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> Looking for help with multiple mages
Hat
post Feb 6 2008, 03:50 PM
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I've been running a SR4 game through a few runs now and my player group is 7 players including 2 shamans and a hermetic mage. They've started summoning spirits and have used them to good effect and it's looking like it might move to too good effect. I played SR3 quite a bit but not on the spellcasting side, and none of us had experience with SR4 prior to this campaign.

If I understand summoning spirits correctly, summoning them doesn't take any materials though binding does. Spellcasting can be done from the Astral and a mage can summon a spirit every initiative pass, which means in rapid order with less than half a minute of prep it's easy for a mage to have a number of spirits equal to their Charisma available to throw at opponents.

Now to resist drain the threshold is the # of hits the spirit scored on its resistance test *2. The average # of hits for a force 4 is 1, for force 5 - 7 is 2, etc. So a Charisma 6 shaman could easily have 6 force 4 spirits rapidly with virtually no chance of drain. It's not hard for a starting spellcaster to be rolling 10+ dice to resist drain starting and at 11, they average 4 hits which would on average net no drain for any spirits up through force 7. It's fairly easy for the mages to keep a large number of spirits around. Opponents pop a spirit? Use an iniative pass to summon a new one. 3 mages can bring in 9 spirits every combat turn.

I'm looking at the very real possibility of having 10+ Force 4 Spirits of Air, Fire or Man floating about which means manifested they have 10 boxes of physical damage each and are easy to cycle.

Against specific opponents I can certainly throw more arcane resources against them, but I'm curious if I'm missing something.

For services as long as the mage started in the presence of the target and the spirit they can direct the spirit to attack/confuse/whatever and then turned loose withdraw and simply use the link to get some sense of what's going on.

Can someone help me understand what I'm missing or provide some suggestions on how to appropriately challenge this group while ensuring that the Drone Rigger, Street Sam, Gunslinger Adept and Hacker have stuff to do. The Hacker's easy, the others less so.

Suggestions?

With a sweep of his...

Hat
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BFaolan
post Feb 6 2008, 03:55 PM
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Most simply, a mage can only have one summoned spirit.

The charisma limit only applies to bound spirits.
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Whipstitch
post Feb 6 2008, 03:59 PM
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Yeah, life gets difficult in general with 7 players. Background counts, Domains and Mana Static wielding NPCs may be your best bet in this case. And as BFaolan pointed out, you can't have more than one Spirit buddy without binding. There's also a Magicx5 limitation on the total Force of Spirits you can have bound (this rule is in the chargen section, oddly, not the Awakened World). So while a Magic 5, Charisma 7 shaman can have 7 Spirits bound, they can't all be force 10. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)
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Starmage21
post Feb 6 2008, 04:04 PM
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QUOTE (Whipstitch @ Feb 6 2008, 10:59 AM) *
Yeah, life gets difficult in general with 7 players. Background counts, Domains and Mana Static wielding NPCs may be your best bet in this case. And as BFaolan pointed out, you can't have more than one Spirit buddy without binding. There's also a Magicx5 limitation on the total Force of Spirits you can have bound (this rule is in the chargen section, oddly, not the Awakened World). So while a Magic 5, Charisma 7 shaman can have 7 Spirits bound, they can't all be force 10. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)


crap!

ive been cheating too then ><
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Dashifen
post Feb 6 2008, 04:24 PM
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QUOTE (Hat @ Feb 6 2008, 09:50 AM) *
Now to resist drain the threshold is the # of hits the spirit scored on its resistance test *2. The average # of hits for a force 4 is 1, for force 5 - 7 is 2, etc. So a Charisma 6 shaman could easily have 6 force 4 spirits rapidly with virtually no chance of drain. It's not hard for a starting spellcaster to be rolling 10+ dice to resist drain starting and at 11, they average 4 hits which would on average net no drain for any spirits up through force 7. It's fairly easy for the mages to keep a large number of spirits around. Opponents pop a spirit? Use an iniative pass to summon a new one. 3 mages can bring in 9 spirits every combat turn.


You could use the optional rule from Street Magic that makes Summoning drain equal to F/2 + Hits so that (a) it's more like spellcasting drain and (b) there's almost always some drain for high force spirits. That way, force 4 spirits will be usually 3 drain, rather than 1.

QUOTE
Can someone help me understand what I'm missing or provide some suggestions on how to appropriately challenge this group while ensuring that the Drone Rigger, Street Sam, Gunslinger Adept and Hacker have stuff to do. The Hacker's easy, the others less so.


For the others, don't forget about drones (for the rigger to hack and the others to shoot at) and the basic mundane guards, too. If nothing else, the points made above will help to limit the spirit army that people will have at their disposal, so you can spend more time fleshing out the rest of the opposition.

As for another way to handle spirits, don't forget that their thinking, rational beings. If your mages keep summoning them and sending them immediately in to dangerous situations (read: combat) then I think it's fair if they start to resist being summoned with Edge or when they show up they're generally grumpy and problematic. Eventually, if a lot of spirits are getting sent into dangerous situations or generally just used (abused) without a thought to their intelligence and capabilities, a Spirit Bane negative quality might even be appropriate.
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Nightwalker450
post Feb 6 2008, 04:28 PM
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There's also the optional rule on pg 178 for making the mages sustain spirits if they have too many active at a time. -2 per spirit.

Where's the 5xMagic limit on force listed, I can't find it and don't remember seeing it anywhere.
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Whipstitch
post Feb 6 2008, 05:02 PM
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I'll have to double check when I get home; I'm supposed to be working, and it was second hand information from my brother (who I should really be ignoring rather than emailing with shadowrun questions (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif) ). We could be completely wrong, plus there's always the chance that IF the limitation does exist that it's only meant in reference with Bound spirits purchased in chargen (bound spirits in chargen are a bad deal, generally, but I could see someone causing mischief by sleazing through one that's really high Force (IMG:style_emoticons/default/grinbig.gif) ) but like I said, I believe it's in the chargen section rather than the Awakened World.
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D Minor
post Feb 6 2008, 05:11 PM
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Pg 85

bound spirit in Char-Gen force=magic

Force of all bound foci=magic X 5

Whip's right even when he's wrong (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)
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Rasumichin
post Feb 6 2008, 05:21 PM
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QUOTE (Dashifen @ Feb 6 2008, 05:24 PM) *
As for another way to handle spirits, don't forget that their thinking, rational beings. If your mages keep summoning them and sending them immediately in to dangerous situations (read: combat) then I think it's fair if they start to resist being summoned with Edge or when they show up they're generally grumpy and problematic. Eventually, if a lot of spirits are getting sent into dangerous situations or generally just used (abused) without a thought to their intelligence and capabilities, a Spirit Bane negative quality might even be appropriate.


If you resort to this solution because cutting down the number of spirits to officially legal ammounts isn't enough to keep the game balanced, make sure not to impose the spirit bane drawback in a random, unforeseeable manner.
Play out the interactions with the spirits, let them tell the mages how it feels to be forcibly pushed back into their home plane and stuff like that.
Also -probably even foremost- adress this problem outgame.

Make sure they see coming what they are getting themselves into.
From their momentary perspective, where spirits are just an expandable ressource, they will work under different assumptions and it would be unfair to change those assumptions without the players knowing it.

However, i wouldn't say that this approach should be a real necessity under RAW.

Also, keep in mind that such a magically gifted group might attract more jobs that actually require their amount of magical expertise to be pulled of effectively.

Outside of normal runs, keep in mind how closely this group should be connected to the magical community at large- and how likely it becomes for them to get involved in dealing with magical threats.

Both approaches guarantee that all 3 spellslingers get their spotlight, both in terms of mechanical challenge and roleplay interaction with the game world.

However, make sure that the rest of the group gets their share of the spotlight.
AR stuff, drone swarms, mundane combatants hiding out of LOS and so on should keep them busy.

Oh, and finally, two words : background count.
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fistandantilus4....
post Feb 6 2008, 06:25 PM
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A couple of other suggestions:
Fight fire with fire. The Spell Spirit Blast is your friend.

Or
Talk to them about and and decide if the spirits doing all the work and the potential abuse is something you really want to deal with. If they're ok with scaling it back a bit cool. If everyone's ok with it, and you just want to know how to counter it, that's ok too. Just don't let them whine when the opposition starts fighting smarter, not harder.

Kill the summoners. Shamans tend to be pretty obvious. Hermetics can be as well. And the guy that's shouting "Kill them" to the spirit just became target #1. Geek the Mage first. All of them. Stacking up with concussion grenads for stun effects (and flash bangs which don't get lowered by armor), frag grenades which are physical, and pslat with things like the classic DMOS/Gamma scopaline, or Seven-7 even, are nasty, but cheap ways to even the odds for mundanes.

OR
If they're really abusive to the spirits, and use them like shcok troops, hit them whre it hurts. Introduce Tutor from the first Threats book. He's a free spirit that takes exception to how summoned and bound spirits are treated by mages. He "makes a pact" with them, offering power and knowledge for them, and gives it as well. But once he's got them hooked, he starts letting the drain they cast from the now higher powered spells start taking effect, and the drain damage doesn't heal. A good reminder that the summoner/spirit contest is i]not[/i] one sided.

OR
Have someone from the Astral Space Preservation society threaten to sue the (or something similar) (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)
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knasser
post Feb 6 2008, 06:37 PM
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This issue is probably mostly dealt with now that the OP is aware of the limit on the number of summoned spirits. And the cost of binding lots of spirits can make a run zero-profit if they're used to casually.

BUT for situations where the team does produce a lot of spirits, I wonder if you could get some mileage out of interactions between the spirits. Say they have a Fire Elemental and a Water Elemental active at the same time - have them growl or argue or exchange minor blows with each other (knocking off the odd health box or distracting each other during combat). Or if they have a whole pack of Fire Spirits, have the creatures egg each other on or show off to each other and generally out do each other to the mage's detriment, e.g. setting more people or corridors on fire than they're supposed to, refusing to withdraw from combat until the other one backs down first. You could even have shamanic spirits (which are "doing favours" for their summoner) urge their hermetic counterparts (which are "bound by rituals and formula to serve") to "rise up, my spirit brothers."

You should never, imo, let players run spirits as secondary characters and they should never be able to over-exploit their control of a spirit. Spirits are intelligent entities and you can remove a lot of potential abuse when you play them as such.

Not that I'm advocating penalising players for what their characters have legitimately paid good (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) for. It works both ways. I once had Beast spirit willingly spend Edge on its rolls and stick around after its service was complete because it was enjoying hunting down the security guards so much. Of course the lack of control thereafter did remind the players that nothing was quite certain with spirits. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)
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Whipstitch
post Feb 6 2008, 07:56 PM
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QUOTE (Whipstitch @ Feb 6 2008, 01:02 PM) *
I'll have to double check when I get home; I'm supposed to be working, and it was second hand information from my brother (who I should really be ignoring rather than emailing with shadowrun questions (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif) ). We could be completely wrong, plus there's always the chance that IF the limitation does exist that it's only meant in reference with Bound spirits purchased in chargen (bound spirits in chargen are a bad deal, generally, but I could see someone causing mischief by sleazing through one that's really high Force (IMG:style_emoticons/default/grinbig.gif) ) but like I said, I believe it's in the chargen section rather than the Awakened World.



Good thing nobody's ever claimed I'm omniscient, eh? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/twirl.gif)
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nathanross
post Feb 6 2008, 08:23 PM
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Knasser pretty much nailed it. The major problem you were dealing with is not actually a problem, but a rules oversight.

It does touch on some of the characteristics of Magic in 2070, though. Whereas drain used to kill, nowadays, anyone with any sense of efficiency (read: min-maxer) can easily build a 14-15 drain dice character and be safely overcasting spells all the way to Force 10.

With high level spirits, this is compounded, as they are almost another team member (in Combat at least) and so while you started with 3 casters and 4 mundanes, once the spirits are loosed, you have 6 casters and 4 mundanes (this is not even taking bound spirits into account).

A properly seasoned mage with a full assortment of higher level spirits can go to war almost.

Now how you deal with this power imbalance without overtly meta gaming, is first to split the party. This doubles your work, but I feel that it would be for the better of the group. I do not mean to meet on separate days, but that they are forced to do two runs at the same time, or that the runs are so large, that the only way they can accomplish the tasks within the time frame allocated is to split up and working independently.

Don't just start throwing in GD's, IE's, Vampires, Toxics, or whatever else to balance the game. Try to come up with realistic game world reactions to their actions. ALWAYS note how they take care of their astral signatures. If they slip up, don't be afraid to use it. Make sure both of you are familiar with the magic rules thoroughly, so as neither of you are cheating (consciously or un-)
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