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Bearclaw
I'm starting a new campaign, and the combat mage wants to be able to get skills from his task spirit. So....
here's my thoughts, and what I plan to tell my player:

Invoking is a metamagic which gives a task spirit Endowment.
Endowment allows a Spirit to transfer a power to it's summoner.
Task spirits can learn extra skills as an Optional Power.
So, if you conjure a task spirit, and get enough successes to give it an optional power, and invoke it, it can use Endowment to give you that skill at it's force.
It seems like there's so much invested in this that it's not really unbalancing, but the whole idea makes me a little nauseous.

So, is this going to destroy game balance in some way I'm not seeing?
almost normal
As overpowered as spirits are, fortunately, you're missing something.

The spirit is converting a power into skills. Endowment transfers powers alone, not skills. The fact that those skills were purchased with a power is irrelevant to the text of Endowment.
Draco18s
Two things I can think of:

1) Only allow 1 endowed power at a time. If the spirit (or a second spirit) endows the player again, it replaces.

2) Enforce skill rank limits. No matter what force the spirit is, he can't get an effective skill above 6 (or 9 or whatever limit you feel is appropriate).

In any case, it's a little cheesy that he's trying to do this, but it's not that terrible all things told. He's effectively spending "100" BP to save "30" BP.
Bearclaw
QUOTE (almost normal @ Mar 26 2012, 08:48 AM) *
As overpowered as spirits are, fortunately, you're missing something.

The spirit is converting a power into skills. Endowment transfers powers alone, not skills. The fact that those skills were purchased with a power is irrelevant to the text of Endowment.


I realize it doesn't follow the letter of the rules. He originally wanted to play possession based, and I talked him out of that. This doesn't seem to be a bad compromise. But again, is there any way to really abuse this that I haven't thought of?
Bearclaw
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 26 2012, 08:49 AM) *
Two things I can think of:

1) Only allow 1 endowed power at a time. If the spirit (or a second spirit) endows the player again, it replaces.

2) Enforce skill rank limits. No matter what force the spirit is, he can't get an effective skill above 6 (or 9 or whatever limit you feel is appropriate).

In any case, it's a little cheesy that he's trying to do this, but it's not that terrible all things told. He's effectively spending "100" BP to save "30" BP.


That's what I was thinking. With all that investment, it would be easier just to have the skill. I think he may be forgetting that Invoking is part of Binding, so he can't just immediately have a skill.
almost normal
You're basically allowing him to take the skill "Relevant Skill" with a dicepool of at least 7 (8 if he decides to throw edge in), for every single skill, test, and knowledge in existence. This will have the handy side effect of letting your other players know they can go back to bullshitting and drinking beer (or worse, stop showing up) because the overpowered mage is handling it.

Yes, It's still a slight bit less overpowered then possession spirits, but the mundane side literally has nothing that comes close to this, and what little even compares stops far short for active skills and costs a fortune in essence and cash.
Draco18s
QUOTE (Bearclaw @ Mar 26 2012, 10:56 AM) *
That's what I was thinking. With all that investment, it would be easier just to have the skill. I think he may be forgetting that Invoking is part of Binding, so he can't just immediately have a skill.


He'd have to whore out his binding skill too, to have a chance at binding those Force 5+ spirits with enough net successes to get Invoking.
Bearclaw
QUOTE (almost normal @ Mar 26 2012, 09:01 AM) *
You're basically allowing him to take the skill "Relevant Skill" with a dicepool of at least 7 (8 if he decides to throw edge in), for every single skill, test, and knowledge in existence. This will have the handy side effect of letting your other players know they can go back to bullshitting and drinking beer (or worse, stop showing up) because the overpowered mage is handling it.

Yes, It's still a slight bit less overpowered then possession spirits, but the mundane side literally has nothing that comes close to this, and what little even compares stops far short for active skills and costs a fortune in essence and cash.



Except for the whole, takes 6 hours and nuyen.gif 3000 to get that skill at 6 thing.
almost normal
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 26 2012, 11:01 AM) *
He'd have to whore out his binding skill too, to have a chance at binding those Force 5+ spirits with enough net successes to get Invoking.


I realize everyone creates characters differently, but in a 400bp build, I tend to put around 150 in attributes, 150 in skills, and the remaining 100 split between gear and contacts. If this power is allowed, 150bp will go from a moderate smattering of skills, to quite literally, every skill in existence. He's got 50BP to pull off conjuring and binding his task spirit. You don't think he could pull that off easily?
Bearclaw
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 26 2012, 09:01 AM) *
He'd have to whore out his binding skill too, to have a chance at binding those Force 5+ spirits with enough net successes to get Invoking.


I disagree with that. The number of services, and therefore the extra powers, is set at conjuration. Extra successes in binding will add more services, but I wouldn't allow that to feed back in and add additional powers.
Bearclaw
QUOTE (almost normal @ Mar 26 2012, 09:06 AM) *
I realize everyone creates characters differently, but in a 400bp build, I tend to put around 150 in attributes, 150 in skills, and the remaining 100 split between gear and contacts. If this power is allowed, 150bp will go from a moderate smattering of skills, to quite literally, every skill in existence. He's got 50BP to pull off conjuring and binding his task spirit. You don't think he could pull that off easily?


I think you're skipping a rule somewhere.
The skill the spirit has is set at conjuration. He doesn't get ALL skills, he gets ANY one skill. THen, the spirit must be invoked, which is part of binding. So sure he can start the game with a force 6 spirit with a guns of 6 which can be transfered to him for only 6 BP. Which can be used once, right? Cause transferring the power is a service.
almost normal
QUOTE (Bearclaw @ Mar 26 2012, 11:03 AM) *
Except for the whole, takes 6 hours and nuyen.gif 3000 to get that skill at 6 thing.


How does that compare to the 100k and .75 essence loss of rating 5 skillwires? Which you still need to purchase the skills for?

Thirty three runs later, and you've still not even paid off the base cost of something that is far weaker?
almost normal
QUOTE (Bearclaw @ Mar 26 2012, 11:10 AM) *
I think you're skipping a rule somewhere.
The skill the spirit has is set at conjuration. He doesn't get ALL skills, he gets ANY one skill. THen, the spirit must be invoked, which is part of binding. So sure he can start the game with a force 6 spirit with a guns of 6 which can be transfered to him for only 6 BP. Which can be used once, right? Cause transferring the power is a service.


Or he asks for some up-front downtime and binds them using his starting cash. And I'm pretty sure that while it's any one skill, he can summon another spirit and grab a second skill. For instance, if the team is sent to break into a bank next week, he can look through a sears catalog of skills and figure out that he wants lockpicking/safecracking, knowledge of this banks security features and robbery scenarios, etc. That leaves the rest of the party to be hyper-specialized builds, or bulletcatchers.
Elfenlied
You can always just play possession spirits, so I don't think it is too unbalanced. Besides, you cna only get certain categories of skills.
Bearclaw
QUOTE (almost normal @ Mar 26 2012, 09:16 AM) *
Or he asks for some up-front downtime and binds them using his starting cash. And I'm pretty sure that while it's any one skill, he can summon another spirit and grab a second skill. For instance, if the team is sent to break into a bank next week, he can look through a sears catalog of skills and figure out that he wants lockpicking/safecracking, knowledge of this banks security features and robbery scenarios, etc. That leaves the rest of the party to be hyper-specialized builds, or bulletcatchers.



So, right up front, he's spent nuyen.gif 9000, and 18 hours to have 3 skills at force 6, one at a time.

Of course, he could just conjure the task spirit, and ask it to open the safe, right? Without binding.
Bearclaw
QUOTE (almost normal @ Mar 26 2012, 09:16 AM) *
Or he asks for some up-front downtime and binds them using his starting cash. And I'm pretty sure that while it's any one skill, he can summon another spirit and grab a second skill. For instance, if the team is sent to break into a bank next week, he can look through a sears catalog of skills and figure out that he wants lockpicking/safecracking, knowledge of this banks security features and robbery scenarios, etc. That leaves the rest of the party to be hyper-specialized builds, or bulletcatchers.



So, right up front, he's spent nuyen.gif 9000, and 18 hours to have 3 skills at force 6, one at a time.

Of course, he could just conjure the task spirit, and ask it to open the safe, right? Without binding.
almost normal
QUOTE (Bearclaw @ Mar 26 2012, 11:22 AM) *
So, right up front, he's spent nuyen.gif 9000, and 18 hours to have 3 skills at force 6, one at a time.

Of course, he could just conjure the task spirit, and ask it to open the safe, right? Without binding.


Ones traceable, and effected by anti astral measures, the other isn't, but... When you put it that way, it makes me hate spirits even more.
Bearclaw
QUOTE (almost normal @ Mar 26 2012, 09:32 AM) *
Ones traceable, and effected by anti astral measures, the other isn't, but... When you put it that way, it makes me hate spirits even more.


To transfer the power, the spirit would have to be on the same plane, therefore manifested. So, all the regular anti-astral measures would apply. Honestly, the more we talk about it, the less useful this seems.
almost normal
QUOTE (Bearclaw @ Mar 26 2012, 12:35 PM) *
To transfer the power, the spirit would have to be on the same plane, therefore manifested. So, all the regular anti-astral measures would apply. Honestly, the more we talk about it, the less useful this seems.


I agree.

Just be prepared for him to get the most out of it. 5 or 6 spirits is gonna be 120 to 146 BP of skills for 15k and some downtime.
Bearclaw
Honestly, the more I think about it, the horror of being able to conjure and send out a task spirit might actually be worse for game balance than the immunity to weapons thing for a possession tradition. I notice that the only traditions in Street Magic to have a task spirit are all possession based. They may have been trying to tell me something.
Bearclaw
Upon continued reflection, I'm thinking that the task spirit in general makes the rest of the party unnecessary except for combat. Is there any limits placed on their abilities by RAW?
Neraph
QUOTE (almost normal @ Mar 26 2012, 10:10 AM) *
How does that compare to the 100k and .75 essence loss of rating 5 skillwires? Which you still need to purchase the skills for?

Thirty three runs later, and you've still not even paid off the base cost of something that is far weaker?

10,000 nuyen.gif for R5 Skillwires, 40,000 nuyen.gif for R4 Skillsoft, 46,000 nuyen.gif for R4 Skillsoft with R3 Pluscode and Personalization; all permanently. 3,000 nuyen.gif for the ability to get a single skill at R6 for maybe a day or two.

Stop complaining.

EDIT:
QUOTE (Bearclaw @ Mar 26 2012, 11:04 AM) *
Upon continued reflection, I'm thinking that the task spirit in general makes the rest of the party unnecessary except for combat. Is there any limits placed on their abilities by RAW?

Any technical or physical skill (page 98, Street Magic). This means Physical Active Skills (page 124-125, SR4A) or Technical Active Skills (page 126-127, SR4A). It's still a good selection, but getting only one at a time (Endowment, page 99, Street Magic) and from such a large list you're looking at someone who will shine only when parachuting, repairing something, running, swimming, or something similar.
almost normal
QUOTE (Neraph @ Mar 26 2012, 01:21 PM) *
10,000 nuyen.gif for R5 Skillwires, 40,000 nuyen.gif for R4 Skillsoft, 46,000 nuyen.gif for R4 Skillsoft with R3 Pluscode and Personalization; all permanently. 3,000 nuyen.gif for the ability to get a single skill at R6 for maybe a day or two.

*baby crying*


Stop being ignorant. I clearly cited the .75 essence loss, but I'm sure your attention span couldn't handle more then one set of information at once.
Halinn
QUOTE (Bearclaw @ Mar 26 2012, 07:04 PM) *
Upon continued reflection, I'm thinking that the task spirit in general makes the rest of the party unnecessary except for combat. Is there any limits placed on their abilities by RAW?

That fact that the game master, not the player, actually controls them. Sure, the mage can give orders, but it is up to the spirit how to interpret them. Also, they can't do hacking, given that they have no way of receiving input from the commlink. They can't bypass a maglock, since their astral sight does not show detail on non-living, non-magical objects. They don't pick up social skills either. Piloting is its own skill category as well. There's not much actual infringement.

Anyhow, the endowment trick does not actually work.
QUOTE (Street Magic)
Skill (a task spirit may be given an additional Technical or Physical skill instead of an optional power)

It is made clear that the skill being given is instead of a power, so it's not a power, so it can't be endowed.

In addition, one can only receive one power with endowment at any one time, regardless of how many spirits they have.
QUOTE (Street Magic)
No character may gain more than one power from a spirit in this way at a time.
Bearclaw
So, I'm aware that the original idea isn't exactly RAW. I was trying to find a way to weaken the possession/task spirit thing. At this point, even with ITNW, a task spirit possessing the character would be better than the task spirit running off to do whatever.

edit---I also think that giving a task spirit a technical skill, then saying they can't use the skill because they can't see right is bull. They can manifest and use the same light that we use.
Draco18s
QUOTE (Bearclaw @ Mar 26 2012, 12:53 PM) *
At this point, even with ITNW, a task any spirit possessing the character would be better than the task spirit running off to do whatever each individually.


Fixed that for you, and no, there's no real way to "nerf" that.
Bearclaw
Yea, at least with possession, he would only get one spirit at a time, and he would actually need to be present and in danger to do anything. So ITNW is a fair tradeoff for that.
Yerameyahu
You mean 'materialize' (not manifest), and it's not really clear how/what spirits can see. The GM should decide and advise beforehand. If you're looking to *reduce* the power of spirits, then it's a perfectly thematic way to do so.
Bearclaw
QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Mar 26 2012, 11:26 AM) *
You mean 'materialize' (not manifest), and it's not really clear how/what spirits can see. The GM should decide and advise beforehand.


Yea, Materialize.
I haven't read anything that would lead me to believe that a Materialized spirit sees differently than anything else. Is there something in particular you're thinking of, or do you just not like the idea of spirits being that over powered?
Yerameyahu
Everyone mixes those up, it's such an annoyingly similar pair of words. smile.gif

There are some hints in different places. The clearest one is in the Free Spirit rules, where it says they can't see AR displays. That means they literally can't see photons. There are other hints about reading books/street signs, things like that. We *do* know they have astral sense, as their 'normal' sense. There have been a few previous threads about this, so I wouldn't go into it too deeply here.

It's only hints and contradictory rules, which is why I said it's not clear how/what spirits see. It's definitely not the case that 'the rules say they only have astral sense', but it's also not the case that the rules inarguably give them the full suite of human senses. smile.gif That's why the GM/group have to decide. For simplicity, I think most people give them that full suite, but if you wanted to specifically limit spirits, this is one reasonable and thematic way to do that.
Draco18s
QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Mar 26 2012, 01:52 PM) *
where it says they can't see AR displays. That means they literally can't see photons.


Wouldn't a normal person (capable of seeing photons) also be incapable of seeing an AR display if they are not wearing AR enabled contacts/glasses/goggles?
Yerameyahu
No, a display. A screen (which is what contacts/glasses are anyway). But, even if the spirit wore those, it still couldn't see AR (somehow).
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Mar 26 2012, 01:00 PM) *
No, a display. A screen (which is what contacts/glasses are anyway). But, even if the spirit wore those, it still couldn't see AR (somehow).


Which is only a limitation for AR (computer screens, etc). Limiting access to AR displays (or Computer screens, etc) does not Limit them in any other way from perceiving normally. It is only an assumption on your part that limits them fully.
We have had this particular conversation before.
Yerameyahu
We have, as I said earlier. smile.gif

It's a question of coherence. If you decide that their AR limitation is some kind of magical or psychological block, then maybe they could still have human senses (even though they have no eyes, ears, etc.). Without a (totally arbitrary) block like that, though, you have to assume the only reason they can't see AR is because they can't *see*.

So, there are two possible options. The GM/group can choose. *If* you want to deliberately limit spirit power, one of these choices does that.

Personally, my theory is that the no-AR thing is an error. I think they meant just 'no simsense' and got confused (or overzealous?), and that (though it's never stated, and should be) spirits mystically get human senses when they materialize. But that doesn't mean the 'astral only' spirit option is not possible or thematically nice.
Bearclaw
I think the answer for my table might be "No tradition that uses Task Spirits".
They seem to make a lot of the party useless a lot of the time.
Yerameyahu
Some people also enjoy 'no possession at all', as well. :/ Bleh.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
Well, if Spirits cannot mecahnically see with normal Senses (I agree that it probably should have been worded as "Simsense"), then all the fluff about spirits over the years is entirely wrong. As such, I tend to go with the interpretation that makes the most sense considering the Fluff. In the Fluff, Spirits have normal senses (because they are capable of actual reading, which Astral Sight alone would not give them).

But I agree. If you want to further limit Spirits, then the "No Normal Senses" stance is the way to go.

*Shrug*
Bearclaw
As task spirits only get physical and technical skills, not being able to use VR or AR would just be silly, and clearly not keeping the intent of the creators. Rather than a cheap nerf, I think I'll just say that a different tradition should be chosen.
Irion
@Bearclaw
Spirits can't use AR or VR at all, by RAW. Not with their regular sences. A way around it would be to pick up low light vision and claim that this sense does not have those drawbacks. (But also here, it depends...)
Bearclaw
QUOTE (Irion @ Mar 26 2012, 02:37 PM) *
@Bearclaw
Spirits can't use AR or VR at all, by RAW. Not with their regular sences. A way around it would be to pick up low light vision and claim that this sense does not have those drawbacks. (But also here, it depends...)


Do you have a reference for that? No one else can find anything like that, except the previously mentioned vague reference in the free spirits section.

edit -> OK, I can't even find that. Any references would be awesome.
Jhaiisiin
Actually, they can't. It's explicitly stated they cannot use any virtual or AR interfaces of any kind, and cannot read monitors. It's a SERIOUS drawback to spirit PC's & NPC's both. I'm AFB or I'd provide page references.
Bearclaw
So aside from reading, I've searched the magic section of the main book and the entire Street Magic for "VR" and found nothing about spirits not being able to use VR.
Jhaiisiin
I know there's a reference in Runners Companion. Can't remember if/where else I've seen it.

Also, it should be expected you won't find anything on VR, as spirits have no way of entering VR. My fault for including it in my original statement.
Yerameyahu
You certainly shouldn't take the fact that they can get any skill as meaning they therefore can necessarily use any skill in every way, though. This is definitely untrue for VR, as an example.
Halinn
Runner's Companion, page 92, in the free spirit section:

QUOTE (RC)
Free Spirit Perception
Free Spirits on the physical plane are dual-natured beings. As with other dual-natured entities, a spiritís ethereal senses are able to sense both worlds without incurring modifiers for acting on both planes at the same time. Note, however, that spirits are unable to see or interpret simsense, electronic projections on screens, or AR displays.


Combined with the description of Astral Perception (SR4A, page 191), this leads to the conclusion that astral perception can't be used to see AR etc.
QUOTE (SR4A)
almost everything in physical space is reflected on the astral, albeit without detail). ... Non-magical and non-living objects have only gray, lackluster shadows rather than auras

Note that the astral form power (p293) references the astral projection section (p192), which in turn states that astrally projecting mages have the same senses as when astrally perceiving, and that the materialization power does nothing to change that.

Street Magic also has a section clearly stating that possession will not allow the spirit to see AR (p102)
QUOTE (Street Magic)
Possessing spirits cannot perceive or operate AR or direct neural or cybernetic interfaces, and do not benefit from implants, cyberware, or nanoware that would require active control (i.e.: a spirit can benefit from a vesselís bone lacing or eye replacement, but cannot activate vision enhancements or a datajack).
Yerameyahu
Nice, Halinn, thank you! I always lose track of the pagerefs.

So, this stuff leads to *a* possible conclusion that all spirits have 'ethereal senses' (astral sense) as their primary option (some spirits, like Beast, can have other Enhanced senses), which is why they can't see screens… or signs, books, faces, anything like that. Instead, they theoretically rely on auras and shapes for everything.

As TJ and others have pointed out many times, this is a big problem, and you'd think the rules would mention it in other places. For one thing, there's no evidence spirits are using Assensing constantly, instead of Perception. This position, instead, says that it's some kind of magical law that they simply can't read electronics, even though they can see the photons just fine. *shrug* Magic is arbitrary, anything's possible.

As a result, you just have to pick a side and roll with it, fixing the holes with GM putty. Again, I assume it's supposed to be just simsense, and the writers had a fight.
Bearclaw
So we're saying that of the skills a Task spirit can have, he can only use gymnastics, swimming, running, climbing and artisan?
Yerameyahu
I don't think that's what we're saying.

But, if you use the admittedly radical 'astral only' interpretation/house rule, it *does* limit what they can do without possession (and even then, they can't use AR).

Another wrinkle is that spirit 'bodies' are pretty random, right? A humanoid spirit can do lots of things that a cat-shaped spirit lacks the thumbs for, presumably.
Bearclaw
Not being able to use AR puts a damper on using most technical skills. Data search is a bitch if you are trying to use a terminal (do they even still exist?).

I guess armorer and mechanic and first aid would still be pretty useful.
And of course there's still the "manifest in there and unlock this door" thing.
KarmaInferno
Given the presence of Task Spirits, I'm greatly surprised that the megacorps haven't developed or revived physical interfaces for them.

Like old fashioned keyboards with etched lettering, and Braille displays that create a 3D array that a spirit might be able to read.




-k
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