This spell is taken from Ishar, an old school text MUD I used to play some six or seven years ago. The spell was exclusive to the MUD's necromancer class. It was also bugged as hell and pretty much didn't work as advertised. I always thought the idea of the spell was cool, so I'm translating it into an OSR spell.
Grim HeraldThis spell summons a spirit of the dead from the netherworld and compels it to deliver a message for the caster. It can be cast only at night, when the moon is overhead (even if it is obscured by clouds or otherwise not visible.) If cast otherwise, the spell has no effect and the slot is wasted.
1st level magic-user spell
1st level magic-user spell
The message must be brief, no more than perhaps thirty words, and the caster must know the real name of the intended recipient (otherwise the spirit simply vanishes and the spell is wasted.)
Once the spirit receives the message, it departs, travelling through the nether realms to find the message's recipient. This will happen in 1d4 hours. If day breaks (or is already broken where the recipient is), the spirit will not appear until the recipient is next under a dark sky with the moon overhead. The spirit can travel any distance on the same planet, but cannot travel to other planets or planes of existence. The spirit will appear before the recipient, utter the message in whatever language the caster gave it in, and then vanish. The spirit will not answer questions or converse with the recipient. The spell does not grant the recipient any way to reply; such is only possible if they have some means of their own to do so.
Being compelled by this spell is anguish for the spirit, and it will seek to complete the task at hand so it can return to the realm of the dead. If somehow trapped, it will wail in agony, repeating the message over and over again until released. The use of this spell is considered an evil act, if the DM is using an alignment system which considers such things.
A cleric can attempt to turn the spirit before it can finish the message. Doing so is resolved as an attempt to turn a 3HD creature.
Bonus: Make this a LotFP magic spell!
If you want to make this a Raggi-style spell, add the following failure table:
1- The dead are quiet tonight. The caster hears faint whispers for a few moments, but nothing further happens and the spell is wasted.
2- The spell works normally, the spirit appears to the recipient in a dream when next they sleep. The recipient has no way of knowing if the message is real or not.
3- The caster accidentally summons forth a shadow or similar undead apparition. The shadow is hostile to the caster and will attack immediately.
4- The spirit is not fully compelled. It will deliver the message, but it will omit or distort some key detail. Actual falsehood isn't possible, but the spirit can change the wording slightly to sabotage the meaning.
5- The caster summons a grim shade who will not be commanded. It listens to the message, but then departs into the realm of the underworld, never seeking out the intended recipient. There is a 1-2 chance on a d6 that the spirit delivers the message to an enemy of the caster or someone who would use the information to harm the caster or the recipient. Such plans will come to fruition in 1d6 months.
6- The spell is reversed: the caster is now bound to deliver a message for the spirit. The caster knows the general location and approximate distance of their charge. The caster suffers 1d6 damage every 24 hours until the message is delivered. If the caster dies, her spirit is still under compulsion, and acts as a spirit bound by the spell. Damage caused by this compulsion cannot be healed by any means until the task is complete. Keep in mind the spirit wants the message to be delivered.
7+- use the standard spell failure table for the result.