A spirit planchette is typically found in a wooden case with a thin wooden board printed with numerous letters and numbers. Nonmagical versions of these divination tools can be purchased in curiosity shops (typically costing 25 gp);while these items can be used as alternative components for augury spells, only magical spirit planchettes allow users to communicate with the other side. Three types of spirit planchettes exist—brass, cold iron, and silver. Each in turn allows an increasingly potent form of divination effect to be used. A spirit planchette requires a board to move upon, but this “board” can be made up of letters scribed upon any smooth surface—it need not be a prepared board for a spirit planchette to work.
To use a spirit planchette, you must rest your fingers lightly upon the planchette’s surface and then concentrate on the planchette for 2d6 rounds while the planchette attunes itself to the ambient spirits of the area. After this time, the planchette begins to slowly slide in random patterns across the board—at this point, questions may be asked of the spirits by any of the individuals involved in the séance. The consequences of each question asked of the spirits depends upon what type of planchette is used for the divination.
The spirits reply in a language understood by the character who asked the question, but resent such contact and give only brief answers to the questions. All questions are answered with “yes,” “no,” or “maybe,” or by spelling out a single word from the letters arranged on the board. The spirits answer each question either in the same round the question is asked (in the case of a yes, no, or maybe answer) or at a rate of one letter per round (in the case of a single word being spelled out). A spirit planchette may be used once per day—the maximum number of questions you can ask with it depends on the type of planchette being used.
Communication with spirits can be a dangerous task, for many spirits are jealous or hateful of the living. Every time a spirit planchette is used, the user must succeed on a Will save to avoid being temporarily possessed and harmed by the angry spirits. In some areas where the spirits are particularly violent or hateful ,this Will save takes a –2 penalty. The DC of this save depends on the type of spirit planchette being used. Anyone who fails the Will save becomes confused for a number of rounds (depending on the type of planchette being used), and no answer is received. The spirits in the area are not omniscient—, and if they do not know, the answer granted is automatically “maybe.”
Ysabot was scornful of the usefulness of the Brass Planchette found by the party in Ravengro.
“Normally I’d be all to happy to engage in dangerous meddling with unknown magicks but I doubt the value of asking a single question of a random spirit who might be anything from the village idiot to the nightsoil collector. The chances are they won’t know anything of use, and I don’t see the point. I say leave it to the drawing room thrill seekers Alendru can sell it to, while we run off with our share of the cash.”