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Burning Chrome
So I've been working on building a mage character for the first time in a while, and got to thinking about how few 25 force points really is. This in turn got me thinking: what are your "staple" spells, the ones you always take? Which ones do you like to squeeze in when you can? And what are the really neat ones that you somehow never manage to fit in? Also feel free to share your tips and tricks for making those force points go as far as possible.
First line spells:

Fashion. Get it at 5 and you can affect most armour clothing you'll be wearing.

Makeover. Don't need this one high.

Those two can completely change your look - invaluable for shaking pursuit or just fitting in to wherever you find yourself.

Manabolt/Stunbolt. As the pistol is to the samurai, so these are to the mage. Don't get greedy on the damage code and you can cast them all day.

Heal or Treat: the precise one is a matter of personal taste (Treat can only be used in the first hour after wounding but the TN is lower). A D&D/EQ style healerbot you ain't, but the ability to get the wounded at least back on their feet and mobile cannot be overlooked; and in between times, you can shred downtime to near zilch.

Second-line spells:

Levitate. Apart from the obvious opitons, a good force on this gives you at least a chance when you're plummeting to the ground after getting thrown out the window from a skyraker. It'll probably still hurt, but you might avoid terminal trauma smile.gif

Detox: Between dope-loaded rounds and drinking dodgy alcohol, it's a solid spell to have.

Lightning Bolt: Physical combat possibilities aside - and it's not my first choice for fighting due to drain - this is a good one for screwing with the enemy's electronic gear. Top line stuff will be shielded, but for the average goon it should ruin his day.
Improved Invis (Stealth, Mask)
(some damaging manip type)

Puts them all about Rating=5.
At a minimum, I almost always squeeze in Makeover, Healthy Glow, Oxygenate, and Increase Reflexes 3 ... all at Force 1.
James McMurray
Improved Invisibility
Physical Mask
Physical Barrier
QUOTE (James McMurray)
Improved Invisibility
Physical Mask
Physical Barrier

Nothing to blow things up eh?
Improved Invis, Levitate, Treat, Stealth.

Eyeless Blond
I'm surprised noone's mentioned Magic Fingers yet.
hmm so many...

Inc Reflexes almost always finds its way in there

Deflect is another favorite

Stunbolt and / or Manabolt and i try to squeeze in an areas effect of one or the other.

Physical Barrier

Everyone has been naming some good ones...I'd like to add in a low-force shapechange so you can do recon as a mouse (or rat), bird, cockroach, or similar innocuous seeming animal. You just have to be prepared to stunbolt the hell out of any sort of cat you see.
Crimson Jack
The spells my players normally take:

Improved Invisibility
Sterilize. Don't leave any of those pesky ritual materials around when you get shot.
I like shape water at force 1. Not only is it a great way to cruise around on or in the water, but you can do cool things like cut open a water main and walk up the pipe. Just watch your oxygen time.
John Campbell
I don't have any spells that I always take. To the best of my recollection, my first two mage characters had zero overlap in their initial spell selection. Phil was a combat monster, heavy on the combat spells and buffs for nonmagical combat, plus Heal and a few telekinetic-type utility manipulations. Jack had no actual combat spells at all, nor combat-oriented buffs, but had a broad selection of elemental manipulations that she adapted to the purpose (no telekinetic manipulations, though), an assortment of illusions (though not Physical Mask, which Phil did have), and some wack stuff like Analyze Device and Catalog.
The White Dwarf
The only spell that is truely indespensible across all mage types is stunbolt/manabolt. Eventually youll have to whack something, and both of these can hit targets on the physical and astral planes. Every magician/sorcerer has one of those.

While the rest of the mix tends to be either combat related (armor, invis, treat, etc), stealth related (invis, trid phantasm, blindness, etc) or mind related (mind probe, alter memory etc) sort of depending on the role Im planning to fill and the character.

Really, spell types that bring new capability to your team are probably best. Mind probe, levitate, trid phantasm are all great spells that provide unique advantages when used to gather intel, outmanuver goons, or move unseen past some guards.
For my part, I tend to make combat oriented hermetics. That being said...

Manabolt 6: Good for zapping just about anything. (Stunbolt's also nice, but I don't like doing Stun when everyone else in the group's working on the Physical Bar)

Heal 4-6: Use a decent heal after applying a Savior Advanced Medkit and all sorts of owies go away. It takes so long to heal unaided, it's worth picking this up. (Treat is nice too, but sometimes my group splits up, and I hate saying, sorry guy, 1 hour limit's up--no heal for you)

Levitate 2-4: Useful for circumventing all sorts of obstacles, carrying a KO'd comrade, so on. I mean, it's basically flying.

Increased Refexes +3 1: shove it in a sustaining focus, get masking, you've a mostly hidden version of wired reflexes.

Armor 6: Use it to save your own hide or help your friends.

Improved invisibility 5 or 6: Too useful for supplementing sneaking. Also, in combat, it'll give people a +8 (+4 with ultrasound) to hit you most times.

Looks like I don't take much that others don't.... some other favorites though...
Fireball, Barrier (Wrapping one around a grenade can be fun), Shapechange, Control Thoughts / Influence, Mind Probe, Detect Enemies, Spell Shield
A fun one is Shape Earth... technically it works on brickwork, metals and ceramics as well.
For attack I like a force 9 elemental manipulation mettle.

Heavy pistol or shotgun.

I am surprised increase refs hasnít goten much mention yet.

You probably want some attack spell probably mana based to work when projecting.

Magic fingers is great especially with grenades. ( .01 second fuse hold trigger with spell until car drives over it, you loos sight of the grenade and the car just has time to get over it before it blows)

If you want stealth improved invis and stealth spells are sweet, between them almost nothing can detect you.

Armour is very useful. And heal (or treat) is a must have and taking levitate makes athletics far les necessary

I also like to have some of detox, fashion, make over, nutrition, fast, catalogue, trid phantasm, mind link at low force, often with an exclusive limitation.

Treat/Heal and Levitate are the most useful spells, in my opinion. Physical and Astral Barrier are good for high-combat campaigns, Magic Fingers is good for ones with lots of problem solving. Improved Invisibility and Physical Mask are useful for espionage. Enhance Aim is useful at higher power levels, when you can cast at high Force with lots of good karma rerolls and employ quickening(or mask high-Force sustaining foci).
The only spell I always take is stunbolt, the others are generally tailored to the character.
As cool as the increased reflexes spell is, I can't see a moon shaman casting it since they don't tend to be combat monsters. For a combat orientated hermetic though, that spell's pretty handy.

Actually, thinking about it, I used to have a character that didn't even have stunbolt.
He owned a rare books shop and so had a stack of spells used to repair and translate the books. About the only combat possible spell he had was control fire, learnt at a high force because he didn't trust the fire brigade to arrive early enough to save his precious books smile.gif
Other than Fix and Translate (and possibly Catalog), what spells would be in that 'stack'?
I have always been fond of animate.
Dr. Jest has been looking at my carecters! That's pretty much it with the addition of mind probe.

To get specific, I like powerbolt for hitting mages and other stuff I want to kill. I usually forgo manaball for stunball. I'm much more likely to want to knock out a large group of people than kill them. If I want them dead I can do it after the fight, and if I don't win it doesn't matter.
Drain Brain
Just made a mage for use in the Welcome to the shadows section, and his only combat spell is Stunball - just in case.

Other than that, it's all utility spells, and they are almost ALL Exclusive - apart from the ubiquitous "Increase Reflexes 3" which is fetish (since you can't cast an exclusive spell into a sustaining focus). And he doesn't even have a sustaining focus!
QUOTE (DrJest)
A fun one is Shape Earth... technically it works on brickwork, metals and ceramics as well.

How do you figure? It specifies it does not work on processed mineral materials such as glass, metal or concrete.

Other than Fix and Translate (and possibly Catalog), what spells would be in that 'stack'?

Some of them stretch things a little, but generally I can see them being used by someone fanatical about keeping books in tip-top condition.

Sterilise - to take care of anything that might make the books rot
Control Element: Fire
Magic Fingers - so he didn't have to let the oils from his fingers come in contact with particularly rare books while he was examining them. I suppose this could also be classed as a combat possible spell.
Levitate Object - To take books down from high shelves. Only a low force, so not really much use in combat.
Night Vision - for reading and working on books that can't be exposed to bright light.
A varient of Detect Object that let him detect specific books if he knew the title.
A varient of Fashion that could be used on small objects that aren't clothing. If the standard spell can shine someone's shoes, I didn't see any reason why a varient wouldn't be able to polish up a leather bookcover or something similar.

That's 10, maybe not quite a stack but still a fair number for a starting character.
I kind of like having an oddball elemental manip. to go along with the usually Stunbolt or Manabolt. Something like Laser or Sandbolt or Sliver Storm. Just to be different.
If your group contains an excess of people with minimal remaining meat, you might go for resist pain over a heal spell. Yeah, it won't make them better, but they'll be able to function, as the TN is only 4
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