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10gauge
Since a long time I was wondering whether mages need to perform some action like gestures or spoken formulas to cast a spell. I think it would be unfair if mages just have to concentrate because a mundane opponent never would be able to notice that he's going to be grilled. I couldn't find any information about this problem. Help and suggestions would be very appreciated.

Cheers!
Stahlseele
No, they don't.
If they can see something, it does not matter if you have cut their vocal cords and severed their arms.
They can kill you with their mind, if they can see you.
Only if they take the two Testiculation Geasa they need to Wave around and talk bollocks.
Technically, you can't even stop a mage from casting spells if you blind him.
He will just use astral perception to sling mana spells.
10gauge
This makes them extremely dangerous. So, if a megacorp wants to negotiate with a runner they don't know yet, would they first observe him even with a mage to determine whether he is magically active or not?

I have a very paranoid mage in my group and I don't want four dead NPCs for nothing. This would probably end in disaster.
Uli
I agree that there are in general no universal signs, but...

The more powerful magicical practice is the more obvious it becomes. A force 2 Stun Bolt will probably not feature any gestures, maybe a whispered (and exchangeable) word of power and a glance. A force 10 energy bolt is very noticeable - the mage will prabably assume a dominant posture, breath deaply, speak formulae intensely (not necessarily loud), and make a forceful wave or pointing while casting.

The point is, that a mage uses methods which help his mind kill people. That can be postures, gestures, word, humming, or intense inward concentration like Hiro Nakamura. Or whatever fits.

[EDIT: There's nothing wrong with bringing professional magical security to a negotiation. You could put an astral barrier between the group and the Johnson to prevent each of the two of assensing and making the other party nervous. And no, I think there is nothing especially wrong with checking runner mages. They check their mates, associates, and enemies all the time themselves.]
Stahlseele
QUOTE (10gauge @ Apr 12 2009, 05:57 PM) *
This makes them extremely dangerous. So, if a megacorp wants to negotiate with a runner they don't know yet, would they first observe him even with a mage to determine whether he is magically active or not?

I have a very paranoid mage in my group and I don't want four dead NPCs for nothing. This would probably end in disaster.

Where, do you think, does the KILL THE MAGE FIRST come from? O.o
You can not caputre a mage and make him helpless, unless you can take his magic away somehow . .
all his mind.control and fire-power is built in.
10gauge
Thank you for your quick and very helpful replies.
Neraph
Don't forget about Mana Static and Magecuffs/Mage Hood (hood, was it?), if you really want to lay the smack-down on a mage.

That aside, mage's aren't all that supremely powerful. You have to remember balancing factors like Drain and SHOOT THE MAGE FIRST.
Muspellsheimr
Magicians are not required to make any form of physical movement or vocalize anything to cast or summon, unless they take a Geas for such. Every-day spellslingers, however, often will as a method of focus & concentration; my characters, however, never do unless I specify otherwise (& then it is usually for show).

This does not mean you cannot notice someone using magic - high Force spells & summoning is actually very noticable.
QUOTE (SR4 p.168)
Noticing if someone is using a magical skill requires a
Perception Test (p. 117) with a threshold equal to 6 minus the
magic’s Force—more powerful magic is easier to spot. Th e gamemaster
should apply additional modifi ers as appropriate, or if
the perceiver is Awakened themselves (+2 dice), astrally perceiving
(+2 dice), or if a shamanic mask is evident (+2 dice).
Stahlseele
So, even if the Mage is only casting a small little glance into your direction, you have to make a perception test with . . what? Force 6 Stun-Bolt, meaning 0 Successed needed? O.o
GreyBrother
That should tell you something... they DO need to do something which can be perceived, otherwise it would'nt be a Complex Action.

Short Answer: Magicians need to do something to cast a spell or summon a spirit.
Long Answer: A Magician needs to do something appropriate for his tradition. A shaman sings the songs of his totem, a hermetician vocalizes the spell, whatever the player comes up with that fits. Why? Traditions aren't for show. A shaman doesn't learn to kill people by glancing at them, he curses them with pain and hurt, a mambo pleads to damballah to strike her enemies down with lightning and so on.
Zurai
QUOTE (GreyBrother @ Apr 12 2009, 02:46 PM) *
A Magician needs to do something appropriate for his tradition. A shaman sings the songs of his totem, a hermetician vocalizes the spell, whatever the player comes up with that fits.


No. Geasa are 10 point Negative Qualities for a reason. Spellcasting is detectable, but not through any of the "makes spellcasting obvious" Geasa types (gestures, vocalization, dancing, etc).
silva
Agree with greybrother.

And the text is ambiguous - first it says its not necessary to gesture or anything visual. Then it says the spellcasting can be perceived by an perception test. Huh?
GreyBrother
QUOTE (Zurai @ Apr 12 2009, 10:01 PM) *
No. Geasa are 10 point Negative Qualities for a reason. Spellcasting is detectable, but not through any of the "makes spellcasting obvious" Geasa types (gestures, vocalization, dancing, etc).

Geas just says, that you absolutely MUST do something specific for some magical actions. Until you take it you have free reign about what you do to make your magic as visible as needed. Those are just fluff geas, you don't get BP for it but the satisfaction that you actually do some roleplaying grinbig.gif
CanRay
On the part of keeping Mages hostage... Mage Mask. Keep them in that for a few days, and they'll be nice and insane.

Or Tranqs. Lots of Tranqs! No concentration, no magic!

And you can pump them full of artificial drugs to burn out their magic as well. Then release them into the General Population of a prison.

Lone Star Police Stations are not Nationalized (They're still part of the UCAS.). Lone Star PRISONS, however, are. They can do whatever they want that's legal under their laws, and no one can say Diddily-Bo!

And, frankly, the public isn't going to give two dreks about some ex-con magician anyhow.
Zurai
QUOTE (silva @ Apr 12 2009, 03:03 PM) *
Agree with greybrother.

And the text is ambiguous - first it says its not necessary to gesture or anything visual. Then it says the spellcasting can be perceived by an perception test. Huh?


The two statements don't contradict each other. I know D&D isn't exactly well-liked around here, but it's the same thing as Spell-Like Abilities in D&D: they don't have Verbal, Somatic (gesture), or Material components, so there's no blindingly obvious way to detect that they're being used, but they still provoke Attacks of Opportunity in battle because you're focusing your attention on using your ability rather than defending yourself. Same thing here -- you're focused inwards, not paying attention to the "real world", not to mention with a high-Force spell there's probably some very obvious (thus the threshold of 0 for F6 spells) visual indicators from the gathering of mana itself. Glowing auras, sparkly air, a strong wind inside, etc. However, the text is VERY clear that you do NOT need to speak, gesture, or otherwise do anything physical to cast a spell.
10gauge
Well, even if you can notice a mage is casting by making a perception test... I see a problem with initiative. If you are faster than the mage, you won't notice anything because the mage hasn't begun to cast yet. If you're slower than the mage, he has finished his spell before you are allowed to make your perception test. So either you notice noting, or you you notice that he casted a spell while you're already burning.

Or did I miss something?
silva
I remember reading somewhere that the perception test is to see if the magician is trying to cast the spell, through visual clues (concentration, gestures, etc.). But I may be mistaken. Gonna read the book when arrive at home.

Anyway, if its true that a mage dont need to do anything other than think, the authors lost a great chance of depicting the roleplaying elements of the traditions, IMHO. Further, it took a step out from what I think are great magic depictions in the roleplaying industry (Mage, Unknown Armies, Witchcraft), and aproached what I see as poor magical depictions (like D&D, where spells are more like different guns).

(In my table, it would be mandatory. "Dont say you cast a manaball. Show me how you do it, by your traditions beliefs!").
Cain
QUOTE (10gauge @ Apr 12 2009, 02:13 PM) *
Well, even if you can notice a mage is casting by making a perception test... I see a problem with initiative. If you are faster than the mage, you won't notice anything because the mage hasn't begun to cast yet. If you're slower than the mage, he has finished his spell before you are allowed to make your perception test. So either you notice noting, or you you notice that he casted a spell while you're already burning.

Or did I miss something?

Not all spells are combat spells. You might need to detect something like a mental manipulation. The shimmer in the air tells you *some* thing happened, the fact that the sarge is acting weird tells you what.
Zurai
QUOTE (silva @ Apr 12 2009, 04:15 PM) *
Anyway, if its true that a mage dont need to do anything other than think, the authors lost a great chance of depicting the roleplaying elements of the traditions, IMHO.

(In my table, it would be mandatory. "Dont say you cast a manaball. Show me how you do it, by your traditions beliefs!").


And what if their tradition is Psionics? Or some other tradition that internalizes magic, such that there wouldn't BE an external physical sign of spellcasting such as gestures or chanting?
silva
QUOTE
And what if their tradition is Psionics? Or some other tradition that internalizes magic, such that there wouldn't BE an external physical sign of spellcasting such as gestures or chanting?

Nothing wrong with it, If the tradition´s way of spellcasting is like this. But stating beforehand "you dont need anything to cast a spell beyond a thought", is a step in the wrong direction, to me at least.

I think the process of spellcasting should be pre-stated just as the "spirit categories table", for each tradition.

Eg:

Shamanism spellcasting: chanting, dancing and talking to spirits.
Hermeticism spellcasting: whispering formulae, drawing glyphs in air.
Draco18s
BBB page 168, done.
"Intense concetration, small gestures, and whispering"
Stahlseele
would make magic in situations where stealth is needed a bit . . awkward no? O.o
The runners need to sneak by someone, the shaman proudly declares:"i cast improved invisibility force 6 on us" and promptly begins singing and dancing, while shaking his rattle.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (silva @ Apr 12 2009, 01:03 PM) *
Agree with greybrother.

And the text is ambiguous - first it says its not necessary to gesture or anything visual. Then it says the spellcasting can be perceived by an perception test. Huh?



The "Gathering of Energy" used for spellcasting or summoning is noticeable, the more powerful the spell, the easier that gathering of energy is... The hair on your neck may stand up, your skin may crawl with unseen energy... whatever, but that energy IS noticeable...

silva
QUOTE
would make magic in situations where stealth is needed a bit . . awkward no? O.o
The runners need to sneak by someone, the shaman proudly declares:"i cast improved invisibility force 6 on us" and promptly begins singing and dancing, while shaking his rattle.

The shaman would try to make all the chanting and dancing in a discreet way, just like a street sam would do to arm pump his shotgun while hiding.

Anyway, go to a Casa de Santo and try asking a pai de santo to appease the spirits for you BUT only by thinking, not making gestures or whispering... he wont do it because he prefers to offend you than the spirits. wink.gif



EDIT:
QUOTE
BBB page 168, done.
"Intense concetration, small gestures, and whispering"

I knew Ive read this somewhere. Thanks, Draco.
Shinobi Killfist
As I understand it, there are small gestures and whispering as the base spellcasting level. The Geasa makes it large obvious gestures or loud chanting. One if the force is high enough is obvious when someone is looking, the other might be obvious even if you aren't looking like turned away or in another room or is still obvious when its a low force spell.
Degausser
The SR3 Magic book addressed this problem. Basically, casting spells is like doing any other highly complex skill. Usually, people develop a memory device to help them make the process easier. For example, I CAN do calculus in my head, but it is easier for me (and I am less likely to screw up) if I write the problem down and walk through it step-by-step.

A house rule I use is that, if someone tries to cast a spell without using their tradition's numonic (such as saying ogga booga or waving their arms around) then I increase the threshold by one. You can say it, whisper it, whatever, but if you are bound and gagged, you have an extra threshold.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Degausser @ Apr 12 2009, 04:37 PM) *
The SR3 Magic book addressed this problem. Basically, casting spells is like doing any other highly complex skill. Usually, people develop a memory device to help them make the process easier. For example, I CAN do calculus in my head, but it is easier for me (and I am less likely to screw up) if I write the problem down and walk through it step-by-step.

A house rule I use is that, if someone tries to cast a spell without using their tradition's numonic (such as saying ogga booga or waving their arms around) then I increase the threshold by one. You can say it, whisper it, whatever, but if you are bound and gagged, you have an extra threshold.



That is an interesting idea... I like it...
Stahlseele
would not a dice-pool malus be a bit more appropriate?
Degausser
QUOTE
would not a dice-pool malus be a bit more appropriate?


Eh, Six one half a dozen the other. I have found that my players don't like it when I take away from heir dice pools, so increasing the threshold is a way to get around it.

Technically, according to the books, reducing a dice pool means that there is something wrong WITH YOU, whereas increasing the threshold means that THE TASK is harder. It is harder to cast a spell without your memory helpers (chants, dancing, singing, waving your hands around) so that would increase the threshold, where as something that is specific to you (for example, wounds) reduces your dice pool. That's just how I see it though.
jesusofthemonkeys
Also the caster can use the stealth skill to increase the successes the observers would need.
DireRadiant
Noticing the Casting is different then noticing the spell.

Noticing something Magic happened is distinct from noticing who cast the spell.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (DireRadiant @ Apr 12 2009, 07:18 PM) *
Noticing the Casting is different then noticing the spell.

Noticing something Magic happened is distinct from noticing who cast the spell.



However ift might make finding WHO cast the spell a little harder...

Because we all know the reaction to noticing the caster don't we? GEEEK THE MAGE FIRST.......
Degausser
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Apr 12 2009, 10:19 PM) *
However ift might make finding WHO cast the spell a little harder...

Because we all know the reaction to noticing the caster don't we? GEEEK THE MAGE FIRST.......


We did a silly one-shot campaign once, and it resulted in the funniest thing ever.

So, the team consisted of a couple Street Sams, and a mage. The Mage's handle was 'Geek.' He lasted approx. 0.4 seconds.

"Hi everyone, my name is Raz, and this is my friend, Geek, the Mage."
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Degausser @ Apr 13 2009, 02:59 AM) *
We did a silly one-shot campaign once, and it resulted in the funniest thing ever.

So, the team consisted of a couple Street Sams, and a mage. The Mage's handle was 'Geek.' He lasted approx. 0.4 seconds.

"Hi everyone, my name is Raz, and this is my friend, Geek, the Mage."




Now that is Good... I loved it...
LamplightSlasher
The following is straight from the SR4A:


Noticing Magic
Just how obvious are magical skills? Not very, since most spells and spirits have little, if any,
visible effect in the physical world (unless the magician prefers to have flashy effects, or her
tradition calls for it). An observer has to notice the magicians intense look of concentration,
whispered incantations, and small gestures.
Magicians of some traditions display a more
visible change when practicing magic known as the shamanic mask. The shamanic mask
typically changes the magicians features temporarily to display characteristics appropriate to
her mentor spirit or tradition”an eagle shaman, for example, might seem to have feathers
or beaklike features while spellcasting or summoning.
Noticing if someone is using a magical skill requires a Perception Test (p. 135) with a
threshold equal to 6 minus the magics Force. More powerful magic is easier to spot with
the gathered mana normally appearing as a disturbance or glowing aura in the air around the
caster. The gamemaster should apply additional modifiers as appropriate, or if the perceiver
is Awakened themselves (+2 dice), astrally perceiving (+2 dice), or if a shamanic mask is
evident (+2 dice).

That actually seems pretty clear cut. I know I will be requiring mages in my own game to make some kind of visible 'gesture'.

The magical effect may not be visible, a manabolt thus being invisible upon casting and until impact with the target, but the gestures required to cast them are still physical.
Stahlseele
soo, as soon as the mages hands are found, he can't cast anymore?
DireRadiant
Only if you limit things to hand gestures.

The signs of skill use could be anything.
CanRay
Now, to throw some Kerosene on the fire... What about the Shamanic Mask?
LamplightSlasher
Just because someone knows that mage is casting, doesn't mean that they know what is being cast, or that they have the means to prevent it. And for the spellcasters, they are required to be creative in how they hide their gestures. Is that mysterious veiled woman with the Johnson simply from a culture where veils are common, or using them to hide her vocal gestures?
Caadium
"Alright rookie, the first rule to remember when dealing with Shadowrunners is to 'Geek the Mage first!'"

"But Sarge, how will I know which one is the mage?"

"Just look for the man that looks like he's trying to take a shit. Any man that is trying to crap during a firefight is a priority target. Either that's the mage, and therefore rule one applies, or its someone thats in over their head, in which case putting them out of there misery is the most humane thing you can do. Got it?"

"Yessir, cap the crapper, got it!"
paws2sky
QUOTE (CanRay @ Apr 14 2009, 02:39 PM) *
Now, to throw some Kerosene on the fire... What about the Shamanic Mask?


FOOOSH!

Yeah...
Since its optional, why would you ever want it?
Should it apply to everyone with a Mentor Spirit?

-paws
Lansdren
QUOTE (paws2sky @ Apr 14 2009, 07:45 PM) *
FOOOSH!

Yeah...
Since its optional, why would you ever want it?
Should it apply to everyone with a Mentor Spirit?

-paws



For flavour a street ganger level wolf shaman of mine has a full nano tattoo of a wolf mask on his face to get more in the right frame of mind.
Malachi
The Shamanic Mask is an optional way to have your character's spellcasting be noticeable. For your character, you can have their method of Spellcasting be gestures, spoken word, shamanic mask, some other sort of "visual manifestation," or any combination of the previous. That much is all roleplaying fluff. It makes no difference as far as the rules are concerned as long as the Magician can see the target. If there's geasa involved, then that's a different story.
Earlydawn
Does anybody else throw the "subtle spells" thing out the window? I can't stand the idea of mages and shamans throwing around immensely powerful manaballs and such around without visible cues. It just feels too psionic and not magic to me.
paws2sky
QUOTE (Earlydawn @ Apr 14 2009, 03:19 PM) *
Does anybody else throw the "subtle spells" thing out the window? I can't stand the idea of mages and shamans throwing around immensely powerful manaballs and such around without visible cues. It just feels too psionic and not magic to me.


We apparently have different definitions of immensely powerful.

The threshold to notice a caster is 6 minus the Force of the spell. At Force 6 and higher, any observer automatically notices a spell being cast unless they are incapable of making a Perception roll.

Arguably, Force 5 is about what most soft-maxed starting casters are going to be throwing around. At that level you need 1 hit to notice a magician casting. Not hard, even for Bob the Pedestrian to spot. And while Force 5 is very beefy, its hardly what I'd call immensely powerful.

At lower than Force 5, yeah, it can be tricky to notice a spell being cast, especially if you're unperceptive. That's one of the things that, rightly IMO, makes magicians scary.

So... yeah, I'm okay with low Force spells being hard to notice. If you want your magician to wave his arms around and chant up a storm, take Geas (Gestures), Geas (Singing), and enjoy your 20 extra BP.

-paws

PS Personally, I think I would have made the threshold (Spellcaster's Magic) minus Force, but whatever, I'm not a game designer.
Kev
QUOTE (silva @ Apr 12 2009, 05:26 PM) *
Nothing wrong with it, If the tradition´s way of spellcasting is like this. But stating beforehand "you dont need anything to cast a spell beyond a thought", is a step in the wrong direction, to me at least.

I think the process of spellcasting should be pre-stated just as the "spirit categories table", for each tradition.

Eg:

Shamanism spellcasting: chanting, dancing and talking to spirits.
Hermeticism spellcasting: whispering formulae, drawing glyphs in air.


The funny thing is that a lot of that is just fluff, not game mechanic. Magic is like any other skill; you'll always perform it how you learn it. If people learn division by writing it out, then they'll naturally write it out when they need to do division. If you learn magic by concentrating and asking the spirits in Creole to lend you their strength, then TA-DA, that's what you'll do. But that's not the necessary part of magic; only the concentration and molding of mana is important, much like in division where the only thing necessary is the mathematical operations to acheive the result.

In my book, people notice magic due to the magician's intense concentration; perhaps they chant under their breath, or their eyes roll back slightly; whatever. When the spells cross the magical FORCE 6 threshold, well... then the air around the mage starts rippling, and you feel the mana being channeled and shaped around them.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
Well Put...
CanRay
Back in the old days (Wow, I'M saying this?), the Shamanic Mask wasn't optional. And that's one thing I've kept. I also give Shamans their Totem (Mentor Spirit) for free.

It's just part of Shadowrun Magic as far as I'm concerned, and the plusses equal the minuses for having one as far as I'm concerned.

But that's just me. Sitting here, in my rocking chair. Polishing up my Defiance T-250 nice and pretty-like.
Draco18s
QUOTE (CanRay @ Apr 14 2009, 10:53 PM) *
But that's just me. Sitting here, in my rocking chair. Polishing up my Defiance T-250 nice and pretty-like.


*Sigh*
I really do need to get myself a silver-topped cane. And a lawn. So I can yell at kids to get off of it.
(No, I'm not really that old, but there is a generation gap between 5th and 6th grades right now, so I do feel like "my generation" is rather small and feel old).
GreyBrother
QUOTE (Kev @ Apr 15 2009, 12:16 AM) *
The funny thing is that a lot of that is just fluff, not game mechanic. Magic is like any other skill; you'll always perform it how you learn it.

That's called a Tradition, isn't it?
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