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> Overcasting as standard
sunnyside
post Jul 26 2008, 06:55 AM
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I'm pretty much just refering to combat spells here as the advantages for overcasting other spells are debatable unless ones magic is weak.

Going from 5 damage to 9 is pretty huge in the game (the difference between dropping most people in one hit vs having to zap them twice). However for the direct combat spells it would seem the drain is still pretty easy to handle.

I suppose the first question is if there are any big disadvantages I'm not seeing to throwing high power manabolts/stunbolts/AOE.

The second is if that's even a problem. After all with a decent weapon, maybe even a pistol, the sammy can take out most targets in a pair of simple actions.

Though I suppose in this edition grenades are weak so the AOE is pretty awsome when overcast, but at least that should sting a little.

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Kerberos
post Jul 26 2008, 01:40 PM
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QUOTE (sunnyside @ Jul 26 2008, 02:55 AM) *
I'm pretty much just refering to combat spells here as the advantages for overcasting other spells are debatable unless ones magic is weak.

Going from 5 damage to 9 is pretty huge in the game (the difference between dropping most people in one hit vs having to zap them twice). However for the direct combat spells it would seem the drain is still pretty easy to handle.

I suppose the first question is if there are any big disadvantages I'm not seeing to throwing high power manabolts/stunbolts/AOE.

Not really.

QUOTE (sunnyside @ Jul 26 2008, 02:55 AM) *
The second is if that's even a problem. After all with a decent weapon, maybe even a pistol, the sammy can take out most targets in a pair of simple actions.

Well Firearms can both be dodged and absorbed, there's no realistic chance of "dodging" a stunball without counterspelling, and even with counterspelling it's probably harder than dodging bullets + no damage resistence test at all. For mooks the difference is small, but against qualiry oposition I'd say there is a big difference.
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Sir_Psycho
post Jul 26 2008, 01:41 PM
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A min/maxed magician can easily eat the drain. But you always take your life into your own hands if you don't get any hits.
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MaxHunter
post Jul 26 2008, 01:57 PM
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In my games we adjusted the drain values of direct combat spells by +1 or +2 (I do not remember which)

This was done for various reasons

a. mages are quite rare and expensive, and so happens with counterspelling, so the difference of having a caster was too overwhelming.
b. To balance direct and indirect combat spells and make elemental indirect combat spells more likable.
c. To make magic a more dangerous tool. We did not like cheap force 9 manabolts "I roll 15 dice you roll 4"

It works for us.

And it doesn't make the mage useless at all. The samurai in the groups still chews much more opposition.

Cheers!

Max

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Dashifen
post Jul 28 2008, 02:17 PM
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I posted this in another thread, but it may bear repeating here. I had a table with some hugely powerful mages and I instituted the following rule to try and curb overcasting. It's not terribly balanced, but it did the trick. And, of course, I applied it to NPCs as well. Definately helped cut down on the force 9 stunbolts.

QUOTE
When a mage overcasts, subtract their Magic attribute from the Force of the spell. One half of that difference (round up) is the threshold on a Drain Attribute + Edge test to avoid Magic Loss.


I've since decided that I might keep using the rule but indicate that the Magic Loss can be "repaired" with karma or something.
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Sir_Psycho
post Jul 28 2008, 02:31 PM
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Have you done any probabilities on that? What are the chances of magic loss overcasting to a f9 stunbolt?
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Dashifen
post Jul 28 2008, 06:49 PM
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Probabilities would depends on the character and my math skills are not up to the challenge, but there was quite a bit of magic loss due to overcasting at that table. Which, to a certain extent, makes a lot of sense. Forcing your body to channel more magic than it wants to could burn out important synapses or something. But, that's always why -- after the fact -- I'm debating changing the rules for Magic Loss to indicate that it reduces the current attribute, not the maximum. Thus, you could buy your Magic back with Karma as necessary. I'd probably still want to indicate that Magic Loss could effect your maximum as well as your current at the GM's discretion.

Granted, this only creates another sink of Karma for magicians, but if you want to curb overcasting, I can speak to the fact that this worked really well. I didn't see almost any overcasting once people realized that it was far more dangerous than simply some physical damage.

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Muspellsheimr
post Jul 28 2008, 06:55 PM
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Another possibility, one that I would recommend above Magic Loss, is require a Body + Willpower Test (half Drain Value) to 'take the pain'. Failure means you fail to overcast, and instead throw a Force [Magic Attribute] spell. Maybe give Magic Loss if they Critically Glitch, & a dice pool modifier to the casting from distraction if they Glitch.
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sunnyside
post Jul 28 2008, 07:51 PM
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Hmmm well since people are mostly just going to house rules does that means.

1. Mages that know what they're doing overcast manabolts/stunbolts as default.

2. People don't like this/consider it overpowered.
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Bull
post Jul 28 2008, 08:05 PM
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<shrug> Mages have always been considered overpowered. And while I see why people think that, it basically just means they have "bad" GMs who don't fight fire with fire.

Besides my "If you can do it, they can do it rule", there's also the simple fact that magic is noisy and messy, and the bigger the spell you cast, the noisier and messier it's gonna be. Magic leaves behind an astral signature, and it lasts longer and is more easily recognized when a mage has been dropping force 9 and 10 spells.

From Lone Star and a Corps standpoint... Obviously this is a very powerful wizard, and a very dangerous threat. After all, if they have the juice to toss around that much mojo, well... They either need to be in jail, working for us, or dead. So they just did what no Shadowrunner should EVER do... Attract attention to themselves. It's like ribbing a liquor store with a Panther Assault Cannon instead of a Tiffani Defender. With the latter, you'll have a couple beat cops ask questions, look at surveilance, and you'll go in a file somewhere. For the latter, you're gonna get High Threat Response Teams and possible even the National Guard called down on your ass.

For magic, it's the same thing. Any mage tossing that much magic around on a regular basis should quickly learn that it's a BAD THING.

Honestly, anytime a Shadowrunner goes above and beyond the "normal" street level of things, it should escalate the game very rapidly. Whether it's Mages, Shamans, Decker/Hackers, or Street Sams with too much 'ware and firepower.

Bull
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Muspellsheimr
post Jul 28 2008, 08:05 PM
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1) Power-gamers tend to overcast as default - they forget that even if they fully resist the drain, overcasting hurts

2) I do not feel it is overpowered, if used in moderation. The only people that should be overcasting regularly are masochists.
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Hound
post Jul 28 2008, 08:35 PM
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All in all, as long as the GM knows how to counter magic, it shouldn't end up being that OP. I mean, yeah the average ganger isn't gonna have mage back-up, but he was probably only gonna last through one or two rounds of combat anyways, so what does it matter if the mage knocks him out before the Sammy? Whereas, the High Threat Response teams should certainly have a mage on hand with at least some counter spelling. And then, as has already been mentioned, there's always the threat of bad things happening if you leave behind a huge astral signature. Personally as a GM I kinda look down upon powergamers, and I don't really hesitate to bust out the big guns.
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ArabicJesus
post Jul 28 2008, 09:57 PM
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I am a player and not a gm, just throwing that out first.


I have found that a force 8 stunbolt to be the perfect spell. It has never not knocked someone out in one hit in the games I've played.

Saying that, however, I do not always have mages that can cast at force 8. I have had mages with as low as 3 magic. I also do not always pick the most powerful spells, I pick the ones that make sense. I have had a character that knew Invisibility instead of Improved Invisibility. I think it makes for characters that are more fun if they are not uber-powerful (this goes for all types, not just mages).

I do overcast a lot, but you can't really help it if you have 3 magic. I have seen no problem with magic in the game, even when there are not other mages around.
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Hank
post Jul 28 2008, 10:09 PM
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Ok, here's my two cents on this subject, which I've given much thought to.

1) I don't want my game to have the rule, "Geek the mage first." It makes for sucky gameplay. And the dice pools aren't balanced...there are cheap ways to resist damage from bullets, but no cheap ways to resist magic.

2) We shouldn't even be discussing whether mages > other chars, which they clearly are. Mages should be less powerful than other characters because they're so incredibly versatile. They can do magic...i.e. things that no other character could do. They can sneak around on the astral. They can make the guard down the hall suddenly get an urge to take a leak. They can freaking fly. And we haven't even talked about summoning. So why are they also the ultimate combat monster?

And I think the idea of bumping drain on direct combat spells is good. I've been tempted to base drain on Force, instead of Force/2, but that's been too radical a change for even me to just jump into. Fortunately, my players aren't playing mages just now, so we haven't had to worry about it lately.
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Drogos
post Jul 29 2008, 12:17 PM
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Hmm...I guess I come from the other side of it. Mages are no more powerful than a Troll with a LMG, and they tend to get dead quicker. Yes they are versatile. They have things that no other character can match. Same goes for a well made Sam, or Hacker, or anything really. A mages big payoff comes down when the drek hits the fan. Ultimately a mage is an equalizer. You are often going to have a 4-6 man runner group, right? How many people do you put on your typical security detail? Even for a medium sized facility, there are around 12 usually. This does not take into account drones which can increase the threat response another 2x (and which mages suck against). Mages are great against living, breathing humans. They are able to throw a grenade without having one with them. But a Sam with a little throwing skill (like 2) can easily throw a greande with 10 dice that pretty much will have the same effect (make it a Neurostun gas grenade and you have pretty much the equivalent of a stunball). They fill a niche in a runner team that allows them to remain useful to the team. The are not unstoppable. If a mage is running roughshod over a group of sec goons, they should pull back and bring up the drones. It doesn't make sense that if they are losing people left and right to one guy that they would stand and fight. I just don't buy the whole mages are teh uber and pwn everything. They do their job as well as any other character, less they lose their job. I mean all the examples of mages runnign rough shod over people can easily be taken care of by wards which are pretty easy to get (like what Forcex100 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) ). A secure facility would at the very least have multiple layers of wards to prevent astral snooping if they don't already have a sec mage on duty. It's really dumb to think anything differently.

As for overcasting, I think the thing to remember is Astral Signatures. It is extremely handy to throw that Force 7 Stunbolt that will most likely take out any one character in a Pass (which most mages only have 1 without magic, and sustained spells are a bitch to get past wards unnoticed) when slinging 10 dice. But so is throwing lead that will hose the fragger in the same ammount of time, and the lead is a lot harder to trace as a gun can be ditched. Without initiating, I can't ditch my aura. My most recent experience was while I was playing my augmented street witch. My GM made the mistake (and I'm sure he noticed it after the fact) of letting me buy hits for drain. So I illustrated why he shouldn't do that, by repeatedly throwing Force 9 stunbolts at gangers (total overkill). It totally took him by surprise that every turn there were 2 gangers down (I have some ware). But by the same token, the two sams in the group dropped people twice as fast as I did (two short bursts or pistol shots here and there). The only people left outclassed were the two melee characters that were unable to close with the enemy and instead were hanging back to keep close to the prinicpal. I know that I can be hosed for leaving the signature all over the place, but I figured, "Hey, it's only a stunbolt and they were packing SMGs and Grenade Launchers. I should be in the clear." The one part I feel that broke the whole thing was letting me buy hits for drain, because if I would have had to roll for that, I probably would have taken 2-5 damage then stopped overcasting in order to remain effective.
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Mr. Unpronouncea...
post Jul 29 2008, 04:39 PM
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I never quite understand this complaint...

An ARES alpha is at least as deadly with a similar dicepool against anything but a tank-troll. (He can shoot 2x per pass, after all.)

Besides, a little bit of background count (at, say, a rating 2, that mage with magic 4 is only going to be able to overcast up to force 4 instead of 8 and will have a beefed up drain code too) and the occasional mook with willpower > 3 is more than sufficient to remind the players that magic isn't everything.
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darthmord
post Jul 30 2008, 12:51 AM
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QUOTE (Dashifen @ Jul 28 2008, 01:49 PM) *
Probabilities would depends on the character and my math skills are not up to the challenge, but there was quite a bit of magic loss due to overcasting at that table. Which, to a certain extent, makes a lot of sense. Forcing your body to channel more magic than it wants to could burn out important synapses or something. But, that's always why -- after the fact -- I'm debating changing the rules for Magic Loss to indicate that it reduces the current attribute, not the maximum. Thus, you could buy your Magic back with Karma as necessary. I'd probably still want to indicate that Magic Loss could effect your maximum as well as your current at the GM's discretion.

Granted, this only creates another sink of Karma for magicians, but if you want to curb overcasting, I can speak to the fact that this worked really well. I didn't see almost any overcasting once people realized that it was far more dangerous than simply some physical damage.


You could just make it temporary and have it automatically return at a rate of 1 point per Magic Rating in days.

So that mage with Magic 9 that lost 3 points due to overcasting... takes him 9 days to get back each point he lost. Think of it as time spent by the body / aura repairing itself of minor damage.

It's a lot like smashing your thumb with a hammer. For a few days, your thumb is sore and you adapt to working without its full functionality until your body fixes the thumb.

Same concept with overworking muscles. For a few days, you can't reach full strength after overworking them. Take some time off and voila, they are back to normal and you are at full power.

Just a few thoughts.
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toturi
post Jul 30 2008, 09:16 AM
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QUOTE (darthmord @ Jul 30 2008, 08:51 AM) *
Same concept with overworking muscles. For a few days, you can't reach full strength after overworking them. Take some time off and voila, they are back to normal and you are at full power.

Just a few thoughts.

You overwork your muscles and the next few days you are sore. You feel pain when trying anything strenuous, but do you actually have less strength? Perhaps the doctors and sports scientists among us can tell us.

However I think it is generally accepted that when you overwork your muscles, your muscles tend to heal to withstand that load. Using the same argument, your player could say that since you were penalising his overcasting and using this argument, he could use the same and argue for easier Magic increase. Overcast and then take a penalty to Magic for a couple of days to gain more Magic after the penalty ends.
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xsansara
post Jul 30 2008, 10:01 AM
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Mages need to overcast, in order to compete with Sams in the killing speed arena. And still they are usually behind.
Effective AoE can also be done by throwing out a couple of grenades. So they are not the masters of that either, the demolition guy is.

The real strength of Mages is that they can substitute every class (With the exception of maybe Hackers) with a spell.

If there are a lot of Power Gamers (p.c. optimization-concious people) in your group, your mage needs to overcast to compete. If not, not.

I have rarely seen overcast outside of combat situations, except for the occasional big spirit. So, unless your mage is dominating combat, this should not be a problem.

As for house rules: I used to play in a group that allowed mages to cast only one spell per round, regardless of IP. They felt the Improved Reflexes, Sustained Focus combo was overpowered. That changed power balance quite a lot, but the mages were not useless, just had a different job. And they were still slinging (overcast) combat spells.
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BullZeye
post Jul 30 2008, 12:19 PM
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QUOTE (xsansara @ Jul 30 2008, 01:01 PM) *
The real strength of Mages is that they can substitute every class (With the exception of maybe Hackers) with a spell.

Indeed.

Mages are the guys who pack a holdout pistol and assault cannon all in one package. Only problem they got is the recoil of the big bangs as it can kill them. Overcasting gives bit more punch to those otherwise weak offensive spells. Predator packs about same punch as normal spell but carrying it to high security place is bit more difficult than packing a mage (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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sunnyside
post Jul 30 2008, 12:36 PM
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QUOTE (xsansara @ Jul 30 2008, 06:01 AM) *
Mages need to overcast, in order to compete with Sams in the killing speed arena.


I think most feel mages shouldn't be able to keep up with or exceed a Sam in dropping people due to the fact that the mage can also do a ton of other stuff the Sam cannot.

QUOTE
Effective AoE can also be done by throwing out a couple of grenades. So they are not the masters of that either, the demolition guy is.


In 4th grenades are not so effective. Your hits don't add into damage, and even if you reduce scatter to nothing your opponents have a chance to run (generally). And the damage is such that even a direct hit is unlikely to take out a goon, though they'd be hurting. At any rate the grenades drop power with distance so unlike with spells the guys a few meters from the central point may just shrug it off.

Again that falls back to that mages shouldn't be as deadly as a Sammy and also more awsome in tons of other ways.

QUOTE
As for house rules: I used to play in a group that allowed mages to cast only one spell per round, regardless of IP. They felt the Improved Reflexes, Sustained Focus combo was overpowered. That changed power balance quite a lot, but the mages were not useless, just had a different job. And they were still slinging (overcast) combat spells.


Sustained focuses are pretty awsome. Note that this also puts you in the "thinks mages are overpowered" catagory. It's just you're focusing on speed as the way to tone them down.

About the only thing in game holding sustained focuses back is wards either knocking them out or at least warning the creator that someone has broken through the ward, meriting a call to security if it's in a secure zone. Forcing mages to recast their spells mid run. Though that still leaves them pretty awsome.
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Drogos
post Jul 30 2008, 12:58 PM
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Greandes don't benefit from net hits??? Where'd I miss that?
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Dashifen
post Jul 30 2008, 01:35 PM
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QUOTE (Drogos @ Jul 30 2008, 06:58 AM) *
Greandes don't benefit from net hits??? Where'd I miss that?


I've read this before and I think it's generally accepted house rule to combat the vagueness of the FAQ answers about dodging grenade/AoE effects. Usually, it comes up when someone wants to roll a success test to hit a specific area with a spell/grenade/rocket/missile and thus avoid any opposed roll. Thus, every hit they get would be a "net hit" and the DV would be increased far more than it would have been otherwise. Which, of course, indicates that grenades are more powerful when you don't aim them at someone, which is unfortunate. Thus, if you're just thowing towards a group, net hits don't stage the damage, but if you're targeting a specific person, then they do.

I'm not sure if it's RAW, but I know I've seen it around a lot.
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Dashifen
post Jul 30 2008, 01:37 PM
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QUOTE (xsansara @ Jul 30 2008, 04:01 AM) *
Mages need to overcast, in order to compete with Sams in the killing speed arena. And still they are usually behind.
Effective AoE can also be done by throwing out a couple of grenades. So they are not the masters of that either, the demolition guy is.


I've never seen a sam out-kill a mage. Hands down, mages are the biggest ass-kickers at my tables and, in general, people who thought they made ass-kicking sams (or whatever) tend to get sad when the mage (a) kicks more ass than they do and (b) does a whole bunch of other stuff.

Oh well ... YMMV.
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De Badd Ass
post Jul 30 2008, 01:52 PM
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You all seem to be ignoring the fact that STUNBOLT IS NOT LETHAL!!!

You have no problem with homicidal trolls wielding a katana (8P) and a BOW (12P, or 13P with explosive arrowheads). Trolls are more common than mages, and Strength 9 is no more out of the ordinary than Magic 5.

Don't forget Augmentation. A starting troll can get +2 STR with muscle replacement or augmentation (avail. 10R).

When confronted by a troll gang, go ahead and geek the mage first. Just hope that troll with the weird look in his eye is high on Kamikaze and not K-10.

Talk about overpowered....
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