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I have a player who wants to take Spirit evocation, as an idea, but neither of us are sure practically on what sort of spells it would let him evoke.

What does Spirit Magic let my player's character do? Are there examples?

We're playing a very investigative game, and both combat and non-combat magic is relevant.

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3 Answers

There's two ways to understand your question: as a request for example spells, or as a plea for help because you don't really know what Spirit does. There's no exhaustive list of example Spirit spells, and besides, working from a list of spells is the opposite of how the DFRPG magic system works. So I'm going to answer the latter interpretation of the question: what is Spirit? Once you've got that, then you'll be able to just make up spells and you won't need examples.

The whole point of the magic system in DFRPG is to imagine spells and then decide how to make the rules do that. To do that, you have to understand what an Element (YS p. 253) means so that you can picture the magic. If you can't together imagine what kind of magic a Spirit Evoker does, then you don't have any hope of making the magic system work. You have to start from the other side of the question: have an idea of the kind of spells and magic you want to do, then figure out whether that's Spirit or something else.

I won't cut-and-paste the copyrighted text of Spirit here, but I want to refer to it so go re-read it now. (It's page 255 of Your Story.)

First, you need to get an idea of what Spirit does. The description of Spirit talks about the sort of power it is, and has a list of things that wizards usually do with it. It's "raw" magical energy, linked to the wizard's soul and will. Its most obvious uses are creating and controlling light and creating kinetic/force effects. It's also the Element of the veil that Harry uses in the books, hiding himself and other things from the attention of others.

Second, you need to figure out what sort of spells you imagine being done with the Spirit Element. So think about that, and brainstorm some things you can do with the creation and manipulation of light and force, both blunt and subtle. (How to Brainstorm is useful here.) After brainstorming, look at the list you've brainstormed: that's a picture of what you think Spirit does. Now flip to page 293, "Example Evocation Spells", and comb through it looking for "Type: Spirit". (About half of them are Spirit Evocations.) Add those to your list. Now you've got a list of things that Spirit can do that includes both what you think it can do and what the game authors thought it could do. Mush that together, and you've got a fertile source of ideas for spells and off-the-cuff magic to make happen during play.

Now that you've got cool ideas in your head, now you can see what a Spirit Evoker does, and you're equipped for picking and choosing the magic rules you need to represent those spells.

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Good answer to a questionable question! –  C. Ross Jun 2 '13 at 18:55
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Use the force, Luke.

As Thaumaturgy, Spirit can do all kinds of cool things, from messing with ghosts to being the go-to element for shaping and creating things out of the stuff of the NeverNever. However, you asked about Evocation, and while the magic in Dresden will never bind you down, the short and sweet version is to use the force!

Throw things. Seriously, pick up a speeder (er, I mean car) and flip it at a target. Unleash a kinetic blast that knocks everyone around on their butt. Pull your trusty sidearm to you from the snowdrift it's frozen in. Grab that huge chunk of sheet metal from over there and use it as a shield. Use it to grab yourself and lift, jumping incredible distances and performing alarming acrobatics, or use it to grab your enemy by the throat and choke the life out of him. Grab the bad guy's hand and make him slap himself. Use it to feel the very life energy of those around you, eerily predicting their movements and seeing opponents behind you or when blindfolded. Use your sword-handle focus to create a blade of pure energy that you use to hack through the foe or through solid walls.

It's not like that's all you can do with Spirit evocation, but you have to admit- being Luke Skywalker is a pretty good start. If after a while you get bored of being a jedi, then I cannot help you. Every game is better with jedi.

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The magic of the setting in The Dresden Files is highly tuned to the individual practitioner, as Harry states several times in the books. As such, the magic system in the RPG is tailored to this.

I recently had a Spirit Evoker, and that was a problem we had, especially as a person new to roleplaying. What we had to do was to talk about the character and what he was trying to do that would give him the idea that Spirit was the way to go for this particular wizard.

In his case, he wanted to play someone that had been tempted by necromancy, and still had the miasma of that experience clinging to his magic, and permeating his aura. The other thing he wanted to bring forth at times was that it was an encounter with the spirit of his lost love that had brought him back from the edge.

That shaped his rotes and the spells that he used, from a Kinetic Shield rote to the Miasma of repelling that he used for his veil, to the Soul shard that he used for his major offensive spell. In the end, he used specializations in Spirit, his Conviction, and his Discipline to fling spells, just as a Fire Evoker would do. The rules support the magic- they don't define it.

A little later, when the Warden was killed, he used some things he had gathered to call up the Warden's shade in order to question the Spirit. His background in Spirit magic was more of a permission for this knowledge, rather than a rule that surrounded the use of it. In the end, it was a standard thaumaturgic ritual. Again, the rules support the magic- they don't define it.

Concentrate more on the narrative, and the idea that the magic of Spirit is that of pure magical essence and the intangibles of that sort of power and you'll make not just a generic Spirit mage, and more of a Spirit aspected character that has a magic that reflects his background.

TL;DR - The major point is that the magic, just like everything else, should follow the narrative, rather than the other way around. Create a practitioner that has a story around his use of Spirit magic, and the actual spells used will flow from that source.

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+1, and QFT: "The rules support the magic—they don't define it." –  SevenSidedDie Jun 3 '13 at 2:21
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This is all true, but it is basically a discussion of the engine's philosophy and largely unhelpful to the OP, who is asking a setting question. While Fate in general behaves as you describe, DFRPG is a very strong setting and the OP is asking how Spirit magic (not a new magic he's created that he calls "Spirit") behaves in the setting. The examples are moderately helpful, but the conclusion and advice are less so. –  BESW Jun 3 '13 at 8:47
    
I'd disagree with your assessment. It is helpful from the point of view of directing the OP towards the character rather than preconceived notions of Spirit as he seems to be- Spirit is defined as the practitioner defines as shown in the examples, which is the point that is garnering the close votes. The OP isn't really asking a setting question as much as he's asking a rules question if you refer to the line "what kinds of spells can Spirit allow." It really allows anything truth be told. The differences in approaches are what you make them IMO. –  wraith808 Jun 3 '13 at 14:53
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