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> Advanced GM : Magical Security, how to fool magical security in AAA
aspro
post Aug 27 2003, 08:50 AM
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Hi
I m an experienced GM and i m wondering about astral security. I can t find a way to penetrate a secured complex without triggering a magic alarm. If there s a spirit in astral form patrolling the area i want to visit, i ve no way to deal with it without being noticed. Because if the spirit was told to warn its summoner if it detects some intruder, it s impossible to stop it. My choices are :
- to banish it : but in this case the summoner knows it and trigger the alarm (i m wondering in addition if it s possible to banish a spirit in astral form as this operation can only be performed on physical plan)
- to attack it : but same problem as above.
- to jail it in a spherical astral barrier : but there s an astral combat between them and if spirit wins i m back at dealing with it ! and if my barrier wins the spirit is killed and its summoner knows it and trigger the alarm again
- to bind it with the spell manabind : no way to succeed with a spirit of force 6+ as i have to make 6 net successes TN 6 to put its quickness to 0 to immobilize it

I can t see any issue that doesn t warn the summoner and if the complex i sneak into is very secured like AAA i can let the security be warned or i m dead :(

Any ideas ?
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Sphynx
post Aug 27 2003, 09:03 AM
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2 primary ways at the top of my head (probably more ways, but these are the most common I think), the first and foremost is Masking. That'll get you past more Wards/Barriers etc as you can sync your aura to fit through without triggering it (Fooling Astral Barriers, page 88 of MitS).

The 2nd way is an Opposed Stealth roll. If a spirit is patrolling and you're masked to appear mortal, TN to notice you is 6 (in buildings with rooms, etc, pg 89 MitS, the chart). So, basically, add 6 to the highest number rolled on the Stealth roll and that's the TN for the spirit to notice the mundane or masked.

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Arab_One
post Aug 27 2003, 09:15 AM
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That is if the Spirit is patrolling. If i is standing in the doorway you want to go through, then there is no way to sneak past it or mask past it if it is looking for any intruder, not just magic.
I would suggest either a high force Nature spirit to use Confuse on the spirit, so that it has to roll a success against its force to decide to even notice you. Or you could use a Control Thoughts spell to simply tell it that you do not count as an intruder. An Influence spell may work as well.
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grendel
post Aug 27 2003, 09:58 AM
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QUOTE (aspro)
Hi
I m an experienced GM and i m wondering about astral security. I can t find a way to penetrate a secured complex without triggering a magic alarm. If there s a spirit in astral form patrolling the area i want to visit, i ve no way to deal with it without being noticed. Because if the spirit was told to warn its summoner if it detects some intruder, it s impossible to stop it.

Unless the facility that you're attempting to break into is very small, a single spirit cannot be everywhere at once. There's a table in SOTA: 2063 (IIRC) that lists the area that a single spirit can patrol and the target number the spirit needs to succeed against in a perception test to spot 'unusual' activity during its patrol. I would quote the passage for you, but I don't have that book with me. Sorry.
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Abstruse
post Aug 27 2003, 11:19 AM
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The old Corporate Security Handbook and some other book, either the old Grimoir or more likely the Neo-Anarchist's Guide to Real Life also had tables like that.

Your best bets are either to make the spirit think that you're supposed to be there or to make sure it doesn't notice you in the first place, techniques for both having been already described. Masking wouldn't work though unless you're using your Masking to appear as though you're someone else (since the spirit is observing from astral and frankly doesn't care if you're a mundane or a mage so powerful you give a great dragon nightmares, just that you're someone that shouldn't be there). Don't ask me how masking works in that manner though or even if it's possible because it's been far too long since I've read up on the metamagic techniques.

Remember though that even a AAA corp isn't going to spend more money than it's worth protecting something. Mages are expensive to have on duty 24 hours a day and even if an elemental is guarding the place, it may not be the mage that summoned it that's on duty. He may be at home asleep when you banish the elemental, thus taking at least a few minutes to raise the alarm. First he has to wake up, then realize what's happening, then call the site to tell them, then convince the people on site that he is who he says he is.

And even if the alarm is raised, they won't necessarily know WHERE the runners are exactly.

The Abstruse One
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Matrix Monkey
post Aug 27 2003, 11:25 AM
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QUOTE (grendel)
QUOTE (aspro @ Aug 27 2003, 08:50 AM)
Hi
I m an experienced GM and i m wondering about astral security. I can t find a way to penetrate a secured complex without triggering a magic alarm. If there s a spirit in astral form patrolling the area i want to visit, i ve no way to deal with it without being noticed. Because if the spirit was told to warn its summoner if it detects some intruder, it s impossible to stop it.

Unless the facility that you're attempting to break into is very small, a single spirit cannot be everywhere at once. There's a table in SOTA: 2063 (IIRC) that lists the area that a single spirit can patrol and the target number the spirit needs to succeed against in a perception test to spot 'unusual' activity during its patrol. I would quote the passage for you, but I don't have that book with me. Sorry.

If I'm not mistaken, there's a table for Astral Patrol rules (TN based on the size of the patrolled area, complexity of structures and such) somewhere in MitS too.
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grendel
post Aug 27 2003, 11:51 AM
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I did not recall correctly, the table is in Magic in the Shadows as Matrix Monkey suggested. The text quoted below is from page 88 and 89.

"How well the astral guards watch the area and how likely they are to notice an intruder depends on the area being guarded, the Intelligence of the guard, and the circumstances.
Make an Intelligence Test to determine if the guard detects an intruder within the area the guard is patrolling. Beginning with a base Target Number of 2, apply modifiers according to the Astral Patrol Modifiers Table."

Table is as follows:
Situation............................................................Modifier
Patrol area is:
Less than 2000 sq meters....................................+0
2,001 to 5,000 sq meters.....................................+1
5,001 to 10,000 sq meters...................................+2
10,001 to 20,000 sq meters.................................+4
20,001 to 40,000 sq meters.................................+6
40,001 to 80,000 sq meters.................................+8
Patrol area is:
Open Terrain (flat countryside).............................-4
Normal Terrain (typical countryside)......................-2
Restricted Terrain (light woods, suburban streets)..+0
Tight Terrain (urban mazes, dense woods).............+2
Complex Terrain (building interiors)......................+4
Background Count.................................................+Level
Intruder has active foci or spells.............................-1 per 2 force points*
Intruder is present astrally.....................................-1 per 2 magic points
Intruder is a spirit..................................................-1 per 2 force points
Guard spirit with search power................................-2
Additional forms patrolling the same area................-1 per additional guard

*Unless masked.
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aspro
post Aug 27 2003, 12:52 PM
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Thanks to all...
But we already know all these solutions, and they don't work for a AAA. To confuse/control thoughts of a 6+ spirit is nearly impossible for more than one turn (e.g. : I have 7 in sorcery skill and 7 in my spell pool, my TN is 6, and I have to make 3 more successes than the spirit which throws 6 dices TN 7... First of all, not easy, and then, I have to maintain my spell the whole run, and next encounter, it will be more hazardous than before...).

For the astral patrol table, it's the same. Even if the size of the patrol area is 80.000 square meters (the biggest possible), the spirit will have 6 dices TN 8 (oki, it can even reach 10 in the worst case possible, but it doesn't change any thing in the end), which is not really hard.

The fact that 24 hours guarding is really hard is laughable for AAA (for 6.000 nuyens and 6 karmas the spirit will guard the area an entire year... not too expensive, isn'it ? Even my team could afford that for their own flats !).

About masking, that doesn't protect against spirit.

In the case of AAA, I think that the mage would be on site next to the alarm button during his spirit's patrol and not in his bed at home (or he would become a fired mage...).

Thanks for the patrol table you joined, but we have all the sourcebooks, and we can't find a sure path to get through but make the spirit think that we're supposed to be there... That doesn't work in all cases, especially for hot quarters in AAA.
We know that a 100% secured solution may not exist, but I really can't believe that Lofwyr is always spotted by force 1 spirit :D
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Abstruse
post Aug 27 2003, 01:19 PM
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Yeah, because the mage will be awake 24 hours a day. Remember, it's the mage that SUMMONED the elemental that knows when his spirit is disrupted, not just the one that's on duty that moment. At an average facility, they probably have 4 mages hired working in eight hour shifts, one mage on duty at any given time with each one working 5 days a week. Magical talent is expensive and they sure as hell wouldn't want to piss the mage off by forcing him to work a lot so the mage hops off to another corp that will give him his weekend off. Not even forgetting that

Don't forget that only 1 in 100 people is magically active. That means there are only 30,000 or so mages in the Seattle area. That also includes aspected magicials, and only 1 in 1,000 is a full mage. That leaves 3,000. Taking into account the number that are employeed by other corporations, the goverment, Lone Star, working as talismongers, teachers, are unaware of their talent, aren't well trained or talented enough, are too young or too old to work security, and those working as Shadowrunners, that leaves very few free agent mages. And they will be asking top dollar for their talents. And no corporations is going to hire a mage simply to summon an elemental and leave. They want their mages under full employment.

Remember, AAA corps are huge. They have hundreds of facilities to protect and only so much money to protect them all. Not every place is going to have the same level of security. If this site is a call center for their customer service department, they're not going to bother with much more than a couple of watchers and MAYBE an elemental. This frees up money in the security budget to guard the ultra-super zero zone where they're developing the new prototype for whatever.

Now if that's where you're wanting to go, then remember...it's called a zero-zone for a reason. Zero incursion, zero survival. It's supposed to be incredibly difficult if not damn near impossible to get in.

The Abstruse One
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The White Dwarf
post Aug 27 2003, 01:25 PM
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Well, first off realize that a force 6 spirit is pretty big. Its going to be serious drain (on a good day) to conjure. For a AAA yea ok it might be alright, but by the time runners are going after AAA sites theyre going to be big in their own right.

Now, as above, theres several ways for getting passed a spirit.

First is has to notice you. Assuming youre using a spirit of your own to conceal you, as well as making a stealth test, thats pretty good protection already. Remember, according to the Perception table the spirit will likley need 2 if not 3 or 4 successes to realize what you are and report back, since they only follow specific instructions.

If you really wanted to do things right, assense the spirit ahead of time, and make an astral quest to discover its owner or name or whatever (been awhile since I read that section). But that should let you handle it as well.

Lastley you can just confuse it, and have a water elemental sustain the spell for you. Or use a sustaining foci you have on hand for just such an occasion. For anyone experinced going up against a AAA facility, paying some cred and a few karma for the ultimate in spirit defense isnt too much to ask.

You could also use an even bigger spirit and have it fight in hand to hand, but pull its punches and just tie it up, by winning and doing zero-light damage, or by just soaking (really big earth elemental should have enough dice).
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Sphynx
post Aug 27 2003, 01:35 PM
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Also don't forget to get to the Mage. Personally, I have no chance in the world of getting past undetected even if all the numbes were in my favor just because of the way I play. One of the FIRST things I do when planning to hit a place is take out the Mage who conjured the spirit(s). He can't raise an alarm if he's sleeping or otherwise incapacitated. Got a Rigger, the old "back of the limo trick" works good, make best friends with him and put him in a drunken stupor (or just use the spell). Or, bribe him even. Amazing how easy it is to bribe someone with something they want. doesn't have to be a good bribe either, could be an evil bribe like blackmail (he got family?). It totally depends on the situation and you have to roleplay it because nobody can tell you what to do to roleplay.

Main thing is, if the numbers are impossible, do it without the numbers. Assense alot, a spirit can be a link to it's current owner and thus give you what you need.

Tried the old "janitor" trick? Either posing as them, or coming in via the way waste goes out (backfoor maybe?)

Lastly, just to re-itterate, Stealth works. If you think it's only a TN 8 to detect you, getting only a 4 on your stealth roll can make that a TN 12 (unless he's guarding a door, then just go around the door :P)

Sphynx
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Clipwing
post Aug 27 2003, 01:46 PM
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What about an Alter Memory spell? Would that work on a spirit? And you wouldn't have to sustain it after it became permanent... Admittedly, same problems with casting apply, but allocating all dice to success and rerolling a couple times, you should be able to beat the odds. I wouldn't expect a Force 6 spirit to have more than 2 or 3 Karma Pool and certainly not 6 because spirit dice is dependent on the number of successes rolled in the summoning test. With you rerolling twice and the spirit rerolling twice, my analysis shows a 65% chance of beating the threshold of 3 net successes. Reroll once more and your success chances go up to 84%. Hey, it's not an easy test, but a Force 6 spirit securing a AAA corp shouldn't be easy...
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Backgammon
post Aug 27 2003, 05:16 PM
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Well, this may not be the perfect solution, but once I had a team of runners in a similar predicament. So, they found out to whom the corp (not AAA) contracted it's magic security, then raided some databases to find out who warded/summoned the security. They then found out where that dude lived, headed over to his appartment and promptly geeked him (not to hard, since he's a legal mage, no spells or elementals over force 3 or so without special permit). Granted, we're not talking AAA or even AA security measures here, and a player did die from this whole process and another got arrested, but hey, that's one way to skin a magical cat.
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BitBasher
post Aug 27 2003, 08:00 PM
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QUOTE
(not to hard, since he's a legal mage, no spells or elementals over force 3 or so without special permit).

Errrr he's a sec mage, doesn't that automatically give him the nexessary permits for spells/spirits over force 3? I would think it should. Especially since his own house should be amply protected. one masked alarm ward is a godsend for home security if you're the one warding and its your house.
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Fortune
post Aug 27 2003, 10:39 PM
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My question is exactly how does this Elemental know whether someone is an intruder? Does it know every single person that comes and goes from the complex it patrols? Does it know all the personnel from every Corp that has business with the complex, or every person that might be involved in repair and/or maintenance work there? What about high-level visitors from the parent Corp?

If you can't sneak in, then sleaze your way in.
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lodestar
post Aug 27 2003, 11:02 PM
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With that in mind, if you can't get past the spirit, maybe someone else can. In particular coercing someone on the inside is probably the ticket either forcibly or with nuyen. As above, someone must have some way past the guardians otherwise the keepers themselves wouldn't be able to access what is being guarded.

Another tactic might be just to hit and run a few times. If the spirit sets off a few "false" alarms. The backup might be a little less enthusiastic to respond to the tenth alarm in as many days. An attack with the sole purpose of defeating the spirit wards might be useful too. It will take some time for them to be replaced after all.
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Backgammon
post Aug 27 2003, 11:43 PM
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QUOTE
Errrr he's a sec mage, doesn't that automatically give him the nexessary permits for spells/spirits over force 3? I would think it should. Especially since his own house should be amply protected. one masked alarm ward is a godsend for home security if you're the one warding and its your house.


No... He gets a permit to set up wards for clients and summon elementals, once again, for clearly defined purposes. Not every mage you meet is a level 5 innitiate mini-boss. This dude was just a lucky Awakened guy that made a very good living setting up security for people. There are the shadows, then there's every one else.
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BitBasher
post Aug 27 2003, 11:48 PM
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Also the "find master and tell him" is of limited use unless the spirit knows exactly where the person he needs to inform is. If he doesn't you're looking at a LOOONG time while the spirit searches for the target of the message.

This is why you dont say "tell me when you see an intruder" you say "tell the people in that security control room there's an intruder" it makes it infinitely more useful.

For patrols like this you don't want the spirit setting an alarm with everyone that walks by, you would ideally tell the spirit "tell security when someone passes by here between X time and Y time on these days". When X and Y represent times when noone is allowed to be in the facility, IE downtime.

You can't really give a blanket "find intruders" command. but you can say "alert when someone walks past that isn't wearing an official jacket" or something like that.
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Polaris
post Sep 10 2003, 01:30 AM
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Guys,

I am coming in this way late but bear with me.

One solution that works in my experience even with AAA corporations is simply to say "Screw it" and blast that astral barrier/elemental/whatever.

True that mage that made it (not necessarily the mage on duty...in fact if you did your homework correctly it won't be) is instantly alerted, but it is already too late. It takes time for that mage to react, time to alert the others, time to respond.....and all too often it is time that they no longer have.

In addition to that, the astral ward or elemental carries the creater's spell signature. That makes it dead easy to track all the security mages that made them. Your team disables their mundane communications ahead of time (not too hard with a good decker). That leaves the responding mage (who will not be on duty) only one good option....tell the company in person....and only astral projection is fast enough to do that. To bad that your team mage is on astral overwatch with a couple of Force 8 elementals ready to toast his sorry butt. Because Astral is almost completely seperate from physical worlds, his poor mundane team mates will never know what hit them.

In short, the brute force approach works with just a little planning and a little bit of timing.

-Polaris

P.S. Modern Day Bank jobs (at least the successful ones) are planned exactly this way. If it is done by a team of pros, they assume that they are detected almost from the moment the heist starts...but they also have timed out exactly how long they have before the police/security can respond....and are long gone before that happens.
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BitBasher
post Sep 10 2003, 02:48 AM
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Polaris, I work for the LVMPD in real life, and "Knowing how long it takes for the police to respond" is a laughable notion, because it's almost completely random. When a silent alarm gets triggered, which is almost impossible to stop because they work on cell/landline redundancy, all that matters is how close the nearest unit is. This could be from 10 seconds (literally documented) to about 2 minutes tops.

Of course I am a little biased because Las Vegas is number one in the nation for stopping back robberies, approaching a 97% success rate for sither stopping the crime outright or convicting the culprit. Boston is the worst at soemthing around 15%. It may not work that way everyplace.
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Polaris
post Sep 10 2003, 03:13 AM
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BitBasher,

It is not a laughable notion. Of course I have been to Las Vegas, and I happen to know that the police there have a lot of experience with fast time response for exactly the reasons I have mentioned.

HOWEVER....with a little bit of research you can pin down a window of police response time...and if the time is too short you either do another job, or give yourself more time somehow.

In any event, if a team can come in and get out in say under two minutes, it is highly unlikely that they will be caught on the premises. They may be caught later, but smash and grab WORKS in real life. In fact it is a proven technique.

Given that, there is no reason to think it wouldn't in shadowrun either....especially if you have taken the time (see my prior post) to do the legwork and made it risky if not impossible for the mage to contact his superiors.

I also add that by your standards there shouldn't even be any shadowrunners if triggering a silent alarm is so prevelant and so random, but in the game we both know that this isn't true. In this particular case you *know* you are triggering an alarm and that gives you a significant advantage.

-Polaris

P.S. If you have the weaponry and don't really care about the body count (and that is the usual case with shadowrunners), then the first unit that arrives is dead. A solid team can get those one to two minutes they need for the getaway even if the cost is a few bodies in blue on the ground. Sorry, but that happens.
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booklord
post Sep 10 2003, 04:25 AM
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Comments.....

1) An elemental can be set to guard an area for a year and a day by spending karma equal to its force. However once done the elemental no longer counts against the karma total of the magician. Which IMHO means that the magician loses the ability to instantly know if the elemental has been destroyed.
So in that case banishing or destroying the elemental before it can alert anyone is an option. ( It also means that killing the mage won't get rid of the spirit )

2) For obvious reasons, elementals are expensive to use unless you're bonding them for guard duty.

3)For cheaper alternatives you want to use watchers. A watcher can be good for many weeks. Also since they count against the charisma total the magician will know if its destroyed.

4) For less bloodthirsty characters, you could determine the magician's sleeping schedule. Tell instantly that a spirit or watcher has been destroyed. Sure. Wake him up. Not unless he's a real light sleeper.

5) Some security firms are beginning to realize that shamans are better than mages for spirit patrols. First they don't pay for ritual supplies when summoning. Second they could have search ability. Hint: Plan runs on targets with security shamans at dawn or dusk.

6) I know that 1 in 100 humans are magically active. However some metas such as Oni or Elves are much higher than that. I dispute the 1 in 10 are full magicians though. Check out any shadowrun adventure. Sorceror and conjuror adepts are really rare. I'd say that the ratio is more 50% are full magicians.

7) Initiates probably won't be put on guard duty. Of course that really does depend on WHOSE place you're breaking into.

8) For those who are breaking into dragon lairs, etc. Think enslaved "free" spirits. Really big, really powerful, unlimited services.
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tisoz
post Sep 10 2003, 06:33 AM
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QUOTE (Backgammon)
No... He gets a permit to set up wards for clients and summon elementals, once again, for clearly defined purposes. Not every mage you meet is a level 5 innitiate mini-boss. This dude was just a lucky Awakened guy that made a very good living setting up security for people. There are the shadows, then there's every one else.

I think he would be a client, too. He'd probably even give himself a nice discount.

The GM fubared that one.
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Cain
post Sep 10 2003, 06:37 AM
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Ok, so you've got to bypass a force-6 Elemental, or other fairly-powerful spirit. Its instructions are to sound an alarm if anyone comes through an area, correct?

That's easy enough. Buzz him repeatedly with watchers. Send in a watcher to annoy the spirit. He may or may not squash it, but he will go and sound the alarm. The security will go on alert, but then they'll find out it was nothing major, just a lost watcher spirit. Once things have settled a bit, send in another watcher. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sooner or later, the security personnel will assume the spirit is seeing things, and will be slow to respond (if they do at all) when it raises yet another alarm that evening.

Of course, that particular layout is inefficient. According to both the flavor text and rules as written, it's much more efficient for a facility to permanently bind one or two powerful spirits, then keep a horde of watchers on partol, in pairs. If something happens, their job is to not only sound an alarm, but get the big spirit to engage. This setup can be beaten as well, if you're quick about squashing the watchers, or are good at confusing or sneaking past them. However, it's much harder than just getting past one good-sized spirit.
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tisoz
post Sep 10 2003, 09:58 AM
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If an elemental is on patrol and ordered to report "alert when someone walks past that isn't wearing an official jacket" or something like that, would each instance constitute a service? If so buzzing it with watchers is going to get expensive for the mage.
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RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 20th April 2014 - 03:11 AM

Topps, Inc has sole ownership of the names, logo, artwork, marks, photographs, sounds, audio, video and/or any proprietary material used in connection with the game Shadowrun. Topps, Inc has granted permission to the Dumpshock Forums to use such names, logos, artwork, marks and/or any proprietary materials for promotional and informational purposes on its website but does not endorse, and is not affiliated with the Dumpshock Forums in any official capacity whatsoever.