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Moonstone Spider
These are all my opinions. I'm probably wrong on at least some. I'd like to see yours too. What is the most useful spell in each catagory and why?

Why: No combat spell is really good, and Powerbolt/ball attacks have body as a TN. While you might see the legendary albino Gnome with Willpower 10, he's extremely rare where there's way too many basic Orcs and Trolls with body far higher than that, making Powerbolt useless. On top of that the physical spells are useless against astral targets. As for Manabolt, well most of the time stun damage is just as good for a shadowrun and the drain is lower. The other combat spells like Slay and Wreck either have equally crazy TNs or are only useful in a narrow set of circumstances.

Why: It's very rare that an injury you'll run into is more than an hour old so it's better than heal for drain. While Improve Reflexes 3 (force 1) is certainly a great spell for the money, I hate how stupidly those spells are handled.

Why: Basically anything any other illusion spell does, TridPhantasm does. Of course it has hideous drain compared to the more focussed illusions but if you're looking for the most useful single spell, this is it.

Combat Sense
Why: A little complicated here. Most detection spells suffer from severe metagaming problems, that is in my experience if the GM doesn't want you to know something 2 million successes on a force 500 spell isn't going to learn it as the GM will always have some reason the spell didn't pick up that fact ("Oh, this ambush wasn't picked up by detect enemies because the guards weren't targetting you specifically, they would have shot any shadowrunners who came through."). Add to that the fact that the GM can gleefully feed you false information on too few successes and I'm quite leary of Detection spells in general. Combat Sense, however, simply boosts your combat pool and never fails due to GM intervention or gives you a total lie as your reward for only 1 success.

Manipulation Spell:
Too many and too varied in nature to really pick one. They really need to prune out the Manip catagory and move a lot of them around, I'd put all the Elemental Manips in Combat Spells and probably move the Mental Manipulations into Illusion as "Mental Illusions" at the very least.
Kanada Ten
Powerbolt. Affects any object or person. Target guns, floors, wall, doors, windows, armor, ect.

Heal. Most generally useful. All health spells have their place.

Trid Phantasm.

Detect (Life). If you can't garnish enough successes on this spell, then you shouldn't be a mage. Trusting the GM to change his or her plans or to "let you win" is not an issue of game mechanics.

Tele/Control Manipulations
Control Actions or Magic Fingers.

Transmutation/Elemental Manipulations
Shapechange or Barrier.
No way is Trid phantasm more useful than invisibility. Trid phantasm is the shiznit, but Invisibility is just sooooo useful to a shadowrunner.
Trid Phantasm can be used for just about anything though, right? Including making someone appear as if they aren't there... or a group of people.
QUOTE (Kanada Ten)
Powerbolt.  Affects any object or person.  Target guns, floors, wall, doors, windows, armor, ect.

Combat spells only effect living things with a TN=Body or TN=Willpower. How can you Powerball the floor or a window? Elemental manipulation can target anything, since they are creating a physical thing that hits a target.

Kanada Ten
No, combat spells that are Physical can target inanimate objects. Check the Ram and Wreck spells for quick reference.
Power Ball/Bolt can target non-living things with a TN=Object Resistance (or is it twice OR?)
QUOTE (Ecclesiastes)
Trid Phantasm can be used for just about anything though, right? Including making someone appear as if they aren't there... or a group of people.

That's highly dependand on your GM. IMHO adding something in an illusion is possible, while subtracting something, IE making it invisible is not.
Kanada Ten
Add perfect camoflage to your skin.
Nice work-around K10. smile.gif
My choices:

Combat: Stunbolt. Can always kill the unconscious... can't wake the dead... well, unless yer a Shedim. Powerbolt is useful, but the TN's to affect high tech items (mostly what I'd consider using it for) are too high to reliably stage, so yer looking at a hefty drain code in order to take it out.

Detection: Catalog. It's kinda like every detect object spell rolled into one, only problem is having to take your time with it. However, as most Detection spells are resisted, I find the usefulness of the entire catagory somewhat lacking. Honorable Mention to Mindprobe for being the bastard it is.

Health: Heal, that -1 drain modifer is not worth having to risk the safety of the team.
QUOTE (Moonstone Spider)
Why: It's very rare that an injury you'll run into is more than an hour old so it's better than heal for drain.

This strikes me as kinda wierd; enless the team never splits up, then Treat's timelimit is a rather big drawback.

Seattle's so big that sometimes it would push it past the time limit just trying to get to the injured PC, and if things don't go exactly according to plan (like that happens...) it now places another stressor that could force the team to make a desperate choice. Recovery should take place after one makes sure they're not going to get killed while recovering.

Illusion: I have a special place in my heart for Chaotic World, but Trid Phantasm can do damn near anything within it's area... it also however, does not come with the caster. So in essence I agree with Backgammon; if you need to move while invisable, Imp Invis is the way to go. As a 'runner, no spell is more important then Improved Invis.

Control Manips: Infulence. Yeah, it doesn't have the shoot from the hip nature of most of the others, but when used in the right manner, a runner will never get into those situations in the first place.

Elemental Manipulation: Ball Lightining. Nothing else says goodbye with the same panache, and the secondary effects are secondary only to Toxic Wave in destructive potential.

Telekinetic Manipulation: Levitate, especially if one is able to think in three dimensions. Great for ambushes and escape.

Transformation Manipulation: Most are rather limited in scope in comparison to the capabilities of other spells, though Honorable Mention goes to Create Food for opening the door for Rules Laywers to create Create Anything spells and Armor for tagging the twink troll combat mage with glowy sparklies.
improved invisibility is my favorite spell, you can cast it over your team so they can do all the dirty work.

the improved reflexes can always be tied to a suspended focus so you dont have to sustain it yourself so thats an awesome health spell for a sluggish mage

dont forget levitate...cause you can lift 100 kg i think with each you can fly if you levitate yourself...only not too fast.
edit---unless you get a running start

flame thrower makes a fun combination with a firearm loaded with gasoline filled capsule rounds (see cannon companion).
QUOTE (Ecclesiastes)
Power Ball/Bolt can target non-living things with a TN=Object Resistance (or is it twice OR?)

I was thinking more about using a Powerball against a window or something like that. Guess I have some reading to do.
Combat: I second Powerbolt. Not for anti-personnel uses (which your street sam can handle) but because it frags anything you can see.

Detection: Gotta give it up to clairvoyance here. So much you can do when you can look around corners, through walls, etc. Way more useful to a shadowrunner in and out of combat. Combat sense only kicks in when you are in combat.

Health: Resist pain. You can use first aid or treat to your heart's content, but these days you are still likely to have some modifiers left. Resist pain wipes those wound penalties out permanently. Meaning that you can go on functioning.

Illusion: For me it's about Physical Mask. Just watch X-men to see this kind of fun in action.

Manipulation: Hmm... Probably go with Influence on this one. Great for distractions and you don't have to sustain it.
Combat : Manabolt, a good all arounder for personnel with not too high a drain code.

Detection : Detect Lies, especially if you do a lot a footwork in your runs like we do.

Health : Heal, great for mopping up after the teamate has recieved first aid, and you don't have to worry about reaching your comrade within the hour.

Illusion : Improved Invisability, there are just sooo many times that this can be useful.

Manipulation : Influence, keeps you outta trouble if used correctly.
Herald of Verjigorm
Combat: each combat spell worth spending karma on has already been picked by someone, but stunbolt is my usual preference for anti-organic sorcery

Detection: Detect Individual, aka: Make the GM cry when you don't have to track his clues to get to the extraction target

Health: Heal, except when you decide you hate the other PCs, then stunbolt

Illusion: high force improved invisibility can make the strength 3 mage a terror in melee. Agony is very helpful when interrogating.

Control: Influence. Once influenced into believing that you are actually a LSD flashback, you can pull almost anything past a grunt.

Elemental: They're all fun. Ice and metal have style as well as some reasonably useful side effects, but light works reliably and well anywhere you can cast spells.

Telekinetic: Magic fingers. Who says you need to drop the riot shield or the SMG to open the door?

Transformation: Although Create Rock has some wonderful potential, Ice Sheet is one of the best reactions to groundbound pursuit of all sorts.
Combat: Stunball; when there is only one opponents, the street sam can take care of the problem, or you can solve it in a more subtle way. But often when the enemy are many, it is very nice to take many out at once, and because it is stun, your friends aren't totally schrewed if you hit them, even they often get a bit angry sarcastic.gif .

Detection: Mindprobe, because it allows you to get information out of people, without harming the physically (depends a lot on the GM, and it works very nice with alter memory, so you can swipe out the memory of you invading their heads)

Health: Heal, reasons are already mentioned.

Illusion: Trid phantasm, because it is fun, usefull and versatile.

Control manipulation: Influence, because it is the most usefull outside combat (or together with mindprobe, Alter memory)

Telekinethic: Levitation or magic finger.

Transformation: transform, because it is versatile and as mage, your physical stats often aren't that good as you want them. And at extraction runs it is fun to get your target out as a goldfish in a back (or some like that). Another nice one is armor, because it freely stacks with other kinds of armor, and let you survive a bit longer.

Elemental: Fire to cook of ammo or grenades, or ligthning to sabotage the day for cybered opponents smile.gif
HMHVV Hunter
I'm surprised no one's mentioned Control Thoughts yet. Can't you pretty much make someone do whatever you want with that?
Heal is better than treat. The deal is, if you're a mage with serious wounds on both physical and stun scales, you're probably better off waiting for your stun damage to go away before trying to heal your physical wound, and with a +6 wound modifier, it's probably gonna take longer than an hour to rest that stun wound off.

Combat/I would have said Powerbolt, but the errata killed it for me, so Stunbolt

Detection/Have to say Combat Sense

Health/I would go with Decrease Charisma, the best way to suprise drop a pimped out munchkin!

Illusion/Trid Phantasm, high drain, but you can do fragging anything with it.

Manipulation/Control Thoughts is crazy good, and often overlooked
Manabolt edges out Stunbolt for me, usefulness-wise, because you can take down astral barriers with it. Stunbolt is more effective against people due to its lower Drain code and non-lethal nature (keeping your options open). Powerbolt is seldom effective against things like vehicles, so despite being able to affect inanimate objects, it is not as useful. Stunball is a close second to manabolt - being able to take out a group, and not worry as much is an innocent or teammate is in the crossfire, is invaluable. But area-effect spells are not as overall useful, though, due to their increased Drain.

Clairaudience. Being able to overhear something is often even more valuable than being able to see through a wall (although Clairvoyance is very useful when infiltrating a corporate complex). Translate is also extremely useful, but Clairaudience is more likely to be used on a run - Translate is great to have when you need it, but there may be long intervals in between those times.

Heal is the hands-down winner, since keeping you and your team in good health should be one of your major goals as a runner. Increase Reflexes, which can give you a cheap initiative boost, and Oxygenate, which lets you breathe underwater, are the runners-up.

Illusion Spells:
Improved Invisibility edges out Trid Phantasm. Trid Phantasm is the most versatile illusion spell, but Improved Invisibility is the workhorse spell, the one that is useful both in stealth and in combat. Plus, Trid Phantasm's very high Drain code limits its usefulness.

Control Manipulations:
Influence is good, but Alter Memory is even more useful. The other spells are not as good, because the target is more likely to realize that he/she is being influenced by magic. Ideally, you want to keep them unaware of that.

Elemental Manipulations:
Toxic Wave, because acid has the best elemental effects - a cloud of fumes, treacherous ground, and can mess up armor, vehicle tires, and weapons. Fireball is nearly as good, since it can cook ammo, set clothing on fire, or cause vehicle fuel to explode.

Telekinetic Manipulations:
Got to be Levitate, which can be used to nab/retrieve small (or large) items, fly, or lift fellow teammates over obstacles, as well as attack. Magic Fingers is harder to use, and is only really useful if you have things like B/R or firearms skills (although you can still do tricks like pull pins out of grenades, etc.).

Transformation Manipulations:
Fix, at a high enough force, can be very useful. Sterilize (for getting rid of potential identifying biomatter, or killing FAB ), Makeover (for general quick hygiene and quick changes - as well as disguises), and Create Food (along with Clean Element/Water, you could survive nearly anywhere) are other useful spells.

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