How to read a Spirit listing
Below the sections of a spirit’s profile are dissected and explained.
Name: The spirit’s name and title. The latter often connotes the spirit’s Legend and powers. Scholars believe that spirits bear names either identical or similar to names and titles they bore in life.
Summoning Rules: The various rules, rituals, and conditions that surround the pact making process for that individual spirit. This section is divided into six subsections: spirit level, binding DC, constellation, totems, ceremony, and manifestation. Each of these sections is described below.
Spirit Level: This is the spirit’s level, numbered between 1st and 9th. A common misconception made by those who do not study the ways of pact magic is that a higher-leveled spirit is more powerful than a lower-leveled spirit. This is not the case. A spirit’s level denotes how difficult it is to summon the spirit, either because the spirit refuses to answer mortals whose souls do not burn bright enough to attract it or the lore needed to call it from the spirit realm is well-hidden or well-guarded. The maximum level of spirit that a character can summon is restricted by the binder’s level.
Binding DC: A spirit’s binding DC is the minimum result that a binder must roll on his or her binding check in order to make a good pact with the spirit. A binder who fails to meet this DC still successfully binds with the spirit, but it suffers from the spirit’s influence and cannot suppress the spirit’s sign. A binding check is equal to 1d20 + ½ the binder’s level + his or her Charisma modifier. Factors such as totems, feats, and whether or not the binder qualifies as a favored enemy or ally can modify this roll.
Constellation: All spirits are aligned with one of 13 unifying themes called constellations. Binder scholars speculate the reasons that spirits are so heavily influenced by the stars, but many believe that constellations act as a unifying theme that gives meaning to the unfathomable spirit realm.
Totems: Totems represent that which a spirit holds most dear. These may be treasured objects, the execution of beliefs held in life, or locations that are sentimental to the spirit. The presence of a single totem grants the binder a +2 insight bonus on binding checks made with the spirit. This bonus increases to +4 if all listed totems are present. Totems are not required for a pact to be successful and therefore they are never assumed to be within the binder’s spell component’s pouch, if he or she has one.
Ceremony: A spirit’s ceremony is the specific action or actions that must be taken in order for the spirit to take notice of the binder. Before performing the ceremony, a binder must draw the spirit’s seal. Drawing a seal and performing the ceremony typically require 5 minutes of work apiece (10 minutes total). A binder can make a rushed pact to reduce this to 5 rounds apiece (1 minute total). Making a rushed pact results in a -10 penalty on the spirit’s binding check, and if the rushed check fails, the spirit ignores the binder, the pact fails, and the binder gains no granted abilities, does not suffer the spirit’s influence, and cannot commune with the spirit again for 24 hours. Performing a pact magic ceremony requires your full attention and provokes attacks of opportunity. Once the ceremony begins, the binder must remain within the seal or else the ceremony fails. Performing any action not related to the ceremony or exiting the seal causes the entire ceremony to fail, causing the spirit to refuse to bind with the binder for the next 24 hours. A binder must be able to audibly speak in order to perform a ceremony.
Manifestation: When the ceremony is complete, the spirit manifests before the binder and any onlookers. Each spirit has its own, unique method of manifesting as described in its description. The manifestation isn’t an illusion though it is very clearly unable to harm the binder or others, nor can it be dispelled or interacted with in any way aside from negotiating a pact. Following the spirit’s manifestation, the binder and the spirit engage in a battle of wills in the form of a binding check versus the spirit’s binding DC. Success or failure indicates whether the pact was a good pact or a poor pact.
Legend: Each spirit had a life, real or imagined, and the spirit’s Legend captures its demeanor and values, why it grants certain abilities, and the events that transformed it into a spirit. Some spirits were mortals who found no place after death. Others were powerful beings who died of neglect or in battle. A few spirits never existed in any mundane sense. Most spirits hope to enjoy a foothold in the world of the living. Although some spirits lived honorable lives, others were terrible and their Legends reflect mature themes.
Granted Abilities: A granted ability is one of five supernatural abilities that a spirit bestows upon a binder as part of a pact. Binders receive the granted abilities of the spirits they bind with regardless of whether the pact was a good pact or a poor pact. Granted abilities are always supernatural, even when they replicate extraordinary or spell-like abilities. A granted ability’s DC is equal to 10 + ½ the binder’s level + his or her Charisma modifier. Some archetypes allow a binder to use a different ability modifier, as described under that class feature. Granted abilities always use the granted ability saving throw DC listed above, even when they replicate spells and similar effects that would normally use a different DC. All granted abilities belong to one of two categories, as described in their description. These categories are described below.
Major Abilities: Major granted abilities are the most powerful abilities that a spirit can offer. They deal damage, cure wounds, and allow the binder to override reality with supernatural powers. Major abilities are taxing to use, and when a binder uses a major ability, the ability becomes expended the next 5 rounds after the round it is used. During this time, an expended granted ability is not available; the binder gains none of its benefits and cannot activate it until the allotted exhaustion ends. The Rapid Recovery feat reduces the amount of time a major granted ability is expended by 1 round.
Capstone Empowerment: Listed under major abilities, the capstone empowerment ability is a special modification that applies to one of the spirit’s major granted abilities. The capstone empowerment is not automatically bestowed to a binder; in order to gain this benefit, a binder must succeed on their binding check to make a good pact with a spirit by 10 or more. Capstones can only be granted if the pact is a good pact. Poor pacts with a spirit never result in a capstone empowerment being granted even if the binding check beats the spirit’s DC by 10 or more. A capstone empowerment is an optional effect. It can be applied to a granted ability as a free action. The binder may choose to not apply its benefits.
Minor Abilities: Minor granted abilities are less powerful and usually passive benefits that a spirit possesses. They supply bonuses, grant the benefits of feats, and grant abilities that usually do not need to be activated. Minor abilities without an activation action take effect immediately following a successful pact and last for a pact’s duration (24 hours or until the spirit is expelled in another manner). Most minor abilities can be suppressed as a full-round action unless noted otherwise; like with signs, a binder cannot suppress their minor granted abilities if they made a poor pact with the spirit providing them.
Signs and Influence: A spirit makes its presence known on a binder through its sign and influence. These descriptors fall into four categories: physical sign, influence, favored ally, and favored enemy.
Physical Sign: As part of the pact making process, a binder agrees to acquire a physical aspect that relates to the spirit in some way. This is known as the spirit’s physical sign. Each spirit has two physical signs: one that is always active and one that is only active whenever the binder activates one of the spirit’s granted abilities. The triggering ability can be a major or minor granted ability; it matters not as long as the granted ability requires an action to use. The physical sign is brief and only remains for the round during which the granted ability is activated, though it is impossible to miss it without the use of a Bluff check, Disguise check, or similar measures a binder may take to hide it. A binder that makes a good pact with a spirit can hide all physical signs as a move action. The Suppress Sign feat reduces this to a free action. A binder that makes a poor pact cannot hide the spirit’s influence. He or she suffers the physical sign for the duration of the pact.
Influence: When you bind a spirit, you are inviting that entity into your very soul. Binders with little experience or who are overwhelmed by the spirit’s presence may accidentally allow that spirit a measure of influence over their personality and actions. This occurrence is known as a spirit’s influence. Each spirit has an influence entry that to which binder may be subjected. Whenever a binder makes a poor pact with a spirit, the spirit demands that they act in accordance with its influence. A binder is not forced to abide by the spirit’s desires, but if a binder chooses to ignore the spirit’s influence, he or she must make a Will save or suffer a -1 penalty on all attack rolls, skill checks, saving throws, and to AC for 24 hours or for the duration of the pact with the spirit. The DC of this Will save equals the spirit’s binding DC including any enhancements (such as binding a constellation aspect) with a +10 modifier if the pact with the spirit was rushed. The influence penalty stacks each time the binder ignores a spirit’s influence. A character that can bind multiple spirits stacks the penalty for disobeying the influence of multiple spirits to determine the total penalty.
Favored Ally and Enemy: For whatever reason spirits smile fondly upon creatures that fall into the category of their favored ally. Likewise, they despise or distrust creatures that fall into the category of their favored enemy. Though this category has little consequence on its own, many feats and abilities interact with this mechanic. A binder who counts as a spirit’s favored ally increases the spirit’s totem bonus by +1 (or by +2 when meeting all of the spirit’s totems). Likewise, a binder who counts as a spirit’s favored enemy only gains half the normal bonus for meeting its totems.
Vestigial Companions: For all spirits, a binder can surrender a minor granted ability to gain a helpful companion. This creature is known as a vestigial companion. A vestigial companion mirrors the bond between a wizard and his or her familiar, a druid with an animal companion, and similar class features. The spirit’s entry lists the companion’s creature type and the class feature that the binder gains along with the granted ability that must be surrendered. A binder can only possess a single vestigial companion. If a vestigial companion is slain or banished, the binder cannot gain a new one until he or she makes a new pact and exchanges a minor granted ability for a new vestigial companion. A vestigial companion that would gain share spells immediately exchanges that ability for the feature, share granted abilities.
Share Granted Abilities (Su): A vestigial companion gains all the granted abilities of its patron spirit, which is the same spirit that aids the binder. The binder and companion share these granted abilities. If a major granted ability is expended for one, it is expended for both of them. Furthermore, the binder and companion count as the same creature when determining if a granted ability affects a creature (that is, some granted abilities cannot affect a creature that successfully saves, and a save against master or familiar makes the creature immune to the ability regardless of whether the binder or companion use it).