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> Magician's way adept, balancing magic and powers
Erchael
post Aug 22 2003, 01:11 PM
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We're starting a new campaign (but I'll still Gm:/) and one of the players is willing to make a mage physad ; once stripped of it's roleplaying clothing, it would be a elven melee/ambidexterity/pistols type using mainly spells as a beef-up and for style, staying low on cash to favor stats and skills.

That led me to think about the "physmage" concept again (well helped by the numerous old topics:)) and what would be a good level of magical power for such intended use.

IMO, two of the main difficulties (aside from being more of a generalist, which in SR isn't always a good idea) would be the drain, quickly physical with his low effective magic and the sustaining of spells (with his low cash, foci will tend to be minimal... is present) that will quickly wreck his melee skills by adding to the TN.

The rest of the team (troll ganger, orc sam, dwarf merc, human mage... they wanted "exotism" :spin: ) appears looking forward to combat (new players to SR so not cooled down yet).

I fear he may find quickly holding the wrong end of the stick with limited adept/magical abilities and karma sinks too numerous for the meager reward I'll give their group.

What do you think of his concept ; would that character be playable and how would you make it?

More generally, what considerations should prevail when "magically impaired" ? I'm thinking about introducing an NPC burnout mage and searching hard how to make him more dangerous for others than for him without steeling him to the hilt, making him a foci christmas tree or initiate in some ways :D .
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Dashifen
post Aug 22 2003, 01:18 PM
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I've always thought the mage adept concept was a great one if the player using it is flexible and creative. For instance, spells like cripple limb and death touch are such a player's best friend. imagine fighting in melee and casting those two on your opponents. Take a spell design skill and make the old D&D stand-bys of shocking grasp and burning hands (which you could just use flame aura for). I've never gotten the chance to play one (because I usually GM) and no one in my group has ever tried to play one, but I've always though that a mage adept could be just as devastating as a phys. adept if played in the correct fashion.

For the balance issues, I'd probably say a Magical Power level of at least three but maybe four. The reason: thresholds. Let's say you like that petrify spell which has a threshold of half body. Now, with an effective magic of 3 or 4 you can get 3 or 4 successes beating a bodies less than 9 if you nail all of your successes. You might have to use all of your spell pool and maybe some karma to get those successes, but without a Magical Power level of at least 3 you can almost count on your spells fizzling if they have a threshold.

-- Dashifen --
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GunnerJ
post Aug 22 2003, 01:30 PM
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I simply do away with the "effective magic rating" entirely.
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Dashifen
post Aug 22 2003, 01:39 PM
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QUOTE (GunnerJ)
I simply do away with the "effective magic rating" entirely.

How so? Magician Adepts just have a magic rating like normal mages? So what limits the force spell they can cast, their magic rating or their level of the Magician's Power?

-- Dashifen --
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Matrix Monkey
post Aug 22 2003, 01:55 PM
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QUOTE (Dashifen)
QUOTE (GunnerJ)
I simply do away with the "effective magic rating" entirely.

How so? Magician Adepts just have a magic rating like normal mages? So what limits the force spell they can cast, their magic rating or their level of the Magician's Power?

-- Dashifen --

AFAIK, physad mages have a Magic rating equal to the number of levels Magician Power they buy.
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Dashifen
post Aug 22 2003, 01:57 PM
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QUOTE (Matrix Monkey)
QUOTE (Dashifen @ Aug 22 2003, 03:39 PM)
QUOTE (GunnerJ)
I simply do away with the "effective magic rating" entirely.

How so? Magician Adepts just have a magic rating like normal mages? So what limits the force spell they can cast, their magic rating or their level of the Magician's Power?

-- Dashifen --

AFAIK, physad mages have a Magic rating equal to the number of levels Magician Power they buy.

Right. I was inquiring to how GunnerJ makes the rules work if he ignores the magic rating = to magician's power, unless I'm misinterpreting his post.

-- Dashifen --
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Erchael
post Aug 22 2003, 01:58 PM
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QUOTE (Matrix Monkey @ Aug 22 2003, 01:55 PM)
QUOTE (Dashifen @ Aug 22 2003, 03:39 PM)
QUOTE (GunnerJ)
I simply do away with the "effective magic rating" entirely.

How so? Magician Adepts just have a magic rating like normal mages? So what limits the force spell they can cast, their magic rating or their level of the Magician's Power?

-- Dashifen --

AFAIK, physad mages have a Magic rating equal to the number of levels Magician Power they buy.

Yep, I think Dashifen is only commenting on GunnerJ's ruling and asking for a clarification of it's workings :)

edit : argh, useless post :)
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GunnerJ
post Aug 22 2003, 02:48 PM
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Their magic rating is their magic rating, and they can cast spells of any force, just like normal mages, and if the force excedes their magic rating, they take physical drain. I assume this is how it worked in canon rules, except that their magic rating for sorcery and conjuring is equal to their level in Magic Power. I just do away with this extra level of complexity. I think that physmages are already balanced by having to take full magic prioirty and only getting spell points when they use a power point up on Magical Power.
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Talia Invierno
post Aug 22 2003, 02:51 PM
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That would have to be very nearly my favourite kind of PC, and I've designed them for everything from intense infiltration to socialite to combat. Insofar as I have a "standard" split, it would be 4 points to physad powers, 2 to magic, geas as necessary to protect. I have split as low as 5/1 - still playable, but I'd suggest staying away from Force-related damage spells and straight combat spells. Manipulation spells are very nice in this context.

Regardless, I'd suggest taking something which improves initiative - both the +3d6 spell and the physad power +1d6 if possible (2 points). The first is a useful low-Force spell which can be elemental-sustained as needed, the second can be time-geased at some future point if necessary - but it gives a useful backup should the spell be dispelled or ward-taken-down or the elemental run out of time.

As a pistol adept improving the pistol skill is the next major category ... but I would suggest checking out sensory options first. Assuming the adept wants to guard their Essence and not take cyberware, thermo, magnification and sound dampening would be highly useful. (An elf already has low-light.) (.75 points for sensory)

I usually try to improve Stealth and/or Athletics by a few notches. A pistol adept usually won't want to be in the front melee ranks, so something like Killing Hands really isn't needed at this point. Personally, I always avoided increasing Reaction: I found it costly compared to benefits.

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Cain
post Aug 22 2003, 04:43 PM
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There are, generally speaking, three ways you can go with a physmage concept. The first is a mage with a few adept powers, the second is an adept with a few magical powers, and the third is an even split.

The third is the most complicated of the lot, and generally the weakest overall. The first is relatively easy; you spend most of your PP on Magical Power, and buy maybe 1-2 points of adept abilities, frequently geased. Otherwise, you create him just like a standard mage.

The second seems to be what your player wants. He should probably look at buying no more that 2 points of Magical Power, maybe 3 with geasa. In either case, geasa will help him get more of what he wants. He can fetish-modify most of his spells to help with drain; Exclusive spells are a big hassle for physmages, so those should be avoided.

If he's a hermetic, I'd suggest having him pick up Enchanting and Talismongering. Not only can he then collect his own Summoning materials, as an Elf he'll have a decent charisma, so he can keep a few low-force Air elementals on tap. He can use them to temporarily sustain detection spells, like Enhance Aim and Combat Sense, which will help boost him. For the others, Enchanting will allow him to (eventually) make his own sustaining foci.
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Talia Invierno
post Aug 22 2003, 05:46 PM
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Oh, and remember that huge discussion on geasing a physmage's magic points? Per strict canon and using a voluntary geas, a physmage can get the equivalent of 4 points for spell use but pay for only three (@75% cost each). That should go a long way toward evening out the team power balance.
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Erchael
post Aug 22 2003, 05:51 PM
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Thanks for the input!

I get the feeling from the previous posts that the hermetic's elementaires-provided advantages far outweigh the added initial cost for a library and summoning circle in comparison to the shaman's lodge (at least for this character concept).

Could you be more specific on the power ratings at which spells become useful/are useless in your experience? The easier failure of opposed low-force spells (and the player's limited magic skills compared to a pure mage) seems to more-less exclude all non-willing targets spells (the same way, success-modified spells would stay low due to low power and small spell pool).

Using fetiches to reduce drain seems a very sensible idea, even more if he's starting at 2 or 3 in magic power (perhaps with a talisman gea -seems neat for a mainly physical adept to think he couldn't cast without outside help... and a good choking point for me if my fears are absurd and he reveals to be a game-breaker- :D )

In this case, would you rather take various low-force spells or spend his 12-18 beginning spell points in some "powerful" (non-opposed?) spells?
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Talia Invierno
post Aug 22 2003, 06:31 PM
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(Just re-read your post, Cain - I think I ended up repeating what you'd already said. Sorry.)

The major element that might sway toward hermetic is the question of spell sustaining via elemental. Drop that, perhaps as a result of a pre-initiation (see below), and the shamanic path once again becomes more viable. The question lies with where your player would like to place more emphasis. If learning and casting high-powered spells with elemental assistance is desirable, hermetic is the way to go. If the focus is more toward personal abilities: well, have yet to find a spell that makes a good counter to a spirit's Accident power - and its ability to protect you from the same.

Re low-Force v. high-Force:

It really depends on the kind of campaign you run. In mine, low-powered spells are highly vulnerable to environment and wards and others' determination to dispell them, so no one really gets spells below Force 3. In someone else's, those aspects might not come into play and it might be easy to get away with a Force 1 Improved Reflexes +3d6 (for example). One option, especially for combat spells and similar, might be to get them at the highest Force possible, but habitually cast them lower.

If you do go the low-powered route, buying one level of pre-initiation might also be a possibility: extra magic point and a metamagic (centring? quickening?) without completely sacrificing all spells to do it.
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chillywilly60089
post Aug 22 2003, 08:27 PM
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QUOTE (Talia Invierno)
buying one level of pre-initiation might also be a possibility: extra magic point and a metamagic (centring? quickening?) without completely sacrificing all spells to do it.

All the salient points seem to have been covered so I won't repeat anyone other than to say that, like Talia, my physmag (I know, SR2 title there) was my favorite character.

I do wish to note, though, the rules on the magician's way adept initiation. They are a bit vague and can have different interpretations. There was a rather large discussion on the interpretations before the change in the forum, and it seemed to come down to GM call. So, as you are the GM, you may wish to decide now how you will rule on initiation for this character type.

FAQ: says that this adept picks ONE of (power point OR metamagic OR change astral signature). IMO, I assume that it also reads OR remove geas.

Other: the magician's way adept initiates just like everyone else and does get the extra magic point (to spend on power points or another magic point) AND one of (metamagic OR change astral signature). IMO, I assume that it continues OR they can scrap both options and remove geas.

Personally, I go with the second way. That magician's way adepts are the same as every other awakened character undergoing initiation and would gain the exact benefits that Talia describes. I'm only posting so that you can go into this new character type with an understanding of what you are deciding. :)

P.S. - I hope your player enjoys him/her, I sure like my physmag!
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Cain
post Aug 22 2003, 09:03 PM
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Erchael-- The thing to consider here isn't low force vs high force. Really, he doesn't sound like he'll be using a lot of combat magics, so he won't run across as many opposed tests. What he needs to consider is what kind of spells he'll be using.

You said that he mostly was going to use spells to boost his combat abilities. That means, mostly detection and health spells. An Elementalist-orientation might work for him, conferring the equivalent of a totem bonus on the detection spells. At any event, the spells he wants will still be limited by force, but not as badly-- Combat sense, for example, will work fine for him; Enhance Aim will work as well. Combat sense in particular is wonderful for a physmage-- it stacks with the Combat sense power, and with the Deflect spell to boot. A physmage can end up with the largest combat pool of any character archetype.

For the health spells, he's probably considering Increase Attribute (various) and Increase Reflexes 3. Increase Reflexes is one of the few spells where force doesn't make a huge difference, so he'll get along fine there. Increase attribute has a max bonus equal to Force, but a +3 bonus is about all anyone can hope for under combat conditions.

The big area where force is absolutely necessary is Combat spells against vehicles. Since he doesn't plan on doing that, he won't ever need super-high force spells.

As far as the hermetic vs shamanic debate goes-- for this character, it all depends on his concept. However, if he wants to sustain a bundle of spells, hermetic is definitely the way to go. Hermetic circles are effectively free, and a low-force library isn't all that expensive. (He won't need a sorcery library for a bit, and a rating-2 conjuring library is only 4k. He can afford that easily with starting cash.)
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Sphynx
post Aug 22 2003, 09:48 PM
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Yeah, mostly what Cain said. If he sticks to Sustained Spells he can lock up to 12 Force of Sustaining Foci to himself as long as the total number of Foci doesn't exceed his Magic Rating.

Great spells: Oxygenate (Force 1 is enough to breath underwater), Improved Invis, Stealth, Increased Reflexes 3, Armour (even low force is helpful here), Magic Fingers, Levitate, Gecko Crawl, Clairvoyance, Clairaudience, Combat Sense, Increased Attribute, Etc. All good at low force.

I'd personally take Magic Power at 2 and buy up the spell points needed. Definitely not over 2 (if Int is 6, that's 6 force 2 Foci for 12 Force total). 1 is a possibility, just not as nice I think.

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I am Jin
post Aug 22 2003, 09:54 PM
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woops, man I feel dumb, posted this in the wrong place!
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