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> Mind Probe
Redcrow
post May 26 2010, 03:41 AM
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I tried doing a "Search" to see if this has been discussed before, but the "Search" function doesn't seem to be working for me.

Anyway... SR4a pg. 207

Mind Probe is listed as having Range: T

but the description begins... "This spell allows the subject to telepathically probe the mind of a specific target within range of the sense (chosen when the spell is cast)." <emphasis mine>

Am I correct that this description is just poorly worded and that it is in fact the "target" of the spell that is chosen when the spell is cast and not the "range" of the spell itself? If so, then I would suggest that "within range of the sense" should have been omitted as it is mildly confusing and completely unneccessary. If not, then I foresee this spell being regularly abused by the PC in my group who has it and I will need to deal with it directly.



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Glyph
post May 26 2010, 04:21 AM
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Detection spells are cast on either the mage or a subject within Touch range (which is where you get the Range: T from - note that all detection spells have this). The detection ability bestowed has a range of the caster's Force x Magic in meters; the extended range versions multiply that by 10. It is on pages 197 and 198 of the main rulebook. I'm not sure what the pages are for the SR4A version.
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Udoshi
post May 26 2010, 04:46 AM
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So, basically, you touch someone who then benefits from the expanded sense.
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Redcrow
post May 26 2010, 05:00 AM
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That is one spell that just got banned from my games. Way to open for abuse. I plan to look a lot more closely at the other detection spells as well.
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Dakka Dakka
post May 26 2010, 05:46 AM
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If Mind Probe it too powerful for you, look at Control Thoughts.
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The Tarasque
post May 26 2010, 11:07 AM
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QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 25 2010, 10:41 PM) *
but the description begins... "This spell allows the subject to telepathically probe the mind of a specific target within range of the sense (chosen when the spell is cast)." <emphasis mine>

I believe this to be the crux of his question. He is not asking about the range of the subject but this particular wording which suggests that not only must the spells range be determined at the time of casting but that it also has an unlimited range. The part in paranthesis follows the "within range of the sense" portion of the sentence.

Its easy to see why he is confused. While clear to me that they are saying the magician must choose the target when the spell is cast, the way its worded is quite awkward. This seems to be very common in the game though so its something players and gms should be used to by now, I would think.
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Redcrow
post May 26 2010, 02:22 PM
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QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 05:46 AM) *
If Mind Probe it too powerful for you, look at Control Thoughts.


My biggest problem with Mind Probe is that essentially anyone with the spell can learn everything someone else knows and their entire life history for a mere 3 net hits and do it anonymously from across the room. Given how much of Shadowrun is about finding information and uncovering secrets, this does seem too powerful and very open to abuse. I would be a little more open to it if the caster had to actually Touch the target or if it was restricted to only reading surface thoughts. The only other option I could see is to have every NPC for which this spell could potentially ruin the game be guarded 24/7 by another spellcaster who can counterspell the attempt, which seems heavy-handed to say the least.

After reviewing some of my campaign notes and considering the ramifications of Mind Probe being used in certain places, it would indeed be a game ruining spell.

Control Thoughts is just as bad, if not worse, IMO.
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DireRadiant
post May 26 2010, 02:33 PM
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Never heard of mind probe before.....

You need to know whom to mind probe. Yeah there's a room full of people, but which one knows what you need to know?
You can mind probe all you want, but if they don't know what you need to know, then you can't dig it out of their mind.
They can be told something wrong deliberately so that when they are mind probed they don't give things away, or it could lead the PCs into a trap.
Mind Probe is not a secret hidden thing. The Magic may be hidden, but likely to be perceived at the Force 4+ you need to cast it at to get good results, and the subject knows they got probed.
It's an Active Detection spell, it's an opposed test.

And finally, there are consequences. Lots of consequences.

The counter to many magical things is not any mechanical thing in the game system but the simple response the rest of the Mundane world has.

Geek the Mage.
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DireRadiant
post May 26 2010, 02:34 PM
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QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 25 2010, 10:41 PM) *
I tried doing a "Search" to see if this has been discussed before, but the "Search" function doesn't seem to be working for me.


Dumpshock made a good roll to oppose your Mind Probe.
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Xahn Borealis
post May 26 2010, 02:40 PM
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But aren't they aware of the probing, as it's invasive? Also, wasn't it an opposed test against willpower? If so, just have high willpower npcs. If not, sorry for confusing everyone, I'm AFB.
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Redcrow
post May 26 2010, 03:23 PM
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QUOTE (Xahn Borealis @ May 26 2010, 02:40 PM) *
But aren't they aware of the probing, as it's invasive? Also, wasn't it an opposed test against willpower? If so, just have high willpower npcs. If not, sorry for confusing everyone, I'm AFB.


Sure, the target knows they've been probed, but have no way of knowing who is doing it unless they themselves are magically active or guarded by someone who is. Unless I were to go overboard with NPC willpower and give them all 6+ scores, they don't stand much chance against a spellcaster who gets to roll twice as many dice on average and only needs 3 net hits to get every last piece of useful information from their mind.

Not to mention I can already imagine the argument when a player thinks they should be able to use the spell to instantly gain all of a targets Knowledge Skills. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/ohplease.gif)
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Aerospider
post May 26 2010, 04:07 PM
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QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 04:23 PM) *
Not to mention I can already imagine the argument when a player thinks they should be able to use the spell to instantly gain all of a targets Knowledge Skills. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/ohplease.gif)

That's really not a difficult argument to counter. For a start the magic doesn't transfer any knowledge, it simply gives the caster (or subject) interrogative access so unless they have a special form of photographic memory and days to spare, keeping the spell sustained throughout, forget it.
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CeeJay
post May 26 2010, 04:22 PM
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QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 05:23 PM) *
Sure, the target knows they've been probed, but have no way of knowing who is doing it unless they themselves are magically active or guarded by someone who is. Unless I were to go overboard with NPC willpower and give them all 6+ scores, they don't stand much chance against a spellcaster who gets to roll twice as many dice on average and only needs 3 net hits to get every last piece of useful information from their mind.

Not to mention I can already imagine the argument when a player thinks they should be able to use the spell to instantly gain all of a targets Knowledge Skills. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/ohplease.gif)

To reliably get 3-4 net hits on the mind probe spellcasting test you have to cast the spell at least at force 5. A sustained force 5 spell is quite obvious (see Noticing Magic SR4a p. 179), if you know what to look for.

And then, there is this little bit of information: "The subject may probe for one piece of information per Complex
Action." Mind Probes take time. This is not an instant "I know everything he does" spell, so using a targets knowledge skills is more like googling in his mind than actually knowing things he does. And the target has to stay in the spells range the whole time.

I agree, Mind Probe is a really powerfull spell under the right cirumstances (e.g. restrained target in a typical interrogation scene). It's called mind rape for a reason after all...

-CJ
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Aerospider
post May 26 2010, 04:26 PM
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Another issue to consider is astral signature. Someone who knows they've been probed can quickly report it and get it astrally investigated, leading straight back to the magician.

It's not really that overpowered it's just an alternative to more traditional interrogation techniques. Sticking a gun in their face with a mask over yours is a lot cheaper and less draining.

Also, the target can still react effectively without knowing who it is. Suppose they're in a bar on a night out and start to feel someone snooping around inside their skull. Now what do people do when they are being subjected to a crime and can't stop it on their own? They seek help. All of a sudden all their mates, probably the bar staff and likely any brave do-gooder or manaphobe within earshot will set about looking for the psychic assailant. If the magician was stupid enough to be sat in the same bar at the time surrounded by his team looking like a bunch of 'runners they're gonna be made pretty quickly. Even if they're more careful than that they would have to be quick with the probing and as a GM you may want to impose a test of some kind (Etiquette, Con or Disguise depending on your take on things) to make it not blatently obvious that it's them doing the probing. Staring hard at someone with an expression of strenuous concentration is a real give-away.

Just give it a try and see whether it really does break your game or not. If it does seem to give the party something of a free pass, next time give them a target who has the wrong information but doesn't know it. The magician will confidently turn to his comrades declaring he's got the current security inventory, then a few hours later they're in a firefight with a fleet of biodrones that really weren't meant to be there ...
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Redcrow
post May 26 2010, 05:08 PM
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QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 26 2010, 04:26 PM) *
It's not really that overpowered it's just an alternative to more traditional interrogation techniques. Sticking a gun in their face with a mask over yours is a lot cheaper and less draining.


The difference is that Mind Probe also acts as an Analyze Truth spell at no additional cost whereas sticking a gun in someones face doesn't guarantee they are telling the truth. Also, there isn't the same anonymity to sticking a gun in someones face even if you are wearing a mask. You can't exactly stick a gun in someones face from across the room and even if you did everyone else present is going to know immediately whats going on and who is doing it. Its not an alternative to traditional interrogation techniques; it completely trumps any traditional interrogation technique because you get your answer in mere seconds and immediately know if its the truth or not.

QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 26 2010, 04:26 PM) *
Also, the target can still react effectively without knowing who it is. Suppose they're in a bar on a night out and start to feel someone snooping around inside their skull. Now what do people do when they are being subjected to a crime and can't stop it on their own? They seek help. All of a sudden all their mates, probably the bar staff and likely any brave do-gooder or manaphobe within earshot will set about looking for the psychic assailant. If the magician was stupid enough to be sat in the same bar at the time surrounded by his team looking like a bunch of 'runners they're gonna be made pretty quickly. Even if they're more careful than that they would have to be quick with the probing and as a GM you may want to impose a test of some kind (Etiquette, Con or Disguise depending on your take on things) to make it not blatently obvious that it's them doing the probing. Staring hard at someone with an expression of strenuous concentration is a real give-away.


Why would they need to stare at the target with an expression of strenuous concentration? I guess I missed that in the spells description somewhere. Also, if it only takes a single complex action to gain the useful bit of information, then by the time the target has a chance to even realize what is going on and react the caster could be long gone. Sure a runner team might stick out in some clubs or bars if they aren't dressed appropriately, but my players are usually smarter than that and tend to actively try to blend in to their environment. But as it stands, the caster of the spell doesn't even need to do it themselves, they can just as easily grant the ability to someone else who they have bribed and who might fit into the environment better to do it for them. Even if the target were to try and run to another room to get out of the casters line of sight, by the time they got there its too late the information is gone.

QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 26 2010, 04:26 PM) *
Just give it a try and see whether it really does break your game or not. If it does seem to give the party something of a free pass, next time give them a target who has the wrong information but doesn't know it. The magician will confidently turn to his comrades declaring he's got the current security inventory, then a few hours later they're in a firefight with a fleet of biodrones that really weren't meant to be there ...


Sure, I could do that. I could also do a number of other things to mess with the caster of the spell, but then its just going to appear that I'm deliberately and regularly screwing them over for having the spell and rendering it virtually useless. Better IMO to just ban the spell and have them choose something else that is useful without being a potential game breaker.

When I initially read the spell my vision was of the caster literally placing their hand on a targets head in order to Probe their mind, but finding out that they can in fact do it anonymously from across the room is just too much for me. I've always had a bit of a problem with the anonymity with which a lot of the Shadowrun spells are handled, but Mind Probe is one of the worst offenders IMO.

As I said before, given how much of Shadowrun is based on finding information and learning secrets, I don't see how this spell wouldn't break the game without a near constant intervention by the GM to nerf it. The only way I will allow a player in my game to have and use this spell is if they agree to the Touch range (i.e. they must be in physical contact with the target for the duration of the spell). I think that would effectively limit the use of this spell to interrogation scenarios which is what I assumed was its intent and purpose.
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Dakka Dakka
post May 26 2010, 05:38 PM
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QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 26 2010, 06:26 PM) *
Staring hard at someone with an expression of strenuous concentration is a real give-away.
Unfortunately it really is - much more than 0,75-3 seconds of staring should be. Even worse, SR4A introduced sparkling mages. If the mage happens to be a wussy vampire that likes to stare at girls we can play Twilight (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif)

The mandatory strained look is in the "Noticing Magic" paragraph, p. 179 SR4A.
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DireRadiant
post May 26 2010, 05:58 PM
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QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 12:08 PM) *
When I initially read the spell my vision was of the caster literally placing their hand on a targets head in order to Probe their mind, but finding out that they can in fact do it anonymously from across the room is just too much for me. I've always had a bit of a problem with the anonymity with which a lot of the Shadowrun spells are handled, but Mind Probe is one of the worst offenders IMO.


It isn't entirely anonymous. The person being mind probed is fully aware of the fact. And then any normal mundane has a very good chance of spotting the caster, and the more people that are looking, the less likely a mage will get away with it. And mages that like to use this spell frequently will eventually weed themselves out of the game or game world. There are consequences for using this spell. They just aren't mechanical ones.

edit: if you check the noticing magic rules, it typically will only be a threshold 2 test with the person attempting the Perception test using 6 dice. (It's typically 6 because you get +3 bonus dice if actively looking in addition to the 2 or 3 dice you might simply get by defaulting. Could be more with skills, enhancements, or teamwork bonuses. I suppose it could still be Anonymous since whomever spots the mage might not know who the mage is without casting their own mind probe or running some facial recognition software or some other way of finding things out.)
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Dakka Dakka
post May 26 2010, 06:40 PM
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QUOTE (DireRadiant @ May 26 2010, 07:58 PM) *
edit: if you check the noticing magic rules, it typically will only be a threshold 2 test with the person attempting the Perception test using 6 dice. (It's typically 6 because you get +3 bonus dice if actively looking in addition to the 2 or 3 dice you might simply get by defaulting. Could be more with skills, enhancements, or teamwork bonuses.
How many people in a bar are actively looking for magic use? More likely they will get the -2 for being distracted.
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Drats
post May 26 2010, 07:19 PM
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QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 06:40 PM) *
How many people in a bar are actively looking for magic use?


At least one: the guy whose mind is in the process of being violated.

And if you are in a bar or a club (or any public venue, really), the victim's likely to immediately seek out the proprietor if he can't find you. I imagine that the proprietor wouldn't be too keen on having it spread around that he just lies back and lets his patrons get brainraped. It's not liable to come into play often, but things could go really pear-shaped if the establishment is on top of their game, if they overreact, or if unexpected magical resources are somehow brought to bear.

And then there's the security footage. Cameras are ubiquitous and cheap these days, and it wouldn't be too hard to cue up the time of the incident and watch for anyone staring daggers at the back of the complainant's head (provided that you cast the spell at a decent enough force to ensure the hits, it'd probably be easy enough to notice). Depending on the kind of place you're dealing with, you've just made someone's shit list, at the very least. At worst Knight Errant's Magical Offenses division (or worse) has footage of you allegedly using what is probably a highly restricted spell. If you're careless or unlucky, they'll even be able to get your signature off the victim.

Granted, it's not likely to always go quite so well in favor of your target, but an outcome like this isn't outside the realm of possibility. It isn't even outside the realm of plausibility.
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Falanin
post May 26 2010, 07:30 PM
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Okay, it goes down like this:

Mage casts Mind probe on the target. The target immediately notices, and uses his free action to yell "MIND RAPE"

On the mage's next action (I'm assuming a runner mage is faster than the average bartender), he uses his complex action to Probe for a bit of info.

On the bartender's action, he hits the panicbutton™ and locks the bar down.

On the bouncers' actions, they take an Observe in Detail action to look for the mage.



At this point, the doors are locked, security has been notified, and LS/K-E is on the way. Good luck getting out of this one.

EDIT:Ninja'd!
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Drats
post May 26 2010, 07:39 PM
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The Panicbutton response might work, but there are a few reasons why it wouldn't be so commonly employed, methinks:

1. There are even more nutters in 2072 than there are today. It'd depend on the circumstances, but even with manaphobia (love the word, stealing it, thanks) being what it is, I'd give a guy iffy chances of being immediately taken seriously if he jumped up in the middle of a crowded bar and started shouting about the wizard in his brain. It might even be the distraction you need to finish your business and then start looking shocked along with everyone else.

2. Again, circumstances, but I'm not sure that many crowds would take too kindly to being locked in with a potential spellslinging boogeyman.

Come to think of it though, if you could quickly cause enough of a disturbance, you might force the mage, wherever he was, to make a concentration check or lose the spell.
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Falanin
post May 26 2010, 07:47 PM
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Those are good points. I'd generally argue that the bartender (or head of security, whatever) would at least lock down the bar unobrusively until he could get the screaming guy into a private room or otherwise verify his story. Also... the bouncers are generally going to be scanning the crowd ALREADY... so when alerted, have a good chance of coming up with the mage right quick. But yeah, I'll admit that actually calling in K-E/LS might be a bit overkill as a first response.
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DireRadiant
post May 26 2010, 08:04 PM
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QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 01:40 PM) *
How many people in a bar are actively looking for magic use? More likely they will get the -2 for being distracted.


At least one person knows, and has the power to communicate. After that who knows what will happen? It has nothing to do with dice mechanics or game rules, but how the GM and players work out what happens in the game world. Most likely some variation of Geek the Mage.
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Sixgun_Sage
post May 26 2010, 08:06 PM
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QUOTE (Falanin @ May 26 2010, 02:47 PM) *
Those are good points. I'd generally argue that the bartender (or head of security, whatever) would at least lock down the bar unobrusively until he could get the screaming guy into a private room or otherwise verify his story. Also... the bouncers are generally going to be scanning the crowd ALREADY... so when alerted, have a good chance of coming up with the mage right quick. But yeah, I'll admit that actually calling in K-E/LS might be a bit overkill as a first response.



Why would it be overkill? Look at how people respond to offenses involving a gun in the real world. In Shadowrun the use of magic in the commission of a crim automatically jumps it up, to what I cannot recall an am AFB but if you let someone get mindraped in your bar and don't call the relevant authorities in as quickly as possible you've just opened yourself up to a lawsuit that has a good chance of winning, especially if the target was a corporate lackey and goes to his management to arrange for his legal counsel.
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DireRadiant
post May 26 2010, 08:11 PM
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Are you a victim of Mind Rape? If so, call the Mind Rape Hotline immediately and our dedicated team of <<Insert LEO Corp name Here> of dedicated professionals will respond immediately to protect you.

A small team of Mages with watchers, and spirits cane protect you anywhere in the <<insert city>> urban area.

Response time is faster then the Mind Prober can possibly erase the astral signature...

Special Service charges may apply.

Consequences....
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