Possession is a classic feature of fantasy and horror fiction and gaming. In The Fantasy Trip, possessions occurs when a wizard casts the Possession spell. “Exorcism” takes place when the Dissolve Enchantment spell is cast on the victim. That’s fine–but there could be so much more to possession and exorcism than that…
Possession and Exorcism in TFT
In the canon rules of Advanced Wizard, possession occurs when a wizard casts the IQ 20 Possession spell. The only ways listed to remove the possession is by having another wizard cast the IQ 17 Dissolve Enchantment spell, kill the wizard who cast the Possession spell, kill the victim (!) or have the possessing wizard voluntarily release the victim. Demons or any other supernatural creatures are not mentioned.
That can give a low fantasy feel to possessions, with dark wizards possessing heroes or heroines, but misses a big opportunity for the supernatural. Possessions by demons or other hellish and evil creatures is also a big part of fantasy and horror gaming. Those events have great roleplaying opportunities, as well as storytelling ones.
What is needed are some simple rules that keep the spirit of the Possession spell, but allow for possession by otherworldly beings–and some way to fight them. This would allow for a more gothic feel to campaigns, but also add more supernatural elements.
How to Get Possessed, or “Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law”
(OK, that doesn’t apply here, but I couldn’t resist…) These optional house rules would keep the basic Possession spell as-is, but allow its use by other-worldly creatures. These include:
Demons. This category includes all evil spirits from other planes of existence–Hell, Hades or any other underworld. Demons are particularly insidious and strong creatures, and possession by demonic forces is extremely difficult to remove.
Ghosts. Some myths and stories have ghosts or other undead spirits possessing victims. Ghosts can also be invasive, but not as difficult to remove as demons.
If you are using the TFT:Gothic rules, there would also be impacts of being possessed–being possessed earns 1 corruption point if the victim fails a 3d/IQ saving roll, with a -1 modifier (mind invaded/controlled).
Both the GM and the player should work together to play possessions. The game effects would be the same as in the Possession spell, but the roleplaying should emphasize the source of the possession, as well the impacts on those around them.
How to Exorcise Possessions
With more ways to get possessed, it does beg the question: how to get rid of it–or stop it?
The standard spell is still Dissolve Enchantment. The drawback to this spell is that it costs 50 ST–not an easy solution.
Another solution would be to have an Exorcism spell. This spell would be targeted specifically against possessions, but not removing any other spell or enchantment. The cost would be lower–manageable by 1 wizard or priest (with help). Performed as part of a ritual, the spell would be even more dramatic. Of course, the costs of failure would need to be higher to make the risks more real.
EXORCISM: (S) [inthelabyrinth.org] Negates the effects of any possession. If the possessing spirit is a ghost or other undead, add 1 die to the DX roll. If the possessing spirit is demonic, add 2 dice. Cost to cast: 15 ST. Time to cast: 1 hour. Duration: permanent. If the lead caster rolls a 17 or 18 when attempting this spell, he must roll 4 dice vs. IQ. If he fails that roll, then he become spossessed by the possessing spirit.
In order to stop or prevent possessions from happening in the first place, a good strong Pentagram or Spell Shield would be the strongest defences. Unfortunately, unless you have a self-powered magic item or don’t plan on leaving your room, those are pretty limited!
So–possessions and exorcisms are great opportunities for gaming. They add danger, fear and a dark tone for any campaign. These additions give TFT some more flavor when dealing with these gothic situations, but try to keep things simple, too.
Let me know what you think!