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> Multiple David Carradine beatdowns for SR3!, AKA I hate mind control
Wounded Ronin
post Feb 18 2006, 01:22 AM
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One thing which has sometimes annoyed me is how powerful the mind control spells in SR3 are. Even though they require a threshold of successes in my experience as a GM tey are almost impossible to reist when cast by a decently-designed PC mage. Short of sacrificing believability by giving all NPC enemies Willpower scores significanly above the supposed average of 3 ("Yes, the rent-a-cop has a willpower of 9. What?") and/or jumping throug hoops to make as many NPCs as possible unseeable, I really had trouble seeing how the poewr of he mind control spells could be managed.

I still haven't managed to come up with a good solution, but it hsa lead me to think a lot about the Iron Will physad power. It seemed like one of the few things which could give a character a good chance of not being mind controlled despite repeated attempts. After all, there's a lot of items in the game which raise physical sats, but not so many which really boost Willpower. I started to think about what kind of NPC could have a really high willpower for a plausible reason. (The plausible reason could be used to justify the existence of MANY such NPCs.)

I thought immediately about Buddhist monks. Buddhist monks spend a lot of their time meditating precisely so that they can be free of illusions and impure mental compulsions. There are anecdotes about advanced meditators wo can do things like sit still while burning to ash, or take huge doses of psychiatric drugs but not be affected. Indeed, the final goal of a Buddhist monk is to transcend his very humanity through the peaceful death of desires, passions, and dharma. Who would be better than a Buddhist monk to give the gigantic middle finger to the player who keeps being a mind control whore?

Then the question becomes, "Why would a Buddhist monk, who is trying to be spiritually pure, end up mixed up with shadowrunners?" This is where we thank David Carradine for making shaolin monks, and even shaolin monks involved with organized crime, a tired cliche in the West so that your players wont't be able to say, "A Buddhist monk punches me with five successes? I attempt to disbelieve!" Thanks to David Carradine, we don't even need to puzzle out how a sublime Buddhist monk should talk or act. All we have to do is rip off Caine, and maybe sprinkle in some badly dubbed 1970s Hong Kong "Buddha be praised!" utterances.

If nothing else, you'll have the satisfaction of assaulting your PCs with a dozen or so David Carradine clones, which is what I'm told is what happens when you go to hell anyway.

So, now we just need a justification for why these Buddhist monks are out to get the PCs. You can probably work out the best campaign-specific reasons yourself, but here are a few generic possibilities:

1.) The PC who whores mind control manipulations is seen as an evil which must be rooted out.
2.) If the PCs use spirits to cause a lot of damage the monks come after the PCs in their capacity as religious exorcists. With their really high Willpower scores the monks have a better chance than most of beating up physically-manifested spirits, especially if they twink with bo staffs.
3.) The monks have actually been decieved by some evil guy and are coming after the PCs in error. Be sure to rub all the dead monks in the faces of the "ethical" PCs after this when misunderstandings are cleared up.

Finally, we com eto the munchy cream center of this piece: the statistical guidelines.

Generic David Carradine ripoff (adjust as needed)
B 6
S 6
W 9 (18) <-- hijack this!!
I 4
C 6
Q 6
R 5
Init 5 + 1d6
Karma Pool: At least 5 for non-initiates, siince monks spend much of their time chanting sutras to accrue good karma. Multiple initiates may as well be throug the roof in this department.
Combat Pool: 9

Powers:
Iron Will + 9
Counterstrike or Improved Ability, 3 levels
Initiates should probably take init boosters or more Improved Ability/Counterstrike

Skills:
Unarmed Combat 8
Pole Arms 8
clubs 8
Whips/Flails 8
Athletics 8
Stealth 8
Ettiquette (Buddhist formal) 3 (5)
Instruction 5

Knowledge Skills:
Buddhism 5
Martial Arts Theory 5
Chinese History 4
Monasic Procedures 5
Spirits 4
Criminal Underworld 3
Meditation 8 (used for centering when applicable)

Gear:
random martial arts weapon
robes
begging bowl
(Hey, this is the perfect answer for that accountant player!)
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hyzmarca
post Feb 18 2006, 01:36 AM
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o, are we talking about the original Caine or The Legend Continues Caine. The original was a more down to earth character while the sequal version was an empty-force using ghost-busting chi-manipulating son-of-a-gun.

I guess the elder Caine would be an initiate of a magician-adept group that exists entirely on the metaplane of Shambala while the younger and brasher Caine would be more in line with the generic character. Wise use of karma pool can ensure that everyone whom the generic Caines try to non-leathaly subue accidently hit their heads on rocks and die.
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Mr.Platinum
post Feb 18 2006, 01:45 AM
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ah Chuck Norris and The Undead Bruce Lee would destroy him.
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nezumi
post Feb 18 2006, 03:39 AM
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No idea who David Carradine is, but I've never had too much trouble with mind control. If it's something like mind probe, well that's why you have middle men. THey only know what they;ve been told to tell you. If it's control actions, have two people. You now have one guy who is operating at +2 to all actions at best, probably worse than that, plus taking up the mage's actions, dealing with his buddy who has no restrictions, will realize his buddy is acting like a marionette, and really was hoping for a chance to try out his new tazer anyway.
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mfb
post Feb 18 2006, 04:33 AM
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QUOTE (nezumi)
No idea who David Carradine is

KILL IT BEFORE IT REPRODUCES, IT'S NOT HUMAN!
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CeaDawg
post Feb 18 2006, 05:10 AM
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QUOTE (nezumi)
No idea who David Carradine is,....

Ah young grasshopper, your ignorance betrays your age, snatch this starburst™ from my hand. To fail is to search late night cable tv channels for reruns of "KungFu" To succeed gets you a twinky and a Boot to the Head™
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blakkie
post Feb 18 2006, 05:12 AM
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A slightly more helpful link. You may not know the actor's name, but surely you recognize the face? Caine from Kung Fu[:The Legends Continues]? Although he was also in Kill Bill 1&2 and about a bazzillion other movies/shows over the last 40+ years.
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Edward
post Feb 18 2006, 05:52 AM
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As I recall the drain on mental compulsions was significant, having to meet a threshold means you cant put so many dice to drain as you might like so doing it to often would be a problem for that reason as well as having penalties to cast it on a second target because your sustaining a spell on the first (a sustaining focus will help but would need a good force and thatís less other foci that can be used). To reduce its applicability in a single instance limit the information middle men have (there bosses are aware of these spells) and have guards work in groups of 2 or more, as well as monitored security video (buy building rigger or sec Decker).

The spells remain useful but are not useful in every situation and somebody that tries to use them as if they are should soon find that the best they can do is reduce there own efficiency for the fight a lot to buy a single ally among the enemy.

Edward
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eidolon
post Feb 18 2006, 06:33 AM
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QUOTE (Edward)
As I recall the drain on mental compulsions was significant, having to meet a threshold means you cant put so many dice to drain as you might like so doing it to often would be a problem for that reason as well as having penalties to cast it on a second target because your sustaining a spell on the first (a sustaining focus will help but would need a good force and thatís less other foci that can be used).


Tell that to me after you've GM'd for my group. Top priority on my "do better next time" list is nerfing the hell out of the mental spells. Flame me and try to convince me that I'm either wrong, or just doing it wrong all you like, it won't change my opinion that they're too powerful for what paltry little effort goes into them.

Yes, you can "limit the information" or "give out iron wills", but after a while those just become trite and cheesey, killing even more suspension of disbelief than the PCs being able to take control of or read the minds of half the planet with nearly no effort.

Maybe some players build a generalist that has Mind Probe at F3 and rarely gets one off, but my group doesn't have any of them.
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nezumi
post Feb 18 2006, 12:50 PM
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Thank you, blakkie. No, I was born in 1980 and never got into kung fu movies, sorry.

eidolon - can you tell me what stats your PC in question is using? With a force 5 spell, 6 willpower, 6 sorcery and a full spell pool, I've still found that even one control thoughts spell puts the mage at at least Light stun, and they succeed by the skin of their teeth. So that now means +3 to all actions the NPC in question is doing, and a +1 to the mage for the rest of the run. That stuff stacks up pretty quickly, and if the NPC is with a group, his being controlled isn't a huge amount of use. If the NPC is all alone, why didn't they just narcojet him to begin with?

Mind probe is different because the PCs generally have all the time in the world. But I make sure three things always happen: 1) The NPC is aware that he's been mindprobed, 2) The NPC's employer knows what mind probe is and aware that most mages have that ability (even if that's not true he thinks this, be it due to paranoia or fearmongering is your call) and so will intentionally not tell his employee anything he doesn't mind the party knowing, 3) mind probe is not complete. It lets you search for surface thoughts and you can only ask so many questions before the spell needs to be recast.

So yes, if the PCs have caught the kidnapper in their dungeon and have a mind-probe spell on hand, they'll solve the mystery. Good for them. If they catch the Johnson or are trying to find out who stole the diamond or are trying to discretely get past this code-locked door, mind probe will not help.
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eidolon
post Feb 18 2006, 06:49 PM
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I should be able to give you numbers after today's game, if you like. OTOH, I'm pretty sure that it's F6 spells (always, he tends to cast hight even when hurt, which does bite him sometimes), Sorcery 6, Spell Pool 6, and there's a focus in there somewhere, if I'm not mistaken. Needless to say, he doesn't have a hard time achieving successes, even against willpowers of 4, 5, and usually 6. Given the dice of the NPC to resist, against a F6 they usually don't have too much of a chance.

For Control Thoughts, sure, it's pretty useless to have a member of an opposing runner team, or a cop, or a corpsec guard running around the building tearing it up with you. They'll eventually break it. But when you use the spell intelligently, say, to make a tech log into a computer for you, or tell you passcodes for something, or you have one guard at a door turn and shoot the other guard at point blank range, it's damn effective and there's not much you can do about it as GM that doesn't just start falling into the "whiny GM no likey" area. And yeah, they get Will rolls to try to resist doing something. But when the security guard with a will of 3 couldn't succeed to resist the spell in the first place, do you really expect him to get enough successes to break free of the spell's effect?

And as you've said, usually with Mind Probe you have forever, which means that even when he does take Drain (and it's rarely above M) it doesn't matter. Maybe I could throw stuff at them right after they M P someone, but that's artificial 9 times out of 10 and would just be pissy GMing.

Same goes for having every NPC be "unaware of anything". It eventually ruins believability. Even if the NPC's employer doesn't tell them every little thing, any good runner team is going to try and find out as much as they can before actually doing a job. If they don't, that's the GMs cue to kill them for being lazy. :) So again, if I were to consistently go this route just to defeat M P, crap GMing. Things have to make sense. Sometimes a person not knowing anything makes sense. Not always.

Also, as far as
QUOTE (nezumi)
It lets you search for surface thoughts and you can only ask so many questions before the spell needs to be recast.

I would suggest re-reading the spell in question, specifically the "Mind Probe Results" table at the top of page 193, SR3.
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BookWyrm
post Feb 18 2006, 07:49 PM
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QUOTE (CeaDawg)
QUOTE (nezumi @ Feb 17 2006, 09:39 PM)
No idea who David Carradine is,....

Ah young grasshopper, your ignorance betrays your age, snatch this starburst™ from my hand. To fail is to search late night cable tv channels for reruns of "KungFu" To succeed gets you a twinky and a Boot to the Head™

An appropriate recompence, CeaDawg. You are relieved of scrubbing the temple walls for today.
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tisoz
post Feb 18 2006, 09:02 PM
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QUOTE (eidolon)
I'm pretty sure that it's F6 spells (always, he tends to cast hight even when hurt, which does bite him sometimes), Sorcery 6, Spell Pool 6, and there's a focus in there somewhere, if I'm not mistaken. Needless to say, he doesn't have a hard time achieving successes, even against willpowers of 4, 5, and usually 6. Given the dice of the NPC to resist, against a F6 they usually don't have too much of a chance.

I would guess so, too. A Force 6 spell is twice as hard to resist as a Force 5 spell.

QUOTE
Also, as far as
QUOTE (nezumi)
It lets you search for surface thoughts and you can only ask so many questions before the spell needs to be recast.

I would suggest re-reading the spell in question, specifically the "Mind Probe Results" table at the top of page 193, SR3.


That description sounds closer to the Word Recognition spell from SotA64 with its drain code of only M.
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nezumi
post Feb 19 2006, 12:57 AM
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The other thing that immediately leaps to mind, don't forget that J's don't like mindprobe. If they're mindprobed, they will stop doing business with the runners. A lso don't forget that the caster needs LoS to cast the spell. This is why astral security is so valuable. As soon as he's casting a spell, the little watchers go 'wheee! Magic user!'

Also, if they use it all the time, there's no reason you shouldn't either :P Have the Street Sam roll his will vs. a TN of 6, then gak the nasty mage.
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hyzmarca
post Feb 19 2006, 03:37 AM
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QUOTE (nezumi)
The other thing that immediately leaps to mind, don't forget that J's don't like mindprobe. If they're mindprobed, they will stop doing business with the runners. A lso don't forget that the caster needs LoS to cast the spell. This is why astral security is so valuable. As soon as he's casting a spell, the little watchers go 'wheee! Magic user!'

Err... no. Mindprobe, like all detection spells, is a sustained artificial sense. It is cast on a subject, not the target. It is just like magical low-light vision of the mind. You can cast it long before the meeting and simply sustain it. With masking and a sustaining focus it isn't too difficult to conceal.
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tisoz
post Feb 19 2006, 04:52 AM
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QUOTE (hyzmarca)
Err... no. Mindprobe, like all detection spells, is a sustained artificial sense. It is cast on a subject, not the target. It is just like magical low-light vision of the mind. You can cast it long before the meeting and simply sustain it. With masking and a sustaining focus it isn't too difficult to conceal.

QUOTE (SR3 @ page 193)
Allows the subject to telepathically probe the mind of a visible target within the range of the sense (chosen when the spell is cast).


Wouldn't you need ritual sorcery or some means of identifying the target if you are casting well ahead of the meet?

At first, I thought you were trying to say the magician could cast this into a sustaining focus on someone, then that subject gets to direct it around like a sense, mind probing anyone that comes along. Clearly, each casting is for a specific target chosen when the spell is cast.
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hyzmarca
post Feb 19 2006, 08:30 AM
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The positioning of the term "visible target" suggests that it means visible to the subject but not necessarilary the caster and that is the way I interperate it.
The positioning of the parenthetical remark suggests that it refers to "the range of the spell" and not the "visible target." This is an asanine way to interperate it given the wording of other detection spells but it is plausable given the wording of mindprobe.

I'd say that the target is chosen by the mage at the time of the casting, much like the subject of Detect Individual but the subject requires LOS to the target in order to use the sense.

A more conservative GM might say that the range of the spell is determined when the spell is cast and the subject may mindprobe any visible individual within that range.
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nezumi
post Feb 19 2006, 01:46 PM
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QUOTE (hyzmarca @ Feb 19 2006, 03:30 AM)
The positioning of the term "visible target"  suggests that it means visible to the subject but not necessarilary the caster and that is the way I interperate it.

If I'm reading you right, it means if the mage wants to cast mind probe on Bob, Bob has to be within LOS of HIMSELF?? Is that seriously how you're reading that? Why would they even put that in? When is the subject NOT visible to himself? Does this mean it can't be cast o blind people?

I think the rules are pretty clear. The mage must have LOS on Bob. Because it is simple LOS, there is no set 'range'.


QUOTE (SR3)

"The subject ma probe for one piece of information per initiative pass.  For each additional use of Mind Probe against the same target within a number of hours equal to the target's willpower, add +2 to the target number per attempt."


The mind probe gets the answer to ONE QUESTION per initiative pass. With each consecutive pass, the TN goes up by +2.

Assume the PC has a sorcery of 6 and the target has a willpower of 4 (about average for a human, low for a J). We can expect 1-2 successes which gets:

"The subject can read the target's surface thoughts".

If you have found that mindprobe is incredibly powerful, this may be because you're interpreting the rules wrong. I cannot imagine any GM letting a caster 'cast mind probe' into a sustaining focus then walk past the guy he wants and just 'know' everything he could possibly want without the target ever being the wiser. I would wonder how such a game could even run, since, hypothetically, the caster could just say 'the guy with the passcode to the door we will want to pass through at point X', put it into a focus, and wander around the facility aimlessly until he collects all the pass codes in the place.
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toturi
post Feb 19 2006, 01:59 PM
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You know he could just, do a funny shuffle thingy that brings a calm peaceful sensation to everyone who views it, and then cast Mind Probe.

And nezumi, I think the sustained spell thing is workable, but he needs to see the target at the time of casting. Also, I could see how a GM may interpret the "additional use" line as additional casting, because the +2 TN does not make any sense otherwise. You have your successes, you do not change the number of successes you have until you recast the spell.
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tisoz
post Feb 19 2006, 02:12 PM
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The last group I was in could not believe my shaman did not know Mind Probe. I never bothered because prior GMs never let it be of use, kind of like saying you can get the surface thoughts to one question, then the TN goes up by 2 unless you wait several hours. (If so, for answering a single question, the duration should be instant - not sustained.)

I learned the spell. Every time I used it, the target was a prisoner, usually suffering the effects of gama scopalamine and several boxes of stun. I think I had Sorcery/Spellcasting 5/7 and had initiated enough to get magic pool to 7. I had 2 or 3 Force 2 power Foci by this time, too come to think of it, so this example might not be too ordinary. But I regularly got 5 or more met successes even vs TN6. I think I had to reroll failures a time or two at this level, but without the power foci, a magician would normally reroll anyway.

Against a prisoner, their TN can be influenced to guarantee failure. Against a prisoner, there is no reason not to assume that a sustained mind probe spell, cast with 5+ net successes will let you have one question fully answered every initiative pass. In fact, initiative isn't being counted down at that point.

I never walked around mind probing everyone, nor did I bond a focus for the spell.
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hyzmarca
post Feb 19 2006, 02:22 PM
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QUOTE (nezumi @ Feb 19 2006, 08:46 AM)
QUOTE (hyzmarca @ Feb 19 2006, 03:30 AM)
The positioning of the term "visible target"  suggests that it means visible to the subject but not necessarilary the caster and that is the way I interperate it.

If I'm reading you right, it means if the mage wants to cast mind probe on Bob, Bob has to be within LOS of HIMSELF?? Is that seriously how you're reading that? Why would they even put that in? When is the subject NOT visible to himself? Does this mean it can't be cast o blind people?

No, it means that Bob needs LOS to use the mindprobing powers that the mage gave him. Mindprobe is cast on a subject not a target just like improved invisibility. If a mage casts improved invisibility on Bob then mage isn't making himself invisible to just Bob he is making Bob invisible to everyone else. Bob is the subject of the spell. Everone else is the target.

Comparing the text of Mind Probe to Mind Link highlights the ambiguity of the text. Mindlink specifies that both subjects must be within LOS of the caster at the time of casting. Mindlink doesn't use such plain language. It simply says that the subject may probe a visible target within range of the sense.

QUOTE
I would wonder how such a game could even run, since, hypothetically, the caster could just say 'the guy with the passcode to the door we will want to pass through at point X', put it into a focus, and wander around the facility aimlessly until he collects all the pass codes in the place.


'Some guy who knows something' isn't a valid choice for a target. Damien Knight is a valid choice for a target. 'Some guy' lacks specificity. Detect Individual sets a precident for a sense that is directed at a individual not in the caster's LOS but who is known to the caster. I'd say that the caster must know the target.

And the text plainly specifies that mindprobe is sustained.

Edit: The magician could specify Bob as both the target and the subject of the spell, in which case Bob would require Line of Sight to himself to mindprobe himself. But, mindprobing minself is kind of pointless unless he some very wierd mental disorder.
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nezumi
post Feb 19 2006, 06:06 PM
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QUOTE (toturi)
And nezumi, I think the sustained spell thing is workable, but he needs to see the target at the time of casting. Also, I could see how a GM may interpret the "additional use" line as additional casting, because the +2 TN does not make any sense otherwise. You have your successes, you do not change the number of successes you have until you recast the spell.

I'm not sure if you're saying the +2 applies to a new CASTING or a new QUESTION. Presumably, if applied to a new casting only, it's because the first time around the PC didn't munch out enough and get 5 successes instead of a measly 3. However, looking at the sentence grammatically, 'use' is most closely preceded by 'probe' - asking a question, which makes me think that that was what 'use' was referring to. Each consecutive question is at +2.

Hyzmarca... You may be correct by canon, but I suspect that's a typo. It seems weird compared to all the other detection spells. I'm not really big on the idea of precasting for a spell like that, but I guess it's not TOO game breaking... That said, you still won't see it in my games.
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eidolon
post Feb 19 2006, 09:12 PM
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Personally, I had to chuckle at the notion that any GM would allow something as ridiculous as pre-casting Mind Probe and just walk around scanning people's thoughts.

Have fun arguing the various ways of interpreting Mind Probe. I got enough of that just hammering out how it works in my current group.

Edit: For canon evidence supporting the fact that a target of Mind Probe automatically knows they're being invaded, see Brainscan.
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Glyph
post Feb 19 2006, 11:22 PM
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In SR2, you had that in the main introductory story. So the target of a mindprobe will be aware of it, although it took them until SR4 to actually put it in the text of the spell description itself. Better late than never, I guess.

If mind probe and controlling manipulations are unbalancing your game, just sit down with your players until you can all agree on some house rules, and let them re-allocate some spell points if they feel those spells are gimped too badly.

An army of Willpower 9 (18) Carradine clones is an amusing notion, but hopefully no one is taking it seriously. You might as well have them attacked by a gang of albino gnome otaku armed with Panther assault cannons. :P
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Wounded Ronin
post Feb 20 2006, 04:58 AM
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QUOTE (Glyph)

An army of Willpower 9 (18) Carradine clones is an amusing notion, but hopefully no one is taking it seriously. You might as well have them attacked by a gang of albino gnome otaku armed with Panther assault cannons. :P

I dunno, dude. I don't see why it's a lot more outlandish than being attacked by an army of troll gangers with bikes and cyberware, or being attacked by a band of regenerating vampires with weapon foci.
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RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 23rd October 2014 - 07:18 PM

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