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Shadowrun Overhaul: Background Count Official Rules and Commentary


Magicians can perform magic because of the nature of mana. Mana is fueled by life and rises and falls in different locations and times. We are in the Sixth World and mana is rising overall each year except for the Year of the Comet when it spiked and later dropped. From a game mechanic point of view the increase of mana allows for today’s magicians to be just as effective as magicians in 2050 using a fetish. Mana is very sensitive to metahumanity and psychoactively charged by emotions, violence, and events charged with meaning and psychological significance. Repeated use of magic performed by a Tradition or through the use of geomancy can aspect mana towards supporting that Tradition. Widespread worship, prayer, and meditation can create a spiritual oasis as well. An area can also become a domain and aspected towards a specific magical skill like a master enchanter’s forge who loves what he does used over decades could develop additional layers of aspect for joy, creation, artificing, the enchanter, and the enchanter’s tradition.

Mana is also sensitive to the environment of the mundane world getting warped by pollution or radiation or naturally aligned to certain types of magic by powerful physical variables like the area around volcanoes being aspected towards fire magic and friendly to fire spirits. Feng shui, geomancy, and geomasonry are able to manipulate how the mana flows and what aspect it might have.

From page 30 Street Grimoire:

“A background count is a measurement of a variance from normal of mana levels in the area. Arcane scholars have developed a scale to measure the strength of these areas, ranging from –24 to 24, with 0 considered normal mana levels. A negative value relates to lower-than-normal mana available to be used for magic (meaning mana ebbs and voids). A positive value relates to mana that has been aspected in some fashion, making it harder to control unless your aspect overlaps with it (domains and warps). Regardless if it’s a positive or negative number, we use the absolute value in determining how it affects the Awakened’s use of magic.”

So what this means is that any BC that isn’t 0 that hasn’t been acclimated will impact either in a positive or negative fashion an awakened entity or astral denizens magical abilities. A place with less mana than normal will have a negative rating which means that ALL MAGIC will be penalized. A place with more mana than normal will have a positive rating and could help or hurt an awakened entity or astral denizen depending on many different factors. It is very possible for a positive BC to provide aid for one magical test and harm the next.

“Acclimated individuals are able to ignore background counts, but aligned people take it one step further. They are able to completely mesh with the aspect of a domain, getting a boost from the mana in that area.”

Acclimation is something that an awakened being or astral denizen can develop while spending time in that type of mana environment. Since most Universities in most areas focus on the Hermetic Tradition one could assume that any magician who achieved an undergraduate degree at such an institution would have achieved a certain degree of acclimation to a knowledge and hermetic environment. In the NAN the dominant BC at an University would be knowledge and shamanistic and in China knowledge and Wuxing for other examples. The awakened with a rarer tradition would still not gain the benefits of alignment to the dominant tradition and so would have to work harder than their compatriots privileged with alignment to the background count.

From page 31 Street Grimoire:

“The most powerful mana lines or events that have emotional or magical significance to most of humanity. Examples include the five sacred mountains in Chinese lore including T’ai Shan, where the great dragon Lung lives (Rating 15), The Great Cairn line in Tír na nÓg (Rating 14), The blast sites of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nazi death camps, or the Native American Re-Education Center at Abilene (Rating 13).”

The problem with this comes in with a later bit in which a greater than -12 or +12 BC causes Stun damage every combat turn. How does the Dragon Lung survive his home? Obviously he has an insane Willpower as a Great Dragon but with this rule he would be pummeled into unconsciousness in a day as the rule specifically says even if it is a domain. No matter how high his rating eventually the dice will fail. So, there must be some technique that Lung is able to do to survive this and that he is able to provide to his spirits, awakened servitors, and others unless he exists utterly alone in his home except for mundanes!

“It can take weeks or months of exposure to become acclimated to the background count before his skills aren’t affected by it. Generally speaking, you should plan on one week of exposure per rating point of the background count.”

I have an house rule I am still polishing up that will help quantify what BC a starting character would be acclimated to prior to play.

From page 32 Street Grimoire:

“A background count impose a negative dice pool penalty equal to its rating for all tests linked in any way to magic (such as spellcasting, summoning, and skill tests that use active adept powers such as Killing Hands or Improved Sense). The exception to this rule are background counts from domains, where a tradition, person, skill group, or skill may be exempt from the penalty as they are used to or aligned with the domain. Dual-natured creatures or purely astral creatures take a negative dice pool penalty to all actions equal to the background count. Again the exception of a domain can apply to specific types of creatures or spirit types. Pre-existing active foci, sustained spells, quickened/anchored spells and rituals are reduced by the background count. If they are reduced to 0 or less, spells fizzle, wards and rituals collapse, foci deactivate. A foci cannot activate while under the influence of the background count. Anchored rituals and quickened spells if they have not expired revive themselves at 1 point of Force per hour, up to their preexisting Force. Preparations triggered while within a background count have their potency immediately reduced by the background count. Adepts may use a Simple Action to turn on or off a passive power in cases where penalties from background counts might exceed bonuses from their powers. Background count makes Assensing, Astral Perception, and Astral Combat more difficult to do. Impose a negative dice pool penalty for tests associated with these skills. When attempting to track an astral entity through an area where the background count is higher than the target’s Force or Magic Rating, the tracker loses the astral link at the point of the background count.”

Many questions should immediately pop out at you upon reading this. Does a spirit summoned by a magician share his alignment or acclimations? Does a preparation or focus gain the benefit of alignment or acclimation from its creator or owner? Does it acclimate on its own or is there something the magician can do or must do? What if the quickened spell was made before the magician was acclimated? Wouldn’t an astral tracker benefit from tracking a target if it enters her domain which lets say she created?

“ACCLIMATED
This is a benefit of the Home Ground quality (p. 74, SR5). The quality allows characters to ignore the customary background count of an area, and only count half of the background count tied to temporary events.”

Well, earlier the book says that acclimation can be gained by any magician just by spending some time there. This kind of makes that option of the Home Ground Quality pretty weak if two weeks hanging out in a neighborhood acclimates you. It would make much more sense if Home Ground provided alignment for the magician. After all if you’re taking this quality you have a very strong tie to the area to the point where it is a key part of who the character is and what better way to show that than that over the years or decades you’ve been living in a neighborhood you’ve become so in tune with the astral realm and its mana that you and it naturally align together. Your home is a part of your magic now.

“ALIGNMENT
The background count is applied as a positive modifier to the limit tied to the skill or skills for an Awakened character aligned to a domain. For example, a Wiccan shaman trying to conjure a Force 4 spirit within a Hag Bolette ring (Rating 3 aligned to the Wiccan tradition) will have a Conjuring limit of 7 (4 + 3). A background count with an absolute Rating value of 12 or greater is dangerously powerful, regardless if it’s from a domain or void. Anyone magically or astrally active in any way (dual natured, astrally perceiving, casting a spell, active adept power, etc.) takes background count – 12 Stun Damage each combat turn they are exposed to it. They can resist this damage with a Willpower Test.”

Alignment can be an on/off thing like a domain of fire may align with a hermetic casting a flamethrower spell and the catholic priest throwing a censor with incense imbued with a preparation to unleash a fireball but penalize a shaman performing a Rain making ritual.

There are domains so great that an unprepared mage could be knocked unconscious by their sheer power, and there are great flaring bursts of mana called mana warps, which are more powerful than even the most powerful of domains.

This implies that a prepared mage could handle a powerful domain!

So, that covers the rules from Street Grimoire. A little known and lightly covered bit with a BC forming temporary spikes in potency is important as is the rule for alleviating half of the temporary BC because of acclimation.

From Aetherology:

Any area of magic lower than normal is termed as having a negative background count. Places that have higher-than-normal positive background count do not affect a magician’s ability to cast magic unless it’s been psychoactively fixed, which brings me to my second point. The second thing you should understand is mana is very sensitive to man. His emotions and his exploits can disrupt the accessibility of magic. From a rock concert to a violent robbery, from toxic waste to smog, mana becomes psychoactively charged, making it difficult to use if your magic is not aligned. A positive background count that is affected by this charge is called aspected. If it’s based on a physical place with some emotional or psychological significance, the aspected mana is tied to a domain.

This brings up something that is a bit of a contradiction to previous rules in Street Grimoire which state that positive BC must be aspected. With this added bit it makes sense that most any place with higher mana is more sensitive to life, man, and the environment making it very likely to aspect. Also later on it contradicts the information in Street Grimoire about mana warps which in Street Grimoire on page 33 it states are areas with -16 to -20 BC while in Aetherology and in other parts of the Street Grimoire it states that higher levels of mana are called mana warps. Later on in Aetherology it mentions that certain high BC areas are very attractive to awakened animals. One would think that the animals if attracted would not be penalized or harmed by the higher mana and must gain some benefit otherwise why would they be attracted to those areas?

Musings:

A bit of fluff in previous editions is about how shamans don’t like to spend time in polluted or irradiated areas as spending too much time might be dangerous to them and push or tempt them into toxic shamanism. This could be a danger of acclimation and alignment with a BC is that the psychoactivity of mana is a two way street which is described in the Street Grimoire as various things like dragon lines purifying the environment or domains controlling denizens to pick up litter for examples. The mana can influence your emotions and viewpoints over time. This should be roleplayed and could be a good explanation for a quality gained in character generation or in play.

For example a neighborhood focused on learning, academia, and knowledge that a character has the home ground quality may have become more studious and respectful of knowledge in general because of her home. A Desert Wars magician might have spent years in mana soaked in the Battle aspect and as a consequence become more martial in outlook and more likely to use violence as a tool. Where does the experience and where does the mana aspect start and stop?

I also like the idea of aspected mana having multiple aspects or layers. A Spiritual place may provide the prime aspect for a hidden church in Aztlan and a secondary aspect might be Fear caused by the emotions of the worshipers about getting caught by the Nahuatl and sacrificed. A tertiary and temporary aspect might pop up from a lover’s spat taking place in the church a few hours earlier leaving traces of Anger. In this case the priest would be aligned to the Spiritual aspect and acclimated to the Fear aspect but vulnerable to the Anger until it faded away. Since the priest is aligned to the prime aspect he would gain the increased limit for his magic, acclimated to the secondary aspect so it would have no effect on his magic, and the tertiary aspect since it was temporary and he was acclimated or aligned to the more dominant aspects he would only face half the BC from it rounded down as a penalty.

I am working on a system to allow for a magician to gain at character generation various acclimations to different types of mana that they would have developed based on their character background. It utilizes a variation of the Contact system to work and just like contacts the magician will need to occasionally spend some time and effort in order to get exposure to that aspected mana and maintain their acclimation.

It is also important to realize that 0 is normal. If BC is a bell curve it should be -1 to +1 at least two thirds of the time.

Here are some previous rules and viewpoints I had developed prior to the release of the Street Grimoire with various alternatives and house rules.

BC in 5e

Primer on Mana

An Abstract from the Journal of Practical Thaumaturgy

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Shadowrun Overhaul: Ways and new Enhancements


The bonus Power Points provided by Ways is a needlessly complex and confusing system that encourages min/maxing when the purpose of the Ways should be to provide some aid mechanics-wise but mainly to provide roleplaying opportunities. As the Quality has a static cost the benefit should also be static and have the same value across characters in my opinion. The Magician’s Way doesn’t really add anything useful and I think was just carried over from the previous edition via inertia and is basically the equivalent of an “Undecided Way”. Ways should be mainly earned in game barring the really dedicated at character generation as it seems to me that a Way would be something learned after Initiating. Thus, no increased Karma cost when learned in game however the Way must be taught by an Instructor and Initiated Adepts aren’t cheap to hire. In game time it should take about three months of training or a season.

Now, a Way provides 1 Power Point that can be spent on the Powers listed under each Way. For every Grade the Adept gains the Quality provides .25 Power Points that can only be spent on the listed Powers. This bonus can be postponed to purchase more expensive Powers. (This allows for the Quality to provide benefits down the road like the existing rules would allow for increasing the adept’s Magic Rating by 2. A min/maxed character in standard rules with a Magic Rating of 6 could gain 1.5 Power Points at character generation through a Way so my option is a little weaker but allows for more freedom in choice of Powers and equal benefit to all Adepts.)

The Magician’s Way really serves no purpose that I can see. The enhancements for the Way can be folded into the Undecided list and the Way itself should be discarded. Digital Celerity really fits better with the Invisible Way thematically. This gives the Adept who doesn’t purchase a Way some Enhancements they could learn.

New Enhancements:

“Domain of the Spiritual” and “Domain of the Warrior” are reworked and balanced as Enhancements instead of Metamagics as their value even improved as I have done is simply not equal to Centering, Masking, or gaining an additional Power Point. Each Way will get their own new Domain that will instead of acclimating an Adept to a flavor of background count actually aligns the Adept to the BC.

An acclimated Adept takes no penalties from a positive BC of the Domain’s type; while an aligned Adept would gain benefits from the positive BC as they are in tune with the mana in the area. It basically provides the Adept with the same benefits a magician would have from their magical Tradition.

Each way has an unique “Domain” Enhancement that they can learn that applies to their expertise.

The Athlete’s Way provides an Enhancement “Domain of the Game” which grants alignment to BC created at sporting events, gyms, and competitions of any type. The emotions running through the mana are close enough at an Urban Brawl match to a tennis match to a poker match.

The Artist’s Way provides an Enhancement “Domain of the Show” which grants alignment to BC created at artistic, dance, plays, concerts, and performance events of any type. It also provides acclimation of up to 1 + Grade to any BC at any type of showcase for the arts even if there is no performance such as a museum, art collection, library, or art gallery.

The Beast’s Way provides an Enhancement “Domain of the Totem” which grants alignment to BC found in the favored habitat of her totem. “Desert, Forest, Jungle, Mountain, Polar, Urban, or other terrain.” This can be dangerous to the Adept for if the terrain has been polluted or irradiated than the distorted mana flowing through them can start the Adept on the toxic path and play havoc with their emotions making it more difficult over time to relax, sleep, and not be a curmudgeon.

The Burnout’s Way provides an Enhancement “Domain of the Tech Geek” which grants alignment to BC found in places of high technology and scientific advancement. A cyberdoc’s surgery room, a corporate research facility, a garage filled with prototype vehicles, a server farm, or an inventor’s lab all have a similar feel in the astral.

The Spiritual Way provides an Enhancement “Domain of the Spiritual” which grants alignment to BC found in places of worship and sacred locales regardless of Tradition, religion, or philosophy. Any complex with a chapel or holy place makes it easier for the Adept to adapt to different aspects of local mana allowing for acclimation of up to 1 + Grade of BC throughout the location. This could be as small as a small hospital or as large as an entire Arcology as long as the complex is a single “entity”.

The Invisible Way provides an Enhancement “Scouting the Joint” which grants a sped up acclimation period for the adept when studying an area’s mana. The Adept must be able to Assense the Astral Realm. Each day spent studying the target area allows the Adept to acclimate to one point of BC with a maximum over a period of days of up to 1 + their Grade or their Assensing Rating whichever is lower.

The Speaker’s Way provides an Enhancement “Domain of the fae” which grants alignment to the BC found in fae touched areas and those created by magicians of the Path of the Wheel Tradition which is particularly useful in Tir Nan Og. They are also acclimated to up to 1 + Grade of BC aligned to Druidism, Wicca, and other nature based Traditions. It also provides a situational bonus dice equal to their Grade to use with social interactions with the faerie and other fey touched beings like other Adepts of the Speaker’s Way or magicians following an “Elven Path”.

The Warrior’s Way provides an Enhancement “Domain of War” which grants alignment to the BC found in areas where blood has been spilled in combat or about to be. It acclimates the adept to 1 + Grade of BC for the emotions of Hate, Anger, Fear, and Despair.

Shadowrun Overhaul: A Talismonger’s Guide to Hunting and Gathering Reagents


Wrote this up for a campaign with a PC as a talismonger with the rest of the team as her employees. The campaign deals with the chaos in the Talismonger community after the casualties of the Dragon Civil War. Since the system in the books is pretty sparse and basic I came up with something more realistic that would make it clear how much of a difference an hot spot makes in the bottom line of a talismonger.

In my next post I will be further explaining the value of the Grade of the reagent which is glossed over in Street Grimoire and just priced in Shadow Spells. I also came up with a new mechanic called Glitch Prone to handle the poor grades of the reagents. I don’t follow the pricing of Reagents shown in Shadow Spells partly because I use an house rule for how reagents work and partly because demand is up and supplies are down these days.

I have also invented a new type of Reagent called Flawless. It takes 10 Radical Reagents to make 1 Flawless Reagent. Orichalcum is made of 3 Flawless Reagents not 30 Radical. This change was because of my new Artificing rules and because it seemed more elegant to my new rules on what reagents do besides help with focus creation.

There are two types of search when looking for Reagents. The Hunt and the Gather. When Hunting in order to avoid harming the reagents the Hunter needs to use treated and clean weapons of the bow and arrow or melee type as more high tech weapons harm the quality of the reagents.

First of the Talismonger picks an area to Hunt and/or Gather in and the GM decides the state of the area and rolls for how many reagents it would be possible to harvest in that area if harvesting. If Hunting the GM decides what critters are in the area and their possible qualitative and quantitative value for reagent harvesting. If Gathering the key for the talismonger is to find the reagents, notice their quality and harvest them correctly.

Depending on hazards of the location whether urban or wilderness the PC is likely to need to make a Survival Test or three as most talismongers are going to be covering a lot of ground searching for as many reagents as they can find as quickly as they can find. In many cases this could lead to many days in places far from civilization. As some locales are hidden or out of the way or difficult to travel in and out of the smart talismonger doesn’t want to make many different short trips if one long trip can get the job done.

A smart talismonger has bodyguards or security when traveling in dangerous areas as they will be significantly distracted by the process of assensing an area to gather and harvest reagents or hunting a critter. It is far too easy for a hunter to be on the scent of one critter and get blindsided by the critter they didn’t know was also in the area.

It would be wise to have someone skilled in Outdoors Skills like Navigation to get to the region and go from area to area and Survival to…survive. When Hunting a critter someone with a good Hunting Knowledge and Tracking Skill will make the difference between an happy bottom line and a disgraceful snipe hunt.

Game Mechanics:

An Arcana + Logic [3] Test would be appropriate if the Talismonger is searching for a reagent appropriate for their or a client’s needs. Say a client who is a Mountain shaman wants a Power Focus than the Talismonger would spend some time to consider what kind of specimen or source would provide the best results as a part of a telesma. This is part of the process of tailoring the focus to the client. Net hits above the threshold of this test and successful gathering of the specified reagents to be used should provide tangible benefits to the talismonger like a bonus die per extra hit on a test as well as to the client such as lessening the Karma cost by the extra hits that the shaman would need to bond with the focus. A good talismonger should have a strong sense of how mana and reagents work. This also rewards the PC’s for going along with the GM’s adventure plot.

Hunting:

Tracking Skill and Hunting Knowledge Tests are par for the course once the team has made it to the area.

Once found the critter can be slain but depending on the way it was slain the reagents could be harmed.

The GM will have to decide the Potency of the critter and make some rolls to determine the reward for the team.

Talismongers with control over an area or with ethical reservations about killing the critters can use non-lethal incapacitating weapons and try and harvest what they can from a critter. In many cases this is the smarter choice depending on how the reagents express for that species. For example a talismonger in Wales is famous for making Foci out of the superior reagents made of shorn wool from his awakened black sheep.

Trapping and Fishing are other options that a Survival Test can help with. Non-lethal Trapping simply traps the animal in such a way as to do no physical harm to the animal and thus avoid harm to the reagents prior to harvesting.

The Specimen:

The GM decides on the Potency of the Critter by comparing the power level of the critter to a starting PC with some consideration about how “magical” the critter is, how important the critter is to the talismonger’s tradition, and the nature of the specific critter that is being hunted like if it is an Alpha or an Omega.

Potency:

Superhuman Rating: Prime Quality with 5d6 or more raw reagents

Superior Rating: Prime Quality with 1d6 or more raw reagents

Equal Rating: Superior Quality with 1d6 or more raw reagents

Inferior Rating: Baseline Quality with 1d6 or more raw reagents

Spirit’s Potency:

Of Talismonger’s Summoning Tradition: Superior Quality with Force reagents

Of Different Tradition: Baseline Quality with Force reagents.

If Great Form: Raise Quality by 1 and Force x 2 reagents.

Hunting Techniques:

Best Practices: No Modifier

Non-lethal Trapping techniques, treated traditional fishing equipment, careful harvesting of living animals especially domesticated animals, capture using weapons like bolas or some manipulation magic, or when a critter is killed by melee and archery weapons that are specially treated and cleansed.

Poor Practices: Quality -1

Using melee or archery weapons which have ‘dirty’ mana. The same residue that a Psychometrist can read from an object can harm the integrity of the mana in the critter and thus the reagents. Indirect Combat Spells and some Manipulation spells as well. Methods that cause the critter to endure long term negative emotions or pain prior to harvesting can spoil the reagents as well.

Bad Practices: Quality -1 per box of damage from a bad source

Direct Combat Spells that do physical damage scramble and mutilate a target’s mana on a massive scale as do firearms and demolitions. Direct Combat Spells that do Stun damage may only disrupt its mana temporarily and can be used to capture and then after a sunrise or sunset allow harvesting without penalty.

Harvesting Modifiers:

The Goose who laid the Golden Eggs: Lessen the amount of reagents harvested by at least half but the talismonger is able to harvest reagents without harming the critter. The GM should decide how long of a period is necessary for reagents to renew depending on the form of the reagent. Taking a tail feather from an awakened bird means you have to wait until the tail feather grows back. This also works for domesticated animals.

Fresh: No Modifier.This is when a talismonger harvests the corpse of a critter or any once living matter before the corpse had experienced its first sunset or sunrise which will disrupt the mana in the critter just like dawns and dusks wipe out temporary magical lodges.

Didn’t use an Alchemy Kit to Harvest: Lowers Quality by 1 and makes transportation difficult as a kit enables the talismonger to coax the mana into a few small areas. Instead of reagents weighing less than a dozen grams a piece now have a weight of at least a kilogram per dram.

Mana Level: If the critter had spent most of the latter part of its life in an high or low Background Count or Domain than the GM can add a d6 or subtract a d6.

Not Fresh: Lowers Quality by 1. This could be shed fur or a scale that fell or rubbed off found at the critter’s home or when a critter is slain and brought to a talismonger after a sunset or sunrise has past.

Ancient or High Status Critter: Raises Quality by 1

Final Potency and Quality of the Specimen:

Tally up all the modifiers above until you have a Quality modifer and roll to see how many drams are there. A Quality raised by 1 that was of Baseline starting Potency and Abundancy increased by 1d6  would yield 2d6 Superior raw reagents.

Harvesting the Reagents:

First an Assensing + Intuition [Astral] (# of reagents, minute) Extended Test to locate and understand the mana and its concentration within the specimen. The character can only harvest the reagents that she can find in this process. Thus, if she stops getting six hits than that is how many reagents she can harvest as a maximum.

Then make an Alchemy + Intuition [Astral] (2x # of reagents, hour) Extended Test to concentrate and focus the mana in the specimen and harvest the reagents. Every hit on the Test can be split between concentrating the reagent and harvesting the reagent. A talismonger in a hurry can choose to skip the concentrating part and instead of reagents weighing under 12 grams a piece each reagent weighs at least a kilogram apiece. Once Harvested a reagent can’t be further concentrated without disrupting the mana making bulky reagents less valuable and useful for many endeavors. Superior 5th Generation Alchemy Kits also lower the time interval required in half and provide other benefits.

If attempting to harvest from a critter in a renewable way than an additional hit on the above test can be spent to carefully harvest without harming the critter or its ability to recover its reagents in the future. The GM should decide how much can be harvested safely but no more than half of its total reagents should be available without harm.

An Animal Handling Test may be necessary should the critter be awake and mobile. More reagents can be harvested in a renewable way from a calm, alert, and trusting critter. In many cases this isn’t possible and the critter should be harvested while immobile or unconscious. When a critter is in that sort of state its mana is in flux making it more difficult to concentrate the mana into reagents safe to harvest without harming the critter.

Gathering:

Parabotany, Parageology, Magical Theory, and other knowledge tests can help out with finding good spots to gather reagents.

These are the factors that will determine how many and what quality the reagents might be in the area. It is possible that more than one source of reagents might be in an area and if that is true the grade of the raw reagents may differ between the various sources in the area. The Status of an Area might be excellent but if it is well known it is probably being harvested regularly and thus not as objectively good an area as another. All the pieces connect.

Source:

The Source of the reagents could be a gold vein, a stalactite, a critter nest, ancient bones, moss on a gravestone, feathers discarded by an awakened eagle, petrified shit from a blackberry cat who ate the wrong magical compound, a chess set used in a grandmaster match, the discarded wood shavings leftover from making icons of Cthulu by a lunatic carpenter obsessed with HP Lovecraft, old amusement park coins discovered in a junked automated fortune teller, the smaller piece of a wishbone broken and discarded in tears by a child, and more.

The Abundancy of the Source:

Potent: 3d6 base reagents.

Baseline: 1d6 base reagents.

Poor: no base reagents.

The Purity of the Source:

Pristine: Raise Quality by 1.

Typical: No Modifier.

Poor: Lower Quality by 1.

The Status and Potency of the Area:
Prime: Rare pristine places free of physical and astral pollution and very little interaction with metahumanity. Or places of relatively pure purpose, emotion, and intent. Cathedrals, a memorial, a family graveyard tended lovingly for a dozen generations, an old half forgotten out of the way research library at one of the first universities like Salerno or Oxford, the original historical set of buildings at West Point, or a sept’s castle. Prime base Quality
Superior: Clean or Esoteric locales like a bucolic village or well maintained park with little but good natured traffic. A centuries old graveyard open to the public but off the beaten path, an old bookstore district, a community church where famous abolitionists gathered, a research lab at a quality university. Superior base Quality
Baseline: Mundane like most areas on earth: Baseline base Quality
Subpar: The nicer part of the Barrens. Subpar base Quality
Inferior: The bad part of the Barrens. Inferior base Quality
Tainted: Whole swathes of Tsimshian. Tainted base Quality

Resting State of the Area:
Untouched: Hasn’t ever been harvested. Quality raised by 2 and number of drams is raised by 3d6.
Unspoiled: Hasn’t been harvested in years. Quality raised by 1 and number of drams is raised by 2d6.
Fallow: Hasn’t been harvested in months. Number of drams is raised by 1d6.
Cultivated: Has been harvested this month. No Modifier.
Recently Harvested: Has been harvested this week and most of the reagents were found. Lower Quality by 1 and drams by 1d6.

These two factors can also define the Resting State of the Area and can both impact the above States.
Over Harvested: Area has been Harvested more than once a month for a year. Lowers Quality by 1 and drams by 1d6.
Tapped Out: Talismongers regularly harvest every single reagent in the Area for a year. Lowers Quality by 1 and drams by 3d6.

Harvesting the Reagents:

First an Assensing + Intuition [Astral] (# of reagents, minute) Extended Test to locate and understand the mana and its concentration within the specimen. The character can only harvest the reagents that she can find in this process. Thus, if she stops getting six hits than that is how many reagents she can harvest as a maximum.

Then make an Alchemy + Intuition [Astral] (2x # of reagents, hour) Extended Test to concentrate and focus the mana in the specimen and harvest the reagents. Every hit on the Test can be split between concentrating the reagent and harvesting the reagent. A talismonger in a hurry can choose to skip the concentrating part and instead of reagents weighing under 12 grams a piece each reagent weighs at least a kilogram apiece. Once Harvested a reagent can’t be further concentrated without disrupting the mana making bulky reagents less valuable and useful for many endeavors. Superior 5th Generation Alchemy Kits also lower the time interval required in half and provide other benefits.

Final Potency and Quality of the Source:

Tally up all the modifiers above until you have a Quality modifer and roll to see how many drams are there. A Quality raised by 1 that was of baseline starting Potency and baseline starting Abundancy increased by 1d6  would yield 2d6 Superior raw reagents.

Glitch Prone:

This quality of a reagent is a way for the GM to show the dangers of cheap reagents and gives a mechanic to the story fluff in Street Grimoire that talked about foci made from inferior reagents. It would be easy to apply this mechanic to making new negative qualities for characters, guns, computers et cetera so feel free to do so.

Minor Glitch Prone: Whatever magical test the reagent is used for is modified so any 2’s rolled are counted as a 1 for declaring a glitch or critical glitch.

Major Glitch Prone: Whatever magical test the reagent is used for is modified so any 2 or 3 rolled are counted as a 1 for declaring a glitch or critical glitch.

Critically Glitch Prone: Whatever magical test the reagent is used for is modified so any non hit is counted as a 1 for declaring a glitch or critical glitch.

Quality of Reagents:

The Quality of a refined reagent is determined by the lowest grade of a component. So 9 Prime raw reagents and 1 subpar raw reagent yields 1 subpar refined grade reagent making accurate discovery of the grade of all reagents important during the refining process especially with Orichalcum as the purity of the Orichalcum becomes a big deal at that level of cost. The benefits of Prime and Superior Quality reagents will be described in my next post.

Prime: 100% higher base cost and 50% faster to refine than baseline reagents.

Superior: 50% higher base cost and 25% faster to refine than baseline reagents.

Baseline: No modifer to base cost or refining time.

Subpar: 25% lower base cost and 25% slower to refine than baseline reagents. Minor Glitch Prone.

Inferior: 50% lower base cost and 50% slower to refine than baseline reagents. Major Glitch Prone.

Tainted: 75% lower base cost and 75% slower to refine than baseline reagents. Critically Glitch Prone.

Unusable: No value and impossible to refine with current alchemical techniques. Can’t be used with magic.

Equipment:

Alchemy kits: are very portable tools for Alchemists and help with harvesting reagents, preserving, and focusing discovered reagents into a smaller more portable raw form. An Alchemist might take a vial and some rare herbs and powders and take a little blood from a slain paracritter and weave the mana from the corpse into the blood mixing into the vial or use a ritual athame to cut a wand from a lightning damaged tree and have the dozen “raw reagents” channeled into just the wand or takes a bucket of awakened berries and weaves the mana into an handful saving space and providing ease of use as no mage wants to carry a bucket of reagents while on a run. A fifth gen kit increases the Astral Limit by 1 and cuts harvesting time in half as well as concentrating the reagents into portable objects. A 4th gen is standard also concentrates reagents and a 3rd gen doubles the normal time.

Alchemy Kit Enhancements: Adding extra features like the Ghostbusters Enhancement that lets Talismongers salvage reagents from Spirits or a kit tailored to a specific Tradition which raises Harvesting Test Limits by 1 if the Talismonger is of that Tradition. Think of a good enhancement and there is probably some doodads the alchemist can buy that will enable that help.

Prices:                                                                                                       

Increase the cost of any Magical Compounds in the books by 25% to 50% and increase Availability by 1 to represent supply and demand.

Item Retail Price Availability
Raw Grade 20¥ per dram
Refined Grade 450¥ per dram 6 + 1 per dram
Radical Grade 5000¥ per dram 8 +1 per dram
Flawless Grade 55,000¥ per dram 10 + 2 per dram
Orichalcum 175,000¥ per dram 14 +3 per dram
Prime Quality +100% Base Cost +2
Superior Quality +50% Base Cost +1
Subpar Quality -25% Base Cost -3
Inferior Quality -50% Base Cost -5
Enchanter’s Lab 5th Gen 75,000¥ 12
Enchanter’s Lab 4th Gen 40,000¥ 10
Enchanter’s Lab 3rd Gen 25,000¥ 10
Microlab 5th Gen 100,000¥ 12
Microlab 4th Gen 60,000¥ 10
Alchemy Kit 5th Gen 10,000¥ 12
Alchemy Kit 4th Gen 4000¥ 10
Alchemy Kit 3rd Gen 1000¥ 8
Alchemy Kit Enhancements 1000¥ each +1
Minor Foci (F x 900¥) + (F x OR x 250¥) (F x 2)
Major Foci (F x 10,000¥) + (F x OR x 250¥) (F x2) +4
Grand Foci (F x 110,000¥) + (F x OR x 250¥) (F x 3) + 3
Focus Tailoring (Days x 1000¥) + (3 x Reagent) +2
OR is Object Rating of Telesma Doesn’t include cost of Telesma

Shadowrun Overhaul: Introduction to Initiation


After reading the Street Grimoire I had some ideas on really overhauling the initiation process. I am abandoning the term of metamagic to eliminate confusion with the core ruleset and at most it would simply be a term for magical abilities learned post-initiation that require initiation to learn.

Thaumaturgical Arts are unchanged from the core rules for Metamagics with the only rule change being their categorical name. Thaumaturgical Techniques are refinements on Thaumaturgical Arts or simply a new ability or talent that isn’t as demanding to learn as an Art.

Mystery Techniques require access to the Mystery to be able to be taught or learned and are special abilities gained by those who unravel the mysteries of their Mystery.

Path Techniques require access to a Way to be able to be taught or learned and are special abilities gained by those who follow the Way down the magical path by living, breathing, and experiencing all the Way has to offer.

 

All Thaumaturgical, Path, and Mystery Techniques cost 10 Karma to learn.

All Mystery and Path Enhancements cost 2 Karma to learn. Those that grant a Profession Knowledge gain a new Knowledge equal to their Magic Rating when the Enhancement is learned.

Minor Magics such as Parlor Tricks, Wisp Commands, Ceremonies, Charms, Trinkets, and Elixers cost 1 Karma each.

Initiation:

Upon initiation the Awakened PC can learn a Thaumaturgical Art or gain access to a Mystery or Way. Adepts can only learn one Way as a rule with the two exceptions with the first being the Way of the Fallen Burnout which allows the Adept to have both the new Way and their old Way. The second is when the Adept becomes warped and takes on a villainous Way.

Thaumaturgical Arts:

Centering, Fixation, Spellshaping, Shielding, Absorption, Quickening, Anchoring, New Power Point, Adept Centering, Masking, and Flexible Signature.

Thaumaturgical Techniques:

Advanced Alchemy, Penetrating, Efficiency (Efficient Ritual), Reflection, Hijack Spell, Appropriation, Amplify Ritual (Great Ritual), Flux, Astral Impersonation, Filtering, and Ceremonial Rites.

Mysteries:

Each Mystery has at least one Mystery Technique that can be learned once the Mystery has been opened up by the Initiate Magician or Mystic Adept. Mysteries often have special Rituals, Spells, Enchantments, minor magics, a Social Enhancement, a Profession Enhancement, and a Magic Enhancement.

Ways:

Each Way has a key or core Path Technique that can be learned once the Way has been opened up by the Initiate Adept or Mystic Adept. That Technique provides bonus Power Points that can only be spent on certain Powers appropriate to that Way. The allocation is of .5 Power Points per 2 points of their Magic Rating. Ways often have special Rituals, a Social Enhancement, a Profession Enhancement, a Synergistic Enhancement, and an Ability Enhancement.

List of Commonly Known Mysteries:

Mystery of Bones, Mystery of the Third Eye, Mystery of Dreams, Mystery of the Great Mother, Mystery of Daemons, Mystery of Cities, Mystery of Poseidon, Mystery of Blood, Mystery of the Green Thumb, Mystery of the Sky Father, Mystery of the Moon and Stars, and Mystery of Mythmaking.

List of Adept Ways:

Way of the Two Masks, Way of the Flashy Gadget, Way of the Immaculate Creation, Way of the Fierce Competitor, Way of the Untamed Beast, Way of the Fallen Burnout, Way of the Invisible Hand, Way of the Hidden Secrets, Way of the Silver Tongue, Way of the Holy Word, Way of the Deadly Blade, Way of the Analytical Mind, Way of the Black Arrow, Way of the Twisted Path, Way of the Poisoned Mother, Way of the Bleeding Mouth, Way of the Fiery Fist, Way of the Lightning Strike, Way of the Iron Titan, and Way of the Intercepting Wave.

Future Posts will illuminate each Mystery, Way and Art/Technique.

 

Reading the Street Grimoire


It is good so far. Some glaring typos especially one about castrating you that isn’t capitalized and looks like a leftover partial sentence.

I really didn’t expect this to be released so soon so obviously I am going to overhaul my magic overhaul to work with what I like in the book. That might take awhile.

Still working on an awakened martial art, astral maneuvers, a new martial art each for orks, trolls, and dwarves, and a martial art form for the heavily augmented that takes advantage of the unique capabilities someone with an arm of metal could do, and more to make astral combat more interesting and give more options to players.

Street Grimoire released on pdf today.


I am looking forward to reading this:

Street Grimoire

Shadowrun Overhaul: Magical Dueling


There are several ways that the ancient tradition of dueling as re-entered society as we go deeper into the Sixth World. Dueling pervades all strata of society and takes many forms from taking credit for an idea to get promoted over your rival at the office to a little amateur urban brawl action so your bike chummers think you’re chill to outright blazing guns and headless enemies. One of the most common forms of dueling is through proxies in which the rich and powerful pit their chosen against each other sometimes with challenges and sometimes in gladiator style combat.

The first is the basic duel in which the magicians choose a melee weapon and can use magic but nothing prepared beforehand and can only wear obvious armor if agreed to before the duel starts. This is more common for Adepts but the occasional magician or mystical adept has dueled in this way. The problem with this form of dueling is that it tends to be injurious to both duelists and possibly even deadly. Even with each duelist having a second to protect bystanders and their charges from errant magic it is just too easy for things to go wrong.

The second involves combat in the Astral realm which is evolving very rapidly as it becomes more popular. Hidden Arenas in Domains linked to the Battle metaplace have spread like wildfire in the past two years with the arrival of tempo and the rising popularity of spirit vs spirit combat. It is rumored that a cabal of free spirits has inordinate influence on the dueling scene one of whom takes the form of an older african male with wild and crazy hair.

With the introduction of the first martial art form created for Awakened Orks and by Awakened Orks: Hez Errit’grumrutra has changed the landscape for magical duels. Masters of this new martial art have dominated the metahuman combat leagues while sparking interest in Astral Combat official competitions and the magical society Egran’den Er’rek Wejoto has profited greatly despite suffering from half a dozen deadly attacks on its Jrikrek or school building by unknown but powerful magical assailants. The Egran’den are made up of an unique blend of ex-military or mercenary Orks with extensive Awakened combat experience and street shamans with a bent towards social justice. Many of the new outer circle members are former gang toughs who are being rehabilitated with tough love from the military crowd and a little wise gentleness from the street shamans.

The third involves direct magic to magic battle extreme. There are two methods by which this duel takes place. The first involves the duelists channeling their power and essence into a centerpoint until it gels into a form and a duelists dominates it. The second option involves a Ritual which is cast by a neutral third party that has evolved into the popular collegiate game Astral Total War.

The Arcane Duel

 Traditionally the two duelists face off with their seconds watching for treachery and their thirds creating mana barriers up to prevent accidental harm to bystanders. Each bows towards each other and stand within 10 meters of each other. Now both cast the Arcane Duel spell targeting the area between them. The Force of the spell acts as a limit to most Tests between the Duelists and the spellcaster can pick whatever Force they want but they have to handle the Drain from the spell which is quite demanding so they risk gaining penalties from before the actual duel for higher potentials. The spellcasters decide whether the duel shall use Sorcery, Conjury, or Enchanting.

The two duelists continue to pour power and weave threads into the center of the dueling area which slowly takes on an appearance based on the personalities of the duelists, the Skills involved in the duel, whatever mentor spirits they might have, and their Tradition.

In battles between master conjurers the audience can watch two pseudo-elementals slug it out for their amusement while another might involve a single elemental that both conjurers are trying to control. A duel between two Chinese sorcerers may play out visually as a game of go played by two elaborately designed Shen. It was once common amongst Hermetics familiar with the Old Matrix sculpting for their duels to take on the clear lines and geometric shapes of the Old Matrix protocols but that has become rarer in the modern day.

There is a moment when the spell gels and combat can begin usually sometime after the combined total of the two spell’s Force x 3 Seconds but can happen earlier or later depending on how difficult it is for the spell to find an appropriate venue. The better duelist at Assensing tends to win first action which is a big advantage as from then on the duel goes back and forth between the duelists until the victory conditions are met.

The duelists trade blows or moves back and forth until victory is achieved. For the vindictive they prefer to deal several light to medium blows to weaken the mage before hitting them hard so as to “Scorch” their opponent and possibly cause permanent damage to a magical faculty or mental facility.

Victory conditions can be the collapse of the opponent or first blood or first to five damage boxes dealt.

Weapon Foci bonded to a duelist provide an increase in DV by the rating of the Focus. Power or Spell/Spirit/Enchanting Foci add to the Attack or Defense Totals by choice of the duelist at the beginning of combat. For a duelist with two Foci one could be applied to Attack while another to Defense or both to Attack or both to Defense.

 

Initiative: Intuition + Assensing Opposed Test (only rolled once at the beginning of the duel; after that it goes back and forth)

Attack: Logic + (Spellcasting/Summoning/Alchemy) + (Power Focus or appropriate Focus such as a Spell Focus for a Sorcery duel) [Force]

Defense: Intuition + (Counterspelling/Banishing/Disenchanting) (Power Focus or appropriate Focus) [Force]

Damage Value: Charisma + Net Hits on Attack + Weapon Focus Rating + (Ritual Spellcasting/Binding/Artificing)

Resistance: Willpower + Arcana

Boxes of damage: Magic Rating x 2 (If damages overflows and is greater than Willpower then the mage is knocked unconscious (Stun Damage) and her astral form is disrupted which can cause permanent psychological or magical problems and is called Scorching your opponent.)

Edge: The Special Attribute of Edge is replaced by the Mage’s Grade. A non-initiate has a Grade of 0 and thus would act as if they had no Edge throughout the duel. “Edge” spent on the duel has no impact on the Edge Special Attribute.

-Don’t forget Wound penalties from before and during the duel.

-Reagents can’t be spent during the duel itself to alter Limits.

Arcane Duel Technique:

This arcane technique costs no karma to learn and can be taught in an hour or two with a good instructor. The Arcane Duel doesn’t conform to the standard categorizations of spells and rituals as it involves parts of all five spell categories and some of the steps of a ritual. Both duelists must have this Quality for the Duel to work. Some of the principles of Attunement are used as well as the anchoring technique of Ritual Spellcasting. Rumor has it that this technique involves elements of ancient and foreign magics.

Both duelists must be within 10 meters of each other. Both duelists expend Reagents equal to the Force of they choose for themselves at the same time which creates a temporary magical lodge just for the purposes of this duel in a sphere surrounding the two duelists. The initial prep time can usually takes about a minute. Each attack takes a full minute after which the other duelist begins their attack which lasts a full minute.

Drain is handled normally for your tradition as if casting a spell with a Drain Code of Force and Centering can be used.

 

Shadowrun Overhaul: Astral Total War


Today on Magicknet!

Astral Total War college semifinals: MIT&M’s blue doubles team faces UW’s purple doubles team live in the meat world and the astral at Three Crones in Boston at 7 PM East Coast Time tonight! {Buy Meat Tickets} {Buy Astral Tickets} {Watch on high definition Trideo}

How the Fashion spell can make a smelly loser into a winner with the ladies. {Buy Article} {Buy Spell Formula}

Ryan Two Tusks takes on Kamol “The Smasher” in Mixed Martial Adept Arts for the Ork heavyweight Championship next week. {Watch Live} {Buy Tickets}

Can too much magic lead to a radical change of personality? -By Martina Novoliska {Read Opinion Piece}

How to deal with the inherent difficulty of applying micro effects in a wide area. -Essay by Thomas Bonesage {Read Journal}

 

Astral Total War:

Astral Total War is a relatively new and very popular game that has spread like wildfire and has been very quickly codified and organized into various teams on every campus with a major magical program in North America, Japan, Australia, and Northern Europe. The standard freeform or professional game involves five players called pentacle games and a Ritual team that acts as judges, casts the ritual, and prevents outside interference. University play focuses almost entirely on doubles games with many Universities putting out several collegiate teams which compete against each other within the same conferences that they compete in with sports and matrix games.

The Ritual begins by the lead Sorcerer beginning the ritual and using the Attunement Metamagic to link via mana threads to each player and to an item usually a large cup or award at the center that acts as an anchor for the ritual. The players arrange themselves around the cup. The Force of the Ritual is decided with higher Force Rituals giving an advantage to stronger magicians and lower Force Rituals giving an advantage to weaker magicians as the Force of the Ritual acts as a Limit for each player for their magical actions. Once the Force has been decided then the Ritual leader begins the spell and each player begins to astrally craft his or her defenses, offensive forces, and sculpt their terrain which is visible from the Astral but each player is blocked by a Mana Barrier that prevents their observation of what their opponents are doing. From above in the astral a pentacle game looks like a pizza with five pieces with the people playing with miniatures.

The ritual is fully ready when Force x hours are spent with the setup. The moment that happens the Judge orders the mana barriers dropped and combat begins. There are various rules for winning range from having the most astral territory to who has the most Wizard’s Towers to control of the heart or area around the Cup in the center of the players. Some games have a built in time limit while others go until there is only one magician standing. Each player has a Wizard’s Tower which is key to their connection to the Ritual which if an enemy takes makes it impossible for the player to create or craft any new servitors and makes it harder to handle drain on any spells cast into the game.

The audience can watch in the physical realm since part of the ritual is a variation of the Trid Entertainment Illusion which makes an exact co-locational duplicate of the Astral Realm in the play area within the physical realm for those who can’t astrally perceive and for viewers on their commlinks or home trid player. The audience can zoom in and watch a single battle between champions called Tactical View or enjoy a fanned out Strategic view showing a Phalanx of melee troops fighting cavalry units. In pentacle games viewers will have alerts on their commlinks about surprise attacks or treacherous dealings going on. It can be hard to keep up with all the action. In doubles play it tends to be less chaotic then your typical pentacle game.

The kind of troops, defenses, creatures, and spells the Wizard can cast in his Tower depend on his skill set.

 

Ritual: Astral Total War: (Material Link, Spells, Anchored, Leader must have the Attunement Metamagic)

The Ritual Leader casts the Ritual which includes for the initial part a mana barrier in the form of a five fingered starfish for a standard individuals game (pentacle game), quarters for a standard double duel partner’s game, or a single barrier for personal duels and once the ritual is complete the Trid Entertainment spell which reflects the goings on in the Astral Realm so those without Astral Perception can watch the game. The Ritual Leader also has a Material Link for each player and for the cup which binds the players together.

The game concludes based on whatever the rules of the event say is a winning requirement. Standard collegiate rules are that the winner of a pentacle game is a player with three Wizard’s Towers. For a doubles partner game it is when you have both Wizard’s Towers of your opponent.

Rules of the Game:

The force of the Ritual is chosen. High School play is capped at Force 3 to prevent the chance of players passing out from Drain. Collegiate Student play is capped at Force 6. Professional games tend to sit at Force 8 or 9 when the players are all Initiates especially duels between Professors.

Each hour prior to the game is time that the mage uses his magickal skills to the fullest spending time shaping terrain, building units, spy networks, defenses, traps, creating champions, and the infrastructure to support them. The game copies many factors from popular Matrix games like Civilization 23 Orichalcum Edition and Age of the Fourth World: Total Conquest.

Once the prep is done then game play begins with most games lasting one to three hours. Many games involve treachery and social skills especially Leadership for partners games. Often the most powerful magician in University play ends up falling first to more subtle players in pentacle games as they tend to lack the diversity of skills and knowledges the sneakier players tend to master. In doubles play it is extremely common for teams to pair up as a powerful magician and a jack of all trades or a powerful magician and a face.

 

 

Shadowrun Overhaul: Shielding Metamagical Qualities


Shielding Metamagical Qualities:

After character creation and the Initiate learning the Shielding Metamagic she can develop new techniques that improve her ability to Shield herself from magic or develop new enhancements to her Shielding. These Qualities can be taken together and combined for additional effect.

Mass Shielding:

This Quality costs 10 Karma after character creation. The Initiate can protect an area with her Counterspelling equal to her Magic Rating + Grade in meters or a number of individuals within LOS equal to twice her Magic Rating + her Grade. This is a popular Quality amongst military and mercenary magicians.

Absorption:

This Quality costs 10 Karma after character creation. The Initiate gains the ability to absorb magical energy directed at her and channel it into her sorcery. Whenever the magician uses her Shielding/Counterspelling she may add the net hits from that Test up to and equal to her Grade as a dice pool bonus for her Spellcasting and Drain Tests on a single spell cast within that Combat Turn or the next Combat Turn.

State of the Art Shielding:

This Quality costs 10 Karma after character creation. It allows the Initiate to apply her Grade in dice as a defense against any type of magical effect from any source.

Reflection:

This Quality costs 10 Karma after character creation. This Quality allows the magician to use her Counterspelling ability to redirect a Spell back at the original caster. The magician must be aware of the spell, be within LOS of the caster or target or be a target of the spell or within the area of the spell’s effect, and have an Arcana equal or greater than the Force of the spell in order for her to be able to comprehend the spell, unravel control of the spell, and send it back to its original caster. Attempting to Reflect a spell is an Interrupt action at -10.

The first step is to check if the magician succeeds on a Counterspelling + Grade [Magic] v Spellcasting + Magic [Force] Opposed Test (Add +3 Dice to the Counterspelling if the spell was cast recklessly). If she fails she still blunts the attack by subtracting her net hits from the Spellcaster’s net hits and goes on to take a defense test as normal. If she succeeds then the spell is sent back to the caster. The Force of the returning Spell is equal to the Grade of the Initiate with any net hits on the Reflecting Test acting as net hits for the spell. The targets completely evade the original spell and the reflected spell goes off as if it was a normal spell of whatever type the original caster cast. Area effect spells go off but do not harm any of the individuals protected by the Initiate with her Counterspelling which is a number equal to her Magic Rating.

Shadowrun Overhaul: Metamagics in Fifth Edition


With a soft cap in 5th edition on achieving high grades of Initiation because of the Grade being limited by the Initiate’s Magic Rating and because I think Metamagics should do more than just one thing I have added quite a few new and old metamagics with idea of looking at what the metamagic does directly and what it might offer access to for the Initiate’s Magical Skills to do that a regular practitioner wouldn’t be able to do. Also, I am expanding on Metamagical Qualities that are learned in gameplay that offer neat expanded abilities or enhanced abilities within the purview of a metamagic.

Adept Centering: (SR5 p 325)

Centering: (SR5 p 325)

Fixation: (SR5 p 325)

Flexible Signature: (SR5 p 325 and p 326) {Astral Impersonation Quality and rituals detecting astral traces}

Masking: (SR5 p 326) {Astral Impersonation Quality and Rituals that involve manipulating Awakened Astral Forms}

Power Point: (SR5 p 326)

Quickening: (SR5 p 326)

Spell Shaping: (SR5 p 326)

Shielding: (SR5 p326) {Absorption and Reflecting Qualities}

 

New Metamagics:

Possessing: {Requires Attunement}

This Metamagic is rare and banned by most governments and corporations. It grants access to powerful new rituals and qualities which can allow the Initiate to possess or help others possess prepared Constructs or Vessels, animals, and unwilling mundane targets. With the metamagic alone however the Initiate can only possess dual natured beings that are unconscious or willing. The most common way the possessor dominates a victim is by defeating them in astral combat using stun damage which disrupts the astral body and knocks the victim unconscious.  The victim doesn’t begin recovery of the stun damage until the possessor dismounts from the body.

The Initiate can possess a body equal to their Grade in hours but must be careful as that time counts as Astrally Projecting time for the Initiate. An Astrally Projecting magician can’t be possessed this way as they aren’t dual natured when projected or protruded unless they should be knocked unconscious while projecting.

The possessor only has access to the puppet’s physical abilities and innate magical capabilities. The victim will usually not remember anything about any activities done while possessed though they might have dreams about it. If the Initiate casts magic while possessing a target their drain is automatically physical and any mana based magic that targets the possessor effects the Initiate normally however physical damage only blemishes the host.

Research has shown that heavy use of this metamagic can be mentally destabilizing and lead to heightened ratings of the Dark Tetrad traits of Sadism, Pyschopathy, Narcissicism and Machaivellianism. There are rumors of Initiates who master this metamagic capable of transcending death and permanently inhabiting bodies though that might be equating magicians with shedim or the children of the shedim but probably involves dangerous spirit pacts or other metamagics.

Ceremonial Magic:

Ceremonial Magic allows the Initiate to use already attuned Sympathetic Links and Symbolic Links as a substitute for Material links when performing Ritual Sorcery and offers access to learning or creating many new and more powerful Rituals that work with Conjuration or Enchanting. If the leader of a ritual has this Metamagic and spends an hour training any participants in the ceremonial practices of a specific Ritual then the -2 Dice Penalty for participants having a  different Tradition is eliminated for the Teamwork Test. (For more info on Sympathetic and Symbolic Links check page 29 of Street Magic and the Attunement Metamagic.)

Attunement:

Attunement is a Metamagic that allows the Initiate to create or enhance astral connections between items, people, and locations. Sympathetic and Symbolic Links are attuned for Ritual Sorcery as a replacement for Material Links (without Ceremonial Metamagic the Initiate would be unable to personally use the Links for Ritual Sorcery purposes.) With Attunement many new and powerful Rituals become possible as well as the purchase of new Qualities. Adepts can learn some of these Qualities which involve connecting deeply with a type of animal or item or even a location (see Home Ground).

Exotic Metamagic:

Gives the Initiate access to a new unusual power including those of spirits and critters.  There has to be good reason for the magic and a source for the magic such as an hermetic mage writing their phd thesis on some new type of magic he has invented or a Dragon teaching his Drakes Dragonspeech. The GM and the player should sit down and make up the rules on how it works. It also makes for more interesting bad guys who have unique abilities not seen before. As a general rule for Critter Powers is a number of uses per day equal to the Initiate’s Magic Rating with the GM deciding if instead the number of uses should be based on Grade per day if the Critter power looks imbalancing. As a general rule for moderately powered abilities the Force is equal to the Initiate’s Magic rating and for very powerful critter powers equal to the Initiate’s Grade.

Examples: Shapeshifting, Dragonspeech for Drakes, Movement, and Walk Through Earth.

Blood Magic: 

This metamagic focuses on sacrifice, blood, life, essence, and death. Twisted magicians use this for blood rites, animal and human sacrifice, and tap into forbidden sources of magic to increase their power. Other less tainted magicians use Blood Magic to empower their own spells with parts of their own self which allows them to surpass their limitations though it is a dark road they take which leads most who walk it to the Tainted and Corrupted Paths. Blood magic by itself opens up a few magics and qualities but really begins to shine when combined with attunement and ceremonial magic in particular. With Quickening the Initiate can sacrifice a sapient life form and take its permanent Edge rating as Karma to be spent on quickening the spell. The Blood Mage who masters Invoking can summon Great Form Blood Spirits into the world. With Divining the Blood Mage can read the future in the bowels of animals and sentients as they bleed to death to give a few examples of how blood magic complements other metamagics. The most feared of the Twisted magicians master Blood Magic and Nethermancy and are capable of feats beyond the pale of most magician’s imaginations.

Self sacrificing grants 10 reagents worth of magic to a spell cast as the Blood Mage self injures themselves as a combined complex action. This does one box worth of damage that must heal naturally or the Blood Mage loses a Karma point for every sacrificed box healed with magic.

 

Divining: {Requires Attunement and Geomancy}

With Divining the Initiate learns how to access even more information through their ability to Assense mana, astral forms, and astral/emotional residue. It opens up many new spells, rituals, preparations, constructs, and qualities that involve reading past events, predicting future events, seeing far off events, or detecting specific items or signatures such as the Dowsing Quality, Psychometry Spell, Hunch Preparation, Enhanced Danger Sense/Combat Sense Adept Powers, The Third Eye Quality which lets the Diviner add to their Assensing Dice Pool their Grade, Magical Forensics Rituals, access to a superior remote viewing ritual and clairaudience/clairvoyance spells, uncontrolled visions, with Dream magic the Diviner can get glimpses, omens, and clues about events or futures through the veil of dreams, and create constructs involving divination like I Ching, runes, tarot cards and such.

Invoking: {Requires Ceremonial Magic}

This metamagic provides advanced conjuring techniques and access to new Conjuration Rituals. The most popular uses of this art is for the Ally Conjuration Ritual, Summoning and Binding Great Form Spirits Rituals, Calling the Wild Hunt or the faerie Rituals, and summoning spirits from the deep metaplanes like the shedim or insect spirits as well as helping said spirits handle evanescence and metamorphosis.

Geomancy: {Requires Attunement}

Geomancers see and manipulate the flow of mana around them. With the Arcana Skill and its new specialization Geomasonry; the Geomancer can alter mana flows by altering a landscape or designing various shapes or buildings that channel the mana. Things such as building artificial lakes, cathedrals, Wuxing skyscrapers, roads, pyramids, walls, and bridges which work with the Geomancer’s magic in manipulating mana flows and causing or preventing Sha and Shen events, mana storms, and other phenomena. Common uses of Geomancy involve the Create Domain Ritual, Harden Regional Mana Ritual, the Sensing Quality, Home Ground Quality, Filter Matrix Spell, Cleansing Ritual, Patronage Quality, Steward of the Land Ritual, Constructs which influence or cleanse mana, and the Dam the River Ritual. The Geomancer automatically detects when Assensing the Background Count of the region and the amount of Ambient Mana and degree of Aspected Mana at their locale if their Grade is equal or higher than their rating.

Shaping: [Attunement]

Shapers are master artisans and craftsmen who can create magical constructs called Objets d’art. Objets d’art can be so powerful to astral perceivers as to enthrall them and can even alter mana flows and aspect based on the theme of the art. While someone is influenced by an Objet d’art the artisan can add the rating of the piece as extra dice to any mundane or magical test involving influencing that individual as long as that influence goes with the theme of the Objet. The rating of the Objet’s aspected mana is equal to their Grade plus any net hits on an Intuition + Artisan [Lodge] Test. The range of the Aspected Mana is equal to the artisan’s Magic rating in meters though the range drops precipitously if recently moved. Shapers also can add their Grade to the rating of any Telesma or Lynchpin Art they craft for Artificing purposes.

Bardic Metamagic: {Requires Attunement}

Bards are able to use their Performance + Charisma + Grade [Magic] to cast a slow form of sorcery called Spellbinding that takes minutes x Force rather than a Complex action to cast. The bard slowly weaves mana into her performance and becomes the focus of the audience. Those who are actively unwilling to focus on the performance are able to do so with no roll. Once paying attention the target audience is distracted from paying attention to anything else and suffers a -4 penalty to Perception tests during the performance. The effect can mimic any Manipulation [Mental] or Illusion [Mana] spell and can only effect an individual or group who are actively paying attention or enthralled by the bard.  The bard handles drain just like a sorcerer would if they cast whatever spell the bard chose. The Performance has to match the desired goal of the spell such as a thrash metal ban controlling a mob to be violent with each other or a play about greed or lust encouraging that emotion or action inspired by that emotion. Adepts can learn this metamagic and in fact be amazing at it.

Nethermancy: {GM decision on Requirements though it should include Attunement, Dreaming, Masking, and Fate’s Edge}

The rarest of the known metamagics Nethermancy is an art covered in rumor and supposition. It deals with Essence, metaplanes particularly the deep metaplanes, aberrant and wild spirits, veils, pathways, and the boundary of life and death. It opens up many new magics including the highly secretive and powerful cybermantic rituals and constructs used in creating cyberzombies and the advanced magics used to handle faerie ways in Tir Nan Og.

Exorcism:

Metamagic that enhances Banishing by severing the bond of a spirit to this plane which painfully wrenches the spirit out of the Gaiasphere and back to its home metaplane or metaplace. Once Exorcized the spirit can’t return to the Gaisphere for 28 days per hit on the Exorcizing test. There are rituals, preparations, and constructs that the Exorcist can learn that can more permanently banish or destroy spirits especially should they have the spirit’s true name. The exorcist can add their Grade to Banishment Tests and can banish possessing spirits. There are rumors of an Ares Ceremonial Magic Ritual that has a chance of reversing an unfinished Metamorphosis into an Invae. The Sylvestrine Order has mastered several spells, rituals, and constructs that aid in dealing with the Shedim.

Dreaming: {Requires Attunement}

Dreamers can enter the dreams of other people for short periods of time with Dream spells that can find out information without being noticed like Mind Probe (Dream) or Mind Link (Dream) which lets you pass on information to a dreaming person to be recalled at a later time. For longer dream walking Rituals are required. Certain constructs can protect against Dream Magic.

Fate’s Edge: {Requires Attunement}

This somewhat rare metamagic allows manipulation of Edge, blessings, curses, and karma. New spells, rituals, constructs (luck charms), and preparations are opened up upon learning this art that are either more powerful than the versions known to vanilla magicians or allow the Initiate to do things that are seemingly impossible. This art is most often practiced by the gypsy clans, a sect within the Order of St. Sylvester that focuses on apotropaic blessings, magical societies that have extensive truck with free spirits as this metamagic allows rituals that can transfer karma, wiccans/hedge witches, and houngans.

Astral Protrusion: {Requires Astral Perception Adept Power}

This metamagic allows an Adept or Mystic Adept to manipulate their astral form and have it leave the physical body. To learn this metamagic the Adept or Mystic Adept must purchase Astral Perception as an Adept Power as a requirement. This Metamagic was developed by the Great Dragon Professor Schwartzkopf’s research team at the Charles University of Prague that has been focusing on a Grand Unifying Theory of Magic for decades and lead to the discovery by MIT&M in 2075 on how Adepts and Mystic Adepts can learn the Power of Astral Projection.

With this metamagic the Initiate can Astrally Protrude for free for the Initiate’s Grade in minutes a day and after that the character has a limit of her Magic Rating in minutes a day before her astral form starts to degrade which can lead to death or psychosis. This time doesn’t recover until the character gets a full 8 hours of rest. The Initiate’s astral form is connected to their physical body by a different colored cords or threads with at least one being silver which represents the character’s awakened gift. This astral thread can be attacked with Astral Combat or by a dual natured strike from the physical realm but since the thread has a natural sense of self preservation it gets a chance to defend itself normally though the character cannot use an interrupt defensive action. The speed of the astral form is limited to 100 meters a Combat Turn.

The Initiate uses their Physical Realm Initiative instead of the normal Astral Realm Initiative typical of a magician astrally projecting as they are so tied to the limitations and capabilities of their physical bodies that it transfers over to their astral bodies.The Adept Power Astral Projection requires this metamagic.

This metamagic also opens up more functionality with other Adept Powers in the Astral Realm.

If the Adept had Improved Strength +2 than that would also augment their Astral Form giving a +2 to their Charisma Rating to find out their Astral Strength. Traceless Walk transfers usefulness to the Astral Realm with the Adept leaving little or no traces of astral passage or trail and being undetectable to some forms of Astral Security by exerting control over her astral presence and the reaction of the astral realm’s mana to her form. Some Improved Senses work in the Astral Realm giving the Adept such as increasing visual acuity or transferring usefulness like heightened sense of smell allowing the Initiate to pick up a “smell or odor” when a particular type of spirit was in the area for example.

The Initiate can learn Astral Combat Martial Art Maneuvers and use them with their astral form.

For example the maneuver Ghost Lightning Strike allows the Adept to take advantage of the blinding speed of her astral form and strike a distant opponent with a close combat attack as long as they are within Magic Rating x 2 Meters. This strike can use Killing Hands or a Weapon Focus and the target must be an astral form or dual natured form to have any effect. This strike uses the Astral Combat Skill.

(This maneuver has the visual appearance of the Lord Marshall from the Chronicles of Riddick movie)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPqtCfbLQug