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Something that got brought up in the current thread on the possibility of Fear being too powerful is how weak the spirit power Confusion is. In previous editions Confusion was the must-have go to power, it was worth even with a F2 spirit and downright crippling with a F6. It was also one of the more frequently rewritten powers, my group eventually settled on the PAoE version of TN penalties equal to net successes, but the BBB version was the target had to make a Willpower Test equal to the spirit's force to act, and even if they made that, suffered a TN penalty equal to the spirit's force. So a F6 spirit Confusing you meant you had to make a TN 6 Will test to do something, and you had +6 to all your TN's. It was crippling like that, but even with lower force spirits it was useful. (Adding +2 to your opponent's TN's was nothing to sneeze at in previous editions.)

The current version is the spirit rolls Will + Magic against the target's Will, and net hits are a penalty to all the target's dice pools. Which is kind of anemic. I mean, a F6 Spirit is going to get about 3 net hits on a guy with a 3 Will, for a -3 to his dice pools. That seems like a waste of a service, especially with other powers out there that do more.

I was thinking of making it spirit's force + net hits to determine the dice pool penalty. Seems that would work better at the middle range (a F3 spirit would average out to about a -4 penalty against a Will 3 guy). A F6 spirit would be pretty scary, but then, it is F6.
Ol' Scratch
In some takes on game design, if an ability is a "must-have go to" ability, especially when there's a wide selection of other abilities, then chances are that ability is broken or too powerful.

Considering how popular that take is, it's no surprise that Confusion got smacked upside the head with a baseball bat. And it was well-deserved if you ask me.

That said, a -3 penalty on all dice pools is anything but anemic. Sure, compared to the scope the power had in previous editions it may seem that way, but it isn't. That's more of a penalty than the bonus you get from a smartlink. Or pretty much any other standard modifier. It also assumes an average roll which, in my experience, are rarely ever average.

It, like most of the other rules in SR4, was also designed to be used with normal powered characters... ones you are throwing 8-10 dice per test. Not the min/maxed 15-20+ characters a lot of players tend to aim for. Which just makes that -3 penalty all the more potent. I mean, even with a min/maxed character, that's effectively -1 hit on all their actions...

Translation: I like it the way it is. It has its uses and it isn't automatically the "must-have go to" ability, meaning mages and NPCs alike should/will have to think of new uses for both it and their other abilities rather than just throwing that single one around like the overpowered crap it was. smile.gif
I would agree that the "must-have go to" (granted, thats an awkward phrase) nature of Confusion was an indication of its horrible, horrible brokeness, which is one the main reason that my group used the PAoE version that was based on net successes rather than Force.

-3 to all Dice Pools is anemic in that its the average hit a Will 3 guy will take getting his by a Force 6 spirit. The spirit is rolling 12 dice to his 3, and the result is a reduction of about half his pools. Most other powers based on such a wide disparity between the spirit and the target would simply steamroll the poor mundie. I would say that if a spirit with double the force of its target's Will (and so four times the dice) can't steamroll the target, then the ability is probably underpowered. If the force and the target's Will are both average, the target's probably only going to be losing a single die. If an F3 spirit Confuses a Will 3 guy and on average there's no appreciable effect, its a waste of a service.

That said, adding the force to the net hits might be too powerful. I'm not opposed to finding a middle ground. Maybe -2 dice per net hit.
Doc Funk has a pretty thorough answer here. I'd add that if players summon spirits and have them use Confusion, or if GMs run spirits who use Confusion, and get such disappointing results that they switch entirely to other options, then *that* would be evidence that Confusion has been overly nerfed. Have we seen that happen yet, or is it too early to say? I wrote a shaman and figured that Confusion would be a common tactic, but haven't played him yet.

A mix of tactics, with circumstances driving the selection, is an indication of good balance.

I'm a big fan of testing falsifiable theories. Karl Popper FTW!
I find that Confusion is essentially never used at all at the book version. Most of the time you can get the target to have similar dicepool penalties just by inflicting damage. It's not just the power, the spell sucks too.

Let's say that you're a Magic 5 / Spellcasting 4 starting character bad ass. You roll 9 dice and you zap our pathetic mundane victim (who has an entirely decent Willpower of 3 just so the math works out easier). You could cast confusion, get 2 net hits, and give them a -2 dicepool penalty. Or you could Manabolt them at Force 5 for drain that's just as negligible, get 2 net hits, and cause 7 Physical Damage. That's an ammount of damage which coincidentally comes with a -2 or -3 dicepool penalty, and may take the target out of the fight.

Let's say you're a Force 6 Spirit. You are crazy powerful. You could throw a Confusion and give the target a -3 dicepool penalty. Or you could Elemental Attack (Electricity), dish out 9P that they can soak with half their armor, and possibly outright stun the target for up to 3 rounds, and give out an additional -2 penalty. Even if they soak it down to just 3 boxes, you've still inconvenienced the target more with the lightning bolt.

Confusion is just kind of sad. It provides penalties which are objectively smaller than the penalties you coincidentally dish out when you attack enemies with normal lethal attacks.


Part of this is that a -1 to dicepools is much smaller than a +1 to TN was. A victim who got a +2 or +6 to TN was essentially out of the fight for all the difference they made. A victim who is running around with a -6 dicepool penalty is merely highly inconvenienced. It's noticable certainly - that's about 2 hits off the top of whatever they were going to do. But it's not something that a player character can't play through.

A -2 dicepool penalty per net hit seems a much better set up.

Edit: I would be highly tempted to even errata in something like that to a game I ran, like the one I'm putting together here:

But honestly, it's not actually all that important. Spirits have some very good things they can do. Guard, Movement, and Concealment are over-the-top crazy awesome. Spirits can just have some powers that worthless in almost all circumstances, it's not like you're paying anything on a per-power basis most of the time. Overpowered options for spirits (like 3rd edition Confusion) have a much more directly noticable and detrimental effect on the game than underpowered options (like 4th edition Confusion). If a power isn't good you can just not use it. That's a byproduct of the inherent fact that the attacker chooses his attack type.

QUOTE (Riley37)
I'm a big fan of testing falsifiable theories. Karl Popper FTW!

I happen to be taking a philosophy of science class right now, and if you feel like your views should be challenged more often, you should go read Quine or Kuhn, who both do their best to tear falsifiability a new one.

On an unrelated note, Confusion, the spell and the power, is completely overshadowed by, y'know, any of the good spells or powers.
I'm looking at this from more of a rules-purist standpoint. If Confusion is on a list of options, I think it should be roughly comparable to those options. All the powers do different things (or in the case of the damage dealers, do the same thing differently), but ideally they all have their uses. Accident tends not to be overly powerful, although in the right situation it can be very useful. Confusion, not so much.

The thing that Confusion does that the other powers don't do is reduce a target's effectiveness without any lingering damage. If you're a mage who doesn't want to hurt anyone, and you want to make it harder for them to hurt you, Confusion fits the bill. You can use it on preschoolers if you had to and when you end it, there's no lingering effects. (I'm not going to speculate on the possibility of brain damage from long term Confusion effects.)

The problem is unless you're actually fighting preschoolers, it’s unlikely that the Confusion is going to take enough dice away to make it really noticeable. The spirit pretty much has to be a tsunami relative to the target for Confusion to have much of an effect.

The other thing Confusion does is make people much more susceptible to other powers. A decent shooter can probably eat a -3 dice penalty and still do okay, but it’s a lot harder to lose -3 off a stat to resist a spell or another spirit power. The only problem there is as Frank pointed out, you're about as likely to get a similar dice pool penalty by using any of the damaging spirit powers as you are with Confusion. That leaves a pretty narrow window for Confusion to be a viable choice. (I mean, if the spirit is powerful enough for Confusion to be noticeable, making the target more susceptible to the spirit's other powers seems pretty redundant.)
Ol' Scratch
If I were going to house rule Confusion, I'd just redo it completely. A dice pool modifier is not only incredibly boring, but it's a really weak way to reflect being confused.

I'd probably have fun with, in fact, where it causes odd perceptions of the world around you. For instance, making you think your ally is your enemy in a fight, that you're not out of ammo after you run out, make you just sort of mill around in a haze as you try to figure out where you are... and things like that.

No clue where I'd begin on actually turning that into a rule, but it's what I would aim for if I had a problem with the current incarnation of the power. As mentioned before, dice pool modifiers are easy to come by and ridiculously boring... so why bother with a power that creates the same effect as something you can already do?
suggestion: (this shouldn't be too overpowered)
confusions net hits are a negative dice pool modifier as normal but additonaly the number of ones needed to role a glitch or critical glitch is also reduced by the spirits net hits. Note this is the same as the gremlins power only it applies to all tests. GM's are encouraged to play up these glitches as mistakes due to confusing circumstances.

Oh, and by the way I always considered accident to be not always useful, but sometimes really hardcore. Like when your being chased by the 'star in their Patrol-1 and you use it to force a crash test. High speed crashes = fatal (I had a character almost die in one once - something like 15P w/ only 6 dice to resist [this was SR4] - I ended up spending edge and scaling it down to the point where I had only 2 overflow boxes.)
Perhaps one way to restore balance: make Confusion less visible.
If you Stunbolt the guards, they get N boxes of Stun, N/3 DP penalty, and they go to red alert.
If you hit them with Confusion, they get a DP penalty, and they might go to red alert, or they might be too confused to realize that anything's wrong. Keep hitting them with Confusion until their DPs are zeroed, then knock them out or just walk past them.
Yeah, I was thinking much the same thing. Confusion could have some use as a power to use to augment things like say, social tests by inflicting a penalty upon the victim, but that'd really only be useful for creatures that can remotely begin to pass as human to begin with. Subtlety has an unfortunate habit of going out the window once the Spirit is within LOS to begin with, after all.
Confusion is not visible unless you make it so, and spirits do have edge.

As a combat power, it may still suck. As support for fast-talking yourself out of something, it is great. Will+Social skill is often less than 8 even on accomplished runners.
mmm... nice ideas here.

What about comparing hits with Willpower so that it has the possibility of making you lose actions? (similar to toxins)

And is it an Area of Effect power? I do not remember but it could be so.

Just a thought

It is a single target power. You need a great form to gain LOS(A) instead of LOS. Binding with 1.5 times the drain... upgrade DocWaggon to Platin level first.
Mr. Unpronounceable
QUOTE (Mercer)
-3 to all Dice Pools is anemic in that its the average hit a Will 3 guy will take getting his by a Force 6 spirit.

It's also the same penalty anyone will have when they have nine boxes of damage. A body 2 (which is pretty much average for a wageslave) character is effectively dead at that point.

If you've got issues with negative dice pool modifiers, the confusion power probably isn't the place you should start.
Zen Shooter01
Mercer's right. It's called "Confusion", not "Kill Everything That Walks Or Crawls". The power as it's written offers spirits a chance to defeat enemies without splattering them. It's right in line with the subtle powers of fae in legend - you wander into the desert and vanish, as opposed to being ripped in half and hung in a tree.

The criticism of the power comes out of looking at everything as a firefight. No, Confusion is not a gut stomping, fight ending power. It's not supposed to be. It's meant to be used on the gangers who are tailing you, or the cop you're trying to talk out of arresting you, or the fixer you're trying to make a deal with.

I'd be more comfortable with that point if, again, the power wasn't LOS. This isn't like concealment where the Spirit will easily have an opportunity fire it off, sustain it and then slink off into the ether when there's no enemy in sight. I don't know about you guys, but the line "If you don't mind Oyabun, Sparky the Fire Elemental here will be sitting in as arbitrator for our discussion" isn't likely to work in my games. As such, I think confusion would make a great inexpensive Adept power ala Commanding Voice, but as a Spirit power/service it's weak sauce.
QUOTE (Whipstitch)
I'd be more comfortable with that point if, again, the power wasn't LOS. This isn't like concealment where the Spirit will easily have an opportunity fire it off, sustain it and then slink off into the ether when there's no enemy in sight. I don't know about you guys, but the line "If you don't mind Oyabun, Sparky the Fire Elemental here will be sitting in as arbitrator for our discussion" isn't likely to work in my games. As such, I think confusion would make a great inexpensive Adept power ala Commanding Voice, but as a Spirit power/service it's weak sauce.

True, but not all traditions have spirits that appear in the form of large, flaming humaniods. And, Spirits of Man and Guidance Spirits get Confusion, and I see no reason that they couldn't appear like a metahuman of some sort. At that point, unless your target is Dual Natured, in which case he/she probably saw your spirit anyway, the target may not be able to recognize the spirit for what it is.
Mr. Unpronounceable
Actually, unless the spirit has

QUOTE (street magic p 102)

Realistic Form
Type: P • Action: Auto • Range: Self • Duration: Special
A spirit with Realistic Form can be mistaken for a normal physical creature or object when it materializes, or it appears unremarkable when joined to a vessel. A spirit that appears as a metahuman would have a heartbeat and a regular breathing rate.
A spirit that appeared as an object mimics the object’s normal functionality; for example, a toaster could be plugged into the wall to toast bread (though it would have no Matrix link, making it an antique toaster). The spirit is in no way disguised from the astral plane, but to physical observation appears to any senses to be a natural part of the physical world.
Note that spirits with the Materialization power normally only have one materialized form. Materializing spirits with this power can choose to appear using Realistic Form or their normal materialized form. A fire elemental can still appear as a column of angry flames, but might also be able to appear as a beautiful woman.

the target should be able to ID the spirit as a spirit.
There's also this
QUOTE (Street Magic Spirit Appearance page 96)
While a materialized spirit can’t be mistaken for a material creature or object

and this
QUOTE (Shadowrun 4th p177)
As a rule, spirit forms are metahuman-sized or smaller and tend to have an obvious ethereal or otherworldy nature
(there is no mistaking them for real people).

The rule seems to be you can make your spirit look like whatever you want for style purposes but you ain't fooling anyone when you say it's discreet. Let's face it, if you could there'd be PCs running around with lethal Force 8 briefcases for utility's sake.
Mmmm, force 8 breifcase....

Anyway, ya, unless it has the actual Realistic Form power I'd think it would have to be fairly obvious. Even if it wasn't breifcase, people would make them tiny, have a hord of elementals in their pocket or something crazy. If it materializes and isn't hidden, it is going to be noticed as a spirit.
Whipstitch, you are now responsible for some mental pain my group will feel. Otherworldly force 8 briefcase, obey my command biggrin.gif
Fair enough. I don't know that I agree with it, but there it is.
Yeah, I know exactly how you feel Dashifen. As it stands now, confusion's really only a decent power for good merges and free spirits, which is a big part of the reason why I think Mercer started this thread up in the first place.
Zen Shooter01
Line of sight means as far as the spirit can see. Your spirit could be peeking out a window 75 meters away. Your spirit could be sitting behind the one-way glass windows of a car parked at the curb. Your spirit could be crouched in one tree among a hundred trees in the forest, but still only 20 meters distant from the target. Your spirit could be peeking through a half-centimeter hole punched in an old refrigerator carton. Your spirit could be under an invisibility spell. Your spirit could be in the next room, looking through a one-way window disguised as a mirror. There are dozens of ways to put the target in LOS but have the spirit be hidden.
Mr. Unpronounceable
Sure...and then you have to remember to account for visibility modifiers.

A dim (0/-2*) smokey room (0/-1/-2*) with a flash-pak (-4) while your sitting at a table (partial cover -2) would counter most spirits you'll ever run into. And if it's looking through a window or one-way mirror, it can't resort to astral perception.

*depending on what improved senses the spirit has
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