Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Toxic shamens and toxic spirits
Dumpshock Forums > Discussion > Shadowrun
Pendaric
Basically in SR3, toxic spirits can breach domain boundries. So would it be possible for a toxic shaman to have multiple toxic spirits of the same type?

Here is the break down. Toxic shaman conjures a toxic storm spirit, charges it to guard him. Goes else where.
Summons a toxic field spirit, charges it to guard him. Goes else where.
Conjures a toxic storm spirit again before sundown.
Goes into a toxic hearth domain.
He now has two of the same spirit which a normal shaman cannot do. He has one toxic storm spirit with services and one without, thanks to changing spirit domains but essentially has multiple of the same type of bad ass toxic spirit.

Is this possible?

And again folks this is for SR3.
sinthalix
I would rule no based on: SR3, pg 184.

"A shaman can only be in one domain at a time, even if
multiple possible domains exist in an area. If you are in an area
of multiple domains, you must choose which domain you are
in. This affects which type of nature spirit you can attempt to
summon. If you choose to shift your attention to a different
domain, then you have “left? the previous domain. A shaman
can only summon one nature spirit in any given domain."

Though toxics are different, I would keep this rule since the spirits can leave the domains.
hyzmarca
I concur, but nothing stops the Shaman from taking his toxic spirit to a different domain of the same type and summoning another. You could, for example, summon your toxic lake spirit in Lake Michigan and then move over to Lake Superior and summon another toxic lake spirit.
CanRay
Or through a few Alleyways for a series of Toxic Puddle Spirits!
HeavyMetalYeti
But wouldn't the first one summoned return to its domain when you summoned the second and so forth?
nezumi
Since toxic shamans aren't playable by PCs, I'd say 'sure, why not?' but not whip it out until the PCs aren't expecting it. Additional spirits should be like the Spanish Inquisition.
Pendaric
huh!
An informed undecided then.

Interesting...
VagabondStar
Toxic Shamans and Spirits are supposed to be able to bend the rules based on the nature of being evil and crazy. I'd vote for yes - but I wouldn't be surprised if the spirits started to brawl with one another.
CanRay
SWEET!

Get it on Trid and sell it! It'd be better than Hobo Wars!
Rasumichin
In SR2, it was possible in overlapping domains to summon one nature spirit, decide to interpret the environment as a different domain, discard the spirit's remaining services (while the spirit still could carry out it's last service), drum up another spirit of the "new" domain and thereby effectively have several spirits using their powers for you, even though you couldn't give new orders to the spirit summoned first anymore.

E.g., in a park under the open sky, a shaman could call a forest spirit, let it use concealment on him, discard the spirit, change his view of the terrain and decide he's in a storm spirit's domain.
Then let the storm spirit use its powers to attack someone, while the shaman was still concealed by the forest spirit until the next sunrise or sunset.

The whole stuff was described in Awakenings.
And yes, this could lead to extreme spirit spamming.

Was this still possible in SR3?
Pendaric
Yes. However as stated above you can only have one spirit from each different domain.

Because Toxic spirits can cross domain boundries, it is theortically possibile to have two or more spirits of the same type at once. This could be quite abusive with some creative play from the ref.
The questions that rise from the possibility of this being done, are of course, how it is done, where it can be done and how often can it be done?

For example, the possibility of have multiple toxic sea spirits while at sea could make toxics unstoppable by normal shamans. The normal shaman only having access to perhapes three different domains max, so only three spirits dispite having higher than three charisma.

The majority vote has swung to yes.
For dramatic purposes I agree but my instincts are saying, "watch the game balance here." proof.gif
CanRay
QUOTE (Pendaric @ Jul 26 2008, 02:57 PM) *
The majority vote has swung to yes.
For dramatic purposes I agree but my instincts are saying, "watch the game balance here." proof.gif

Ah, but Toxics cheat and break the game balance! That's why they're not allowed to be PCs and are Uber-Meanies for the GM to throw at Powerful Characters who think they're all that and a kettle of beans!
nezumi
As long as toxic shamans are limited to the same number of spirits as hermetics are limited to elementals, I don't see what the big deal is. Seriously, what's the difference between an NPC with 6 elementals on your butt and one with 6 nature spirits?
Hocus Pocus
think alot of toxic shamans are coming out of the wood work with the spill down here

Pendaric
QUOTE (nezumi @ Jul 26 2008, 06:51 PM) *
As long as toxic shamans are limited to the same number of spirits as hermetics are limited to elementals, I don't see what the big deal is. Seriously, what's the difference between an NPC with 6 elementals on your butt and one with 6 nature spirits?


Your right and in my group thats fine, as my pc magician is a heremetic. However a PC shaman would be overwhelmed by the same ruling. Which is unfair, as the shaman is meant to be on a level footing with the toxic in most ways except in toxic domains.

To expalin a little about my ref style and my caution here, I try to stick to the rules 99% of the time to keep me fair. I know I am naturaly harsh when left to my own devices, deciding on the negative side against the PC's, as I see part of my job is to provide obstacles for them to overcome. If am harsh then they know they have achieved something in their victory, giving the imaginary meaning.
While I like the dramatic implications and magical wrongness of this toxic mechanic ruling, the game balance implications in the broader scheme must be considered just in case my PC dynamic where to change. Like if a PC dies and wishes to come back as a shaman.
Hence I need to dot all the i's and cross all the t's on how, when and where this nasty trick can be done.

The crux of this seems to depend on the definition boundries of a domain. Is it this patch of sea or just the entire North Sea. The sky over this block, Downtown or just the sky anywhere period. Can toxic spirits be summoned only from toxic domains or from any domain the toxic shaman happens to be in?

How we rule on these questions dramatically change a toxic's power level.
As I stated my instinct is choose the best answers for the toxic to be powerful but my aim is not to beat the players, only provide a dramatic pathos filled challenge. In a nutshell, to provide the best story.

So how would you say this toxic trick could be done?
nezumi
QUOTE (Pendaric @ Jul 27 2008, 10:07 AM) *
Which is unfair, as the shaman is meant to be on a level footing with the toxic in most ways except in toxic domains.


Where do you get that from? Toxics are meant to be big, bad NPCs. You might as well say that shamans should be on equal footing as insect shamans (which is definitely not the case).

If your concern is Toxics are too powerful, there are other things you can do to weaken them (lack of intelligence, the property, not the stat, being the easiest).

QUOTE
Like if a PC dies and wishes to come back as a shaman.


I assume you mean 'toxic shaman', in which case the answer is 'no'. Toxics are not available to PCs. Similarly, they can't be a free spirit or a great dragon or the planet Earth. There are some game characters which are off-limits to PCs (precisely to avoid the balance concerns you have).

QUOTE
The crux of this seems to depend on the definition boundries of a domain. Is it this patch of sea or just the entire North Sea. The sky over this block, Downtown or just the sky anywhere period. Can toxic spirits be summoned only from toxic domains or from any domain the toxic shaman happens to be in?


The definition of domains has always been left blurry, I believe intentionally so.

My general ruling is, if the spirit (non-toxics here) can travel from A to B while always staying within its particular biome, you can consider that all the same domain. However, there are 'little domains' and 'big domains, so for instance, this patch of sea which is distinct from other patches of sea is a domain, but so are all of the world's oceans (since they all feed into each other). A water spirit conjured here can do its work anywhere in those oceans, but you can travel from this spot of sea to this other spot of sea and consider it a spot with a different nature spirit residing there. This way, the spirit for your house is unique and special, and the spirit for your neighbor's house is unique and special, however if you're in rowhouses, one spirit could travel to the other, back and forth, without any problem.

This, of course, gives Toxics a lot more problem but, again, I don't care. They're just NPCs.


Pendaric
None of my NPC's threats are stupid. There is less of them versus a more of the PC's, stupid equals quick death, ergo boring. Most have at least average to their meta type intellegence usally more.

And no, I meant shaman. Hence saying shaman not toxic or toxic shaman.
Quite frankly I want to discuss the grey areas of rule calls and your giving me attitude. Nezumi I expect better from you.

Yes, domains are ambiguous. As you point out how the ref calls the hazy definitions into concrete guidelines for his players change how powerful shamans are. In this case toxic's can become vastly more powerful. As a threat NPC so what? Internal realism of the game integrity and game balance are directly effected. ~I work damn hard at making these two factors work harmonously and my player respect my integrity for this. To casually say, "well their the bad guy so it does not matter".
Is a breach of trust to players.

Yes it works, is not a full answer. I need a full set of answers.

So can dumpshock actually deal with a subtle graduation of potential approachs leading to a guide to the best path or is it still the place for curt reactionary statements?
nezumi
QUOTE (Pendaric @ Jul 28 2008, 12:15 PM) *
None of my NPC's threats are stupid. There is less of them versus a more of the PC's, stupid equals quick death, ergo boring. Most have at least average to their meta type intellegence usally more.


I didn't mean to say make them stupid, but that they don't know what's coming at them. So for instance, my NPCs might know about one character in the party, but not the rest, and so when that one character brings friends, that's bad for the NPCs because of poor background knowledge on their part. That cuts both ways, of course, but I could certainly see a shaman not anticipating something or other the PCs bring to the fight. Withholding information from NPCs is a great way to make them more managable (from a GM and PC perspective).

QUOTE
And no, I meant shaman. Hence saying shaman not toxic or toxic shaman.


I don't understand what the concern is then. If you're concerned that the PC shaman can't compete toe-to-toe with the NPC toxic shaman, I'd say that that's okay. That's why they're NPCs. If you're concerned that shamans can't compete with hermetics, well that's a different discussion.

QUOTE
Quite frankly I want to discuss the grey areas of rule calls and your giving me attitude. Nezumi I expect better from you.


I'm sorry, I honestly didn't understand the question (and still don't).

QUOTE
As you point out how the ref calls the hazy definitions into concrete guidelines for his players change how powerful shamans are. In this case toxic's can become vastly more powerful. As a threat NPC so what? Internal realism of the game integrity and game balance are directly effected. ~I work damn hard at making these two factors work harmonously and my player respect my integrity for this. To casually say, "well their the bad guy so it does not matter".
Is a breach of trust to players.


My point is that ultimately, it comes down to whether toxics can have multiple spirits, or multiple spirits of the same type or not. Mechanically, that will be the only REAL difference, since when they do that, there are any number of explanations as to why. My general ruling as a GM, when the rules are ambiguous, is to err on the side of giving them more power, because it gives me more to work with in making interesting challenges.

So for instance, the party is running against a toxic in a cool ship battle. As the party attacks him, his water spirit who has been told to gaurd him comes into play. In the next action, he summons a second water spirit.

Now, whether he can do this or not is precisely what the thread was started to answer, and I'd rule 'yes' (for the reasons above, although I may change my mind later). It sounds like you're asking 'how', and I would argue it's fairly irrelevant. The easiest answer is, he summoned it a while ago on another body of water and it's just been floating around with him. It seems quite reasonable for him to do that (since having two spirits available is clearly better than having one, and it only requires a small hop to get to another body of water where he can take advantage of that). I'm sure I could come up with other answers if pressed. Generally players don't get bothered that I don't have the time to sit down and think how a character will go out of his way to maximize his advantages, it's simply assumed that a character will do this.

Now granted, if the argument was that he had been restricted to one domain the entire time, it would be a problem. Like the initial post pointed out, he has to change domains to keep this going. And if I had previously ruled the entire Atlantic Ocean is one, single domain, it's a tricky situation. I could see my having said in the past to a PC shaman that it counts as one domain (because, from his point of view, it is - his spirit can travel to the other 'little domains', but he's still stuck to only one spirit at a time, so that's the easiest explanation even if it isn't actually the paradigm I run by). That could bog down the game if they demanded an explanation about how all of the ocean is one domain for the PC and multiple for the NPC. But that's a very constrained situation for a very specific rule. In the games I run, I really can't imagine anyone being stuck just 'in the ocean' for an entire day. If the shaman had multiple air spirits at once, that could be way too complex to explain, so I'd probably avoid it just so I don't have to spend time explaining everything during combat, but I wouldn't mind the characters breaking into the toxic's lair to find he's guarded by four different spirits from four different domains, and he summons a fifth while they're dealing with him.

QUOTE
is it still the place for curt reactionary statements?


Oh, it is, however we can do both if you want nyahnyah.gif
Pendaric
A little thread necromancy as I have been away:-

The 'how' and the consequently the 'where' and the 'when' define wether this is a good idea or not. The under pinning knowledge of how this trick works makes the difference between handwaving and carefully considered consequences/story.
As toxic's already have several advantages just by being NPC threats, this non cannon fuzzy interpratation ruling, could push them into being super powered.
Before I introduce a means for more power to any element, I want to know how this will effect my game reality, that I have created and share with my PC's. So though the player may never work out how this effect works, as ref, I need to know. Both for consistancy and should the players seek to turn this against their enemies, also to reveal something new about the game world on the PC's voyage of discovery should they look.

Secondly, game balance: should toxics be the new bloodzilla thanks to my pushing the theory to far, thats my game out of balance. Which with the experience level of my players and depth of roleplay we employ sours the illusion/enjoyment of the game. As am setting a presidence on all shamans by my take on domains in this context, both game balance and game reality are at stake.

hyzmarca call on descrete domains makes this same/ multi spirit trick possible. So domain boundries are all important.
Changing domains is also necessary as you and I both stated.
But it only lasts till dawn or sunset. Drain is also a factor due to this small window of opportunity. As is distance, the toxic must physically get from place to place to conjure.
Lastly, can toxic spirits only be summoned from toxic domains? I have never been certain of this point. Do toxic's have the ability to summon corrupt spirits in clean domains? If so why?

These trips in to detailing grey rulings ultimatly shape my game world, hence the angst to get it right first time, every time. A dramatic story is not enough, am looking for the perfect story for my PC's and that means polishing ever facet.
nezumi
I think a lot of our problem is different GMing styles. I handwave the majority of the mechanics behind NPCs because the PCs never see it. The PCs expect consistency, yes, but they only see the consistency on the surface, so whether my ganger happens to know how to pilot a helicopter or not is irrelevant unless they actually stick a ganger in a helicopter. When my PCs do push, I'm very, very good at thinking on my toes, so I have no problem coming up with consistent answers 'on the fly'. So yes, for me, the question really is 'who cares'? IF the PCs push, I'll come up with an answer then nyahnyah.gif

QUOTE (Pendaric @ Jul 30 2008, 04:06 PM) *
As toxic's already have several advantages just by being NPC threats, this non cannon fuzzy interpratation ruling, could push them into being super powered.


Again, I don't see this as being a problem. You can make toxics super-powered or not through dozens of other ways, and there are plenty of super-powered NPCs out there. As long as this particular toxic isn't super-powered is your only concern. In the future, when your PCs have 300 karma under their belts, being able to superpower the toxics is a plus.

QUOTE
Before I introduce a means for more power to any element, I want to know how this will effect my game reality, that I have created and share with my PC's. So though the player may never work out how this effect works, as ref, I need to know.


I can't think of any world-shaking consistency problems related to toxics being able to have multiple spirits that haven't already been covered by elementalists being able to have multiple spirits. I'll consider that some, but I'd be surprised if there's anything that comes up which would make me say 'well, why is it in Shadowrun people do X when toxics can do Y'. Do you have any?

QUOTE
Secondly, game balance: should toxics be the new bloodzilla thanks to my pushing the theory to far, thats my game out of balance... As am setting a presidence on all shamans by my take on domains in this context, both game balance and game reality are at stake.


As long as toxic powers are limited to toxics, it shouldn't be a problem. I don't see how saying a toxic can do something special with his spirts invalidates the limitations on a normal shaman. I have to admit, I'm really struggling to see how giving a toxic (or a cyberzombie or any other NPC-only 'class') special powers has any real influence in unbalancing PC classes. Can you give an example?

QUOTE
Lastly, can toxic spirits only be summoned from toxic domains? I have never been certain of this point. Do toxic's have the ability to summon corrupt spirits in clean domains? If so why?


I've been wondering that too, actually. Limiting them makes them neat and unique, in that you REALLY don't want them to get to a toxic area, and also explains why their spirits can tag along with them. But allowing them to summon them normally makes them a lot more powerful. Just from my gut, I'd tend to say that normal nature spirits would abhor toxics, and wouldn't respond to them, so toxics have to draw on the twisted aspect of the area. In a place perfectly clear from pollution, they'd have no conjuring ability.

Pendaric
QUOTE (nezumi @ Jul 31 2008, 01:36 PM) *
I think a lot of our problem is different GMing styles. I handwave the majority of the mechanics behind NPCs because the PCs never see it. The PCs expect consistency, yes, but they only see the consistency on the surface, so whether my ganger happens to know how to pilot a helicopter or not is irrelevant unless they actually stick a ganger in a helicopter. When my PCs do push, I'm very, very good at thinking on my toes, so I have no problem coming up with consistent answers 'on the fly'. So yes, for me, the question really is 'who cares'? IF the PCs push, I'll come up with an answer then nyahnyah.gif


Yes I think your right, am good at improv but I pre plan as much as possible. Preperation and planing to avoid piss poor performance. My players know that my attention to detail makes a better game for them and though I know I can get away with alot I like to plan what to do. Not in exhaustive lists, just in principle.

QUOTE
Again, I don't see this as being a problem. You can make toxics super-powered or not through dozens of other ways, and there are plenty of super-powered NPCs out there. As long as this particular toxic isn't super-powered is your only concern. In the future, when your PCs have 300 karma under their belts, being able to superpower the toxics is a plus.


I am concerned in turning toxic's into being undefeatable by shamans even on the shaman's best day. That for me is unfair. Just cos there NPC's should not make them more uber other than potence and lack of moral code. The point of a super powered NPC capable of fighting a group of runners is that with half a brain they won't. They will fight a runner at a time and defeat each one, one at a time as they are unstoppable.

QUOTE
I can't think of any world-shaking consistency problems related to toxics being able to have multiple spirits that haven't already been covered by elementalists being able to have multiple spirits. I'll consider that some, but I'd be surprised if there's anything that comes up which would make me say 'well, why is it in Shadowrun people do X when toxics can do Y'. Do you have any?


Not with drain being a factor and if it is realistically executed. Mysterously having multiple spirits summoned that day with out being winded is unlikely.
I run a 'small screen' game, the world is very personal to the PC's. World shattering is relative to perspective.

QUOTE
As long as toxic powers are limited to toxics, it shouldn't be a problem. I don't see how saying a toxic can do something special with his spirts invalidates the limitations on a normal shaman. I have to admit, I'm really struggling to see how giving a toxic (or a cyberzombie or any other NPC-only 'class') special powers has any real influence in unbalancing PC classes. Can you give an example?


If the toxic can easily overwhelm a PC shaman/ low cash hermetic the game is screwed. For example if they can summon toxic spirits in clean domains.

QUOTE
I've been wondering that too, actually. Limiting them makes them neat and unique, in that you REALLY don't want them to get to a toxic area, and also explains why their spirits can tag along with them. But allowing them to summon them normally makes them a lot more powerful. Just from my gut, I'd tend to say that normal nature spirits would abhor toxics, and wouldn't respond to them, so toxics have to draw on the twisted aspect of the area. In a place perfectly clear from pollution, they'd have no conjuring ability.


So far I have avoided this by having toxics in toxic areas/ access to toxic areas. I think your right and that is a good line to take on toxic conjuring. Easy enough to swing the story to match.

One of the reasons I don't run mutliple toxic's at a time is so the PC's don't see mutiple million nuyen.gif on the hoof. I know i can stop them but my manipulations become more apparent and the illusion of free will is paramount.
nezumi
QUOTE (Pendaric @ Jul 31 2008, 06:09 PM) *
I am concerned in turning toxic's into being undefeatable by shamans even on the shaman's best day. That for me is unfair. Just cos there NPC's should not make them more uber other than potence and lack of moral code. The point of a super powered NPC capable of fighting a group of runners is that with half a brain they won't. They will fight a runner at a time and defeat each one, one at a time as they are unstoppable.


Again, I think part of this comes down to different GMing styles. I have no problem with throwing 'unbeatable' NPCs against my PCs (and I'm generally proven wrong - my starting characters took down TWO fire teams with attack helicopters, drones and sorcerors. They're now taking down a pair of mages with a force 8 and force 6 elementals and a gang with rocket launchers and sniper rifles.) The truth is, there are creatures out there who are tougher than the PCs, and they need to work around that.

Secondly, again, you can adjust how powerful the toxic is. Nothing says he has to have 6 in all stats. A toxic mage with 4 in conjuring and sorcery and a willpower of 5 is likely going to get killed by an average party. If we agree toxics can have multiple spirits, yes, you'll have to tone down their power a bit, but they still probably aren't going to compare with an elf elementalist with 8 force 8 elementals on call.

Thirdly, you seem to suggest that the toxic will be chasing the PCs. My PCs are smart enough to have hidden safehouses with wards and all the like, and share their locations. It is not hard to make it so NPCs cannot easily pursue you. On the flip side, the toxic will have to have a reason to pursue the shadowrunners, muchless, be aware of them at all. Yes, if that is the situation in your run, you'll need to tone down the toxic slightly. But when I set out my last two big challenges, they met the party as a whole party, because they had no other option - they weren't expectng the party at all in one, and couldn't find the party and so had to draw them out in the other.

Related though, again, this doesn't give the toxics any power that a hostile hermetic doesn't already have. If you're worried the toxic is going to gather up his spirits and chase down the characters, that isn't a concern unique to toxics. What can a toxic do that a hermetic can't already do?

So not saying you're wrong, but that these concerns don't seem like too much to get hung up about. NPC balance is the easiest thing to adjust in the game. I've adjusted NPC stats in the middle of combat because I realized I misguessed (almost always, by underestimating) the power of the party.
Pendaric
I think I see where your coming from. My PC hermetic is, though not totaly min maxed, very powerful magically. What am conserned about is the precedent I set for all shamans via the toxic shaman's access to domains. Also the power level of shaman versus toxic, again because the current spell slinger is VERY powerful in magic, so the balance else where may swing out of kilter.
Within a game seassion the NPC power is easily modded (to a degree) but the big picture implications are what I need to judge. 'To light a candle is to cast a shadow' and all that.

The toxic is currently in a cat and mouse game with the PC's, each think they have the upper hand as is. Eventually the PC's will corner the toxic shark shaman, hence the problem with sea domains, in a toxic domain because I like being harsh and it is a good tie in to conjuring from toxic domains. He will have goons and now several spirits, some of which will be the same, as I think I know how this works now. I will spare you a blow by blow account of the plan for data security from my players and I know am perdantic.

I needed to talk through the possibilities before I was happy putting this in my game. I had the if and the why but I needed the how, where and when to have the whole picture.
nezumi
At this point, are you concerned about the implications of adding the ability to take spirits outside of their domain and therefore accumulate quite a number of spirits, or are you concerned about making a specific definition of domains?

The former, I don't see as a problem - like I said, it only applies to toxics, never to shamans, so PCs will never have access to that power.

The latter... Worth discussing. Do you have any thoughts on wh it wouldn't work?
Pendaric
Just ran the session with the toxic shark shaman and so very nearly got a total party wipe. Every single PC and allies where unconscious or on deadly and out of karma. The final PC standing by will alone, literaly pulling victory from the throat of defeat (throat, it had passed the jaws) and saving his companions so the cavarly can turn up in the nick of time. It does not get closer than that, damn am pleased!

As to the issue of the sticking point was the defining what exactly constituted a domain for a shaman.

I wanted to challange my mage but didn't want to screw shamans in the process.
I side-stepped this issue by taking your advise that a Toxic can only summon a spirit from a toxic domain. Though this limits toxics some, it worked wonderfully for why they had to face him in a toxic domain and the boundries of a domain. Consequently, toxics can pull the multiple spirit trick as long as they have access to multiple toxic domains, fairly easy in a polluted area. If two toxic domains of the same type are close enough then multiple spirits of same type can be summoned in the same night/day.
Having the specifics of this allowed me to have transparency with my players after the game so everyone knew how this worked. They pretty much work out most through play but needed reassurance no ref fudge was involved.

This ruling allows toxic's to be on par with shamans when surprised but a little more powerful with preperation.
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Dumpshock Forums © 2001-2012