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Shisou
Hoi there, chummers! As a long-time lurker here, I figured it was finally time I got off of my hoop and contributed something.

So for a while now I've been kicking around the concept of Mystic Adepts and the trials and travails they face in SR4A. Specifically, finding a balance between seriously gimping them and making them OP, while at the same time differentiating them from Mages enough to make a difference. Decided to share what I've been running with my group for a while. The inspiration for this comes originally from the way Adepts work in C.S. Friedman's Coldfire Trilogy.

1) Instead of directly splitting their Magic Attribute between PP and spellcasting, Mystic Adepts purchase a Power (calling it Weaving as a working name) at 1PP/lvl, the Rating of which is substituted for their Magic for all purposes involving magical skills.

2) Instead of learning and casting discrete spells as their Mage counterparts do, Mystic Adepts intuitively shape the mana around them into effects similar to those spells. Much like the practice of Threading used by Technomancers, a Mystic Adept may Weave any given effect by performing a Complex Action and making a Spellcasting/Ritual Spellcasting + Weaving test. The Mystic Adept resists Drain for the effect as normal for the spell, using their Body + Willpower. Likewise, sustaining a Woven effect incurs the normal -2 penalty Mages face when sustaining a spell. Additionally, however, a Mystic Adept may only Weave a number of simultaneous effects equal to half their Intuition. If the Force of a given effect is higher than the Adept's Weaving Rating, then the Drain is Physical damage, and their maximum Force is equal to twice their Rating.

3) Mystic Adepts gain Astral Perception as a Power at 0 PP upon Awakening. Treat as normal except for the following:

A Mystic Adept's Astral Perception is active whenever they are conscious. This means that they are always considered Dual-Natured unless unconscious or asleep.

Because this is an always-on effect replacing their normal vision, Mystic Adepts do not receive the normal -2 to physical actions normally inherent in Astrally Perceiving (due to adaptation). They still face all of the difficulties with non-living items (such as when trying to read a book, looking through windows, etc.) that anyone else using AP does.

4) Mystic Adepts never Astrally Project.

5) When attempting the Aid Study action, the Mystic Adept is always considered to be of a different Tradition than their student.

Pros:
Casting versatility: Mystic Adepts always have the right "spell" for the job.
Ability to enhance Drain Resistance by augmenting their Body.
Reduction of MADness, as BP and Karma don't need to be spent on learning spells in addition to all of the character's other needed Skills/Attributes. These resources are instead used to increase Magic alone (like other Adepts), simplifying both char gen and advancement. Resulting PP are still allocated between Adept Powers and spellcasting power, as normal.
Free Astral Perception.
Benefits of always-on Astral Perception.

Cons:
Limited Force: Any investment in Adept Powers other than Weaving seriously limits both the maximum Force of their spells and summoned spirits, as well as the "safe" level at which they can cast/conjure. This also increases the difficulty of Enchanting, as they use the lowered Weaving rating as opposed to their Magic.
Fewer Adept Powers than other Adepts (unchanged).
Less able to interact with technology than even Mages are because of their inability to interact with AR at all.
- Also, you try driving a car when you can't see through the fragging windshield.
Inability to Astrally Project.
Drawbacks of always-on Astral Perception.
- Mana Barriers are a serious pain in the hoop, and don't even get me started on FAB.

In any case, let me know what you folks think. I've been running them this way for a couple years now, so I've also got some play-testing data if anyone's interested.
Sendaz
NM
Glyph
Seems needlessly complicated to me, and potentially unbalancing, both in the advantages (effectively knowing all spells at no cost, plus a troll mystic adept could soak Drain fairly easily), and the disadvantages (basically, they are dual-natured, with all of the problems inherent in that). One thing you didn't mention - how does summoning spirits work for them? Normally, not at all, or different in some way?

It might be more balanced if you have house rules for a lot of other stuff, but as presented, I would favor playing one of these over a mage (unless I wanted to play a techie/hermetic type) - they are like improved mages, basically, other than losing astral projection, a small loss compared to not having to ever purchase spells.
tjn
QUOTE (Shisou @ Feb 16 2014, 02:47 PM) *
• A Mystic Adept's Astral Perception is active whenever they are conscious. This means that they are always considered Dual-Natured unless unconscious or asleep.
I played a ghoul in 3rd for a significant amount of time (but not by choice... spectacular botch on soaking a DIY shotgun filled with street debris meant ghoul infection, ugh). But I don't think you fully understand how huge of a negative flaw being Dual Natured is. Beyond FAB and mana barriers, the character would be unable to sneak whatsoever if there is any sort of astral security, as even as something as simple as a watcher will see the character coming from a mile away. On top of that, any spirit of a fair force should be able to put a spanking on the character from the astral unless either there's a real mage there to cover their ass or the character has devoted almost all their PP's to weaving so that they can cast a spell in retaliation at the spirit. And if they've devoted all their PP's to Weaving... isn't this more like simply doing spellcasting a different way than splitting the difference between a mage and a physad?

It's an interesting approach, but the flexibility would probably entice me to go full on weaving and leave the adept part of the character behind, which effectively just makes that character a funky mage. Granted they can't project... but they also have every spell in the game along with a better pair of drain attributes. This would probably still be enough of an advantage to outweigh the disadvantage of dual nature, but the dual naturedness would put a serious crimp in the types of runs the character could go on, unless the mohawk is so pink it hurts.

QUOTE
• Because this is an always-on effect replacing their normal vision, Mystic Adepts do not receive the normal -2 to physical actions normally inherent in Astrally Perceiving (due to adaptation). They still face all of the difficulties with non-living items (such as when trying to read a book, looking through windows, etc.) that anyone else using AP does.
Are they all universally blind like ghouls? Astral perception is not a vision replacement at all and is instead a "sixth" sense. The game uses vision as a metaphor for what the characters are perceiving, because humans are visual creatures and we are best able to understand the metaphor in those terms.

QUOTE
4) Mystic Adepts never Astrally Project.
Even with an astral gateway, an astral rift, or the drug that forces astral projection?
Tanegar
Is there anything other than GM fiat preventing regular adepts from purchasing Weaving?

Otherwise, I concur with the notion that this system is both needlessly complicated and almost certainly unbalancing, even taking into account the giant "Kick Me" sign that is being dual-natured.
SpellBinder
Honestly not something I'd use. Even though I don't see being dual natured as big a flaw as others that have posted, I do see it as a potential problem that can be easily exploited against foolish players.

And there are times I think technomancers were considered too powerful for their threading in SR4 compared to what they got in SR5, then an awakened character being able to do the same for spells would be over the top. And if someone decided to make a troll or bear shifter... You know, I've always wondered what it'd be like seeing a magician machine gun elemental AOEs.
Shisou
QUOTE (tjn @ Feb 16 2014, 05:42 PM) *
... I don't think you fully understand how huge of a negative flaw being Dual Natured is. Beyond FAB and mana barriers, the character would be unable to sneak whatsoever if there is any sort of astral security, as even as something as simple as a watcher will see the character coming from a mile away...
It does require the player be fully informed of these limitations, yes, and those that have played it almost always wind up taking Astral Chameleon and/or the Masking/Flexible Signature metamagics if they're going to be in a stealth-focused role. The disadvantages of being constantly Dual-Natured are hefty and require substantial investment to get around, yes. It's one of their primary drawbacks, though, and thus this has seemed reasonable to me when I've run them or had them played.

QUOTE (tjn @ Feb 16 2014, 05:42 PM) *
And if they've devoted all their PP's to Weaving... isn't this more like simply doing spellcasting a different way than splitting the difference between a mage and a physad?
As to what role they play on a team, that really does depend on how they're built. Built more toward the Physad side, they function pretty normally (the Physad side is intentionally left pretty much as it is in Core). Built this way they usually focus on support spells and grab sustaining foci for the concurrent effects their Intuition allows them. They get the benefit of that flexibility and better Drain Attribute, meaning they can cast low-Force self-buffs on the fly much more often than the primary spellcaster. This means they spend their Powers on the more interesting Physad Powers instead of the Increase X ones normally taken to off-set the incompatibility with cyber enhancement.

Built as the primary spellcaster, they tend to focus their non-Weaving PP on buffs they'll always want on, as the 1/2 Intuition hard limit keeps them from being able to over-buff with their spell diversity. They can operate as quickly as spirits or conjure their own (yes they get Conjuring as per Mystad norm, and it replaces Magic with Weaving for Force calculations), their Combat spells are individually less damaging than a Mage's, but they can cast more of them due to better Drain Attributes, etc... and most importantly they'll never experience that crushing sensation of knowing the exact wrong spells for any given situation.

The degree to which each Mystad leans one way or another will determine their strengths and weaknesses, and thus their role within the team. This is as normal for every other archetype, though. They're designed to thus compliment the other members' skills and focus. Mystad is all about adaptability, after all.

QUOTE (tjn @ Feb 16 2014, 05:42 PM) *
It's an interesting approach, but the flexibility would probably entice me to go full on weaving and leave the adept part of the character behind, which effectively just makes that character a funky mage.
And that's certainly a valid way to play them. Please see my above point for other options.

QUOTE (tjn @ Feb 16 2014, 05:42 PM) *
Granted they can't project... but they also have every spell in the game along with a better pair of drain attributes. This would probably still be enough of an advantage to outweigh the disadvantage of dual nature, but the dual naturedness would put a serious crimp in the types of runs the character could go on, unless the mohawk is so pink it hurts.
I disagree. It certainly means that they're going to be forced into situations where they have to think on their feet, though, and keeps them reliant on proper planning... they're just preparing for different contingencies than they might otherwise. This is what keeps them from becoming ALL POWERFUL, or more to the point, letting them solve all of their problems with magical ability alone.

QUOTE (tjn @ Feb 16 2014, 05:42 PM) *
Are they all universally blind like ghouls? Astral perception is not a vision replacement at all and is instead a "sixth" sense. The game uses vision as a metaphor for what the characters are perceiving, because humans are visual creatures and we are best able to understand the metaphor in those terms.
Astral Perception normally doesn't replace one's vision. This isn't so for Mystads under these rules and is a specific exception presented in the outline. They're functionally blind to regular sight, yes, insomuch as it's a replaced sense instead of a missing one. It actually doesn't require much bookkeeping, tbh. They substitute Assensing for all sight-based Perception Tests and for other relevant Perception Tests as needed (for "Astral sounds" and the like), with the relevant Astral Perception modifiers in place of the mundane ones. They're constantly bombarded with this information, though, and over time they acclimate to it (represented by the lack of the -2 penalty) as opposed to others that gain it as a temporary extrasensory perception. The ones who don't cope usually go mad shortly after Awakening (and this has been the basis for several Twisted Mystad NPCs I've introduced). Being forced to split Karma between Assensing and Perception also means that the Enhanced Perception and Magic Sense Adept Powers are tempting even for Weaving-focused Mystads. It requires the GM to keep Astral Perception information in mind, true, but from that side of the table Astral and Matrix perception are things I like to keep a handle on anyway. I came to SR from Mage, though, so that could just be my bias. YMMV.

QUOTE (tjn @ Feb 16 2014, 05:42 PM) *
Even with an astral gateway, an astral rift, or the drug that forces astral projection?
This is as per the Mystad as presented in Core.

As to the question about Physads not being able to take Weaving: Weaving, as a power, lists itself as Mystad only. Forgot to add that to the OP; good catch.

Regarding Threading (which Weaving is similar to) being overpowered, I'd considered that in the design. The biggest problem there, imo, is the sheer amount of CF's they can thread at once. Thus the hard limit of maximum Woven effects = 1/2 Intuition. This means that even with Sustaining foci or spirit services, they can only sustain a maximum of 2(3) effects without losing the ability to cast additional spells [or 1(2) for Trolls].

And you know, I've always wondered what it would be like to have Counterspelling be a useful tactic. Geek the Mage First definitely applies when facing one of these characters.
tjn
QUOTE (Shisou @ Feb 17 2014, 01:18 AM) *
and keeps them reliant on proper planning... they're just preparing for different contingencies than they might otherwise.
Oh, I'm extremely familiar with the proper planning for a dual natured runner, and how much guilt I felt for making my friends jump through hoops just to keep a character I liked in the game. I think my GM let the problems with dual nature slide a bit, as he was the one that inflicted it, and as fun was more important than a putting the screws to me just because he could. I remember the first time we came across the spirit in the astral with no way for my character to counter attack, and the horror on the GM's face would have been funny, if not for the fact my poor character was about to be taken out behind the woodshed.

QUOTE
Astral Perception normally doesn't replace one's vision. This isn't so for Mystads under these rules and is a specific exception presented in the outline.
Next question would be, can they get their vision back with cybereyes, like ghouls?

Overall, I would personally have a hard time choosing to play a normal mage when I could make a Weaving MysAd instead, and that's one of my personal balance checks. I originally thought that the Weaving MysAd couldn't summon spirits as well, or maybe had to choose between summoning and spellcasting. Personally, if one of my players wanted to play this, I think I would propose that change and dump the dual natured/blind bit. Still a little worried about Body as a drain attribute so I might counter with Intuition since it's already important for sustaining weaves and it fits with a more flexible style of casting.

But if it works for your table and everyone's having fun, awesome! That's the whole point smile.gif
Sendaz
I guess my question is why a Hybrid build like Mystad gets a powerful ability like Weaving when Full Mages, you know the guys who totally devoted to mana casting don't, or are you allowing full mages the ability to learn this as well?

I mean what is it about the blending of Adept and Mage that suddenly allows them to bypass the usual system with something that is pretty much akin to dragonmagic as the spellwyrms cast in a similar manner, shaping the mana to achieve spell like effects.

I am not complaining, but rather trying to see where it is coming from, Adepts basically have to 'set' their abilities with PP- they can not normally switch out these powers on the fly, Mages normally have to learn spells. A Mystad as a hybrid is supposed to gain by sharing the two pools, but not really better than either as your focus is split. But now suddenly they are casting on the fly if you will, so trying to see how this chocolate and peanut butter combo becomes a souped up Reese Peanut butter cup with an unexpected honey & nougat center to it you are offering in the form of Weaving.

Maybe the Mystad is perfect for it, maybe they are the closest thing we have in metahumanity to mimic a dragon, both channeling and internalizing the mana that flows around us. Am just saying you may have a hard sell for this if there are any full mages in the group, or any organization interested in magic because they are gonna want a piece of that action. smile.gif

Yes you offset the ability with reduced Magic score equivalent and other disads, but I can throw a number of disads on any build together, but do they explain why the Mystad is as he is?
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