of the ancestor cult. I don't recall seeing a shaman from his family in his entourage.

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You'd think most cultures would want to do it. Who would pass up the chance to get great granny's jam recipe?

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2 hours ago, Crel said:

think that matrilineal Esrolia, for example, has Earth priestesses casting Summon Specific Ancestor to call upon the great mothers of the past for advice and succor. Would ancestor worship exist in Esrolia or Sartar as a sub-cult of one of the big gods maybe?

Yes, of course they do. All the great houses of Nochet, or any other city in Esrolia, can call upon generations of ancestors for advice (and many will come out of the Necropolis on Ancestor's Day too in order to visit their descendants and complain about the lack of attention their descendants are showing, etc.  Such worship might be enfolded within a greater god, but more likely within worship of the wyter of the clan or household, if not an aspect of Daka Fal.

4 hours ago, Crel said:

I'm not certain what to do if a randomized ancestor's spirit magic is rolled twice.

Choose from the list of common spirit magic for their likely cult.

4 hours ago, Crel said:

Finally, ancestor spirits who have Rune points only know Daka Fal Rune magic; but most Daka Fal rune magic deals with summoning more ancestors, or manipulating ancestor spirits.

I'd be more open in this regard figuring that they also worship the common gods of the community (initiated into Orlanth or Ernalda, for instance).

 

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On 5/23/2019 at 9:15 PM, jajagappa said:

All the great houses of Nochet, or any other city in Esrolia, can call upon generations of ancestors for advice (and many will come out of the Necropolis on Ancestor's Day too in order to visit their descendants and complain about the lack of attention their descendants are showing, etc. 

Actually, while this absolutely happens, I think it is done through the Ty Kora Tek cult, not Ancestor Worship. They give advice (as well as compkain etc), and more, but I don't think they do the same range of things that Ancestor Worship provides, I don't think they have access to Spirit Guardian or similar. 

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On 5/23/2019 at 4:40 AM, Crel said:

Another question that came up for me was, don't other cultures worship ancestors too? Maybe not in the full shaman path that Daka Fal does, but it suits my imagination (although I got no clue if it exists in canon-Glorantha) to think that matrilineal Esrolia, for example, has Earth priestesses casting Summon Specific Ancestor to call upon the great mothers of the past for advice and succor. Would ancestor worship exist in Esrolia or Sartar as a sub-cult of one of the big gods maybe?

Duke Raus and his priest Daryli Godspeaker, were ancestor worshippers by default in the Borderlands sandbox. I believe Raus came from the Empire lands of the Redlands and his ancestors were from Kostaddi, which alas I know nothing about The GtG v.313 page 313 had more.

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