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Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 04:20 PM) *
Sure, the victim knows they are being Probed, but has no way of knowing who is doing the Probing or what specific information their assailant is Probing for. As for time required, one piece of information can be gained for every complex action, so we're talking a matter of seconds to learn the self destruct code to the Death Star or whatever. By the time the victim is able to walk into another room and break LOS, its already too late and the information has been stolen. I can't even imagine a target with high rating Wired Reflexes being able to walk into another room in less time than it would take the caster to learn at least one important piece of information like a passcode or something.


Not necessarily...

You can be spotted casting the spell initially...
You are apparently expecting that you know the "Exact" wuestion that will give you what you are looking for... I would be willing to guess, however, that unless you are EXTREMELY lucky, it is going to take multiple questions to narrow down your search to something that is useful, and since the target KNOWS he is being probed, well, there is Truth, and then there is "Truth"... and he only needs to "Answer" the SPECIFIC question that you put to him... which means that you may likely miss something very important if you just ask a single question and then bolt... sucks to know the Destruct Code for the Death Star when you know absolutely nothing about the defenses that you will have to bypass to actually have a chance in hell of using the Code so obtained...

It is not as powerful as you think it is... and it is fairly easy to foil, as so many others have pointed out... In your other example above... if that passcode contains multiple levels of authentication, you may indeed be somewhat screwed if you believe you have everything, and you truly do not... that is exactly how Shadowrunners end up dying... they rely upon something that is "Powerful" and "FailProof" and they fail to make plans for when that power does not perfrom as they thought it would...

Besides, You can get the same information by Physical Torture/Interrogation while your mage keeps up an Analyze Truth Spell... So are you going to ban the Analyze Truth Spell as well?

There are many, many ways to obtain information in Shadowrun... And Mind Probe is not the end all, be all to keeping secrets...

Keep the Faith

Dreadlord
Double post due to flaky connection...

That's what I get for tethering!
Shinobi Killfist
QUOTE (Udoshi @ May 26 2010, 06:29 PM) *
Spotting spellcasting is fairly easy. (Noticing Magic, 4A page 179). Its a perception test, with a threshold of 6-Force. Observers get +2 dice if awakened, +2 if currently astrally percieving, and +2 if the caster is manifesting a shamanic mask(Lol, be unfair to shamans.) The relevant section also states that high-force things tend to make the air glow, and other visible mana disturbances.

Just remember, that every time you toss off a force 5 or 6 spell, everyone paying the least bit of attention is going 'holy shit, a mage, geek him.'

On the other hand, if you -want- to cast subtly (Force, 4A page 182) tells you that Force limits the amount of hits(not net hits) on the spellcasting test - and that this limitation does not apply to Edge dice that are used to boost the spell. Low Force, Edged spells are the way to go - you just need to be more on top of keeping track of net hits, but its totally doable.



I think the point is in the right situations the target will have a big enough penalty to his perception that he wont have enough dice to hit a threshold 2 or maybe even 1.

In previous editions was it touch range, or like 4es touch range to gain the sense. Some what related the senses range is force X magic meters I think, unless you make a extended range version. 20+meters is still probably plenty to make this a hard spell to deal with.

Anyways I kind of like this spell in that it at least removes some of the sick how I torture people for info scenes out of the game. But I think I'd prefer it as a range of touch.
Redcrow
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 26 2010, 11:37 PM) *
Not necessarily...

You can be spotted casting the spell initially...


Sure, if the caster is out in the open with few other people around it might be fairly easy to figure out who is doing it. But as I pointed out in earlier posts there are numerous situations where being spotted is anything but easy. My players aren't stupid, they aren't going to try Mind Probe on someone out in the open where it would be easy to spot them. They are going to do it from relative cover. Being sneaky is par for the course with most Shadowrunner activity, so I see no reason to assume that they wouldn't follow suit when using something like Mind Probe. Maybe being stealthy is just more common in my games.


QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 26 2010, 11:37 PM) *
You are apparently expecting that you know the "Exact" wuestion that will give you what you are looking for... I would be willing to guess, however, that unless you are EXTREMELY lucky, it is going to take multiple questions to narrow down your search to something that is useful, and since the target KNOWS he is being probed, well, there is Truth, and then there is "Truth"... and he only needs to "Answer" the SPECIFIC question that you put to him... which means that you may likely miss something very important if you just ask a single question and then bolt... sucks to know the Destruct Code for the Death Star when you know absolutely nothing about the defenses that you will have to bypass to actually have a chance in hell of using the Code so obtained...


What is the self destruct code to the Death Star? Fairly straight forward and I can't see much room for confusion. Sure, as a GM I can always screw over the caster and give them the "old" self destruct code or some other useless piece of information, but its a bit heavy-handed to constantly be doing that just because I don't particularly like the way the spell works. Far easier just to nerf the spell into something less obtrusive to the game.

Also, the target doesn't "answer" anything. The caster gains whatever piece of information he is looking for if the target has it. Period. Sure, it may only be the truth as the target knows it, but that is really completely beside the point and just another GM tactic that would get old rather quickly.

QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 26 2010, 11:37 PM) *
It is not as powerful as you think it is... and it is fairly easy to foil, as so many others have pointed out... In your other example above... if that passcode contains multiple levels of authentication, you may indeed be somewhat screwed if you believe you have everything, and you truly do not... that is exactly how Shadowrunners end up dying... they rely upon something that is "Powerful" and "FailProof" and they fail to make plans for when that power does not perfrom as they thought it would...


It is not easy to foil at all unless the target is either awakened themselves or guarded by someone who is. I have not read a single method of foiling the spell that doesn't rely on GM heavy-handedness by dishing out consequences that seem disproportionate to the situation and those only after the fact, or by the intervention of another awakened person intervening in some way.

QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 26 2010, 11:37 PM) *
Besides, You can get the same information by Physical Torture/Interrogation while your mage keeps up an Analyze Truth Spell... So are you going to ban the Analyze Truth Spell as well?

There are many, many ways to obtain information in Shadowrun... And Mind Probe is not the end all, be all to keeping secrets...

Keep the Faith


Physical Torture/Interrogation while your mage keeps up an Analyze Truth spell can not be performed with the same anonymity as simply doing a Mind Probe. Even if the target is blindfolded or the Torturers all wearing masks to conceal their identity, they still have to get the subject somewhere alone. If Mind Probe were equally as vulgar and obvious as Physical Torture/Interrogation, I wouldn't have any problem at all with it. But its not, so the two scenarios aren't equal. Not only will Mind Probe give you the information you are looking for, it will also be the truth as far as the target knows it.

Mind Probe can be performed in seconds, requires few net hits, and can be done from a distance and if successful will always reveal the truth as the target knows it. Can you think of a single traditional Interrogation technique that beats that? I sure can't.
DireRadiant
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 05:03 PM) *
That is the whole crux of my problem right there. Its a powerful spell that is (too) easy to cast and use. It takes mere seconds to perform, requires few net hits, and can be done with virtual anonymity. Sure, I can come up with all sorts of in-game consequences, but just as the spell itself can easily be abused so can a GMs frequent use of consequences whenever a PC does something they don't like. I use in-game consequences all the time, but I also try to think those consequences through rather thoroughly to ensure they are consistent and that I'm not being heavy-handed just because a PC has done something unexpected or that I feel disrupts the game. Eventually the player is going to start to feel like the spell is only useful when I the GM deem it appropriate and is otherwise completely worthless because anytime they try to use it I'm just going to screw them over in some way. Thats not how I want to GM and I don't think my players would stick around long if I did.


Bullets cost 2 nuyen. There are in game consequences for those too.

You can play the game how you want. Like I said already, if you feel Mind Probe is too powerful and you want to tweak the game mechanics to account for that, go right ahead, it's your game.

You just aren't going to convince me I need to do that, nor that the game over all needs that.
Redcrow
QUOTE (DireRadiant @ May 27 2010, 02:24 AM) *
Bullets cost 2 nuyen. There are in game consequences for those too.

You can play the game how you want. Like I said already, if you feel Mind Probe is too powerful and you want to tweak the game mechanics to account for that, go right ahead, it's your game.

You just aren't going to convince me I need to do that, nor that the game over all needs that.



I haven't been trying to convince anyone to do anything. Instead I merely began the thread with a simple question and once answered stated how I will handle it in my own game. Instead it seems like everyone else is trying to convince me that the spell is just fine as is. I generally don't tell others how they should handle things in their own game, I just explain how I do it in mine and if it differs from the RAW provide a reason why I've changed it. It is for each person on their own to decide if they like the change or not.

I'm always open to suggestions, but haven't seen a single response that addresses my main problems with Mind Probe without resorting to heavy-handed GM consequences that are either limited to a very specific scenario or out of proportion. I've played in games with heavy-handed GMs who regularly use out of proportion consequences when something happens they don't like and its always obvious that the consequences don't fit the circumstances. Thats not the kind of GM I want to be nor is it the type of GM I would want to be a player for. I have no problem creating consequences for PC actions. I do it quite regularly in fact. But I also always take time to consider whether the consequences are consistent and fit the circumstances rather than doling them out simply because I don't like something the PCs have done.

Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 06:22 PM) *
Sure, if the caster is out in the open with few other people around it might be fairly easy to figure out who is doing it. But as I pointed out in earlier posts there are numerous situations where being spotted is anything but easy. My players aren't stupid, they aren't going to try Mind Probe on someone out in the open where it would be easy to spot them. They are going to do it from relative cover. Being sneaky is par for the course with most Shadowrunner activity, so I see no reason to assume that they wouldn't follow suit when using something like Mind Probe. Maybe being stealthy is just more common in my games.


But lets not forget that your spellcaster/target using the spell is going to be sufferring the sme penalties to cast th e spell... distractions work both ways... Yes, being sneaky is par for the course... but hte ability to remove yourself from LOS is also pretty damn easy, especially when you feel someone screwing with your mind...

QUOTE
What is the self destruct code to the Death Star? Fairly straight forward and I can't see much room for confusion. Sure, as a GM I can always screw over the caster and give them the "old" self destruct code or some other useless piece of information, but its a bit heavy-handed to constantly be doing that just because I don't particularly like the way the spell works. Far easier just to nerf the spell into something less obtrusive to the game.


So you have the code to self-destruct... great, but you do not know that hte code changes every hour, or that the security procedures to get in are updated every Hour, or that there are 5 Levels of security to penetrate before you even have the chance to do anything with that code... Having just one piece of the puzzle still means that you are missing a vast number of other pieces... you cannot assume that it is going to be that easy... One spell and you have the answers to the Universe... Really? Not at my table anyways... it has nothing to do with screwing over the players... it has everything to do with having a challenging scenario that has more levels than One...

QUOTE
Also, the target doesn't "answer" anything. The caster gains whatever piece of information he is looking for if the target has it. Period. Sure, it may only be the truth as the target knows it, but that is really completely beside the point and just another GM tactic that would get old rather quickly.


Sure... the "answer" is just a way of delineating the response, which is of course something that you have gleaned... but you cannot glean any more than you ask, and you damn well better be specific, because vague questions result in vague answers... so again, it is going to take a while to extract any relevant information, if you want to be thorough about it... Again, More layers than One... if you don't have complicated Scenarios, with many possible twists and turns, where One hand may not know what the other hand is doing, then yes... it becomes a very powerful spell... In 20 years of playing, I have never seen Mind Probe as being an Instant "I Win" button like is being claimed here...

QUOTE
It is not easy to foil at all unless the target is either awakened themselves or guarded by someone who is. I have not read a single method of foiling the spell that doesn't rely on GM heavy-handedness by dishing out consequences that seem disproportionate to the situation and those only after the fact, or by the intervention of another awakened person intervening in some way.


Remove from line of Sight... Case Closed... spell fails...
Any Resistance Successes will reduce your successes, and you may not get the level of detail you want... Spell Useless...
Spell Resistance... adds Dice, Possible more resistance Successes... Spell Useless/Fails...
Counterspelling from allied Mage... Spell Useless/Fails...
Target may not know what you are asking... Lackeys generally do not know anything important... Spell Useless...

There are many other permutations to this scenario... that was Just 5 in a minutes worth of thinking...

QUOTE
Physical Torture/Interrogation while your mage keeps up an Analyze Truth spell can not be performed with the same anonymity as simply doing a Mind Probe. Even if the target is blindfolded or the Torturers all wearing masks to conceal their identity, they still have to get the subject somewhere alone. If Mind Probe were equally as vulgar and obvious as Physical Torture/Interrogation, I wouldn't have any problem at all with it. But its not, so the two scenarios aren't equal. Not only will Mind Probe give you the information you are looking for, it will also be the truth as far as the target knows it.


Sure it can... Capture the Target... Keep him in a Dark Room, Hooded so he cannot see... Bring in the Interrogators and the Mage (Mage remains quiet)... proceed to Torture and ask questions... eventually every one breaks... Spell verifies veracity... target has no idea who is involved... Run Proceeds...

QUOTE
Mind Probe can be performed in seconds, requires few net hits, and can be done from a distance and if successful will always reveal the truth as the target knows it. Can you think of a single traditional Interrogation technique that beats that? I sure can't.


Sure, Sodium Pentathol with an Analyze Truth Spell to verify Veracity... and I can guarantee you that you will be involved with your Mind Probe Spell a lot longer than a few seconds... especially if the Target has anything to say about it... the only time that you will hold all of the cards, is if the target has been apprehended, and is immobolized, and is unable to do anything about it, at which point, any old technique of interrogation will work just fine...

Can the Mind Probe Spell be useful? Sure...
Is it a MOnumentally overpowered Spell that ruins games? NO... Not in my experience...

Your mileage may indeed vary, but I think that many people are making a mountain out of a molehill here...

Keep the Faith
Redcrow
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 27 2010, 03:01 AM) *
But lets not forget that your spellcaster/target using the spell is going to be sufferring the sme penalties to cast th e spell... distractions work both ways... Yes, being sneaky is par for the course... but hte ability to remove yourself from LOS is also pretty damn easy, especially when you feel someone screwing with your mind...


Why would the spellcaster have the same penalties unless the target is also trying to be stealthy? I guess I missed the rule where it describes a character using stealth suffering from penalties to perception. Removing yourself from LOS might be easy, but its not quicker than the few seconds needed for the caster of Mind Probe to gain some useful information. Unless every potential target is standing in a doorway holding the door and ready to swing it closed at the first sign of trouble.

QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 27 2010, 03:01 AM) *
So you have the code to self-destruct... great, but you do not know that hte code changes every hour, or that the security procedures to get in are updated every Hour, or that there are 5 Levels of security to penetrate before you even have the chance to do anything with that code... Having just one piece of the puzzle still means that you are missing a vast number of other pieces... you cannot assume that it is going to be that easy... One spell and you have the answers to the Universe... Really? Not at my table anyways... it has nothing to do with screwing over the players... it has everything to do with having a challenging scenario that has more levels than One...


Either this assumes that more than just the self-destruct code is neccessary, that the caster needed or even wanted more than the self-destruct code, or its just another heavy-handed GM tactic whereby maybe the self-destruct code was all that was necessary, but since the player used Mind Probe to get it and the GM doesn't like that, now suddenly more is information is required. Instead, lets assume that the self-destruct code is in fact all the information the caster needs and wants. Do you still think the target can remove themselves from LOS before the caster has gained it? Its unlikely a target is always going to be two steps away from a doorway and without any immediate way to be sure who is Probing them they can't even be sure which direction would be better to run.



QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 27 2010, 03:01 AM) *
Sure... the "answer" is just a way of delineating the response, which is of course something that you have gleaned... but you cannot glean any more than you ask, and you damn well better be specific, because vague questions result in vague answers... so again, it is going to take a while to extract any relevant information, if you want to be thorough about it... Again, More layers than One... if you don't have complicated Scenarios, with many possible twists and turns, where One hand may not know what the other hand is doing, then yes... it becomes a very powerful spell... In 20 years of playing, I have never seen Mind Probe as being an Instant "I Win" button like is being claimed here...


This is just another way of nerfing the spell. Nowhere in the rules does it say that the caster will only get a vague piece of information unless they ask a very specific question. This is something you have decided on your own is how the spell functions in your game.


QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 27 2010, 03:01 AM) *
Remove from line of Sight... Case Closed... spell fails...
Any Resistance Successes will reduce your successes, and you may not get the level of detail you want... Spell Useless...
Spell Resistance... adds Dice, Possible more resistance Successes... Spell Useless/Fails...
Counterspelling from allied Mage... Spell Useless/Fails...
Target may not know what you are asking... Lackeys generally do not know anything important... Spell Useless...

There are many other permutations to this scenario... that was Just 5 in a minutes worth of thinking...


Remove Line of Sight... spell ENDS (not fails)... unlikely to be done quickly enough to keep caster from learning at least one piece of information
Spell Resistance... dependant on target having this... very limited application
Counterspelling from allied Mage... dependant on target having an allied Mage
No "asking" is actually done... This just assumes the target doesn't have the information the caster is looking for, so its not really a useful solution unless I suddenly make it so that no NPC under the effects of Mind Probe is anything but a lackey and doesn't have the information the PC is looking for


QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 27 2010, 03:01 AM) *
Sure it can... Capture the Target... Keep him in a Dark Room, Hooded so he cannot see... Bring in the Interrogators and the Mage (Mage remains quiet)... proceed to Torture and ask questions... eventually every one breaks... Spell verifies veracity... target has no idea who is involved... Run Proceeds...


And this is quicker and easier than using Mind Probe, how? It also assumes nobody saw you kidnap the target. If you can't agree that its more difficult to kidnap someone than to stare at them from across the room, then I guess we have no common ground here.


QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 27 2010, 03:01 AM) *
Sure, Sodium Pentathol with an Analyze Truth Spell to verify Veracity... and I can guarantee you that you will be involved with your Mind Probe Spell a lot longer than a few seconds... especially if the Target has anything to say about it... the only time that you will hold all of the cards, is if the target has been apprehended, and is immobolized, and is unable to do anything about it, at which point, any old technique of interrogation will work just fine...

Can the Mind Probe Spell be useful? Sure...
Is it a MOnumentally overpowered Spell that ruins games? NO... Not in my experience...

Your mileage may indeed vary, but I think that many people are making a mountain out of a molehill here...

Keep the Faith


Why would you need both Sodium Pentathol and Analyze Truth? Mind Probe already functions as an Analyze Truth spell so no real need for either one. Its simply not possible by RAW for the target of a Mind Probe to consciously or otherwise provide information that isn't the truth or at least the truth as they know it. If the caster gets their 3 net hits, then the target DOESN'T have anything to say about it. They have no way of telling what information is being Probed for nor do they have any way of obfuscating their mind in order to stop the Probe. And in many situations they would have no way of even telling who is doing the Probing before its too late.

You keep describing it as "Asking" and "Answering" questions, but that isn't how its described in the book at all. Its more akin to opening a filing cabinet containing all the information the target knows and picking out whatever directly pertains to the information you are looking for. It doesn't even require any type of Data Search... just *poof* here is the information you are looking for and it is the whole truth as the target knows it. The End.
Dakka Dakka
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 27 2010, 05:01 AM) *
Yes, being sneaky is par for the course... but hte ability to remove yourself from LOS is also pretty damn easy, especially when you feel someone screwing with your mind...
That is not the way it works. Removing yourself from LOS only works while the spell is being cast. When information is extracted, the spell is sustained, during that time the mage doesn't have to maintain LOS.

QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 27 2010, 06:13 AM) *
You keep describing it as "Asking" and "Answering" questions, but that isn't how its described in the book at all. Its more akin to opening a filing cabinet containing all the information the target knows and picking out whatever directly pertains to the information you are looking for. It doesn't even require any type of Data Search... just *poof* here is the information you are looking for and it is the whole truth as the target knows it. The End.
While all information is available like in a filing cabinet, actually retrieving that information is more like a question/answer game. It takes a Complex action to retrieve each bit of information, so, unless you ask the right questions, you will get a whole lot of useless information before finding what you want.
Glyph
Mind probe is a very useful spell, but it does have potential drawbacks. Spellcasting, especially of high Force spells, is noticable. It is a spell with a relatively high Drain code, and you need 3 net hits to view anything deeper than the target's surface thoughts. The target is aware of the mental intrusion, and casting spells leaves an astral signature.

Despite these limitations, it remains extremely effective. I I still like it, though, because it is a spell that requires more tactical thinking from the player. Effectively using mind probe means that you have to put a lot of thought into how to approach the target, and what questions to ask/what piece of information to scour for.
Shinobi Killfist
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 11:38 PM) *
That is not the way it works. Removing yourself from LOS only works while the spell is being cast. When information is extracted, the spell is sustained, during that time the mage doesn't have to maintain LOS.

While all information is available like in a filing cabinet, actually retrieving that information is more like a question/answer game. It takes a Complex action to retrieve each bit of information, so, unless you ask the right questions, you will get a whole lot of useless information before finding what you want.


That is how I see it. Sure its nicely sorted by the dewy decimal system but unless you know how to use it conan the librarian will get you. Or basically if you don't know what you are looking for is under R, you are kind of screwed.

Do they detail how much information is gained, sure one piece per complex action. But is the self destruct code a piece, I'd say yes. How about I want to know the all security arrangements for the arcology? How many complex actions is that 1, or 1 for each different security procedure.
Dakka Dakka
QUOTE (Shinobi Killfist @ May 27 2010, 06:52 AM) *
Do they detail how much information is gained, sure one piece per complex action. But is the self destruct code a piece, I'd say yes. How about I want to know the all security arrangements for the arcology? How many complex actions is that 1, or 1 for each different security procedure.
That's the GM's decision.
Redcrow
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 27 2010, 04:38 AM) *
That is not the way it works. Removing yourself from LOS only works while the spell is being cast. When information is extracted, the spell is sustained, during that time the mage doesn't have to maintain LOS.

While all information is available like in a filing cabinet, actually retrieving that information is more like a question/answer game. It takes a Complex action to retrieve each bit of information, so, unless you ask the right questions, you will get a whole lot of useless information before finding what you want.


I guess I'm just not seeing the question/answer description evident anywhere in the spell description. The table below Mind Probe lists 3-4 net hits as "The subject can find out anything the target consciously knows and view the target's memories". I don't see anywhere that suggests the GM should provide vague information unless the subject asks the correct questions. Sure, if the target has useful information but the caster isn't sure what exactly they are looking for then this would be a valid approach. But I see no reason to deliberately be vague if the caster knows what they are looking for just because I as GM am able to find some sort of loop-hole in the wording they give for their "question". Thats really just nerfing the spell into a game of semantics. Like the old be careful how you word your Wish in that other rpg.

Even if we assume the caster can view one Complex Actions worth of memories for every Complex Action they spend sustaining the spell, they could learn a whole lot in mere seconds.
Mordinvan
QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 26 2010, 09:26 AM) *
Staring hard at someone with an expression of strenuous concentration is a real give-away.


I thought sustained spells only needed LOS to be cast, and not to be sustained. If this is the case, the mage is only sipping his drink, and joking, and not looking at anyone other then his friends.
Dakka Dakka
QUOTE (Mordinvan @ May 27 2010, 08:37 AM) *
I thought sustained spells only needed LOS to be cast, and not to be sustained. If this is the case, the mage is only sipping his drink, and joking, and not looking at anyone other then his friends.
This is indeed the case, I said so before. Only Casting needs LOS, but technically in the same moment that LOS is no longer needed the victim can react to being probed.
Mordinvan
QUOTE (Jaid @ May 26 2010, 01:58 PM) *
right in the spell description.



and there is still a really, really, really good chance for the mage to be noticed casting. let's suppose the mage is casting a force 4 mind probe (need 3 net hits, and the target could quite plausibly generate 1 hit on the resistance test. in fact, the mage is cutting it close, because 2 hits on the resistance test is also fairly likely, but we're giving the benefit of the doubt).

now, there is a threshold of 2 to notice the spellcasting. the dicepool is that of the highest observer, +1 per person in the group, to a maximum of 5. so the patrons as a whole, presuming they start with a dicepool of zero (which i think is a very generous assumption for the mage), will have a dicepool of 5 to perceive the magician casting. and this isn't counting the possibility of the bouncers (and the rest of the employees, who will be assisting the bouncers) noticing it.

about the most you can consistently get away with casting in public and nobody noticing is force 2 spells. if you're tossing around force 4+ on a regular basis, expect to get noticed after a few times.

Except if you're doing it in a bar where its loud, noisy, your casting in a dark corner, and no one is paying attention to you in the first place, the total negatives add up to no one seeing a thing.
Dakka Dakka
round and round we go
Mordinvan
question answered previously. my bad (edit)
Aerospider
QUOTE (Runner Smurf @ May 26 2010, 09:26 PM) *
So, I've instituted the following changes:
1. The spell is by touch only. It's basically a vulcan mind meld. You have to grab the target's head and hold it in your hands.
2. The spell is extraordinarily painful for the target, and not very pleasant for the caster.
3. I've raised the drain code by 2.
4. There is the potential for reverse-flow of information. If (as unlikely as the possibility is), the target gets more hits than the caster, the target can start to read the caster's thoughts.
5. If the caster or the target glitches, all bets are off. Mental negative qualities may be acquired.

Basically, I've made the Mind Probe spell the equivalent of a Mind Rape. And I've made it clear that this is how the spell is viewed in Shadowrun. People can use it, but they should feel dirty when they do so - and more than a little nervous.

- Runner Smurf

That's the least appealing spell I've ever seen.

After all the BP and karma spent on becoming not just a magician but a competant one and learning the spell, taking on the prejudice of civillians and law enforcement not to mention the vulnerabilities inherent in being astrally active (even if it's only the focus in his pocket) the spellcaster is only capable of a draining, unpleasant, zero-range, double-edged sword that could screw his mind up on the first casting?? The target still has to be apprehended just as you would with a mundane approach and then instead of following through with time-tested torture techniques the most valuable member of the team is expected to risk sanity, stun track, personal secrets and judicial anonymity on a spell that might not even work first try. And with the -2 for succesive attempts the first try is often the only try.

What happened to magic being awesome?
Who wants to be a magician if you're not allowed to be more effective than mundanes?

There are very few spells which aren't really effective ways of doing things: magic is magic, if you'll excuse the tortology. Is manabolt unbalanced because it makes it easy to kill people in weapon-free environments? Is physical invisibility overpowered because it makes it easy to sneak past the vast majority of security measures? These aspects are even closer to the heart of SR and can be much more powerful shortcuts. After all if the target of your mind probe isn't important enough to have awakened protection then they probably aren't going to resist physical interrogation too well and probably wouldn't even want to try.

It's really, really easy to write good adventures that don't revolve around the discovery of a couple of answers from one source. Try that.
Aerospider
QUOTE (Runner Smurf @ May 26 2010, 09:26 PM) *
Intelligence agencies and conspiracies would simply have no way to operate in a world where magic like this existed. As described in the rules, any agent at any time could be completely compromised, with little ability to identify who has attacked you.

Not meaning to pick on the same post repeatedly, I think this concern can be alleviated too.

Information is trusted to individuals much less than ever before:
- Electronic data storage is considered to be more secure than a metahuman mind governed by a flawed personality
- The upper echelons of the powers-that-be keep power away from the front line grunts (which includes the field agents of covert organisations)
- It's easier to trace electronic data thefts
- It's easier to control who does and who doesn't have access to the information

So most of potential mind probe targets will know hardly anything outside their own remit and not a lot within it. Physical and Matrix access to facilities and data gets handled by RFID chips, biometric scanners and similar technological shortcuts which remove the need for the agent to carry around passcodes in his head. He doesn't need to read or understand any information he steals himself so that much is often unavailable too. He doesn't need to know the anti-intrusion methods of any particular physical or Matrix system since he's an authorised user and need never encounter them. Most spies would use several other insurance techniques as well, such as data filters, laes cigarettes (that's the amnesia drug, right?), PAB units and many more that I haven't thought of I'm sure. His handler will also make sure that as soon as the agent knows he's been compromised then every bit of compromising information he is aware of can be invalidated immediately. On top of that drones and spirits make spying so much easier, more efficient and more covert.

RAW mind probe doesn't have to spell the end for espionage when it should be a given that easily accessible minds simply won't be that useful.

For an enjoyable adventure, if there are any minds out there that are inherently useful to the point of solving most of the objectives in one fell swoop then the players should find it highly challenging to identify them, track them down and know exactly what they're looking for in the first place.

As is often the case with game-balance issues, elements viewed as overpowered are usually only seen that way because not enough of the rest of the game world is taken into account. Life, nature, society, all these things tend towards equilibrium so if something seems completely out of kilter just take a moment to imagine how the world would naturally react to it and what counterbalances would be created as a result.
Runner Smurf
It's meant to be not very appealing. That's the point. grinbig.gif

As for the whole "time-tested torture techniques" I would point out that those techniques are often not particularly effective (witness our recent real-world problems with water-boarding). And the point of my changes is to make the moral/ethical/judicial implications of rooting around in someone's mind with a mind probe just as sticky as torture. Actually, I want to make mind probe more so because with mind probe, you can be extremely confident in the information you extract.

I'm not trying to nerf mages entirely (there are more than a few other threads on that issue), just put limits on a spell that I find extremely disruptive. A GM asked, I gave them the solution I use in my games.

Yes, individual runs can be constructed so that mind probe isn't completely disruptive. The problem isn't so much the in-game implications - it's the implications of the spell in the game world. The ability to extract any information from any person's mind at any time would be utterly paralyzing to any organizations that required any sort of secrecy. Any investigations, by police, corporations, governments or reporters, would be instantly and always 100% conclusive. Corporations could and would probe employees to determine if they were even thinking about leaving, and could determine that long before the employee was aware that they were thinking about it themselves. And military operations? I tremble to think what reconnaissance forces with mind probe could accomplish.

Yes, important people could be protected by magical security to prevent probing. But counterspelling aid just gives them even odds against the probe, not complete immunity. And there is a relative cost issue. Protecting a key person would require employing around 4 mages (3 per day plus 1 spare) as permanent staff, while the prober only needs to pay a mage for a few seconds of work. There simply aren't enough mages to defend against the problem.

I'm fully aware that part of the Shadowrun world is that paranoia is rampant and the concept of a big (corporate) brother watching over everyone is central. I just think that mind probe takes that too far. And actually eliminates a lot of the paranoia, because the thought police are completely aware and nearly unstoppable.
Jaid
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 11:38 PM) *
That is not the way it works. Removing yourself from LOS only works while the spell is being cast. When information is extracted, the spell is sustained, during that time the mage doesn't have to maintain LOS.

the spell is cast, by touch, on a target. this target gains the ability (or 'sense') to mind probe people. sustaining the spell does absolutely nothing when it comes to allowing anyone to probe people they can't see.

QUOTE (Mordinvan @ May 27 2010, 01:46 AM) *
Except if you're doing it in a bar where its loud, noisy, your casting in a dark corner, and no one is paying attention to you in the first place, the total negatives add up to no one seeing a thing.


except that perception tests also screw over the person casting the spell. perception modifiers are applied to the caster's dice pool. so if you have a crappy environment, the caster has a crappy dice pool. also, the starting number is the *highest* perception dice pool in the area. then you add for each assisting person who is able to perceive. it really isn't hard to spot. and if you have a place full of completely apathetic, depressed, miserable people on a regular basis, you're likely looking at a background count as well.

and again, this presumes that the people who know the self-destruct code for the death star are hanging out in random bars with no security. in general, the people who know the codes to self-destruct the death star are going to be in fancy expensive places that have security measures. like spirits who hang around in the astral watching for illegal spells that would allow you to violate the privacy of the patrons.

seriously, a threshold of 2 is defined as being roughly equivalent to a street sign or something like that. it isn't hard to notice. if you're casting the spell in the bar, it will likely be noticed. if you're walking around all over the place with the spell sustained as you try to find your target, odds are good you'll pass through one or more wards (especially if you're looking for someone important, who has important information).

now, i suppose you could argue that you're doing it only to poor and unimportant people. but then, that's not likely to break the game either. since those poor and unimportant people don't have the same access to important information as rich, well-protected people do.

this is 2070. magic has been around for a long time. windows only let you look out, not in, as a standard feature. wards are commonplace in any area that needs or wants to be reasonably secure. people seriously live their entire lives in one building with security from their mother corporation provided. there are gated communities where if you want to get in, you have to get past turrets with heavy machine guns. and the people you need to interrogate? guess what... in general, they're the people who aren't so easy to get at. there's a reason you need a shadowrunner team to extract people, and not just some random schmuck who pulls up to the front door of your house with a moving van.

you may as well argue that the ability to pick up an AK-47, install it into a stormcloud drone, and have it sit over the barrens and start shooting random people means that you can do the same the CEO of a AA corporation, and that therefore stormclouds with weapons on them are gamebreaking and need to be completely removed from the game or changed to something unrecognisable just to prevent every important person in the world from being gunned down with no repercussions.
Jaid
QUOTE (Runner Smurf @ May 27 2010, 06:29 AM) *
Yes, individual runs can be constructed so that mind probe isn't completely disruptive. The problem isn't so much the in-game implications - it's the implications of the spell in the game world. The ability to extract any information from any person's mind at any time would be utterly paralyzing to any organizations that required any sort of secrecy. Any investigations, by police, corporations, governments or reporters, would be instantly and always 100% conclusive. Corporations could and would probe employees to determine if they were even thinking about leaving, and could determine that long before the employee was aware that they were thinking about it themselves. And military operations? I tremble to think what reconnaissance forces with mind probe could accomplish.

Yes, important people could be protected by magical security to prevent probing. But counterspelling aid just gives them even odds against the probe, not complete immunity. And there is a relative cost issue. Protecting a key person would require employing around 4 mages (3 per day plus 1 spare) as permanent staff, while the prober only needs to pay a mage for a few seconds of work. There simply aren't enough mages to defend against the problem.

I'm fully aware that part of the Shadowrun world is that paranoia is rampant and the concept of a big (corporate) brother watching over everyone is central. I just think that mind probe takes that too far. And actually eliminates a lot of the paranoia, because the thought police are completely aware and nearly unstoppable.

ah. so your contention is that it's trivial to have wagemages routinely generate 3 net hits to mindrape your employees (if they weren't thinking of leaving before, they probably are now) and risk drain, constantly (because guess what: even very low drain spells cast dozens or hundreds of times are going to lead to eating drain, which will reduce the effectiveness of the practice, and increases the chance of glitches, which increases the chance of false information....)

but hey, it's not like spellcasters with a dicepool of 12 and a magic of 4 (magic of 4 so they're not overcasting, dicepool of 12 so they can at least have a reasonably good chance of hitting 4 net hits, which will get them past 1 success on the defense test... but not 2) are rare, is it? i mean, it's not as if the *standard* is for a dice pool of 6 in this game, and those with a dice pool of 12 are actually highly skilled or anything, right? oh wait... what's that? a dice pool of 6 vs a dice pool of 3 (approximate averages) isn't likely to routinely get the information needed, and retries only get *less* likely to generate accurate information? not to mention that your professional mindrapers are going to very shortly become pariahs, which is going to lead to nobody wanting the job. combined with the fact that the much easier, much less stressful job of creating wards is also available to the vast majority of people who are even *capable* of learning how to mind probe.

yeah... not seeing the problem. shadowrun is a dystopic setting, but the thing is... mind probe is 'reliable' IF and ONLY IF you have magicians with dicepools that massively outclass the resistance dicepool of the targets. for someone with a dicepool of 6, you're going to be looking at a depressingly high glitch rate, which will consistently result in information that is incomplete, misleading (not false, mind you, just misleading), inaccurate, or otherwise flawed.
Runner Smurf
Aerospider -

I tend to agree with you that there are countermeasures that could be used against mind probe, and that organizations could respond. I just think that those responses and safeguards make the organizations as described in the game-world non-functioning.

Again, my concern is not so much for individual runs, it's for the game world. I have no problem with the runners probing the security guard to find out his shift schedule. No big deal - it's using a sledgehammer to crack an egg, but not a big problem.

My thinking is that the implications of raw mind probe are profound on a societal level. A couple of examples: Why would anyone ever bother threatening a witness - you'd always have to kill them - a mind probe could extract the information. Why bother extracting researchers? Just mind-probe them for their key insights. Worried an employee might turn on you? Mind probe him. (It's better than Detect Truth, as you can find out if he subconsciously doesn't like the company anymore.)

As for the argument that:

QUOTE
Life, nature, society, all these things tend towards equilibrium so if something seems completely out of kilter just take a moment to imagine how the world would naturally react to it and what counterbalances would be created as a result.


If this were a natural system, I'd consider it. However, this is an entirely fictional world with freaking dragons in it. Do we really want to get in the discussion of ecological equilibrium of juggernauts? wink.gif I think mind probe, like several other issues, are cases where the writers of the game didn't fully think through the implications of an element of the game. Wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last time.

A surveillance society is one thing, but this another stage. Heck, there are people in the real world that are extraordinarily concerned about the implications of FMRI systems.
Aerospider
Some good points. Although ...

QUOTE (Runner Smurf @ May 27 2010, 12:29 PM) *
Any investigations, by police, corporations, governments or reporters, would be instantly and always 100% conclusive.

Doubt it. Knowledge is subjective and even if it isn't mind probe has very limited scope in a judicial context. Most jurisdictions won't allow it in court and I'd imagine that this kind of evidence-gathering would have the case thrown out. You can determine guilt with it, but you can't skip out all the legwork required in determining who to probe and for what and then after you've done the probing you need to find the physical evidence the court will require before the knowing probee destroys it themselves.

QUOTE (Runner Smurf @ May 27 2010, 12:29 PM) *
Corporations could and would probe employees ...

The Corporate Court wouldn't stand for it, so it would have to be done very rarely or else it couldn't be plausibly denied.

QUOTE (Runner Smurf @ May 27 2010, 12:29 PM) *
... to determine if they were even thinking about leaving, and could determine that long before the employee was aware that they were thinking about it themselves.

Really? I'm pretty sure there's never been any implication that mind probe can do this, or that the human mind even works that way (as in thinking things without knowing it's thinking them).

QUOTE (Runner Smurf @ May 27 2010, 12:29 PM) *
And military operations? I tremble to think what reconnaissance forces with mind probe could accomplish.

Military operatons must see more magic use than any other offensive engagement so astral defences would be considerable-to-vast. As I said, when something puts things out of kilter the rest of the environment readjusts to a new equilibrium. If military forces suddenly found themselves powerless against one little spell they'd do a lot to make sure they weren't and mind probe is by no means new in 2070.

QUOTE (Runner Smurf @ May 27 2010, 12:29 PM) *
But counterspelling aid just gives them even odds against the probe, not complete immunity. And there is a relative cost issue. Protecting a key person would require employing around 4 mages (3 per day plus 1 spare) as permanent staff, while the prober only needs to pay a mage for a few seconds of work. There simply aren't enough mages to defend against the problem.

Even a single watcher spirit could be enough to identify the source of the probe and allow retalliation.
Dakka Dakka
QUOTE (Jaid @ May 27 2010, 01:34 PM) *
the spell is cast, by touch, on a target. this target gains the ability (or 'sense') to mind probe people. sustaining the spell does absolutely nothing when it comes to allowing anyone to probe people they can't see.
OK here's how it goes IMHO: With the spellcasting Complex Action you grant yourself or someone you touch to probe a certain person within range (Force*Magic m), nowhere does it say that the target of the spell needs to see the one to be probed, he only has to be in range. When the target actually starts probing the target has to remain in range but not necessarily in LOS. So by RAW it is allowed to probe the person on the other side of the wall. Whether you want to play it like that is a different story.
QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 27 2010, 02:03 PM) *
Even a single watcher spirit could be enough to identify the source of the probe and allow retalliation.
Only rarely will that work. Watchers get 2 dice for Assensing anything. You need two successes two recognize an aura. A crowded bar, to get back to that example, should have some negative dice pool modifiers for astral perception. Unless the watcher looks in the right direction and uses the Observe in Detail action it will get the distraction modifier.
TommyTwoToes
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 27 2010, 07:26 AM) *
OK here's how it goes IMHO: With the spellcasting Complex Action you grant yourself or someone you touch to probe a certain person within range (Force*Magic m), nowhere does it say that the target of the spell needs to see the one to be probed, he only has to be in range. When the target actually starts probing the target has to remain in range but not necessarily in LOS. So by RAW it is allowed to probe the person on the other side of the wall. Whether you want to play it like that is a different story.


How do you decide who to probe if you cannot perceive/see them? If you allow mindprobing of people who are not in LOS, then the target should be a random selection out of the available pool of everyone in range. The person doing the sensing needs LOS, it is consistent with the way other magic works in game.

As to some of the talk about the probe being done in a crowded bar or danceclub, dropping to the floor breaks LOS and is very quick.


Aerospider
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 27 2010, 01:26 PM) *
Only rarely will that work. Watchers get 2 dice for Assensing anything. You need two successes two recognize an aura. A crowded bar, to get back to that example, should have some negative dice pool modifiers for astral perception. Unless the watcher looks in the right direction and uses the Observe in Detail action it will get the distraction modifier.

Fairly safe to assume the watcher has nothing on its mind except looking out for astral anomalies with respect to the guy it's watching over, yes? That satisfies the Observe in Detail action and gains the +3 for actively looking. Also, chances are the watcher's had plenty of time to scope out the magician before the casting of the spell and so could have identified him as the only mage in the building.
Aerospider
QUOTE (TommyTwoToes @ May 27 2010, 01:44 PM) *
How do you decide who to probe if you cannot perceive/see them? If you allow mindprobing of people who are not in LOS, then the target should be a random selection out of the available pool of everyone in range. The person doing the sensing needs LOS, it is consistent with the way other magic works in game.

As to some of the talk about the probe being done in a crowded bar or danceclub, dropping to the floor breaks LOS and is very quick.

I think the point he's making is that LOS is only required by the caster at the time of casting the spell, not by the subject or at the time of using the sustained spell.
Dakka Dakka
QUOTE (TommyTwoToes @ May 27 2010, 02:44 PM) *
How do you decide who to probe if you cannot perceive/see them? If you allow mindprobing of people who are not in LOS, then the target should be a random selection out of the available pool of everyone in range. The person doing the sensing needs LOS, it is consistent with the way other magic works in game.
You need to link yourself with the target of the spell (i.e. the one who is granted the ability to probe) there is no mention if you need LOS (which is a totally arbitrary condition since the spell has range Touch) to the one to be probed. by your logic Invisibility will cease to work as soon as you turn your back to the observers.

QUOTE (TommyTwoToes @ May 27 2010, 02:44 PM) *
As to some of the talk about the probe being done in a crowded bar or danceclub, dropping to the floor breaks LOS and is very quick.
As I said, there is no mention in the spell's description or the Detection spells in general that you need LOS. And within 3 seconds a boosted mage could cast the spell and extract three bits of information. He probably would start casting once your back is turned.
DireRadiant
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 27 2010, 12:16 AM) *
I guess I'm just not seeing the question/answer description evident anywhere in the spell description. The table below Mind Probe lists 3-4 net hits as "The subject can find out anything the target consciously knows and view the target's memories". I don't see anywhere that suggests the GM should provide vague information unless the subject asks the correct questions. Sure, if the target has useful information but the caster isn't sure what exactly they are looking for then this would be a valid approach. But I see no reason to deliberately be vague if the caster knows what they are looking for just because I as GM am able to find some sort of loop-hole in the wording they give for their "question". Thats really just nerfing the spell into a game of semantics. Like the old be careful how you word your Wish in that other rpg.

Even if we assume the caster can view one Complex Actions worth of memories for every Complex Action they spend sustaining the spell, they could learn a whole lot in mere seconds.


"The subject may probe for one piece of information per Complex Action." sentence in the spell description? You are assuming the one piece of information is a complex action worth of memories? What is that? Three seconds of someone's life and you expect to get the right bit?
Redcrow
QUOTE (DireRadiant @ May 27 2010, 01:01 PM) *
"The subject may probe for one piece of information per Complex Action." sentence in the spell description? You are assuming the one piece of information is a complex action worth of memories? What is that? Three seconds of someone's life and you expect to get the right bit?


Sure, why not? As long as the caster knows what they are looking for. Three seconds is enough time to Observe in Detail, so the caster could use it to get a description of someone the target knows. View the target typing in a passcode. A great deal can be learned in 3 seconds based on the Observe in Detail action.
CeeJay
@ Redcrow:
If you want to reduce the effectiveness of Mind Probe in your game, how about this approach: We already know, that the target is aware of the Mind Probe. Now what if he is also aware of the information that is learned with the mind probe? This would reduce the spell's effectiveness since the target will know what kind of information he has leaked and can take appropriate actions like informing his company's security that the latest security codes were just mind raped from him.

-CJ
Warlordtheft
QUOTE (Glyph @ May 27 2010, 12:52 AM) *
Mind probe is a very useful spell, but it does have potential drawbacks. Spellcasting, especially of high Force spells, is noticable. It is a spell with a relatively high Drain code, and you need 3 net hits to view anything deeper than the target's surface thoughts. The target is aware of the mental intrusion, and casting spells leaves an astral signature.

Despite these limitations, it remains extremely effective. I I still like it, though, because it is a spell that requires more tactical thinking from the player. Effectively using mind probe means that you have to put a lot of thought into how to approach the target, and what questions to ask/what piece of information to scour for.


Also, suppose the target thinks he has the code to the self destruct for the deathstar, but is really the code to say I'm an intruder, shoot me with a laser beam. Ooops. The key here is that anything gained via a mind probe spell needs to be verified to some extent. Otherwise the players are asking for trouble. Also at force 3 or less the spell is pretty useless. Even at force 4 you may have issues. So your minimum effective force for the spell is 5. Fairly noticable. And if your noticed, someone might do something (here come the troll bouncer/law). Most juristictions would consider mind probes magical assault. And believe me, the last thing you want to be is an incarcerated mage.

PS:I always thought mind probe was a touch the target kind of spell. AFB, so I'll check on that at home.
CeeJay
QUOTE (Warlordtheft @ May 27 2010, 03:37 PM) *
PS:I always thought mind probe was a touch the target kind of spell. AFB, so I'll check on that at home.


QUOTE (Jaid @ May 27 2010, 01:34 PM) *
the spell is cast, by touch, on a target. this target gains the ability (or 'sense') to mind probe people. sustaining the spell does absolutely nothing when it comes to allowing anyone to probe people they can't see.


Drats
QUOTE (Runner Smurf @ May 27 2010, 11:47 AM) *
My thinking is that the implications of raw mind probe are profound on a societal level. A couple of examples: Why would anyone ever bother threatening a witness - you'd always have to kill them - a mind probe could extract the information. Why bother extracting researchers? Just mind-probe them for their key insights. Worried an employee might turn on you? Mind probe him. (It's better than Detect Truth, as you can find out if he subconsciously doesn't like the company anymore.)

In play, The Shadows may be composed nearly entirely of disgruntled amoral Awakened, but on paper the world's magical population is still somewhere around 1%, IIRC. OUT OF that 1%, the number of mages that know this (likely regulated) spell would be far less, and the ones that could reliably be counted on to generate the needed hits on the test would be even fewer. Even if a given shady body (Syndicate, Megacorp, etc.) happens to have a spellslinger up to the task, the odds are that the guys signing the checks can think of better uses for their time than making sure that Bob from accounting isn't entertaining other employment opportunities. Even in the most draconian of settings, I can really only conceive of important personnel being subjected to this sort of probing on a semi-yearly basis (Okay, Bob, time for your annual physical and loyalty test) unless they're the kind of personnel asset whose loss would drastically cripple their organization.

As to the extraction of key researchers, extraction ensures that the company benefits from their full and continued expertise (and that the competitor doesn't) rather than having to rely on a few nuggets of possibly incomplete or out-of-context information you've clawed from their mind. By the time you've gotten into a key position to be able to probe anyone who knows that kind of paydata and get away clean, you've probably expended enough effort to make not grabbing them kind of a waste, anyway.

As to threatening witnesses, I'm not sure on the laws, but I imagine that in a lot of jurisdictions there'd be sharp limits (or even prohibitions) on what sorts of magically obtained info would be admissible as evidence, similar to the current-day 5th Amendment right in the U.S. Even if there weren't, whatever legal body was weighing the evidence would be relying on the word of the mage. There's nothing solid and objective to build a case on there, unless perhaps the body in question employs some kind of double-blind two-mage mindrape protocall with full public transparency.

In all, if I were concerned about a witness against my organization, it'd far more likely be because of their headware memory than because there might be a mage out there somewhere who could make them talk, and none of the GMs I know are worried about nerfing Cybereye recording units.

QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 27 2010, 12:26 PM) *
Only rarely will that work. Watchers get 2 dice for Assensing anything. You need two successes two recognize an aura. A crowded bar, to get back to that example, should have some negative dice pool modifiers for astral perception. Unless the watcher looks in the right direction and uses the Observe in Detail action it will get the distraction modifier.

The Search power has nothing to do with Assensing, though-- it's magical homing. The test is magic + int. Their dice pool would still be two, but they'd only be looking for 5 hits, and visibility modifiers wouldn't apply. Provided that your GM doesn't exercise a narrow interpretation of the power, I'd think the astral signature of whoever cast the mindrape would be enough for the Watcher to go off of. If not, it'd be easy enough to pop over to the astral for three seconds and summon up a spirit with Search and Assensing that would have dice pools of at least 6 for both.
Aerospider
I think it's important to retain correct terminology here or else confusion is certain.

Target the mind to be probed

Subject the recipient of the new sense (i.e. the one who's going to do the probing)

re: LOS

As the spell is target-specific (i.e. you can't probe multiple minds in succession with the same sustained spell) the caster must specify the target at the point of casting. Unless it's done through ritual sorcery he must therefore be able to see the target at the point of casting as per standard spell-casting rules.

LOS isn't specifically stated in the spell description but the probing sense is directional, meaning it must be aimed directly at the target. Whether or not the sense can penetrate/bypass obstructions to light is not mentioned AFAIK. The subject needs to know pretty much exactly where the target is, but it's also not mentioned whether or not the subject can roam the sense around the area to look for it, like one would with a visual sense.
Drats
-embarassingly unlikely double-post error-
Redcrow
QUOTE (CeeJay @ May 27 2010, 01:35 PM) *
@ Redcrow:
If you want to reduce the effectiveness of Mind Probe in your game, how about this approach: We already know, that the target is aware of the Mind Probe. Now what if he is also aware of the information that is learned with the mind probe? This would reduce the spell's effectiveness since the target will know what kind of information he has leaked and can take appropriate actions like informing his company's security that the latest security codes were just mind raped from him.

-CJ


Thats a good step and does help to mitigate things a bit. It also doesn't have the limited applicability of many of the other suggestions I've read. It would give the target at least some small recourse against the spell.
Dakka Dakka
QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 27 2010, 04:10 PM) *
I think it's important to retain correct terminology here or else confusion is certain.

Target the mind to be probed

Subject the recipient of the new sense (i.e. the one who's going to do the probing)
The problem is that the spell's description uses target with a different meaning than the description of spellcasting in general. Let's use recipient for the one who gains the sense and victim for the one who is probed. At least I will.

QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 27 2010, 04:10 PM) *
As the spell is target-specific (i.e. you can't probe multiple minds in succession with the same sustained spell) the caster must specify the target at the point of casting. Unless it's done through ritual sorcery he must therefore be able to see the target at the point of casting as per standard spell-casting rules.

LOS isn't specifically stated in the spell description but the probing sense is directional, meaning it must be aimed directly at the target. Whether or not the sense can penetrate/bypass obstructions to light is not mentioned AFAIK. The subject needs to know pretty much exactly where the target is, but it's also not mentioned whether or not the subject can roam the sense around the area to look for it, like one would with a visual sense.
You may be right since directional spells are compared to sight in the introduction to detection spells.
Cheops
QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 27 2010, 12:03 PM) *
The Corporate Court wouldn't stand for it, so it would have to be done very rarely or else it couldn't be plausibly denied.


Had to jump in and mention about this. The Corporate Court wouldn't give a rat's ass if a corporation was mind probing it's employees. If the corporation is extraterritorial it can do whatever it pleases. If it isn't extraterritorial then it falls under local national laws and it is the national judicial system that is responsible for prosecuting the corporation. The Corporate Court exists to police inter-corporate laws and relations -- notably for extraterritorial corporations who cannot be brough to trial by any country. It doesn't police intra-corporate laws.

Edited: To de-offend sensibilities.
DireRadiant
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 09:22 AM) *
My biggest problem with Mind Probe is that essentially anyone with the spell can learn everything someone else knows and their entire life history for a mere 3 net hits and do it anonymously from across the room.


QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 27 2010, 08:25 AM) *
Sure, why not? As long as the caster knows what they are looking for. Three seconds is enough time to Observe in Detail, so the caster could use it to get a description of someone the target knows. View the target typing in a passcode. A great deal can be learned in 3 seconds based on the Observe in Detail action.


I see we've gone from Knowing everything someone else knows to finding out the one thing I'm looking for, which is a difference in effectiveness.

There have been many excellent suggestions and points made on how to deal with this powerful spell. You'll need to figure out what you want to do for your game, but don't forget the most simple one, which is to remind your players that yes it's a powerful useful spell but being abusive with it is just like being abusive with any other powerful thing in a RPG, and being abusive is subject to consequences IC or OOC. Talk to your players about how they think it might be controlled too.


Aerospider
QUOTE (Cheops @ May 27 2010, 04:29 PM) *
Had to jump in and correct this heinous misrepresentation of a piece of the setting. The Corporate Court wouldn't give a rat's ass if a corporation was mind probing it's employees. If the corporation is extraterritorial it can do whatever it pleases. If it isn't extraterritorial then it falls under local national laws and it is the national judicial system that is responsible for prosecuting the corporation. The Corporate Court exists to police inter-corporate laws and relations -- notably for extraterritorial corporations who cannot be brough to trial by any country. It doesn't police intra-corporate laws.

I take the point about inter-corporate vs intra-corporate and concur that that is the primary function of the CC, but I'm fairly sure I've read more than one text describing the CC as having an interest in how the megas conduct themselves, if only in terms of global public opinion of the whole set up. If I'm right about that then I'm confident mind probing would qualify since it's either a human rights violation or ought to be.

So, Ares goes a bit nuts and starts culling a wide variety of minority citizens using biological warfare agents and doesn't care who knows about it. All the nations and the other megas turn to the CC as the only body that Ares owes the slightest responsibility to and the CC says "Nothing to do with us declare war on 'em if you're that bothered." Is that how it is? Honest question.

PS I take exception to "heinous misrepresentation". That's an offensively perjorative assessment and whether the correction is valid or not it's highly inappropriate in magnitude.
Aerospider
QUOTE (DireRadiant @ May 27 2010, 04:41 PM) *
You'll need to figure out what you want to do for your game, but don't forget the most simple one, which is to remind your players that yes it's a powerful useful spell but being abusive with it is just like being abusive with any other powerful thing in a RPG, and being abusive is subject to consequences IC or OOC. Talk to your players about how they think it might be controlled too.

Good advice, certainly, but it's just occurred to me that it's really all down to the adventure. The adventure must always be tailored to the team if a fun time is to be had by all.

You don't throw a paramilitary team against a small street-level gang.
You don't set 75% of the quest in the Matrix behind high-rating IC if there's no hacker/TM.
You don't leave out magical defences if the entire team is Awakened.

So really, the solution to anything that's overpowered is to not write an adventure that lets it do all the work and write some adventures that don't need it at all (or hardly at all).

Ok, so there's a bit more to it than that, but any runner is only as strong as his opposition is weak. Superman is the most overpowered fictional creation since God (my opinion) but there have been countless comics, films and TV episodes (not that I'm a fan) and that could only have happened by challenging him in ways that can't be solved by things like limitless strength, limitless speed and poorly justified time travel ...
Redcrow
QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 27 2010, 04:03 PM) *
So really, the solution to anything that's overpowered is to not write an adventure that lets it do all the work and write some adventures that don't need it at all (or hardly at all).


For me the simple solution is to nerf the spell rather than worry about how and when the spell might be abused for every adventure I run. I'm really surprised at the number of responses that ardently defend the spell as it is written in one sentence and then go on to describe how they've nerfed it for their own use.
Mordinvan
QUOTE (DireRadiant @ May 27 2010, 06:01 AM) *
"The subject may probe for one piece of information per Complex Action." sentence in the spell description? You are assuming the one piece of information is a complex action worth of memories? What is that? Three seconds of someone's life and you expect to get the right bit?


My understanding is that the targets memories because as freely available to you as yours are. So if you try to remember something, you get the targets memories on that topic. So long as you know the topic your interested in, then yes I do expect you'd get the right bits. If you don't know the topic you're interested in, why are you wasting your time?
Runner Smurf
Amen, Redcrow! My thoughts in a very succinct nutshell.

Ultimately, I actually see a lot of the points on the other side in this one. There are a whole bunch of competing forces acting in a complex system that cannot be easily quantified. The rules themselves are, of course, quantified, but as several pages of discussion indicate...perhaps not that easily quantified. Basically, depending on your interpretation of the setting, different factors will have more weight, and lead to a different conclusion. In my understanding of the Shadowrun world, I think those factors weight heavily towards the spell being waaaay too powerful, so I've nerfed it.

That sop to rational, civil discourse aside...

The problem, as I see it, is the relative costs of attack vs. defense. All else being equal, without magical defense, people are pretty much sitting ducks - on average, the mage is going to have twice as many dice to attack as the target will have to defend. Providing magical security to prevent mind probing is extremely expensive. Multiple mages, who are extremely rare, on continuous cycling duty.

The utility of the information that can be retrieved is also extremely high. Yes, some of the books say some countries hold mind probes as inadmissible in court...but others do allow it. And how much does that really matter in Shadowrun? The mafioso wants to know who took his money. The yakuza wants to know who called a rival gang. The corporation wants to know who stole their money - and it's probably the accountants that would get scanned first. (Alas that Catalyst didn't follow usual corporate practice of cycling accountants and multiple auditors...or one good mind probe.) And random scans would be a perfect tool to control your workforce, much like random drug tests are used today. And mind probes have a much lower false positive rate.

The utility of the raw mind probe is such that just about any mage that worked in any sort of security or counter-security role would take it. Heck, any enterprising mage with half a brain would use it to blackmail anyone with a few bucks he might encounter: "What is your deepest darkest secret that you are most ashamed of and least want anyone to know about?" "What have you done that could get you fired from your job?" Proof, in a legal sense, doesn't really matter.

Anyway, that's just my take. There is no right or wrong here. I think the spell needs to be nerfed, and I really like the idea of having it viewed as a "mind rape" spell. Sure, the runners can use it, and it can give them key information...but they (and the players) should feel dirty about it. God knows, having the runners feel bad about gunning down random civilians takes enough work. smile.gif
DireRadiant
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 08:22 AM) *
My biggest problem with Mind Probe is that essentially anyone with the spell can learn everything someone else knows and their entire life history for a mere 3 net hits and do it anonymously from across the room. ....



QUOTE (Mordinvan @ May 27 2010, 03:54 PM) *
My understanding is that the targets memories because as freely available to you as yours are. So if you try to remember something, you get the targets memories on that topic. So long as you know the topic your interested in, then yes I do expect you'd get the right bits. If you don't know the topic you're interested in, why are you wasting your time?


Context. My questions were in relation to the original contention that you learn everything. Not that you could not pick one thing you could learn out of everything. There is a difference. It's like looking at one single post without reading the rest of the thread you could end up getting a piece of information that does not reflect the overall situation.
tagz
By all means add in mechanics to the spell if you think they need them. I don't really think it does given the way I play with world fluff.

Also, I'd say it's probably harder to remain anonymous when casting then some people may think. Most of these mentioned before.

First the group bonus to perception. It's fine to think that most people would be preoccupied, and you'd be likely right, but to think that NOT ONE in a crowd of people are looking your direction... And that's the basis for the group bonus, the likelihood that some random person just happens to catch it. What that person does is up to the GM, but the runners don't exist in a vacuum and if someone is spotted in a club casting spells I bet the person who did the spotting will say or do something.

If you cast it in private and sustain it into the bar/club/place you still have to worry about wards and astral over-watch. A better approach, but still suspicious. Especially if over-watch say, saw you leave to go into the bathroom and you come out with a sustained spell on.

While I don't necessarily agree that it requires LOS to target a victim for the spell, I'd say at the very least afford some sort of targeting/link/spotting. This could be sight, hearing, UWBR, etc, but you must be able to perceive the person. Lose that perception and lose the spell's use on that target.

And I figured at the very least if a report was made to a bartender or bouncer they would record all the SIN info to hand over to the LEO. Ok, now your (fake)SIN is on record as having been at the scene of a mind rape. No biggie. Just don't let it show up at another any time soon. But, I assume all SINs have a real photo/image of the SIN holder, even fakes, as anyone looking at your SIN and you at the same time would ruin it, and since there's facial recognition software in existence... I bet the LEOs have a database with the SINs of everyone that's been in the vicinity of a mind rape the past 3 months or so and just run an automated check against the pictures when a new list comes in... any that come up multiple times.... And any that come up multiple times under different names.... Also factor in that someone with in that group perception test may not have shouted, but instead quietly walked over to the bouncer and gave them your description... Oh my... trouble. All this can happen without anyone in the bar making any fuss at all, don't want to upset the customers now... seems like a likely response. You might have seemingly done it successfully only to see your picture on the 6:00 News Trids.

And lets say you're in a local without the need of SINs, like a crappy dive bar in Redmond. I bet if someone said they'd been mind raped then a group of people would look for the skinniest, weakest looking person in the room and kick/kill his ass. Hope it isn't our mage. And if it's not, well, he might look suspicious if he tries to leave suddenly or maybe just doesn't join in on the lynching. Just my thoughts given the setting.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 10:13 PM) *
You keep describing it as "Asking" and "Answering" questions, but that isn't how its described in the book at all. Its more akin to opening a filing cabinet containing all the information the target knows and picking out whatever directly pertains to the information you are looking for. It doesn't even require any type of Data Search... just *poof* here is the information you are looking for and it is the whole truth as the target knows it. The End.



Call it Probing and Finding then... it is at that point semantics... "You ask a Question of the GM"... "The GM answers the Question"

Whatever...

Keep the Faith
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