Phantasms

(Tom Clare)
Three centuries ago the venerated monk Ecgric the Wise, com­posing his Entire Compendium of Creatures Malign & Mischievous, wrote of inhuman spirits that moved through creation and who watched and sometimes influenced the mortal world, adding:

“Astolyous telles us that such entytyes are withe us always, ynseen, and that formerlee they coulde be summon’d by men of knoweledge and compelle’d to becomme visible, whereypon they mighte take the shaype of a young man, or a whyte cate, or a knighte of ynfamyliar orders, or a toade, or some other plaine forme. And that then theyse mastere’d spyrites of which Iy speake woulde performe servyces for their summoner...”

He continues, turning the discourse into a homily on the terrible danger of consulting with otherworldly forces, and the inevitable fate of those that ignore such warnings.

The beings he writes of are known by the vulgar as phantasms, or faltyns, or spryghts (1), the invisible, intangible entities that consort with sorcerers and magicians. But the educated call them apparitors, or apparitions: ‘those that come when summoned’.

Phantasms are eons old, and can be extremely powerful, despite lacking any true substance in this world. They were known of in antique times and before, and those who pour over yellowing texts and worn tablets occasionally discover one mentioned in some ancient account. More rarely revealed is the precious key to controlling such entities, the spirit’s name.
Phantasms rarely interfere with the world of men of their own free will, but are sometimes called forth by sorcerers to carry out great tasks. Although they can – with difficulty – be summoned from any spot on earth, each phantasm has its own favourable places and times: on top of a windy hill at sunset; underground; on the water by night. The spirit will usually appear before its evoker in a form specified by that person (“...Appearing in a shape pleasing to me” is the usual formula), or wearing a shape borne of long custom, but such beings are capable of literally seeming like anything. This is illusion only, however; there is no true substance to the creatures.

Most phantasms dislike being summoned, and the attitude of such a spirit once conjured is likely to be antipathetic to the sorcerer to say the least.

1 Spryght: a debased form of the Læden word spyritus – breath – so called because they are said by some to have come forth from the breath of God.



A Minor Phantasm

MAGICAL ATTACK 18
MAGICAL DEFENCE 8 Movement: 12m
Health Points: 2d4 Rank Equivalent: 4th
A minor phantasm has three or less points of Marvellous Feats.


A Strong Phantasm

MAGICAL ATTACK 22
MAGICAL DEFENCE 12 Movement: 16m
Health Points: 2d8 Rank Equivalent: ? 7th
A strong phantasm generally has around six points of Marvellous Feats.


A Great Phantasm

MAGICAL ATTACK 25
MAGICAL DEFENCE 15 Movement: 25m
Health Points: 2d12 Rank Equivalent: 10th
A great phantasm has nine or more points of Marvellous Feats.


Some examples of Phantasms can be found here.


Insubstantial

Phantasms are non-corporal entities, and are usually invisible and intangible. Mortals can sense them only with sixth sense or by the use of certain spells (Detect Aura, Beacon, and All-Seeing Eye) unless the apparition wishes it otherwise. If a phantasm chooses to speak, it is only heard by those it chooses, and its disembodied voice will sound as if from a long way away.

Generally only magical weapons can harm a phantasm; they can be struck at as normal, but use their MAGICAL DEFENCE to avoid attacks. If the apparition is invisible the mortal attacker will suffer the usual -4 ATTACK, -8 DEFENCE penalties).

Since a phantasm isn’t bound by physical limits, it can move in any direction, including through the air or under the ground, ignoring all physical obstructions. Magical barriers (such as a Bastion) can impede phantasms, however.


Aware

Phantasms are aware of the presence and activities of any creatures or objects in their vicinity, including the emotional state of any mortals. Characters cannot hope to hide or creep past such a spirit.

They are also aware whenever their names are uttered, whether in conversation between learned monks, as part of a smothered oath from an injured knight, or when invoked by a supplicant. Whether the phantasm chooses to answer or investigate depends on its disposition - most will ingore the invocation - but it can travel to any place its name is uttered in minutes, no matter where it is.


Marvellous Feats

A phantasm can manipulate the world to a certain extent. It is able do anything up to and including its feat level, without any dice rolls or mechanics. However, it can only perform one feat at a time.

Phantasmal feats include:
Ponderous feats
Illusory feats
Seeings
Happenstancial feats
Elemental feats


Phantasms and Sorcerers

Phantasms are unlikely to be encountered walking the world; they will usually be met as the reluctant servants of a sorcerer.