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Redcrow
I tried doing a "Search" to see if this has been discussed before, but the "Search" function doesn't seem to be working for me.

Anyway... SR4a pg. 207

Mind Probe is listed as having Range: T

but the description begins... "This spell allows the subject to telepathically probe the mind of a specific target within range of the sense (chosen when the spell is cast)." <emphasis mine>

Am I correct that this description is just poorly worded and that it is in fact the "target" of the spell that is chosen when the spell is cast and not the "range" of the spell itself? If so, then I would suggest that "within range of the sense" should have been omitted as it is mildly confusing and completely unneccessary. If not, then I foresee this spell being regularly abused by the PC in my group who has it and I will need to deal with it directly.



Glyph
Detection spells are cast on either the mage or a subject within Touch range (which is where you get the Range: T from - note that all detection spells have this). The detection ability bestowed has a range of the caster's Force x Magic in meters; the extended range versions multiply that by 10. It is on pages 197 and 198 of the main rulebook. I'm not sure what the pages are for the SR4A version.
Udoshi
So, basically, you touch someone who then benefits from the expanded sense.
Redcrow
That is one spell that just got banned from my games. Way to open for abuse. I plan to look a lot more closely at the other detection spells as well.
Dakka Dakka
If Mind Probe it too powerful for you, look at Control Thoughts.
The Tarasque
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 25 2010, 10:41 PM) *
but the description begins... "This spell allows the subject to telepathically probe the mind of a specific target within range of the sense (chosen when the spell is cast)." <emphasis mine>

I believe this to be the crux of his question. He is not asking about the range of the subject but this particular wording which suggests that not only must the spells range be determined at the time of casting but that it also has an unlimited range. The part in paranthesis follows the "within range of the sense" portion of the sentence.

Its easy to see why he is confused. While clear to me that they are saying the magician must choose the target when the spell is cast, the way its worded is quite awkward. This seems to be very common in the game though so its something players and gms should be used to by now, I would think.
Redcrow
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 05:46 AM) *
If Mind Probe it too powerful for you, look at Control Thoughts.


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. Given how much of Shadowrun is about finding information and uncovering secrets, this does seem too powerful and very open to abuse. I would be a little more open to it if the caster had to actually Touch the target or if it was restricted to only reading surface thoughts. The only other option I could see is to have every NPC for which this spell could potentially ruin the game be guarded 24/7 by another spellcaster who can counterspell the attempt, which seems heavy-handed to say the least.

After reviewing some of my campaign notes and considering the ramifications of Mind Probe being used in certain places, it would indeed be a game ruining spell.

Control Thoughts is just as bad, if not worse, IMO.
DireRadiant
Never heard of mind probe before.....

You need to know whom to mind probe. Yeah there's a room full of people, but which one knows what you need to know?
You can mind probe all you want, but if they don't know what you need to know, then you can't dig it out of their mind.
They can be told something wrong deliberately so that when they are mind probed they don't give things away, or it could lead the PCs into a trap.
Mind Probe is not a secret hidden thing. The Magic may be hidden, but likely to be perceived at the Force 4+ you need to cast it at to get good results, and the subject knows they got probed.
It's an Active Detection spell, it's an opposed test.

And finally, there are consequences. Lots of consequences.

The counter to many magical things is not any mechanical thing in the game system but the simple response the rest of the Mundane world has.

Geek the Mage.
DireRadiant
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 25 2010, 10:41 PM) *
I tried doing a "Search" to see if this has been discussed before, but the "Search" function doesn't seem to be working for me.


Dumpshock made a good roll to oppose your Mind Probe.
Xahn Borealis
But aren't they aware of the probing, as it's invasive? Also, wasn't it an opposed test against willpower? If so, just have high willpower npcs. If not, sorry for confusing everyone, I'm AFB.
Redcrow
QUOTE (Xahn Borealis @ May 26 2010, 02:40 PM) *
But aren't they aware of the probing, as it's invasive? Also, wasn't it an opposed test against willpower? If so, just have high willpower npcs. If not, sorry for confusing everyone, I'm AFB.


Sure, the target knows they've been probed, but have no way of knowing who is doing it unless they themselves are magically active or guarded by someone who is. Unless I were to go overboard with NPC willpower and give them all 6+ scores, they don't stand much chance against a spellcaster who gets to roll twice as many dice on average and only needs 3 net hits to get every last piece of useful information from their mind.

Not to mention I can already imagine the argument when a player thinks they should be able to use the spell to instantly gain all of a targets Knowledge Skills. ohplease.gif
Aerospider
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 04:23 PM) *
Not to mention I can already imagine the argument when a player thinks they should be able to use the spell to instantly gain all of a targets Knowledge Skills. ohplease.gif

That's really not a difficult argument to counter. For a start the magic doesn't transfer any knowledge, it simply gives the caster (or subject) interrogative access so unless they have a special form of photographic memory and days to spare, keeping the spell sustained throughout, forget it.
CeeJay
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 05:23 PM) *
Sure, the target knows they've been probed, but have no way of knowing who is doing it unless they themselves are magically active or guarded by someone who is. Unless I were to go overboard with NPC willpower and give them all 6+ scores, they don't stand much chance against a spellcaster who gets to roll twice as many dice on average and only needs 3 net hits to get every last piece of useful information from their mind.

Not to mention I can already imagine the argument when a player thinks they should be able to use the spell to instantly gain all of a targets Knowledge Skills. ohplease.gif

To reliably get 3-4 net hits on the mind probe spellcasting test you have to cast the spell at least at force 5. A sustained force 5 spell is quite obvious (see Noticing Magic SR4a p. 179), if you know what to look for.

And then, there is this little bit of information: "The subject may probe for one piece of information per Complex
Action." Mind Probes take time. This is not an instant "I know everything he does" spell, so using a targets knowledge skills is more like googling in his mind than actually knowing things he does. And the target has to stay in the spells range the whole time.

I agree, Mind Probe is a really powerfull spell under the right cirumstances (e.g. restrained target in a typical interrogation scene). It's called mind rape for a reason after all...

-CJ
Aerospider
Another issue to consider is astral signature. Someone who knows they've been probed can quickly report it and get it astrally investigated, leading straight back to the magician.

It's not really that overpowered it's just an alternative to more traditional interrogation techniques. Sticking a gun in their face with a mask over yours is a lot cheaper and less draining.

Also, the target can still react effectively without knowing who it is. Suppose they're in a bar on a night out and start to feel someone snooping around inside their skull. Now what do people do when they are being subjected to a crime and can't stop it on their own? They seek help. All of a sudden all their mates, probably the bar staff and likely any brave do-gooder or manaphobe within earshot will set about looking for the psychic assailant. If the magician was stupid enough to be sat in the same bar at the time surrounded by his team looking like a bunch of 'runners they're gonna be made pretty quickly. Even if they're more careful than that they would have to be quick with the probing and as a GM you may want to impose a test of some kind (Etiquette, Con or Disguise depending on your take on things) to make it not blatently obvious that it's them doing the probing. Staring hard at someone with an expression of strenuous concentration is a real give-away.

Just give it a try and see whether it really does break your game or not. If it does seem to give the party something of a free pass, next time give them a target who has the wrong information but doesn't know it. The magician will confidently turn to his comrades declaring he's got the current security inventory, then a few hours later they're in a firefight with a fleet of biodrones that really weren't meant to be there ...
Redcrow
QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 26 2010, 04:26 PM) *
It's not really that overpowered it's just an alternative to more traditional interrogation techniques. Sticking a gun in their face with a mask over yours is a lot cheaper and less draining.


The difference is that Mind Probe also acts as an Analyze Truth spell at no additional cost whereas sticking a gun in someones face doesn't guarantee they are telling the truth. Also, there isn't the same anonymity to sticking a gun in someones face even if you are wearing a mask. You can't exactly stick a gun in someones face from across the room and even if you did everyone else present is going to know immediately whats going on and who is doing it. Its not an alternative to traditional interrogation techniques; it completely trumps any traditional interrogation technique because you get your answer in mere seconds and immediately know if its the truth or not.

QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 26 2010, 04:26 PM) *
Also, the target can still react effectively without knowing who it is. Suppose they're in a bar on a night out and start to feel someone snooping around inside their skull. Now what do people do when they are being subjected to a crime and can't stop it on their own? They seek help. All of a sudden all their mates, probably the bar staff and likely any brave do-gooder or manaphobe within earshot will set about looking for the psychic assailant. If the magician was stupid enough to be sat in the same bar at the time surrounded by his team looking like a bunch of 'runners they're gonna be made pretty quickly. Even if they're more careful than that they would have to be quick with the probing and as a GM you may want to impose a test of some kind (Etiquette, Con or Disguise depending on your take on things) to make it not blatently obvious that it's them doing the probing. Staring hard at someone with an expression of strenuous concentration is a real give-away.


Why would they need to stare at the target with an expression of strenuous concentration? I guess I missed that in the spells description somewhere. Also, if it only takes a single complex action to gain the useful bit of information, then by the time the target has a chance to even realize what is going on and react the caster could be long gone. Sure a runner team might stick out in some clubs or bars if they aren't dressed appropriately, but my players are usually smarter than that and tend to actively try to blend in to their environment. But as it stands, the caster of the spell doesn't even need to do it themselves, they can just as easily grant the ability to someone else who they have bribed and who might fit into the environment better to do it for them. Even if the target were to try and run to another room to get out of the casters line of sight, by the time they got there its too late the information is gone.

QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 26 2010, 04:26 PM) *
Just give it a try and see whether it really does break your game or not. If it does seem to give the party something of a free pass, next time give them a target who has the wrong information but doesn't know it. The magician will confidently turn to his comrades declaring he's got the current security inventory, then a few hours later they're in a firefight with a fleet of biodrones that really weren't meant to be there ...


Sure, I could do that. I could also do a number of other things to mess with the caster of the spell, but then its just going to appear that I'm deliberately and regularly screwing them over for having the spell and rendering it virtually useless. Better IMO to just ban the spell and have them choose something else that is useful without being a potential game breaker.

When I initially read the spell my vision was of the caster literally placing their hand on a targets head in order to Probe their mind, but finding out that they can in fact do it anonymously from across the room is just too much for me. I've always had a bit of a problem with the anonymity with which a lot of the Shadowrun spells are handled, but Mind Probe is one of the worst offenders IMO.

As I said before, given how much of Shadowrun is based on finding information and learning secrets, I don't see how this spell wouldn't break the game without a near constant intervention by the GM to nerf it. The only way I will allow a player in my game to have and use this spell is if they agree to the Touch range (i.e. they must be in physical contact with the target for the duration of the spell). I think that would effectively limit the use of this spell to interrogation scenarios which is what I assumed was its intent and purpose.
Dakka Dakka
QUOTE (Aerospider @ May 26 2010, 06:26 PM) *
Staring hard at someone with an expression of strenuous concentration is a real give-away.
Unfortunately it really is - much more than 0,75-3 seconds of staring should be. Even worse, SR4A introduced sparkling mages. If the mage happens to be a wussy vampire that likes to stare at girls we can play Twilight wink.gif

The mandatory strained look is in the "Noticing Magic" paragraph, p. 179 SR4A.
DireRadiant
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 12:08 PM) *
When I initially read the spell my vision was of the caster literally placing their hand on a targets head in order to Probe their mind, but finding out that they can in fact do it anonymously from across the room is just too much for me. I've always had a bit of a problem with the anonymity with which a lot of the Shadowrun spells are handled, but Mind Probe is one of the worst offenders IMO.


It isn't entirely anonymous. The person being mind probed is fully aware of the fact. And then any normal mundane has a very good chance of spotting the caster, and the more people that are looking, the less likely a mage will get away with it. And mages that like to use this spell frequently will eventually weed themselves out of the game or game world. There are consequences for using this spell. They just aren't mechanical ones.

edit: if you check the noticing magic rules, it typically will only be a threshold 2 test with the person attempting the Perception test using 6 dice. (It's typically 6 because you get +3 bonus dice if actively looking in addition to the 2 or 3 dice you might simply get by defaulting. Could be more with skills, enhancements, or teamwork bonuses. I suppose it could still be Anonymous since whomever spots the mage might not know who the mage is without casting their own mind probe or running some facial recognition software or some other way of finding things out.)
Dakka Dakka
QUOTE (DireRadiant @ May 26 2010, 07:58 PM) *
edit: if you check the noticing magic rules, it typically will only be a threshold 2 test with the person attempting the Perception test using 6 dice. (It's typically 6 because you get +3 bonus dice if actively looking in addition to the 2 or 3 dice you might simply get by defaulting. Could be more with skills, enhancements, or teamwork bonuses.
How many people in a bar are actively looking for magic use? More likely they will get the -2 for being distracted.
Drats
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 06:40 PM) *
How many people in a bar are actively looking for magic use?


At least one: the guy whose mind is in the process of being violated.

And if you are in a bar or a club (or any public venue, really), the victim's likely to immediately seek out the proprietor if he can't find you. I imagine that the proprietor wouldn't be too keen on having it spread around that he just lies back and lets his patrons get brainraped. It's not liable to come into play often, but things could go really pear-shaped if the establishment is on top of their game, if they overreact, or if unexpected magical resources are somehow brought to bear.

And then there's the security footage. Cameras are ubiquitous and cheap these days, and it wouldn't be too hard to cue up the time of the incident and watch for anyone staring daggers at the back of the complainant's head (provided that you cast the spell at a decent enough force to ensure the hits, it'd probably be easy enough to notice). Depending on the kind of place you're dealing with, you've just made someone's shit list, at the very least. At worst Knight Errant's Magical Offenses division (or worse) has footage of you allegedly using what is probably a highly restricted spell. If you're careless or unlucky, they'll even be able to get your signature off the victim.

Granted, it's not likely to always go quite so well in favor of your target, but an outcome like this isn't outside the realm of possibility. It isn't even outside the realm of plausibility.
Falanin
Okay, it goes down like this:

Mage casts Mind probe on the target. The target immediately notices, and uses his free action to yell "MIND RAPE"

On the mage's next action (I'm assuming a runner mage is faster than the average bartender), he uses his complex action to Probe for a bit of info.

On the bartender's action, he hits the panicbutton™ and locks the bar down.

On the bouncers' actions, they take an Observe in Detail action to look for the mage.



At this point, the doors are locked, security has been notified, and LS/K-E is on the way. Good luck getting out of this one.

EDIT:Ninja'd!
Drats
The Panicbutton response might work, but there are a few reasons why it wouldn't be so commonly employed, methinks:

1. There are even more nutters in 2072 than there are today. It'd depend on the circumstances, but even with manaphobia (love the word, stealing it, thanks) being what it is, I'd give a guy iffy chances of being immediately taken seriously if he jumped up in the middle of a crowded bar and started shouting about the wizard in his brain. It might even be the distraction you need to finish your business and then start looking shocked along with everyone else.

2. Again, circumstances, but I'm not sure that many crowds would take too kindly to being locked in with a potential spellslinging boogeyman.

Come to think of it though, if you could quickly cause enough of a disturbance, you might force the mage, wherever he was, to make a concentration check or lose the spell.
Falanin
Those are good points. I'd generally argue that the bartender (or head of security, whatever) would at least lock down the bar unobrusively until he could get the screaming guy into a private room or otherwise verify his story. Also... the bouncers are generally going to be scanning the crowd ALREADY... so when alerted, have a good chance of coming up with the mage right quick. But yeah, I'll admit that actually calling in K-E/LS might be a bit overkill as a first response.
DireRadiant
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 01:40 PM) *
How many people in a bar are actively looking for magic use? More likely they will get the -2 for being distracted.


At least one person knows, and has the power to communicate. After that who knows what will happen? It has nothing to do with dice mechanics or game rules, but how the GM and players work out what happens in the game world. Most likely some variation of Geek the Mage.
Sixgun_Sage
QUOTE (Falanin @ May 26 2010, 02:47 PM) *
Those are good points. I'd generally argue that the bartender (or head of security, whatever) would at least lock down the bar unobrusively until he could get the screaming guy into a private room or otherwise verify his story. Also... the bouncers are generally going to be scanning the crowd ALREADY... so when alerted, have a good chance of coming up with the mage right quick. But yeah, I'll admit that actually calling in K-E/LS might be a bit overkill as a first response.



Why would it be overkill? Look at how people respond to offenses involving a gun in the real world. In Shadowrun the use of magic in the commission of a crim automatically jumps it up, to what I cannot recall an am AFB but if you let someone get mindraped in your bar and don't call the relevant authorities in as quickly as possible you've just opened yourself up to a lawsuit that has a good chance of winning, especially if the target was a corporate lackey and goes to his management to arrange for his legal counsel.
DireRadiant
Are you a victim of Mind Rape? If so, call the Mind Rape Hotline immediately and our dedicated team of <<Insert LEO Corp name Here> of dedicated professionals will respond immediately to protect you.

A small team of Mages with watchers, and spirits cane protect you anywhere in the <<insert city>> urban area.

Response time is faster then the Mind Prober can possibly erase the astral signature...

Special Service charges may apply.

Consequences....
Dakka Dakka
QUOTE (DireRadiant @ May 26 2010, 10:04 PM) *
At least one person knows, and has the power to communicate. After that who knows what will happen? It has nothing to do with dice mechanics or game rules, but how the GM and players work out what happens in the game world. Most likely some variation of Geek the Mage.
Well, unless the victim isn't surprised and beats the mage at initiative, he can only start yelling after the mage has finished casting the spell. By then he will look normally to normal perception. Only astral perception can detect a sustained spell, and even then cannot identify it as Mind Probe. An astral signature can't be used either to identify the spell. All those two methods can deduce is that the person is subject of a detection spell, which could just as well be one of the enhanced perception spells to find the mind prober, the lunatic is yelling about.

BTW where does it say that the vicitm becomes aware of the probing of his mind?
Runner Smurf
I have had to seriously nerf this spell in my games. Not just from a in-game balance issue, but simply from a world-cohesion level. 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. At the same time, organizations with magicians on staff would institute periodic or random probes of key employees to ensure that they weren't even thinking about betraying the corporation. It just seems too disruptive to allow to exist...and any mage in Shadowrun who doesn't take the spell should be shot on general principal. It's way to useful to not take.

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
DireRadiant
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 03:19 PM) *
BTW where does it say that the vicitm becomes aware of the probing of his mind?


p. 207 SR4A
"Mind Probe (Active, Directional)
Type: M • Range: T • Duration: S • DV: (F 2) + 2
This spell allows the subject to telepathically probe the mind of a specific
target within range of the sense (chosen when the spell is cast).
The target is aware of the probing, though they may not know the
source of the spell
. If the caster gains one or more net hits, consult the
Mind Probe Results table for the information gained.
The subject may probe for one piece of information per Complex
Action. Additional uses of Mind Probe against the same target within
a number of hours equal to the target’s Willpower are at a –2 dice pool
modifier per previous Spellcasting attempt."
DireRadiant
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 03:19 PM) *
Only astral perception can detect a sustained spell, and even then cannot identify it as Mind Probe.


Noticing Magic is not limited to only the moment of starting spell casting. It's the use of the magical skill, which takes the entire complex action.

QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 03:19 PM) *
An astral signature can't be used either to identify the spell.


True enough, but the Astral signature is available for hours, and will allow any astral observer to identify the spell caster, and can actually be captured in an astral photograph.
Redcrow
QUOTE (Runner Smurf @ May 26 2010, 08:26 PM) *
I have had to seriously nerf this spell in my games. Not just from a in-game balance issue, but simply from a world-cohesion level. 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. At the same time, organizations with magicians on staff would institute periodic or random probes of key employees to ensure that they weren't even thinking about betraying the corporation. It just seems too disruptive to allow to exist...and any mage in Shadowrun who doesn't take the spell should be shot on general principal. It's way to useful to not take.

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


I like this a lot and it puts the spell much more in line with the way I had envisioned it working and providing enough built-in drawbacks to keep it from being used too frequently. I may have to steal it and offer it to my player as an alternative to losing the spell altogether. Its also nice to know I'm not the only one who sees a problem with the RAW for this spell and its potential for abuse.
Jaid
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 04:19 PM) *
Well, unless the victim isn't surprised and beats the mage at initiative, he can only start yelling after the mage has finished casting the spell. By then he will look normally to normal perception. Only astral perception can detect a sustained spell, and even then cannot identify it as Mind Probe. An astral signature can't be used either to identify the spell. All those two methods can deduce is that the person is subject of a detection spell, which could just as well be one of the enhanced perception spells to find the mind prober, the lunatic is yelling about.

BTW where does it say that the vicitm becomes aware of the probing of his mind?

right in the spell description.

QUOTE (SR4A page 207 @ "Mind Probe")
The target is aware of the probing


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.
Redcrow
I don't see how it would be an easy thing to spot a spellcaster using Mind Probe on someone in a crowded room like a bar or nightclub at any Force. I think a few posters in this thread are imagining this taking place in a small bar with maybe a dozen or two people most of which are either close friends of the target or bystanders waiting to jump to their aid at the first mention of (possibly magical) trouble. What about a crowded bar/nightclub with a couple hundred people jam-packed inside and the music thundering so loud that everyone is screaming to be heard rendering any audible complaint from the victim initially fruitless. How long does it take now for the victim to weave their way through the crowd to get the attention of a bouncer or someone else who might (or might not) be able to help and then how long does it take for them to scan over a couple hundred people to try and pick out who might be doing something they shouldn't be. I also don't envision most bartenders with their hand permanently poised above a panicbutton so that within seconds of someone yelling Mind Rape they can push it. Also, in the typical meat-market type nightclubs there is generally a lot of staring going on, so one face in the crowd isn't going to stick out too much.

What if the caster isn't even in the bar, but across the street looking in through a window. Now scanning the bar is a waste of time and using the panicbutton has just ruined any chance of physically catching the caster. How about a target who leaves the nightclub and is probed from a random window in one of several buildings or skyscrapers (I almost typed scryscaper, heh) in the area or a dark secluded shadow somewhere. There are numerous places and opportunities where Mind Probe can be too easily abused with little consequence. The caster could even be driving by in a car and in the few seconds it takes the target to realize what is happening and react, the caster has already gained some useful information and driven right on by.

Even if casting at a higer Force did make it easier to spot the caster, why wouldn't the caster just use a lower Force spell and supplement their dice pool with Edge or a spell Focus in order to make it less obvious. Especially consering the illegal nature of the spell. The actual Force of the spell isn't really all that important. Generating the 3 net hits to gain full access to the targets mind is all that really matters. So, conceivably you could cast the spell at Force 1 or 2 making it difficult to Notice and supplement your DP in some other way in order to increase your chance of success. No matter how you look at it, in most circumstances gaining 3 net hits vs. someone not magically active or guarded by someone who is is relatively easy and finding the offender can be much more difficult than simply scanning the area by which time the caster has probably already learned what they needed and is no longer sustaining the spell.

Also, the spell description doesn't make any mention that the target would have even the vaguest idea of what information the caster was looking for. It could either be what they had for lunch or the self-destruct code for the Death Star. If the target of the spell was an important enough person, then sure KE/LS might look into it after the fact, but if its not someone they deem to be important then at most they would simply fill out a report and file it away under "less important things to worry about".
DireRadiant
Hundreds of witnesses, some of which may be awakened themselves...

If you choose to have KE/LS and society treat Mind Rape as inconsequential then so it shall be.

Edit: If you choose to not have in game consequences to balance the use of a powerful spell, then yes, you are going to need to balance it some other way. Note that this is your choice based on you and your groups perception of imbalance of the spell. It's not my view. I don't regard Mind Probe as unbalanced. It hasn't ruined any of my games. There are plenty of tools and consequences to make players consider the tradeoffs. In my mind taking Mind Probe as a spell is just the same as if a player chooses Troll as a metatype. There will be consequences of such choices.
Redcrow
QUOTE (DireRadiant @ May 26 2010, 10:07 PM) *
Hundreds of witnesses, some of which may be awakened themselves...


Witnesses to what exactly? Should I have every awakened NPC around constantly Astrally Perceiving for possible threats. Mind Probe literally takes seconds to perform, so by the time the target is able to raise enough of an alarm that an awakened bystander might decided to check things out Astrally (assuming they even have Astral Perception), the caster is likely already finished and headed for the door or lost in the crowd.

QUOTE (DireRadiant @ May 26 2010, 10:07 PM) *
If you choose to have KE/LS and society treat Mind Rape as inconsequential then so it shall be.


So by your standards the spell is more important than the target. So basically you would have KE/LS work just as hard to solve the case if the victim were a prostitute as they would if the victim were the Governor? Murder is a pretty serious crime too, but KE/LS don't work nearly as hard (at least in my game) to solve every gang-bangers death like they would to find out who killed a politician or corp. executive. Then again, crime tends to be more rampant in my games considering that is one of the underlying themes. As such, not every crime can be investigated with equal vigor.
Udoshi
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 03:01 PM) *
I don't see how it would be an easy thing to spot a spellcaster using Mind Probe on someone in a crowded room like a bar or nightclub at any Force.


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.
Nath
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 27 2010, 12:21 AM) *
So by your standards the spell is more important than the target. So basically you would have KE/LS work just as hard to solve the case if the victim were a prostitute as they would if the victim were the Governor? Murder is a pretty serious crime too, but KE/LS don't work nearly as hard (at least in my game) to solve every gang-bangers death like they would to find out who killed a politician or corp. executive. Then again, crime tends to be more rampant in my games considering that is one of the underlying themes. As such, not every crime can be investigated with equal vigor.

I guess the police would put more efforts into investigating the murder of an ork prostitute if the weapon used is a rocket launcher, rather than, say a knife. Obviously, this depends on how common you consider knowledge of the Mind Probe spell and rocket launcher to be.
Udoshi
I'd also like to point out that Mind Probe is a mana spell, and is thus able to be used by astrally projecting(and Manifesting mages.)

Is there any reason a manifested mage couldn't mind probe a crowd, then demanifest, and zip off to other astral horizons - or would the target have to be Astrally Percieving/Dual natured first?
DireRadiant
Redcrow, you feel the Mind Probe spell is unbalanced and subject to abuse. You are considering a mechanical solution so the players will evaluate the risk up front on the basis of "Do I want to cast this spell in the circumstances where I need Touch the target and take such and such consequences." The consequences re purely based on mechanical effects.

I am point out my approach to this spell, and in fact anything "Powerful" in the game is that there are consequences in the game world. Mind Probe is easy to cast and use, the game world consequences are varied, but ultimately unavoidable. It may not impact the player immediately nor directly, but there is an impact. The players may "get away" with using the spell often, there are plenty of smart circumstances where the players can avoid the immediate consequences. But there are consequences, it does have an impact in the world, "Powerful" things are treated seriously by society, and one of the consequences is "Thanks for playing, make a new character".
Dakka Dakka
QUOTE (Udoshi @ May 27 2010, 12:29 AM) *
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 doubt this is a viable tactic. Only the edge dice are allowed to exceed the maximum hits. Those dice may not generate that many hits unless you have very high edge (6+)

@Udoshi: Manifesting does not allow to cast on the physical plane. It merely makes the mage visible on the physical plane. A manifesting mage can only cast spells on the astral plane. So a target must either be dual-natured or wholly astral.

@perception of spellcasting: the possible observers also get negative modifiers for visibility, distance to the target and unless they use the Observe in Detail Action for distraction. The +2 for astral perception are pretty much moot, because those people can also perceive the sustained spell on the caster, which lasts longer than the casting.
DireRadiant
QUOTE (Udoshi @ May 26 2010, 05:38 PM) *
I'd also like to point out that Mind Probe is a mana spell, and is thus able to be used by astrally projecting(and Manifesting mages.)

Is there any reason a manifested mage couldn't mind probe a crowd, then demanifest, and zip off to other astral horizons - or would the target have to be Astrally Percieving/Dual natured first?


Target needs to be dual natured or astrally perceiving.
Udoshi
QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ May 26 2010, 03:45 PM) *
I doubt this is a viable tactic. Only the edge dice are allowed to exceed the maximum hits. Those dice may not generate that many hits unless you have very high edge (6+)


Possibly. However, pre-emptive(as opposed to rerolling failures) Edge use lets -all- dice in the pool rule of six. Whether it actually works like that, is kind of up in the air, but yeah, you'd almost certaintly want an edge of 5 or 6 to attempt this - much less use that tactic regularly.

Thanks for the prompt replies on manifesting spell targeting.
Redcrow
QUOTE (Nath @ May 26 2010, 10:32 PM) *
I guess the police would put more efforts into investigating the murder of an ork prostitute if the weapon used is a rocket launcher, rather than, say a knife. Obviously, this depends on how common you consider knowledge of the Mind Probe spell and rocket launcher to be.


whoa there buddy. I never said the prostitute was an ork. lol

As for being killed by a Rocket Launcher, sure that might raise some flags, but unless there was significant collateral damage to something or someone important, then its just not going to be a high priority case. I don't want to derail the debate, but generally speaking an object is easier to track than illegal knowledge. So it would be far easier to solve the case of the "incinerated prostitute" than it would the case of "who knows something they shouldn't". But in the end it comes down to an investigating agency with a finite amount of resources who must prioritize their investigations based on some degree of importance and most often that comes down to the victim(s). While Rocket Launchers certainly aren't ubiquitous in my game, they aren't nearly as rare as they are IRL either. The standard setting for Shadowrun makes weapons trafficking fairly common and Rocket Launchers aren't very difficult to come by after character creation with a decent contact going strictly by RAW. Lets also not forget that it is much easier to witness someone using a Rocket Launcher than it is to spot someone using a spell like Mind Probe. Therefore reliable witnesses who actually saw something that might hold up in court (instead of just someone staring) are far more likely giving the investigators at least something worthwhile to go on.
Redcrow
QUOTE (DireRadiant @ May 26 2010, 10:44 PM) *
Mind Probe is easy to cast and use,


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.
Redcrow
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 10:53 PM) *
but generally speaking an object is easier to track than illegal knowledge. So it would be far easier to solve the case of the "incinerated prostitute" than it would the case of "who knows something they shouldn't".


Sorry, had to quote my own post because I thought of something amusing. I would find it quite ironic for an investigator to use Mind Probe in order to find out if a suspect knew the spell. twirl.gif
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Redcrow @ May 26 2010, 07:22 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. Given how much of Shadowrun is about finding information and uncovering secrets, this does seem too powerful and very open to abuse. I would be a little more open to it if the caster had to actually Touch the target or if it was restricted to only reading surface thoughts. The only other option I could see is to have every NPC for which this spell could potentially ruin the game be guarded 24/7 by another spellcaster who can counterspell the attempt, which seems heavy-handed to say the least.

After reviewing some of my campaign notes and considering the ramifications of Mind Probe being used in certain places, it would indeed be a game ruining spell.

Control Thoughts is just as bad, if not worse, IMO.


You do realize that those who are having their minds read are completely aware that it is happening; and it is not an instantaneous data exchange of everything the victim knows; Right?

That being the case, it is VERY EASY to just walk into another room, especially if you are trying to be annonymous about it... once line of sight is briken, so is the probe itself, and if you attempt to floow, you will probably be seen as the one doing the probing...

Keep the Faith
Redcrow
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 26 2010, 11:08 PM) *
You do realize that those who are having their minds read are completely aware that it is happening; and it is not an instantaneous data exchange of everything the victim knows; Right?

That being the case, it is VERY EASY to just walk into another room, especially if you are trying to be annonymous about it... once line of sight is briken, so is the probe itself, and if you attempt to floow, you will probably be seen as the one doing the probing...

Keep the Faith


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.
Cheops
For best effect cast this on yourself, then cast shapechange (crow), and perch on the roof of a building or a window ledge and mind probe the target as he walks down the street or gets out of a car. He may know that he is being mind probed but who is going to be looking for a sparkling crow? More hilarious points if you have Extended Masking.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Udoshi @ May 26 2010, 03:38 PM) *
I'd also like to point out that Mind Probe is a mana spell, and is thus able to be used by astrally projecting(and Manifesting mages.)

Is there any reason a manifested mage couldn't mind probe a crowd, then demanifest, and zip off to other astral horizons - or would the target have to be Astrally Percieving/Dual natured first?


Yes there is... A reason that is... a Manifested Mage is still actually on the Astral Plane, and cannot cast such a spell and have its effects bypass the Astral/Material Plane Barrier... the spell effects stay on the same plane that the spell was cast... So no casting a Mana based spell from astral to affect the targets on the Physical... You could, however, target any Dual Natured creatures from the Astral Plane as they exist on both planes simultaneously...

Keep the Faith

Dreadlord
QUOTE (Udoshi @ May 26 2010, 06:38 PM) *
I'd also like to point out that Mind Probe is a mana spell, and is thus able to be used by astrally projecting(and Manifesting mages.)

Is there any reason a manifested mage couldn't mind probe a crowd, then demanifest, and zip off to other astral horizons - or would the target have to be Astrally Percieving/Dual natured first?

In astral space, you can only target other astral beings, period. Manifesting gives you NO access to the physical plane, either, it only allows people to see (and hear)YOU!

SR4a, p.183, Step 3: Choose the Target(s), 3rd paragraph.
SR4a, p.193 Manifesting
Wandering One
Curiousity on this one... would the perception test to 'see' the magic casting be a teamwork roll by the crowd in the bar?

If so, that's a hell of a bonus to your already beefed up security who should be running a 4/5 in perception (Bored bouncers occur, but that doesn't mean they can't do their job.)

Control Actions is the spell I worry more about, especially with a mage who's got a bit of extra karma on hand to quicken the thing to someone. smile.gif
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