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Over in another thread, Synner wrote:
"Particularly astral combat tends to be a one-on-one affair (or otherwise involves a magician calling on Spellcasting to level the field.) Furthermore the absence of maneuvers in astral combat make its much more linear and faster to resolve than other types of combat. In fact the only occasion I've encountered where astral combat extended beyond a couple of turns (and 15 minutes) was when a character tripped upon a patrol of hybrid form ants and a true form warrior ant."

At our table, astral combat tends to be a horde-on-horde affair, because any well-resourced mage has a maxed-out posse of bound spirits. Spirits of F4 and higher have an Astral Combat DP that's hard for a mage to match.

The absence of manuevers makes astral combat more linear. I find it also more dull. There's a bit of fluff difference between "you come across six ork gangers in leather jackets and combat boots, with switchblades and Saturday Night Specials" vs. "you come across six human guards in blue MCT uniforms with helmets, packing machine pistols and shockrods". You might use the same tactics against both, but the player's imagination can fill in some scenic detail.

Astral combat, by comparison, comes down to "Spirits A, B and C roll double their Force, target spirit D rolls double its Force to avoid the attack, spirits A B and C do (1/2 F) DV, spirit D rolls its Force to soak damage". Also, the 1:2 ratio of DV and soak pool make spirit-versus-spirit combat more a matter of attrition, rather than the "glass cannon" effects of physical-world combat.

I'd be interested in some Optional Powers for spirits that could apply to Astral combat... besides the Inherent Spell power, which makes Spirit of Man with Stunball/Stunbolt/Mana Static pretty much superior to any other kind of spirit in astral combat (unless countered with Magical Guard). I'd be interested in Spirits of Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Beast being something other than completely interchangable in the astral plane.

I'd also be interested in an Astral version of Full Defense.

I've got a decent visualization, I think, of combat between two Projecting characters. I'm a bit unclear on how to visualize combat between a Projecting character and a Dual-Natured (eg Perceiving) character. The former can zoom in and out, sidestep, etc. at super-high velocity; the latter cannot, because their astral form is tied to their meat body. How can the latter ever score a hit on the former?

I wrote my shaman PC with a F2 weapon focus shockstick (much cheaper in BP at chargen than it would be in Karma later), a rank in Astral Combat, and a specialization in Club focus, and figured that was a reasonable starting investment in astral combat. I also took Clubs and specialization Batons for physical-world combat, eg against targets with Counterspelling or when Parry is useful. That's 12 BP in Skills, 2 BP to bind the focus, and 4 BP of nuyen to buy the focus, total 18. It's viable, but there are more efficient investments of Karma/BP. And again, it's hard for that PC to land any blows on a spirit of F4 or higher, and high-level opposition is F5 or F6.

So... what works at your table?
I make spellcasting on the Astral a very bad idea to force people to use Astral Combat instead of spells/powers, and have shifted Astral Combat to a purely mental display, you don't have to do anything but give your opponent the "Evil Eye" to turn his brains to mush at LOS ranges.
Mostly, we just avoid it. If I'm having spirits clash, I just make adjustments based on opposing Force ratings.
In our games Astral Combat is very rare.
But our gm has ruled that spellcasting while projecting always causes physical drain so Astral Combat is very useful when needed.
It's never come up in my games, but for reconciling dual natured vs. purely astral opponents, I think the key would be to characterise the battle as something other than actual moves, holds and strikes and more a clash of energy or pure will. After all, the mental attributes take the place of physical ones on the Astral so it makes sense to me. Then you don't have to worry about the superior speed and mobility of the purely astral being. You just describe the spiritual or psychic struggle that takes place between them.
I've always described it as ripping another soul apart with the shear force of your will (hence the importance of charisma in astral). When you hurt someone in astral combat your hurting the very energy that makes them a living being.

Spirits should be utterly deadly on Astral plane because it's their world... we just visit it. Spirits are also the only thing that keeps mages from running around willy nilly like hackers with noclip on. Projecting into the Astral should be something of a big deal in my opinion.

When an astrally projecting spirit/mage attacks a dual nature creature I've always envisioned it like a scene out of The Exorcist. The creatures eyes roll back into it's head as it zones out and focuses on the astral, it's body twitches and rocks as it concentrates on keeping it's soul together while something unseen tries to rip it apart. Given the speed of astral combat it's resolved so quickly that someone without wires probably doesn't think much more than "Holy shit that barghest is totally freaking out!"

I envision astral full defense to simply meaning that a character spend all his energy focusing inwards, pooling his inner strength to focus on keeping himself together.

I'll also note that I've always loved thinking of astral combat as the most intimate way to kill someone. There's simply no way avoid coming face to face with what your doing. The only saving grace is that it's over so quickly.
QUOTE (DocTaotsu @ Oct 22 2008, 12:30 PM) *
I'll also note that I've always loved thinking of astral combat as the most intimate way to kill someone. There's simply no way avoid coming face to face with what your doing. The only saving grace is that it's over so quickly.

That's really good. And it gives me a great idea for the start of a new mission. biggrin.gif
Oh do tell smile.gif I never give enough mage love in my games.
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