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S7Michelle
I'm currently working on my first hermetic mage (a detective archtype for a Charlie's Angels type game) and am having a little bit of trouble determining what would be the best force levels for her spells. I know that all spells of force 3 and above are considered illegal without a permit. And Iíve gotten the impression from reading the forum that spells of 3 or less tend to be "worthless."

Am I better off taking fewer spells and having them all at levels 5 and 6? Are levels 3 and 4 sufficient for most things? Is there any point at all to taking a spell at levels 1 and 2?

Also what spells would you recommend getting? Any must haves? (Assume a fairly high level game and sufficient resources to have 50 spell points and probably a foci or two. Provided I need a foci...)
Herald of Verjigorm
It really depends on the spell. Things that are resisted are of very low worth at low force, and some beneficial spells are inconsequential except at high force.

If you expect a little combat, stunbolt is the cheapest and easiest way to disable most opponents, but can sometimes be ineffective if below force 6. If you expect rampant combat, force 6 stunball and a lightning elemental manipulation for the drones.

As to support:
Detection spells: oddly, they are resisted so you need high force for any reliability
Illusions: resisted, so you want either high force or a dozen successes on the casting
Health: most effects are limited by successes, but about 6 spells in the category have minimal benefit to take above force 1.
Control Manipulations: all resisted, high force or no success
Telekinetic Manipulations: usually force limited effects, not always a troublesome limit
Transformation Manipulations: force limited effects

When any mage of mine takes resisted spells, I almost always get them at high enough force so that their TN to resist will be at least as high as mine to cast when nothing is going wrong.
Angelone
Higher force(6+) is only really handy on combat type spells, as the higher the force the harder it is to resist. Other spells can kinda lag because higher force= more drain.

As for must haves, I basically always get Heal, Physical Mask, Imp. Invis., and Increase Reflexes 3.
fistandantilus4.0
QUOTE
I know that all spells of force 3 and above are considered illegal without a permit.


So? It's not like a street sam where they can find his titanuium bone lacing. Besides, if you cast a spell at someone , it's considered pre-meditated. So it doesn't matter what the the force is. As fas as spells that are resisted (pretty much in any way) go for as high a force as possible. You're only going to be able to get so high anyways, because the target # to learn a spell is force x2.

I usually suggest going for force 7-8. Still not too hard to resist drain (unless it's an elemental spell), target # is doable (though hard), and it's high enough to make resisting pretty tough.
hyzmarca
QUOTE (Angelone)
Higher force(6+) is only really handy on combat type spells, as the higher the force the harder it is to resist. Other spells can kinda lag because higher force= more drain.

As for must haves, I basically always get Heal, Physical Mask, Imp. Invis., and Increase Reflexes 3.

If drain is a problem a magician can always cast spells at a lower force than they were learned at. On the other had, a magician can never cast a spell a a higher force than it was learned at.
Cain
QUOTE
I usually suggest going for force 7-8. Still not too hard to resist drain (unless it's an elemental spell), target # is doable (though hard), and it's high enough to make resisting pretty tough.

Except you can't, at chargen. Nothing with a rating above 6, remember?

As far as the main question goes, it all depends on your style of play and what you want out of your character. You might be best off taking a bundle of midlevel spells. Still, you can't go wrong with taking only a few high-force spells.

One way to give yourself some more versatility is to take a few Force 2 Exclusive spells. If you take Exclusive for cost, you don't need to spend any spell points on it. I wouldn't go too hog-wild with these spells, since too many will give your GM an aneurism. But two or three, particularily detection spells, isn't a bad idea and might work well. As a detective type, detection spells will be your main forte. (You may even want to consider becoming an Air elementalist, which will grant you +2 dice to Detection spells, at the cost of -1 die to Manipulation spells. It's generally a good move if you want to specialize.)

If you're in a very high-powered game, the most common min/max move is to take Increase Reflexes +3 at Force 1, fetish for cost (so it costs nothing) and to slap it into a force 1 sustaining focus. That raises your initiative to the level of midrange sammies.

Does that help?
weblife
QUOTE
One way to give yourself some more versatility is to take a few Force 2 Exclusive spells. If you take Exclusive for cost, you don't need to spend any spell points on it.


You can do that? smile.gif

No rule of "atleast 1 point cost"?

fistandantilus4.0
QUOTE
Except you can't, at chargen. Nothing with a rating above 6, remember?


Sorry, didn't notice the char gen part.
Cain
QUOTE
You can do that? smile.gif

Yup.
QUOTE
No rule of "atleast 1 point cost"?

Nope. Mind you, some GMs may houserule it; but if you don't abuse the rule, there shouldn't be a problem. Having Healthy Glow 2 as a freebie isn't really an issue.
Shockwave_IIc
I've allowed Exculsive F2 Spells for free, they can have as many as their Starting Sorcery Skill.
Wireknight
I'd go for Levitate, Improved Invisibility, and Treat at decently high Force ratings, then spend the rest on useful detection spells at Force 3. The various Analyze(Something) spells tend to be handier and more universally applicable than the Detect(Something) spells, though either would fit a detective-ability-focused magician. Also, if it's your first time playing and you want to ease into magical characters, you may want to play an aspected magician(hermetic sorceror) rather than a full magician.
Ol' Scratch
QUOTE (S7Michelle @ Jun 2 2005, 10:07 PM)
Also what spells would you recommend getting?  Any must haves?  (Assume a fairly high level game and sufficient resources to have 50 spell points and probably a foci or two.  Provided I need a foci...)

If this is your first time as a magician and you really don't have any stylistic focus for your magic, I'd probably recommend a set up like this. Note also that I'm a huge fan of spell fetishes. Not only do they add a ton of color to your character, but they are cheap and make spellcasting easier on you if you take them to reduce drain.

* Stunbolt 6 (Fetish for Drain) [6 Spell Points]

This will be your primary attack spell against living targets and spirits. Its already low drain lowered further by the fetish limitation (which effectively makes it a Force 5 spell for purposes of determining the Drain Code) means you can get away casting it at Moderate or even Serious damage without ill effect.

* Lightning Bolt 6 (Fetish for Drain) [6 Spell Points]

This is a nice spell to use against non-living targets, and drones and vehciles in particular. It's also really flashy and, while the Drain Code is pretty hefty, it's still a nice one to have. It's actually an optional spell that you can easily drop if you're strapped on spell points, but I'd still recommend having it if you're new to being a magician just so you can experience it. And who knows, you might actually have more fun with it than Stunbolt. smile.gif

* Fireball, Stunball, or Powerball 6 (Fetish for Drain) [6 Spell Points]

This is your all-purpose "oh frag me raw" get-out-of-jail free area effect attack spell. When you simply *have* to take out a large number of targets, you'll be happy you have this spell. As for which one to pick, it's really up to you to decide. Fireball is great fun because its flashy and can cook off ammunition, set off explosives, and that sort of thing which just increases the damage the spell does AND it can affect targets in its area that you can't necessarily see... but the drain is a true bitch. Stunball is really easy to cast because it has a low Drain Code, but it will only affect living targets and spirits. Powerbolt is sort of in the middle of the two; it affects all targets in its area (as long as you can see them) and the Drain Code is right in the middle of the two. Look all three spells over and make a decision based upon which one you think you'll use the most often, and go with that one.

I'd probably go with Stunball myself simply because I tend to gravitate towards non-lethal attacks, and the low Drain Code is something I always strive for with a magician. But its really up to you and what you want to accomplish and/or be ready for.

* Heal or Treat 6 (Exclusive for Cost, Fetish for Drain) [4 Spell Points]

Take one or the other, but not both as that would be a waste for a new magician. Treat has an advantage in that it has a lower Drain Code which is always good, but it can only affects wounds that occurred recently -- and for a runner, that's really all you need anyway. But if you expect to heal people who've been injured for some time, Heal is your better pick. I went with Force 6 because that will allow you to heal up to Serious wounds, which should be more than sufficient most of the time. Regardless of which one you pick, it's definitely a "must have" for any runner.

* Increase Reflexes +3D6 1 (Fetish for Cost) [0 Spell Points]

Another must-have for runner mages. You'll definitely want to invest 15,000 nuyen and 1 Spell Point/Karma into getting a Sustaining Focus for this one, and you can pretty much always keep it going while you're on a run. The only time you'll have to shut it down is when you try to go through an astral ward or something along those lines, but you can just recast it once you're on the other side.

* Armor 6 (Fetish for Drain) [6 Spell Points]

This is another must-have for any mage running the shadows. It basically improves your Armor Rating by 6/6, and you need only get one success to get the entire bonus. It has a nasty side effect of making you glow blue, thus making you a primary target by your enemies.. but if the drek has already hit the fan, you don't have anything to lose by more than doubling your armor rating. If you can afford it, get a Sustaining Focus for it, too... no sense in suffering the +2 sustaining target modifier if you don't need to.

* Improved Invisibility 4 (Fetish for Drain) [4 Spell Points]

You might see a lot of people recommend a higher or lower level Force for this spell, but I like it at Force 4. Some people prefer to go with a lower Force because they feel confidant that they'll be able to roll more dice and score more successes with their Sorcery + Spell Pool + Totem + Foci dice than the target will with their Intelligence dice. But I don't trust in probabilities very much and prefer to even the playing field by going with Force 4; that gives both you and your enemies the same target number. But if you're strapped for spell points, this is one of those spells you can get away with at a lower Force if you need to.

* Levitate 3 (Fetish for Karma Cost) [2 Spell Points]

Not only is this spell a lot of fun, but it can be used as an attack if you're desperate, lets you fly, and manipulate objects you couldn't normally reach at any given time. Other people tend to prefer Magic Fingers, but I like Levitate out of the two. I choose it at Force 3 becuase that gives it an effective "strength" equal to a normal human which should be more than enough to manipulate most objects, and your flying speed will be pretty nice if and when you need to move fast.

* Shapechange 2 (Fetish for Cost) [1 Spell Point]

This is probably my most favorite spell in the game, and it can be very useful if you're clever. It's great for reconnaissance jobs, for sneaking around, and for escaping enemies amonst many other uses. You might want to ask your GM if you can increase the Drain Code by +1 Level and let it include your clothing and whatnot into the new form, as having to get naked (while tantalizing for the other characters) is something of an inconvenience most of the time... especially since you'll be naked at your destination. smile.gif If the GM doesn't let you do that, it's still a nice spell to have just in case, though its usability dwindles a touch because of that.

* Healthy Glow 2 (Exclusive for Cost) [0 Spell Points]
* Fashion 3 (Exclusive for Cost) [1 Spell Point]
* Makeover 2 (Exclusive for Cost) [0 Spell Points]
* Trid Entertainment 1 (Fetish for Cost) [0 Spell Points]

I almost always take these four spells simply because I'm a vain kind of guy and like my characters to look good. biggrin.gif In a pinch, Makeover can be used to create makeshift disguises and Fashion 3 is also sufficient enough in its Force rating to affect up to an Armored Jacket if you score enough successes (which is useful for creating uniforms to compliment those disguises). Even if you never find a reason to use them on a run, they're still nice to have for character purposes. I can't imagine any magician in the Sixth World who wouldn't have these in their repoitoire if given the chance.

Trid Entertainment is a lot of fun because it basically lets you create "holograms" to demonstrate your points, or explain things to others... or just to have a lot of fun with. Since its a voluntary target spell, its Force means jack-all, and the Drain Code is completely negligible. It doesn't cost anything, is fun, and can be used as a tool to help you describe your actions -- win, win. biggrin.gif And heck, you can even use it tactically by lighting up an area so that its bright and clear, thus eliminating visibility modifiers for you and your voluntary target allies while your enemies are stuck in the dark.

* Physical Barrier 6 (Fetish for Drain) [6 Spell Points]

Not as much a requirement as Armor is, but Physical Barrier can come in handy quite often for protecting the entire team, creating obstacles for enemies, or any other number of things if you're clever. If you're strapped for spell points, though, its one you can easily drop.

Okay, that's a total of 42 Spell Points (49 if you get the two recommended Sustaining Foci) spent, and it gives you a nice array of spells to choose from that'll be useful on most runs. I wouldn't worry too much about getting anything more than a Sustaining Focus or two as a new magician, though. While Power Foci and Spell Category Foci might look tempting, they're just not worth the cost compared to having a nice retinue of spells to choose from.

You'll definitely want to look through all your spell choices and make decisions based upon spells you think will be useful, too. Afterall, if you can think up some fun tactics to use with, I don't know, an Animate spell as opposed to being strapped for ideas with how to use, say, Levitate then by all means take Animate instead! This list is just a general guideline and recommendation, even the "must haves" I listed really aren't "must haves." smile.gif

Hope that helps.
S7Michelle
Thank you for all of the advice so far. Currently Iím leaning towards:

A couple of combat spells at level 5 or 6. Most likely Stunbolt and either Powerbolt (since it can effect objects) or Stunball (take out multiple foes at once).

Heal at level 6 (for obvious reasons)

Physical Mask at 5 or 6 (Seems very appropriate for one of the Angels. Iím considering getting it on a sustaining focus)
Fashion at a moderate level (Probably not as useful but fits the concept and works well with Masking)

Makeover at a moderate level (Again not super useful, but can you see an Angel passing it up. It might be a good one to take as exclusive.)

Then finally probably three detect spells at a fairly high level. So far Iím thinking about Analyze Truth, Detect Individual (for those times when we are looking for someone in particular), and Detect Magic

If I was a good friend, Iíd take a low level Detox spell to help one of the other players with the frequent hangovers I see her character getting. Though not sure if its worth the points right now.

Other options include the increased reflexes spell, magic fingers and possibly the preserve spell.

From what I understand, you can use ritual sorcery and a preserved organic sample to track down or cast a spell at a person from a distance. Though it seems to require a large group to do so. Can a single mage use ritual sorcery or does it have to be a group?

smile.gif Though after realizing that there have been a lot more replies to my thread than there were the last time I looked. The list may be about to be revised yet again.
fistandantilus4.0
I'd throw in a sterilize spell and a low force magic fingers if you can.
frostPDP
My first mage character seemed...Uber-cool. He had about 10 spells, maybe 14.

None of them except armor were any good. I needed about 20 successes and a well-stocked bar to start a real fire with a fireball. I couldn't do much with a powerball except bruise someone. I didn't have a low-force levitate which would allow me to actually, yanno, not fall to my doom.

I understand your confusion at SR's system of ranks. I assure you, you will do fine considering you have the brains to find and ask us. So here is a personal loadout of choice.

I'm a stickler for Armor. 5-6 easy. I like having Improved Reflexes 3 with a force 1 sustaining focus - I believe this is game-legit, if munchkinizing. The same trick can be done with force 1 levitation. Just ALWAYS beware of someone breaking foci... (One gaming session my GM had saw someone use a force 1 levitation focus to hover to the top floor of a building. Too bad the Astral mage caught her around floor 34. At least she had time to repent for her sins...)

I'm a manabolt type (4-6). Powerbolt gets resisted by body, which most big trolls that would frag you otherwise will have. Willpower? Not so much. I like fire, too. Dunno why - Probably because a low-force (3-5) fireball into a gasoline station/sewer can be pretty funny - Plus its area-effect and high force/success casts can lead to people catching fire. (Again, when I was new I nearly performed the latter technique of sewer-torches when the team went to go underground into a building and realized we forgot flashlights. The 100 nuyen surcharge for our NPC getaway driver to bring us one was worth it.)

Of course, I'm also no stealth-mage. I may carry improved invis 6, but that's it stealth-wise. Spiritbolt (3-5) can come in handy against spirits, Wreck is amusing (it at least gives a chance to do damage to vehicles...) and Heal at moderate (3-5) is fun.

Good tricks are always fun with Control Thoughts at a high force level. One person when I was GMming saw a substantial fortification - A pillbox with two men in and two men outside. He mindcontrolled the one to pull his fragmentation grenade, ready it and walk inside. The guy released the spell so the victim had just enough time to go "What the?!"

Its all up to what your characters skills/role in the group is. Stealth mages like invis, controls, and stuns, concentrating some sniper rifles if they can. Combat mages resort to their gel rounds/bigger party members for stunning (troll combat mages use fists...) and use devastating attacks, dropping some skill into a pistol or SMG if it makes sense. Support mages will have buff and healing spells, probably a good combat spell (maybe two) and will likely know Biotech and some sort of electronics/useful-in-a-pinch skill.

I hope I've helped. [addition] - At the measely karma cost of one point per force point, having a hermetic spell library is useful because you can get spells you don't already have easy enough. (At least, this is the way my groups play. I could have some wrong stuff on this one, maybe not.) So if you can't start with every last force point you want, either go with weaker spells or less of them, whichever will hurt you least. Then build it up quickly, if you can. Its -all- circumstance. cool.gif
Eyeless Blond
QUOTE (frostPDP)
[addition] - At the measely karma cost of one point per force point, having a hermetic spell library is useful because you can get spells you don't already have easy enough. (At least, this is the way my groups play. I could have some wrong stuff on this one, maybe not.)

You are most definately wrong here. Hermetic libraries by the RAW (rules as written) cost no karma, but cost a buttload of cash--rating squared times 1,000 Y--and don't actually get you any spell formulae or anything like that. In fact hermetic libraries are actually required for hermetics to learn spells in the first place, but you still also need the spell formula to learn a particular spell.
Aku
i thought you could also "research" spells with the libraries?
Edward
Advice on combat spells has been well provided. I would say take attack spells that go against more than one attribute, my clastic is stun bolt and power bolt, power bolt at force 6 will take out vehicles with moderate armour.

Some other spells that may be useful.

Levitate, great for unusual entry points and can save your ass in a pinch, just remember to cast it before you jump out of the aeroplane, the penalties for casting during freefall are not pretty (or specified in the books)

The fashion package (makeover, fsion, healthy glow, phis/mask) you already know about

Mind link can be useful but its short range

A low force entertainment spell (not physical) is good for long range visual communication, your opponents will resist it and technological sensors cant see it.

The catalogue spell may sound boring but not nearly as boring as counting everything in a room, very useful on occasion take at force 2 exclusive cost.

As to libraries, how good is your teems Decker, universities maintain hermetic libraries on electronic media (as well as others) and usually canít afford better than orange average hosts, if your decker is good enough he can get you a copy.

Edward
Bigity
For legal spells maybe. Force 3 and below, and non-combat.
Edward
Are you referring to the library idea.

As far as I can determine any library would be legal, and can be used to research spells with force up to rating, I would expect a university to have some of eth best libraries available thus being high rating and usable (theoretically) to create illegal spells, universities today have lots of things that are controlled or can be used to make controlled items, they always have and always will, it is necessary for research.

And the tradition of stealing resources or information from a university for illegal activities is hardly new ether.

Edward
frostPDP
Eyeless, I'd trust that you're right over me. However, please recall that I included this little phrase: "(At least, this is the way my groups play. I could have some wrong stuff on this one, maybe not.)" Different groups have different house rules, and it seems to me that this is a case where my group just differs from the norm. Still, in Karma cost its miniscule. Its Initiation you have to worry about smile.gif
Gilthanis
We always house ruled the minimum karma cost of one point. Otherwise there wasn't any reason for a mage not to know all spells at the rating of 1 because of that. Not to mention spells acquired through astral quests once the mage initiates.
S7Michelle
Once again, thank you all for your help and advice. I think Iíve pretty much decided on my starting spells (and have a lot of ideas in mind for things to pick up as the game progresses. Looking at the costs of things, it seems like itís a lot less expensive getting spells once the game is in progress.)

I ended up selecting the following:

Stunbolt 6
Stunball 6
Lightening Bolt 6
Increase Reflexes 3 1 (on a sustaining foci)
Heal [E] 6 (costs 4 points)
Physical Mask 6 (planning to get a sustaining foci in game)
Levitate 3
Fashion 3
Healthy Glow [E] 3 (costs 1 point)
Makeover 3
Trid Entertainment 1
Analyze Truth 5

That leaves me with four points that Iím currently torn about. Iíll probably either go with armor, improved invisibility (hesitant to do so since I donít want our ninja to feel like Iím stealing her spotlight), or another detection spell.

Iím also strongly considering going ahead and taking one essence point worth of cyberware. Having a datajack, knowsoft link, headware memory, and some useful knowledge skill chips could come in very handy for playing many different roles. Depending on essence costs, I might include a retinal mod camera and a recorder as well. Quick way to get the needed evidence with less risk of them finding the camera, etc.

Ah and to answer the question. The group doesn't have a decker at the moment and if we get one it will probably be an NPC. So far the group will definately be two people: my mage and the physical adept (with each of us alternating on GMing duties). Depending on whether or not he gets a job, the game may also have a rigger. And once she mugs some gamer for his book wink.gif , a fourth person may be joining as well. Not sure what she will play yet though.
JaronK
In my group, we let you have as many cantrips as you have points of magic rating, so most mages can start with 6 (Cantrips being force 1 fetished or force 2 exclusive, so no karma cost). Anyway...

Spells that work great at low force:

Healthy Glow (more force does nothing here anyway)
Nutrition (even force 1 will last ages)
Fast (same as nutrition, these two go together well)
Improved Invisibility (sure, it's resisted, but if you throw 12 dice at casting this, which most mages can do, you average 6 successes. Even one net success and this works, so unless they're Int 6, they can't hope to stop this one... and you can always recast it. Feel free to get this btw... it's very useful and you can always cast it on the ninja)
Improved Reflexes +3 (unless your group house rules otherwise, there's no need for this to go above force 1)
Levitate (sure, it's slow at low force, but quite effective at getting funny places... you'll need higher force if you want to run away with this one)
Fashion/Makeover (just don't need much for these to work)
Extended Mindlink (extended raises the drain code by one, but at force two this has a range of 120 meters if you've got a magic rating of 6. That's plenty for most purposes)

Anyway, that's a few thoughts. 1 point of essence in 'ware is pretty useful, btw, and if you Gaeas the loss there's no problems. I'd get a smartlink, datajack, knowsoft link, and enough memory to store one Rating 6 skill (or possibly even a replacement forarm with a 1000mp OMC in it). It's even possible to fit in some reflex boosts into a single essence point, which is worth thinking about.

JaronK
Edward
If you do take the cyber ware you may want to make the force 6 spells fetish limited to reduce drain, this will prevent you taking physical drain and will reduce the TN to soak the drain buy 1. that said its probably worth ensuring that 1 attack spell can be used if you loos your fetishes, stun bolt would be my choice to keep assessable.

The retinal camera is possible but it would cost les essence to replace your eyes entirely, depending on your natural vision. Look into this possibility and consider what your character would do, remember essence costs are quantifiable to your character.

Some biowear is of great value to a mage, the mnemonic enhancer is a fine pese of equipment in any characters head and a trauma dampener is of special value to a spell caster as you now only need to reduce drain to light to suffer no ill effects, look up these implants and talk to your GM. You will also need to consult the errata on biowear and the awakened.

I would have chosen differently witch spells to take exclusive for cost.

You canít cast an exclusive spell while sustaining another spell, heal you may well want to cast in a dangerous situation where you want to maintain a spell for reasons of disguise or protection at the same time. thus I advise against taking heal as an exclusive spell.

Faison and makeover are usually cast in more relaxed circumstances, the duck around the corner and change appearance trick is better served with physical mask and because of the required sustaining time a mage will still pick your active magic if you use fashion for that stunt.

And I still say that a catalogue spell could be useful, it to will not likely be needed in a situation where you must have other spells sustained so it can be taken exclusive to reduce cost.

Edward
S7Michelle
QUOTE (Edward)
You canít cast an exclusive spell while sustaining another spell, heal you may well want to cast in a dangerous situation where you want to maintain a spell for reasons of disguise or protection at the same time. thus I advise against taking heal as an exclusive spell.

Faison and makeover are usually cast in more relaxed circumstances, the duck around the corner and change appearance trick is better served with physical mask and because of the required sustaining time a mage will still pick your active magic if you use fashion for that stunt.

And I still say that a catalogue spell could be useful, it to will not likely be needed in a situation where you must have other spells sustained so it can be taken exclusive to reduce cost.

Edward

::nods:: I wasn't realizing that Fashion in particular took an extended period of time to cast. I've made the suggested changes to Fashion, Makeover and Healing.

While I'm sure that you are right about catelog being useful, for some reason I just am not seeing how. Could you provide a couple of examples of situations where it comes in handy?

Ended up deciding against the retinal mod for a camera, it took too much essence and my character has made it very clear that she's not having her eyes cut out just so that I can save on a few essence points. Ended up going with a datalink, and knowsoft link, some memory, a recorder, and a select sound filter. And maybe I can find a nice camera disguised as jewlery. Heck if you can get a gun disguised as jewlery don't see why you can't get a camera.
Ol' Scratch
A Spatial Recognizer would be more economical and provide better results than a Select Sound Filter. It lowers your target number for Perception Tests instead of just granting a few extra dice. I wouldn't really worry about either, though. Even though I usually take one or the other myself when I can, they rarely seem to come up on most runse ven though they seem like they should come up more often...

Actually, if you want a really nice suite, consider going with a Synthetic Cyberforearm. That gives you 2 ECU to use, which you can use to install a Direct Neural Interface (0.25 ECU), a Pocket Secretary (1.00 ECU), and 1,000 Mp of Storage Memory (0.50 ECU). That's a total of 0.75 Essence and 65,500 nuyen, or 0.6 Essence and 131,000 nuyen if you go with Alpha. The latter leaves you with enough room for a Datajack, a Knowsoft Link, and an Image Link if you take them all as Alpha as well (0.4 Essence and 11,200 nuyen). Your Datajack will not only function as a Datajack, but as a Router connecting everything together for a seamless integration, and all for 1.00 Essence exactly.

The Pocket Secretary is the real boon here, as it includes a recording device, a low-light camera, 100 MP of Active Memory, and a host of other advantages. As an Alpha implant, your hand is also difficult to detect due to its relatively high Concealability, not that it would matter since both it and everything inside it are all perfectly legal.

Also, if 1,000 Mp is way more memory than you'll need to store images or recordings, you can replace it instead of an External Transducer in the arm which will give you "telepathic" control over the Pocket Secretary. This, in term, lets you talk, listen, take notes, and otherwise have full communication abilities with absolutely no outside signs.

That said, having Treat as an Exclusive spell has never been an issue for me in all the years I've played, and I do typically play magician characters. If a situation is too dire for you to drop some other spell you may be sustaining (as opposed to having a Sustaining Focus sustaining), then healing whoever it is you want to heal is going to prove fruitless, too. Especially if they're in such dire sttraights that you need to heal them anyway.

Makeover and Healthy Glow never need to go over Force 1, really. They provide no real benefits at higher force as they're neither resisted nor have their effects determined by Force (only successes in the former's case). Fashion can benefit from being a higher Force as you can only affect Armor with a Rating equal to the Force of the Fashion spell +1 per two successes on the Spellcasting Test (if memory serves).

Just a few more things to consider.
Eyeless Blond
The Catalog spell, combined with your pocket secretary and a datajack for really fast data entry, can help you "scan" an area remarkably quickly. Say you're in a warehouse and can't find an inventory telling you where all the Farlight Excaliburs are kept; just cast this spell and make several "scans" of the area. Since you only pick up things inside the spell's radius, you can play a game of "hot and cold" to find anything in the area, much more quickly than it would take to physically open everything.
Edward
Catalog will be useful any time you walk into a room and what to know everything that is in it, right down to the number of strands in the bin under the shredder, it will also confirm or deny the presence of a hard to locate target item within its aria or tell you if the 6 disks you have found are actually all there is to find.

I likely wouldnít take the cyber arm for the same reason you didnít take the cyber eye, psychologically it is something very significant to give up, especially for a mage.

Another way to achieve unobtrusive mental access to your pocket secretary (and thus its data and phone capabilities) is to modify it to include a transducer and sub dermal data jack receiver, then implant into yourself a sub dermal data jack located on your waist, just where you will clip the pocket secretary.

Edward
Angelone
Sterilize is a very handy spell. It basically is a cleaning spell, if you and your friends get shot up and don't want anyone to track you ritually cast sterilize and presto no more ritual links.
Ol' Scratch
Or you could just pull a Boondock Saints and bring along a tiny squirt bottle (or splash grenade) of Ammonia.
Angelone
Yeah, but you'd have to bring more gear. Which could get damaged. Spells handier.
Cain
QUOTE
Faison and makeover are usually cast in more relaxed circumstances, the duck around the corner and change appearance trick is better served with physical mask and because of the required sustaining time a mage will still pick your active magic if you use fashion for that stunt.

Here's the problem: if another mage assenses you, if you've got a Physical Mask up, it'll be obvious that you are sustaining an illusion spell of illegal force. And you've got the sustaining penalty, to boot; plus your astral signature is clearly obvious.

If you use Fashion and Makeover, it takes a base of 15 combat turns each, or 30 seconds. You can reduce this time with additional successes. It then takes one complex action per level of force to erase your astral signature. All told, you can make a complete switchover in less than two minutes. If you only use one spell, you can pull it off in less than 30 seconds.

So, no, it's not quite instant. But if you can duck pursuit for more than 90 seconds, you can get much more cleanly than with a Physical Mask.
Johnnycache
My only advice is that over-limiting your initial spells is a little over-rated. The extra spell or two it will get you, you could make up in a single session, if it's a good haul.

I'd say you'd want one offensive, one defensive, and one 'utility' spell (like magic fingers or levitate) known without limits, simply so they will work if someone takes all your gear, you wake up suddenly with a ninja hopping your window sill, or you fall from a pier, or get caught in a blast that ruins some of your things, etc.

Our home rule is that you can only take the 0pts spells if they are fairly inconsequential things, like Healthy Glow or Trid Entertainment - my GM (and me when I gm) talked it out and decided it was a little dumb for an SR mage to be able to blow a heli out of the sky but not light a cigar, but it'd be lame to just take every spell at low levels. I wouldn't get crazy 0pting - if you do it too much, your GM will probably ban it smile.gif) Good freebee ideas: Oxygenate, Light, Translate, Magic Fingers, Night Vision f1, Nutrition, fast, Intox and Detox (my hedonist Advesary Shaman has both of these so he can flip it on and off like a switch)

Three things I didn't see mentioned much: Improve Body, Combat Sense (or Deflect, the ranged only version), and Improve Aim (I think that's what it's called) are three spells that can be great at the right time. If your mage has a 2 or 3 body, a force 6 improve body will probably give you 5-6 points of body with no problems, leaving most or all of your spell pool to toss the drain off - that can be important as by the strict RAW, all the armor in the world won't save a character with a two body from a few SMG bursts. (2S resisted with two dice is still gonna leave a mark, and the dude can shoot twice a pass) Combat sense/deflect gives you more combat pool dice, which are obviously groovy, and Improve Aim gives you more dice for shooting other weapons. Deflect in particular, at about 4 force or with a drain limit, will give you a good number of extra dice (3-4 CP dice is a lot) with a good chance to take no drain. These spells are good for stealthy, alternate defense when sammi-speed and glowing force fields aren't kosher, and are also good spells to actually cast on other characters.

Also, the lowly "fling" and "magic fingers" spells can be the worst thing in the game - if used in concert with a 30 yen AP grenade.
Cain
QUOTE
Also, the lowly "fling" and "magic fingers" spells can be the worst thing in the game - if used in concert with a 30 yen AP grenade.

Use magic fingers. They don't have to be *your* grenades... devil.gif
Ol' Scratch
QUOTE (Cain @ Jun 5 2005, 08:37 PM)
Here's the problem: if another mage assenses you, if you've got a Physical Mask up, it'll be obvious that you are sustaining an illusion spell of illegal force.  And you've got the sustaining penalty, to boot; plus your astral signature is clearly obvious. 

If you use Fashion and Makeover, it takes a base of 15 combat turns each, or 30 seconds.  You can reduce this time with additional successes.  It then takes one complex action per level of force to erase your astral signature.  All told, you can make a complete switchover in less than two minutes.  If you only use one spell, you can pull it off in less than 30 seconds.

So, no, it's not quite instant.  But if you can duck pursuit for more than 90 seconds, you can get much more cleanly than with a Physical Mask.

Exactly. And in most any situation where you need to get away with not showing your true self, Improved Invisibility will work just as easily with roughly the same chance of failure as Physical Mask. The only difference is that invisibility trumps disguise in more situations than disguise trumps invisibility as it lets you, for example, sneak past guards in a high security facility completely whereas a mere disguise wouldn't. And by possessing both Improved Invisibility and Fashion/Makeover, you have both options at your disposal whereas having Physical Mask and Fashion/Makeover is largely redudant...
Johnnycache
I used stunball last night.

GM:"They're all running upstairs and barricading themselves in one room"
Me(smiling dopey grin):"What, really?"

I will attest to one thing-it's better to use stunball and not take any drain, because if you knock them out, they can be just as dead a few throat cuttings later.
Edward
The advantage of the ammonia over the sterilise spell is that if they get a mage to asense the aria within (force) hours they will be able to uniquely identify you.

[quote = Cain]
If you use Fashion and Makeover, it takes a base of 15 combat turns each, or 30 seconds. You can reduce this time with additional successes. It then takes one complex action per level of force to erase your astral signature. All told, you can make a complete switchover in less than two minutes. If you only use one spell, you can pull it off in less than 30 seconds.
[/quote]
If you have the time to do this then what is the other spell you can not afford to drop to do so. If you had any others running that would risk blowing your cover to an astral mage as much as physical mask would thus with no other spells to consider the same procedure can be undertaken using exclusive versions of the spell.

Improved body (and other improve stat spells) are in my opinion only good if you have a sustaining focus and have it active almost all of the time, you need to think carefully if you want to do this. As a force 6 focus for increase body would be half of your safe allotment, and exceeding that allotment is a very fast way to burn out.

Edward
Ol' Scratch
I have never, in all my years of playing (predominately magicians), ever taken an Improved [Attribute] spell. Ever. They're too much of a liability and pain for a runner, especially if you get it Quickened. It particularly messes with your ability to use Masking to its fullest advantage, and Masking is arguably one of the most important and useful metamagic techniques for a shadowrunner.
Edward
If you go the rout of quickening then improved attribute spells are worth getting, once you cross that line you may as well get all you can afford as you have given up on hiding that you are magically augmented and having something at a high force means you may be able to use it to break wards.

Edward
Ol' Scratch
Yeah, and then you just have to pray really, really hard that you never ever encounter an astral ward or other barrier because the only way to get through will be to break it, and that means you just tripped the magical alarm. So now not only are you a shining beacon, but you're a liability on any kind of stealth runs whatsoever.

Not exactly the thing a professional runner/detective/whatever wants to do, yanno.
Cain
QUOTE
If you have the time to do this then what is the other spell you can not afford to drop to do so. If you had any others running that would risk blowing your cover to an astral mage as much as physical mask would thus with no other spells to consider the same procedure can be undertaken using exclusive versions of the spell.

Huh? Okay, if all you're saying is that Fashion and Makeover are good candidates for the Exclusive limitation, I agree with you. However, the good looks trio of Fashion, Makeover, and Healthy Glow massively beats out Physical Mask any day of the week. The spells are permanent instead of sustained, they're not obvious to an assensing mage, and they're not resisted. That last point is the real trump card-- no matter how hard you try, or how much spell defense/sheilding you have, you can't disbelieve a Makeover spell.
Johnnycache
Fashion is a really under-rated spell til your GM decides to start enforcing all those silly "weapons and armor in public" rules...
Johnnycache
QUOTE (Edward @ Jun 6 2005, 03:57 PM)
If you go the rout of quickening then improved attribute spells are worth getting, once you cross that line you may as well get all you can afford as you have given up on hiding that you are magically augmented and having something at a high force means you may be able to use it to break wards.

Edward

Body's worth it. 5 or 6 extra points of body is really cool. Everybody takes "armor" - but you can put on armor that doesn't glow. It's cool to have more, but like I said, even twelve points of armor is no good against enough shooters, if you went the Raistilin route with your character the way I did. There's almost no other way to buff your body with any practicality as a mage, and there is such a difference between having a high body and a low one when you get hit, it's not even funny.

As for focus "safety" - if you're playing with that rule, you can drop it down a little, or initiate. A force three or four increase body is still quite usefull in combat.

If you design your own spell - "Increase Bobby Burnout's Body" - you've got an amazing spell. I would concede that utility is unique to characters with low stats to begin with, or a particular need for a certain high stat - if you were doing a lot of great form summoning or ritual sorcery, you could cast them into sustaining foci without worrying about having open foci for other spells, and they might be worth their weight in gold. I probably wouldn't bother with it for strength, though - levitate or magic fingers give you the lifting power with more utility.

Now quickening all the spells in place, I don't know about. That seems like it'd be a tad on the obvious side - but I guess then you'd be the mystic equivilent of kid stealth. cyber.gif
noname_hero
A few more ideas:

Manabolt
This one lets you attack about anything you might encounter in the astral with a ranged attack. Get it at force 5 or 6, it is a combat spell and as others have said you need those at high force.

Smoke Ball or Water Ball
Get one of these, or a similar area-effect elemental manipulation. Stuns your opponents, meaning you don't have to kill them, lets you attack targets you can't see, and the base TN is 4 regardless of the targets' Will or Bod.

Create Food
IMO better than Nutrition, especially if your GM lets you use extra successes to improve the taste. Most GMs do, at least if you have a Cooking skill.

Fix
*Very* useful spell. Most of the time you can have it Exclusive limited, and the time and money it can save you means that learning it is really worth the point cost. Just don't forget the spell's limitations.
Aardvark892
Doctor Funkenstein,

Great info for a newbie mage. Made me think that Dumpshock should add a whole new board called, you guessed it, Magiknet. Those of us that primarily play mages, such as myself, would really get a lot out of a magic-stuff only board.

Thanks!

Tim
Ol' Scratch
Oh, cool, glad you liked it. smile.gif
tisoz
QUOTE (Gilthanis @ Jun 3 2005, 04:30 PM)
We always house ruled the minimum karma cost of one point. Otherwise there wasn't any reason for a mage not to know all spells at the rating of 1 because of that. Not to mention spells acquired through astral quests once the mage initiates.

No need to house rule the reduced karma cost for the astral quest assisted spells, the rules already state minimum cost of 1.

Catalog is real useful for letting you know about bombs. like the ones that get planted on your wheels or left in your safehouse while you were out. Also when your GM starts booby trapping all the cool gear you want to loot.

I always plan on learning increased attribute spells, but never get around to them. Similar to Doc F, I never use them anymore, haven't since I learned about focus addiction. If you want better physical stats for going into combat, try learning channeling. It adds force of the spirit to your physical stats, plus a lot more benefits.
Johnnycache
Well, my dm doesn't want me to self initiate, so I don't get to learn metamagic until I find a guiding force of some kind in game - and the two effects stack, don't they?

But that brings up an interesting question: What is a "Spirit" for purposes of channeling? Elementals seem like a no brainer, but what about other spirits, and most importantly for my character's style factor, bound ghosts or spectres. . . also, can you repeatedly channel a spirt you've bound with it's true name or ghost chain?
Cain
It has to be a spirit that owes you services. So, a bound Free Spirit or an Ally cannot be channeled, since they don't owe you services in the traditional sense. That also leaves out ghosts and spectres.
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