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> Newbie Question about Spell Force Levels, How high of a force do I need?
S7Michelle
post Jun 3 2005, 04:07 AM
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I'm currently working on my first hermetic mage (a detective archtype for a Charlie's Angels type game) and am having a little bit of trouble determining what would be the best force levels for her spells. I know that all spells of force 3 and above are considered illegal without a permit. And Iíve gotten the impression from reading the forum that spells of 3 or less tend to be "worthless."

Am I better off taking fewer spells and having them all at levels 5 and 6? Are levels 3 and 4 sufficient for most things? Is there any point at all to taking a spell at levels 1 and 2?

Also what spells would you recommend getting? Any must haves? (Assume a fairly high level game and sufficient resources to have 50 spell points and probably a foci or two. Provided I need a foci...)
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Herald of Verjig...
post Jun 3 2005, 04:33 AM
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It really depends on the spell. Things that are resisted are of very low worth at low force, and some beneficial spells are inconsequential except at high force.

If you expect a little combat, stunbolt is the cheapest and easiest way to disable most opponents, but can sometimes be ineffective if below force 6. If you expect rampant combat, force 6 stunball and a lightning elemental manipulation for the drones.

As to support:
Detection spells: oddly, they are resisted so you need high force for any reliability
Illusions: resisted, so you want either high force or a dozen successes on the casting
Health: most effects are limited by successes, but about 6 spells in the category have minimal benefit to take above force 1.
Control Manipulations: all resisted, high force or no success
Telekinetic Manipulations: usually force limited effects, not always a troublesome limit
Transformation Manipulations: force limited effects

When any mage of mine takes resisted spells, I almost always get them at high enough force so that their TN to resist will be at least as high as mine to cast when nothing is going wrong.
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Angelone
post Jun 3 2005, 04:39 AM
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Higher force(6+) is only really handy on combat type spells, as the higher the force the harder it is to resist. Other spells can kinda lag because higher force= more drain.

As for must haves, I basically always get Heal, Physical Mask, Imp. Invis., and Increase Reflexes 3.
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fistandantilus4....
post Jun 3 2005, 05:08 AM
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QUOTE
I know that all spells of force 3 and above are considered illegal without a permit.


So? It's not like a street sam where they can find his titanuium bone lacing. Besides, if you cast a spell at someone , it's considered pre-meditated. So it doesn't matter what the the force is. As fas as spells that are resisted (pretty much in any way) go for as high a force as possible. You're only going to be able to get so high anyways, because the target # to learn a spell is force x2.

I usually suggest going for force 7-8. Still not too hard to resist drain (unless it's an elemental spell), target # is doable (though hard), and it's high enough to make resisting pretty tough.
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hyzmarca
post Jun 3 2005, 05:19 AM
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QUOTE (Angelone)
Higher force(6+) is only really handy on combat type spells, as the higher the force the harder it is to resist. Other spells can kinda lag because higher force= more drain.

As for must haves, I basically always get Heal, Physical Mask, Imp. Invis., and Increase Reflexes 3.

If drain is a problem a magician can always cast spells at a lower force than they were learned at. On the other had, a magician can never cast a spell a a higher force than it was learned at.
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Cain
post Jun 3 2005, 05:35 AM
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QUOTE
I usually suggest going for force 7-8. Still not too hard to resist drain (unless it's an elemental spell), target # is doable (though hard), and it's high enough to make resisting pretty tough.

Except you can't, at chargen. Nothing with a rating above 6, remember?

As far as the main question goes, it all depends on your style of play and what you want out of your character. You might be best off taking a bundle of midlevel spells. Still, you can't go wrong with taking only a few high-force spells.

One way to give yourself some more versatility is to take a few Force 2 Exclusive spells. If you take Exclusive for cost, you don't need to spend any spell points on it. I wouldn't go too hog-wild with these spells, since too many will give your GM an aneurism. But two or three, particularily detection spells, isn't a bad idea and might work well. As a detective type, detection spells will be your main forte. (You may even want to consider becoming an Air elementalist, which will grant you +2 dice to Detection spells, at the cost of -1 die to Manipulation spells. It's generally a good move if you want to specialize.)

If you're in a very high-powered game, the most common min/max move is to take Increase Reflexes +3 at Force 1, fetish for cost (so it costs nothing) and to slap it into a force 1 sustaining focus. That raises your initiative to the level of midrange sammies.

Does that help?
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weblife
post Jun 3 2005, 07:00 AM
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QUOTE
One way to give yourself some more versatility is to take a few Force 2 Exclusive spells. If you take Exclusive for cost, you don't need to spend any spell points on it.


You can do that? :)

No rule of "atleast 1 point cost"?

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fistandantilus4....
post Jun 3 2005, 07:07 AM
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QUOTE
Except you can't, at chargen. Nothing with a rating above 6, remember?


Sorry, didn't notice the char gen part.
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Cain
post Jun 3 2005, 08:15 AM
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QUOTE
You can do that? :)

Yup.
QUOTE
No rule of "atleast 1 point cost"?

Nope. Mind you, some GMs may houserule it; but if you don't abuse the rule, there shouldn't be a problem. Having Healthy Glow 2 as a freebie isn't really an issue.
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Shockwave_IIc
post Jun 3 2005, 08:41 AM
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I've allowed Exculsive F2 Spells for free, they can have as many as their Starting Sorcery Skill.
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Wireknight
post Jun 3 2005, 08:49 AM
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I'd go for Levitate, Improved Invisibility, and Treat at decently high Force ratings, then spend the rest on useful detection spells at Force 3. The various Analyze(Something) spells tend to be handier and more universally applicable than the Detect(Something) spells, though either would fit a detective-ability-focused magician. Also, if it's your first time playing and you want to ease into magical characters, you may want to play an aspected magician(hermetic sorceror) rather than a full magician.
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Ol' Scratch
post Jun 3 2005, 09:21 AM
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QUOTE (S7Michelle @ Jun 2 2005, 10:07 PM)
Also what spells would you recommend getting?  Any must haves?  (Assume a fairly high level game and sufficient resources to have 50 spell points and probably a foci or two.  Provided I need a foci...)

If this is your first time as a magician and you really don't have any stylistic focus for your magic, I'd probably recommend a set up like this. Note also that I'm a huge fan of spell fetishes. Not only do they add a ton of color to your character, but they are cheap and make spellcasting easier on you if you take them to reduce drain.

* Stunbolt 6 (Fetish for Drain) [6 Spell Points]

This will be your primary attack spell against living targets and spirits. Its already low drain lowered further by the fetish limitation (which effectively makes it a Force 5 spell for purposes of determining the Drain Code) means you can get away casting it at Moderate or even Serious damage without ill effect.

* Lightning Bolt 6 (Fetish for Drain) [6 Spell Points]

This is a nice spell to use against non-living targets, and drones and vehciles in particular. It's also really flashy and, while the Drain Code is pretty hefty, it's still a nice one to have. It's actually an optional spell that you can easily drop if you're strapped on spell points, but I'd still recommend having it if you're new to being a magician just so you can experience it. And who knows, you might actually have more fun with it than Stunbolt. :)

* Fireball, Stunball, or Powerball 6 (Fetish for Drain) [6 Spell Points]

This is your all-purpose "oh frag me raw" get-out-of-jail free area effect attack spell. When you simply *have* to take out a large number of targets, you'll be happy you have this spell. As for which one to pick, it's really up to you to decide. Fireball is great fun because its flashy and can cook off ammunition, set off explosives, and that sort of thing which just increases the damage the spell does AND it can affect targets in its area that you can't necessarily see... but the drain is a true bitch. Stunball is really easy to cast because it has a low Drain Code, but it will only affect living targets and spirits. Powerbolt is sort of in the middle of the two; it affects all targets in its area (as long as you can see them) and the Drain Code is right in the middle of the two. Look all three spells over and make a decision based upon which one you think you'll use the most often, and go with that one.

I'd probably go with Stunball myself simply because I tend to gravitate towards non-lethal attacks, and the low Drain Code is something I always strive for with a magician. But its really up to you and what you want to accomplish and/or be ready for.

* Heal or Treat 6 (Exclusive for Cost, Fetish for Drain) [4 Spell Points]

Take one or the other, but not both as that would be a waste for a new magician. Treat has an advantage in that it has a lower Drain Code which is always good, but it can only affects wounds that occurred recently -- and for a runner, that's really all you need anyway. But if you expect to heal people who've been injured for some time, Heal is your better pick. I went with Force 6 because that will allow you to heal up to Serious wounds, which should be more than sufficient most of the time. Regardless of which one you pick, it's definitely a "must have" for any runner.

* Increase Reflexes +3D6 1 (Fetish for Cost) [0 Spell Points]

Another must-have for runner mages. You'll definitely want to invest 15,000 nuyen and 1 Spell Point/Karma into getting a Sustaining Focus for this one, and you can pretty much always keep it going while you're on a run. The only time you'll have to shut it down is when you try to go through an astral ward or something along those lines, but you can just recast it once you're on the other side.

* Armor 6 (Fetish for Drain) [6 Spell Points]

This is another must-have for any mage running the shadows. It basically improves your Armor Rating by 6/6, and you need only get one success to get the entire bonus. It has a nasty side effect of making you glow blue, thus making you a primary target by your enemies.. but if the drek has already hit the fan, you don't have anything to lose by more than doubling your armor rating. If you can afford it, get a Sustaining Focus for it, too... no sense in suffering the +2 sustaining target modifier if you don't need to.

* Improved Invisibility 4 (Fetish for Drain) [4 Spell Points]

You might see a lot of people recommend a higher or lower level Force for this spell, but I like it at Force 4. Some people prefer to go with a lower Force because they feel confidant that they'll be able to roll more dice and score more successes with their Sorcery + Spell Pool + Totem + Foci dice than the target will with their Intelligence dice. But I don't trust in probabilities very much and prefer to even the playing field by going with Force 4; that gives both you and your enemies the same target number. But if you're strapped for spell points, this is one of those spells you can get away with at a lower Force if you need to.

* Levitate 3 (Fetish for Karma Cost) [2 Spell Points]

Not only is this spell a lot of fun, but it can be used as an attack if you're desperate, lets you fly, and manipulate objects you couldn't normally reach at any given time. Other people tend to prefer Magic Fingers, but I like Levitate out of the two. I choose it at Force 3 becuase that gives it an effective "strength" equal to a normal human which should be more than enough to manipulate most objects, and your flying speed will be pretty nice if and when you need to move fast.

* Shapechange 2 (Fetish for Cost) [1 Spell Point]

This is probably my most favorite spell in the game, and it can be very useful if you're clever. It's great for reconnaissance jobs, for sneaking around, and for escaping enemies amonst many other uses. You might want to ask your GM if you can increase the Drain Code by +1 Level and let it include your clothing and whatnot into the new form, as having to get naked (while tantalizing for the other characters) is something of an inconvenience most of the time... especially since you'll be naked at your destination. :) If the GM doesn't let you do that, it's still a nice spell to have just in case, though its usability dwindles a touch because of that.

* Healthy Glow 2 (Exclusive for Cost) [0 Spell Points]
* Fashion 3 (Exclusive for Cost) [1 Spell Point]
* Makeover 2 (Exclusive for Cost) [0 Spell Points]
* Trid Entertainment 1 (Fetish for Cost) [0 Spell Points]

I almost always take these four spells simply because I'm a vain kind of guy and like my characters to look good. :D In a pinch, Makeover can be used to create makeshift disguises and Fashion 3 is also sufficient enough in its Force rating to affect up to an Armored Jacket if you score enough successes (which is useful for creating uniforms to compliment those disguises). Even if you never find a reason to use them on a run, they're still nice to have for character purposes. I can't imagine any magician in the Sixth World who wouldn't have these in their repoitoire if given the chance.

Trid Entertainment is a lot of fun because it basically lets you create "holograms" to demonstrate your points, or explain things to others... or just to have a lot of fun with. Since its a voluntary target spell, its Force means jack-all, and the Drain Code is completely negligible. It doesn't cost anything, is fun, and can be used as a tool to help you describe your actions -- win, win. :D And heck, you can even use it tactically by lighting up an area so that its bright and clear, thus eliminating visibility modifiers for you and your voluntary target allies while your enemies are stuck in the dark.

* Physical Barrier 6 (Fetish for Drain) [6 Spell Points]

Not as much a requirement as Armor is, but Physical Barrier can come in handy quite often for protecting the entire team, creating obstacles for enemies, or any other number of things if you're clever. If you're strapped for spell points, though, its one you can easily drop.

Okay, that's a total of 42 Spell Points (49 if you get the two recommended Sustaining Foci) spent, and it gives you a nice array of spells to choose from that'll be useful on most runs. I wouldn't worry too much about getting anything more than a Sustaining Focus or two as a new magician, though. While Power Foci and Spell Category Foci might look tempting, they're just not worth the cost compared to having a nice retinue of spells to choose from.

You'll definitely want to look through all your spell choices and make decisions based upon spells you think will be useful, too. Afterall, if you can think up some fun tactics to use with, I don't know, an Animate spell as opposed to being strapped for ideas with how to use, say, Levitate then by all means take Animate instead! This list is just a general guideline and recommendation, even the "must haves" I listed really aren't "must haves." :)

Hope that helps.
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S7Michelle
post Jun 3 2005, 09:28 AM
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Thank you for all of the advice so far. Currently Iím leaning towards:

A couple of combat spells at level 5 or 6. Most likely Stunbolt and either Powerbolt (since it can effect objects) or Stunball (take out multiple foes at once).

Heal at level 6 (for obvious reasons)

Physical Mask at 5 or 6 (Seems very appropriate for one of the Angels. Iím considering getting it on a sustaining focus)
Fashion at a moderate level (Probably not as useful but fits the concept and works well with Masking)

Makeover at a moderate level (Again not super useful, but can you see an Angel passing it up. It might be a good one to take as exclusive.)

Then finally probably three detect spells at a fairly high level. So far Iím thinking about Analyze Truth, Detect Individual (for those times when we are looking for someone in particular), and Detect Magic

If I was a good friend, Iíd take a low level Detox spell to help one of the other players with the frequent hangovers I see her character getting. Though not sure if its worth the points right now.

Other options include the increased reflexes spell, magic fingers and possibly the preserve spell.

From what I understand, you can use ritual sorcery and a preserved organic sample to track down or cast a spell at a person from a distance. Though it seems to require a large group to do so. Can a single mage use ritual sorcery or does it have to be a group?

:) Though after realizing that there have been a lot more replies to my thread than there were the last time I looked. The list may be about to be revised yet again.
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fistandantilus4....
post Jun 3 2005, 09:48 AM
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I'd throw in a sterilize spell and a low force magic fingers if you can.
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frostPDP
post Jun 3 2005, 10:05 AM
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My first mage character seemed...Uber-cool. He had about 10 spells, maybe 14.

None of them except armor were any good. I needed about 20 successes and a well-stocked bar to start a real fire with a fireball. I couldn't do much with a powerball except bruise someone. I didn't have a low-force levitate which would allow me to actually, yanno, not fall to my doom.

I understand your confusion at SR's system of ranks. I assure you, you will do fine considering you have the brains to find and ask us. So here is a personal loadout of choice.

I'm a stickler for Armor. 5-6 easy. I like having Improved Reflexes 3 with a force 1 sustaining focus - I believe this is game-legit, if munchkinizing. The same trick can be done with force 1 levitation. Just ALWAYS beware of someone breaking foci... (One gaming session my GM had saw someone use a force 1 levitation focus to hover to the top floor of a building. Too bad the Astral mage caught her around floor 34. At least she had time to repent for her sins...)

I'm a manabolt type (4-6). Powerbolt gets resisted by body, which most big trolls that would frag you otherwise will have. Willpower? Not so much. I like fire, too. Dunno why - Probably because a low-force (3-5) fireball into a gasoline station/sewer can be pretty funny - Plus its area-effect and high force/success casts can lead to people catching fire. (Again, when I was new I nearly performed the latter technique of sewer-torches when the team went to go underground into a building and realized we forgot flashlights. The 100 nuyen surcharge for our NPC getaway driver to bring us one was worth it.)

Of course, I'm also no stealth-mage. I may carry improved invis 6, but that's it stealth-wise. Spiritbolt (3-5) can come in handy against spirits, Wreck is amusing (it at least gives a chance to do damage to vehicles...) and Heal at moderate (3-5) is fun.

Good tricks are always fun with Control Thoughts at a high force level. One person when I was GMming saw a substantial fortification - A pillbox with two men in and two men outside. He mindcontrolled the one to pull his fragmentation grenade, ready it and walk inside. The guy released the spell so the victim had just enough time to go "What the?!"

Its all up to what your characters skills/role in the group is. Stealth mages like invis, controls, and stuns, concentrating some sniper rifles if they can. Combat mages resort to their gel rounds/bigger party members for stunning (troll combat mages use fists...) and use devastating attacks, dropping some skill into a pistol or SMG if it makes sense. Support mages will have buff and healing spells, probably a good combat spell (maybe two) and will likely know Biotech and some sort of electronics/useful-in-a-pinch skill.

I hope I've helped. [addition] - At the measely karma cost of one point per force point, having a hermetic spell library is useful because you can get spells you don't already have easy enough. (At least, this is the way my groups play. I could have some wrong stuff on this one, maybe not.) So if you can't start with every last force point you want, either go with weaker spells or less of them, whichever will hurt you least. Then build it up quickly, if you can. Its -all- circumstance. 8)
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Eyeless Blond
post Jun 3 2005, 01:39 PM
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QUOTE (frostPDP)
[addition] - At the measely karma cost of one point per force point, having a hermetic spell library is useful because you can get spells you don't already have easy enough. (At least, this is the way my groups play. I could have some wrong stuff on this one, maybe not.)

You are most definately wrong here. Hermetic libraries by the RAW (rules as written) cost no karma, but cost a buttload of cash--rating squared times 1,000 Y--and don't actually get you any spell formulae or anything like that. In fact hermetic libraries are actually required for hermetics to learn spells in the first place, but you still also need the spell formula to learn a particular spell.
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Aku
post Jun 3 2005, 01:42 PM
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i thought you could also "research" spells with the libraries?
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Edward
post Jun 3 2005, 02:20 PM
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Advice on combat spells has been well provided. I would say take attack spells that go against more than one attribute, my clastic is stun bolt and power bolt, power bolt at force 6 will take out vehicles with moderate armour.

Some other spells that may be useful.

Levitate, great for unusual entry points and can save your ass in a pinch, just remember to cast it before you jump out of the aeroplane, the penalties for casting during freefall are not pretty (or specified in the books)

The fashion package (makeover, fsion, healthy glow, phis/mask) you already know about

Mind link can be useful but its short range

A low force entertainment spell (not physical) is good for long range visual communication, your opponents will resist it and technological sensors cant see it.

The catalogue spell may sound boring but not nearly as boring as counting everything in a room, very useful on occasion take at force 2 exclusive cost.

As to libraries, how good is your teems Decker, universities maintain hermetic libraries on electronic media (as well as others) and usually canít afford better than orange average hosts, if your decker is good enough he can get you a copy.

Edward
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Bigity
post Jun 3 2005, 02:28 PM
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For legal spells maybe. Force 3 and below, and non-combat.
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Edward
post Jun 3 2005, 10:06 PM
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Are you referring to the library idea.

As far as I can determine any library would be legal, and can be used to research spells with force up to rating, I would expect a university to have some of eth best libraries available thus being high rating and usable (theoretically) to create illegal spells, universities today have lots of things that are controlled or can be used to make controlled items, they always have and always will, it is necessary for research.

And the tradition of stealing resources or information from a university for illegal activities is hardly new ether.

Edward
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frostPDP
post Jun 3 2005, 10:10 PM
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Eyeless, I'd trust that you're right over me. However, please recall that I included this little phrase: "(At least, this is the way my groups play. I could have some wrong stuff on this one, maybe not.)" Different groups have different house rules, and it seems to me that this is a case where my group just differs from the norm. Still, in Karma cost its miniscule. Its Initiation you have to worry about :)
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Gilthanis
post Jun 3 2005, 10:30 PM
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We always house ruled the minimum karma cost of one point. Otherwise there wasn't any reason for a mage not to know all spells at the rating of 1 because of that. Not to mention spells acquired through astral quests once the mage initiates.
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S7Michelle
post Jun 4 2005, 07:09 AM
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Once again, thank you all for your help and advice. I think Iíve pretty much decided on my starting spells (and have a lot of ideas in mind for things to pick up as the game progresses. Looking at the costs of things, it seems like itís a lot less expensive getting spells once the game is in progress.)

I ended up selecting the following:

Stunbolt 6
Stunball 6
Lightening Bolt 6
Increase Reflexes 3 1 (on a sustaining foci)
Heal [E] 6 (costs 4 points)
Physical Mask 6 (planning to get a sustaining foci in game)
Levitate 3
Fashion 3
Healthy Glow [E] 3 (costs 1 point)
Makeover 3
Trid Entertainment 1
Analyze Truth 5

That leaves me with four points that Iím currently torn about. Iíll probably either go with armor, improved invisibility (hesitant to do so since I donít want our ninja to feel like Iím stealing her spotlight), or another detection spell.

Iím also strongly considering going ahead and taking one essence point worth of cyberware. Having a datajack, knowsoft link, headware memory, and some useful knowledge skill chips could come in very handy for playing many different roles. Depending on essence costs, I might include a retinal mod camera and a recorder as well. Quick way to get the needed evidence with less risk of them finding the camera, etc.

Ah and to answer the question. The group doesn't have a decker at the moment and if we get one it will probably be an NPC. So far the group will definately be two people: my mage and the physical adept (with each of us alternating on GMing duties). Depending on whether or not he gets a job, the game may also have a rigger. And once she mugs some gamer for his book ;) , a fourth person may be joining as well. Not sure what she will play yet though.
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JaronK
post Jun 4 2005, 09:45 AM
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In my group, we let you have as many cantrips as you have points of magic rating, so most mages can start with 6 (Cantrips being force 1 fetished or force 2 exclusive, so no karma cost). Anyway...

Spells that work great at low force:

Healthy Glow (more force does nothing here anyway)
Nutrition (even force 1 will last ages)
Fast (same as nutrition, these two go together well)
Improved Invisibility (sure, it's resisted, but if you throw 12 dice at casting this, which most mages can do, you average 6 successes. Even one net success and this works, so unless they're Int 6, they can't hope to stop this one... and you can always recast it. Feel free to get this btw... it's very useful and you can always cast it on the ninja)
Improved Reflexes +3 (unless your group house rules otherwise, there's no need for this to go above force 1)
Levitate (sure, it's slow at low force, but quite effective at getting funny places... you'll need higher force if you want to run away with this one)
Fashion/Makeover (just don't need much for these to work)
Extended Mindlink (extended raises the drain code by one, but at force two this has a range of 120 meters if you've got a magic rating of 6. That's plenty for most purposes)

Anyway, that's a few thoughts. 1 point of essence in 'ware is pretty useful, btw, and if you Gaeas the loss there's no problems. I'd get a smartlink, datajack, knowsoft link, and enough memory to store one Rating 6 skill (or possibly even a replacement forarm with a 1000mp OMC in it). It's even possible to fit in some reflex boosts into a single essence point, which is worth thinking about.

JaronK
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Edward
post Jun 4 2005, 11:59 AM
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If you do take the cyber ware you may want to make the force 6 spells fetish limited to reduce drain, this will prevent you taking physical drain and will reduce the TN to soak the drain buy 1. that said its probably worth ensuring that 1 attack spell can be used if you loos your fetishes, stun bolt would be my choice to keep assessable.

The retinal camera is possible but it would cost les essence to replace your eyes entirely, depending on your natural vision. Look into this possibility and consider what your character would do, remember essence costs are quantifiable to your character.

Some biowear is of great value to a mage, the mnemonic enhancer is a fine pese of equipment in any characters head and a trauma dampener is of special value to a spell caster as you now only need to reduce drain to light to suffer no ill effects, look up these implants and talk to your GM. You will also need to consult the errata on biowear and the awakened.

I would have chosen differently witch spells to take exclusive for cost.

You canít cast an exclusive spell while sustaining another spell, heal you may well want to cast in a dangerous situation where you want to maintain a spell for reasons of disguise or protection at the same time. thus I advise against taking heal as an exclusive spell.

Faison and makeover are usually cast in more relaxed circumstances, the duck around the corner and change appearance trick is better served with physical mask and because of the required sustaining time a mage will still pick your active magic if you use fashion for that stunt.

And I still say that a catalogue spell could be useful, it to will not likely be needed in a situation where you must have other spells sustained so it can be taken exclusive to reduce cost.

Edward
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