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> Elemental manipulations, That bit you in the hoop
hyzmarca
post Apr 16 2005, 01:32 AM
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An old console RPG has gotten me thinking about elemental manipulations and their consequences. In Final Fantasy 6 there were a a few spells that would cause an absurd amount of damage to both your enemies and your own party indisciminatly. (Tornado, Earthquake and Merton if I remember correctly)
Casting one of these spells without the proper elemental protections would be suicide.

Now, a magician can cast stunball, manaball, powerball, and all sorts of other area combat spells without worrying about being caught in them. The magician is in control of where the mana goes. Slaughter human wouldn't be fun if it would kill the human caster after all.

However, with elemental manipulations the caster has no control over the spell once it has been cast. The element simply move along untill it hits something. This helps get around LOS restrictions but it can cause problems if the magician is caught is too close to the target.

The average mage will be engulfed by his own fireball at six meters or less. For high grade initiates can easily kill themselves and their teammates if they don't withhold enough dice.
Lets not forget GDs and IEs, who some attribute initiate grades in the 80's or above to. They won't be able to drop their area elemental spells down to a reasonable size without 150 or more sorcery dice. Harlequin isn't going to be throwing around fireballs unless he has an asbestos suit.

So, next time your mage throws an area elemental manip, make sure you know exactly how close he is to the eipcenter.
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Herald of Verjig...
post Apr 16 2005, 02:26 AM
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You can stunball yourself if the epicenter is too close, also you can be affected by a badly selected slaughter spell in the same circumstances. All area spells affect all valid targets in the area/LoS requirement, the mage cannot pick and choose. Also, based on the comments about the fiber-optic system in SOTA63, a fireball will not stop and detonate early, it will do whatever it can to reach the targetted point and detonate there. Even if it includes burning through the cubicle farm.
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fistandantilus4....
post Apr 16 2005, 03:20 AM
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One advantage initiates have is shielding. Example: in melee with (or soon to be in) a number of opponents. most mages don't have a hot enough melee skill to stay up long, but they usually have an edge on will. Throw up a few points of shielding on themselves, and drop a manaball, starting at light or moderate damage. It'll be a lot easier to stage up the damage on average targets, and easier to resist it yourself w/ shielding dice.

Usually the only time I ever try for an elemental manip is when I'm trying to get a secondary effect, like cooking off ammo. Fun when you run into the scary guys packing APDS. You can disarm them and hurt them at the same time. Otherwise, the drain usually isn't worth it (IMO).
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kackling kactuar
post Apr 16 2005, 04:09 AM
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I've never really been in a situation where elemental manipulations are actually useful, although I acknowledge that such a situation is possible. The high drain and the ability to both dodge and resist their effects pretty much kills their utility for me.
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fistandantilus4....
post Apr 16 2005, 05:25 AM
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I'm not sure if it's canon or not, but I apply modifiers to dodging the area effect manipulations . Harder to dodge a fire BALL than a lightning BOLT. Like shotgun/autofire modifiers. So that helps a bit.
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kackling kactuar
post Apr 16 2005, 05:31 AM
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Sure, the AoE variant is harder to dodge, but it'll also nail you with significantly nastier drain.
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fistandantilus4....
post Apr 16 2005, 05:59 AM
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yep yep.... expendable spell focus .. yep yep
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kackling kactuar
post Apr 16 2005, 06:06 AM
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Expendable spell foci can also be used with combat spells. :)
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fistandantilus4....
post Apr 16 2005, 06:09 AM
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fetishes, lower target number.... yes, can also be used with mana spells. But they don't cook off ammo or fry cyberware. Get slightly higher drain, with more helpful side effects. It's really hard for your opponent to shoot back when all his ammo and grenades go off becuase you tagged him w/ a fireball, and he has to resist all that damage, without armor.
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hahnsoo
post Apr 16 2005, 06:27 AM
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I like the low, low target numbers for Elemental Manipulations. Also, they count as ranged attacks, and thus are affected by Enhanced Aim (which affect all ranged attacks). EMs with a TN of 2 can be pretty deadly. The drain is the major bummer for them... dodging an EM is about as easy as dodging an attack from a very skilled marksman. They have their uses.
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kackling kactuar
post Apr 16 2005, 06:46 AM
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You have at best a 1 in 3 chance of pulling off a secondary effect, which, in my opinion, isn't worth the extra drain. Fetishes don't help much since it isn't cost-effective to cast elemental manipulations at a force higher than 1 in most situations anyway. Considering that elemental spells at a useful damage level have about, if not more than, the same drain as a D level combat spell, you might as well just kill them directly through the application of deadly damage instead of praying for a secondary effect to do it for you.

Plus you're sorta screwed if your enemy is using fire and electricity resistant gear.

QUOTE (hahnsoo)
Also, they count as ranged attacks, and thus are affected by Enhanced Aim (which affect all ranged attacks). EMs with a TN of 2 can be pretty deadly.

Enhanced Aim is hardly a reliable spell, what with a TN 6 to cast and all. Not to mention the benefits it grants is negated by the +2 penalty for sustaining a spell. That is, unless you choose to lock it in a sustaining focus, but that comes with its own drawbacks.

You'll rarely be getting a TN of 2 in a combat scenario unless you have an extremely lenient GM.

QUOTE (hahnsoo)
The drain is the major bummer for them... dodging an EM is about as easy as dodging an attack from a very skilled marksman.

Soaking an EM, on the other hand... ;)

I can see elemental manipulations becoming useful later in the game when you start encountering high level initiates with Shielding, but once you've reached that point, you usually have other options available anyway.

Edit: Actually, looking at the modifiers, it would be closer to a 1 in 2 chance. Which makes EMs a bit better, but still not worth it, IMO.

This post has been edited by kackling kactuar: Apr 16 2005, 06:53 AM
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hahnsoo
post Apr 16 2005, 06:54 AM
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QUOTE (kackling kactuar)
QUOTE (hahnsoo)
Also, they count as ranged attacks, and thus are affected by Enhanced Aim (which affect all ranged attacks). EMs with a TN of 2 can be pretty deadly.

Enhanced Aim is hardly a reliable spell, what with a TN 6 to cast and all. Not to mention the benefits it grants is negated by the +2 penalty for sustaining a spell. That is, unless you choose to lock it in a sustaining focus, but that comes with its own drawbacks.

You'll rarely be getting a TN of 2 in a combat scenario unless you have an extremely lenient GM.

I'm not saying it's easy to do. Enhanced Aim is a gimped spell, but when it helps, it helps a ton (which is probably why it's gimped). Sustaining Foci are hardly a drawback anymore, now that Grounding is taken out of the game. Really, the thing you'll be hurting for the most is preventing other mages from simply dispelling it (although if they are doing that, then they are wasting actions that could be used to, say, chuck a fireball or call an elemental).
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kackling kactuar
post Apr 16 2005, 06:57 AM
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The drawback of using a sustaining focus to sustain Enhanced Aim is that you can't use it to sustain another spell.
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fistandantilus4....
post Apr 16 2005, 07:01 AM
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besides, throw 2 force 6 flamethrower/fireballs at force 6, statistically, you should get the secondary effect. With a fetish (which every mage should have) you make make it easier on you, as well as with centering, or foci. It's really not that hard, and an easy way to take away your opponents ability to fight, especially on mundanes.
Toxic wave= degrade equipment
fireball= destroy ammo
lightning= effect cyber

and like you said, easier to tag an initiate with shielding than it would be with... say.. a manaball
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hahnsoo
post Apr 16 2005, 07:01 AM
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QUOTE (kackling kactuar @ Apr 16 2005, 01:57 AM)
The drawback of using a sustaining focus to sustain Enhanced Aim is that you can't use it to sustain another spell.

Just get multiple sustaining foci? :-P That's not much of a drawback, IMHO. If you are going to use Enhanced Aim, then you need some way to prevent the +2 sustaining penalty. This can be done through:
1) Sustaining Foci
2) Anchoring Foci
3) Elementals
4) Quickening
5) Ritual Magic

All of those options have their own disadvantages, to be sure. For the Sustaining Focus, you have to bond it and specifically use it for Enhanced Aim, but this is similar to Quickening. Anchoring Foci, of course, can be used for pretty much anything up to their rating, but the Anchoring rules in SR3 are rather gimped. Ritual Magic is a fantastic way to go, but can only sustain for limited time (not much more than 2 or 3 days). Elementals are expensive, and not cost effective, but great in a pinch.
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fistandantilus4....
post Apr 16 2005, 07:02 AM
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QUOTE (kackling kactuar @ Apr 16 2005, 01:57 AM)
The drawback of using a sustaining focus to sustain Enhanced Aim is that you can't use it to sustain another spell.

elementals, more sustaining foci (pretty easy to stay under foci addiction range), or just sustain the spell (which focused concentration edge helps with).

Edit: Ergh, foiled again Hahnsoo!

This post has been edited by fistandantilus3.0: Apr 16 2005, 07:03 AM
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kackling kactuar
post Apr 16 2005, 07:23 AM
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QUOTE
besides, throw 2 force 6 flamethrower/fireballs at force 6, statistically, you should get the secondary effect. With a fetish (which every mage should have) you make make it easier on you, as well as with centering, or foci. It's really not that hard, and an easy way to take away your opponents ability to fight, especially on mundanes.

Even with a fetish, you'll have to suck 7D drain for a force 6 fireball at Deadly damage. That can seriously mess you up.

Regardless of what you use to sustain the spell, you're giving up the option of using that thing to sustain another spell. So it's pretty much a moot point.

You'll have to take note that I'm not saying that elemental manipulations are useless. Far from it. It's just that I prefer combat spells, since they're a lot less dangerous to yourself and equally useful under most circumstances.
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fistandantilus4....
post Apr 16 2005, 07:28 AM
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throw it at light. target #2, or even 3 or 4, is pretty easy to stage up. The elem effect isn't effected by the dmg lv, just the force
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hahnsoo
post Apr 16 2005, 07:31 AM
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QUOTE (kackling kactuar)
Regardless of what you use to sustain the spell, you're giving up the option of using that thing to sustain another spell. So it's pretty much a moot point.

If it's a predetermined choice to use such methods to sustain any particular spell, what exactly are you giving up? I guess I could have used my 400-600• in ritual materials to cast Combat Sense instead (for a more tangible benefit that doesn't affect Elemental Manipulation), but if I have the Enhanced Aim spell, and I'm using it specifically for the purpose of reducing ranged target numbers, then I don't think there's any sacrifice to choose to use something in the way you wanted to use it in the first place. The only waste would be if you picked a spell or spell-sustaining method that you never intended to use at all. I think it is a moot point, but not for the reason you stated.

From a resource standpoint, sure, you'll be spending money/Karma that you could never get back. But in at least one case, this cost is fairly negligable (ritual sorcery for detection magic costs 100• per point of force, and you can gather most of that less than 10 days).
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hahnsoo
post Apr 16 2005, 07:33 AM
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QUOTE (fistandantilus3.0 @ Apr 16 2005, 02:28 AM)
throw it at light. target #2, or even 3 or 4, is pretty easy to stage up. The elem effect isn't effected by the dmg lv, just the force

Really?
MitS p51:
QUOTE
If, after applying the primary damage of the spell, anyone is left standing and in some way vulnerable to the secondary effects, roll 2D6 to determine the effect for any non-living targets. If the spell had a Deadly Damage Level, the result must be greater than or equal to the targetís Object Resistance Rating (p. 182, SR3). If the spellís Damage Level was Serious, add +2 to the Object Resistance. If the spell causes Moderate damage, add +4 to the Object Resistance. An elemental spell with a Damage Level of Light does not cause secondary effects.


EDIT: From SR3, p196
QUOTE
If, after applying the primary damage of the spell, anyone is left standing and in some way vulnerable to the secondary effects, roll 2D6 to determine the effect for any non-living targets. The result must be greater than or equal to the targetís Object Resistance Rating (p. 182). Add +2 to the Object Resistance if the spell has a base damage of Serious, and +4 if its base damage is Moderate. An elemental spell with a Damage Level of Light does not cause secondary effects. When dealing with secondary effects, the gamemaster will have to be selective and make some judgment calls.


It appears that it is based on the base damage level.
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fistandantilus4....
post Apr 16 2005, 07:42 AM
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I stand corrected.

There you go with that book again! ;)

Edit:So to clarify, since MiTS supercedes SR3 core, it wouldn't be the BASE damage inflicted, but the net/staged up damage level that would apply for the elemental effect. So you could still stage it up from light, correct?

This post has been edited by fistandantilus3.0: Apr 16 2005, 07:46 AM
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hahnsoo
post Apr 16 2005, 07:48 AM
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QUOTE (fistandantilus3.0)
Edit:So to clarify, since MiTS supercedes SR3 core, it wouldn't be the BASE damage inflicted, but the net/staged up damage level that would apply for the elemental effect. So you could still stage it up from light, correct?

I don't know. I believe that the SR designers intended it so that only the Base Damage level determined secondary effects, even after MitS, but I can see it going either way. This is one of those nebulous areas that probably should be among the "house rule" crowd.
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fistandantilus4....
post Apr 16 2005, 08:02 AM
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This sounds like a job for SHADOWFAQ MAN!
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Edward
post Apr 16 2005, 08:05 AM
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You may only have a Ĺ or 1/3 chance of getting the secondary effect but when you cast at a target with 5 grenades on his belt the chance of detonating at least one with a fire based spell is pretty good.

Especially when you start throwing around force 3 base deadly fireballs retaining a few dice from sorcery to soak the 2D+2 drain (I think).

Let us run n example. A starting spell caster with sorcery 6 spell pool 6 and will 6 (the best you can get) casts fireball at a group of enemies, selecting a base deadly damage and force 3 (or 4 with a fetish). He uses 4 sorcery dice to cast giving a high chance of a success at target 4, he allocates his 6 will 2 sorcery and 4 spell pool to drain resistance

The fireball almost certainly deals some damage to the targets. Each target is carrying one gun with a clip of bullets, a spare clip and 1 or 2 grenades they are probably all dead when there ammunition detonates.

Drain of 2(D+2) now must be resisted. With dice target 2 10 successes are probable drain is soaked to nothing.

Not a bad trick as far s I can tell.

Edward
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hahnsoo
post Apr 16 2005, 08:30 AM
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QUOTE (Edward)
Drain of 2(D+2) now must be resisted. With dice target 2 10 successes are probable drain is soaked to nothing.

The drain would be a total of 5D damage (3 divided by 2, round down, equals 1, with a +4 due to being two levels above D damage). Not bad, but still not trivial.

The average target for secondary effects for a base S damage Fireball and Explosive Ammunition or Grenades would be a total of 7 on a 2d6 roll (6 base OR, -1 for being prone to exploding, and +2 for being a base S spell), better than 50% odds. This may vary depending on what your GM considers to be an appropriate OR for grenades/ammunition, but they are less complicated than production-line guns (OR of 7 in SOTA:2064), so I think 6 is a reasonable estimate. The drain for said Fireball (at Force 3) would be 3D, not bad at all.
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