Fetish Items

Send comments and/or criticism to Simon E. Phipp
Created On 17 September 1997
Last Updated On 17 September 1997
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1997


Spirit Weapons
Spirit Traps
Spirit Links
Spirit Friends
Spirit Foes
Spirit Attractors
Spirit Repellors
Spirit Darts/Arrows/Needles

No, these are not rubber boots, straps, whips, over-sized nappies or any other personal fulfilment aid. Fetish items are magic items created by Shamans.

Many Shamans own or make special items bearing particular significance to their position. These usually act to augment the abilities or powers of the Shamans. They are made using spirit magic Enchantments and cost POW to create. Each Shamanic tradition will have its own types of items, some being similar to those of other traditions, others being unique to that tradition. These are generally known as Fetish Items.

Not all fetishes are owned by Shamans, in fact many are given away as gifts to chiefs, relatives or friends of the Shaman, whereas some have been obtained from killing Shamans or the previous owners.

There are several types of Fetish Items, each performing a different function.

Spirit Weapons

These take the form of miniature weapons of traditional types, usually decorated with tassels, beads or whatever. They are used to improve the chances in Spirit Combat. Depending on your rules for Spirit Combat, they may increase the Spirit Combat skill, the number of Magic Points damage done to an enemy or may decrease the number of Magic Points damage taken by the user.

Spirit Weapons come in different strengths, perhaps increasing MP damage by 1 or more points, if using the normal rules, or increasing the number of D6s rolled if using my rules. They may add to your POW for the purposes of overcoming MP or defending against Spirit Combat or may block a certain number of points of MP damage in a round.

When Spirit Weapons are used, they must be brandished as if they were normal weapons. This has two effects - firstly to make the user look silly and secondly to prevent him from using another weapon in the same hand. When a Shaman uses a Spirit Weapon, he does not care for normal combat.

Each level of power of Spirit Weapon costs 1 POW to create, so to increase damage done by 1 MP costs 1 POW, by 2 MP costs 2 POW etc.

Spirit Traps

These are used to hold spirits for the Shaman's use. They can take the form of cages, boxes, bags, gourds or other receptacle and are decorated with runic carvings or ornamentation.

Each Spirit Trap is used to hold a particular type of Spirit, or rather when a Spirit is bound into a Spirit Trap, the user gains certain powers over the Spirit. For instance, a person summoned as a ghost could be bound into a Magic Spirit Trap and function as a Magic Spirit, or he may be bound into a Ghost Trap and act as a ghost.

Spirit Traps can hold Spirits of any size, as long as they are of the correct type - a disease Spirit could not be bound into a Healing Spirit Trap for instance.

Spirit Traps cost the same to make as normal Spirit Binding Enchantments, but each one needs a specific spell to create, so there are Create Magic Spirit Trap, Create Ghost Trap, Create Healing Spirit Trap, Create Pain Spirit Trap spells.

Spirit Links

These generally are decorated with ornamentation depicting certain types of Spirits. They may be shaped like the spirits, or may have pictures or patterns on them which depict certain spirits.

Spirit Links make it easier for a Shaman to contact a certain type of Spirit, or even certain individual Spirits. If a Shaman summons a Spirit for which he has a Spirit Link, his chances of summoning the Spirit are increased by a percentage depending on the strength of the Link. His chances of summoning an incorrect Spirit are also reduced, in the event that things go wrong.

Spirit Links exist for individual Spirits, usually for ancestors or Spirits which are worshipped. A Shaman with an Ancestral Spirit Link may summon up the ancestor without a chance of summoning the wrong one. A Shaman with a Link to a worshipped Spirit may attempt to contact the Spirit to begin worship of the Spirit or to gain spells and/or skills from the Spirit.

Ancestral Spirit Links are often made from parts of the dead ancestor's body. In the film "Emerald Forest", dead tribespeople were cremated and a handful of their ashes were placed in a pot containing the ashes of those who had died before - this could well have been used as an Ancestor Link for any or all of those ancestors.

Spirit Friends

These fetishes also bear images or patterns depicting certain types of spirits. They make those spirit types react in a more friendly way than normal to the user. If you use the RQ2 Reaction Table, each Spirit Friend reduces your roll by a number depending on the strength of the fetish.

Generally, each point of POW reduces the roll by 5%, perhaps making the difference between being attacked by a Spirit or being ignored by the Spirit.

Spirit Foes

These act like Spirit Friends, but the reaction roll is worsened, making the Spirit react badly to the user. These are often cursed items, given by a Shaman to his enemies or to people who have displeased him.

Spirit Attractors

These have images or patterns depicting certain types of Spirit and act by attracting the Spirits to the user. This makes summoning the Spirits easier and also increases the chance of encountering these Spirits on the Spirit Plane.

Each point of POW used to create Spirit Attractors adds 5% to the chance of summoning such a Spirit and adds 5% to the chance of encountering such a Spirit.

Spirit Attractors may be seen as a curse by those with powerful fetishes which attract dangerous Spirits. A Wraith Attractor would attract any wraiths in the vicinity to the user, for instance.

Spirit Repellors

These work in a similar way to Spirit Attractors, but in reverse - they are used to drive away certain types of Spirit.

When a Spirit of the appropriate type is encountered, the Shaman brandishes his Spirit Repellor fetish and has a chance of banishing the Spirit, or his chance of banishing the Spirit is increased.

Each point of POW in the fetish adds 5% to the chance of banishing the sprit.

Spirit Repellors are often made from materials which the spirit does not like, so Disease Spirit repellors may be made from Healing Plants.

Spirit Darts/Arrows/Needles

Spirt Darts (also known as Spirit Arrows, Spirit Needles, Spirit Curses) are very small, fine needles which can be shot, thrown or fired into a target, causing ill effects for the target.

Normally, a shaman will bind a spirit into a Spirit Dart and fire, throw, blow or otherwise propel the Dart towards the target. Normally, this can be from quite a distance away as this is not a physical attack but a magical one. I can see an argument for allowing a discorporate shaman to use his fetch to cast a Spirit Dart at a target. Once the Spirit Dart hits the target it is absorbed by the target (some GMs may require a POW vs POW roll, but I don't bother). On absorption, the Spirit inside the Spirit Dart is deemed to have covertly possessed the victim - it does this without needing to engage in Spirit Combat and normally without the victim's knowledge. All the effects of covert possession are felt by the target. However, the Spirit may not be exorcised without removing the Spirit Dart - even spells such as Free Ghost will have no effect.

If the victim realises that something is wrong (he has a disease, has screaming fits, falls in love with his horse or goes berserk during combat) he can go to a shaman to find out what is causing the problem. The Shaman has a percentage chance = Fetch's POW x 3 of seeing the Spirit Dart. If he does not see the Spirit Dart then any attempt to exorcise the Spirit will fail, even if the Shaman defeats it in Spirit Combat.If the Shaman removes the Spirit Dart (abstracted by a fetch's POW x 1 roll but can be boosted with Ceremony) then the possessing Spirit is released and leaves the victim.

Spirit Darts are commonly used by Shamans in Real World cultures to bring harm to their enemies. In Glorantha, their knowledge is shared by all Shamanic cultures. Typically creating a Spirit Dart is similar in cost to creating a Spirit Trap for the spirit. However, any spirit may be bound into a Spirit Dart. Spirit Darts which have been removed from a target may be refilled and used again.

Miscellaneous Types

There are many other types of Fetish, some one-off, others general types available to more than one culture. The Zaring Medicine Bundles in the Griffin Island Pack are good examples, as are those owned by Blueface.

Some Fetishes act as spell matrices, others as Magic Point Enchantments. In fact, any magical item from any primitive culture may be used as a Fetish in RuneQuest.