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Gorath
Hi everyone.

During the next run my PCs will face a huge fire elemental. I shall be a good challange - but i don't want to kill them. My question is what force should the elemental have?

The group will include a full magician (cast primery fire spells wink.gif ), as far as i know he has no elementals at call yet; a Adept with katana, but no weapon focus, no killing hands; and the partys face.

I thought about using a F9 Elemental? If the mage trys to ban the elemental, and the other two bash the elementals with high WIL, high CHA. Does the change to the Force of the elemental apply instant, or is the force only changed if one of both drops?

Gorath
Critias
I'd say your odds of killing your group are pretty high.

Remember, they're attacking with just their Will dice, vs 9 dice. On their turn, on it's turn, on whoever's turn, when they try to "bash" it (or it tries to eat them). If they play their cards right (and get to go first, and aren't injured, and know what they're doing, and purposefully go out of their way to do so) they can outnumber it, in which case it all depends on what you mean by "high" Willpower.

The issue is that both the Willpower/Melee attempts and the Banishing attempts (IIRC) are contested rolls. An enemy with 9 dice to use against whatever they throw at him is gonna be hard to lick.
fistandantilus4.0
first off, find out what the mages conjuring skill is. If it's 6 or less, and he's not initiated, good luck with a force 9. Put it at force 8, and he'll have a hard enough time banishing it. Also, check the others Cha scores. A face should do some decent damage.

THink also of who's summoning it. If they can summon a great form, that can really change the odds of any kind of melee. A point or two of armor goes a long way. Check out the invoking metamagic.
Grinder
Force 9 is really too much imo. Neither the adept nor the face would have a chance against the elemental in close combat. And the mage probably has a lesser magic rating than 9, so he has lesser dices when it comes to banishing the elemental.

Take a force 6 elemental, that'll be hard enough for such a group.
Adarael
Not neccessarily. Even if the team has to run and hide, the mage - if he's halfway decent, anyway - can drop into the astral plane via projection and engage the spirit in purely spiritual combat. Remember, even when Manifested, Elementals still exist astrally, ala dual natured creatures.

"But then the elemental has free reign to torch the body of the mage!"

Have the adept grab the body and dodge around. Unless the Elemental drops back into Astral space, the mage will have at LEAST one more action than it - most likely two more. Which matters for a lot when you're repeatedly decking the thing in the astral face.
Gorath
Hi,

The mage has magic 6, conjuring 6.
The adept has a katana (1 reach), WIL 6, CHA 5.
The Face has WIL 5; CHA 6.

My probelm with SR is generally the problem, that the test etc. are too easy or to hard. Its difficult to get it right with the non linear method of TNs. That why i wanted feedback. I want it to be a hard battle - but i am not sure if a force 6 spirit will be eonugh.
One magic 6 mage is even with a force 6 spirit for banishing. So the other team member with high WIL, CHA will finish the elemental to easy.
Could the mage try to cast stunbolt vs. the elemental? Or any other damaging spell then to banish it? Can the elemental fight back while its in the contest with the banishing mage - or can the other two fight without real danger?

Gorath
Critias
QUOTE (Adarael)
Not neccessarily. Even if the team has to run and hide, the mage - if he's halfway decent, anyway - can drop into the astral plane via projection and engage the spirit in purely spiritual combat. Remember, even when Manifested, Elementals still exist astrally, ala dual natured creatures.

Yeah, but so what? The mage can still get his ass kicked on the astral, for trying to single-handedly tackle a Force 9 spirit. The only difference is now the rest of the team doesn't smell and hear and see it when the fight goes bad.

Opposed rolls are not to be taken lightly. You can't use combat pool to help with combat against an astral creature (when rolling your Will 5/6) -- run the numbers, and you'll find the Elemental winning every time against any one of them. I genuinely don't remember if Elementals ever end up with Reach bonuses or not, but if so the problem just gets worse.

The Charisma doesn't matter if the Willpower isn't enough to connect. In much the same way, a Strength 25 Big Dumb Troll ™ that's rolling his 2 Brawling is never ever going to win a fight against a Str 2 Weird Old Chinese Guy ™ that's got Kung Fu at 25. You've got to hit for damage to matter. Will 5 versus Force 9 Spirit? Unless your dude has a bucket of karma to sling around (and nothing similar on the Elemental's side), your boy's toast, plain and simple.

The highest I'd try it with is a Force 7. Let them use the sweet spot TN, let it keep an extra die (to skew odds a bit and give it a fairly decent shake) -- at TN 7 it should be manageable for them, if they play it smart.
Dippy
I'm not going to answer you directly, especially as I'm new to SR. However based on my many years experience as a GM, I've learnt that encounters with multiple, preferable diverse enemies is far more enjoyable for players than a single more powerful one.

Part of the reason is what you have noted: In no game system is it easy to design such an encounter and guarantee balance. Certainly when the game system has a mechanism for instant defeat of the enemy (e.g. banishing), if the PC is successful the encounter actually becomes an anti-climax for the players. On the flip side if key players don't take the right action (even experienced players have their off-days) then the powerful enemy could wipe the party out, which I find most players don't like.

Personally I have a problem with the immunity to normal weapons rule. The fact that a force 4 spirit is totally immune to a full 10 rounds from an SMG (power cool.gif but can be harmed by a single bullet from a heavy pistol (power 9) doesn't make sense to me. I also don't like the rule about mundanes being able to engage a spirit in a contect of wills. I have one PC in my game (a genetically-engineered soldier) who just wouldn't do this.

So I intend to adapt the rules to suit the gaming experience I intend to give my players. Maybe you can too.
Jrayjoker
Manifest spirits have hardened armor = 2 x force, so the Will/Charisma route is preferred, and the reach and friends in combat modifiers apply. The force 9 is pretty high, but I think it is doable as long as the characters make a concerted effort to act together.

Then again, expecting PCs to behave as the GM predicts is asking for trouble. wink.gif

I am sure they will come up with some off the wall scheme that works so simply by canon that you will slap your forehead and yell, "Doh!"
noname_hero
I think that the main problem with this kind of situations is that it is too dependent on the player's luck. Either the runners get lucky in the first round or they're deep in troubles.

*If* they get lucky they'll win easilly. Say the mage casts F6 stunbolt at Deadly, rolls 12 dice plus karma reroll, and uses his Willpower to stage the drain down by a level or two. The elemental will be rolling his Force against 6, the mage up to 24 dice against the spirit's Force - that gives him good chances of having more successes than the spirit. BOOM, scratch one disrupted spirit...

*If* that fails they might be deep in troubles but not in a hopeless situation. There's a few old tactics they can use, especially if they'll know beforehand that they'll be facing a high-force spirit. Should both the adept and the face get themselves Reach 2 broomsticks, plus the Friend in Melee bonus they give each other, even the Force 9 spirit is likely to loose. Sure, he rolls 9 dice, but they'll raise his TN from 4 to 6 and lower it for themselves to 3, and that should be enough to make their victory probable enough.

So rather than the Force of the spirit, which can be anything from 5 to 10, the real problem is setting up the situation they'll encounter it in and the warnings their characters will receive before that showdown...
... and whatever you do the whole script will likely suffer the "Total Victory or Total Defeat" problem.
Gorath
Thanks for your input.

The example with the stunbolt shows everything. If i use a force 6-8 spirit it likely that the mage alone can disrupt it with a deadly stunbolt.

As far as i know banishing is a complex exklusive action - so if the mage tries to banish the elemental will have no other actions. So the other two should be able to make some damage. Of course with BOD10 a Force 9 elemental will have many successes to stage damage down - but he can't damage the characters attacking him in this manner.
The mage can give hope to give the other two some round to finish him of - before he drops with Magic 0 and a check for magic lose.

Gorath
mmu1
QUOTE (Gorath @ May 25 2005, 09:50 AM)
Thanks for your input.

The example with the stunbolt shows everything. If i use a force 6-8 spirit it likely that the mage alone can disrupt it with a deadly stunbolt.

As far as i know banishing is a complex exklusive action - so if the mage tries to banish the elemental will have no other actions. So the other two should be able to make some damage. Of course with BOD10 a Force 9 elemental will have many successes to stage damage down - but he can't damage the characters attacking him in this manner.
The mage can give hope to give the other two some round to finish him of - before he drops with Magic 0 and a check for magic lose.

Gorath

Ok... Let's try this again. Your party is very likely going to DIE. You're making a big mistake by insisting on throwing a single extremely powerful creature at the party.

This isn't D&D, where a group of weaker opponents can eventually whittle down a big enemy's hit points, it's a system in which a strong enemy can shrug off damage entirely, and this sort of power disparity means they probably won't be able to hurt it.

The only way they'll have a shot at beating it in willpower-based melee is if reach applies to willpower attacks (IIRC it does, but I could bd wrong) the elemental doesn't have any reach (even though it's larger than human sized), and they for some reason are able to get staffs to fight it with - but I still wouldn't count on it.

You'd get a much better fight if you threw them (for example) up against a moderately strong magician with a weaker elemental serving him, or even two or more considerably weaker elementals. I don't know if it fits whatever story you want to set up, but it's the way to go if you actually don't want to kill off the characters.
Apathy
I think a force 9 elemental is likely to kill at least one of your runners, and possibly all of them, before being defeated. On the other hand, a force 6 or 7 great form with either a point of reach or armor, or a couple of extra points of body (initiate bonuses) could be taken out, but give all of them a moderate wound or better.

Also, if you're being evil, Air Elementals are more dangerous to runners than Fire Elementals, because their Engulf and Noxious Breath posers bypass armor (and as a great form, they can engulf everybody in the area at once).

Frc6 GrFrm Air Elemental (AE) with +1 reach
B 4, Q 9(x4), S 4, C 6, I 6, W 6, R 8, Init 18+1D6, Cbt Pl 10
Powers: Engulf, Materialization, Movement, Noxious Breath, Psychokinesis

These guys are especially potent if they materialize out of sight, and then ambush (you'd think something with Intel 6 would be smart enough not to stand helpless for a combat pass materializing in the middle of the group, neh?)

[edit] If you need to toughen the situation up more, you can always use local background count to up the mage's target numbers.
Critias
Okay, dude. Toss 'em against a Force 9, if you really wanna. But don't say we didn't give advice. Speaking of advice, here's how a Force 9 Fire Elemental should destroy your party.

Start the fight by very quickly (11 quickness, x3 movement) roaring out of nowhere and getting anywhere within line of sight of the group. Cast Flamethrower with your innate spell ability, against the mage. Do so as a Surprise action (since you're suddenly lighting him on fire from 'line of sight' distance), using your 10 reaction to keep him from being allowed to do anything (countermagic, hopeless dodge attempt, whatever) to resist your awesome might. Roll 9 dice (plus karmic rerolls as appropriate, remember the spirit should have at least the karma pool of the players) at TN 4, with 9M base damage (1/2 impact armor only). The mage should be dead at this point. Very dead. A single reroll should make that 9M + 7 successes (give or take), which your average Mage will have trouble with.

Then either continue to rain down fire and death upon your weak, fleshy foes (from line of sight range, which really is the way any Elemental should fight 'till at least the two with glowy auras are dead) with an undodgeable 9M + successes no-drain Flamethrower, or just Materialize, activate Flame Aura (free action!), and let them kill themselves by attacking you (either by losing the combat and getting attack by you for 9M + successess, or by winning the combat and still getting burned by you for 9M with only gloved armor helping).

Oh, and don't forget, a Knowledge (Magic) or Knowledge (Elementals) or something test should be required to know to attack with force of will. Especially for someone who's so used to attacking with force of steel, instead. It'll be good for a chuckle, I'm sure, when they try to make those first few regular melee attacks against the Armor Rating 18 invlunerable flaming monstrosity and instead of harming it char the tender skin of their mortal limbs.

But remember. Instead of all the fun that will ensue from it burning them to death in melee, there's no good reason for it to ever, ever, stop just lighting them on fire from as far away as it wants to be. No drain, dodge impossible, 9M base damage, 9 dice, 1/2 impact armor. There's no need to get within arm's or katana's reach of them.

Golly, this sure sounds like fun. I'm sure your players can't wait.
Gorath
Hi,

but if the elemental has no actions (p.168) "neither comabtant can do anything else until the winners combat phase they remain locked in magic combat." And "generally if a spirits breaks off comabt it will flee.

So as long as in the magic combat the other can make unarmed attack with friend in melee, ranged weapons with willpower. That should be generally 2 successes. A force 9 spirit will only make one or two 6s, so that means M-Stun most times.

I won't kill my players - but i want to give them a good fight. My problem is that fpr story reasons there must be this single elemental. I just try to find a good force for it - as i played a shaman last time i dropped many force 6-8 spirits alone with a deadly stunbolt (with full spell pool and some karma wink.gif ).

Gorath
wagnern
1: If a fire elemental decides to huge you isen't there some crazy rule that all your ammo will cook off and you don't get armor agianst this damage? (Who keeps their spare clips in there boxers anyway??)

2: If you use smaller elementals, and they kick it's ass too easily, you can just shout: ". . . and it's clone!" and throw another slightly larger elemental into the frey.

3: Silly question, if you luer the fire elemental into a building or room with sprinklers (luer, that is heroic-speek for running and being chased) or the mage is an idiot and summons it there, do the sprinklers go off? and if so, does this hurt the elemental? (or is there some hooky rule about it being 'magic fire' and imune to water?)
Gorath
Oh two more answers during my reply.
I don't want my players dead - but they shall know that they disturb something bigger then expected. So i thought i Force>6 elemental would give them this clue.

Okay, i always thought that the flamethrower ability of fire elementals sucks. But as you pointed out it really gets ugly as Force=Sorcery skill=Power.

If i go down to a force 7 elemental my problem is that a stunball is all that is needed to drop the elemental at all.

Sorcery6 + spell pool 6 ==> ~2 successes vs. 7 (+rerolls)
willpower 7 ==> ~1 success vs. 6 (+rerolls)

So there is no danger at all for the players.

Any possibilities to improve the spell resistance of the elemental without spell defense from other mage?

Gorath
Krazy
I ran into the same problem with my group, huge offence, but anything that wouldn't die with the first hit would kill the group without thinking. so i ended up with lots of cannon fodder, and more problem solving. but that doesn't help you does it.
Apathy
QUOTE
Any possibilities to improve the spell resistance of the elemental without spell defense from other mage?


1. As you've pointed out, the mage here is the one that is most likely to harm the elemental. Additionally, he's the one with the biggest astral presence. For both these reasons, the elemental is likely to notice and focus on the mage before worrying about either of the other two.

2. Elementals generally have higher Reaction and Initiative than mages, even when manifested. This means that the elemental will probably win the surprise test and go first, and the mage will probably have injury modifiers before he even starts. Even if you don't roll for surprise, spirit will still probably get to act before the mage. This only gets nerfed if you make the spirit stupid and have him manifest in sight of the team.

3. Most places in the city have at least a small background count (+1). Places like the barrens often have more than that, as do site with repeated exposure to intense emotion (churches, sanitariums, hospitals, Dues's Arcology, etc) or toxicity (dumps, etc.). These will raise the target numbers on all spellcasting and banishing attempts.

4. Visibility modifiers apply to all magic tests, and things that obstruct/reduce line of sight in the physical world (smoke, fog, etc.) also interfere with astral perception.

So, team walks into a smoke-filled, burning hallway (+1 visibility) of a building with typical background count (+1). Elemental burst through one of the doors into the hall and immediately trys to attack mage. Mage loses the surprise test, and cannot act against elemental until next round. Elemental engulfs, and mage'll probably take a light wound after staging and damage resistance. By the time mage gets to attack, he's got +3 to his TNs.

[edit] Another advantage to air elementals in this scenario is that they generally do stun damage, not physical. This way, if the spirit gets some lucky rolls, you still don't have to kill them off.
Gorath
Thats usually the the way SR combat goes. You need 2n+x opponents in shadowrun. n=number of runner in the group; x number of opponents you really want biggrin.gif

And don't let the mage fire a stunball/manaball/fireball into more then 2 opponents *g*
Toshiaki
I know that I, as a begining mage, would be very reluctant to start a Banishment with a Force 9 spirit. Even if by the grace of whatever Totem I believe in (poor Hermetics, they can't even cry to "Mommy" like a Shaman could grinbig.gif ) the team killed it before I dropped, I'd be pretty much useless for the rest of the run. Just about any spell cast would do physical damage.

Remember that Banishment provides an instant reduction of Magic or Force. So, lets look at average rolls here. Since the mage has around a 50% shot of getting a success at TN 9 with 6 dice, I'll give it to him on his second round (even though his chances will have dropped significantly by then. Of course, this is, once again, average rolls. When I diced it out for S&Gs, the Elemental hit off 3 successes on Action 1. Needless to say, that left the other two meat characters with a Force 9 Total Party Kill. Current Magic/Force shown in parenthesis.

Action 1
Mage(6): 6 dice at TN 9 = 0
Elemental(9): 9 dice at TN 6 = 1
Action 2
Mage(5): 6 dice at TN 9 = 1
Elemental(9): 9 dice at TN 5 = 3
Action 3
Mage(2): 6 dice at TN 8 = 1
Elemental(cool.gif: 8 dice at TN 2 = Mage is very down, check for Magic Loss.

Yes, after it's over the Elemental is reduced to a more reasonable level, the other two characters will probably be able to defeat it after a difficult fight.

However, are you giving the team so much Karma that the mage can initiate every run? Or do you want your players to treat their characters like disposable cameras, take a few shots and then discard?

That is what having that type of "Boss Battle" will encourage them to do in Shadowrun. It's something best reserved for big dramatic moments during a campaign, not when you just want a tough fight. If you really want to through this at them, be prepared to lie about your dice rolls (assuming you actually want your players to survive).

Each time you speak to defend the merit of a Force 9 elemental, you are assuming that only a few things are going to happen. First, you talk as if the spirit is going to be surprised by the player characters. I can understand the players surprising it, if they know it's there and have a really good plan. However, this thing is probably far smarter than any of them ( Int 9 ), so that's not really likely to happen. Next, you assume that your mage is going to step right up into a probable death by trying to banish it while it's surprised. If my group saw a Force 9 around the corner and it didn't see us, we'd turn our asses around fast. If you actually consider everything that a Force 9 Fire Elemental can and would do, you get what Critias said would happen (though sarcastic, it was very accurate). Trust us, if you don't pull punches, the players will only survive by pure, unadulturated, dumb luck. We know, we've seen it.

Now, there have been several suggestions about what would make a tough fight, without killing your party. Single things are vulnerable in Shadowrun. By the time something is powerful enough to stand on it's own, it has most likely passed the critical point where it can thrash starting runners. This is especially true of Elementals, which only have one statistic to vary, Force. If I wanted a tough fight like you describe, I'd probably have an Mage and his Elemental as the opposition. Don't want the Elemental to fall to a Stun Bolt? Fine, have the Mage cover it with Spell Defence (or even better, Shielding). Meanwhile, your player's Mage had better reserve some dice for spell defence, or the entire team is vulnerable to incoming spells. They can be nuked just as easy as a Force 6-8 spirit (easier, actually).

If you really have to go with a single, lone Elemental, why not go with Apathy's suggestion? It would make for a challenging encounter, with much less risk of a total party kill.

QUOTE (Gorath)
I don't want my players dead - but they shall know that they disturb something bigger then expected. So i thought i Force>6 elemental would give them this clue.

That's the trick, a Force 9 Elemental is the something bigger than expected. Unfortunately, if it's unexpected, the party is probably toast.
Gorath
Ah, i did not see Apathy's answer when i wrote mine. Okay i try the force 6 air elemental.

Thanks for your advice and patients. As it is just a battle in-between its no problem that the chars get damage - but i might be better that they get only stun damage.

Critias
Honestly, from the sounds of your group, a pair of force 6 elementals would be perfect to rough 'em all up a little but (if you play them less-than-smart) not kill them outright. It's a shame you're limiting yourself to a single elemental, but I can respect that you "have" to if it's part of some grand plot scheme thingie.
SpasticTeapot
Use a Cyberzombie or insanely tough Street Samurai instead. Using NSRCG and standard character points, I made up a Troll sammy who rolls 5D6+7 for initiative, 19-20 dice when resisting damage, and 8 dice with his weapon of choice, a smartlinked panther cannon. He's still got positive essence, too. Give him an invisible mage buddy with a high Magic pool, and he's pretty much impervious to spells; heavy military-grade armor would leave him with an armor of 9/11, so he's pretty much impervious to most weapons.
(NOTE: This character uses cultured bioware.)
Gorath
I will not need that cyberzombie - its not to kill the party. At that point in the story they are not aware why its happening - but it is needed that they are not sure if its connected to their actual job. Okay, perhaps i could add a second elemental but i will play that air elemental smart and give the mage some stun damage in the first round to make casting harder for him. That should be enough.

Gorath
Edward
If the force is 6 or less it should be easy.

7-8 will make tactics useful but even a poorly thought out attack will probably work.

9+ if the party dose not attack in concert they will all die.

If the party makes a concerted attack buy all members using the friends in melee rules (and maybe summon some watchers for more friends) they should be able to defeat the elemental in a streat fight.

The strategies that remain to the elemental are flame aura and hope the party takes enough damage to compensate for the friends in melee, or run on the astral and materialise out of reach and use its innate flamethrower spell.

If you intend the elemental to engage in melee (ether threw pore tactics or confined space) and your players are familiar with the rules for friends in melee and attacking using willpower then a force 10 -12 elemental would be a suitable challenge, but the mage better realise he cant banish it.

If you intend it to play smart and keep out of melee range while blasting with its innate flamethrower then a force 6-7 would be all they would have a chance against, without weapons that can hurt it at range the only strategies available belong to the mage, send a watcher pack to kill it on the astral (friends in melee bonuses again) or banish it (incredibly risky if the elemental is higher force than the mages magic).

There is really no way to make this fight such that anybody other than the mage has a chance on his own (and if the mage summons watchers to help he isnít really alone is he) while still having it a credible threat to a entire teem using effective tactics.

Edward

PS, it seems to have been assumed that the mage will not be entering melee, why not, he would likely have the best combination of will (spell casting stat) and char (conjuring stat) the only reason he may not be in the combat from the beginning is if he decides to stand back and summon wachers.
Apathy
The higher the force you use, the greater the chance you have of killing one or more PCs. If you want to just scare em/rough em up a bit, use a lower force spirit with non-melee, area attack capabilities. Against a group of three starting runners, I think a single force 5 or 6 air elemental (using noxious breath), or hearth spirit (using confuse), or a force 4 or 5 great form of any type is an appropriate threat, if it wins the surprise test.

If you want to impress the runners, though, with a really high level spirit (one that they couldn't conjure themselves), then use a water elemental. WE's don't have any non-melee powers except for movement, and deal stun damage. So a Force 8 or 9 Water Elemental is beatable, if the runners can avoid one-on-one melee.
Mortax
QUOTE (wagnern)
1: If a fire elemental decides to huge you isen't there some crazy rule that all your ammo will cook off and you don't get armor agianst this damage? (Who keeps their spare clips in there boxers anyway??)

Yes, this is true. In fact, it blew the drek out of one of my players pcs. She used chips for all her skills. All of them. Guess what happend to most of them?

Anything that has flame aura has this effect, you roll some number of dice I don't remember vs object resistance. Ammo cooking off sucks. so does having armor cook off. Oh, I think cyberware can be affected too, I'll look for the rolls and post them.
fistandantilus4.0
by lightning yes, not by fire (although a cyber gun arm might have some interesting effects).

I saw a PC kill a force 9 by throwing his minigun and 1000 or so rounds of EX ammo into it while it was using flame aura. 'Course he almost died to....
Gorath
Okay, it was too easy.

The groups mage conjured some elementals. I had too attack them in a small space (apartment). The elementals started with an attack at the mage as suggested. But i didnot engulf him but attacked one other player after that. The mage called his elementals in the following rounds. The adept could get free again. Then it was too much for the air elemental 6. In the second round it was dropped by the earth elementals. I better had engulfed the mage, to drop him unconsious. But i thought the serious wound would be enough for him.

But it was no problem. We had other fights (a some kamikaze-ed ganger) that gave the group more problems then i thought before wink.gif

mattness pl
QUOTE (Jrayjoker)
I am sure they will come up with some off the wall scheme that works so simply by canon that you will slap your forehead and yell, "Doh!"

Grenades? For example. Or Assault cannon. Ramming? grinbig.gif

Gorath - it's better to be too easy than too togh imo.
Next time - if you pick an enemy for a session - try to find 3-4 ways to deafet him with your players assets. Sometimes they'll finds some other way - but I don't know your group.
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