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Eyeless Blond
Something just occured to me as a good thing to address in SR4: spells. There have been lots of debates over specific and general spells that need to be/should be changed, and I think Detection spells are high up there on the list. So I'm starting a thread for proposed changes to Detection spells in particular (and probably will be starting seperate ones for Health and Illusion Spells at least, if you want to rant about those.)

First off, there are Detection spells that enhance an existing sense, like Nightvision, Clairvoyance/audience, etc. Personally I think it's more internally consistent if Clairvoyance and other Detection spells that enhance an existing sense just aren't resisted at all. Clairvoyance and Catalog already have limits to how far they can go based on Force (thus why I'm still buying Clairvoyance at a high Force even if it's not resisted); they don't really need *another* limitation.

Further, it brings to mind some odd contradictions: if objects are not targetted and thus are automatically seem, why can't I just look for pocket secretaries/clothes/watches/etc, and thus know where everyone is even if they *do* make their resistence roll? Can I target that high-Willpower guy, knowing he'll make the resistance test, and see through him?

On a mechanical level it's also kinda dumb to have clairvoyance be resisted. The casting TN is a really high static number (6), meaning that anything being cast at Force 4 or under--even Force 5, really--has little likelihood of seeing *anyone* at all with even an average willpower.

Now, spells that go around actively gathering information, like Detect(Enemies) or Mindprobe, *those* I can see being resisted. But stuff like Clairvoyance and Nightvision... why?
I couldn't agree more. I've already house ruled this in my game, and would love to see it be the way things actually are. I think it would probably be good to break up Detection spells in a similar fashion to Illusion spells, just for ease of keeping track. have categories like Passive that only enhance senses and don't really interact with other beings directly and Active or Targeted, which have to explicitly interact with the targets of the sense (detect enemies has to read enough thoughts to determine the enemy status, mind probe obviously).
Another thing I would change is to make the base write up of some spells the extended range version (like detect enemies), some of these spells are bloody useless at the regular range.
I pretty much agree with Eyeless Blond on this.

As for Extended Range, I don't mind it how they are now. It should stay as an option, and the modifier isn't difficult to works out if a person wants to include that option. Personally, every Detection spell I take for my characters includes the Extended Range option anyway (and usually the Caster Only option as well).
Hrm ... I have to admit the basic premise here seems solid to me too. But perhaps categories/titles like:

Sensory - Those spells that augment existing sensor perceptivity or generate new sensory capabilities in a living target. Spells like "Nightvision" or even just "Vision" (Ghouls need this too sometimes) would fall into this group.

Remote - Detection spells with the ability to cast sensory perception at ranges outside of the immediately perceived area. Clarivoyance, Clairaudience and the like obviously go here. Mindlink would actually here as it is casting remote thoughts between voluntary participants and doesn't allow for any kind of actual "probing"/"analyzing" of deeper thoughts/drives to occur.

Analytical - The final category of spells that allow for the caster to analyze objects, individuals or even environments. Spells like Analyze Device, Detect Enemies and even Mind Probe would go here.

Just thoughts.
I like those categories quite a bit. The break up between sensory and remote is good (especially useful for spell design rules), and the names are much better than mine (was having a terrible time coming up with category names).
Out of curiosity, where would you place Enhance Aim? I could see it falling into Analytical (locate enemies and guide hand) or Sensory (improved spatial perception). Personally I favour the latter, if only because it slows down combat to be making spell resistance checks against a dozen gangers.
I'd put it under sensory, it doesn't differentiate friend from foe, it just sharpens your sense of where your pointing your gun.
Eyeless Blond
Another thing I'd like to see added is a more effective way to increase area for detection spells. As it stands, you withhold one die for every one meter of radius increase; that's fine for combat spells where the standard distance is measured in (Magic) meters, but for detections (and Extended detections) it's far too small. Maybe just change it to each die you withhold to increasing your Magic Attribute by 1 for purposes of area (or every 2 dice you withhold to decreasing your Magic Attribute by 1).
I'm not sure there's any need to increase exended version even more. A mage with 6 Magic using a Force 6 spell already has an effective area of effect (or even radius) of 360 meters. Add a few levels of Initiation and that climbs even higher.
Eyeless Blond
Well, part of the reason to do this would be to completely get rid of both the resistance rolls and the Extended Sense spell design option. This would make the Force the most important variant component of spell area, which is IMO the best and most sensical way to balance a Detection spell.
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