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So, when using a complex action to cast a spell with a range of touch, it is considered part of that complex action to make an unarmed attack. Alternately, you could think of it as making an unarmed attack as a free action, which is allowed by the casting of the spell, but either way it works the same. Now, I'm not sure why you get two complex actions as one, perhaps it's because a touch spell is much, much easier to cast than a normal one. Something to do with not having to synchronize auras, since they're directly in contact, maybe? But anyway, since this unarmed attack is only trying to score a touch (or direct aura to aura contact) it is simpler, and thus gets a -1 TN, but it does no damage. And the order of this is, as I understand it, begin casting spell --> attempt to touch --> resolve spell. This means that regardless of whether the touch succeeds, the caster takes drain.

So, here's my question: When a player asks if they can deliver their touch by punching someone in the face, by not taking the -1 TN to their attempt (which, if unsuccessful will still invoke drain), on what grounds do I refuse? This is obviously threatening to game balance, and seems like the sort of thing that shouldn't be allowed, I'm just not seeing exactly why, in game terms.

Maybe allow it, but instead of -1 the attack is at +2, similar to the modifier for sustaining a spell? (or +1 with focused concentration edge)
I'd explain it with this: an unarmed attack that deals damage is still touching them, just touching them in a harder and more painful way.

But really, consider the typical mage. If it's a human or elf, and most seem to be, you're probably dealing with 2M stun. Maybe 3 if they wear hardliner gloves, but that's not that great either. The other metaraces, cyber, or the odd melee mage can get it higher, but it still will probably deal no damage with a bit of impact armor - unless you're being hit by a troll, and that should always hurt.

I'd only consider it to be moving into unbalanced if you had a Path of the Magician adept with killing hands, improved unarmed, and a bunch of touch spells.
Austere Emancipator
I'd say the the free "Unarmed Attack" you get with a Touch range spell isn't really an attack as much as it is a slap. It doesn't represent several seconds of jabs and blocks and dodges, it's just a slight poke. It's like a slightly extended interpretation of the Gesture Free Action. Obviously I wouldn't allow counter-attacking against the touch, either.

If there was some way to cast a Touch range spell on one action and then deliver on another, then I'd allow using a normal Unarmed Attack to deliver it. But I can't think of any such way.
I suppose I should include this:
BBB pg 178
Some spells, particularly health spells, require the caster to touch the intended target in order for the spell to work.  To touch an unwilling target, the caster must make a normal unarmed attack as part of the Complex Action of spellcasting (see Melee Combat, p. 120).  The target number for the unarmed attack has a -1 modifier, since the caster only needs to touch the target.  One net success is sufficient for the caster to touch the target.

The phrase "normal unarmed attack" makes me think that it is a series of jabs and such, with a counter attack.
Come to think of it, this passage never explicitly states that the "normal unarmed attack" doesn't do damage already, but I think it's clear that it isn't intended to do any damage.
Which raises the question, if the target of the spell gets a counter attack, does the spell still go off?
Maybe the spell only works if you hit with your hand? (or whatever body part you're planning to channel the spell through) This sort of explains the ability to block or be punched without the spell going off.
QUOTE (Moon-Hawk)
Maybe the spell only works if you hit with your hand? (or whatever body part you're planning to channel the spell through) This sort of explains the ability to block or be punched without the spell going off.

You're not channeling it through a specific body part really. Thats more IC flavor. If someone is touching you then you could still zap 'em with a touch spell.

I don't like the idea of it being a normal attack. Then your back to that Other Game where all the mages don't bother with touch b/c they couldn't touch a sleeping orc.

Conversely, even if it is a normal attack and there are a series of jabs and whatnot, the defender would have to successfully completely dodge the touch. Merely blocking the mage's attack would count as contact and....zzzzap.

Maybe straight Combat Pool to dodge?
With an athletics assist
Depends on if you use that rule or not.
Here's a little Twinky-Munchy twist.

Path of the Magician Physical mage smile.gif

Killing hands D, Delay damage (silent)
Touch range spell.
why bother? the killing hands has done them in all ready. Besides, you couldent sustain a spell with the delay damage active.
I'm sure this has been covered a dozen times, but wouldnt killing hands, distance strike and delay damage let you kill some poor bastard with something like a snap of your fingers?
I'm fine with letting someone lose the -1 TN and cast their spell with a punch to the face. I think it's pretty cool.

And you should definitely be able to counterattack a touch attempt, too.
It states specifically that the mage makes a normal unarmed attack, but has a -1 TN because he only has to touch the target. It also states that 1 net success is required.

Net success means it's an opposed test, which means counterstrike is allowed.

Now, the caster still touches the attacker if he takes damage, so why the net success? Because how easy is it to release the magical energy at the right moment when you are punched in the jaw all of a sudden? Think of it as the casting being interrupted if the defender scores more successes.

At least that's how I interpret the rules, and how I see it working. As for making an attack that does damage...

Maybe apply a +1 TN? To reflect that you are concentrating on two things at once (kind of like attacking while sustaining a spell) and your attack isn't as effective...

No modifier seems a bit unfair... but I'm not decided yet.

As a gm, I like the idea of sending the PCs up against a Magician's Way adept with Killing Hands, Improved Martial Arts (one with Close Combat), Strength Boost, Melee Centering and a bunch of touch range spells... vegm.gif

As a gm, I don't necessarily like the idea of a munchkin creating a character with the same characteristics, however... upsidedown.gif
Austere Emancipator
I realize my way of thinking about it is not based on canon at all, that's not an issue for me. I just have problems understanding how willfully touching a target is so difficult as to require an Unarmed Combat test with the likely result of getting beat up. I don't have any melee combat skills whatsoever, and I'm quite confident I could manage a (willful) touch (which I am expecting and can prepare for) on most people even if they were expecting an "attack" from me. Unless of course they are attacking me first, which is another thing entirely.

You could, of course, say that you need a prolonged touch, that a simple slap or poke isn't enough. In that case, doing damage as with a normal attack at the same time would probably call for at least +1 TN, but it would be easy to explain why you need the unarmed combat test in the first place and why you're likely to just get your ass handed to you.
I dunno. I've actually got some decent combat training, and I'd be very hesitant to try to touch a nine foot troll with a broadsword... I think he'd get a good chance to kill be before I tried.

Austere Emancipator
That goes under the "attack me first" criterion. Plus a troll with a broadsword would pump the TN up to 5 before my defaulting penalty, which would actually take it above the maximum possible TN for defaulting to an Attribute (I think that's how it works). I was mainly talking about unarmed, human-sized people.
for a touch attack to work you only have to come in contact with the aura of the person so even grabing someones arm will do so i dont realy see how a person can protect himself from that by going hand to hand combat. backing of and a bullet yes but hand to hand will most likely lead to the spell being triggerd (sure the mage may get a black eye in the prosess but i think the other person will be hurting more)...

to me the attack test represent you trying to grab a person that is doing his best to stay out of reach...
QUOTE (Austere Emancipator)
You could, of course, say that you need a prolonged touch, that a simple slap or poke isn't enough. In that case, doing damage as with a normal attack at the same time would probably call for at least +1 TN, but it would be easy to explain why you need the unarmed combat test in the first place and why you're likely to just get your ass handed to you.

I really like that rationalization. It seems pretty reasonable, and fixes the problem of the difficulty and the mage being punched in the face issue.

So if I may, I have another related question. A player wants to make a new type of focus, who's function it is to channel a touch spell. The focus would act as an extension of the character's aura (not a far stretch, since all foci are linked to the owner) and could channel spells with a force up to the force of the focus. (I guess, to be fair, someone else could make a touch attack against the weilder by touching the weapon thingy) Is this "touch focus" reasonably balanced? How much karma needs to go into it, enchanting TNs, etc to be balanced? My first thought was to use the TNs and karma costs of weapon foci and just replace their regular abilities with this, but that seems too expensive for such a relatively minor ability. I mean, it's only giving you some reach.
On the other hand, taken in the context of this thread, people could conceivably use this for a very damaging weapon that might get unbalanced or twinky. But then again, the +1 or +2 TN to get a touch attack and do damage would sort that out well enough. It'd make whips seem like a good option, especially if a brief (but not instantaneous) touch is required.

Thanks for all your help and ideas so far, everyone. Please keep it coming.
The White Dwarf
Heres an easy way to rule it... by using the rules.

Casting a spell with a touch attack required is a complex action. It involves rolling your melee attack dice, yes, but that is only a step in resolving your action: casting the spell. The roll is merely to determine if your spell hits, if the opponent wins the opposed test you dont take melee damage either, they just avoid the spell.

Initiating a melee attack is a complex action. It involves you making a melee success test as per normal with the intent of hurting your opponent. If they win you can be hurt.

Obviously theres 2 different complex actions with their own unique rules and results. No player can do two at once, thats whats to stop them. They cant just decide that since it requires rolling some melee based dice they can all of a sudden add a melee attack to the chain of events.
The White Dwarf
As for the touch focus, the "touch" needed is often specifically referred to as a laying of hands. If youre okay working outside that (not really a rule one way or the other, thats just the only point of reference I know of for your question), theres no reason to need a new focus type. Just have them use a weapon focus with reach, and allow the reach mod to the touch attack attempt. If the focus cannot be used for normal melee as well you could reduce the cost and karma cost to one of the lower categories, whatever works for you. Personally Id not bother, as the effort it takes to get a touch focus and then successfully use it you could just get a los spell more easily, but thats me.
I always saw that -1 as being "it's much easier to tap someone than it is to punch them several times." You get involved in serious fisticuffs at close range, and both parties are going to be trying to block what they can in addition to pounding the hell out of each other.

Now imagine that all you have to do is touch the other guy... even if that involves just putting your hand out there and letting him block it. There's your touch range spell.

If your player wants to punch the guy in the face and then cast his spell, i'd make it a two pass action. If the punch was any good, the target will be at an additional negative modifier from the stun damage smile.gif
A Clockwork Lime
White Dwarf nailed it.

The "normal unarmed strike" the rules refer to is for purposes of resolving the touch attack. It's not a normal unarmed strike by any means, you just have to get in there and touch the target as part of casting the spell, and that leaves the target open to put the smackdown on you as you try. If they didn't give an opponent that opportunity, it would be lame and the opposition (especially if a player) would feel cheated.

Like White Dwarf said, you do not get to perform two Complex Actions simultaneous. Casting a touch-range spell is a single Complex Action. Aggressively striking an opponent is a Complex Action. You can't superimpose one on the other just because they share a similar game mechanic to resolve their outcomes; they're two very seperate and distinct actions.
Yeah, but just touching someone in melee is also a complex action, or obviously ought to be if it's not mentioned. You already get that for free with casting, so why not a punch?
Silly as it may seem, game mechanically, it takes just as much of an action to touch than attack. My reasoning: Shock Gloves. Hey, do you get a -1TN with those, as well, or do you only get that -1TN if you're using them as part of a touch in a touch spell? silly.gif
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