By Patrick O'Duffy.
When the Monarchs ruled the world, they took over the entire planet, and divided the world amongst themselves. The North American continent was ruled by Pui Ti, the Queen of the Ice Pagoda. Among her subjects were the American Indian tribes of that time, and it was the shamans of that time that created the Spirit Poles.
A Spirit Pole is a 15 foot wooden totem pole, careved with the faces of various animals and monsters. Although wooden, it is magically resistant to damage and age. In the hands of a trained shaman, a Spirit Pole is used to summon the spirits of the dead, and was a sacred holy item. If the dead person was buried with some of their possession (as was often the custom), the Pole would even bring back the ghosts of these items.
The Monarchs saw the potential of the Poles, and sought to learn their secrets. Howeverm the shamans had no wish to have their scared Poles profaned by the outlanders, and destroyed most of the Poles. Some few still existed, and were sought by the Monarch's servants. When a Pole made its way into the Netherworld, another facet of its power was discovered. By commanding the spirits of the Pole, shaping the material of the Netherworld became easier. This just made the Monarchs more eager to get their hands on the Poles.
Then came the critical shift that wiped out the Monarch's juncture. Most of the Poles that still existed vanished, having never existed in the new reality. Only those very few Poles in the Netherworld still exist, lost somewhere in the tunnels, possibly damaged by time. One was seen on an island in the Whirlpool of Blood, but it was broken in half. The Monarchs still seek the Poles, hoping to tap their powers for Shaping and raising the spirits of the dead. The Lotus, too, have learned of the Poles, and will stop at nothing to obtain one in order to raise an army of the dead...
* * *
Spirit Poles can only be used properly by a properly-trained shaman, and they all vanished in the critical shift. A sorcerer can learn to use a Pole, but can never perfectly master the object.
The Spirit Pole gives a +2 AV bonus to the use of the Summoning sorcery schtick, but with provisos. The bonus only applies to ghosts and spirits, not monsters or abominations, and does not apply to the Corruption or Desecration effects. However, a sorcerer using the Pole for the Invocation effect does not need a body part of the spirit -- they need merely know its name.
The Pole can also be used to summon ghostly weapons, vehicles, or other items. Only things that have been destroyed may be summoned. The ghostly item appears to be made out of flame, though it does not burn or even feel hot. Ghostly weapon do +1 damage, and will affect creatures immune to normal damage. A ghostly gun will never run out of ammo. Ghostly items (cars, VCRs, the Titanic) need no fuel or electricity to run. However, use of the Purification or Banishment effects will work against these items.
A sorcerer with knowledge of necromancy (like the Lotus) might be able to use the Pole to create zombies, raise hopping vampires, or similar evil.
Finally, anyone with a Spirit Pole gets +3 AV for Shaping attempts, as ghostly figures fly from the Pole and carve the substance of the Netherworld.
Of course, if the Pole is broken, some or all of these powers may not work. Use of the Pole is bound to attract attention -- not just from other factions, but from the lords of the Underworld...
Last modified: September 10th, 1997; please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.