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Full Version: Spell/Spirit Knacks Pointless
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I have a quick question, I was just looking at the Street Magic book, and spell/spirit knacks don't seem to be worth the build points. I mean if you only have a magic of one you are looking at spells that are too feeble to really *do* anything even if you go and overcast. Now I know that build optimization is not everything, but really I'm not seeing a point.
There are a few spells/spirits that are helpful at ( Force 1-2 ), especially when playing in a toned down campaign. However, personally I don't really see the problem with allowing knacks to raise their Magic, but I think it should cost more then normal.
Detect Enemies at Force 1 will get you "someone nearby means me harm" - and that can be worth knowing, so that you then investigate with mundane senses, or flee.

Detect Magic at Force 1 will identify Foci, which is handy when looting.

Levitate 1 could be a neat trick under various non-combat circumstances, eg handling dangerous materials. Can one use it something on the other side of transparent barrier?

Back in SR2, I had an adept who had the equivalent quality to spirit knack. He could summon watchers. He used them to keep an eye on the rest of the team (who he didn't trust) when he was away. It always disturbed them that he knew exactly what the others did when the team all split up.

It was also handy for scouting, for someone to watch his back, as an astral bloodhound, and as a "canary in a coal mine" for astral attacks. Since watchers are only limited in number by charisma (and the adept I was talking about was an elf), you could have watchers running a number of small errands for you.

Of course, now in SR4, you can't take spirit knack if you are an adept, so it wouldn't be useful at all. You'd just be trading watchers for the ability to get cyberware, and that's not very useful at all. That is the big issue for me. I can think of a dozen handy things to do with low force spirits and spells -- but none of them are worth trading in any and all cyber and bioware.

I guess you could let people with Knacks initiate (though how they'd discover the "broader mysteries of magic" with so limited a skill, I don't know.) Heck, for a possession tradition, summoning a force 2 greatform plant spirit and channeling it might actually be worth it. That'd cover about the same bonuses as run of the mill cyber, and you'd get regeneration 2 to boot if you were good enough.
The other thing is that you have to waste points on the skill to use this mostly-useless ability. You are better off getting mystic adept or mage with either an aspected quality or several magical incompetencies (the latter being more cost-effective if you don't mind the high Notoriety it will give you). That would be a better way of playing a magically limited character, since you will at least be able to improve it over time. With the knack quality, all you are is an unaugmented mundane with a single weak magic trick.
I'd be inclined to let Magic and whatever Skill your Knack applies to get purchased at half cost, to be honest. It's such a limited ability, it seems silly to charge that much Karma for it.
I am in complete agreement with the idea that the magical knacks and so on in Street Magic are not worth the paper they are printed on (or whatever the digital equivalent of that is for PDFs).

ALL essence enhancements plus all other magic? A hefty price indeed.

Add any implants or symbionts or nano or most genetech, there goes your one point.
Obviously if you are getting it you can't also be a real magician, since that is forbidden (letting them stack might have had possiblities for a more versatile mage).

And all that for what? As has been noted, the privilege of buying skill points? And they'd better be darned high, since they'll essentially be your entire dice pool. So tons of karma for that one spell, which will still be half-assed at best.

And here's the REAL clincher - background count, etc.

Any positive or negative count even of 1 will completely annihilate your precious knack. And where do shadowrunners go that doesn't have a count of 1? If, as stated in the rules, it can be the scene of a passionate love affair or violent crime, a bar where awakened people hang out, or even a small church that the locals are into - gee whiz.

I wanted to make a mostly mundane occult investigator. The idea was that he would have astral sight, but no other magic. Yeah, same exact BPs would make me a real adept and get me the Astral Perception power, but that wasn't the concept I wanted.
Well, me and the GM, who was very willing to work with me, kept running into more and more need to break the rules until I just ended up having to become an Adept - and a strong one - to have any hope of the character I wanted.

I mean, the idea was to Assense crime scenes. Well, see definition of background count above. I would only be able to use my astral sight at freaking Disneyland. In fact, I would need a (disallowed) Magic rating of at least 4 or 5 if I wanted to have even one point of magic left over when entering the sort of totally messed up places an occult investigator would want to look at.
In short, the more I would want to look at it, the more it would be disallowed.

* You can get all these "knack" abilities for CHEAPER just by buying real magic power and then voluntarily choosing not to progress.
* They close the door on the two main paths to power in the game - tech and magic.
* The skill you do get is heinously weak despite high secondary karma cost (the skills).
* Another chapter of the rules makes the knack or whatever COMPLETELY UNUSABLE in 95% of all situations you, as a shadowrunner, will find yourself in.

And there is not a single thing, no matter how many points you pay, that the RAW lets you do about (so diligent are the designers in making sure no naughty players try to abuse the rules and be powerful or even competent shadowrunners).

Does anyone edit these books? And seriously, does anyone do ANY playtesting?
The only way I've been able to think of making it useful is to take latent awakening and talk with the GM about it giving your a knack. This lets you load up on your cyber/bio/gene/nano. Of course, this requires you to actually talk and work with your GM.
The worst part is that like Feshy said he couldn't get an adept that could summon watchers for his knack since you could not have both abilities. However you could instead get a Mystic Adept and simply not bother to buy the skills you do not want or need to get the same effect. I almost think they made spell knacks to give the idea of 1 in 100 magically active are filled out with people with rather sucky powers.
The easy solution IMO would be to make a house rule that you don't lose any Magic from your knack until your Essence drops below your Magic Rating. That way, your Magic 1 knack doesn't keep you from bioware/cyberware.

Plus if you are allowed to raise your Magic, then the floor at which you lose Magic points due to Essence loss moves with it.

Go up to Magic 2, then you won't lose any Magic until your Essence drops below 2.

Honestly, when I read those knacks, I was rather unimpressed. They felt lacking / incomplete somehow and putting this house rule in fixes that.
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