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One of my players-to-be has created a pretty wiz little hermatic with a great backstory. The character had a childhood disease, so his physical stats are limited (via the Infirm flaw), but he also had some bioware installed as a result (I allowed a little cultured bio because it fit with the character's story of being a semi-bedridden accademic). Originally, he had planned to have a level 3 Power Focus to start out, to offset the loss of his Essense/Magic, and, again, it fit with the character concept.

Then he borrowed MitS.

Suddenly, he has the idea of investing an animal with a Force 3 or 4 ally spirit, probably 3. He also happens to be a big R.A. Salvatore fan, and wants to have the animal be a Panther. Hold on, says I, you can't drag a panther around the sprawl with you. "Well how about if I learn the Shapechange spell on its behalf? Or create a limited version of the spell (he's got spell design 6) that allows her to change into human form and then learn it for her?" Let me get back to you, I said.

So. The closest I could come to a Panther is the critter stats for a tiger. Assuming that he just goes with a Force 3 ally, though technically he could do a force 4, the physical stats alone would break down like this (shapechanged human form in parenthesis):
Str 11 (3)
Bod 11 (3)
Quik 8 (3)
Cha 6
Int 9 (the mage has got bio and an exceptional stat merit)
Wil 6
Reaction 8 (6)
Init 8+3d6 (6+1d6)
Attack of 10S +1 reach.

This doesn't take into account skills and such that he might buy for it, but lemme ask a series of questions:

Should I allow this? I want to, because a physically weak character having a "bodyguard" sounds good within the confines of the character, which is always a big thing for me.

Can his ally have the shapechange spell bought for it right off the bat, and if so, what force should I insist that he take it at?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of having an ally spirit in a form such as this, beyond the normal problems and benifits one gets from an ally?

I'm leaning towards telling him that I'll allow this, but not at character creation; maybe as part of initiation if he ever does it. I don't think he realizes how big a deal only having 4 magic points will be. Thoughts?
Ol' Scratch
Should I allow this? I want to, because a physically weak character having a "bodyguard" sounds good within the confines of the character, which is always a big thing for me.

If you're cool with it, sure.

Can his ally have the shapechange spell bought for it right off the bat, and if so, what force should I insist that he take it at?

Yes, though he'll need a Force 8 spell to turn into a human if you go with the preferred interpretation of the spell's stats on these boards (though he could manage an ork with a Force 6 spell). The spirit doesn't need the spell anyway; the magician can learn it just fine and cast it on him. Shapechange just requires a voluntary target.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of having an ally spirit in a form such as this, beyond the normal problems and benifits one gets from an ally?

The biggest one is that he's stuck in physical form. He can't dematerialize and escape, and he's vulnerable to magical attacks since he's dual-natured.

I'm leaning towards telling him that I'll allow this, but not at character creation; maybe as part of initiation if he ever does it. I don't think he realizes how big a deal only having 4 magic points will be. Thoughts?

There sheer amount of Spell Points it'll cost even at Force 3 is more than limiting enough for an easily disposed of ally spirit. If he's not taking the Familiar odeal as part of an initiation, he's also losing a Magic point in the process.
You could tell him that the Ally Spirit can have materialise in any (fixed) form he wants, just that the physical Attributes still are limited by Force. It'll look like a panther, but still is an Ally spirit in Attributes. A Materialised spirit has Immunity to Normal Weapons, I think that is strong enough for a bodyguard.
Ol' Scratch
If he's a big Drizzt fan <cringes>, a standard ally spirit is the better way to go anyway. That way he can mimick the dematerilization thing Gweunyvarwhobunchofotherletters did on a regular basis.
Dr. Funk--Thanks for the input. The shapechange spell does tend to confuse the living hell out of me with the whole threshold/distance between bodies divided by the square root of the weight of my pants thing.

Torturi--That's a damned good idea and one I'll mention to him. On a side note, am I right in saying that the Force of the ally would equal the essence for determining its armor rating? I can't seem to find it right now, dammit.

Thanks again.
Ol' Scratch
Under most circumstances, a spirit's Force is it's Essence, yes. That should be assumed for an ally spirit, too. Note also that at Body 11, Shapechange is going to take a near miracle to change him into anything else just for the base TN alone, not to mention the Threshold.
Hmm. One last thing and I'll let you be. How would one handle the physical attacks of such a spirit? If it's physical form is that of a big 'ol cat, should I use its damage code, reduced in power by the lower strength stat, or would it work differently for a materialized ally? For that matter, how the hell does a materialized spirit (or even a critter) engage in to claw...without a hand to hand skill? The critters booklet says that critters can use a number of Combat Pool dice equal to their reaction for attacks, but surely that's not all they get to throw. It's been so damn long since I ran SR I don't even remember how I used to handle it! sarcastic.gif
Ol' Scratch
This is one of those areas the rules never really get into. Sort of like the ability to choose a technological form (like a motorcycle) as an Appearance.

What *I* personally do is much like what you describe; look towards the basic abilities of the assumed form that aren't covered by the ally spirit's stats. So if he's attacking in the form of a tiger, I'd look to a tiger's form to see what kind of damage code he'd have. If he were trying to run over someone while in a motorcycle's form, I'd use the rules for ramming vehicles. etc.

Skill wise, spirits follow the same rules as critters; they use their Reaction as their Melee Combat Skill. They're not defaulting to Reaction, they're actually using it as their skill.
All Critters use Reaction in place of Combat Skills (edit: as the Doc said nyahnyah.gif).
Ah. Many thanks, both of you. Now I'm headed back to that "how many adventures can dance on the head of an immortal elf's pin" thread. heh.
I agree with the others in the fact that not giving it a physical host would probably benefit much more. You can give it multiple forms for very little karma. This would save you the trouble of coming up with a new version of the shape change spell and coming up with new rules on attacks. If the spirit is in some materialized form, it shouldn't matter what form it is should still attack like any other spirit. After all, that fire elemental that appears in the shape of a two headed alligator still ingulfs the same as the fire elemental shaped like an elephant. Visually it may not look the same, but attacks are still the same. Another problem with shapechange is that it is not only limited as described, but you need to resist drain using it and the allies without host bodies can change forms at whim.

I would totally make them wait to get an ally spirit until they initiate. It is just cooler that way. Also, then he could use it as an ordeal which won't make him give up the magic point and it reduces the initiation cost. biggrin.gif

How in the world is your PC going to roleplay a 9 intelligence? That will be insane. I would put a lot of pressure on that player because if 3 is average...then super genius mage would have no problems in corp. world and wouldn't need runners. Astral perception alone will tell all almost every time he perceives. Add aura reading 6, and astral pool for each initiation grade, and the mage could tell your family tree back to adam and eve.
Interesting point, and one that I had considered before. The way I've decided to handle it is that he is something of an idiot savant. He's intellegent overall, but within a couple of fields his INT really shines through. In the case of this character, the player and I have agreed that he should be the bomb at new spell design. He has a wide variety of 6th world lore but very little practical experience. He is also a huge consperacy nut who has the crazy idea that all the races of the world had cultures of their own the last magical cycle around, and that eventually the world will go through another round of awakening or something similar.

In other words, of the 4 people I've rounded up to play this go-round, this guy is the only one who's played before, read the novels, and looked through my Earthdawn books. It's hard not to meta-game; we've tried to give him at least a partial out.
That explains having high stats on skills but not a freakin' 9 intelligence. To play a mentally challenged character with a 9 intelligence and say I'm a runner is a really lame concept and would still outshine in many cases considering he is a mage. Look at my last example. I would be more leaniant (sp) on saying they are naturally adept at retaining useless or rare tid bits he has came across but still require a bunch of skills of 1 to reflect the idea. Or maybe he is adept at learning things quickly. But come on...a freaking retarded mage with intelligence of 9???? I don't care if he is the only one who had played before. In my game, he better outshine in roleplaying with intelligent strategies and ideas to reflect such a tough attribute.
Ol' Scratch
I don't have a Strength of 9 (mine's closer to 2 or 3 -- I'm a wuss), but if I play a troll character, that's a very likely possibility. Should I be banned from playing a troll because I can't properly roleplay lifting a subcompact?

I also have a hard time resisting donuts when I see one, indiciating I have a pretty low Willpower. Should I avoid playing dwarven sorcerers because of that?

It really is all the same difference. A high intelligence isn't necessary indiciative of a "smart" pereson. It just means he has an awesome processor for a brain. It's his skills, and to a lesser extent how the player uses them, that determine how smart the character truly is.
Actually if you think about it the Intelligence of 9 in not that hard to roleplay, as long as you can be observant as Sherlock Holmes and with a learning curve that matches childhood. In all respects he would not know more than everyone else, he'd just pick it up much faster. He'd be the kind of guy who could understand waht theat research scientist said, but unless he had the skill would not be able to innovate. All that intelligence is potential.
Intelligence can be roleplayed. Strength requires the Player to roleplay by not only talking and acting with the appropriate skills, but also actually move something. I would have to say that it is a whole lot more rare to role play strength, willpower, quickness, and body. Shoot body could be done solely off of character description and maybe a scenario of a guy not fitting into spaces. Charisma is the only other attribute used on such a large scale when talking of role playing. So Doc, Yes it is feasible to say that a Troll with strength 9+ is easy to roleplay.

As far as the learning curve, I covered that already. Read previous post. I just think the explanation is extremely lacking. And merely saying that he understands but can't compute theory...then it really needs to be roleplayed heavily because of such a rare attribute level. 6 is a freakin genius level as-is and should be more along the lines of acceptable but trying to go overboard with it....possibly going back and re-reading the descriptions on skill levels should give you a reminder of how important it is.
Freaking retard...someone has missed their sensitivity class for the week. Yeah, definatly missed it, definatly.

Okay then, let me try to explain this again...a 9 int, through the use of cereberal boosters and a bonus attribute point merit, is completely within the realm of the attainable; but only a fraction of the population will have the ability to reach their natural potential. 6 is a genius, so what's above that? It's open to interpritation, and I was just telling you mine.

Having spoken to people who are scary smart, I can report anticdotally that a genius often times doesn't have a friggin' clue about the vast majority of things. Einstein flunked out of high school; Edison often didn't know what day of the week it was. 9 Int doesn't make you the master of all you survey, in my humble opinion, but it puts you a leg up on the mouth breathers of the world and will likely make you a hell of an expert on one area or another.

Now then, on the idea of roleplaying, I would argue that if I can plot for a dragon that is thousands of years old, has an intellegence score off the charts, and is a completely forign life form, my good buddy Brooks can play a character who knows a ton about a certain subject and is, well, smarter than your average bear. Will he be discussing military tactics any time soon? Nope. Can he postulate on how magical events such as the Great Ghost dance and Haley's Comet cause a spike in the mana levels that unnaturally allow metahumanity to be thrown into the deep edge of the magical pool before it's time? Sure. Would his character be able to show this on a thesis paper even if Brooks couldn't. Oh yeah.

Lothazar also brought up a good point, and it's actually an angle that Brooks was going to emphasize (his last character was an ex-star detective), since the character is somewhat naive but accute. The fact that he has synaptic enhancers also helps, and made sense for the character, and will help his learning curve. No matter how much 'book smarts' you have, nothing substitutes for real life experience.

Finally, Gil, while I appreciate your info on the spirit question, and happen to agree with you on the initiation for ally thing, on behalf of my friend who put some serious consideration into his character and his background, I must cordially advise you to take your opinion of how "lame" the character is and use it to go out and fruitfully multiply with yourself. I didn't put a ton of the info regarding why his character would run the shadows because it wasn't pertenant to the question I was asking. Why is it that a drek-hot decker who doesn't want to put up with corp life gets a pass when it comes to why he isn't living comfortably in a cubicle, but a mage who, for whatever reason, doesn't want to be a corporate whore is so alien to you?

Spleen now vented. As always, though, thanks for helping me out with my questions all.
It would be just as simple as saying....going to the all out insane "9" intelligence more realistic and leave it at "6" would be more like it. No need to go "9" unless complete cheese. Sorry, but so far no real justification without major roleplaying. Again, I mentioned before you that I agree it isn't completely dictating how well you memorize books, pull stats out of your butt, or just figure things out. But hey...a 6 represents that level of intelligence, common sense or any other knowledge level you are hyping, so easy would it be to justify 9?
Ol' Scratch

Then I guess there's no reason to have anyone with any attribute of 6 or higher in your opinion, because Intelligence *is* just another attribute. 9 isn't even the best a human can achieve (that would be 11 with Exceptional Attribute)... it's just really up there and above the norm.
Fair enough. But how do you then justify a human character who uses bioware to increase his str to 9, or quickness to 9, or bod to 9? How does one roleplay a body of nine? .0001% body fat? No neck? If a human has a Willpower of 7 why can't he just be as stubborn as a dwarf?

The idea for the cereberal implants and the increased stat was to offset the SEVERE limitations of having 2 for the maximum to all physical stats. Storywise, the character had a neurological disease as a child that crippled him, and the bioware helped combat it. He happened to be exceptionally intellegent to start with, and the bio only augmented it.

The falicy in your argument, which I can respect since I think the main point of an RPG is the Roleplaying, is that you can't roleplay an intellegence above 6, which is genius level. I would counter that almost none of us could accuratly roleplay a stat of 6 to begin with.

See, it seems to me that these numbers only represent abstract ideas, especially within the realm of the mental moreso than the physical. What does it mean to have a Cha of 6? Are you attractive, possessed of animal magnatism, what? Hell, Hitler could be argued to have had a Cha of 6, but he was an ugly little bastard with magnatism and a develish knowledge of human nature. He was a skilled politician that knew how to use fear and intemidation. Is that what Cha 6 is? Kennedy could be thought to have had a 6 Cha as well, but the way in which he influenced and motivated was totally different.

I dunno. I think we're arguing semantics here. I see your point, but I just disagree.
I don't deny any of your points for having the game mechanic. And with giving your background for the character I could feesibly see getting the gear. It is there as you have mentioned after all, but I plainly pointed out the importance of the role playing because that stat is way too easy to cheese if heavy regulation of its use isn't monitored that's all.

To those saying role play an insane physical attribute...simple... those mods make you look insanely too big and for the most part would be pretty obvious that you have something pumping you that far and when looking at that means you have social modifiers and thus gets roleplayed. Not to mention that hulking guys tend to be shot at quicker than the small guy. I know if I didn't see magic slinging that would be my target.

The fact that he wants a familiar too makes him uber bad ass quick with a stat like that and I fear he would outshine most of the group unless of course you are playing a pretty powerful campaigne.

This character will have an insane combat pool usually enjoyed by sammies. A pretty good spell pool. Decent Astral Combat pool. And when he initiates will have astral pool to benefit. And all of this if he only puts one point into physical attributes and obvously go with the all to popular mage with 6 willpower. (not saying that would be smart to have one's by the way...just pointing out how little is required with that stat)

My previous example with aura reading shows one major advantage. Don't forget almost immune to 99% of illusions (looking at it logically because of possible successes) unless rolling all failures happens. (and not needing to look astral) Also, don't forget that this Ally spirit will have the mages mental attributes for yes he will summon an ally spirit that as well has a 9 intelligence and by your description of how the character is roleplaying...may well be outsmarted in a hurry by it....BEWARE....BEWARE....

And Sorry Doc...wrong again. You shouldn't imply what hasn't been said. Intelligence is much more fundamental for pimpage than the other attributes for a mage and noboddy said all attributes were created equal and the same.
Fair enough. I actually have them all doing 125pt builds, so it's not high-powered, but I do tend to run a fairly brutal game. Having talked to him tonight he's decided to forgo the ally spirit for now in favor of getting it later...chances are he won't bother considering the runs I've got planned for them, but one never knows.

I don't think he'll outshine the group unless I focus on him too much, and I'm going to try not to. My other players have created rich characters with great backgrounds, at least two of which have given me ready-made enemies that will make their lives shitty for years to come. Joy!

His pools are alright, true. He'll have a Combat and Spell Pool of 5, and an Astral of, er...10. Yesh. Well, he was bedridden 'fer Christ's sake. You gotta do something...still, in the past the player tended to neglegt the astral. Maybe that's changed and part of the reason why he went this route, I dunno. Have to play and find out. biggrin.gif

With that Bod and Quickness of 2, though, he's going to have a hard time wearing any armor that'll protect him from flying lead. Even with the Combat pool of 5 he's going to get geeked if he's not careful. I also tend to regulate the use of spells fairly don't walk around glowing like 200watt bulb from an Armor spell without questions being asked.

And when he makes that ally, I'm going to give him about 3 game months of pure bliss with it. Then the fun begins...
I guess the problem with a 9 int, is that in SR, it doesn't just seem to measure intelligence. What it sounds like to me, the character description is more like a savant or something, than a retarded person. The use of the word retarded in this context, gets a little confuzzling, since if you use IQ scales for reference in this case, their full scale iqs rank pretty low.

Interesting idea SR setup, is it possible to make someone 'not retarded' anymore, by adding INT boosters?

As for the animal ally stuff. Howabout a cat? Oooh a nice Female cat that can shapechange into his girlfriend!

Sorry got a little off track there.

But I figure its going to be rough enough since he's got a dual-natured ally spirit animal thingie. Why compound it and make it that much more likely a LS Fast response team gets called in cause someone called in a friggin PANTHER in the middle of the city. Etc.
Ol' Scratch
And Sorry Doc...wrong again. You shouldn't imply what hasn't been said. Intelligence is much more fundamental for pimpage than the other attributes for a mage and noboddy said all attributes were created equal and the same.

No, that's you trying to rationalize your statement. I'm pointing out that if you're going to make a statement that says that someone can't roleplay one particular attribute because it's too high for them to "believably roleplay," then that has to apply across the board throughout everything. It's as stupid as Arethusa's requirement to see everyone do background research on every aspect of every character they play.

Playing a high Intelligence is just like playing a high Charisma, Willpower, Body, Quickness, and/or Strength character. The only difference is that it's a high Intelligence rather than those other attributes, and the character's style and actions should reflect that. It doesn't matter if the player has an intelligence closer to 3 anymore than if his equivalence to Charisma, Willpower, Body, Quickness, and/or Strength were closer to 3 and he was playing a high-attribute character.

If you firmly believe otherwise, and insist that players can't play anything for which they are not on the same mental level, you might as well just abolish all Mental Attributes. Of course at that point you're not playing a character, you're playing yourself with some fictional physical stats and skills attached. You've just gone from roleplaying to a really bad self-loving fantasy.
Are you saying that this character will have a quickness of one and a willpower of one? 9+1+1=11 11/2=5.5 round down to 5 for combat pool. Even if willpower or quickness was a 2, then it would be a 6. You better recheck your numbers. Like I said before... If he takes the 6 willpower which most mages do, then even with a 1 quickness...he already has 8. I would have to look at the errata'd decisions on bioware and effective magic ratings and such but otherwise the magic pool may be skewed as well.
And I hope you meant astral combat pool of 10 not astral pool. (big difference here)

p.s. Doc did you say something. nyahnyah.gif
Ol' Scratch
Yes I did. I'm sorry that your argument is so weak that the only thing you can basically stand behind is "Intelligence is different" while sticking out your tongue.

And as an aside, many magicians do tend to have a high Combat Pool for the very reason you stated; Intelligence and Willpower are important stats for them, and they make up the brunt of Combat Pool. A whopping +1 or +2 to that from an Intelligence of 9 vs. an Intelligence of 6 isn't going to make a huge difference. And, oddly enough, trolls -- even heavy combat trolls -- tend to have atrocious Combat Pools due to their hit to Quickness and Intelligence.

EDIT: And a big misconception here is that 6 is superhuman. Intelligence 1-6 is the norm; on the I.Q. scale, it probably spans from 70-130. Intelligence 7-9 is for the "geniuses" with an IQ in excess of 130... maybe 130-180 if that much. Intelligence 10-11 (maximum human potential) is for the mindblowing suprageniuses out there... the freaky smart people and statistical outliers.
Just remember, ally sprits use up a truck load of karma (and or spell points at CarGen). I also hope that he dosent summon a force 4, as (IIRC) matching his magic rating, any time he suffers a Deadly wound (either via stun or physical) it has a chance to go free.

Edit: As far as the shapechange, youd be better off teaching the sprit the spell, and ask it to cast it on it self.
Yup, did the math wrong on the combat pool. C'est la vi. I gotta agree with Funk, though. If a mage is smart, why the hell shouldn't he be better able to get outta the way?

If this character somehow also had a 9 body and wore some serious armor, then the combat pool would bug me. As it is, he'll need it. A bod, quick, and str of two (with the racial maximum being 3 because of his infirmity) is a pretty damn serious negative as far as I'm concerned. The troll in the group could smash his head like a grapefruit with his bostaff, combat pool or not.

Sigh. Its all good.
IIRC, the Infirm Flaw only lowers the Attribute maximum.
Ol' Scratch
It's a weird flaw. If it lowers the Attribute Maximum below the Racial Modified Limit, the Racial Modified Limit is reduced as well (so that they both have the same value).

For example, a human with Infirm 5 will have a RML *and* AM of 4 for all three of his Physical Attributes.
That makes sense.
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