[Runequest] The "Control" spell...

Gary Sturgess gazza666 at gmail.com
Sun Apr 19 15:32:03 EST 2009

My shaman in our weekly game has, to date, just discorporated and gone
hunting in the spirit plane whenever he wants a new spirit (so far
spell spirits, mostly). But since that process is quite dangerous, and
I actually have a pretty fair Summon skill, I decided to start
learning a few Summon and Control spells to sidestep all that
"dangerous mucking about with hyperspace", as it were.

We use Sandy's rules for shamans, so the Summon spells are a bit
different, but not especially so. The Control spells are unaltered...
and I'm not really sure how they're supposed to work.

Here's the thing. If you're a priest, you Summon your target beastie
and then cast Command Cult Spirit (from Gods of Glorantha), which is
basically just MP vs MP and if the spirit loses, you get it to do
whatever you want (in this case, you command it to engage you in
spirit combat to teach you its spell). If you're a sorcerer, the
process is similar except that you use Dominate Spell Spirit (eg) and
match the intensity vs the MPs for the same effect. That means that
the sorcerer is likely going to take at least another round to get the
spell off, which means that the spirit may get unstunned and bugger
off, but that's fair enough - divine magic is supposed to be better
(and with Sandy's rules you can use a Held Dominate if you're good

But the spirit magic Control Spell Spirit seems to be a bit weird.
According to the book, you can only cast it after engaging the spirit
in spirit combat and reducing it to 0 MPs. Well, that means that there
are a number of issues:

- Is the spirit combat "free", or do you have to have some ability to
initiate spirit combat? I assume it's the latter - which is fine if
you're a shaman, but makes Control [Species] completely useless if
you're a casual spirit magic user (this is not the case for the other
two magic types; an Initiate can use Command Cult Spirit and
theoretically a sorcerer with only the Intensity skill could use

- Does this restriction still apply if you cast it on a bound spirit?
(Do you really have to reduce a bound Ghost to 0 MPs before casting
Control Ghost and telling it to engage your foe in spirit combat? With
its 0 MPs remaining?) It says that bound spirits can't resist
Control/Command/Dominate spells (which I take it means that they get
no MP vs MP roll for Command, and an Intensity 1 Dominate works for
sorcerers), but the spirit combat is a PRECONDITION for Control
spells, as written.

- Who is the intended "market" for Control spells? Command/Dominate
spells have two main uses: forcing a summoned spirit to get into a
binding, and casting them on an already bound spirit so that you can
get them to do their funky thing and then get back in the box
afterwards. Well, if Control spells have a precondition of
spirit-combat-to-0-MPs, then non-shamans can't effectively use them.
And a shaman has no use for them. If he has just SCed a summoned
spirit to 0MPs he can ALREADY command it to get into a binding; he
just puts it into his fetch (with 0 MPs this will always be possible).
Spirits that are within the fetch can be forced to do one thing for
you if you release them from the fetch. So the one thing you get them
to do is "stick yourself in this Binding Enchantment". And if he has
to reduce a bound spirit to 0 MPs before he can cast Control on it,
then it's going to be useless once the Control spell is cast, as a 0
MP spirit is no threat magically or spirit combat wise to anybody.

The way we decided to handle this was to say that casting the Control
[Species] spell on a summoned spirit forced it to engage you in Spirit
Combat (whether or not it is normally capable of initiating Spirit
Combat), and that casting it on a bound spirit works automatically
with no spirit combat required. Anyone have any insight as to how it
is SUPPOSED to work? What am I missing?

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