Magick vs. Ghost, Who Wins?

Now that we’ve covered a little bit about magick (What is Magick?) and ghosts (Ghosts in an Insubstantial World), let’s talk a little bit about using magick and how a character might go about using magick (and a little practicality) against a ghost with an attitude problem.

First, let’s set the stage and say that we have a priest who is trying to rid a home of a pesky poltergeist.

Father K is new to this neighborhood, but he’s no stranger to the world of the invisible. He was a Survivor and discovered the power of his faith against the forces of evil who tried to eliminate his entire parish as a youth. He may have entered the seminary as Kemal Wade, but he left as Father K and he was on a mission to keep his people safe.

I’ve used the “Quick” generation process to generate this character, which entails using a base Attribute value of 12 and then choosing a Background, First Contact, and Profession to round them out. I also gave the good Father a Purchase Roll to start with, since he fought to protect his fellow parishioners in his youth. I’m going to say he used that PR to formalize the spell he used in that incident – Circle of Protection, which can be used to protect or jail, depending on which way the spell is directed.

  • Father K (Kemal Wade): Attribute 12, Awareness 13, Education 13, Toughness 13
    • Background: Average Joe (Trait: Observant (Awareness), Awareness +1)
    • First Contact: Survivor (Trait: Craft Symbols (Education), +1 Toughness)
    • Profession: Priest (Prime: Morale, +1 Morale, Trait: Religion (Education))
    • Traits: Craft Symbols (Education), Observant (Awareness), Religion (Education)
    • Gather (Education): Reading from the sacred texts for an hour each night
    • Spell: Circle of Protection (AR1/AP1d6 per point, can be directed inward or outward)

This priest “gathers” spell energy by reading from one of his sacred texts each night. And the rules say he gets 1d6 points for every 15 minutes. We’ll say he accomplished an average effort of gathering power and has 12 points ready for the next day.

Now let’s say that our new Father has been invited to the home of one of his new parishioners who may be having problems with a poltergeist.

For our poltergeist, we’ll start with our basic ghost…

  • Ghost (Low-level): Attribute 8, Speed 5, Traits: Insubstantial, Ability Drain

And we’ll add a new trait – Push.

  • Push (Athletics) (Advantage) – Shove a creature or item forward 1d3 feet per point of energy used (Resist: Toughness), can cause 1d3 damage per point used (i.e. using 2 points can push an object 2d3 feet and cause up to 2d3 damage)

So we have a minor ghost learning how to interact with its environment, and they aren’t happy about their current state of unlife.

Let’s say that Father K is in the house having a bit of a stand-off with the poltergeist. It may play out like this:

  • Father K enters the house and from a hidden position, the poltergeist pushes a bookcase down on him as he walks into the front room.
    • The Referee rolls against the ghost’s Athletics of 8 at an Advantage to use the Push ability with 2 points. She gets a 3 and a 15 on two d20s, achieving a success with the 3.
    • The Referee rolls 2d3 and gets 4 points of damage, marking off the 2 points of Athletics the ghost just used up. With no actual magickal skill, the ghost is using its own power to fuel its ability, which means it will be at an Athletics of 6 the next time he attempts something.
    • The priest has no armor and 13 HP, so this takes him to 9 HP. He is bruised and bloody, but continues in.
  • Father K can’t see the ghost, but knows where the piece of furniture came away from the wall and has an idea. The player decides to try something new, which means he’s at a Disadvantage. If he tried to cast his prepared spell, Circle of Protection, he would be at No Advantage instead. He says he’s going to try and Banish the ghost with a 1-point spell to damage it for 1d6 points.
    • The player is rolling against the priest’s Education at 13 at a Disadvantage and gets a 9 and a 19. Taking the 19, he misses, but it’s not a critical failure. As a result, he loses the 1 point he used to fuel his spell, dropping his power to 11.
  • The ghost, inspired by its success against its mortal enemy, tries again, throwing a plant in a pot at the priest this time.
    • He uses another 2 points to fuel the spell and tries again at an Advantage, rolling an 8 and a 20, narrowly avoiding the critical failure. It only costs the ghost one of the two points, dropping its Athletics down to 5, but it’s a miss.
  • Father K still can’t see the ghost, but decides to give himself a better chance at defeating it, so he quickly draws a 2 point Circle of Protection around himself.
    • This spell is not at a Disadvantage, so the player rolls a single d20 and gets an 11. That’s a success!
    • The player rolls 2d6 to get the strength of the armor around him and gets 9, amounting to an AR2/AP9 shield of faith.
  • The ghost, angry that it missed the last time, attacks again, flinging a book off another shelf at the mortal invading its home.
    • The ghost now has an Athletics of 5, but in an angry burst throws a 3 point Push at its enemy.
    • The Referee rolls an 11 and a 19, missing again, knocking the ghost down to Athletics 4.
  • With a bit of protection, the priest decides to try another banishment spell at a Disadvantage, pumping 2 points into it.
    • The player rolls 2d20 and gets a 13 and a 9. Though the 13 would be a Critical Success if the roll was at an Advantage, he takes the 9 – which is still a success.
    • The player rolls 2d6 and gets 8, which knocks the ghost to 0 HP (it had 8) and out of this realm of existence.

The ghost has been banished from the parishioner’s home and the whole battle is done in 3 turns of combat, probably taking less than 5 or 10 minutes of real time. As a bonus, the player of Father K has an idea for a new spell to learn the next time he gets a Purchase Roll!

So to answer the question we asked in the title of this post — magick obviously won this battle. If it was a single priest vs. a revenant, the odds may not be as stacked on the PC’s side of the equation.

But you should have a little bit of an idea of how gameplay works with spellcasting!

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