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Samaels Ghost
not all mages have acess to all spells- but its not all the fancy spells that make a mage deadly.

There's been a lot of off-handed comments about how magic characters are the only viable character builds because of how "uber" they are. The Anti-magic thread was supposed to be encouragement for people to build Sammies. The thread does provide plenty of useful tips, hopefully giving people good ideas for playing their Sammy.

But the conversation there always seems to degrade into "Mages are uber! That's no fair! They can do everything better than a Sammy, what chance do they have?" So in an effort to put magic builds in perspective I want to compile a list of reasons why the mages isn't as uber as you think he is. He has limitations, and so does the Adept. People tend to ignore these limitations or cite 400 Karma Initiates as examples of the unbalance between the builds.

The first and one of the most important limitations is the limit of one's spells known. Not every mage knows every spell, like the quote above points out. Improved Invisibility, Improved Reflexes, Detect Enemies, Combat Senses,
Manabolt, Stunbolt, Control Thoughts, Heal, Inc Attributes, Armor, Astral Armor, Levitate, Physical Barrier, Mana Barrier. If you had all those SURE you'd be prepared for almost anything. That doesn't mean you're not going to have to buy all those spells. That's around 50ish Karma. The mages you go up against aren't going to be prepared for every situation.

Sustaining modifiers are a severe limitation. Sustaining hits you with culumulative modifiers making it very unlikely that later buffs or combat spells will reach their full potential. You just won't be able to hit al the way up to Force or even enough to get past modest spell resistance. Many of the "uber" spells above are buffs. Sustaining multiple ones on yourself or others just isn't going to work unless you have many different sustaining foci, which costs even more Karma. Assuming the uber mages out there have their best spells sustained with max hits all the time is absurd and definite grounds for addiction. They just can't do that without foci. An Adept's powers don't slap you with mods, but they do force you into very specialized roles if you don't spread out your Power Points. Spreading them out isn't always the greatest idea, and some times just not worth what you're paying. Several levels of a certain power are neccesary for you to get your Karma's worth. Adepts are often counterd by the same means a Sammy can be, so they aren't really anything to worry about.

Everyone knows mages suck up Karma.

Sure, magic can replicate much of what an implant can accomplish and then some, but it very tough to pay for and maintain.

Whenever you catch yourself thinking "But what if the mage had this?! Johnny Samurai can't handle that particular angle! THat's no fair!" remember, you can't cover all the bases, even if you're a mage

Pitch in everyone! Rub the inadequacies of the Awakened in their collective faces. Remind them of their limitations and remind the mundane of their freedom from these silly limitations. Sustaining mods? I spit upon them!

NOTE: Don't turn this into Sammy vs. Mages. Keep it to "This is why mages aren't so all-powerful." Thank you for input in advance biggrin.gif

EDIT: Took out my comments that feel into the Sammy vs. Mages category. I want to keep myself on topic biggrin.gif
James McMurray
A Sammy with the right gear probably can be for far less Karma.

I'm not saying mages are horribly broken (they aren't) or sammies are worthless (they aren't) but I had to point out the flaw in this statement: mages and sammies can use the same gear.

Where a sammie shines is the ability to do multiple things, whereas magical characters tend to be hyper focused because of how expensive they are to build.
Samaels Ghost
Yeah, more nonsense on my part. I meant to focus on mage limitations, not sammy advantages.
This goes along with the whole karma sink disadvantage - mages typically have average to infereror physical stats because they have to spend so much BP/karma on the magic attribute, drain attribute, spells, and foci. This makes them easier to hit with bullets and easier to kill with bullets. Sure the armor spell or inc attribute can mitigate some of that damage, but only with a sustaining penalty or further karma sink.

It's also worth noting that the inc reflexes spell does not increase reaction like wired and SB. So while mages are getting those extra IPs and faster initiative, they can't dodge bullets like their cybered up cousins.
When a mage has buffed himself up, either sustaining the spells, or with foci, he is very vulnerable to an astral creature (spirit, projecting mage, etc...) dispelling the spells.

If the mage is protecting his buffs, he has less time to watch himself or his team in the mundane world.
James McMurray
Mages with active spells set off ward alarms and risk those spells being dispelled and foci deactivated. Since most places worth breaking into in a moderate power level campaign have a ward, this is a major problem for the mage that likes to run around buffed and act like a street sam.
Slithery D
Well, he's vulnerable to the three spirit types in SM that have Magical Guard. We still don't have any rules for attacking active foci/spells in SM, so I guess that's just not an option in SR4. Against most spirits the only problem with a sustained spell is that it makes it easier to spot you on astral patrol, but at that point all it can do (unless it's a Guardian/Guidance/Plant spirit) is materialize and attack or go warn its summoner.
When it comes to sustained spells, one should not consider all of the spells that a mage may have. One should only consider the spells that give the mage the greatest advantage.

Shadowrun, like all games, tends toward a Nash equilibrium as the players become more skilled. We can assume that a mage with a rational player of a certain skill level will always use the optimal strategy and we can assume that a enemy with a rational player of a certain skill level will always use the optimal strategy to counter the mage's optimal strategy.

First of all, if the mage knows his enemy's name then he will not bother with buffs. His optimal strategy will be to summon and bind as many high-force spirits as possible and then send them all on a remote service to kill the enemy. This round goes to the mage. Swarmed by half a dozen spirits the enemy does not stand a chance.

However, we can assume that the mage does not have the enemy's name. In this case, spirits are less than useful. Commanding a spirit takes a simple action and that spirit may not be able to act until the next combat turn. This essentially gives the enemy a free attack on the mage and two free attacks if the mage does not have a high firearms skill. For this reason, the mage will not command a spirit in combat unless he has full cover. Likewise, the optimal enemy will not initiate combat with the mage if the mage is near cover.

Increased Reflexes seems like the perfect buff due to the extra IPs. However, those extra IPs are only useful if your enemy is still standing after the first one. Since we can assume that the enemy has some sort of initiative enhancement this is a bad this for the mage. However, it is even worse for the mage if the enemy gets free actions and the extra initiative dice are more useful than the extra IPs. Therefore, the mage should always have Increased Reflexes in a sustaining or anchoring focus.
In order to increase his initiate dice the optimum mage will also have the maximum possible intuition score and he will choose a tradition that resists drain with intuition for good measure. He will also sacrifice a point of magic in exchange for reaction enhancers at the maximum possible level. Increased Reaction is not viable due to the high threshold and force requirements. A force 7 sustaining focus is rather expensive.
He will also keep a point of edge in reserve so that he can spend it in order to take the first action. Of course, he expects the enemy to do the same.

The cost of this is that the mage has a relatively low body, strength, and agility. He won't be very useful with firearms, melee combat, or taking damage. The optimal mage is designed to kill fast and kill first.
His spell of choice will be manaball but he will also have manabolt for those times when his teammates are in the way. This is because the optimal tank character will have a pain editor. He will overcast the spell at the maximum possible force, either 8 or 10 in this case, probably 10 because it is optimal. His chances of glitching are low, all things being equal. He has 6 sorcery skill and a specialization in combat spells.

The enemy and the mage attempt to surprise each other, the attempt will fail. Neither will be near cover since both know how important cover will be. The mage has his spirits and the enemy has his timed hand grenades. Both are suicidal without cover but superior with cover. Therefore, it all comes down to an initiative roll. The optimized mage will be rolling 7+5+3. The optimized samurai or adept, will be rolling 8+5-1 due to the pain editor which he must have to protect him from stunbolts. Although, he can bluff and leave the pain editor off. The mage, oddly, has a advantage here due to the quirks of the Increased Reflexes spell.
Next we have the actual attack phase. The enemy, if he goes first, will be firing a mini-grenade launcher with impact primed grenades since it is most optimal. He will be rolling 4+8+2 dice and the mage will be rolling 7 dice to doge. The mage can't use full defense since the lost IP is suicide. The enemy will fire two shots. The first will put the mage into overflow and the second will reduce him to a bloody smear on the sidewalk.
If the mage goes first he will cast manabolt at the maximum force, one may assume 10. The enemy will be rolling about 4 dice to resist without counterspelling and he will fail. With counterspelling it is a toss up. The single attack may or may not put him into overflow depending on how many net successes the magician gets and how much body the enemy has. Assuming that the enemy is a troll with body enhancements and/or cyberlimbs, he may just survive to kill the magician with his grenades.

Of course, the mage could simply neglect his magic attribute, get decent agility and buy a grenade launcher of his own. If he does that, all that matters is the initiative score which he has an advantage with. Not even a troll can withstand two direct grenade hits.

Note that I'm not trying to make this into sammie vs. mage so much as I am trying to demonstrate the optimal mage setup. This is true with mages vs mages, as well. Increased Reflexes, Reaction Enhancers, and a MGL-12s together make for superior mages. Unfortunatly, neglecting one's magic attribute and skills makes the mage inferior on the astral plane. For that reason, this set-up is probably best with mystic adepts.
James McMurray
All very nice, except that those optimal setups and situations rarely happen. It's a nice thought experiment, but unlikely to see the tabletop more than once or twice in a career (if that often).
Samaels Ghost
Can anyone give an example of the catch-all mage that seems to be Boogey man around here? Where is this mage/adept that everyone has to have?
Slithery D
If it comes to fighting, the optimal general strategy is to do astral overwatch just like old deckers did matrix overwatch. Astrally project from a safe location, find the astral defenders, kill them (sustaining penalties for binding don't matter if you've got enough of them and they're doing all of your fighting for you), then bomb the sec force with spirits. Your team still need some spell help on the spot? Send them a spirit of man with the spell they need. Wards keeping you out? Well, your build is probably optimized for astral combat, and bashing through anything other than a reflecting ward isn't that hard and doesn't take that long (for reflecting wards, use Shattershield).

If you take your meatbod along you're vulnerable to mages and bullets. If you just go astrally, you're only vulnerable to mages. Of course, the opposition knows this, too, which is why ever since the original Lone Star sourcebook we've been told that a call of criminal magic use brings a couple of astral projecting cops with spirits in tow pretty quickly. Extraterritorial corps with serious assets in a city will do something similar with their own security forces, or hire someone like Knight Errant to provide it if the site is important enough.

So unless you're prepared to defeat the onsite security and whatever astral cops come in to establish "astral supremacy" and start bombing your team with attack spirits, the optimal strategy is actually to only attack targets of little importance that don't have access to the astral fuzz, don't use magic to attract their attention, or use it so well or so fast that they don't notice or are unconscious/dead before they can call in the cavalry.

Good luck with that.

Seriously, intelligently designed magical security and astral response will be able to stomp all over any one or two mage team unless they're much better than average (which they probably are over the poor saps who sign up with the Star, but it still means you should be doing a lot more astral combat than you probably are).

If I were running astral security, I'd have every ward set up by a team of at least 3 mages. When someone trips it, one of those guys is going to be awake and not on vacation, and under standing orders to call in the intrusion to a central HQ. The HQ calls the site to ask if they know of any reason the ward got tripped (visitor who forgot to drop his sustained spell, maybe). Without a positive response, they send in the response team of a pair of mages with whatever summoned spirits they've got that day. I'd certainly have my response guys practice finding our contracted sits as fast as possible, so the only reasonable delay would be for the phone calls to go from warding magicians to HQ to site. Call it a couple of minutes on average before they confirm/assume an intrusion and send in the cavalry.

Sounds insurmountable, doesn't it? Well, you can have your GM ignore this common sense stuff, as the vast majority no doubt do. Or you can not ever break a ward, as the majority of teams try to do. And, of course, you can try not to give any sec team you attack with magic time to make an SOS to the remote astral patrol, which may not be feasible. So who saves you from the astral response team? Why, the hacker of course. Intercept that phone call from the security firm/unit and tell them some idiot mage on site or visiting accidentally wandered across a ward with a sustained spell. False alarm, nothing to worry about here.

Other options include astral ambushes, hopefully at the optimum time just after dusk/dawn, so the patrol's spirits will be newly summoned and they'll stlll be suffering from drain. Or have a warded escape route - run into a warded room and then disappear through a hatch into the sewers or something while they're deciding whether to go through the ward and risk ambush by a mess of bound spirits lying in ambush.
James McMurray
Also Hyz, you did one thing wrong in your Mage vs. Sammie duel. The mage only needs one net success with Mind Control to say "Kill yourself" and have the sammie spend the next few rounds dropping grenades at his own feet. smile.gif

Combat spells are for chumps whose GM wised up and introduced some checks to the mind control magics. wink.gif
QUOTE (James McMurray)
Also Hyz, you did one thing wrong in your Mage vs. Sammie duel. The mage only needs one net success with Mind Control to say "Kill yourself" and have the sammie spend the next few rounds dropping grenades at his own feet. smile.gif

Combat spells are for chumps whose GM wised up and introduced some checks to the mind control magics. wink.gif

The optimal tank will be using a personafix BTL distributed by the same not-for-profit group that runs the suicide matrix hotline in an attempt to curb the number of self-inflicted deaths. This personafix would make it impossible for a character to have suicidal thoughts, thus rendering that tactic useless.

QUOTE (James McMurray)
Also Hyz, you did one thing wrong in your Mage vs. Sammie duel. The mage only needs one net success with Mind Control to say "Kill yourself" and have the sammie spend the next few rounds dropping grenades at his own feet. smile.gif

Combat spells are for chumps whose GM wised up and introduced some checks to the mind control magics. wink.gif

no, actually control thoughts is only any good if the mage has surprise on his side. because otherwise, it goes something like this:

round 1) mage controls the sammy's thoughts. sammy shoots mage in the face twice with his ares alpha, once being a frag grenade (probably dead on) and once with a 4 round burst of ex-ex rounds. the mage dies horribly.

round 2) mage attempts (posthumously) to order the sammy to kill himself. sadly, when he lost conciousness he was unable to sustain the spell, and therefore nothing happens. also, wherever his "spirit" is (for lack of a better term), it certainly is not on the physical plane, and therefore he cannot target the sammy with another spell. shammy laughs at the mage for standing there looking at him funny instead of trying to not die.

remember, it's an action to give an order wink.gif
Also, I could have sworn that I've seen it stated that obviously suicidal orders are immediately disregarded. However, I can't be arsed to look it up.
James McMurray
From the spell: "The caster seizes control of the targetís mind, directing everything the target does."

It doesn't say "controls everything the target does unless he has a BTL" and it especially doesn't say "controls everything the target does except that he can still do whatever he wants (including shoot you).

Edit: it doesn't say anything about suicidal orders being ignored, but that's a good start for a house rule.
QUOTE (Dissonance)
Also, I could have sworn that I've seen it stated that obviously suicidal orders are immediately disregarded. However, I can't be arsed to look it up.

I'm pretty sure you're thinking of DnD
QUOTE (James McMurray)
From the spell: "The caster seizes control of the targetís mind, directing everything the target does."

It doesn't say "controls everything the target does unless he has a BTL" and it especially doesn't say "controls everything the target does except that he can still do whatever he wants (including shoot you).

Edit: it doesn't say anything about suicidal orders being ignored, but that's a good start for a house rule.

Taking control of the character's mind shouldn't matter very much if the character's mind is not in control.
QUOTE (James McMurray)
It doesn't say "controls everything the target does unless he has a BTL" and it especially doesn't say "controls everything the target does except that he can still do whatever he wants (including shoot you).

hmmm... wait, i might be thinking of control actions... one of them you have actually give them an order, which of course is an action... and therefore until you can actually give them the order to do something, they would act normally.

that being said, i would personally give people better chances to resist mental manipulations for being on certain drugs and whatnot... on account of someone who's mind is seriously screwed up is going to be harder to make it work in the way you want it...

not huge bonuses mind you... more along the lines of maybe a 2 dice bonus...
James McMurray
That's already factored into the drugs, as some of them give bonus willpower.
Actually, I can't see Influence spell allowing a mage to tell a sammy to shoot himself in the head.

Influence makes the idea seems like your own. At the most, if a mage told a sammy to shoot himself in the head, I would have the sammy lose an IP, while he shakes his head, saying "What the **** was I thinking.... arg, damn mages"

I could see it have the sammy think his weapon is seriously jammed, and to change to his back-up if he has one, or withdraw to get another one.

Or, if the mage is sneaky, maybe implant the idea that the mage is an undercover operative, like they mentioned when the alarm went off. Sammy would concentrate on the others, allowing the mage to cast more spells.
Slithery D
Those are all suboptimal uses of Influence. Its ticking time bomb nature makes it much better for causing noncombat actions, like stealing something for you, leaving a door unlocked, or shutting down a security system. Or, my favorite, telling him to go to a restroom or other secluded spot where you and a buddy can restrain him, Mind Probe him, and then Alter Memory so he doesn't remember that you picked the password/sec system layout/whatever from his brain.

Combat spells are so passe.
Oh, I agree with Influence being much better out of combat and helping combat.

I was mostly disagreeing with someone saying that they use Influence to have the opposition shoot themselves in the head.

have the guard surf some porn, and hit him with Orgasm while he is. Completely distracted, allowing you wo waltz in. (Assuming you get enough hits on Orgasm)

Or have low charisma guard attempt to have intercourse with the high charisma guard, and sneak by while the fireworks are going on.

James McMurray
Nobody said to use Influence to have someone shoot themselves in the head.
Sorry James.
You are right, that exact phrase was not used, but the intent was the same. I believe that you were the one that used the phrase "kill yourself", though to be fair, the spell being talked about at that time was "Mind Control", which I took to be Influence.
James McMurray
The general idea is the same, but Mind Control completely controls their actions, not implanting suggestions. Influence may or may not be able to kill someone under the RAW, but Mind Control and Control Actions can both do it pretty easily. It's just one small bit in the overpoweredness of the Mental Manipulations.

Of course, if it's a group you're fighting, "Kill those guys" is almost always better than "kill yourself."
the worst nightmare u can come across IMO, is a combat monster that is not a mage but a mystic adept, who focuses on combat and summoning.

Taken the fact u allow the custom Positive Quality "Initiate" and give him the metamagic channeling plus a possession based tradition.
Give him improved reflexes 2 and 1 level of combat sense both geased and u have 2-3 magic points for summoning. plus mentor spirit bonuses, if any.

even with a level 3 or 4 spirit, this man is going to be a nightmare. all his physical stats will be boosted with the spirits force, he will be immune to normal weapons and has spirit powers.

he will most likely dodge most attacks, and if hit soak most of the damage.
James McMurray
Sounds like one of many reasons to follow the rules of "no initiating during charcter creation." One has to assume they playtested several different initiation through BP schemes and couldn't find one worth keeping.
Yeah, that's a horrifically broken special quality, combined with an optional rule (geasa on adept powers).

So yeah, unless you give Sams a "Break restriction limit" and boosts to their weapons, you won't see a balance there....
i agree, on the other hand, u dont need the channeling....

about the geas, well its optional, sure, but hey it might even work without it.

in general i dont like the discussion, shadowrun is a team based game, if u wanna be a solo hero, stick to computer games...

personally i consider mages to be more useful as support and recon.

if i was a mage and wanted to kill a sam, i'd summon a spirit take him to the sam on the astral and let him do the dirty work.

if i was a sam and wanted to kill mage, i'd use a sniper rifle and a well placed shot with EX-EX.

good tactics a more viable to survival then pure number crunching.
shadowrun is dangerous there is no 100% safe way of running the shadows.

plus, as a side note, "...overspecialize and u breed in weakness!"- Major Kusanagi Ghost-in-the-shell.
At least they brought back the 'use your force of personality to hurt spirits' in the SM. Gives Sammies some backup, even if it's biased to the mages anyways.

Alternatively, Something to consider is that old Chinese television saying "Magic must defeat MAGIC!" (2 karma to whoever quotes it first) wink.gif

Sad but true, this comes up at this point in time until you can supply the mundanes with a true blue method of spirit defense. Spells to temporarily infuse things like bullets or weapons with enough magic to bypass weapon immunity doesn't seem far fetched by spell creation standards - alternatively, make a magical compound from the alchemists that one can use to help fight spirits! (a handy little thing that costs little for the alchemist and thus could be a fairly common buy for the sammies).

I like that last idea, actually...
The next resource rush?

would it only affect materialized spirits/mages, or those still in astral as well? (a whole new meaning to blind fire)
Well if the spirit is on the astral, it's not hurting you unless it's sustaining something. nyahnyah.gif

So it's a physical plane sort of protection. If you want to cover other bases like cheap shots like that, make the compound lessen the characters connection to the astral plane (gonna be some nasty side effects though). The harder it is for the spirit to keep a connection on you, the more likely things will fail methinks...

theory anyways.
Samaels Ghost
Astral concealment that you can wear like gear or charms/enchantments that have a portable (negative) background count. Like Haven Lilies but portable. Nothing too powerful, but useless to mages.

If you want to make it rare or uncommon, make the compound made out MAGES! Think Witch Hunter Robin, the orbo they used that protected them from magic. Carring too much can screw with your brain and so can injecting it, though carring a little is okay (up to -3 mana ebb). Carring too much (above -3 count) can affect you the same way focus addiction does or even damage your aura/lifeforce (Essence Drain attacks against you). Injection would result in everything above plus the effect is personal (your support mage can still cast spells along side you) and it is treated like a drug that damages you after use some way.

Instead of using Background count, the Magic Resistance quality could be used instead, for a max of 4 levels. The only downside to that is it provides less protection against spirit manfestation melee attacks. This stuff would be illegal, of course and very hard to make. Although, giving it at higher levels with hefty penalties would probably be okay.

Should it be made using the Chemistry skill or the Enchanting skill? I think putting magical protection in the hands of the mundane could be very important, but that may make it too easy to obtain the stuff. Maybe a Life Gem has to be a compotent of the mixture? If the enchantment is magical in nature and you find it too powerful a bonus, you can just change the mechanics and blame it opn the cycle of mana ork.gif Problem solved.

I'm still working on specs for biofiber body armor, and how it would affect magic use. vegm.gif
well, dual natured stuff bypasses immunity to normal weapons doesn't it?

if so, then bullets which are actually containers of FAB II should do the trick.
I don't think it'd hurt that much, but it would definitely cause some difference. I'd either say that the force rating is subtracted from their adjusted armor for the purpose of judging what the range weapon has to deal with, or else you ignore the bullet and treat it like fighting a charged ward?

It has possibilities at least. smile.gif
well, to be fair it's probably at best the equivalent to a gel round unless you really load up the container to absolute maximum capacity, since it's going to compress a little...

and of course it may cause the bullet to pop.

now of course, if you're really crazy you could bust out a weapon that fires bullets full of FAB III

of course, the team mage probably won't be willing to stand anywhere near you. but hey, guarantee he'll be able to counterspell you, cause he probably won't let you out of his sight =D
nix what I said. I was being half silly for some reason. nyahnyah.gif it's nice stuff, but by itself it doesn't have immediate results. Still has potential to making a means though.
hmmm... just had another thought...

the idea still has some potential, just it's only against non-materialized spirits.

you see, a materialized spirit has immunity to normal weapons, which grants double it's magic in hardened armor.

a non-materialized spirit has no such benefit.

so, here's the plan:

1) get yourself an ares alpha.
2) get access to the armorer skill (through a friend works fine)
3) aquire some FAB, strains I and II.
4) aquire a gas grenade, and some hollow bullets.
5) fill the gas grenade with strain I. fill the bullets with strain II.

so what does this mean? if you can figure out the rough location of a spirit (within 10 meters), you can fire the grenade into that area, thus causing your target to be visible. then, with your other simple action, you can fire a 4-round burst at the spirit, and the spirit gets no benefit from it's super armor. (this works better if you have friends with more bullets and grenades of course... as soon as one person finds the spirit's location, the rest can just empty their guns into it).

and of course, this is an interesting way to make astral scouting a little more scary for mages too.... =D
Samaels Ghost
Wouldn't the Strain and the spirit contest for the space like when forced into a ward? I would think that'd be how it would work. They would oppose each others' Forces. That would have to be high Force strain to knock around a spirit of decent power.
why would the force of the FAB matter?

lead isn't exactly an indestructible substance, but it works just fine in bullets. a slightly malleable bullet should still work also. if it was really malleable, i suppose it might count as a gel round for the purpose of affecting spitits, but that sounds pretty appealing to me anyways =P

of course, i suppose you could make a case for sufficiently high force FAB to count as "APDS" if it was properly shaped (i understand material is one of the things that makes armor piercing rounds armor piercing, though i am sure there's other stuff like shape of bullet and probably other stuff involved.... not too worried about specifics really).

but why would you need armor piercing abilities? the whole point is that you're shooting a spirit when it has no armor...
A spirits body is also essentially one big blob of magic - there is (in theory) no gaps whatsoeverinside that APDS can pointlessly fly through before it pops out the back.

That said, an APDS round would technically cause extra damage from burrowing into constant spirit 'flesh'. The issue, however, is wether or not that really matters to the spirit.

And of course, you then have to consider if spirits can also be not-so-solid while manifested.

headaches, whoo!
Talia Invierno
no, actually control thoughts is only any good if the mage has surprise on his side.
- Jaid

It's an old thread, but after the way this thread went, I really don't understand this statement (first page). Is it accurate?
all you would get from a FAB-filled bullet would be, maybe, a chance for the FAB to make an astral attack against the spirit. the damage of the bullet itself wouldn't matter. personally, i wouldn't even give it that because i don't believe astral physics work that way. this topic has been argued to death here, for your viewing pleasure.

the FAB-II grenade as a lighter-upper is a good one, though.
It's alive!

And I missed it the first time.

One thing that balances things out is the "Geek the mage first" mantra of most security forces. (Actually most everybody). Their abilities are powerful and particularily scary. Also it's just good tactics. Not only do you get the advantages of focused fire without having to spend time figuring out who to shoot, but mages tend to go down a little easier. Alos if you only wound them they heal right up again, so it's best to lay it on thick.

So, for example, when the security guards who aren't retarded hide amongst the planters in the foyer and get the drop on the team, most of the tracer rounds from their delayed actions will be cutting through the guy with the obvious armor spell up.

Of course a mage could have just sent an illusion out ahead. Or they could have gone invisible in the first place. Or had a band of spirits clear rooms before the team enters, or any number of things. Because mages are powerful like that, but the threat that someday it actually will be them is ever present.

It's sort of a sword of Damocles situation.
Geek the mage isn't terribly useful if the mage isn't doing anything to make it particularly obvious that he's the one in the group magically active. It's part of the reason why my newest hermetic generally eschews maintaing spells himself. Of course, he's chock full of skillwires and casts ONLY utility spells that have effects that cannot be replicated through mundane means (Mind Probe, Mana Static, Sterilize, Shape Material etc), so he depends on his wits and summoning ability than most mages.
QUOTE (Jaid)

no, actually control thoughts is only any good if the mage has surprise on his side. because otherwise, it goes something like this:

round 1) mage controls the sammy's thoughts. sammy shoots mage in the face twice with his ares alpha, once being a frag grenade (probably dead on) and once with a 4 round burst of ex-ex rounds. the mage dies horribly.

I don't have the book in front of me, so I may be wrong, but unless the Mage and the Samurai are going at the same initiative segment, then I don't think the above happens. The Mage gets control actions and then the Samurai stands there waiting for a command until the Mage's next action. The Samurai doesn't get his action because he's no longer in control of his body.

And, to comment on your later post: Yes, shape and material are what makes for an armor piercing round. Maximizing the amount of kenetic force over the contact area of the projectile. So, the more FAB, the larger the bullet, the *less* armor piercing it is. Especially since a bullet with a core of, essentially, water, will deform on impact more easily than a solid one. e.g. Hollow points. Ok, ok. The FAB bullet isn't going to impact on a hard surface, but the FAB inside will try to flatten out against the spirit's body, having pretty much the same effect on the bullet, only in reverse. IMHO.
Mental manipulations are crazy powerful. Especially the mob versions.

But again the geek the mage first thing comes in. If the mage does mob a group there is a delay where those guys are just standing around waiting for the mages next action to tell them what to do. If someone else outside the spell radius or someone who rolled lucky on resistance hoses the mage in that time all the guys are free to go again.

Also the manipulations are a little slower. You have to cast the spell as a complex action, then next turn use a simple to command them, meaning you can't cast another spell. Wheras if you dropped a combat spell you'd be free to cast another right then or be free to go on full defense when shot at.

Also I use a fair number of drones, which are immune to that stuff. I also have security personel fire around corners/over walls using their smartlinks a lot (you all know that's what you would do in that situation!) which makes them immune to the manipulation spells.

Though again the mage still has an arsenal of options including elemental AOE and spirits. Or again sustained invisibility, which really does solve a wide range of problems.

I can't believe nobody picked up on the Uncle quote, but heck, I use him as an NPC Talismonger in my Denver Game (CAS Chinatown).

"One more thing..." a smart mage in my game has at least a point of cyber (usually reflex boosters and cybereyes w/smartlink) and is geared up like most of the non gun-bunnies on the team, so the "geek the mage" mantra is slightly less effective because the Npcs aren't positive who he is until he's already unleashed whatever spells he plans on using (usually a high force stunball).
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