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SamVDW
So you have a corporate building. The team Mage says he will go scope it out in Astral Space before the team goes in. He pops into Astral Space, and low 'n behold, the corp has put up some solid defenses. There appears to be wards surrounding various portions of the building. A couple corporate mages are actively patroling Astral Space. There may even be some elemental critters roaming around. The Shadowrunner Mage may get some scouting information for his team, but he's going to have to work his tail off to do it.

Second scenario: Shadowrun team walks up to a more normal building, such as a house or closed down gas station. Mage says, "I'll go take a look at it in Astral Space." He goes into Astral Space. There is no real threats for him there. It is just a normal house or a normal gas station. He scouts around and basically sees everything inside, unimpeded. He goes back and tells his whole time what is in there. Now the elemental of surprise is pretty much gone for the group.

How does a GM deal with that? It seems like Mages, if unopposed, can be the perfect scout for any area. They can basically get any information they want quickly and quietly, without penalty, unless there is active security. Any other GMs running into this as an issue?
sunnyside
well, there is fairly cheap passive security all over the place in the form of building wards. And other defenses, such as vines and such, have gotten much more affordable, sometime of those things are fun on the other side of walls mages can't see through but that they can walk through on the astral as something of a trap.

Still, They do make excellent scouts if there isn't good astral security. Though one balancing factor is that if they do get caught scouting they're all alone, a very dangerous sitaution. The rest of the team guarding their meat body just sees it start spewing blood.
Yerameyahu
Is it a problem that a *mage* can see what he likes (astral forms, auras, and shadows only, btw) at a normal house or gas station? smile.gif
Makki
the only thing he can tell his friends, after he returned:
-there have been some people here and here and here
-there was no astral security at the time

what he might find out, with a very close look by its shapes:
-external cameras etc. in hallways
-secret (panic) rooms without obvious doors
-weapon sizes

what his buddy sam wants to know:
-weapon types
-what are the security systems
-which doors will I need to blow up, which can I pick
-etc
dreddwulf1
If you are looking to throw challenges at the mage, just add a random spirit or something. Astral space is sometimes more alive than the real world, and some things that don't mean anything in the real mean everything in the astral.

For example, the gas station mention doesn't seem like much, but add a violent robberry or murder in the area and you have instant backgroound count, along with curious spirits or even the spirit upon which the crime was committed. There have been whole missions centered around a 'random' effect in astral space. You can even have a clever Shedim spirit possess the Mage and run off with his body. The party that figures out the issue has to subdue the mage without hurting him, while the mage has to get his body back!


Lots of ways to deal with the Astral Plane. It is inhabited, after all!
kzt
If it's a problem, then consider having a spirit that has parked itself in the gas station. It's fiercely territorial and built itself a ward. Or a barghest pack.

But, it's an abandoned gas station, so why does it matter?

By design, being a mage in SR4 is made of pure win. They get a whole pile of cool powers for essentially free that no other type of PC else can duplicate.
jaellot
Our mage loves the go in and try to scout out. Generally speaking, if it looks like there are wards/spirits/astal mages/ so on she backs off, since she is alone. She simply tells the team that they got alot of mojo security, she couldn't inside, which is true. They figure a place that can afford said mojo has enough mooks with guns and other physical security to make things difficult, as well.

Sort of sets off an "all fronts" paranoia in the group.
Telion
something to consider is what zone your in. AAA is going to have some fairly frequent random astral patrols.
Fortinbras
I'm going to echo Makki's sentiments. Have the big bad at the gas station taking a smoke break when he's sensed astrally. When the players get to the presumably harmless location and get ambushed they may throw a bit of a fit, but they won't use the astral perception scout as a crutch again.
Yerameyahu
That's not a crutch, that's a scout. If they sent a hacker, a ninja, or a spy drone against the same worthless target, they'd be equally effortless. smile.gif

I was being serious earlier: how is it a problem for the mage to get some (even 'a lot of', though we've pointed out the limits of Astral Projection) intel on a minor location for 'free'? I feel like I'm missing an aspect of the situation.
Fortinbras
QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Dec 13 2010, 01:44 AM) *
That's not a crutch, that's a scout. If they sent a hacker, a ninja, or a spy drone against the same worthless target, they'd be equally effortless. smile.gif

I was being serious earlier: how is it a problem for the mage to get some (even 'a lot of', though we've pointed out the limits of Astral Projection) intel on a minor location for 'free'? I feel like I'm missing an aspect of the situation.


It isn't a crutch, but it can become one. The same way that a Data Search can become a crutch for finding out about the big bad or "I torture/mind probe the henchman" becomes a crutch for finding the big bad's base.

It has the capacity to make runs formulaic. Some groups manage to avoid those traps and keep it fresh, but others get so into the rut that when the henchman doesn't know where the base is, they don't know what the next step is.
You don't want your players to think anything is a given, else complacency sets in and the next thing you know everyone is diddling on their iphones.

Naturally not every abandoned building should have astral security and the mage paid for astral Assensing, so he should be able to reap it's rewards, but it's good to throw a wench in the plans every once and a while to keep people on their toes and to add an increased sense of danger and mystery to the world.
Yerameyahu
I agree, but I'm not sure the right way to encourage that style of play is to geek the mage with a monster out of left field. smile.gif It *will* make them think twice about trying thatů ever again. Which would be both unfair and counterproductive to the original goal of varied gameplay.

I guess I thought I caught a whiff of that PTSD&D that oldskool players develop, like where they compulsively (and, alas, formulaic-ly!) search every square for traps.
phlapjack77
QUOTE (Fortinbras @ Dec 13 2010, 01:56 PM) *
but it's good to throw a wench in the plans every once and a while to keep people on their toes and to add an increased sense of danger and mystery to the world.

yes, that does tend to increase the players interest wink.gif
Yerameyahu
Plan: Step 1, wench. There is no Step 2.
phlapjack77
Gives the "underpants Gnomes" a whole new meaning
kzt
QUOTE (Fortinbras @ Dec 12 2010, 11:56 PM) *
It isn't a crutch, but it can become one. The same way that a Data Search can become a crutch for finding out about the big bad or "I torture/mind probe the henchman" becomes a crutch for finding the big bad's base.

I don't see how keeping people for using the standard tools to figuring out what is going on aids the game. If your players don't start with data search either the players of the GM has no idea how the game is supposed to work. Sending an astral scout and or a drone into a building before walking in makes perfect sense. Whether the scout is a mage, a summoned spirit, a watcher or a fly-spy doesn't matter much, the fact that it finds something is what matters.

Of course, even better is to use the ultra wide band radar that allows you see what is the entire building at once. ...
Fortinbras
QUOTE (phlapjack77 @ Dec 13 2010, 02:29 AM) *
Gives the "underpants Gnomes" a whole new meaning


Unless, of course, you're using that wench to remove a stump or drag someone's pick-up out of the mud.

If you'd like more double entendre, I have a wench on my backhoe.
phlapjack77
QUOTE (Fortinbras @ Dec 13 2010, 03:08 PM) *
Unless, of course, you're using that wench to remove a stump or drag someone's pick-up out of the mud.

If you'd like more double entendre, I have a wench on my backhoe.

That's one tough wench. Must be from the South.
DMiller
QUOTE (phlapjack77 @ Dec 13 2010, 04:12 PM) *
That's one tough wench. Must be from the South.


Heh wench ≠ winch

-D
Yerameyahu
I'm willing to assume that was a clever sociolinguistic joke about the pin/pen vowel merger common to much of the American South. biggrin.gif
sunnyside
QUOTE (Fortinbras @ Dec 13 2010, 12:56 AM) *
It isn't a crutch, but it can become one. The same way that a Data Search can become a crutch for finding out about the big bad or "I torture/mind probe the henchman" becomes a crutch for finding the big bad's base.

It has the capacity to make runs formulaic. Some groups manage to avoid those traps and keep it fresh, but others get so into the rut that when the henchman doesn't know where the base is, they don't know what the next step is.
You don't want your players to think anything is a given, else complacency sets in and the next thing you know everyone is diddling on their iphones.

Naturally not every abandoned building should have astral security and the mage paid for astral Assensing, so he should be able to reap it's rewards, but it's good to throw a wench in the plans every once and a while to keep people on their toes and to add an increased sense of danger and mystery to the world.


I think the forumlaic bit here might be that every time they're trying to find a base...

Also I don't think scouting should be viewed as a bad thing by GMs. It helps to make runs a bit more shadowrun and a bit less dungeon crawl 2070. One thing to bear in mind is that you can take off the kid gloves. The idea shouldn't be that you've got forces weak enough inside that they could fight through them without any intel, and scouting just kicks things into easy mode.

Rather sometimes you should have forces that would cause a total party kill if the players just went in guns blazing, but some clever intel and scouting is what lets the team pull it off.

kzt
QUOTE (sunnyside @ Dec 13 2010, 04:26 PM) *
Rather sometimes you should have forces that would cause a total party kill if the players just went in guns blazing, but some clever intel and scouting is what lets the team pull it off.

Sometimes 'pull it off' means 'let's pretend that we never saw this while we quietly sneak away."
Brazilian_Shinobi
QUOTE (kzt @ Dec 13 2010, 07:41 PM) *
Sometimes 'pull it off' means 'let's pretend that we never saw this while we quietly sneak away."


Or, let's try NOT draw attention from that big-bad-ass-tough Great Force Spirit rating 10 who is guarding that corridor and take the longer way around.
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