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> So you want to be a smuggler, Any tips?
Marwynn
post Jul 9 2007, 12:36 PM
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Starting out a campaign in the Pacific Rim, near and in the Philippines mostly during the 2063 revolution, and I need some advice on the proper means of smuggling.

Vehicle ideas for transportation for instance. The SR4 book has a small sampling but someone in my group has a ragged Rigger 3 I can look at. He's not that familiar with the needs of the illegal import/export biz so I figure at least some of you guys would know.

Campaign-wise I'm allowed a personal vehicle out of my own BP, half the cost of another vehicle to share with a partner in crime, and one total freebie within reason.

For my personal ride I've settled on an off-road motorcycle, the Growler or its 2063 equivalent.

But beyond that... well I bow to your experience. Are the small boats worth it like Miami Vice? Should I favour the hovercrafts, and just which are designed to be used on water for extended periods?

My character's a mage with illusion and manipulation spells so I may be able to do some magical legerdemain.


For the feel of all the characters mix Han Solo and Chewie with the Black Lagoon anime.

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Rotbart van Dain...
post Jul 9 2007, 01:03 PM
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Don't make the same mistake as the Smuggler Archetype - get Stealth Skills. :P
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Ryu
post Jul 9 2007, 01:13 PM
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Physical Mask WILL become handy, improved masking is a primary goal (requires access to Street Magic and two initiations).

The choice of transportation depends on the volume of smuggling goods you have in mind. Larger freights require a good hacker to fake documents, smaller transports can count on avoidance.
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Backgammon
post Jul 9 2007, 01:32 PM
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Smugglers, IMO, need TONS of contacts. You gotta know everyone to bribe. Stealth is much, much, much easier if no one is looking in your direction, know what I mean?
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Marwynn
post Jul 9 2007, 01:55 PM
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Good points all.

Do I really need the Stealth skill group if I have Improved Invisibility? Possibly with a Sustaining Focus. Could I get by with just Infiltration?

I'm thinking more in terms of smuggling arms and ammo than drugs and such. Specifically AKs for the Huk.
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Backgammon
post Jul 9 2007, 03:07 PM
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It really depends on how your GM understands smuggling to be in that region, and what kind of scale you are loking at.

If you want to do real smuggling, ie moving in creates and crates of AKs into a warzone, you're going to need a HELL of a lot more than a tiny spell and infiltration skill. Japanese warships guarding the waters - looking to blow specifically YOU up - are not going to be impressed by one spell. As soon as you try to smuggle by anyone remotely using any mage or spirit backup, your invisibility spell is not going to help you at all. You'll probably be using spirits, using concealment and accident/storm/etc to create diversions while you slip past sensor nets.

And in order to do that, your group is going to need solid legwork to discover weaknesses in the sensor net (contacts/social skills), hackers to muck up sensors and fighters to cover your retreat when things get nasty, as well as fight off pirates/rivals.


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sunnyside
post Jul 9 2007, 03:21 PM
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My first piece of advice is to try and feel your GM out. GMs are all over the map when it comes to smuggling. Especially if they don't have a copy of Target: Smuggler Havens.

And even that doesn't normalize things. What I'm saying is that some GMs might make little boats a deathtrap because they really have a hard time evading trouble if you're detected and aereal drones/cap ships are deployed. On the other hand they may shut down anything else because a small boat can blend into traffic and get through security that no other vehicle can. And if you do get caught they'll just send a pair of drones you can shoot down.

So feel them out. If you don't get a clear indication I'd pick vehicles you think would be fun for you, my personal picks would be.

T-bird. These are what the really hotshot smugglers of the SR setting use. They are the Millenium Flacons of shadowrun. Kind of even look like it too. Capable of vertical take off and landing, respectable cargo space, heavily armored (and usually heavily armed), and to top it all off they're able to outrun anything except a jet fighter.

I'd get mine watersealed if I were you.

THe trouble with T-birds is the pricetag. In SR3 a cheap one, with a pile of cost modifiers making them about as unreliable as the Millenium Falcon, could get under the 1 million nuyen price tag. In SR4 you're generally capped at 250,000 and there just isn't a way to make that happen, unless you sweet talk the GM.



Next up the amphibious Tilt wing aircraft. In effect this is a poor mans T-bird, as it can do most of the same things. I'm pretty sure you can get something via custom rules in rigger 3 to fit your budget. Or just tell the GM what you roughly want it to do and ask them to make something that fits your price tag. GMs love doing that, they won't feel you're being munchy, and since they made it they may be less likely to blow it up. :D


Otherwise a sub might be fun. You can't afford a real sub, but the minis are in your range. And subs can be fun, and are actually probably the best at getting somewhere undetected, just make sure your sub can get deep enough to put a couple thermoclines between themselves and surface ships so you don't show up on active sonar. And make sure it's at least up to repelling oceanic paracritters. I doubt many GMs could resist having a megaloden come after you at some point.

But maybe little boats and things are more your speed. Also if it's short ranged land based smuggling that's something else entirely. Also note that many of the hovercrafts can operate on the water and on land. Actually any hovercraft can do both if the land/water is flat enough. I'd strongly advise amphibious capabilities again. If the seas get rough you want to be able to just set down in the water and kick on the outboard. But don't forget that on land the things can't handle sharp inclines.
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Solomon Greene
post Jul 9 2007, 04:06 PM
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Don't overlook the helicopter option, either. A good 'copter can carry tons of cargo, give you the option of vertical take-off and landing and has pretty decent range. The only problem with most cargo choppers is that they are fragile or at best have a big weakness due to the rotors.

The Dragon (I think I'm remembering right - double rotor helicopter? Dragoon, maybe? I'm at work and bookless) has been mentioned as a capable smuggling vehicle.
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sunnyside
post Jul 9 2007, 04:46 PM
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Helicopters are of course the classic runner vehicle. With the Stallion probably being the most likely vehicle to see a group of PCs flying around in since at least second edition.

And the Dragon got a nice relative speed boost in SR4, so if your GM doesn't like using rigger 3 or making up their own vehicles you'd be able to actually outrun a lot.

Also I forget what its rigger 3 endurance is. But real world double props can have 1000 mile or slightly better ranges. Which is plenty for operations where you're staying in and around the Philippines.

Oh and I guess if your GM is a stickler for SR4 availibilities/rules and such you could run into trouble with a tilt wing. The SR4 book puts availibility at 16 (easy to get in game, but can't have at chargen typically), also the SR4 book only gives stats for helicopter mode though you could just use the Cessnas numbers for Airplane mode. You shouldn't have any troubles if you can use rigger 3 though.

Honestly choppers are used so much it just seems booring for a smuggling campaign to me. :sleepy:
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Marwynn
post Jul 9 2007, 04:53 PM
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I could bribe and blackmail to get a T-bird I think. However, it really wouldn't fit in with the 'low level' feel of the campaign I think. Besides, knowing my GM even if I can get one doesn't mean I'll get to keep it for long.

The Ares Dragon's a cargo copter and it is what I was looking at but its pricetag is a bit but it should have enough range and flexibility to make shipments. The problem is of course that it's way too visible, by that I mean if someone sees a machine like that where they're not supposed to be it's going to raise alarms fast.

For Choppers the Hughes WK-2 and the Ares TR55C also appear to be doable. They're common enough, but again since this is occupational forces of Japan in the Philippines they may just stand out.

There was another option, the single engine craft. Way less cargo space and load capacity, but they're apparently commonplace as air taxis: http://www.gods-inc.de/macavity/IsleOfShad...fixed-wing.html

The Dornier Europa or the Fiat-Fokker Cloud Nine, something similar should be available in the Hong Kong region.

The problem is landing them.

I'm looking mainly to run guns and we may be able to pool the resources of four people together, so something in the ~1,000,000 nY range should be doable. But again nothing too fancy.


Subs... now that has some promise.

A lot to think about.
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FrankTrollman
post Jul 9 2007, 05:31 PM
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There are several basic smuggling options:
  • Speed Magic can do great things. Specifically, if you can summon a Force 5 spirit with movement you can multiply the speed of your vehicle by 5 times. That means that you can take a Cessna 172 from Phnom Penh Cambodia to Yangon Burma in 27 minutes. If that's not enough time for intervening groups of blockaders to respond, then you're going to get your cargo to destination.
  • Corruption Bribery, contacts, and Alter Memory can all get someone to mark your shipment as already approved even if it hasn't been. Remember that Alter Memory is essentially only effective when you are alone with another person because other people in a group will be able to tell that you are casting spells.
  • Camouflage: Big There's a lot of legitimate mercantile traffic and nation states don't even have the authority to stop or check the contents of shipments under the auspices of extraterritorial megacorps like Shiawase or Ares. If you can successfully convince people that you're megacorporate property, only pirates will mess with you.
  • Camouflage: Small Civillians travel all the time and rarely have anything really worth taking from the standpoint of a government or major corporation. Civillians get only a cursory run-down from customs. If you can convince them that you are not a terrorist, you can bring whatever valuable microchips you want inside some shoddy video recorder.
  • Complete Invisibility If they don't know that you're crossing the border at all, they won't do anything about it no matter what you look like. Concealment is the best bet here as it subtracts from dicepools of all kinds of sensors. Unfortunately, anything you do magically to make yourself harder to see on the physical makes you easier to see on the astral. Know the border you're crossing, as some places have Watcher Patrols and lighting yourself up like a christmas tree on the astral is actually counter-productive to stealth.

-Frank
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kzt
post Jul 9 2007, 05:48 PM
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QUOTE (sunnyside)

T-bird. These are what the really hotshot smugglers of the SRsetting use. They are the Millenium Flacons of shadowrun. Kind of even look like it too. Capable of vertical take off and landing, respectable cargo space, heavily armored (and usually heavily armed), and to top it all off they're able to outrun anything except a jet fighter.

T-bird range is insanely short. You pretty much can't even be over the horizion without having many barrels of jet fuel and several to many minutes to refuel. And it's a combat vehicle, which means they will be willing to immediately go to massive deadly force, like PBWs or orbital lasers. There is a reason why people don't try to smuggle stuff using Mig 23s.
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sunnyside
post Jul 9 2007, 06:18 PM
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Frank(inadvertently) gives a great example of what I mean by "feel out your GM"

The first time you tell your GM that the mage summons a spirit and now your tilt wing does Mack 3 there will probably be a look of shock on his face if he'd never thought of it before, especially if you spring it mid adventure to outrun his careful trap. This will be followed by them flipping through the rulebook and staring at it for a while. And then the wheels will be turning. After all every world power has spirits, and probably has research into them, so it's just stupid that your team is the only group in the world doing this. And what other effects might it have? So your gameworld will now be morphing and adjusting around you. You'd want to know ahead of time what will come out.

Likely outcomes:

House rule: You can't use movement on vehicles and such things. Or general redo of movement, which is a weird power in the first place.

Threatens you into wanting your own house rule: GM points out that from now on all well funded corp/japanese missles do 180DV because of the massive velocity increase. Corps will start off with standard modern day high speed missles, and use spirits to accelerate them to mach 24. Which will vaporize your vehicle and the entire party on impact. If the party says. "We just want to play it RAW" consider yourselves dead. Probably in the next five minutes. Because that mach 24 missle will be on you so fast he will give you a massive penalty on your surprise roll and therefore you won't get to even dodge.

"Light" house rules: He says something like the movement power doesn't actually increase your momentum it just folds space or teleports you or something. Whatever. So weapons aren't any better. It's just that some vehicles have them and some don't. However using it regularly will draw lots of attention to you, and everyone else uses it too now. Also it's standard procedure to knock the spirit providing the power out via astral combat.

"Reality hurts" interpritation. Rules the increase velocity causes all sorts of problems. For example if your plane hits a flock of seagulls at mach 3 you're in deep stuff. Similarly missles can't guide themselves, weird wind sheer effects cause bullets to go off target. Any jet engine will stall out/flame out instantly due to air velocity going through it, lift gets ridiculous so airplanes of any kind have all sorts of trouble. Land vehicles have to make crash tests all the time, because they're going way way to fast. People on foot have to roll dodge to avoid high speed trees. Etc Etc Etc. This relegates the power to special circumstances.

Also under "feeling the GM out" you may want to know how often spirits are used in blockades. It could be that if you are ever detected you'll be swarmed by 20 force 4's. Everyone handles this a little differently.

EDIT: @ kzt. I'd need to look it up but I do remember that range is an issue with those things. Though I think it's fine in the Philippines, as they also have the ability to carry large amounts of fuel, and the typical ranges aren't that long.

Regardless the T-bird is unavoidable when talking about smuggling in SR fiction. For example I think on the official site the only smuggling related story is.

http://www.shadowrunrpg.com/fiction/fictio...n7_redeye.shtml

Ditto smuggler havens. Ditto many novels.

Some reasons for this are that T-birds are NOT exlusivly a military vehicle. At least in previous editions it was clear that corps had them. They're just a really nice courier vehicle. Like a helicopter but they'll get there faster and they're a lot more likely to make it in one piece.

Secondly their standard operating regime is Nape of Earth. Making them hard to detect with radar or sonar. Particularily above land that is sparsely populated.

Still I will admit they tend to raise eyebrows in urban areas if magic isn't used to conceal them.
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Eleazar
post Jul 9 2007, 06:30 PM
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One other thing for the Smuggler mage. Vehicle mask in Street Magic is very necessary.
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Marwynn
post Jul 9 2007, 06:49 PM
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Well my GM just got back to me on the budget; seems it's relatively unlimited though still comparably "small time". Meaning we can get a handful of vehicles for free but will have to make something like a T-bird a long term goal if it's at all possible.

The campaign will put us in the middle of the rebellion so eventually corp assets will be available to us; one way or the other.

As for movement, I don't think I can get away with multiplying speeds by that amount. It's damned interesting and even if magic would hold a vessel structurally together while under Movement you sure would be lighting up someone's radar.

I was thinking of something a bit more subtle. Like a Sailboat with an Air Spirit blowing mildly on it, not to the point of even doubling its speed but to make sure that its sails are always full no matter the direction you're facing.

Also, the assumption is that the traffic around the Philippines is heavy, far heavier than today. So hiding in plain sight could work as there'd be plenty of boats and ships and choppers and personal fliers going to and fro.

I just wish there was a Turn to Goo-like spell for objects. You're shipping slurry? Ugh, get the hell outta here!

Hmm...
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FrankTrollman
post Jul 9 2007, 06:56 PM
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QUOTE
"Light" house rules: He says something like the movement power doesn't actually increase your momentum it just folds space or teleports you or something. Whatever. So weapons aren't any better. It's just that some vehicles have them and some don't. However using it regularly will draw lots of attention to you, and everyone else uses it too now. Also it's standard procedure to knock the spirit providing the power out via astral combat.


This isn't even a house rules interpretation. Movement has never increased the damage of weapons. It just gets you from point A to point B in less time. So no super missiles or movemented bullets from sniper rifles.

You use up less fuel (because you're running the engine for less time), and you get there faster. That's it. Having it do anything else (such as increasing impact damage) is a house rule that is extremely fucking dangerous.

-Frank
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sunnyside
post Jul 9 2007, 07:05 PM
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You might want to ask him(possibly leading him a little) what vehicles are considered common. For example maybe amphibious tilt wings are common. Or maybe amphibious planes are common (I would expect that in the Philippines) and the tilt version is less common but can blend in until it goes to chopper mode.

If your GM considers it easy to get from here to there with ships you could get a larger slow ship. And then have ground vehicles land to do that part of the job (this is also what a sub might have to do. Tow the ground vehicles and cargo with floats behind it and then have them go up on a beach somewhere in the night).

EDIT @Frank. Hmmmmm I forgot in SR4 ramming damage stops going up after 200 meters per turn, which is what the super missle would be based off. Something with body 2 or 3 going at ~5000 meters per combat turn. So technically the mach 24 missle wouldn't work, except for surprise and vastly increase range. Although it does seem silly that increased velocity stops affecting ramming damage.

Still it looks like two wrongs have made a right after all.
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Marwynn
post Jul 9 2007, 07:09 PM
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Oh how I wish Shadowrun had Technical Readouts like CBT...

My current plan I'm going to propose is to take a less hardcore approach to smuggling. For example, a River Commander or a Swordsman would be a pleasure boat for hire; tourists and such go on board. The "shipping" company would have a Sendako Marlin too, also for hire, and a pair of Nightrunners for escort duty.

All of which could traverse the seas well enough and would allow for more seaborne... ventures. However this would limit us all to sea bound vessels, so I think we gotta settle for the Marlin with a pair of Nightrunners. Then maybe a Cessna or an affordable Tilt-wing/Rotor.

Then of course we'd get access to ground vehicles which aren't going to be ours. Plus our own personal vehicles which would be the only ones that would cost BP.

I take it Vehicle Mask is like Physical Mask for vehicles? I haven't spent too much time with Street Magic.

Is there any way to not make the vessel stand out astrally?

Now, I might as well try to figure out WHAT to smuggle besides just AKs.


EDIT:

Oh to clarify things a bit the campaign takes place after the recall of Japanese troops from the Philippines. So security isn't as tight as it used to be but it's been replaced by corp mercs.

Hence the relative openness here.
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Jaid
post Jul 9 2007, 07:48 PM
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so wait... what's wrong with the hovercraft again? the one that is designed for commercial uses such as delivery vehicles, but can also be converted for passengers and such iirc?
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Marwynn
post Jul 9 2007, 08:00 PM
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Not much really, I may buy it for my character actually. It's got plenty of room and such, and I don't know if it'd stand out in the seaways between Hong Kong and the Philippines.

In fact, it's probably preferred since they'll be going in rivers and such. The Marlin, the hover truck, and the two Nightrunners would be flexible enough.

Do such hovercraft go on the open ocean to head out to other countries?
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Jaid
post Jul 9 2007, 08:08 PM
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well, it's not an extremely large vehicle or anything... i mean, it's got a body attribute in the same range as a delivery van... which i take as a rough indicator that it probably has a similar size to said delivery van. so, i figure about the size of one of those U-haul moving trucks that are the smallest size (of U-haul, that is)... so i dunno, 25-30 feet long, about 10 feet wide (maybe 12? i dunno) and about 10 feet high (including wheels etc on the truck, so including the skirt on the hovercraft i guess)

i don't see that exactly going across the ocean... but if you were considering a sailing ship, i don't see how this would be any less capable of travelling from island to island than that at least =)
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Marwynn
post Jul 9 2007, 08:27 PM
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A local asset probably. A sailboat or maybe the River Commander would unload somewhere with the hovercraft nearby.

In fact, the GMC Everglades would be able to take the cargo of the River Commander plus whatever else is tucked inside the other vessels.

Nothing too fancy... I like it.

Probably something we'd use instead of a normal wheeled van as our shadowrunning ride.

Now to convince the other players and the GM!

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sunnyside
post Jul 9 2007, 08:45 PM
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I think of it kinda like

http://www.australianhovercraft.com/lady_b...lady_bernie.htm

Thouhg maybe using something more like a small jet engine than the fan. Looks like they're passibly oceanworthy in fair weather. However I would make sure yours was sealed so if you do end up rolling in the water you don't sink. Such as if you get caught out in a storm.

Still the hovercrafts primary enemy is a slope.

Rigger 3 I think actually has a specific rule as to what slope you can handle.

http://www.neoterichovercraft.com/general_...and_answers.htm
has some real world info.

As for the philippines a topographical map is at

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/comm...hysical_map.png

So you can see there are some nice lowlands around some rivers that the hovertruck would probably deal with just fine more or less. However there are plenty of mountains and those probably have roads designed for cars but that a hovercraft simply can't handle.

Hmmm, If you have other vehicles you could tow the thing. up the higher slopes.
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Wasabi
post Jul 9 2007, 09:37 PM
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The hardest thing to smuggle past is Spirits. There are several ways to neutralize spirits without disrupting them, which I'll skip from this since it isnt about smuggling.

When you are in a high-sec area you'll want to know if you're being tailed. Thats shadowing skill BUT when driving you use the LOWER of either Piloting_Skill+Reaction or Intuition+Shadowing. You'll need both skills high to notice the tail. A mystic adept with improved ability: shadowing might have an edge both at tailing others and avoiding tails. Note that with drones you could be tailing the person tailing you...

Secondly, you will eventually need to hide your vehicle from prying eyes without the use of magic. After all, it only takes 4 watchers very spread out in the astral to see a glowing car beaconing from a roadside stand of trees and screw up your run. Infiltration is limited by your skill in piloting the vehicle as well.

Lastly, your hacker may be the supreme person for breaking into a node and grabbing payday but his codeslinger, home ground, and specializations that allow him to be the cream-of-the-crop may not by even close to what a similarly focused character in Electronics Warfare could do to detect and jam those trying to dteect the smuggler.

A few tricks:

1. Spirits of Man with Innate Spell: Interference.
2. Detect [Object] specified as Detect [Sensors]. Worthless in a city but in the country or at altitude can even detect Sensor RFID tags. [Since detection spells dont require LOS] Also good for detecting rigged vehicles and drones. Ever seen a rigged vehicle the rigger couldnt see out of? Bingo. :-)
3. Catalog spell. That way you can tell what your hauling relatively quickly. Dictate to an agent and have the agent compare it to a list of legality ratings so you know at an instant WHAT crates need hidden the most.
4. The Astral Static spell. When harassed by astrals, spirits, spells, spirit powers, it doesn't discriminate. Get enough hits with it and the area affected is damped from anything magical.
5. Consider having an unarmed infiltration. It really miffs guards with Detect Gun, etc.
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Marwynn
post Jul 9 2007, 10:30 PM
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Thanks for the pointers! My mage will be the secondary wheelman, we have a primary rigger that'll be overseeing everything technical. So my character's responsibility is on the magical/astral front.

But he'll still need all these Stealth/Vehicle skills which you guys thankfully alerted me to.

Ifyou could give pointers to mess about with Spirits I'd be even more obliged.

My previous experience amounts to killing a whole lot with a Street Sam so the nuances of magic and spirits are kind of lost to me.
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