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> SR3 Watcher spirit summoning, Interpretation of a vague sentence / wording...
Kren Cooper
post Mar 11 2018, 03:01 PM
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Would value some input on the following question:

First of all - MITS (Magic in the Shadows), Page 100 gives the details on how to summon watchers (I've converted the text from a paragraph into a numbered list at each sentence end, to make discussion easier):

  1. A watcher is a simple spirit that a magician can conjure and give simple tasks to perform.
  2. Any magician able to use Conjuring to summon spirits can summon watchers.
  3. Generally, the summoning ritual requires no special equipment and can be performed at any time.
  4. To summon a watcher, the magician makes a Conjuring Test against a target number equal to the watcher’s Force.
  5. Every success gives the watcher one hour of life span.
  6. Drain for summoning a watcher is always (Force + life span hours)L, and is Stun damage, never Physical damage.
  7. The maximum Force a character can give a watcher is equal to his Magic divided by 2 (round up).
  8. The summoner must resist conjuring Drain by making a Charisma Test (p. 162, SR3 ).
  9. An initiate may use Centering to reduce the Drain (see Centering, p. 72).
  10. The summoner may also choose to shorten the watcher’s life span to decrease Drain.
  11. A character can maintain a number of watchers at once equal to his Charisma.
  12. Watchers do not count against the number of elementals a mage can bind at one time.
  13. If necessary, keep separate track of these two totals.
  14. Characters can dissolve watchers they have conjured at will, even before its time expires, whether or not the spirit is present.
  15. Watchers can be summoned for longer times by spending Karma, using ritual materials, or combining the two.
  16. A magician can conjure a watcher that lasts for weeks, rather than hours, by paying Karma equal to its life span in weeks or expending the same number of units of ritual materials at a cost of 1,000 nuyen per unit.
  17. For example, a magician summoning a watcher for 5 weeks can pay 5 Karma, use 5 units of ritual materials, or any combination of the two (for example, 3 units and 2 Karma).
  18. Whether its life span is measured in hours or weeks, a watcher dissolves back into the formless energies of astral space when its time runs out.
  19. Watcher spirits can only ever have 1 Karma Point.


So, the point in question, for me, is point 10 - reducing the lifespan, to reduce drain.

Example 1- you have Conjuring 5. You want to summon a Force 5 watcher. You roll 5 conjuring dice, and get 2 successes - so you now drain a (Force 5 + 2 successes) 7 L drain for the summoning, and get a Force 5 watcher for 2 hours.
Example 2 - you have Conjuring 5. You want to summon a Force 2 watcher. You roll 5 conjuring dice, and get 5 successes - so you now drain a (Force 2 + 5 successes) *still* 7 L drain for the summoning, and get a Force 2 watcher for 5 hours.

My initial thought / assumption was that if you wanted to reduce the duration, and thus the drain - you would withhold dice, just like you would for spellcasting to reduce the AoE of an effec (SR3 rulebook, Page 181 - you can reduce the AoE of a spell by 1 meter per 2 dice withheld from the sorcery test), or to limit successes. The sentence for me is very woolly, and does not say if there is a limit or mechanism for how you do this. I've checked the FAQ and can't see anything about it either.

My interpretation:
Example 3 - you have Conjuring 5. You want to summon a Force 2 watcher, but really don't want drain.. You roll 2 conjuring dice instead of 5, and get 2 successes - so you now drain a (Force 2 + 2 successes) 4 L drain for the summoning, and get a Force 2 watcher for 2 hours.

My gut call is that if you want to limit the successes, and duration / drain, that reducing the number of dice rolled is the way to go - so it fits with the mechanics of other similar mechanisms, and the rules are consistent - and it's the implementation in game that has the randomness. However, I'd be interested to see how other people interpret that, or would deal with this as a house rule?
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Glyph
post Mar 12 2018, 01:35 AM
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I always read it as the conjurer choosing a lower duration, much like choosing to cast a spell at a lower Force, with no change to the dice mechanics needed (other than the change to Drain). If the conjurer needed to withhold dice, I think it would have been explicitly stated.
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Bodak
post Mar 12 2018, 07:52 AM
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QUOTE (Kren Cooper @ Mar 11 2018, 03:01 PM) *
Example 1- you have Conjuring 5. You want to summon a Force 5 watcher. You roll 5 conjuring dice, and get 2 successes - so you now drain a (Force 5 + 2 successes) 7 L drain for the summoning, and get a Force 5 watcher for 2 hours.
Example 2 - you have Conjuring 5. You want to summon a Force 2 watcher. You roll 5 conjuring dice, and get 5 successes - so you now drain a (Force 2 + 5 successes) *still* 7 L drain for the summoning, and get a Force 2 watcher for 5 hours.

My interpretation:
Example 3 - you have Conjuring 5. You want to summon a Force 2 watcher, but really don't want drain.. You roll 2 conjuring dice instead of 5, and get 2 successes - so you now drain a (Force 2 + 2 successes) 4 L drain for the summoning, and get a Force 2 watcher for 2 hours.
Example 4 - you have Conjuring 5. You want to summon a Force 2 watcher. You roll 5 conjuring dice, and get 5 successes - so you now have up to 5 hours lifetime available for your Watcher. You only need to send a very simple message to your crew back in the Riggermobile so you choose to limit the lifespan to 1 hour. Now stage drain at (Force 2 + 1 hour) 3L drain for the summoning, and get a Force 2 watcher for 1 hour. This is because:
QUOTE (Kren Cooper @ Mar 11 2018, 03:01 PM) *
6. Drain for summoning a watcher is always (Force + life span hours)L, and is Stun damage, never Physical damage.
not Force + #Successes, but Force + Hours.

Example 5 - install a Trauma Damper. Don't even bother rolling for drain.
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Kren Cooper
post Mar 12 2018, 01:13 PM
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Thanks for the comments both.

After chatting with some of the group, we've gone for a hybrid solution in our player base, for game balance reasons.

"If you summon watcher spirits in your magical circle (any elemental alignment) for mages or Shamanic lodge for Shamans (and if you're playing a weird type, in your magical construct as appropriate to your tradition), you may set the maximum duration you wish to accept for the summoning. The familiar confines or better control afforded to you by the prepared summoning gives you "better" control.

If you're out in the field, then the only way to control the duration, is to withhold dice from the summoning, thus limiting the maximum number of successes."

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freudqo
post Mar 12 2018, 03:30 PM
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I'm a bit curious to what you considered a balance issue here?
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Kren Cooper
post Mar 12 2018, 04:53 PM
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Sure

Let's work on a summoner with a Conjuring / Charisma of 5. He's just about to kick in the door of a room that the team have discovered has a magical threat in.
Summon watcher spirit #1, choose to have a F3. Roll 5 dice vs 3, get 3-4 successes. Choose to have it for only 1 hour on the basis that you only need it for 1 fight, it's a 4L drain, which on 5 dice should be fine. Repeat 4 more times to get up to your Charisma in Watcher spirits. Chances are you take no drain from any of this.
Kick in the door, spy the astral threat, sic the mob of watchers on it - not to do damage, but to effectively give you "friends in a melee" modifier, when you wail in to beat the snot out of it. The astral threat is tied up with a horde of chaff, and although it kills one when it attacks, it's on high target numbers after the first round when the actual conjuring wades in, because of the 4 remaining watchers mobbing it, and is quickly defeated.

As a GM, I then need to either increase the number of threats, to counter this - and risk them being too much threat, or increase the force of the threat to make it more resilient - again possibly going OTT, or make the encounter too unreasonable from a fluff POV (how did this small corp afford N elementals to guard the place?)

If the summoner has the chance to get long duration watchers that are suddenly 7-8L drains, they are then running the risk of being on a +1 to summon the 2nd / 3rd, or to do stuff in the encounter - it makes them stop and think, and work out acceptable levels of risk / reward. Magic is not the "I win" button to be hammered without thought. But, for the summoner who plans ahead, and does think about it - if they prepared some watchers earlier, with long enough duration, they can still have their army of spirits - they needed to rest on the drive over, to get rid of their stun, or plan for the right duration from summoning in their circle. It just cuts down on the "Leeroy Jenkins" style of play a little, in my opinion.
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freudqo
post Mar 12 2018, 05:19 PM
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I see where you come from… But I don't see how your solution will work here… If I was your mage in this situation, trying to use this trick, I would just choose to use one dice everytime I summon a watcher. Sure, I will fail once every three time, but that represents what? Even in the case that I don't have any initiative enhancement, a failure is 3 seconds of waiting to try again… Plus, it's probably acceptable, considering a charisma of 6, to reliably risk 4L damage, and thus launch 2 dice, and fail even less. So unless you precisely had 18 seconds and not 24 (and have absolutely no init enhencement) to summon all your watchers, there's a very safe strategy to get them all before breaking the door.

The problem is real though, and I have seen several people houseruling it. Personally, I'm on the side of considering watchers to be incapable of harming anything. Some people just take them off the friend in melee options, which has generally the same effect.
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Kren Cooper
post Mar 12 2018, 06:23 PM
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I'm not keen on taking watchers off the melee table, as that also deprives them from the bad guy arsenal, and as purely astral creatures, they can sometimes be used to good effect as a "stay out of astral" limit for a mage, without going for a full on spirit, capable of affecting the physical world.

In this particular case - if the players are standing outside the door of the target room, then I'm giving the target a perception check every round to detect them making noise - especially if they are summoning. The difference between 3 rounds and 6 rounds might be just enough to make a difference between an ambush on the players side, and an ambush on the NPC side.

Also, if the player is 1 dicing stuff, then there is a significant chance of a 1 - with only one dice, that's a botch - maybe the spirit turns up and screams "NO!" at the summoner, and blows the stealth side wide open. So they have to risk 2 dice - and soak the 5L, which they're still likely to do, but it's less of a sure thing. And if they get snake eyes, then it's a botch again... It's just enough to turn it from an almost certainty to a very likely, and introduce a tiny element of risk / danger into the situation, without saying "no, you can't do the thing".
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Cochise
post Mar 12 2018, 06:48 PM
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Well, SR3 offers precedence for voluntarily limiting maximum number of successes (pulling punches in melee) and giving up available dice (diameter increase / decrease on area of effect spells) so you can certainly go with either solution.

As far as your mage making an entrance with 4 to 5 watchers that he just conjured is concerned: Nothing will actually prevent him from doing stuff like that in the long run. A magician who intends to min-max on conjured watchers in the way you describe will ultimately also reach the conclusion that a trauma dampener is worth the magic loss incurred and then outright ignores any drain when conjuring watchers. And in the mean time you can expect him to take his chances by regularly conjuring watchers with 3+ hours of life span and then simply sleeping off one or two boxes of Stun damage in the back of a vehicle within less than 1 hour of sleep due to a high willpower attribute.
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freudqo
post Mar 12 2018, 09:00 PM
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QUOTE (Kren Cooper @ Mar 12 2018, 07:23 PM) *
I'm not keen on taking watchers off the melee table, as that also deprives them from the bad guy arsenal, and as purely astral creatures, they can sometimes be used to good effect as a "stay out of astral" limit for a mage, without going for a full on spirit, capable of affecting the physical world.


As I told you, you can take them off the "friends-in-melee" table. Otherwise I really don't see your problem with your players using this to the same effect the bad guy can use it…

QUOTE
In this particular case - if the players are standing outside the door of the target room, then I'm giving the target a perception check every round to detect them making noise - especially if they are summoning. The difference between 3 rounds and 6 rounds might be just enough to make a difference between an ambush on the players side, and an ambush on the NPC side.


Summoning is not noisy. Especially for a watcher.

You're right on the botching stuff though. In any case, people will still be able to summon force 1 watchers with up to 3 or 4 dice with almost no risk, gaining the same friend-in-melee advantage.

In any case, and to expand on what Cochise said: the character will find other ways to have his astral gang always available. Whether it's by summoning them hours in advance (and after all, for a willpower 6 mage, is 15 or 20 minutes… Otherwise, he can just have all those watchers available for weeks using ritual material… Sure, it's a bit of planning ahead, but that's what Shadowrun is about… And don't forget the force 1 watchers…
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Kren Cooper
post Mar 12 2018, 09:09 PM
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Yep - and that's all fine with me.... as long as they plan ahead. If they plan, I'm happy for them to be rewarded, and to have an easier time of it. If they come up with clever plans, then that's all groovy. It's mostly (because we're playing a pink mohawk style game) trying to get them not to just strong arm / brute force the solution and get into bad habits. Otherwise, when we do play the campaign sessions, they tend to suffer really badly from an advanced case of shit to the brain and thinking they're harder than they are.
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Cochise
post Mar 12 2018, 10:24 PM
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QUOTE (Kren Cooper @ Mar 12 2018, 10:09 PM) *
Yep - and that's all fine with me.... as long as they plan ahead. If they plan, I'm happy for them to be rewarded, and to have an easier time of it. If they come up with clever plans, then that's all groovy. It's mostly (because we're playing a pink mohawk style game) trying to get them not to just strong arm / brute force the solution and get into bad habits. Otherwise, when we do play the campaign sessions, they tend to suffer really badly from an advanced case of shit to the brain and thinking they're harder than they are.


But that's the thing: They can strong arm / brute force your problem situation just fine with a little character advancement. The trauma dampener is such a strong arm solution. Another one would be a spirit focus whose dice are used on the drain part of the conjuring ... same with a power focus. Centering does the job as well.

So you'll have to ask yourself: Is it really that important to prevent your described scenario? Particularly in a "pink mohawk" environment where strong arming and style over substance are the main entertainment aspects?

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Bodak
post Mar 13 2018, 08:26 AM
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I think the hybrid house-rule isn't going to help. I think reordering one sentence makes the intended interpretation clear:
QUOTE (Kren Cooper @ Mar 11 2018, 03:01 PM) *
  • Every success gives the watcher one hour of life span.
  • The summoner may also choose to shorten the watcher’s life span to decrease Drain.
  • Drain for summoning a watcher is always (Force + life span hours)L, and is Stun damage, never Physical damage.
The fact is that using Watchers for Friends In Melee is a good strategy and every Shadowrunner with at least 1 in Background Knowledge (Magic) is going to know that. Same as wearing armour is a good idea and everyone with at least 1 in any Sixth World Knowledge skill is going to know that.

That being the case, we don't look for house-rules to make armour less effective because player characters are equipping armour and it's an effective tactic. We just provide NPCs who are wearing armour too.

If the dual-natured magical threat in the hypothetical room is a conjuror it can just have the habit of 1-die rolling a F1 Watcher for 1 hour every time one of its watchers expires. It always has its own watcher mob / astral ablative armour until it's bed time when it deliberately resummons the pack with ramped-up lifespans, and uses any Stun drain to help it go to sleep. If it isn't a conjuror but is permanently dual-natured (ghoul, shifter, flesh-form, etc.) then it for sure has friendly contacts who are; they will summon watchers regularly and instruct them "Go defend Helpless Bob in his flat on the third storey of that block beyond the park".

I dunno about your group, but in my experience combat typically takes maybe five minutes per player acting, so depending on initiative passes a 4-person team against a couple of NPCs can easily take an hour to resolve. Now the player mage adds 5 watchers and the NPCs add 5 watchers, and hey - a Hearth spirit or elemental on each side... why not a Familiar too and a few Ally spirits? Run a combat like that for the players and likely they'll soon say, "I don't care what happens to watcher 4C! Can we just skip on to when it's Mike's turn?" Great. They've realised that just because something is mechanically optimal doesn't mean it helps make a good game every time. It's the same rationale behind why the game doesn't degenerate into Sniper Wars; undoubtedly a Signature 10 blimp with a Light Naval Railgun is mechanically effective, but PCs and NPCs nailing each other with "bang bang you're dead" loses its appeal after ten minutes of play and as many new character sheets issued. The game isn't about "winning" but having fun. If they have learnt this lesson, you can still use your Watcher Attack Pack to patrol with the bound elemental throughout Corp XYZ's office block and surprise the players because the defence team is prepared (as it should be) but in usual combats (well, as usual as combat can be called when you're tracking a handful of physical combatants separately from a handful of astral combatants slugging it out simultaneously) maintain a gentleman's agreement that neither side will field a Watcher Attack Pack routinely. I mean if optimal strategy was the goal here, it might make sense for an offended party to routinely send a bunch of spirits to shadow the player mage on the astral; if he astrally perceives or projects they disrupt him before he gets to act. "Check for magic loss - you weren't paranoid enough!" might make sense but is it really going to be fun running through a safety list including summoning a watcher to check if it's safe to project every time you're outside your wards? Probably not.

Of course, if after emerging at sunrise from your epic 4 players + 5 watchers + threat + 5 watchers (+ Hearth spirits, elementals, familiars and allies) mayhem brawl marathon your players squeal in glee, "That was so awesome!" then it might be worth suggesting a Diablo II LAN-party next week instead of Shadowrun.
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freudqo
post Mar 13 2018, 01:27 PM
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QUOTE (Bodak @ Mar 13 2018, 09:26 AM) *
If the dual-natured magical threat in the hypothetical room is a conjuror it can just have the habit of 1-die rolling a F1 Watcher for 1 hour every time one of its watchers expires. It always has its own watcher mob / astral ablative armour until it's bed time when it deliberately resummons the pack with ramped-up lifespans, and uses any Stun drain to help it go to sleep. If it isn't a conjuror but is permanently dual-natured (ghoul, shifter, flesh-form, etc.) then it for sure has friendly contacts who are; they will summon watchers regularly and instruct them "Go defend Helpless Bob in his flat on the third storey of that block beyond the park".


You can also use ritual material to have them last longer… 1000 nuyens a week, 100 if you have talismongering and an enchanting kit… And they can have a bit more than F1, like 3 or 4 (because somehow they decided it would be magic divided by two round up for the maximum force), which means those watchers go from ablative armor to a real threat. Using friend in melee, it might become hard to shrug off all their successes, during a combat round with at least 3 initiative passes…

And if you can reach 9 in magic using power foci, initiation and allies, or even 11, you can have fucking force 5 or 6 watchers, summoned only risking light stun drain, and available with infinite services for fucking weeks for 100 nuyens per week each. Force 6 spirits, doing 6L stun damage (but who cares if it's stun?), available by the truckload for much cheaper than elementals. Damn, it's become suddenly really more difficult to assault any magician's lair or any compagny having a wage mage…

The offensive ability of watchers are really concerning me that they don't correspond to the usual image of the game I have… And as Bodak described, if they are really used as is, well, any astral combat is bogged down and lasts long as hell…
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Glyph
post Mar 14 2018, 02:36 AM
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The big problem with the friends in melee rule is that TN's are such a big deal that uneven odds really make a difference. That might be fine for emulating a gritty realism where 3-to-one or worse odds are bad news even for a seasoned martial artist. But it breaks down when those unequal odds involve multiple enemies who are, well, kind of pitiful. Like popular example of the troll street samurai who is menaced by eight girl scouts with pointy sticks and is suddenly unable to hit any of them when, really, they should not be a challenge to him.

I don''t know if anything similar to this has been proposed before, but I suggest house ruling an ignore/no-sell option. Basically, if you forego counterattacking and just resist damage, you can ignore the penalty for friends in melee for that one enemy (although they still get the TN reduction for their own attacks). You can ignore multiple enemies. This would give a spirit attacked by an elemental and a pack of watchers to at least make a credible attack against the elemental by ignoring the bee-sting attacks of the watchers.
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freudqo
post Mar 14 2018, 07:45 AM
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QUOTE (Glyph @ Mar 14 2018, 03:36 AM) *
I don''t know if anything similar to this has been proposed before, but I suggest house ruling an ignore/no-sell option. Basically, if you forego counterattacking and just resist damage, you can ignore the penalty for friends in melee for that one enemy (although they still get the TN reduction for their own attacks). You can ignore multiple enemies. This would give a spirit attacked by an elemental and a pack of watchers to at least make a credible attack against the elemental by ignoring the bee-sting attacks of the watchers.


Except that these "bee-stings" are not really any more when you reach F3 watchers (and what conjurer has a magic less than 5?), which are really easy to have available at all time.

If you forego counter-attack against them, they will have, on their first round of attack, spending their astral combat pool, which they should, around 5 or 6 successes against their TN2. You will need 7 or 8 successes against a TN3 to avoid light damage. You might shrugg 2, even 3 of them, easily spending carefully your own combat pool. But then, there are 3 or 4 of them left… And basically, you go down…

Even F2 watchers might statistically get a few light damage on you (some of them will have 4 successes, and you'll need 6 successes on a TN2 on your resistance test…).

(I agree generally about the Friend-in-Melee stuff. I've seen a lot of people reducing it to a thing similar to reach which can work a little better…)
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Bodak
post Mar 26 2018, 01:53 AM
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QUOTE (freudqo @ Mar 13 2018, 01:27 PM) *
because somehow they decided it would be magic divided by two round up for the maximum force
If it were Magic/2, round down, the limit would be:
  1. 1
  2. 1
  3. 1
  4. 2
  5. 2
  6. 3

With Magic/2, round up, the limit is:
  1. 1
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 2
  5. 3
  6. 3

This makes sense to me.

QUOTE (freudqo @ Mar 13 2018, 01:27 PM) *
Force 6 spirits, doing 6L stun damage (but who cares if it's stun?)
If you deal Deadly Stun to an astrally projecting magician, they get disrupted and have to check for magic loss. If you deal Deadly Physical to an astrally projecting magician, they don't. They get a new character sheet.

I think paying (whether 100 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) or 1000) for weeks for Watcher doesn't appeal to me. They're thick - even at F6 they're thick. I don't want to spend ten minutes shepherding them through every ward my character has to cross in daily life. What a pain. No, instead, as I mentioned in Post 3 and Cochise reiterated, I just fit a Trauma Damper. With my familiar/ally acting as a power focus, I always summon maximum Force Watchers, never roll for drain, send them off to do my bidding, and dissolve them when they're done. I send a pack of them so they don't (all) get killed by a passing astral hoon, and so they can help each other find the person, remember the message accurately, and find me to report. It increases their chance of success, but all of that happens off-screen and doesn't eat into gaming time.

Really, I think house-ruling Friends In Melee to be less effective isn't going to help. It's only going to say you need EVAN MOAR Watchers to keep up in the arms race. The only solution I see working is, as I described, the same reason why Signature 10 LN Railgun blimps don't feature in game play. Mechanically optimal strategies are fun on the drawing board, are fun in the spreadsheet, are fun bragging on the forum, but are not fun round the gaming table. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, and anything players can do, I can do better. So we just agree to dream up optimisations, have a laugh about them, and then get on gaming without them.
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freudqo
post Mar 26 2018, 10:34 AM
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- Most rounding in shadowrun is round down. Rounding up just here seems stupid to me. I don't care that Magic 1 character can't summon watcher.

- I was acertaining the presence of huge packs of watchers in places defended by mages. Keeping high force watchers for weeks is cheap for any corp. Stun is better to take than physical, but what I meant is that Force 5 or 6 watchers are very potent opponents.

- Personnally, I use the RAW for watcher's drain, so I don't mind summoning up to Force 4 for 1 hour since it's almost guaranteed no drain. I was just listing the easy workaround to Kren Cooper's houserule (but he said he's fine if players have to prepare, so fine by me too!).

- You might have noticed my first suggestion was to deprive watchers from any offensive capabilities (maybe just letting them have defense, like barriers), but depriving watchers of Friend-in-Melee will actually work quite a lot: it will make F3 watcher die quickly due to counter attack in astral combat due to average skill levels. It won't trigger the need for EVEN MOAR watchers since people would already walk around with maximum watchers available all the time. It's around 20 seconds for the slowest magicians to summon them all with no drain.

And that's where I think your analogy doesn't work. Except if I have missed some stupid rules, such a blimp would be highly difficult to obtain due to both price and availability. Plus, the outdoor use of a naval damage gun might attract a lot of attention from other aircraft for which signature 10 is a joke. By comparison, a pack of watcher can be summoned on a whim, their signature can be erased with a bit more time, but we're talking minutes, not hours, and all this for free.

I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that a rule that's broken or bog the game down can be overcome by the "don't be a dick" principle, because in general, people have very different opinion on what being a dick is. To me, the rules, especially in a rule-heavy game as shadowrun, are there precisely so that people don't have this kind of discussion.

Additionnally, my problem is certainly not with watchers bogging down the game when fighting in the astral. As you described it, any gamemaster worth playing with will abstract the astral fight focusing on what happens between the relevant PCs and NPCs. And if a mage decide to bring 6 elementals back to wreck havoc on the astral or physical plans, I will bloody let him do it and enjoy it to the last action, considering he's spending loads of money, work time and services doing it. No, my issue has always been game balance and coherence, with the watcher astral pack concept dramatically changing the way astral combat takes place and happens as expected by the fluff and even the rules for the various traditions.

I have seen many house rules suggestion against watchers, some of them relying on Friend-in-Melee disappearing, in addition to giving them a lower reach, like -1 or -2. This has the advantage of letting them act as attack dogs. One could also put a better cap on their force and number (such as watchers counting against your charisma limit, like any spirit should…). The "don't be a dick" rule is a poor answer in my mind, when there are many ways to easily tackle the problem.
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Bodak
post Apr 19 2018, 10:36 AM
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Interesting.
QUOTE (freudqo @ Mar 26 2018, 10:34 AM) *
The "don't be a dick" rule is a poor answer in my mind, when there are many ways to easily tackle the problem.
All socialising in general, and social roleplay games in specific, rely on each contributor adhering to the "don't be a dick" principle. It is Rule Zero for real life.

In simple games where there is a rule for everything, breaking Rule Zero still makes a noughts-and-crosses game unpleasant.

In complex games where there isn't a rule for everything, Rule Zero is even more important.

In games where the source books contain spelling errors; "see page XX"; references to items and tables obsolete in the current edition; unattainable items (turrets in R3); unattainable powers (Materialisation is a Physical power, so a spirit must already be present on the Physical plane before it can use that power); contradictions between whether unintelligent magic does or does not target / include cyberware (Petrify and Turn To Goo but no Wreck Implant); a FAQ which says an illusion spell cast on an opaque wall grants line-of-sight for spellcasting to opponents beyond it; blocking LoS with a sheet of paper prevents targeting whereas merely ripping the observer's eyes out simply "impairs visibility" to the tune of a -6 penalty; I consider upholding the "don't be a dick" attitude to be an easy way to tackle many potential problems.

I do think many SR rules are clear and are applied painlessly, but often when combinations scale logistics into the impractical, or prevent an entire mechanic from functioning at all, judicious application of "don't be a dick" attitude helps people laugh at the absurdities the rules allow / imply / mandate, and then just get on with play sensibly.
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freudqo
post Apr 20 2018, 06:43 AM
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I think you're trying to say people who play together should be nice. I'm not sure that's the issue.

Once again, your "being a dick" is not mine and is not everyone else's. Really, many people won't consider it dickish to use a spirit truckload that's perfectly legit and may help saving other characters' life. It may bog down combat, but sometimes you got to do it. And until SR3's ending, this was a whole aspect of being an hermetic.
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Bodak
post Apr 30 2018, 04:28 AM
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QUOTE (freudqo @ Mar 26 2018, 10:34 AM) *
The "don't be a dick" rule is a poor answer in my mind, when there are many ways to easily tackle the problem.
QUOTE (freudqo @ Apr 20 2018, 06:43 AM) *
Once again, your "being a dick" is not mine and is not everyone else's.
Rewind a bit there. You summarised my three paragraphs into four words. I agree that those four words are inadequate, but I didn't pick them.

QUOTE (freudqo @ Apr 20 2018, 06:43 AM) *
Really, many people won't consider it dickish to use a spirit truckload that's perfectly legit and may help saving other characters' life. It may bog down combat, but sometimes you got to do it.
See, this is the part that's inadequately covered by your four word summary. In particular:
QUOTE (Bodak @ Mar 26 2018, 01:53 AM) *
Mechanically optimal strategies are fun on the drawing board, are fun in the spreadsheet, are fun bragging on the forum, but are not fun round the gaming table. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, and anything players can do, I can do better. So we just agree to dream up optimisations, have a laugh about them, and then get on gaming without them.
In the scenario I described, the players accurately reason they can get a mechanical advantage by fielding a Watcher Attack Pack. Unsurprisingly, the NPC antagonist also gets a mechanical advantage by fielding a Watcher Attack Pack of their own. You propose "use a spirit truckload that's perfectly legit and may help saving other characters' life" which indicates to me your four-word summary missed an important nuance. How is it going to help save a character's life if both sides upgrade their arms race by the same "spirit truckload"? There's no net progress made. It's inflation. Whereas if a player used their Contacts and convinced / paid their entire Magical Group to descend on the scene, that would be a spirit truckload that would tip the scales (and makes Watchers in combat unnecessary).

QUOTE (freudqo @ Apr 20 2018, 06:43 AM) *
And until SR3's ending, this was a whole aspect of being an hermetic.
Hermetic elementals cost time and money, but once bound they could provide Aid for learning spells, accompany a projecting magician anywhere, and multiple elementals can be bound at one time. These suit players focussed on preparation. Shamanic spirits are spontaneous and even include possession (highly situational; instead of an additional (disposable) ally on the ground, you get a buff for the shaman) but as soon as the shaman walks outside / steps into the park / crosses any Domain boundary (even while projecting) the spirit departs. Although subsequent editions may have reduced their mechanical differences to mere flavour, many here would disagree with you that SR3 "ended" (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif)

Avoiding arms-race escalation doesn't just apply to spirit truckloads, of course.
  • if a player argues that an NPC spirit on the astral plane cannot use the Materialise power until it has a presence on the physical plane, then that also applies to the players' spirits. I'll let the shaman's player convince him that's a bad idea
  • if a player argues that an opponent's Area Illusion can be moved an arbitrary / infinite distance every time its caster gets an action but that the illusionary area itself is slipping through the back wall of the bus at 627km per second, then so do any area illusions the team mage casts. I'll let the mage's player convince him that's a bad idea
  • if a player thinks a tamagotchi emotitoy can improve his character's social prowess (and that it isn't declasse / faux pas) then the Johnson / bouncer / corpsec guard has also figured it out, so any opposed tests might be no easier
  • if players go around warding vehicles to mow through astrally projecting spirits / ghouls / shifters / threats, then by extension planes, missiles and maybe even bullets can be warded just as cheaply / effectively
  • if someone wants to cut off their entire hand to fit a nanohive into the Capacity of a cyberhand rather than just install the nanohive on its own, it doesn't make sense Essence-wise but I'm not that fussed
  • if someone wants to take a cyberzombie or Astral Hazer into space to make it easier to cast spells in the void, they're staring death in the face and Eclipse Phase is just a download away

In such cases, it's fun to poke at the holes the rules permit (or demand) but when it comes to playtime, it's best (for all involved) to not go down that path. There be dragons.
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post Apr 30 2018, 06:30 AM
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QUOTE (freudqo @ Mar 26 2018, 10:34 AM) *
Except if I have missed some stupid rules, such a blimp would be highly difficult to obtain due to both price and availability. Plus, the outdoor use of a naval damage gun might attract a lot of attention from other aircraft for which signature 10 is a joke. By comparison, a pack of watcher can be summoned on a whim, their signature can be erased with a bit more time, but we're talking minutes, not hours, and all this for free.
Something like this:
QUOTE (John Campbell @ Aug 19 2003, 09:45 PM) *
If I'm interpreting the vehicle weapons rules correctly, it's possible to design a miniblimp drone that carries a Xicohtencatl light railgun, enough armor to bounce assault cannon rounds, and has a price tag and Availability low enough to be purchased at character generation.

Full stats here.
QUOTE (Kagetenshi @ Oct 31 2009, 02:55 PM) *
QUOTE (Traul @ Oct 31 2009, 02:13 PM) *
Nope. Whatever you can use, he can use too, and better than you.
Yes. Most GMs don't have fun in a campaign where everyone dies instantly and unexpectedly either, even if it's the players doing the dying.

Which is really my point. In a game where Sniper Drones are used as much as they logically should be, you're either hidden or dead. Staying hidden at all times is difficult to make into a fun campaign, so the only good choice is to say "we don't do that for some unspecified reason".
QUOTE (Kagetenshi @ Oct 18 2010, 10:52 PM) *
As for Sniper Drone Wars, they make sense. So much sense that everyone should be using them. Games in which most confrontations begin and end with 14S+4 successes aren't very fun, so the only thing to do is simply pretend they don't exist. Sniper drones don't just work outdoors, they work anywhere with line of fire to the outdoors—and that's an awful lot of places.

Watcher Attack Pack isn't powerful because the Watchers hit things, it's powerful because Friends in Melee gives a projecting Mage or proper Spirit or Elemental an overwhelmingly huge bonus in combat when it hits things against anything other than another WAP.
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freudqo
post May 1 2018, 11:12 PM
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You're essentially repeating the same thing, this is why I'm allowing myself to summarize, so as you say new things.

So, not in order:

QUOTE
Something like this:

A xicohtencatl railgun has no availability code. I have no idea where the mini-blimp idea comes from, the guy didn't put any canon source to it, so I'm just gonna ask you to find the canon source authorizing this or make some calculations using rigger 3. I'd do it myself, but that smells so much of bullshit and this book is such a nightmare that I'm quite lazy to do it… For starter, I fail to see the rule allowing you to directly include into your design a weapon, thus allowing you to bypass the weapons availability code.

QUOTE
In the scenario I described, the players accurately reason they can get a mechanical advantage by fielding a Watcher Attack Pack. Unsurprisingly, the NPC antagonist also gets a mechanical advantage by fielding a Watcher Attack Pack of their own. You propose "use a spirit truckload that's perfectly legit and may help saving other characters' life" which indicates to me your four-word summary missed an important nuance. How is it going to help save a character's life if both sides upgrade their arms race by the same "spirit truckload"? There's no net progress made. It's inflation. Whereas if a player used their Contacts and convinced / paid their entire Magical Group to descend on the scene, that would be a spirit truckload that would tip the scales (and makes Watchers in combat unnecessary).


See, here, I have no idea what you're talking about. Because I actually suggested exactly what you said was a problem:
QUOTE
- I was acertaining the presence of huge packs of watchers in places defended by mages. Keeping high force watchers for weeks is cheap for any corp.


Both sides should have access to it and refrain to do so? Will you refrain to do so when your PC and/or friends is/are threatened by death? This is a one shot idea where nobody, even a sensible GM will take action. It doesn't need to be 6 watchers. Just 3 or 4, in the emergency. No one should blame you for that actually.

And, before I move to the rest of the stupidity, I shall remind that there are very very simple solutions to those problems, that fit in one sentence.

QUOTE
if a player argues that an NPC spirit on the astral plane cannot use the Materialise power until it has a presence on the physical plane, then that also applies to the players' spirits. I'll let the shaman's player convince him that's a bad idea


That player can actually go fuck himself and learn to read an RPG rulebook, since the power's entry make it explicitely clear that it bypasses the power type limitations.

QUOTE
if a player argues that an opponent's Area Illusion can be moved an arbitrary / infinite distance every time its caster gets an action but that the illusionary area itself is slipping through the back wall of the bus at 627km per second, then so do any area illusions the team mage casts. I'll let the mage's player convince him that's a bad idea


I have literally no idea what is the problem here or how it could affect the player…

QUOTE
if a player thinks a tamagotchi emotitoy can improve his character's social prowess (and that it isn't declasse / faux pas) then the Johnson / bouncer / corpsec guard has also figured it out, so any opposed tests might be no easier


What has that to do with the rules of the game?

QUOTE
if players go around warding vehicles to mow through astrally projecting spirits / ghouls / shifters / threats, then by extension planes, missiles and maybe even bullets can be warded just as cheaply / effectively
QUOTE


Vehicle warding is explicitely authorized in SR3, and players do it all the time, NPCs too, and I have never had any troubles with that. There are no ramming damages that I ever heard off, so there are no points in the bullets you suggest. If anything, this will just make your bullets stop on astral barriers since there are no rules for two astral wards conflicting.

QUOTE
if someone wants to cut off their entire hand to fit a nanohive into the Capacity of a cyberhand rather than just install the nanohive on its own, it doesn't make sense Essence-wise but I'm not that fussed


Errrr, what has it got to do with the problem at hand? I'm even lazy to look, but is that suboptimal or is that really good?

QUOTE
if someone wants to take a cyberzombie or Astral Hazer into space to make it easier to cast spells in the void, they're staring death in the face and Eclipse Phase is just a download away


Errr… Again, what?

I'm very dubious you listed here any actual escalation problem, but rather some stupid tricks that have nothing comparable to what we discussed.
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