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> Free Spirits as PCs?, ATTN GMs (2 Rules Variants)
The Question Man
post Aug 3 2004, 10:18 PM
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Moving Target

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Free Spirit Characters

It Begins
It is warm, moonlight night. A small blanket of fog covers a lake fed by a stream. Perhaps the lake is in a forest somewhere, or a field, or a city park. Wherever it is, the Mana of this place is active tonight. The magic peaks and dips like waves on an ocean, and different currents meet and join for just a moment. But, tonight a moment is long enough.

When two waves collide, they burrow a tunnel into the Astral, a tunnel deep enough to reach the metaplanes. Through this tunnel, a Spirit emerges. Its curiosity drew it down this path, and tonight its curiosity will be its downfall.

As quickly as it formed, the tunnel collapses; the Spirit is trapped. Before it can react, it is thrown from the safety of its home metaplane and cast into the rolling sea of Astral space. It is confused and under attack; the currents in the Astral tear at the edges of its being, threatening to rip to shreds. As it tries to protect itself before its consciousness is scatted across the Astral, something happens. It is slammed into yet another world.

This world looks much like the previous one, but the colors are different, darker somehow. As unfamiliar as this world is, the form it has assumed provides a haven from the turmoil of Astral Space. Without this body, it would surely drown in a flood of magical energy. It surveys this new world and finds fascinating creatures there. They have bulky bodies and make strange noises to each other. Perhaps they can provide some amusement until a way home can be found...
Finding a Free Spirit

Have you ever looked at the population statistics in any of the 'place' sourcebooks? I have, and I've noticed something, all of them list other between one and three percent. By other, these mean Dracoforms, Shapeshifters, Sasquatches, and of course Free Spirits. Now, even with this division, that still leaves a considerable number of Free Spirits wandering around as registered voting citizens in a number of countries. So, what is the likelihood that one, or more of them, is going to wander into the Shadows? Pretty fragging good I'd say. And, with the continual rise in the levels of magic around the world, those chances get better every day.

Being a Free Spirit
The most important thing to keep in mind when playing a Free Spirit is why you are here. Is it because metahumans interest you? Is it because you are not yet strong enough to get back home? Is it to amass large amounts of money and material possessions? Or, is it some other reason that you just can't put into words? Do you even know? Also, keep in mind what you are. Have you told anyone? If so, who and why? What will they do with that information? All these are important pieces of the life of a Free Spirit. Without them, you might as well be playing a magician.

It is important for players and GMs to keep in mind that Free Spirit Player Characters are going to be much weaker than the Free Spirits described in the adventures, novels, and sourcebooks. The power difference is somewhat equivalent to the difference between a 9 volt battery and a fusion reactor. This condition means that the Spirit relies on its physical body for more than just a convenient way to manipulate physical objects. The physical body of a Free Spirit acts as a shell that protects the Spirit from the energies running free in Astral space. If its physical body is damaged in some way, the Spirit loses some of its anchor to Physical space. This loss then leaves some of the Spirit's aura exposed to Astral space, which is not a good thing unless the Spirit has readied itself. But, this physical body does not mean the Spirit is no longer a magical creature. If the Spirit is in any type of manifest form, it is to be treated as a Dual-natured Being, as per standard SR rules.

Creating Free Spirit Player Characters
Using the Character creation system outlined in the Shadowrun Companion, choosing Free Spirit as a race costs 20 Build Points. This also gives the Spirit access to 15, not 30, Force Points with which to buy spells. These Force Points can only be used for spells, not Spirit Powers. Once that is done, the player simply needs to decide what type of Spirit to play. Normally, a PC would choose one of the four Elemental Spirits or a specific Nature Spirit, but as long as the GM approves, any Spirit type that can vary in Force is acceptable (I.e. Watcher, Insect Spirit, etc). Except for Attributes, all other matters (i.e. Skills, Money, etc.) are handled normally. A Spirit has a seventh Attribute to worry about when assigning values: Force. The Force of the Spirit determines it's Magic and Essence, but not the Attributes (Magic and Essence Ratings are equal to the Force Rating). The Racial Maximum rating for each Attribute, including Force, is 6. This will result in Spirits who have Attributes that differ from the stats listed in the Sourcebooks; the stats listed for spirit types are for typical Spirits, and PC spirits are nowhere near the typical. For example:

Bob creates a Free Spirit PC and decides it is going to be Water Elemental. He also decides to use a total of 24 Attribute Points (48 Build Points) when creating his Character. His first attempt looks like this:
Body: 3
Quickness: 3
Strength: 5
Intelligence: 4
Willpower: 4
Charisma: 3
Which leaves him with 2 Build Points to assign to Force. This means his Spirit will have an Essence of 2 and a Magic Rating of 2. Bob doesn't like this. So he tries again.
Body: 3
Quickness: 3
Strength: 4
Intelligence: 3
Willpower: 4
Charisma: 3
Which leaves him with 4 Build Points to assign to Force, and therefore an Essence of 4 and a Magic Rating of 4. Much better.
Playing a Free Spirit

Manifesting, De-manifesting, and Spirit Forms
All Spirits have four basic forms when created, an Astral form, a True form, a Human form, and an Animal form. Spirit Player Characters automatically receive an Astral form, a True form, and a single Human form during character creation. Animal form(s) and additional Human forms may be purchased during character creation according to the costs listed below (see Spirit Powers). Switching between any of these forms requires a Complex Action, but no Success Tests or Drain is involved. When in True form, the Spirit assumes the standard shape of their Spirit type. Player Characters may choose their spirit's True form, but should not vary too much from the descriptions given in SRII. The Astral form is the appearance a spirit takes on when it is in Astral space, which is generally very similar to the spirit's True form. In Astral form, the spirit exists entirely within Astral space, though high force spirits may be noticeable as a slight shimmering in the air. When in Human form, the Spirit assumes a humanoid shape that can look like anything the Player wants. The Player may choose to have a metahuman form; this is perfectly fine, but the shape is only cosmetic.

The Spirit does not gain any Racial Bonuses or Penalties. If the Player wishes to have two Human forms, a human female and an ork male for instance, the Player must pay for the additional form as per the Human form rules listed below. The Spirit's Attributes do not change if they are in Astral, Human, or True forms. Finally, when in Animal form, the Spirit assumes the shape of a mundane critter. The Spirit's Mental Attributes remain the same while the Physical Attributes change to those of the animal. When in Animal, Human or True form, the Spirit is treated as a Dual-Natured being.

Elementals vs. Nature Spirits
This is the first decision the player needs to make when creating a Free Spirit Character. Beyond the difference listed in SRII, the two Spirit types (Elemental and Nature) vary in several more ways. One of the greater differences it the fact that Nature Spirits have domains. Although Free Nature Spirits and Free Nature Spirit PCs are able to leave their domain, they cannot do so without penalties. Unless it is inside its own domain, the Spirit cannot use some of its Spirit Powers (see Spirit Powers).

If the player decides to play an Elemental, they must be conscious of opposing elements. First, if the Spirit is in True Form or Astral Form, they are vulnerable to attacks from the opposing element. If they are in Human or Animal form, they do not suffer any real damage (unless the element is used as an attack, i.e. a Fireball spell), but the psychological effects can be most unpleasant. This is the second aspect of playing an Elemental. All Elementals have a phobia of the opposing element. Fire Elementals all have hydrophobia (fear of water, not just swimming but in all forms), while Earth Elementals have agro/aerophobia (fear of heights and flying), Water Elementals have pyrophobia (fear of fire), and Air Elementals have claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces). This phobia should be treated as a Severe Phobia according to the Phobia Table in the Shadowrun Companion (pg 29). The Character does not receive any Flaw Points for this phobia.

Finally, if an Elemental encounters another Elemental, either free, bound or ally, of the opposing element, he must resist the desire to run in fear or attack the enemy. Resisting this urge requires a Willpower Test with a Target Number of 2 plus the difference between the Forces of the Elementals. If the PC Elemental is of a lower Force, they must resist the urge to run. If the PC Elemental is of a higher Force, they must resist the urge to attack. Bound and Ally Elementals do not need to make this test, but other Free Elementals do. If the test is successful or if the two Elementals are of the same Force, the PC chooses his or her actions, which can be anything from the original "fight or flight" situation or just a lot of dirty looks and creative name calling. These rules do not apply unless the two Elementals are of opposing elements.
Sleeping and Eating

Spirits do not need to eat, but they can if they wish to. Spirits do not need to sleep, and if given a simple task (i.e. chop wood or similar manual labour) they can perform it indefinitely. Spirits do not, however, have an indefinite attention span, and when charged with doing something that requires a modest amount of thought, they can "burn out" just like metahumans. In other words, a spirit must mentally "take a break" every now and again. This "rest period" varies in length, depending on what the spirit is taking a break from. While "resting", spirits can still perform labour, just nothing that requires too much thought.
Astral Perception and Astral Projection

Astral Perception works the same for Spirits as for other Dual-natured beings. Since manifested Spirits are Dual-natured beings, they are effectively using Astral Perception continuously. Astral Projection, however, works in a manner similar to that of normal mages. First, Spirit PCs temporarily loose a Force Point for each hour they spend in the Astral (whereas magicians lose a Essence Point every hour). When a Spirit's Force is reduced below 0 in this manner, it dies. Force points lost in this manner are regained at a rate of 1 point per minute, up to the original rating.

Although shifting to the Astral allows a Free Spirit more range of motion since walls are no longer a real barrier, most prefer to remain in their Physical forms for daily life for a number of reasons. First, simple interactions with metahumans and their world is rather difficult unless they have a physical body. Second, when a Free Spirit is in Astral form, all forms of Aura Masking are useless. This leaves them vulnerable to any magician who might want to try and bind them.

Finally, when Spirits initiate, a topic which is handled later on (see Initiating Free Spirits), the Spirit gains access to the metaplanes. And, although they have access to all metaplanes no matter what their Spirit type, one must ask 'Why would a Water Elemental go to the Fire Elemental metaplane?' and 'What would happen when they get there?'. There any number of answers for the first questions but only one for the second: 'Nothing that would result in the Spirit leaving that metaplane alive'. When Spirits travel the metaplanes, the GM should continually ask himself how the 'locals' would react to the Spirit being there and then tailor the events accordingly.

Spirits and Combat
For Spirits, combat can be broken down into two areas, ranged and melee. Ranged combat, i.e. with guns and such, works the same as the rules listed in SRII. In other words, act as though the spirit has Hardened Armor equal in rating to twice the Spirit's Force. In melee combat, this rule does not apply since all attacks are powered by force of will, unless of course the Spirit is fighting a drone, in which case the Hardened Armor does apply.

If the Spirit is attacked by someone using a hand-held weapon, fists, or a bow and arrow, the attacker uses their Willpower instead of their Skill according to rules listed in SRII. The Spirit now has two options: it can either attack using magic or its physical body (i.e. a combat skill). If it attacks using a Spirit Power or spell of some sort, which for most Spirits will involve using the Engulf Power, follow the rules listed below (see Engulf).

If the Spirit decides to counterattack using Armed or Unarmed Combat or any similar skill, they take a +4 modifier to all Target Numbers. This is due to the way a Spirit thinks. Its first instinct will be to use magic to defend itself. Fighting this instinct causes them some problems. Also, the Spirit is using a weapon of totally alien nature to defend itself. Both these factors added together increase the Spirit's Target Number (and to prevent a stampede of Munchkin PCs).
Spirits and Initiative

Spirits in Astral form gain a +20 to all Initiative rolls. Spirits in True form gain a +10 to Initiative rolls. Spirits in any other form gain no bonuses and calculate Initiative and Reaction normally.

Damage, Healing, and Disruption
Spirits take damage like normal Characters except when dealing with attacks that are not backed by a force of will. As mentioned in SR basic rules, manifest spirits of any type have immunity to firearm attacks, ranged (excluding bows and throwing weapons) weapons, and explosions. However, it is very likely that a Spirit will become damaged in other ways, i.e. fighting a (meta)human in armed combat or by taking drain from casting a spell or through use of a Spirit Power. If the Spirit's Mental Condition Monitor is filled, the Spirit simply falls unconscious. When this happens, the Spirit automatically manifests in the physical plane if it was astrally projecting. This is a psychological fail-safe that prevents the Spirit from being destroyed while it 'slept' off the damage in Astral form. When this occurs, if the Spirit has more than one form it will manifest in the form it feels most comfortable with subconsciously. In other words, if a Spirit has spent the majority of its time in a metahuman form, chances are that is the form it will manifest in. Like normal metahumans, the Spirit will remain unconscious until at least one of the boxes on the Mental Condition Monitor is removed, and the only way for a Spirit to heal Mental Damage is to rest. It should also be noted that the Spirit manifests wherever it was knocked unconscious, be that standing on the ground or floating ten stories above it. The latter of course would result in some Physical damage shortly thereafter, which brings us to the second point.

If the Spirit's Physical Damage Monitor is filled (of course, this is unlikely because all Spirits have a natural immunity to non-melee weapons), the Spirit's Physical form has incurred so much damage that it loses cohesion. The Spirit is said have been disrupted. But, without a real body how can anyone perform First Aid or any other medical treatment? The answer is they can't. Healing a damaged Spirit requires a magical solution, and that solution is Conjuring.

Basically, healing Physical Damage to a Spirit, not matter what the level, follows the same rule for healing a normal Character except the healer must be a magician and must have a Conjuring Skill. It does not matter what type of Spirit the Character is and what type of magician is doing the healing, so a shaman could conceivably heal an elemental. The healing magician rolls his or her Conjuring Skill or highest usable concentration against a Target Number dictated by the Healing Table (SRII, pg 113). Each success the magician generates removes one box of Physical Damage from the Spirits condition monitor. The magician takes Drain as if they were conjuring a Spirit of identical Force. Also, if the magician heals Deadly damage to the Spirit, he has basically resummoned the Spirit and must declare it free before things go back to normal. If the magician chooses not to do so, the Spirit must perform services as if it were summoned by the magician. Once these services are completed, the Spirit is free again, and probably very mad at that particular magician. Overflow damage is handled the similarly for Spirits as it is for all other Characters. The difference is this: once a Spirit takes Deadly damage, it immediately begins to disrupt as the forces of the astral begin to tear at its form. For this reason, Spirits that receive Deadly Physical Damage begin to fade from the Physical and Astral planes, and will completely vanish 20 Combat Phases from the Phase in which they received Deadly Damage (yes this means that if the spirit buys it on Phase 34 and the mage doesn't have an action until Phase 12 - so long spirit!). Any Physical Overflow reduces this number of turns by the same number. In other words, if a Spirit takes Deadly Damage and additionally receives 5 boxes of Overflow, then the Spirit would fade from existence in (20 - 5), or 15, Combat Phases. Non-magical healing procedures such as CPR and the use of the Biotech skill have no effect on spirits.

Spirit Powers
Spirits gain Powers in one of two ways. First, the Spirit gains the Powers listed for its specific spirit type (i.e. Fire Elemental, City Spirit, Desert Spirit, Ghost, etc...). For instance, an Air Elemental would have Movement and Psychokinesis, while a Forest Spirit would have Accident, Concealment, Confusion, Fear, and Guard. However, due to the restrictions placed on Nature Spirits, the Forest Spirit would only be able to use its Guard Power while in its domain. Special rules for some Spirit Powers are explained below. There is one rule change that applies to all Powers: when determining the effects of the Power, the spirit rolls any number of dice equal to or less than its Force, not Essence as listed in SRII! In other words, the Spirit Powers are similar to spells that the spirit can "cast" at any level up to its Force Rating. This means that as a Spirits' Force increases, its Powers get stronger.

Spirits may also buy Spirit Powers like a PhysAd buys Abilities. The cost of the Powers is listed in Build Points. New Spirit Powers cannot be purchased after Character Generation.

GMs should treat Spirit Powers as if they are spells: the Spirit takes Drain (determined by the Force rating that the spirit used the Power at) and resists with Willpower. All Powers have a LOS range unless otherwise listed. Some Spirit Powers are too powerful and PCs should not have access to them; those Powers are also listed below. Spirits may not use foci or Magic Pool dice to augment their Powers.

Some Nature Spirit Powers that are automatically available to those spirits only work within their domain. For some of those Powers, the Spirit may buy the Power normally at regular cost and may then use it outside of their domain, while others remain exclusive to a domain. Nature Spirits powers are restricted only when specifically stated, all powers not listed as restricted are available for use whether or not the Nature Spirit is in its domain.

Accident: This Power has a Drain of [(F/2) + 1]S. Nature Spirits with this Power may only use it within their domain. Accident costs 8 Build Points.

Alienation: The Target Number for this Power is 6 and the Drain is [F/2]D. Nature Spirits with this Power may only use it within their domain. This Power may not be bought by a Nature Spirit for use outside of their domain. Elementals cannot buy Alienation. Alienation costs 10 Build Points.

Animal Control: This power has a Drain of (1/2F + 1)M. When and if this Power is purchased, the Player must declare a single species of animal to have control over, dogs, or cats, or crows are good examples. Bad ideas are birds in general, or all kinds of bugs, or any type of fish. It would make sense that the animal in question lives in the Spirit's Domain if the Spirit is a Nature Spirit. Animal Control costs 8 Build points, additional types of animals beyond the first can be purchased at 4 points each.

Animal Form: When Animal Form is purchased, the player should select one non-paranormal animal to be the Spirit's animal form. The animal form must have a Body between .5 and 1.5 times the Spirit's Body. Changing into this form requires a Complex Action but does not require any Success Tests. The first Animal Form purchased costs 4 Build points, but additional animal forms can be bought at a cost of 2 points per form.

Astral Gateway: The Target Number for this Power is 12 minus the Essence of the target. The Spirit can only open a Gateway to a metaplane it has visited before. GM discretion should be used. There can only be one target at a time. The Drain is [F]D. The Spirit must also pay 1D6/2 Karma points (round up) each time they use this Power. Astral Gateway costs 15 Build Points.

Aura Masking: Free Spirit PCs are unable to use Aura Masking as the rules in the Grimoire (pg 79) dictate because most Free Spirit PCs lack the ability to raise their true aura to their native metaplane. For this reason, an un-initiated Free Spirit will appear in its True Form in astral space. After initiation, the Spirit will look like a mundane when in (meta)human or Animal form and a normal bound Spirit when in Astral or True form. Defeating this masking follows the same rules as defeating regular Aura Masking except the Spirit's Initiate Grade is used as its Grade instead of its Spirit Energy. Aura Masking cannot be purchased until the Spirit has Initiated, and at that time it is received automatically at no cost.

Binding: Binding has a Drain of [(F/2) + 2]S. Nature Spirits can only use this Power within their domain. Binding costs 2 points.

Compulsion: This Power has a Drain of [(F/2) + 2]S. Compulsion costs 12 Build points.

Concealment: Drain for this Power is [F/2]M. Nature Spirits can only use this Power within their domain. Concealment costs 3 Build points.

Confusion: Confusion has a Drain of [F/2]S. Nature Spirits can only use this Power in their domain. Confusion costs 4 Build points.

Conjuring: Spirits can use this skill but will never conjure other Spirits and force them to perform services. They view it as nothing short of slavery. It has been surmised that a spirit can summon another spirit and then set if free, but for some reason there has been no documented case of such an occurrence. Some Spirits will see conjuring as a necessary evil and not begrudge any magician who does it while others will abhor the idea and do all they can to seek justice for their imprisoned brethren. The only exception is

Watchers, whom all spirits generally look down upon. Spirits can use Conjuring to banish other Spirits and resist Damage from other Spirits, as per the rules in SRII. This Power is treated as a Skill and must be purchased as such.

Darkness: This power has a Drain of (1/2F - 1)L. Darkness costs 2 Build Points.

Desire Reflection: This power has a Drain of (1/2F + 1)S. Desire Reflection costs 8 Build Points.

Dispelling: This Power works the same for Spirits as Initiated magicians. All Spirits gain this Power at no cost when they Initiate, and can only be obtained by Initiating.

Electrical Projection: This Power has a Drain of [(F/2) + 1]S. Spirits of Water and Water Elementals may not purchase this Power.
Electrical Projection costs 3 points.

Engulf: This Power does not have a Drain, but the Spirit must be in True form to use it. Since it requires a Complex Action to change form and a Complex Action to engulf a target, the Spirit cannot do both in the same action. When resolving combat situations in which Engulf is used, the following modification to existing SR rules must be made: if the opponent wins the opposed test, he goes free and damages the Spirit. This damage is treated as if the victim physically struck the Spirit with either their fists or any weaponry that is present and drawn, i.e. cyberspurs, snap blades, finger razors, clubs, swords, etc. Extra successes are used to increase the Damage Level as per standard rules. Spirits of Man may not purchase Engulf. The specific type of Engulf (Air, Water, Earth, Fire) is determined by the specific spirit type, and spirits may only purchase a single Engulf type power (I.e. Air Elementals may only purchase Air Engulf, Lake Spirits may only purchase Water Engulf, etc.). Engulf costs 8 points. For spirits other than Nature or Elemental (ex: Loa) use GM discretion as to what, if any, type of Engulf the spirit would purchase.

Fear: This Power has a Drain of [(F/2) + 2]M. Nature Spirits with this Power can only use it within their domain. Fear costs 6 points.

Flame Aura: This Power has a Drain of [(F/2) + 2]M. Spirits of the Waters and Water Elementals may not purchase this Power.
Flame Aura costs 3 points.

Flame Projection: This Power has a Drain of [(F/2) + 1]M. Spirits of the Waters and Water Elementals may not purchase this Power. Flame Projection costs 3 points.

Guard: This Power does not have a Drain. Nature Spirits with this Power can only use it within their domain. Guard costs 4 points.

Hidden Life: Free Spirit Characters may not purchase this Power.

Human Form: When the Spirit is created, the player should select one specific human form. This form is free, but any additional forms purchased past the first cost 2 points per form. Changing between forms requires a Complex Action but does not require any success tests.

Illusion: This power has a Drain of [(F/2) + 2]M. Illusion costs 6 Build Points.

Immunity to Age: This power has no Drain. Spirits are assumed to automatically have this power.

Immunity to Cold: This power has no Drain. Immunity to Cold costs 4 Build Points. Fire Elementals and Spirits of the Great Fiery Firmament cannot purchase this power. Some spirits may have this power naturally (i.e. Artic Spirits), especially when in their True Form.

Immunity to Fire: This power has no Drain. Immunity to Fire costs 4 Build Points. Water Elementals and Spirits of the Waters cannot purchase this power. Some spirits may have this power naturally (i.e Fire Elementals), especially when in their True Form.

Immunity to Normal Weapons: Free Spirit Characters do not have access to this Power.

Immunity to Pathogens: This power has no Drain. Spirits are assumed to automatically have this Power.

Immunity to Poisons: This power has no Drain. Spirits are assumed to automatically have this Power. It should be noted there is a difference between poisons and toxins. Poisons include substances like arsenic, Fungu-5 or Narcojet; toxins are substances like DDT, PFCs or carbon tetrachloride. As a general rule of thumb, poisons are usually organic in nature and produced for the purpose of poisoning metahumans. While toxins have severe biological side effects, they are not primarily designed as a poison. Spirits do NOT have Immunity to Toxins. In fact, Nature Spirits can have especially bad reactions to certain toxins such as defoliating agents.

Influence: This power has a Drain code of [F/2]M. Influence costs 4 Build points.

Magical Guard: This power has no Drain. Magical Guard costs 8 Build points.

Magical Resistance: This power has no Drain. Magical Resistance costs 20 Build points.

Manifestation: This power is free, and all Spirits are assumed to have this Power automatically.

Mist Form: This power has a Drain of [(F/2) + 2]L. Mist Form costs 8 Build points.

Movement: This Power has a Drain of [(F/2) + 1]L. Nature Spirits with this Power can only use it within their domain. Movement costs 3 points.

Noxious Breath: This Power does not have a Drain, but the target must be in breathing distance of the Spirit, which is determined by the size of the spirit. Noxious Breath costs 2 points.

Personal Domain: The rules for Personal Domain are the same as listed in the Grimoire. Nature Spirits with this Power must have the Personal Domain within their normal domain. The Personal Domain must be declared at the time of Character Generation. If the Personal Domain is destroyed for some reason, the Spirit loses this Power and may not declare a new Domain. Personal Domain costs 8 points.

Possession: Free Spirit Characters do not have access to this Power.

Psychokinesis: This Power has a Drain of [(F/2) + 2]M.. Psychokinesis costs 5 Build points.
Search: This Power does not have a Drain. The Spirit should make a test following the rules in SRII against the target's Stealth Skill or highest related concentration. The Spirit can search an area of radius equal to twice their Essence. This Power may not be bought by a Nature Spirit for use outside of their domain. Elementals may not purchase Search. It takes a Simple Action search an area of 1,000 cubic meters. Search costs 4 Build Points.

Sorcery: The rules for Sorcery are the same as listed except the Spirit DOES take Drain. Sorcery must be learned as per the rules for skill purchase and use.

Wealth: The Target Number for this Power is 8 and the Drain is [F/2 + 4]S. If any successes are generated, the player rolls to determine the amount of treasure generated as per the rules in The Grimoire (pg 81). Extra successes do not affect the outcome of this roll. Remember, the Spirit cannot create wealth until it has at least 1 point of Spirit Energy. Also, the treasure created is magically connected to the Spirit and therefore can be used for Ritual Sorcery. Wealth costs 10 points.

Weather Control: This power has a Drain of [F/2]S. Weather Control costs 8 Build points.

Spirits and Karma and Spirit Energy
Spirits earn Karma in the same manner as normal Character and can use it for the same purposes. Spirit Energy is earned in the same way as Karma except at a much slower rate. The Spirit may gain 1 point of Spirit Energy for every 15 to 20 Karma points earned (GM discretion, as always). Karma may not be used to increase the Spirit's Force, only Spirit Energy may be used to increase a Spirit's Force. Spirit Energy can be used for any purpose that Karma may used for, but does not count towards a Karma Pool (For more information on Free Spirits, Spirit Energy, and Karma, see the Grimoire, pg 76-79).
Initiating Free Spirits

Although Free Spirits understand the 'science' of magic better than any mage ever could, they still need to Initiate. The rules for magic change slightly when the Spirit crosses from the metaplanes the Physical Plane. This change causes all their magical knowledge to become more akin to theoretical knowledge. Spirits still need to understand the practical aspect of manipulating magic on the Physical plane, and Initiation represents this understanding.

The Karma cost for Initiation is the same as a mage or shaman self-initiating. Since Spirits need to learn different aspects of magic than normal magicians, it would do a Spirit little good to join a magical group, and even if it did so no Karma reduction would be gained when attempting to Initiate into the Higher Mysteries. Geasa for Magic increases should be GM approved. Once the Spirit has undergone an Initiation, it gains access to the metaplanes. For some, this means the dream of returning home is now possible. For others, the possibility of returning home is not as appealing as it once was.

Free Spirits and Magical Traditions
Spirits do not follow any known magical tradition. Nature Spirits do not have Totems, Totem bonuses or Totem penalties. Spirits do not need to have a hermetic library or medicine lodge. They learn spells like skills; not as a formula or a song.

Spirits learn new spells by either creating new ones, in which case they follow the rules listed in The Grimoire, or by finding a teacher, in which case the teacher must be a Spirit. This teacher can either be a Free Spirit or a bound Spirit summoned by another magician to help the Character. In the latter case, the Free Spirit must be able to morally justify the summoning. Spirits cannot learn spells from spirits with a lesser Force Rating. Elementals must learn from Elementals and Nature Spirits must learn from Nature Spirits. Any type of Elemental can teach any type of spell but if the teaching Elemental is of the proper type for the spell being learned (i.e. Water for Illusion, Fire for Combat, etc.,) treat the teacher spirit as if it has a Teaching skill equal to its Force.

Rules for playing Free Spirits

The Free Spirit character can be an Elemental, a Nature Spirit, or an Ally. [Watchers "are not robust enough to survive as free spirits"]. The player is also encouraged to choose one of the listed motivations for free spirits (trickster, player, shadow, guardian, or animus/anima) to justify its continued existence in the material world. Then consult the following character creation table.

Priority Race Magic Attributes Skills Resources [Spell Points]
A Spirit --- --- --- --- --- [25]
B --- Spirit Powers --- --- --- --- [35]
C --- --- Force 4 34 pts 90K Y ---
D --- --- Force 3 30 pts 20K Y ---
E --- --- Force 2 27pts 5K Y ---

Race is Priority A. The player must choose the Spirit Type.

Magic is Priority B. Using Spell Points to purchase Spirit Powers.

Attributes are Priorities C to E, but use the Force plus Spirit Energy to determine the Free Spirit's Attributes modified by Spirit Type.

Skills are Priorities C to E and mirror the standard Priorities Rules

Resources are Priorities C to E and follow standard Priorities Rules

***Note that spirits cannot use cyberware or bioware, so spending initial funds on such items is rather pointless.

All free spirits begin with 1 point of Spirit Energy and 0 Karma, including an initial Karma Pool of 0.

In addition, free spirits cannot accumulate Good Karma through the normal means by which characters earn it. It must be willingly given to the spirit by another.

Karma Option: Given a free spirit's inability to acquire Good Karma, a player will likely become frustrated because his character will have a horrendous time advancing and likely fall well behind its companions. To remedy this, allow the character to earn Karma as usual, but do not allow this Karma to be used to increase the character's Force or Spirit Energy. Only allow it to be spent on skills, spells, and if the characters is an ally,
Attributes (see below).

Then, set forth another karma pool called Spirit Karma, which increases by 1 for every 5 points of Good Karma earned. This Spirit Karma would then be spent to increase the character's Force or Spirit Energy.

A free spirit's attributes are determined by its type, its form, its Force rating, and sometimes itís Spirit Energy. Free spirits using the Animal Form, Human Form, or Hidden Life (when used on an animal) powers have their stats determined according to the power's description.

For All Spirits, use Force plus Spirit Energy for physical attributes and this sum plus one for mental attributes. (Example; a Force 3, Spirit Energy 1 Ally would have Body, Quickness, and Strength 4, Willpower, Intelligence, and Charisma 5)

Elementals and Nature Spirits attributes naturally increase as their Force rating increases, but they may not increase them with Good Karma. Ally Spirits attributes do not automatically increase with Force rating, but they may increase them by spending Good Karma at a cost equal to the current rating and performing a Ritual of ______________.

To increase an attribute beyond the Ally Spiritsí current Force plus Spirit Energy (plus one for mental attributes) costs double the normal amount.

Free Spirits automatically gain access to the appropriate Critter Powers for their Spirit Type. (e.g. fire elementals have the powers of Engulf, Flame Aura, Flame Projection, Guard, Manifestation, and Movement). Ally Spirits get Inhabiting, Immunity to Normal Weapons, Manifestation, Sorcery, Telepathic Link, and Three-Dimensional Movement.

Force points are used to purchase additional powers unique to Free Spirits

Elemental and Nature Spiritís may choose one of these for free (Ally Spirits get Sorcery), but must pay 5 force points for each additional power. Players should be encouraged to take the Human Form power, or at least Animal Form or possibly even Hidden Life placed inside an animal so that they can fit a little more easily into the game universe.

Spirit Powers Option: Some powers are more unusual for a given type of spirit than others, e.g. it is highly unusual for an elemental to have the power of Personal Domain. Those powers listed below cost 10 force points instead of 5 for the preceding Spirit Type.

If this option is used, think of the free power as a five point discount on the first power chosen, so that the character can either have a free five-pointer or take a ten-pointer for only five.

Elementals: Animal Form, Sorcery, Personal Domain

Nature Spirits: Human Form, Hidden Life, Wealth, Dispelling, Sorcery

Allies: Animal Form, Astral Gateway, Possession, Wealth, Personal Domain
Note that the Sorcery Spirit Power grants the character the ability to cast spells, but, since it has no rating associated with it, gives no magic pool. For such a pool, the Sorcery skill must be purchased normally with skill points. This skill can then be increase later with Good Karma like any other skill.

Also note that Elementals with Sorcery must be of the Hermetic Tradition and Nature Spirits must be of the Shamanic Tradition; Ally Spirits can be of either tradition. Spirits following the Shamanic Tradition may also choose a Totem and obtain the benefits and restrictions associated with it, though this is not required.

Spells must also be purchased normally with force points, or later on with Good Karma. Thus, spirits who can cast spells will necessarily have fewer spirit powers than those who can't.

Such magically active free spirits may even join magical groups and go through the process of initiation; while this gains them no magic points (since they don't really have a magic rating), it does gain them access to the different forms of MetaMagic.

Free spirit characters can never conjure other spirits, though they may use the Conjuring skill for other purposes, e.g. banishment or resisting other spirit attacks. The character can even use the Conjuring skill in place of its Force rating should someone learn its true name and try to banish or bind it (Think of this as a sort of counter-ritual).

Speaking of True Names, the player must choose one for the Free Spirit at character creation. It is highly recommended that he also choose a handle for the character fully dissimilar to the true name, given that knowledge of the true name gives someone significant power over the spirit. Should someone learn the character's true name (a "fun" adventure hook) and successfully banish the spirit, it is effectively a dead character. A soft-hearted GM may allow the spirit to come back at a later time, but given that this is the only way to kill off a free spirit, such pandering is not recommended.

Sample Characters

Handle: Skydancer
True Name: Whisslassoowhelii
Spirit Type: Air Elemental
Motivation: Animus
Force: 3, Spirit Energy: 1

Edges and Flaws: (+6/-6)

Body: 2
Quickness: 7
Strength: 1
Charisma: 4
Intelligence: 4
Willpower: 4
Essence: 4
Magic: ---
Reaction: 6
Initiative: (+10+d6 Materialized / +20+d6 Astral)
Dice Pools: Astral: 4, Combat: 7
Karma Pool:
Good Karma:

Active Skills: (24)
Edged Weapons: 4
Pistols: 4
Thrown Weapons: 4
Stealth: 4
Etiquette (Street): 2/4
Etiquette (Spirits): 2/4
Aura Reading: 2

Knowledge Skills: (20)
Meteorology (Air): 3/5
Magic Background (Spirit Powers): 3/5
Magical Threats (Spirits): 3/5
Seattle Metroplex (Astral): 3/5
Spirit Trivia: 4

Martial Arts:

Spirit Powers: (Air Elemental)
Noxious Breath

Free Spirit Powers:
Aura Masking
Human Form

Lined Coat (4/2)

Monofilament Whip
Ceska Black Scorpion w/internal Smartgun and 4 clips
Throwing Knives (2)
Smart Goggles w/Infrared
Ordinary Clothing (7)
Low Lifestyle (2 mo. prepaid)

Contacts: (2 Free)
Hitman (L1)
Squatter (L1)

Starting Cash: 470 Y

Background/History: The shadowrunner who calls himself Skydancer came to the material plane as a result of an overextended corp mage's summoning. When the wage slave passed out from the drain, Skydancer decided to take in a bit of the local culture before returning to the Metaplane of Air. So he took some of the unconscious wizboy's things and headed out into the streets of Seattle.

Skydancer now passes himself off as a physical adept, a fairly effective disguise considering both his skill with the classical instruments of battle and his ability to disguise his true nature. Granted, a few runners give him the old sideways glance when he moves things from a distance, but they know better than outright question his veracity. After all, runners have never been known for their forthrightness.

Sample Character 2
Handle: Diefenbaker
True Name: Nonasod-nurithm
Spirit Type: Hearth Spirit
Motivation: Guardian
Force: 2
Spirit Energy: 1

Edges and Flaws:

Body: 4/4
Quickness: 5/5
Strength: 1/4
Charisma: 3
Intelligence: 3
Willpower: 3
Essence: 3
Magic: ---
Reaction: 4/5

Initiative: (+10+d6 Materialized / +20+d6 Astral)
[Numbers after slash used while in dog form]
Dice Pools: Astral: 3, Combat: 4/4
Karma Pool: 0
Good Karma: 0

Active Skills: (27)
Unarmed Combat: 5
Athletics: 5
Stealth: 5
Etiquette (Tribal): 4
Aura Reading: 4
Tracking: 4

Knowledge Skills: (15)
Magic Background (Spirit Powers): 2/4
Magical Threats (Spirits): 2/4
Seattle Metroplex (Astral): 2/4
Spirit Trivia: 3
Scent Identification: 3

Martial Arts: (Cold Nose Fu, Slobber Do, or K9 Combat Training)

Spirit Powers: Spirit of Man (Hearth)

Free Spirit Powers:
Animal Form
Astral Gateway
Aura Masking
Personal Domain



Telecomm with 500 Mp memory
Stereo playback unit with Quad speakers
250 unit compact disc/optical disc collection
Video transmission unit with screen and recorder package
150 unit video disc collection
Maglocks, Rating 6 (3)
Retinal Scanner, Rating 6
Panicbutton Hook-Up
High Lifestyle (6 mo. prepaid)

Contacts: (2 Free)
Tribal Chief (Level 2)

Starting Cash: 4,750 Y

Background/History: The hearth spirit Diefenbaker is a faithful companion to the Cascade Crow tribesman Esau Leaping Frog, and, in keeping with its image, often appears at his side in the form of a husky. Diefenbaker follows Esau around as he runs errands, taking in the culture of the tribe and acting as a guardian to the man in whose house he was first summoned. Diefenbaker lives to protect him and that house, and such loyalty is not lost upon Esau; he knows the true nature of his friend and treats the spirit as an equal, sharing with him both his possessions and his affection.

Sample Character 3
Handle: Imp Ayghee
True Name: Paku Paku
Spirit Type: Ally
Motivation: Trickster
Force: 4, Spirit Energy: 1

Edges and Flaws:

Body: 5
Quickness: 5
Strength: 5
Charisma: 6
Intelligence: 6
Willpower: 6
Essence: 5
Magic: ---
Reaction: 5

Initiative: (+10+d6 Materialized / +20+d6 Astral)
Dice Pools: Astral: 5, Combat: 8
Karma Pool:
Good Karma:

Active Skills: (27)
Aura Reading 3
Conjuring: 6
Sorcery: 6 (costs 7)
Etiquette (Spirits): 6 (costs 7)
Electronics: 2
Electronics B/R: 2

Knowledge Skills: (25)
Magic Background (Spirit Powers): 4/6
Magical Threats (Spirits): 4/6
Seattle Metroplex (Astral): 4/6
Spirit Trivia: 5
Psychology (Individual Behavior): 4/6

Martial Arts:

Spirit Powers: Ally
Immunity to Normal Weapons
Telepathic Link
Three-Dimensional Movement

Free Spirit Powers:

Spells: (25)
Entertainment 5
Fashion 5
Fire Dart 5
Levitate Item 5
Mask 5



Goggles with Low-Light and Thermographic
Tres Chic Clothing
Middle Lifestyle
Dodge Scoot

Street Mage (L1)
Street Cop (L1)

Starting Cash: 2700 Y

Background History: Ayghee the Imp is the former ally of a street mage who didn't know what he was getting himself into when he performed the summoning. The spirit's penchant for practical jokes drove the man up the wall, and eventually released Ayghee from his commitment, thinking the imp would return to his native metaplane. Instead, Ayghee decided to stick around and deflate a few more egos.

The spirit now tools about Seattle, harassing the citizens and getting the whole thing on Trideo to enjoy again later. He still maintains strained relations with his original master and with a street cop who didn't particularly care for having what he thought was tailor turn his uniform into a clown suit.

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The Question Man
post Aug 3 2004, 10:20 PM
Post #2

Moving Target

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P.S.: I have had these awhile and do not know the original authors. So thank you for your hard work Whoever you are.


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post Aug 3 2004, 11:04 PM
Post #3

Senior GM

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From: Redmond, WA
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post Aug 3 2004, 11:30 PM
Post #4

Traumatizing players since 1992

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I like it except for the fact that by canon spirits can never earn their own karma, it must be donated to them. That's a mechanic that I would not want to change because it has huge world and gameplay ramifications for the game world. It wholesale changes spirit motivations.

I would still feel I had to enforce that, which makes this character type very unattractive.
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post Aug 4 2004, 12:03 AM
Post #5

Shooting Target

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Interesting, but I think any rules that modify the way spirits work are essentially bad.

I don't like the drain for powers, or automatically four forms, for instance.

My suggestion:

Priority System:
A - Spirit - -=NA=- - -=NA=- - -=NA=- - -=NA=-
B - =NA= - Sorcery - Force 4 - Skills 40 - 400K•
C - =NA= - -Innate - Force 3 - Skills 34 - 90K•
D - =NA= - -=NA=- - Force 2 - Skills 30 - 20K•
E - =NA= - -=NA=- - Force 1 - Skills 27 - 5K•

A spirit must place either priority B (25 spell points) or C on magic, depending on whether or not the player wants the sorcery power, and priority A on race. A free spirit starts with one 'free' free spirit power, as well as all the powers and abilities of his type of spirit. Extra free spirit powers (one or two) costs 10 Skill points each (Spirits 'can' buy Sorcery this way, but do not get any points for spells). Free spirit starts with 1 point Spirit Energy and 1 point Karma Pool.

BP system:
Race: 25 or 30 BPs, not sure... maybe different for different types of spirit (more powers = higher cost)
Force: 12 BPs per point of Force
Skills: as usual
Resources: as usual
Sorcery Power: 25 BPs, comes with 25 spell points
Free Spirit powers: 1 is free, 2 costs 10 BPs, 3 costs 25 BPs.

Ally spirits would work slightly different:
Priority: instead of 'Force' they get Attribute points, as usual. Each force point above 1 costs 5 Attribute Points and also gives 1 additional point in each of the physical attributes, and mental attributes must be bought separately. Physical attributes can also be raised above Force for a cost of 1 point per attribute point. Sense Link power 'costs' 5 skill points.
Point System: Each point of Force costs 6 BPs, each point in a mental attribute costs 2 BPs. Sense Link power 'costs' 5 BPs.

Spirits with Sorcery power can use resources to buy extra spell points, as usual, or trade spell points for building points under the point system. (I use the term spell points to avoid confusion between spirit Force and Force points)

Ally spirits with inhabiting power has to buy their body, using resources for a homunculus focus at least equal to their force (Force x 30,000•), or a suitable animal (cost = ?).

In play, use all normal rules for Free Spirits. If desired, remove the roll to aquire new powers when increasing force and substitute it for a sort of 'spirit initiation': Buying a new power costs 3xNew Force in Karma. Harsh, maybe, but spirits are powerful.

Free Spirits cannot use money to directly purchase karma, using the optional Karma-for-Cash rules. They can, however, do the opposite just as any other character.
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