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> Merging Spellcasting and Summoning, Is there any real reason these two are separate things?
JanessaVR
post Jul 31 2017, 03:55 AM
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Im certain someone must have proposed this idea before, and Ive recently gotten around to one of my one of my old notes on possible house rules to investigate, suggesting this simplification.

Personally, Im inclined to propose it. Why not just have a separate summoning spell for each type of spirit? I can, for instance, easily envision a Hermetic summoning circle incorporating special glyphs for flame and the Elemental Plane of Fire used for a Summon Fire Elemental spell. If a spell is an occult ritual designed and executed to produce a specific effect, what exactly is the difference between that and summoning?

As for Banishing, why not just have a Banish Spirit spell instead of a separate skill? Alternately, it could be merged with Counterspelling.

Pros and cons what do you see?
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KCKitsune
post Jul 31 2017, 04:10 AM
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QUOTE (JanessaVR @ Jul 30 2017, 10:55 PM) *
Pros and cons what do you see?


Well for those not playing Awakened, they might see this as another step towards "MagicRun", If you're going to merge summoning and spell casting, then you might also want to think about merging gun skill groups.
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JanessaVR
post Jul 31 2017, 04:24 AM
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QUOTE (KCKitsune @ Jul 30 2017, 08:10 PM) *
Well for those not playing Awakened, they might see this as another step towards "MagicRun", If you're going to merge summoning and spell casting, then you might also want to think about merging gun skill groups.

Well, our group is pretty much MagicRun already, and has been for some time now. As for the gun skills, wasn't there a thread on that fairly recently?
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KCKitsune
post Jul 31 2017, 04:53 AM
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QUOTE (JanessaVR @ Jul 31 2017, 12:24 AM) *
Well, our group is pretty much MagicRun already, and has been for some time now. As for the gun skills, wasn't there a thread on that fairly recently?


Yup. As for there being too many skills in Shadowrun, I agree. Honestly, the skill system could be simplified a lot.

Now back on topic. If you do make this change, then you'll need to drop the Aspected Magician quality. Kinda pointless if any mage could summon a spirit with a spell.
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Titan
post Jul 31 2017, 05:11 AM
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Ugg. This is one of those things that might look good on paper, that you just never realize all the ripples it makes when you drop it in the pond.

Yes. I did mix metaphors. I make no apologies.

First, as I am sure you are aware, it drops the Conjuration skill group. But, it also blows up the whole idea of Tradition Spirit limitations. While I don't think that is such a bad idea... It does mean that most mages will summon the same spirits. Such as Guardian and Guidance spirits (Street Grimoire pg. 193) because they both have Guard, and Magical Guard.
Unless, Traditions are limited on which spirit spells they can learn... Which would be a bit weird.
Then there is the cost of Spirit Summoning taking up starting spells. Or costing Karma to learn how to summon after chargen.
Then there is the problem of which class of spells they would be? A whole new category? Because it shouldn't be Combat, Detection, Illusion, or Health, for certain. Manipulation doesn't seem right either.
Next up would be Mentor Spirits. All of the bonuses would have to be tweaked, to make sure those that give conjuration bonuses actually still give bonuses, and those that bump up spell categories don't accidentally boost summoning.
Then qualities. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a Dedicated Spellslinger (Forbidden Arcana pg. 36) to be able to summon more spirits than a standard mage. This is one example, as someone who isn't all that interested in mages in Shadowrun, I bet there are more even though I can't think of any.

I have an itch on the brain that is telling me I am forgetting something... But I will end with:
{{EDITed to add: Bleh. The brain itch was telling me I was using SR5 examples. Scratch those, and add in appropriate ones. The points should still be solid without the examples.}}
What about Enchanting? Will that be shifted under Sorcery as well? And if not, why?
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JanessaVR
post Jul 31 2017, 05:36 AM
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@Titan.

Well, we already got rid of tradition spirit limitations years ago. I should have mentioned it, but I'm so used to that being the case for us already.

Making Summoning a new category of spells is a good idea. Any summoning bonuses from mentor spirits (or other Qualities) can point there instead.
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Titan
post Jul 31 2017, 06:18 AM
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QUOTE (JanessaVR @ Jul 30 2017, 11:36 PM) *
Well, we already got rid of tradition spirit limitations years ago. I should have mentioned it, but I'm so used to that being the case for us already.


Oh? And how is that working for you? Are you suffering "cookie cutter" syndrome?

It sounds to me like the all Cleric group experiment we tried in 3rd/3.5 D&D. Despite different gods, and different trappings, when it came down to it - everyone had the same tool set. Just a couple different tools. Easy to miss, making every character "the same" in spite of not being played the same.

To quote Motoko Kusanagi "Overspecialize, and you breed in weakness."
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JanessaVR
post Jul 31 2017, 08:10 AM
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QUOTE (KCKitsune @ Jul 30 2017, 08:53 PM) *
If you do make this change, then you'll need to drop the Aspected Magician quality. Kinda pointless if any mage could summon a spirit with a spell.

Indeed. It occurred to me that would no longer be applicable as a Quality.
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farothel
post Jul 31 2017, 04:38 PM
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QUOTE (Titan @ Jul 31 2017, 07:11 AM) *
Then there is the cost of Spirit Summoning taking up starting spells. Or costing Karma to learn how to summon after chargen.


That's not much different from now, as you also have to spend karma to get the skill (or get better at the skill). So instead of karma to improve skill it's now karma to get new spells.

I'm just wondering what you would do with binding and banishing. Do you make those also into spells, or keep those as skills? And if you keep them as skills, why keep one and not the other?
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JanessaVR
post Jul 31 2017, 05:26 PM
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QUOTE (farothel @ Jul 31 2017, 08:38 AM) *
That's not much different from now, as you also have to spend karma to get the skill (or get better at the skill). So instead of karma to improve skill it's now karma to get new spells.

I'm just wondering what you would do with binding and banishing. Do you make those also into spells, or keep those as skills? And if you keep them as skills, why keep one and not the other?

I'd envision Summon [X Type] Spirit, Bind Spirit and Banish Spirit as part of a new category of spells - Summoning.

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JanessaVR
post Jul 31 2017, 05:54 PM
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QUOTE (Titan @ Jul 30 2017, 10:18 PM) *
Oh? And how is that working for you? Are you suffering "cookie cutter" syndrome?

It sounds to me like the all Cleric group experiment we tried in 3rd/3.5 D&D. Despite different gods, and different trappings, when it came down to it - everyone had the same tool set. Just a couple different tools. Easy to miss, making every character "the same" in spite of not being played the same.

To quote Motoko Kusanagi "Overspecialize, and you breed in weakness."

I’m familiar with that quote, but I’d say our team is sufficiently diverse. On our last campaign, we had:

A postmodern Hermetic Magician (me) who subscribes to UMT, and has an "aggressively secular" approach to magic.
A Onmyoji/Shinto Magician (think Abe no Seimei with the serial #s filed off).
A Warrior’s Way Adept (gun bunny).
A Speaker’s Way Adept (pornomancer).
A Technomancer (we count them as Awakened in our campaign world).

My magical skills breakdown was (IIRC) about like this (keep in mind we run high-level campaigns that start at double normal points):
  • Magic 6
  • Spellcasting 6
  • Counterspelling 6
  • Summoning 1
  • Banishing 6
  • Arcana 6
  • Assensing 6
  • Enchanting 6

So I could basically sling 12 dice at anything magical I really cared about, which typically wasn’t sprits, outside of summoning the occasional Watcher spirit. I was more interested in immediately getting rid of the darn things whenever I saw them if they weren’t mine, which is not an uncommon Hermetic viewpoint; your tools should not talk back. On the other hand, our Onmyoji had like 4’s and 5’s across the board, and used paper dolls to summon his Shikigami into, which frequently took the appearance of youkai from Japanese mythology. We certainly felt at least fairly different in our approaches to magic.

On spirits, our house rules state that their default Attributes are equal to their Force (and cannot exceed it), and that they get 1 critter power per level of Force (in addition to their free powers of Astral Form, Sapience, Materialization/Possession, and Hardened Armor when Materialized/Possessed). Exactly what those powers are (and the appearance your summonable spirits take) varies by your tradition, and effectively equate to "whatever you can talk the GM into if it’s not deemed disruptive."
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Bodak
post Aug 1 2017, 08:31 AM
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QUOTE (KCKitsune @ Jul 31 2017, 04:10 AM) *
another step towards "MagicRun"
I guess that must be an objection on purely mechanical grounds, because nobody familiar with canon would be surprised at the Magic level rising over time / consecutive editions of Shadowrun.

Once editions get post-Sixth World, then we'll expect the decline of Magic while SotA tech keeps marching forward (if anyone survives to advance it) but until then, the meteoric rise of Magic is on-track.

QUOTE (JanessaVR @ Jul 31 2017, 05:26 PM) *
I'd envision Summon [X Type] Spirit, Bind Spirit and Banish Spirit as part of a new category of spells - Summoning.
As Spirits get Sorcery, they would be able to "Summon" each other (without an arbitrary "except for this Category!" ruling) which could escalate rapidly. A player might try, "OK as your first Service, summon all your spirit friends" (pop!) "My mate here might owe you Services, but I owe you nothing!" (squish!)
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Titan
post Aug 1 2017, 12:14 PM
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QUOTE (Bodak @ Aug 1 2017, 03:31 AM) *
guess that must be an objection on purely mechanical grounds,


It is. For just a small sample of the mechanical issues in SR5, compare casting multiple spells at once, to performing multiple attacks. I suggest you do the reading, but to save you some time, Magicians split their base pool and then add pool modifiers (such as Mentor Spirit and Specialization) to each casting. 'Mundane' multiple attacks calculate the worst attack pool, then split dice.

QUOTE (JanessaVR @ Jul 31 2017, 12:54 PM) *
We certainly felt at least fairly different in our approaches to magic.


I'm sure it felt different. My point is "how different were your characters, really?" Here are a few thought experiments for you to consider.

1) Could your two Magician players have swapped character sheets, and still played the characters as they had before the swap? In other words, could you still play your Hermetic using the Shinto character and vice versa.
2) If one of the Magician characters had to leave for some reason (character death, player unavailable, etc.) how much effort (read: Karma) would it take for the other Magician to be able to bring the same mechanics to the table? It looks like your Hermetic would need a couple points of Summoning, and maybe a few "signature" spells, and it could be like the Shinto never left.
3) If the player wanted to replace their Magician with a Magician of another tradition, for whatever reason, how much would have to be different? If you wanted to swap out your Hermetic for a Shaman, how different would they really be? Different philosophies, sure. Different trappings, probably. But would there be any difference "under the hood?"

As for your Adepts, how difficult would it be for say... A Voodoo tradition Magician to replace them? For your Warriors Way, say be possessed by a Guardian Spirit, with an Optional Power of <Firearm Skill of Choice>, and [Force] added to all Physical attributes? How close would that be?

QUOTE (JanessaVR @ Jul 31 2017, 12:54 PM) *
On spirits, our house rules state that their default Attributes are equal to their Force (and cannot exceed it), and that they get 1 critter power per level of Force (in addition to their free powers of Astral Form, Sapience, Materialization/Possession, and Hardened Armor when Materialized/Possessed). Exactly what those powers are (and the appearance your summonable spirits take) varies by your tradition, and effectively equate to "whatever you can talk the GM into if it’s not deemed disruptive."


If I am reading this correctly, that makes it sound as if all Spirits are the same. With the possible exception of Elemental effects, all Spirits are identical, you just call them different names. A Spirit of Man, for example, is the same thing as a Beast Spirit - just with less growling.
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JanessaVR
post Aug 1 2017, 05:04 PM
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QUOTE (Bodak @ Aug 1 2017, 12:31 AM) *
As Spirits get Sorcery, they would be able to "Summon" each other (without an arbitrary "except for this Category!" ruling) which could escalate rapidly. A player might try, "OK as your first Service, summon all your spirit friends" (pop!) "My mate here might owe you Services, but I owe you nothing!" (squish!)

Ah, I had forgotten that. Thanks for the reminder. But no worries, we just change the rule from "spirits don't have access to the Conjuring Skill Group" to "spirits don't have access to the Summoning Spell Category."
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Cochise
post Aug 1 2017, 05:16 PM
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QUOTE (JanessaVR @ Jul 31 2017, 06:54 PM) *
My magical skills breakdown was (IIRC) about like this (keep in mind we run high-level campaigns that start at double normal points):
  • Magic 6
  • Spellcasting 6
  • Counterspelling 6
  • Summoning 1
  • Banishing 6
  • Arcana 6
  • Assensing 6
  • Enchanting 6

So I could basically sling 12 dice at anything magical I really cared about, which typically wasnt sprits, outside of summoning the occasional Watcher spirit.


Let's forget that with those stats you are sort of maxed out within the magic field as far as "what you cared about" and just look at the ramifications of the suggested skill merger:

  • You would have had an increase of a full 5 points in a skill that supposedly was of not much interest to you. If need were be you'd sling the exact same 12 dice on that as well
  • You'd also have gained 1 extra point for whatever first skill level you wanted
  • Technically any form of limited / aspected magic use on PC side would cease to exist without the reintroduction of further special rules
  • That limited access would also pertain to NPCs. Bodak mentioned one major problem there already: Without further special rules you'd grant entities the ability to access magics that they normally wouldn't have. And yes, the danger of spirits being tasked to chain-summon other spirits to get things done should be rather obvious there.
  • While larger merge groups of skills certainly seem to make things easier in terms of paperwork they also mean that characters will become heavily interchangable on a strictly mechanical level due to more identical stats. Individuality then must come from character portrayal alone. My personal experience says that players rarely manage to give the appropriate portrayal. Yeah, the firearms skill in earlier editions surely was nice from a book keeping standpoint and logical tp a certain degree as well, but it also meant that your firearms 6 samurai was typically portayed as being Deadshot because - you know - their character sheet said that they could use any firearm at that level ... It was kinda boring. Just as the 666-magic patterns tend to become boring
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JanessaVR
post Aug 1 2017, 05:23 PM
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@Titan:

I'm not really sure what point you're trying to make. If I went to the time and effort, could I make my magician into a clone of another player's magician? Well, yeah, I guess I could. As for the spirits, their abilities will vary by the summoner's tradition - that is to say, a Spirit of Man summoned by my Hermetic magician will not only look different, but have different critter powers than the Onmyoji's summoned Spirit of Man. He accepts that, as part of his tradition, anything he summons up needs to look and act like a youkai, with powers (and restrictions) chosen to match their counterparts in Japanese mythology. Mine look more modern and are generally more utilitarian in the nature of their powers. That's when I bother to summon spirits at all - I tend to think the proper place for any summoned spirits is firmly under the heels of my (fashionable) boots as I just don't trust them on general principle.

So if you're saying that the only cure for this supposed calamity is arbitrary restrictions on spirit summoning by tradition, well, we don't accept that.
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JanessaVR
post Aug 1 2017, 05:28 PM
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@Cochise:

I already addressed the "spirits summoning spirits" issue above. As for Aspected Magicians going away - ok, fine, no big loss. No one in our group has ever played one anyway.
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Cochise
post Aug 1 2017, 05:41 PM
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QUOTE (JanessaVR @ Aug 1 2017, 06:23 PM) *
@Titan:

I'm not really sure what point you're trying to make. If I went to the time and effort, could I make my magician into a clone of another player's magician?


No, his point is pretty much the same as my final bullet point: The more you reduce the number of different skills the closer you get to arbitrary interchangability of charcter sheets for characters of the same archetype because they'll gravitate towards totally identical stats rather sooner than later (or possibly right out of chargen). You'll be left with not too many mechanically induced differences and thus it'll boil down to individual character portrayal only.

=> Less separate skills = Less variety between characters of the same archetype on any experience level = an earlier emergence of "cookie cutter builds" where every archetype looks the same on paper in terms of character stats.

Oh and thanks for stating the obvious concerning you having addressed "the spirits summoning" issue, which only represents half of the equation. Matter of the fact however is that I started typing my comment before you made your comment and I couldn't be arsed to edit that part after I posted my comment within mere minutes of you making yours. As far as considering the loss of aspected magicians going away as a none-issue: I'll have to agree to disagree. I heavily despised original SR4 for that alone.

[edit]To elaborate as to why the a limitation of spirits not being able to perform the Spellcasting equivalent of Summoning is only half of the equation: You'll have to look at each and every instance where stuff like traits, mentor spirits, tradition, drugs, etc. currently grant bonuses to either Spellcasting or Summoning and then decide whether or not you have to implement similar restrictions you just had to make for spirits in order to avoid breaking stuff because a simple +2 dice on spells mechanically just turned into a +2 for summoning a spirit as well.
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Titan
post Aug 1 2017, 06:25 PM
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Cochise has the right of it.

The only difference between Magicians is the arbitrary restrictions placed on them by the player. Well, and arbitrarily accepted by the GM.

It is close to the point that the GM could make one character prior to start of game, print out enough copies for all the players, and pass them out. Each player would assign an arbitrary restriction of tradition on their character, and viola! Totally different! She is wearing the red scarf, and he is wearing the purple scarf... And they are completely different!

Of course, it could be taken a step further to include spirits (unless you already count spirits as an archetype). They are all identical, except for the arbitrary restrictions placed on them by the players arbitrary choice of tradition.

It does make me wonder why even have a different spell per spirit type? It could just be "Summon Spirit," with variations being decided by arbitrary restrictions applied by the player.
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JanessaVR
post Aug 1 2017, 08:43 PM
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Ok, let me try to clarify.

In canon, you get exactly 5 types of spirits you can summon, and then each of those spirits are locked into a specific category of services (Combat, Detection, Health, Illusion, Manipulation). To quote the rules: "A tradition associates each of its spirit types with a category of magic. These associations serve to color how that tradition views a particular type of spirit. They also limit how a bound spirit of that type may serve a magician of that tradition."

Umwhy? Well, because the rulebook says so, and no other reason, really. We took issue with this.

You summon up an Earth Elemental, and it can either, say, weed your garden, but cant fight for you, or vice-versa. Do you associate Earth with Combat or Manipulation? And why must it be exclusively one or the other? Why not have the spirits appearance, powers, and vulnerabilities be customized to each tradition instead?

So we set some baselines. Spirits have Attributes equal to Force (at maximum, they might be less in some cases), and all get the "free" powers of Astral Form, Sapience, Materialization or Possession, and Hardened Armor when Materialized or Possessed (because Immunity to Normal Weapons was just overpowered).

Beyond that, they get 1 critter power per level of Force. And here is where, at least as far were concerned, more justifiable abilities and restrictions for specific spirits come into play. Sync the spirit up with how it appears in the mythology of that tradition. And rather than write up thousands of rules for thousands of spirits, well just wing it at this level.

In short, we think the rules should take a back seat to the flavor of the tradition, rather than trying to shoe-horn the flavor of a tradition into a narrow set of rules. Which is actually indicative of our greater gaming philosophy story first, rules second. The rules are there are to serve us, not the other way around.

As an aside, if anyones looking for resources on playing an Onmyoji, I can recommend the following, as Ive been tempted to play one myself and done some enjoyable research:
  • "The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons" by Matthew Meyer. An invaluable resource for summoning.
  • "Onmyoji" (2001) and "Onmyoji 2" (2003) are magical fantasy versions of the life of Abe no Seimei (aka "The Japanese Merlin").
  • "Ghost Hunt" (2006) is an anime series where Onmyodo makes frequent appearances. A must-see for examples of Onmyodo spellcasting, and a good look at something of a legal shadowrunner team.
  • "Hellboy: Sword of Storms" (2006) is an animated film with a brief but good tour of several Japanese youkai.
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Cabral
post Aug 1 2017, 10:41 PM
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QUOTE (Titan @ Jul 31 2017, 12:11 AM) *
Then there is the problem of which class of spells they would be? A whole new category? Because it shouldn't be Combat, Detection, Illusion, or Health, for certain. Manipulation doesn't seem right either.

What about by the category they can provide sorcery. So, Summon Fire Spirit would be Combat unless your fire spirits provide aid to manipulation.
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Bodak
post Aug 2 2017, 01:37 AM
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QUOTE (Cabral @ Aug 1 2017, 10:41 PM) *
What about by the category they can provide sorcery. So, Summon Fire Spirit would be Combat unless your fire spirits provide aid to manipulation.
This sounds sound until you get to the arbitrary "except for this Category!" ruling. If there's no Summoning category, then prohibiting your combat Spirits from accessing Combat spells presents a conundrum.

JanessaVR@
You'd be thinking of designing such Summon spells to be Duration: Sustained, right? So the magician would suffer +2 TNs for as long as the Spirit is around, and the "effect" would end if the magician lost concentration. That might work for some Spirits, but then how do Free Spirits appear (and stick around) without a caster instantiating them? And Watcher Spirits, usually pretty easy and convenient to spin up and send off, are suddenly a lot more of a burden. And what about Remote Services - the magician might send their Spirit out to do their bidding, and have to Sustain it for hours hoping it will accomplish something. It sounds like a bit of a penalty.
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JanessaVR
post Aug 2 2017, 01:41 AM
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QUOTE (Bodak @ Aug 1 2017, 05:37 PM) *
JanessaVR@
You'd be thinking of designing such Summon spells to be Duration: Sustained, right? So the magician would suffer +2 TNs for as long as the Spirit is around, and the "effect" would end if the magician lost concentration. That might work for some Spirits, but then how do Free Spirits appear (and stick around) without a caster instantiating them? And Watcher Spirits, usually pretty easy and convenient to spin up and send off, are suddenly a lot more of a burden. And what about Remote Services - the magician might send their Spirit out to do their bidding, and have to Sustain it for hours hoping it will accomplish something. It sounds like a bit of a penalty.

Ack! Very good point. I'll ponder this tonight.

EDIT: Still pondering, work super busy, will post tomorrow.
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Cabral
post Aug 3 2017, 03:34 AM
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QUOTE (Bodak @ Aug 1 2017, 08:37 PM) *
This sounds sound until you get to the arbitrary "except for this Category!" ruling. If there's no Summoning category, then prohibiting your combat Spirits from accessing Combat spells presents a conundrum.

Except for what category? Watcher spirits would be special I guess, but the rest fit fine as far as I can tell.

QUOTE (Bodak @ Aug 1 2017, 08:37 PM) *
JanessaVR@
You'd be thinking of designing such Summon spells to be Duration: Sustained, right? So the magician would suffer +2 TNs for as long as the Spirit is around, and the "effect" would end if the magician lost concentration. That might work for some Spirits, but then how do Free Spirits appear (and stick around) without a caster instantiating them? And Watcher Spirits, usually pretty easy and convenient to spin up and send off, are suddenly a lot more of a burden. And what about Remote Services - the magician might send their Spirit out to do their bidding, and have to Sustain it for hours hoping it will accomplish something. It sounds like a bit of a penalty.

What about Permanent duration? After the sustaining period ends, they follow the normal rules for duration.
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JanessaVR
post Aug 3 2017, 03:54 AM
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QUOTE (Cabral @ Aug 2 2017, 07:34 PM) *
Except for what category? Watcher spirits would be special I guess, but the rest fit fine as far as I can tell.


What about Permanent duration? After the sustaining period ends, they follow the normal rules for duration.

Or invent a new duration - "Special." But I'd prefer a more elegant solution.
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