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melquisedeq
Hey ya,

My usual SR3 group recently branched into a parallel campaign, to allow us the chance to rotate GMs and to try SR5.
Anywhore... after being brought to my Conjurer's attention that the limit for Summoning and Binding test is the target spirit's force, one question remained: why the bloody hell?

I mean, shouldn't it be easier to completely reign over a sad pushover little astral dude than a being combining Spider-man's physical ability with Prof. Xavier's mental prowess?
I understand that lower force spirits will have less dice and therefore barely a chance to resist at all, but still... Without using edge or reagents, is the most I can get out of a force 1 spirit really only 1 favor? While in the same circumstances and a cartoonishly lucky roll I can boss around a force 6 badboy who owes me over a handful of favors?

I'm hoping that there's something I'm missing, or a different reasoning as to why this is that would make better sense to me, rather than looking at this as yet another example of this 5e tendency to nerf down logic and verisimilitude for the sake of balance or whatever it is kids nowadays buy. Is there?
SpellBinder
I think you answered your own question in the question: To make said conjurer spend Edge or Reagents.

In SR5, there's no such thing as "Free." Everything has its cost, no matter how trivial.
Beta
Magic limits are a bit weird. You get a magic limit, but I'm not sure it is actually used anywhere?
Glyph
A lot of SR5's bad design decisions do seem driven by their idiotic "everything has a price" mantra, but in this case, I think it was just a matter of the applying a similar formula to other tests (where Force/power is the limiter) without considering the game implications (low-Force spirits are harder to successfully summon than high Force ones).
melquisedeq
So it's an open and shut case of retardation, as I suspected. Thank you, chummers.
Moirdryd
Coming from 3 - 5 was a bit of a shock with a few things. However the logic of why is present, the problem in seeing it is the Universal Magic System. In 3rd Shaman can summon spirits on the fly but Mages required prep time and use of (IIRC) Force x 100nuyen in magical materials (and/or Hermetic Circle of appropriate element). Sr5 developing from what they did creating the UMS in 4 blends both of these together and the old Mage magical materials for summoning are now simply Reagents, but they become optional but useful. So yes a raw summoning of a Force 1 or 2 Spirit limits actions etc in a way that's counter intuitive to Shaman or Mages in 3rd (because it's drawing from both styles) but throw a few Reagents in and it's easy to get far more services and the spirit has almost no chance to resist. The bigger spirits you might get more from on a lucky roll, but it's increasingly likely the summoning will fail or limit the services anyway.

It's still more than a little weird though to think that you'd use reagents to get services from a weak spirit instead of hedging your betsvagainsta stronger one. A Variant House Rule I came up with for summoning was:
Summoning Limit = Magic - Desired Force of Spirit. Reagents can be used to set Limit instead.
Sengir
QUOTE (melquisedeq @ Nov 4 2014, 03:17 AM) *
Without using edge or reagents, is the most I can get out of a force 1 spirit really only 1 favor? While in the same circumstances and a cartoonishly lucky roll I can boss around a force 6 badboy who owes me over a handful of favors?

Depending on your DP, the chance of summoning the big boy might even be better. The single success a Force 1 spirit needs to negate your roll happens 1/3 of the time, a good summoner will pull an F 6 spirit with more certainty...
DMiller
Simply as a House Rule our group decided that for summoning and binding, use Astral limit. That has worked quite well for us so far and still seems to fit in with the other mechanics of the game.
Smash
QUOTE (melquisedeq @ Nov 4 2014, 09:49 PM) *
So it's an open and shut case of retardation, as I suspected. Thank you, chummers.


Not really, I think the writers would have noticed it and gone "Meh, who summons spirits less than force 3 anyway?"

And really, who does? The drain is negligible and any spirit with mental stats less than 2 is going to be mostly useless anyway.
Cain
QUOTE (Moirdryd @ Nov 4 2014, 02:59 AM) *
Coming from 3 - 5 was a bit of a shock with a few things. However the logic of why is present, the problem in seeing it is the Universal Magic System. In 3rd Shaman can summon spirits on the fly but Mages required prep time and use of (IIRC) Force x 100nuyen in magical materials (and/or Hermetic Circle of appropriate element). Sr5 developing from what they did creating the UMS in 4 blends both of these together and the old Mage magical materials for summoning are now simply Reagents, but they become optional but useful. So yes a raw summoning of a Force 1 or 2 Spirit limits actions etc in a way that's counter intuitive to Shaman or Mages in 3rd (because it's drawing from both styles) but throw a few Reagents in and it's easy to get far more services and the spirit has almost no chance to resist. The bigger spirits you might get more from on a lucky roll, but it's increasingly likely the summoning will fail or limit the services anyway.

It's still more than a little weird though to think that you'd use reagents to get services from a weak spirit instead of hedging your betsvagainsta stronger one. A Variant House Rule I came up with for summoning was:
Summoning Limit = Magic - Desired Force of Spirit. Reagents can be used to set Limit instead.


It's a bit more involved than that. Even though shamen could summon spirits on the fly, the elementals summoned by hermetics had advantages, too: they stuck around longer, had a wider array of services available, and you could have more than one at a time, no domain concerns, etc. While there were ways to sort-of get multiple nature spirits at once, elementals were more reliable as the astral attack pack.


QUOTE (Smash @ Nov 16 2014, 12:59 PM) *
Not really, I think the writers would have noticed it and gone "Meh, who summons spirits less than force 3 anyway?"

And really, who does? The drain is negligible and any spirit with mental stats less than 2 is going to be mostly useless anyway.

Honestly, under the new rules, I'll probably be summoning low force spirits instead of Watchers. Rituals look like an overly-complicated and semi-useless skill set anyway; summoning watchers is now an annoyingly long and complex procedure, so if I need a weak spirit for a quick task, it's actually cheaper, easier, and faster to summon a Spirit than an actual watcher.
melquisedeq
QUOTE (Smash @ Nov 16 2014, 08:59 PM) *
Not really, I think the writers would have noticed it and gone "Meh, who summons spirits less than force 3 anyway?"

And really, who does? The drain is negligible and any spirit with mental stats less than 2 is going to be mostly useless anyway.

That's retarded* game design, to me. What if it was "Handout pistol shots in SR5 now sound exactly like a long, painful, wet fart, every single time" and the justification for it was "because who the hell uses handout, anyway?"


*not literally, obviously.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Smash @ Nov 16 2014, 01:59 PM) *
Not really, I think the writers would have noticed it and gone "Meh, who summons spirits less than force 3 anyway?"

And really, who does? The drain is negligible and any spirit with mental stats less than 2 is going to be mostly useless anyway.


My Mages do... My latest mage (Occult Investigator Arcano-Archeologist) routinely summoned Spirits of Force 1-3. With Force 2 being the most common.
SpellBinder
QUOTE (Cain @ Nov 16 2014, 03:14 PM) *
QUOTE (Smash @ Nov 16 2014, 01:59 PM) *

Not really, I think the writers would have noticed it and gone "Meh, who summons spirits less than force 3 anyway?"

And really, who does? The drain is negligible and any spirit with mental stats less than 2 is going to be mostly useless anyway.
Honestly, under the new rules, I'll probably be summoning low force spirits instead of Watchers. Rituals look like an overly-complicated and semi-useless skill set anyway; summoning watchers is now an annoyingly long and complex procedure, so if I need a weak spirit for a quick task, it's actually cheaper, easier, and faster to summon a Spirit than an actual watcher.
Was thinking the same thing myself, especially since the process of summoning watchers now breaks what has been an established law of magic since (IIRC) 3rd Edition at least: Sorcery cannot summon spirits.

Spend a minute and a bunch of reagents to summon a Force 1 watcher at your lodge, or spend three seconds (at minimum, if you're lucky) to summon a Force 1 spirit on the spot?
Smash
QUOTE (SpellBinder @ Nov 17 2014, 01:34 PM) *
Honestly, under the new rules, I'll probably be summoning low force spirits instead of Watchers. Rituals look like an overly-complicated and semi-useless skill set anyway; summoning watchers is now an annoyingly long and complex procedure, so if I need a weak spirit for a quick task, it's actually cheaper, easier, and faster to summon a Spirit than an actual watcher.
Was thinking the same thing myself, especially since the process of summoning watchers now breaks what has been an established law of magic since (IIRC) 3rd Edition at least: Sorcery cannot summon spirits.

Spend a minute and a bunch of reagents to summon a Force 1 watcher at your lodge, or spend three seconds (at minimum, if you're lucky) to summon a Force 1 spirit on the spot?


I have to bring it back to 'Why would you summon a spirit of less than force 3'? A force 1 spirit isn't going to be good for much more than fetching your slippers anyway and given the minimum drain value there's almost no extra drain for summoning Force 3 spirits over Force 1.

Yes, Yes there are always the TJs out there who have Magic 1 Spellcasters and expect it to be viable, but that can't be said for logic 1 deckers or agility 1 (effective, not base) samurai, so why magicians?

There are a couple of real easy fixes though if you need one. Removing the limit on summoning might work, or perhaps implement a rule where you can summon a spirit at a higher force, roll the resist and drain dice separately and get more successes for lower spirits..............Or just summon force 3 spirits?
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Smash @ Nov 17 2014, 01:06 AM) *
Yes, Yes there are always the TJs out there who have Magic 1 Spellcasters and expect it to be viable, but that can't be said for logic 1 deckers or agility 1 (effective, not base) samurai, so why magicians?


Kinda Rude nyahnyah.gif. My Occult Investigator had a Magic 5 (split 3 Sorcery and 2 Adept). Besides in SR4, Logic 1 Hackers were extremely common (Very sad state of affairs that was corrected with optional rules, if you chose to use them).

Low to average magic works out not too bad, as long as you actually pick a strength and stick to it. Magic 3 Casting worked out QUITE well, in fact. Helps that out of the 60 or so spells that the character had, only 2 were Combat Spells that hurt targets (And limited ones at that - Spirits or Individuals with Cyber enhancement). The rest were Support spells of one sort or another.

My Typical Caster clocks in at a Magic 3 or 4 for the most part (Adepts tend to fall in the 4-5 Range). I have never had any issues with it. Are there things that may be out of your capabilities. Sure... That does not mean you have to have no impact in those situations.
Cain
QUOTE (Smash @ Nov 17 2014, 12:06 AM) *
I have to bring it back to 'Why would you summon a spirit of less than force 3'? A force 1 spirit isn't going to be good for much more than fetching your slippers anyway and given the minimum drain value there's almost no extra drain for summoning Force 3 spirits over Force 1.

Yes, Yes there are always the TJs out there who have Magic 1 Spellcasters and expect it to be viable, but that can't be said for logic 1 deckers or agility 1 (effective, not base) samurai, so why magicians?

There are a couple of real easy fixes though if you need one. Removing the limit on summoning might work, or perhaps implement a rule where you can summon a spirit at a higher force, roll the resist and drain dice separately and get more successes for lower spirits..............Or just summon force 3 spirits?

Even at Force 1, a regular spirit will still have huge advantages over a Watcher. Also, the drain on them is so negligible, you can make a good case for buying successes, as long as you're using them for noncombat purposes. So, they can do everything a Watcher can, plus quite a bit.

Of course, you do have a point-- you can summon a force 3 spirit for very little risk, and that spirit will be many times smarter and more powerful than a Watcher. But that just shows how pointless Watchers are now.
Smash
QUOTE (Cain @ Nov 18 2014, 10:48 AM) *
Even at Force 1, a regular spirit will still have huge advantages over a Watcher. Also, the drain on them is so negligible, you can make a good case for buying successes, as long as you're using them for noncombat purposes. So, they can do everything a Watcher can, plus quite a bit.

Of course, you do have a point-- you can summon a force 3 spirit for very little risk, and that spirit will be many times smarter and more powerful than a Watcher. But that just shows how pointless Watchers are now.


Yes, but as the mechanics currently stand a watcher is more reliable to summon and much less fickle (will do more than 1 thing). People may find it counter-intuitive, but it's justifiable. Perhaps such weak spirits are hard to pinpoint and to weave into an entity?
SpellBinder
Learned a little more on reagents looking through the core rule book. I'll amend my previous post by posing the following choice (assuming the magician is not at home in his nice, toasty lodge):

* Spend 1 reagent and an hour to set up a temporary lodge followed by 1 more reagent and a minute to perform the ritual to conjure a Force 1 watcher spirit
* Spend 0 reagents and 3 seconds to try and conjure a Force 1 spirit with a 1:3 chance that it actually doesn't show up

Or if you're a bigger fan of the Force 3:

* Spend 3 reagents and three hours to set up a temporary lodge followed by 3 more reagents and three minutes to perform the ritual to conjure a Force 3 watcher spirit
* Spend 0 reagents and 3 seconds to conjure a Force 3 spirit

Oh, helping Cain back up his statement with the numbers, watchers have mental attributes equal to Force -2, as opposed to spirits having mental attributes equal to Force; the three skills watchers have is at half Force (round up), while spirits have the same three skills (and more) at a rating equal to Force. Means a Force 3 watcher has a pool of 3 dice for any of its skills, while any other spirit has a pool of 6 dice in those same three skills.
Cain
On top of what Spellbinder said, remember that Watchers only have three powers; and other than Search, the rest are just window dressing. Earth spirits have fewer powers than any other type, and they have seven. Of those, only two are window dressing: Sapience and Astral Form, with a maybe in the case of Materialization. They also have Search, and a couple other useful powers. They also have more skills, and if you summon them at Force 3, they've got an optional power as well. You can also summon them instantly, without reagents.

Really, I can't see why anyone would summon a watcher anymore.
Beaumis
There are actually a few reasons to summon watchers. First and foremost, they have assensing. For characters with access to ritual spell casting but not astral perception, this is incredible. Especially if you don't have conjuring either. Other spirits have this too, but their services are much more valuable. Also, pretty much every order you give a watcher will qualify for the observe in detail bonus for a +3 to perception and assensing tests. Finally, yes they are slow, weak and stupid, but they are an additional combatant in astral combat. This gives you a +1 for attacks and the defender eventually a -1 for multiple defense rolls. It takes an action to kill the watcher, which is an action that is not used to attack you. Since there is no armor in astral combat except for the spell, watchers actually hurt in astral space.

The main reason to summon a watcher is because he doesn't count against your spirit limit. This is especially important if you don't have binding. (Which incidentally, returns a lot of the SR1-3 Shaman feel to a magician.)

Finally, for a bit of math: Imagine a group of magicians. They work together to summon a *big* watcher. Lets say each has 16 dice for watchers through foci, specializations and stuff. Also assume buying hits. That means each member beyond the leader adds 1 to the limit and 4 dice, or one hit to the leader. At this point, this becomes a simple math exercise.
Imagine a Force 10 Watcher. Drain is bough off with reagents. With buying hits, he gets 5, so with the leader and two members, we get a watcher for 10 hours. A third increases this to 20 and so forth. A group of 10 magicians summons a Force 10 watcher for 90 hours and 18 drams of reagents per watcher. Imagine this group is a corporate group that gets together every four days and spends 10 minutes per member to summon a watcher for each. That watcher is roughly equivalent to a force 6 spirit in astral combat and has 13 dice for assensing, but its services never run out until its time expires. This is a fringe example and requires quite a bit of cheese to pull of, but unlike most cheese, this is something that corps would figure out and do in the game world. wink.gif
Smash
QUOTE (SpellBinder @ Nov 18 2014, 03:36 PM) *
Oh, helping Cain back up his statement with the numbers, watchers have mental attributes equal to Force -2, as opposed to spirits having mental attributes equal to Force; the three skills watchers have is at half Force (round up), while spirits have the same three skills (and more) at a rating equal to Force. Means a Force 3 watcher has a pool of 3 dice for any of its skills, while any other spirit has a pool of 6 dice in those same three skills.


Meh, Force 3 spirits it is then wink.gif
Tanegar
QUOTE (SpellBinder @ Nov 17 2014, 11:36 PM) *
Oh, helping Cain back up his statement with the numbers, watchers have mental attributes equal to Force -2, as opposed to spirits having mental attributes equal to Force

Is there a minimum value? I'm going to refrain from assuming, on the basis that I've read a lot of stupid things about SR5; but wouldn't mental attributes of 0 mean that a watcher of less than Force 3 is either unconscious or DOA?
Draco18s
QUOTE (SpellBinder @ Nov 17 2014, 11:36 PM) *
Oh, helping Cain back up his statement with the numbers, watchers have mental attributes equal to Force -2, as opposed to spirits having mental attributes equal to Force; the three skills watchers have is at half Force (round up), while spirits have the same three skills (and more) at a rating equal to Force. Means a Force 3 watcher has a pool of 3 dice for any of its skills, while any other spirit has a pool of 6 dice in those same three skills.


And this is why Watcher spirits post 3rd are broken.
In 3rd, watcher spirits had an additional power called Search that no other spirit got. Search did not succeed or fail based on a skill roll. No, it always succeeded, no matter what all the time every time. The limiting factor was how LONG the power took to finish (and whether or not your summoning time ran out first).

QUOTE (Draco18s @ Jul 26 2011, 08:57 AM) *
How about we go back towards 3rd edition rules, where it was a Force check, and the time it took was N hours divided by successes. Where N is 2 for people, 4 for objects, and 6 for places. In 3rd Edition, the Threshold on the test was 9 - [Summoner's Inteligence], which meant that a reasonably smart magician (5 int) summoning a F3 watcher, had good odds to find whatever it was he was looking for (TN 4, rolling 3 dice to get a 4 on at least one of them).

And
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Jul 26 2011, 12:29 PM) *

QUOTE (Draco18s @ Jul 26 2011, 12:38 PM) *

Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Nov 18 2014, 02:49 PM) *
And this is why Watcher spirits post 3rd are broken.
In 3rd, watcher spirits had an additional power called Search that no other spirit got. Search did not succeed or fail based on a skill roll. No, it always succeeded, no matter what all the time every time. The limiting factor was how LONG the power took to finish (and whether or not your summoning time ran out first).


And you did/do not think that the power as you describe it was way overpowered, even in the slightest? Wow.... I always saw that as extremely overpowered, especially for a watcher. smile.gif
Draco18s
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Nov 18 2014, 04:51 PM) *
And you did/do not think that the power as you describe it was way overpowered, even in the slightest? Wow.... I always saw that as extremely overpowered, especially for a watcher. smile.gif


Instead we have 4th, where every spirit except a watcher is equally good at the task and has the power. The watcher instead gets lower force, lower skill ratings, and lower power selection.

There is literally no reason to summon a watcher spirit over any other type in order to perform a Search or Astral Patrol DO ANYTHING.
SpellBinder
QUOTE (Beaumis @ Nov 18 2014, 04:01 AM) *
The main reason to summon a watcher is because he doesn't count against your spirit limit. This is especially important if you don't have binding. (Which incidentally, returns a lot of the SR1-3 Shaman feel to a magician.)
But there was a limit on how many watchers you could have. In SR4 it was simply your Charisma attribute, and nothing else used it with watchers. In SR5, watchers count a minions (as do bound great form spirits, ally spirits, and homunculi), which depending on how many of the others you have can limit how many watchers you can conjure.
QUOTE (Tanegar @ Nov 18 2014, 02:24 PM) *
Is there a minimum value? I'm going to refrain from assuming, on the basis that I've read a lot of stupid things about SR5; but wouldn't mental attributes of 0 mean that a watcher of less than Force 3 is either unconscious or DOA?
Off hand I do not know of a location that hard states such formulaic Attributes are at a minimum of 1, but page 303 in the SR5 book does state that spirits have Physical Attributes of at least a 1 when materialized on the physical plane. I would think that RAI would mean this extends to low force watchers as well.
Cain
QUOTE (Beaumis @ Nov 18 2014, 03:01 AM) *
There are actually a few reasons to summon watchers. First and foremost, they have assensing. For characters with access to ritual spell casting but not astral perception, this is incredible. Especially if you don't have conjuring either. Other spirits have this too, but their services are much more valuable. Also, pretty much every order you give a watcher will qualify for the observe in detail bonus for a +3 to perception and assensing tests. Finally, yes they are slow, weak and stupid, but they are an additional combatant in astral combat. This gives you a +1 for attacks and the defender eventually a -1 for multiple defense rolls. It takes an action to kill the watcher, which is an action that is not used to attack you. Since there is no armor in astral combat except for the spell, watchers actually hurt in astral space.

Problem is, all spirits have Assensing. It'd be kinda bad if they didn't, they live on the Astral, and that's the only way to really notice things there. In fact, everything you mention works for spirits as well. Also, remember that now Watchers require the ritual sorcery skill, instead of Conjuring. So, in order to summon them at all, you need a separate skill entirely. If you don't have the skill points to get Conjuring, you won't have enough for Ritual Sorcery either.
QUOTE
The main reason to summon a watcher is because he doesn't count against your spirit limit. This is especially important if you don't have binding. (Which incidentally, returns a lot of the SR1-3 Shaman feel to a magician.)

It's still not useful. You can't spontaneously summon a Watcher, it takes preparation and reagents. So, they actually cost you. If they had abilities beyond normal spirits, it'd be more worth is, but they don't.
QUOTE
Finally, for a bit of math: Imagine a group of magicians. They work together to summon a *big* watcher. Lets say each has 16 dice for watchers through foci, specializations and stuff. Also assume buying hits. That means each member beyond the leader adds 1 to the limit and 4 dice, or one hit to the leader. At this point, this becomes a simple math exercise.
Imagine a Force 10 Watcher. Drain is bough off with reagents. With buying hits, he gets 5, so with the leader and two members, we get a watcher for 10 hours. A third increases this to 20 and so forth. A group of 10 magicians summons a Force 10 watcher for 90 hours and 18 drams of reagents per watcher. Imagine this group is a corporate group that gets together every four days and spends 10 minutes per member to summon a watcher for each. That watcher is roughly equivalent to a force 6 spirit in astral combat and has 13 dice for assensing, but its services never run out until its time expires. This is a fringe example and requires quite a bit of cheese to pull of, but unlike most cheese, this is something that corps would figure out and do in the game world. wink.gif

You can summon a bigger spirit by yourself, without involving a ritual team. It's a lot riskier, but it can be done, and said spirit would eat the Watcher at any task you care to name. Big Watchers are fairly pointless, anyway; they can't do anything special, so using that many reagents isn't going to net you anything.
QUOTE
Off hand I do not know of a location that hard states such formulaic Attributes are at a minimum of 1, but page 303 in the SR5 book does state that spirits have Physical Attributes of at least a 1 when materialized on the physical plane. I would think that RAI would mean this extends to low force watchers as well.

Watchers cannot materialize. They can't do anything physical, and so they don't have physical stats. That's been true since the beginning. They can Manifest, which basically makes them visible to mundanes; but they still can't touch anything. The old trick was to use them as a distraction-- they couldn't hurt anything, but they couldn't be hurt either, which meant they could screw with people's heads. I used to have them do the Sugarplum Fairy dance in front of enemy faces.

However... a real spirit can do all that, plus might have a power to back it up. The balance was that spirits have a higher Drain, and in the case of hermetics, were hard to summon. Now that this has been reversed, Watchers have no advantages.
SpellBinder
I know watchers cannot materialize and have no Physical Attributes, but their Mental Attributes are all F-2. I simply pulled a reference from the Spirits rules about a minimum Attribute (walks like a duck, etc.). If it happens that watchers have no minimum for their Mental Attributes then it means you cannot now conjure anything less than a Force 3 watcher as anything less is clinically brain dead.
Beaumis
QUOTE (Cain @ Nov 18 2014, 08:55 PM) *
Problem is, all spirits have Assensing. It'd be kinda bad if they didn't, they live on the Astral, and that's the only way to really notice things there. In fact, everything you mention works for spirits as well.
Having a normal spirit use assensing for you costs a service. Having a watcher use it costs a simple action to order it. You're right that all of it works for other spirits too, but other spirits's services are much more valuable than watchers.

Watchers are weak and require way more effort to get than they used to. That is entirely true. But they aren't *entirely* pointless. They can still use their original function as messengers, they can watch over your body while you're projecting, they provide a second set of eyes to assensing and perception. They can see wards and warn you when you're not astrally active, so you can sneak through instead of intersecting with your foci/ quickened spells. They can provide quick reconnaissance when you're unable or unwilling to project. And they do all that for hours without costing services.

I'm not arguing that watchers are equally useful to spirits. They aren't. In almost every case a spirit can do all a watcher can and better. However, watchers are basically "free" in that they require a minimal investment (assuming you have ritual spellcasting) and are not mutually exclusive with other spirits. The combat applications of watchers have been severely diminished, that is absolutely true, but there are other fields in which they are useful.
Cain
QUOTE (Beaumis @ Nov 19 2014, 03:08 AM) *
Having a normal spirit use assensing for you costs a service. Having a watcher use it costs a simple action to order it. You're right that all of it works for other spirits too, but other spirits's services are much more valuable than watchers.

Hm, not quite sure about that. While its true that watchers don't use services, thanks to the spirit-summoner link, you can get reports from a spirit with ease. Also, Assensing isn't listed on the service table, so it's questionable as to if it counts as a service. I can see the argument for both sides, but just having it look around the astral (which it always does) probably doesn't count.

QUOTE
Watchers are weak and require way more effort to get than they used to. That is entirely true. But they aren't *entirely* pointless. They can still use their original function as messengers, they can watch over your body while you're projecting, they provide a second set of eyes to assensing and perception. They can see wards and warn you when you're not astrally active, so you can sneak through instead of intersecting with your foci/ quickened spells. They can provide quick reconnaissance when you're unable or unwilling to project. And they do all that for hours without costing services.

I'm not arguing that watchers are equally useful to spirits. They aren't. In almost every case a spirit can do all a watcher can and better. However, watchers are basically "free" in that they require a minimal investment (assuming you have ritual spellcasting) and are not mutually exclusive with other spirits. The combat applications of watchers have been severely diminished, that is absolutely true, but there are other fields in which they are useful.

The original function of Watchers was as an astral extra, to handle tasks too menial or routine to waste a normal spirit on. In fact, the original services only consisted of: Air cover, Alarm, Attack Dog, Bug, Courier, and Irritant. All of these could be handled by a normal spirit (except for their special Tracking power, but that was only good when combined with Courier or some other form of location), but it was a waste to use Elemental services on it, and Nature spirits didn't appreciate being used for boring tasks, and they had trouble leaving their domains.

The problem is, Watchers are no longer cheap and easy. Investing in Ritual Sorcery and learning rituals costs you points that could have been used elsewhere, and I've never seen a mage who didn't need more points. It's also only available to full mages and mystic adepts, since aspected mages and adepts can't take Ritual Sorcery. To summon a watcher, you either need a ritual circle (so you can't make one whereever you need it) or spend reagents to fake one (which costs you money). The ritual itself takes (Force)minutes, which isn't long, but still can't be done in combat, and it still costs you reagents. So, a watcher isn't "free" at all.

On the other hand: since 4.0, any mage can summon a spirit as a complex action, which takes less than 3 seconds, and often under 1. It requires Conjuring, which is a skill any full mage will have. Binding is optional, and Banishing is mostly useless, but there's no point in being a full mage without Conjuring. Also, some aspected mages will be dedicated conjurers, so it's open to more people. Summoning a spirit is free, since you can do it without spending any reagents or costly materials. (Yes, Binding costs, but not all mages will bind spirits.) And on top of that, spirits have better stats, more skills, and a wider array of powers open to them. No matter how you slice it, spirits are cheaper, easier, more powerful, and faster to summon than any watcher.
Beaumis
I always understood a service to be something you tell the spirit to do. Certainly a spirit sees and assenses things naturally but it is under no obligation to tell you what it sees and notices. If you tell the spirit to assense something for you, it's an order and orders cost services in my book. The rules don't flat out say so though, so I can see how one could read them differently.

Watchers used to last for successes in hours. You could increase that time but it cost serious money or karma. In 5th, a watcher lasts for force multiplied with hits in hours and costs force drams. Unless you go crazy, that'll usually end up being ~100 for a watcher that lasts all your workday. If you want one, just summon one before you leave the house for the day. When I said "free" I meant that they are another resource you can tap provided you have ritual spellcasting already. Having a watcher does not limit your magical abilities in any way and their drain and cost are negligible in my book. You do need to buy the ritual though.

I'm not saying that watchers aren't a lot weaker and less useful than they used to be. They are. They were nerfed into the ground, stamped on and then nerfed some more for good measure. I'm just saying that even in their severely weakened state, they still have their uses even if you have to look harder for them. If nothing else, 5th is the first edition with actual rules to piss of the spirit world and the fact that real spirits dislike menial tasks still applies. A watcher on sentry duty may not be optimal, but it is the "way it should be" according to the spirit world and won't gain you spirit index. (Those rules are BS, but that's beside the point.)

Watchers were meant as extras, but lets face it, in most games they were used as a pack of attack dogs and/or cannon fodder with the occasional sentry duty thrown in. Especially in 1st to 3rd Edition where every one of your watchers was a +1TN to your enemy in astral combat, they were freakishly powerful.



Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Nov 18 2014, 02:59 PM) *
Instead we have 4th, where every spirit except a watcher is equally good at the task and has the power. The watcher instead gets lower force, lower skill ratings, and lower power selection.

There is literally no reason to summon a watcher spirit over any other type in order to perform a Search or Astral Patrol DO ANYTHING.


Watchers have uses... Chief amongst them being that you do not have to Bind them, so you can have more than one of them at a time. I have had characters use them very well. You do have to plan for their limitations, but that should not be all that difficult for a Shadowrunner Magician to do. smile.gif

Though to be fair - 5th Edition screwed Watchers even more than before. SO...
Jaid
@Cain: aspected sorcerers actually can take ritual spellcasting. it, counterspelling, and spellcasting are the three skills in the skill group.

now, not every aspected sorcerer will want the skill, but most will basically be forced into taking it (unless you pick magic as priority D, all the aspected magician options give you a skill group).

so actually, watchers aren't forbidden to aspected magicians. they are (amusingly enough) forbidden to aspected conjurers, and allowed to aspected sorcerers (as are homunculi).

so, for an aspected sorcerer having (most likely) already invested into the skill, at least on a basic level, the only cost at that point is knowing the ritual. and, since they can't exactly have regular spirits, we have ironically discovered a legitimate purpose for watchers: they're for aspected sorcerers to use because they don't have anything better (with the exception of homunculi, but they have their own drawbacks). also, on a side note, there are some other potentially interesting rituals. perhaps not the most amazing, but you can (for example) "curse" a group of shadowrunners with improved invisibility, costing you only a single concentration penalty and with no mention of any need to keep the entire team within any area. likewise, you can basically double up on, say, detect life by casting it as a remote seeing ritual (though admittedly doubling up on detect life is decidedly less valuable than turning a single improved invisibility effect into a group effect which you can burn reagents to ignore the drain of). you can also generate a very hacker-friendly zone using the circle of healing ritual, and for that matter can create an area that will help you cast spells (including other rituals) using that same ritual.

ritual spellcasting may not be the most amazing skill out there, but it actually isn't that bad.

out of curiosity, does anyone know offhand whether ally spirits require ritual spellcasting? it would be pretty hilarious if aspected sorcerers could get them while aspected conjurers could not nyahnyah.gif
Jack VII
QUOTE (Jaid @ Nov 19 2014, 08:58 AM) *
out of curiosity, does anyone know offhand whether ally spirits require ritual spellcasting? it would be pretty hilarious if aspected sorcerers could get them while aspected conjurers could not nyahnyah.gif

Reading through it, I don't know if either one can get an ally spirit. Conjure Ally is listed as a ritual, but the ritual requires the use of both the Summoning and Binding skills. Can one learn a ritual without being able to ritually spellcast, aside from adept rituals?
Draco18s
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Nov 19 2014, 09:27 AM) *
Watchers have uses... Chief amongst them being that you do not have to Bind them, so you can have more than one of them at a time.


So I could have 5 brain-dead monkies performing a task, or a small child...

I think I'll take the small child.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Nov 19 2014, 08:12 AM) *
So I could have 5 brain-dead monkies performing a task, or a small child...

I think I'll take the small child.


Again, it is simply amazing at what people see from their POV. I have always found Watchers useful, even if a bit limited. They are not as insignificant as you make them out.
5th Edition has definitely changed that, though. I have yet to play a Magician in 5th.
Jaid
mind you, if you actually get your dice pool high enough (especially through the use of teamwork tests, which can give quite a bonus) you can actually get very high force watchers. and since you can reduce the drain quite easily, the usual constraint there is gone.

so while you may make light of the force 10 watcher scheme, it's worth noting that at force 10 they actually have 8 in their mental attributes, and 5 in their skills... making them not exactly weak or pathetic within their areas of capability.

they'll be throwing 13 dice in assensing, for example. that's not unheard of elsewhere, but it's not exactly bad either (better than a typical force 6 spirit at any rate)... though it will cost you in time and resources, certainly.
Cain
QUOTE
I always understood a service to be something you tell the spirit to do. Certainly a spirit sees and assenses things naturally but it is under no obligation to tell you what it sees and notices. If you tell the spirit to assense something for you, it's an order and orders cost services in my book. The rules don't flat out say so though, so I can see how one could read them differently.

I can see that going either way. However, technically the spirit is always assesnsing, since that's how you see in the astral. Rather or not telling you what it sees counts as a service is up to individual interpretation, of course. I think just looking around shouldn't count as a service, though.
QUOTE
Watchers used to last for successes in hours. You could increase that time but it cost serious money or karma. In 5th, a watcher lasts for force multiplied with hits in hours and costs force drams. Unless you go crazy, that'll usually end up being ~100 for a watcher that lasts all your workday. If you want one, just summon one before you leave the house for the day. When I said "free" I meant that they are another resource you can tap provided you have ritual spellcasting already. Having a watcher does not limit your magical abilities in any way and their drain and cost are negligible in my book. You do need to buy the ritual though.

Remember, a spirit lasts from sunrise to sunset, or vice versa. So if you summon one first thing in the morning, it'll last all day, without spending any reagents. Having a spirit on tap doesn't cost you anything-- there's no penalty for having it around either. True, you can only have one, but that's not a big deal.
QUOTE
Watchers were meant as extras, but lets face it, in most games they were used as a pack of attack dogs and/or cannon fodder with the occasional sentry duty thrown in. Especially in 1st to 3rd Edition where every one of your watchers was a +1TN to your enemy in astral combat, they were freakishly powerful.

While it's true that the Watcher Attack Pack ended with 3rd edition, that just meant that starting with 4th, Watchers were seriously nerfed. Watchers in 4/4.5 were locked at force 1, which meant they had a maximum of two dice to do anything. They suddenly became useless as astral attack dogs, and too dumb to act as bugs, sentries, or couriers. (They were still good at irritating people, though.) Their only saving grace was that they were free to summon, and you could do so instantaneously.

The instantaneous part is important. It was very rare for anyone to go around with watchers hanging about all day, they just summoned them as needed. It was also invisible, or at least not very noticeable. Now, you need to either be in a ritual circle, or spend time drawing a circle on the ground with reagents. You also need to plan ahead-- you can't call one in a pinch. That severely limits their utility.

5e has fixed the force limit, but by restricting their skills and only giving them one useful power, they're still useless. Only now, it's better to summon a low force spirit to do the mundane tasks that Watchers used to be useful for.

QUOTE
@Cain: aspected sorcerers actually can take ritual spellcasting. it, counterspelling, and spellcasting are the three skills in the skill group.

My mistake. However, I think the point stands that it's not easy to summon a watcher.

QUOTE
so, for an aspected sorcerer having (most likely) already invested into the skill, at least on a basic level, the only cost at that point is knowing the ritual. and, since they can't exactly have regular spirits, we have ironically discovered a legitimate purpose for watchers: they're for aspected sorcerers to use because they don't have anything better (with the exception of homunculi, but they have their own drawbacks). also, on a side note, there are some other potentially interesting rituals. perhaps not the most amazing, but you can (for example) "curse" a group of shadowrunners with improved invisibility, costing you only a single concentration penalty and with no mention of any need to keep the entire team within any area. likewise, you can basically double up on, say, detect life by casting it as a remote seeing ritual (though admittedly doubling up on detect life is decidedly less valuable than turning a single improved invisibility effect into a group effect which you can burn reagents to ignore the drain of). you can also generate a very hacker-friendly zone using the circle of healing ritual, and for that matter can create an area that will help you cast spells (including other rituals) using that same ritual.

ritual spellcasting may not be the most amazing skill out there, but it actually isn't that bad.

Leaving aside the wisdom of making an aspected magician, the fact is that mage-types have a lot of skills they need to invest in. Rituals all have the problem that they can't be cast at will, wherever you want, and they cost money in the form of reagents. Also, they cost you slots that could be used for spells, which are useful for both full mages and aspected sorcerers. I'm not sure if rituals in general are worth the cost, because spells seem to be a lot more useful.

QUOTE
mind you, if you actually get your dice pool high enough (especially through the use of teamwork tests, which can give quite a bonus) you can actually get very high force watchers. and since you can reduce the drain quite easily, the usual constraint there is gone.

so while you may make light of the force 10 watcher scheme, it's worth noting that at force 10 they actually have 8 in their mental attributes, and 5 in their skills... making them not exactly weak or pathetic within their areas of capability.

The problem is that Watchers only have three skills, of which only one is active. So, with 13 dice for Perception or Assensing, they aren't bad, but definitely not significantly better than their summoner. And 13 dice in astral combat sounds nice, but they're still no match for a spirit of lower force.
Jaid
eh, i'm not sold on aspected sorcerer being such a bad idea. enchanter and conjurer seem like pretty lousy deals (especially enchanter... conjurer is not great, but not awful either), but sorcerer gets the meat and potatoes of being a mage, and can do so with a low priority investment. simple truth is, full magician with a good magic score has a high opportunity cost; high rating skills is worth a ton, and high race (for good edge) can be amazingly powerful. especially with magic, where it means you can avoid drain. even attributes can be nice, not so much because high attributes is a ton better than low, but simply because attributes in general start off so bad that you really want to invest in them.

furthermore, aspected sorcerers take a substantially lower number of magic skills. you can't pick up the conjuring ones or the enchanting ones (not that you likely wanted the enchanting ones anyways), astral combat is a lot less useful if you can only perceive but not project, and assensing... well, hey, didn't we just discuss that with some optimization, the ritual spellcasting skill you probably have at a high rating purely as a result of having a magical active group forced on you could provide you with a decent assensing (and for that matter astral combat) skill by proxy?\

not just that, but half the reason magicians generally don't have skill points to go around in 5e is because full magician and mystic adept take up your higher priorities, and there is a ridiculously large difference between skills C and B (and even more dramatic when you compare to A).

so it really depends. if you want a skilled character who is also a magician, being able to pick up magic as priority C and still be quite decent is nice. being able to dump it to priority D and still get magic is a very low cost, if we presume that getting magic was desirable for the character in the first place.

but i could definitely imagine someone going, say, skills A (because it's amazing), race B (human, for huge edge attribute), attributes C, magic D, resources E and building a very effective character with it.

(also, you don't have to start with a bunch of rituals... you can start off knowing spells, and pick up rituals as you go).
Cain
QUOTE
eh, i'm not sold on aspected sorcerer being such a bad idea. enchanter and conjurer seem like pretty lousy deals (especially enchanter... conjurer is not great, but not awful either), but sorcerer gets the meat and potatoes of being a mage, and can do so with a low priority investment. simple truth is, full magician with a good magic score has a high opportunity cost; high rating skills is worth a ton, and high race (for good edge) can be amazingly powerful. especially with magic, where it means you can avoid drain. even attributes can be nice, not so much because high attributes is a ton better than low, but simply because attributes in general start off so bad that you really want to invest in them.

While I'm not sure about how effective aspected sorcerers can really be, I do have a mystic adept in the Missions games as a backup character. She has full magic and full Edge. Her skills are lighter than I prefer, though. Because attributes are so expensive to raise, you're better off with higher attributes at start, it'll cost less to raise a skill or two.

QUOTE
furthermore, aspected sorcerers take a substantially lower number of magic skills. you can't pick up the conjuring ones or the enchanting ones (not that you likely wanted the enchanting ones anyways), astral combat is a lot less useful if you can only perceive but not project, and assensing... well, hey, didn't we just discuss that with some optimization, the ritual spellcasting skill you probably have at a high rating purely as a result of having a magical active group forced on you could provide you with a decent assensing (and for that matter astral combat) skill by proxy?\

Honestly, I don't see that much difference. While a full mage practically demands a high Spellcasting and summoning (otherwise, why bother being a full mage at all?), Enchanting is very optional. If you skip ritual sorcery, you can focus on spellcasting and counterspelling, which are a lot more practical and can be used more freely. From what I can tell, in the conjuring category, banishing is still utterly useless. So, if you just focus on those four skills, you'll do fine as a full mage, and won't really lose out on anything.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Cain @ Nov 19 2014, 06:30 PM) *
While it's true that the Watcher Attack Pack ended with 3rd edition, that just meant that starting with 4th, Watchers were seriously nerfed. Watchers in 4/4.5 were locked at force 1, which meant they had a maximum of two dice to do anything. They suddenly became useless as astral attack dogs, and too dumb to act as bugs, sentries, or couriers. (They were still good at irritating people, though.) Their only saving grace was that they were free to summon, and you could do so instantaneously.


Untrue...

I have seen options for aspecting (can't remember where, to be honest) Watchers for an additional 3 Dice to Perception, and you can gain an additional +3 Dice for Specific Perception. Therefore, they COULD have from 5 to 8 Dice to perceive something. Not bad for something gained for free and instantaneously. They were not unholy terrors to be sure, but they were useful.
Beaumis
QUOTE (Cain @ Nov 19 2014, 09:30 PM) *
Having a spirit on tap doesn't cost you anything-- there's no penalty for having it around either. True, you can only have one, but that's not a big deal.
Yes it does. It costs you that spirit. If you have a spirit and a watcher, you can have them in two places at once.

QUOTE (Cain @ Nov 19 2014, 09:30 PM) *
While it's true that the Watcher Attack Pack ended with 3rd edition
And 5th edition has resurrected it. Watchers can have more than 2 dice for attacks and you can have up to your charisma watchers. Each provides you with a +1 to your attacks and serves as a additional source of damage and damage soak. Yes you have to plan ahead and yes it costs money, but that does not change the fact that you can do it on top of everything else.

As I've said before, watchers were nerfed severely. They are a shadow of their former selves and they have much higher opportunity costs than they used to, but at the end of the day, a spirit and a watcher are worth more than a spirit on its own. Not much, but more.
Draco18s
QUOTE (Beaumis @ Nov 20 2014, 10:53 AM) *
but at the end of the day, a spirit and a watcher are worth more than a spirit on its own. Not much, but more.


The question is not "is a spirit plus watcher worth more than a spirit?" because that will always be true. The question is "is it worth the opportunity cost to summon the watcher?"
Beaumis
That question depends on a lot of variables that are subject to the individual game. I'm currently playing a campaign that is the most cash starved I have ever played, having amassed something in the 50.000 region over roughly 30 sessions. Lifestyles and gear replacement cost alone have halved that amount of earnings. In an environment like that, hell no. I might need the 100 to bribe someone. For the average few hour work day runner that earns 10k+ a run your answer may vary.

The overall question really is what kind of game you're playing though. In a relatively low magic, low combat game, a watcher with a few extra perception dice are easily worth the money. In a high powered combat setting, you're probably better off binding another real spirit. However, once you've bound as many spirits as you can and feel you need more, watchers are available at comparably low cost.
Cain
QUOTE (Beaumis @ Nov 20 2014, 07:53 AM) *
Yes it does. It costs you that spirit. If you have a spirit and a watcher, you can have them in two places at once.

Not really. If you need a bigger or more powerful spirit, you can always choose to let the smaller one go, and summon a bigger one.

And while a remote service costs you all the spirit's services (which, admittedly, isn't true for a watcher in 5e), it also means it no longer counts against your limit. So, if you need two spirits in different places, you can summon one and send it on its way; it will complete the service (including reporting back to you if asked) and then vanish. In the meanwhile, you can summon a second spirit, and do the same thing. Lather, rinse, repeat.
QUOTE
And 5th edition has resurrected it. Watchers can have more than 2 dice for attacks and you can have up to your charisma watchers. Each provides you with a +1 to your attacks and serves as a additional source of damage and damage soak. Yes you have to plan ahead and yes it costs money, but that does not change the fact that you can do it on top of everything else.

The fact that you have to prepare well ahead of time, and spend resources, is what makes it not worth it. By the time you've summoned enough high-force watchers to actually be a significant force, you could have gone a long way towards summoning and binding a decent force spirit with more powers and useful abilities.

What's more, the watcher attack pack is nowhere near as nasty as it used to be. Friends in Melee only gives you +1 die per, which is nice, but can be equaled in other ways. But back then, it reduced your TN *and* raised theirs. This caused a humongous change in the TN's on either side, which dramatically shifted things in your favor.

QUOTE
As I've said before, watchers were nerfed severely. They are a shadow of their former selves and they have much higher opportunity costs than they used to, but at the end of the day, a spirit and a watcher are worth more than a spirit on its own. Not much, but more.

Maybe, but I don't see them being any better than two spirits, which can be done through Binding, or by the catch-and-release trick I mentioned earlier. They're not without drawbacks, but summoning and releasing spirits is free and spontaneous, while watchers aren't.
Jaid
actually, the friends in melee rules are even worse than that now.

it's basically a chained teamwork test. not a real one (that could actually wind up being better if you had enough high force watchers), but as in the first one teamworks on the next, which teamworks to the next, etc, until someone finally makes an attack... with pretty much the exact same dice pool as if you had done absolutely nothing whatsoever beyond the first helper.

watcher attack packs can still be a thing if for some reason you can't bind real spirits and have a group of high force watchers on hand. but as helpers, anything beyond 1 is pretty much completely pointless now. 5 people vs 1 should all ignore helping each other and just beat the crud out of you 1v1, 5 times.
Cain
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Nov 18 2014, 01:51 PM) *
And you did/do not think that the power as you describe it was way overpowered, even in the slightest? Wow.... I always saw that as extremely overpowered, especially for a watcher. smile.gif

Sorry, missed this post.

While a watcher didn't actually have to roll to find something, it could only find things known to its summoner. There was some flex in what that meant, but just about everyone agreed that only things the mage had personally seen counted. Personally, I usually required them to have assesnsed the subject, but that's optional.

That meant you couldn't use a watcher to ritually track for you. They could only find people you knew personally, so they were better used as messengers than spotters. They also couldn't find the MacGuffin for you; even if you had viewed it personally, they couldn't go through an astral barrier, and stood a good chance of getting confused and running out of time if they did.

Watchers had many uses, but astral hound dogs weren't one of them. Their special power made them useful, but not overpowering; other spirit's Search power might require a roll, but it could find anything. When 4.5 combined the two powers, it actually made Watchers worse.
Draco18s
QUOTE (Cain @ Nov 21 2014, 02:58 AM) *
Watchers had many uses, but astral hound dogs weren't one of them. Their special power made them useful, but not overpowering; other spirit's Search power might require a roll, but it could find anything. When 4.5 combined the two powers, it actually made Watchers worse.


In a rare instance, Cain and I agree on something.
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