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I was reading through the adept powers, trying to decide if it was worth giving up my astral powers and become a mystic adept instead of a mage. When I came across the Commanding Voice power, I nearly had an evilgasm. At last, the ability to make anyone do anything with zero astral signature and no way for anyone to know you're doing it! It never wears you out and it can affect multiple people at the same time.

Before you light up your cigars and congratulate yourselves on figuring out the way to taking over the world, there are several downsides to the Commanding Voice power versus the Influence spell:
  • You can't give long term commands (so sorry guys, you can't make anyone go out on a date with you).
  • Your average victim could have more resistance dice. (Will + Leadership instead of Will + Counterspelling).
  • You might have less dice to make the power work (Cha + Leadership instead of Magic + Spellcasting)
  • The power isn't direct mind-to-mind so you have to speak out loud and they have to understand what you're saying.
  • There's a cumulative -2 penalty for giving the same command to the same victim over and over.
Unfortunately, the authors chickened out in giving us any indication of how many net hits you need to get anyone to do anything. So for $35, we're left writing our own rules.

Given the long list of limitations, how many hits do you think it would take to make someone do these various tasks:
  • Commit suicide
  • Surrender
  • Let you : 1) out of your cell, 2) into a secure office building, 3) into the club.
  • Give you something they think has 1) high value, 2) moderate value, or 3) low value
  • Believe that these aren't the droids they're looking for
Talia Invierno
Add, as a very immediate question for one of the on-board games, its realistic range in the midst of combat.

The strict rules interpretation is that as soon as you have more hits than the other, at the very least the target stands confused for their next action. A GM could assign differing thresholds based directly on how personally hazardous the action is seen as being to the victim. Nothing stopping you from spinning the command as positively as possible, however: eg. (Do you want to live? then) "Jump" might have a lower threshold than just "Jump". (Brackets, because that can't be part of the command -- five word limit -- so using the free speaking action before the complex Commanding Voice action to set a frame of mind.)
There's a cumulative -2 penalty for giving the same command to the same victim over and over.

I had the impression that the -2 was for giving any command to the same person(s) within that 24-hour period.

Certainly it doesn't replace Influence. The two have very different uses. At the very least, Commanding Voice invokes a knee-jerk reaction which, if not immediately and completely successful, can be re-thought in the next action in ways likely to be harmful to the speaker; in contrast to the subtle and longer-term suggestability of Influence.

Another limitation is that it only affects the target's next action. If you ask for something requiring a Complex Action, then that's what you'll get -- and if the target has more than one Initiative Pass, they'll be re-thinking their actions maybe even before they get them done: eg the jail cell requires them to get their keys or swipecard out first.

As to the rest: have any of you ever read the Dune series? (Seeing either of the series doesn't count.) I suspect Commanding Voice was based on the Bene Gesserit power of Voice. If true, the way it was used in those books would suggest how the authors intended the power.

And you're right: it is a powerful thing.
Eryk the Red
Sometimes, simpler is better with these things. "Drop your weapon." "Open this door." Or, if wearing shock gloves, especially if the target doesn't know, "Shake my hand." Anything more takes too long for the target to accomplish and won't work.
Talia Invierno
Dropping a weapon = free action.
Picking it up again = simple action.
Burst fire = simple action.

Commanding Voice = complex action.

Not a good combination, unless you plan it as part of teamwork.
We have a Mystic Adept face in our campaign that uses Commanding Voice. Unfortunately for us she is another players wife and is prone to wandering off and playing WoW or falling asleep on the couch. I pretty much made the character for her frown.gif

That aside, whenever I remind her to use Commanding Voice our DM treats it differently depending on how it's used. If she slips the Commanding line into conversation while negotiating in some way then the effect can linger. Example: While negotiating she can suggest that the risk involved is worth a bit more money. If the Johnson fails the roll he typically won't notice and we'll get a bit more money.

If she uses it as a knee jerk reaction, like yelling for someone to stop, or drop their weapon then the target obviously realizes what happened. I know once when she yelled "look out behind you!" or something to that effect one of the goons critically glitched and shot at a couple of his friends.

I'm pretty sure he runs it like the Voice is used in the Dune novels, thats how I try to "suggest" that she use it at least. I think its a very potent power myself and really the only reason I wanted to make an adept face, though I had planned on playing it myself. frown.gif
Kyoto Kid
QUOTE (Eryk the Red)
Sometimes, simpler is better...[edit]...Or, if wearing shock gloves, especially if the target doesn't know, "Shake my hand."

...this is a favourite trick Da Brat likes to use.

Shock glove = big joy buzzer.

I had a hostage negotiator Lone Star adept once use Commanding Voice and shout "SHOOT ME" in order to get a bad guy to unload his buckshot-shotgun in his direction, instead of turning some completely unarmored hostages into hamburger.
I have a game that is about to get rolling and the face is an adept with Commanding Voice as well. I briefly thought about using the social die modifiers to adjust the difficulty of more extreme commands, but I think I'll just use something along the lines of thresholds, where:

1 hit = command requiring no thought or real inconvenience to the target ("look at me!", "stop!")
2 hits = easy action but perhaps inconvenient or interrupting high priority intentions ("eject your gun's magazine" while aiming at a possible threat)
3 hits = action drastically harms interests ("shoot your buddy!", "tell your wife what you did last night")
4+ hits = action harms self ("shoot yourself!")

Otherwise, as long as there is one net hit, they'll stand confused as written. I have yet to see how this plays out, but it seems reasonable to me, and the face in my game has plenty of dice to throw so I'm anticipating a few unexplained suicides and friendly fire from time to time.
These are all great suggestions, thanks.

Here are some important limitations to Commanding Voice that I forgot:
  • Your command is limited to 5 words or less.
  • Your victim remembers you gave him the command. Even though they don't sense they were influenced, they will probably suspect something is up if they do something strange just because you told them too.
  • Since the victim recovers their wits in the next turn, this may result in "Hey, what the hell was I thinking? Give me that back!" The subtlety and context of the command is a critical factor in this.
I like Nocturn's thresholds, here's my expanded list:
  • 1 net hit: Command is no real inconvenience or cost to the target ("look at me", "these aren't those droids", "let me into the nightclub", "give me a free beer", "outta my way", "give me your commlink address", "give me your system password" to a wageslave receptionist, "shoot yourself in the head" to an emo on a bad day)
  • 2 net hits: Command interrupts high priority intentions or is likely to cause a lot of trouble for the target ("turn around", "stop where you are", "eject your gun's magazine" while aiming at a possible threat, "dismiss your spirits" while threatened and requiring a complex action to retrieve them again, "give me your system password" to a mid-level corporate manager)
  • 3 net hits: Command drastically harms interests ("freeze", "surrender", "turn around" while you have a gun pointed at him and you just told him you were going to kill him, "shoot your buddy", "tell your wife about yesterday", "give me that ring", "sign this contract", "inject yourself with this" unknown substance, "let me in" their secure office building, "let me out of jail", "release your spirits" requiring them to be re-summoned and/or re-bound, "shoot yourself in your foot", "give me your system password" to a sysadmin for a mob money launderer)
  • 4 net hits: Command is blatantly self-destructive ("shoot yourself in the head", "tell Darth Vader to frak off")
Of course, these examples depend entirely on the circumstances, but they seem to be a good start.

Any ideas/modifications to add to the list?
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