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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

Shadowrun Overhaul: New Focus Types and Enchanting Equipment


Enchanter’s Equipment:

An Enchanter’s Lab is usually part of an Enchanter’s Magical Lodge and allows a Mage to create Enchantments with ease and style. The original Labs were very basic and for Hermetics were often little better than a chemistry lab but as time has gone on there have been many advances in Enchanting allowing feats impossible or difficult just a decade ago to be achieved today. 4th Generation Enchanting equipment was the norm in 2075 but in the wake of the Dragon Civil War and the loss of so many Talismongers and Enchanters who dealt with Draconic reagents and telesma created an huge lack of supply at the same time that demand increased via new Enchanting abilities. This spurred an aggressive burst of pure research and new manatech allowing yesterday’s apprentices to try and compete with yesterday’s lost masters.

5th Gen Lab provides a bonus situational die to all Enchanting Tests including Drain. Additional bonuses can be gained with the Forge artifact component of a Magical Lodge if the lab is within such a location.

The Lab cuts down the time to refine reagents to a mere 8 hour workday and will often speed up other Enchanting processes as if the calculated Force was 1 less. For example an Enchanting process that normally takes Force days with a Force of 4 would only take 3 days instead.

The key enhancement of the Fifth Generation Laboratory is that Alchemists with the Fixation Metamagic are able to bypass the need to learn the Advanced Alchemy Metamagic and are able to create Magical Compounds, Charms, Potions, Scrolls and other advanced alchemical preparations.

4th Gen Lab is the standard Lab as described in the rules. It takes a 10 hour workday to refine reagents. These have been basically the same for the past decade barring a few minor improvements.

3rd Gen Lab doesn’t usually have any penalties as anything really backward was probably updated but they can make certain Enchanting processes take longer to do especially refining reagents which takes a full 12 hour workday. Most shamans haven’t updated from these as the new 4th and 5th gen Labs really focus more on Hermetics and Wuxing Traditions. Most are twenty to thirty years old.

Microlabs allow the Enchanter to take their lab with them when they travel. They don’t provide a bonus die for all Enchanting Tests. A microlab cannot make a batch greater than one when brewing potions, alcohol, and other magical compounds because of space constraints. A 5th gen microlab gives the same access to Advanced Alchemy and Magical Compounds, Charms, Potions, and Scrolls. Microlabs weren’t produced during the time period of 3rd Generation Enchanting manatechnology.

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. Includes Tool Cleansers and other items that allow for quality reagent harvesting.

Alchemy Kit Enhancements: Adding extra features like the Ghostbusters Enhancement that lets Talismongers salvage reagents from materialized 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 aid.

Ties in with this post about Talismongering.

Astral Signatures and Foci:

If a sentient being is slain with any test directly aided by the use of a Focus than an Astral Signature is created that lasts Force hours.

When a Charm Focus is used for over a minute it creates an Astral Signature. The duration of the signature has a limit of the Focus’s Force and grows by 1 per minute of use of the Focus. This astral signature would look similar to an influence spell when assensed astrally. Thus, a Charm with a Force of 4 used for 3 minutes would create a Force 3 Astral Signature. If used for 5 minutes would create a Force 4 Astral Signature.

Any time a Focus contributes to a magical test then it adds its Force to the strength of the Astral Signature. A focus that provides four dice to a manabolt of Force 4 would have a total strength of 8.

Focus Addiction House Rule

Foci:

There are three major categories of Foci and they are Grand, Major, and Minor. Any Artifacts or other magical creations of Artificing fit into these three categories. So, if you invent something new for your game like using Artificing to create Legendary Critters or Chimera for the purpose of making a physical familiar or more powerful homunculi such as a Golem you can use these categories as a guide.

Grand Foci are Power, Shield, Battle, Charm, Genius, Muse, Stalwart, and Sublime Weapon. Karma to bond equal to F x 8.

Major Foci are Weapon, Combat, Detection, Health, Illusion, Manipulation, Invocation, and Initiate. Karma to bond equal to F x 4.

Minor Foci are Qi, Enchanting (helps with Alchemy and Disenchanting), Metamagic, Spell and Spirit Foci as described on SR5 p 320. Karma to bond equal to F x 2.

Descriptions of New Foci:

A Shield Focus provides equal to its Force a number of dice that can be used to help with passive defense, active defense, Counterspelling, defense against Critter and Spirit Powers, and defense against Alchemical Preparations. It provides half its Force rounded up as a bonus dice for surprise tests as well. Often has design that brings to mind shields, pentacles, pentagrams, defense runes, and the seal of solomon and usually takes the form of badges, amulets, decorative pins, earrings, and belt buckles.

Developed in Tir Tairngire to protect the Princes from rebels this Focus is a popular one for those in positions of power under threat of assassination. Organized crime has very much taken to producing and using this Focus.

A Battle Focus provides a dice pool up to its Force that can be used with any personal Combat Skill Test including using a personal sized weapon and has at least a Skill Rating equal to twice the Force of the Focus. Often has martial designs and takes many different forms like a gauntlet, ring, crown, armband, or torque.

Developed by an open source metamagical project by magicians involved with the Desert Wars to enhance Adepts without using Qi Foci. Afterall a Qi Foci can’t be used by a second adept. This way mercenary companies could boost their adepts without losing the benefits later when the adept dies or retires. The focus refines what is already there and is not a replacement for skill.

A Charm Focus temporarily increases your effective Charisma rating for the purposes of any tests involving Charisma. For instance it would not effect a conjurer’s number of spirits they can bind as that is not a test even though it is limited by Charisma. The maximum Force of this Focus is three at the moment though millions of nuyen are being spent to improve this limit.

Charm Foci take the form of flashy jewelry, earrings, vests, hats, glasses, and even things like a platinum tooth or a tongue piercing. The telesma is always a noticeable and memorable item and has a distinctive style per the negative quality. If it is hidden from view it does nothing to aid the owner.

The invention of the Charm Focus was a factor behind the meteoric rise of Horizon to megacorporate AAA status. Already the Charm Focus has become a very popular sign of status among the extremely wealthy with magical talent especially those involved in politics be it corporate or government. Megastars and wannabe megastars with the bare minimum of magical talent required to bond with a focus from trid stars to news anchors are liquidating their fortunes to get themselves in the long line of buyers.

A Genius Focus temporarily increases your effective Logic rating for the purposes of any tests involving Logic. The maximum Force of this Focus is three. This focus overrides the benefits of Cerebral Boosters so whichever rating is higher is the only one that applies.

Invented by the Great Dragon Schwartzkopf at the Charles University of Prague. The research team compared before and after astral photographs of magicians before they received cultured bioware enhancements. By mimicking how the astral form changes to match the new physical form the team were able to make the physical form match the astral and achieve the same goal. At the moment because Cerebral Boosters are limited to just Rating 3 the researchers haven’t been able to surpass this as they don’t have any material to reverse engineer.

The focus often takes on draconic, air/winds, and lightning imagery whether it is a scarf, torque, or a headband and is normally worn near the head.

A Muse Focus temporarily increases your effective Intuition rating for the purposes of any tests involving Intuition. The maximum Force of this Focus is three. The focus overrides the benefits of Cerebellum Booster so whichever rating is higher is the only one that applies.

Invented by a professor of art history in her garage; Doctor Alkonis was searching for the nature or origin of creativity and may have found it via magical stimulation of the astral form’s cerebellum much like scientists discovered with boosting processing in the cerebellum via cultured bioware.

This focus often seems innocuous and could be a cameo locket necklace of a loved one which inspires or an armband with musical bells that hit the right tone with the right movement to put a dancer or a painter in the right frame of mind to create.

A Stalwart Focus temporarily increases your effective Body and Strength for the purposes of any tests involving those attributes. The maximum Force of this Focus is three. This focus is compatible with other means of enhancements and is of course limited to the +4 Augmentation maximum rule. As this just increases Body for the purposes of tests it doesn’t increase any derived component of body like additional boxes on the physical damage track.

Most often taking the form of gauntlets, belts, feather headdresses, armbands, and helmets this focus can take any form.

A popular focus for the elite Sioux special forces the “Wildcats” and even apocalyptic cults from Norway. Rumors say both groups ended up inventing this in parallel. Few are found outside of the two organizations though they are a sign of high status among the trolls of the Black Forest Kingdom.

A Sublime Weapon Focus provides its Force as a dice pool bonus with melee attack tests using the weapon. It also enhances Accuracy and AP by its Force/2 rounded up. There are currently three types of Sublime Weapon Foci. Whatever the type this focus when active is very noticeable in the physical and astral realms as it is wreathed in an aura appropriate for the type of focus.

An Elemental Weapon Focus adds to the Weapon an Elemental Effect (SR5 p 170).

There are two main types of Elemental Effects which are penetrative and impact. A Water or Blast effect may knockdown a target easier and cause additional stun damage. A penetrative effect increases physical damage by various methods like having a flaming sword or an electric trident.

Impact elemental effects like Water and Blast are put on blunt weapons and add twice their Force to the DV for the purpose of the Knock down called shot and add their Force to determine Knockdown on a normal attack in addition to having an Elemental Effect. The weapon adds its Force to the DV if the target is knocked down.

Penetrative elemental effects like Fire and Acid are put on slashing or piercing weapons. If the modified damage value of an attack causing physical damage is greater than AP modified armor rating then add the Force to the DV minus the appropriate specialized protection. (Ignore this if the DV is less than the specialized protection)

Depending on the elemental type the weapon may have secondary effects when penetrating armor or even just when hitting armor as in the case of Acid. The Artificer must know a spell of that Elemental type to create the Focus.

A Bane Weapon Focus adds to the Weapon a Slay/Slaughter Effect in addition to the standard Sublime Weapon bonuses. When used against the species or type targeted by the Bane Focus directly in combat add twice the Force of the Bane to the weapon’s DV.

Additionally add the Bane’s Force as additional situational bonus dice for any opposed Tests targeting the Bane category when the Focus is active. A Bane focus in the hands of an expert in Intimidation can be especially terrifying to the target.

The Artificer must know the specific Slay or Slaughter spell targeting a type for death.

Rumors are common with this type of rare focus. It is known that many megacorps and governments have Insect Spirit Bane Foci for their elite best of the best HTR teams and that developing this manatechnology was a major goal of Ares.

There is a tale about an artificer who crafted many of these Bane’s against Shedim after discovering a payload of naturally occurring orichalcum in his backyard. He had discovered his child had been possessed by a Master Shedim and wanted to make sure people had weapons to defend themselves. At least half a dozen artifacts were made before the Shedim found out and the artificer disappeared. These were mailed to different parts of the world with crafting instructions.

People who are initially neutral emotionally toward the Bane type tend to over time grow more and more inimical toward their Bane. For those already negatively charged against the Bane’s type the process towards antipathy is much quicker. The character wielding a Bane facing focus addiction can easily become irrational and quickly develop a Prejudice against the Bane type and receive no karma for the negative quality.

A Toxic Greater Weapon Focus adds to the Weapon an attack that corrupts the body and astral form of anyone who isn’t aligned with Toxic energies. The Artificer must be a toxic magician to craft this focus. Anyone who binds to this Focus will inevitably have their essence altered until their magic becomes as Toxic as the Focus. Taking a physical wound from a Toxic focus will require a Test resisting anaphylactic shock if it is a Pollutant or resist Radiation per rules on page 105 of the Street Grimoire.

A Combat, Detection, Health, Illusion, and Manipulation Focus grants bonus dice equal to its Force for any Tests involving its Category of Spells. Spellcasting, Ritual Spellcasting, and Counterspelling and also assists Conjuring Tests involving the type of Spirit related to that category of magic that their Tradition can summon. It can also sustain a spell of its type up to the Force of the Focus.

An Initiate Focus adds its Force to the mage’s Grade for the determining of effects for any Metamagics that she might know.

An Invocation Focus acts by increasing the character’s effective Magic Rating with most types of Conjuring tests and when using the Invocation Ritual to buff their Spirits to Great Form. For Banishing it raises the Limit by the Force of the Focus instead of adding dice.

Prices:

Add +1 Availability and 20% to the prices of Magical Compounds in published materials because of the heightened demand and low supply following the devastation to the Talismonger industry during the Dragon Civil War. Loss of all draconic reagents and telesma plus the loss of hundreds of top tier Enchanters, Talismongers, and Talisleggers who used or dealt with draconic reagents has had a staggering effect on the enchanting economy.

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

For example:

A minor Force 4 Focus with a telesma of a gold wedding ring with a sapphire setting an OR of 5 and a value of 1,400¥ might retail for 10,000¥ at a Talismonger’s shop.

From Sendaz on the dumpshock Forum:

“For the more bashful shapeshifter (one raised among humans perhaps?) tired of the ‘where’s my pants’ game, might we suggest the Wear & Wolf Line from Talbot & Chaney Fashions Ltd which features a new line of shapeshifter friendly apparel.

Using sustainably sourced shapechanger fur specially enchanted and woven into tasteful Apparel Foci designed to be bonded to it’s owner, these pieces transform along with the busy shapeshifter on the go (often taking the form of a collar or otherwise woven among their fur/feather/etc in their primal form…).

These outfits have no intrinsic armor value beyond normal clothing themselves (Armor 1-2 tops at GM discretion) and start at Force 3 rating so as to avoid embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions in some of the wilder areas like Chicago and similar.

Rumours abound of a projected ‘War Wolf’ Line, utilizing shifter bone and shells(presumably from a weretortoise or similar) to increase the armor potential of the range, however this still remains on the drawing boards at present as well as being very controversial due to sourcing issues.”

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.

 

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

Shadowrun Overhaul: Primer on Mana


Posting onto Magicknet on 6/1/2075

Everything you needed to know about mana but were too bored to ask.

By Goldeneye

One of the most confusing things to beginner magicians is mana. Mana is what enables us to perform magic whether it is casting a spell or summoning a spirit. Mana flows everywhere there is life and thus extends from kilometers deep into the earth’s crust and around 80 kilometers up. This is called the Gaiasphere. The Gaiasphere contains two coupled realms: the physical and the astral. Mana flows through both realms with limited back and forth transfer of mana from the two realms because there is a barrier between the realms which prevents an astral being from casting a spell at a physical being and vice versa.

When a magician astrally perceives she becomes a dual natured being in which she is both in the physical realm and in the astral realm which means that she can use magic on targets in either realm but she can also be targeted by enemies in either realm. When a magician astrally projects she leaves her meat body behind and becomes an astral being who exists in the astral realm. This is one of the best ways to explore, reconnoiter, and spy.

Adepts are for the most part immune to fluctuations in mana as they and their abilities are centered on themselves. However there are a few Adept Powers that have some degree of variation in use and require drain resistance and in those cases the amount and flavor of mana can make a difference. There are rumors of Adepts finding advantage in staying for at least a lunar month in an high mana area and adapting and storing that higher mana density within their essence. This may be the origin of legends of fighting monks and clerics of many faiths who hole up in holy locales the majority of the time.

Mana can vary by region and by locale. Background Count is the normal amount of mana in a region usually on par with a metro area or a county in the UCAS. The amount or density of mana is measured by academic hermetic mages using the Schwartzkopf Scale of Ambient Mana Density which is shortened by normal people to Ambient Mana and is averaged at 0 with a minus rating showing less than normal and a positive rating showing more than normal. As you might guess having more mana makes magic a bit easier and having less makes it harder.

Mana can also be distorted in a locale or region. The amount of mana turbulence is measured by hermetic mages using the Schwartzkopf Scale of Aspected Mana Vicissitude which begins at 0 (no distortion) and rises as the mana is distorted or flavored by disturbances in the physical realm, experiences in the astral realm, metaplaces and even metaplanes. Personally I shorten that mouthful to Aspected Mana when talking outside of academia to non-hermetics.

Now most of the old textbooks on mana seem to ignore that there is a difference between the amount of mana in an area and the degree of “flavor” to that mana. They just used the term Background Count for any old area whether it was an house or an entire temple complex rather than the modern usage for the density of mana in a large area like a city or county. So, be careful about being confused by this.

A way to look at the decoupling of Ambient Mana and Aspected Mana is to imagine a mighty river of liquid representing say the ley line from Alexandria to Saqqara. Now, if it was unaspected at all we could say the river was made of water. If it was aspected towards your tradition we could say it was flavored with arabica coffee and if it was a toxic domain it would be poisoned. Now if it was only slightly aspected the coffee would taste watered down and the poison would be slow acting but if it was strongly aspected the coffee would be beautiful or the poisoned river could be as slow as molasses as nasty sludge.

In my studies of history I am convinced that there were successful Magicians and Adepts in the Fifth World. Even though the rivers were instead creeks and maybe dried out periodically there would have been surges on occasion and Domains. I imagine that ancient Tibetan temples were the Shao-lin practiced might have had a fair amount of mana and a very strong Aspect. Stonehenge, the Pyramids, Nazca and Chartres Cathedral and the druid grove that preceded it would’ve been places of power and with a strong enough aspect and a strong enough magician miracles could’ve happened.

An important thing to realize is that because of the barrier between the physical and the astral realms there isn’t always a balance on the amount of mana in each realm. With Dragon Paths and Ley lines a magician might find it is easier to cast Physical spells or Mana spells in an area because of the difference in mana density. When mana is balanced between the realms and flows along or collects at a locale they are simply called mana lines and mana nodes.

Sometimes mana levels surge and increase temporarily in a region which is called Sha and sometimes mana levels ebb and decrease temporarily which is called Shen. Sha and Shen normally also include an increase in mana turbulence or Aspect but don’t have to do so.

This brings up mana voids and warps. Space is exceedingly dangerous to the Awakened because of the severely low amount of mana. There are a few places on earth where the mana has been stripped from an area usually by combative geomantic magic from my experience. A way to look at casting spells in a mana void is to imagine yourself as a balloon filled with air out in space. Once you do magic or astrally perceive you are basically putting a needle to your balloon and since there is a differential in pressure you pop! All your mana within yourself wants to fill up that vacuum by leaving yourself which if you aren’t careful can easily kill you.

With mana warps you get too much of a good thing. The greater the density of mana the more likely it is going to Aspect somehow either connecting with a metaplace or metaplane or being targeted by every magical group or powerful spirit, critter, or dragon or just spontaneously creating a Domain which I wll go into more details later. Now with this extreme amount of mana and extreme amount of distortion the very fabric of the realms’ mana warps. To reuse the balloon analogy in this case it is like being underwater. The mana around you is denser then the mana within you so when you do magic or perceive astrally you are popping your balloon which just makes the mana want to flood into you and since it is powerful and turbulent it can make it all but impossible to cast magic and in extreme cases kill you on the spot simply for astrally perceiving.

Mana can be distorted in the astral realm by powerful emotions or experiences and in the physical realm by environmental damage or loss of life. This can cause temporary or ephemeral aspecting along with turbulent mana making it more difficult to take magical actions contrary to the nature of the aspect or distortion.

This often leads to Domains which are regions which have a Genius Loci spirit with aspected mana. Some magicians use Ritual Sorcery and Geomancy to convert ephemeral aspecting to persistent aspect by using the Create Domain Ritual while others use Constructs applying Geomasonic principles. In those cases it is common for the Aspect to include the individual, Tradition, or Magical Group. The advantage of having a place that improves your magic and counters that of your enemies is priceless.

One of the most important techniques that any magician can learn is to filter their mana. This can remove mana turbulence and make it far easier to cast spells in some environments. For initiates the metamagic of Cleansing allows Spells, Rituals, and Preparations that can remove Aspects and eliminate or in some cases cause mana pollution and distortions.

For talismongering it is very useful to pay attention to mana as areas with strong aspects or mana density have higher than the usual amounts of reagents.

Hopefully, this quick breakdown of mana helps novice Magicians become more aware and understanding of the nature of the mana that we manipulate every day. Key terms I discussed are below with a further in depth definition to help answer any questions.

Here is an academic paper on Mana: An Abstract from the Journal of Practical Thaumaturgy Volume 17: Mana Theory.

 

Game Mechanics:

Official Rules:

Background counts impose a negative dice pool penalty equal to their rating for all tests that are linked to or utilize magic in any way (i.e., spellcasting, summoning, assensing, any test made while astrally projecting, and any active skill that benefits from active adept powers such as killing hands, critical strike, great leap, or improved skills, etc). Dualnatured creatures and spirits suffer this penalty to all actions. 

Aspected background counts grant a boost to any limit that utilizes magic in any way (see above) to any metahuman, spirit, or dual-natured creature that matches the aspected domain. This includes spellcasting Force limits, so spellcasters need to be careful as it can be hard to control the additional surge of mana. Any magically active being that does not match the aspected domain should treat this as a normal background count and suffer penalties. 

Background counts above 12 are called either a flux (for aspected domains) or a void (for magically dead zones), and are very dangerous. Any being that is magically or astrally active in any way (dual natured, astrally perceiving, casting a spell, has an active adept power, has an active foci, etc.) takes background count – 12 unresisted Stun Damage each turn that they are active and exposed to the flux or void.

 

The main differences between my rules and the semi-official rules above are that Background Count is split into two main branches: Ambient Mana and Aspected Mana. Ambient Mana is how much or little mana is an area. Aspected Mana is the flavor or orientation of the mana in the area. Ambient Mana can be further split into Physical Realm and Astral Realm (Parageology points this out with Dragon Paths) as the evenflow of mana is prevented by the barrier between the realms so there can be imbalances there. Physical Realm spells would be effected by the Ambient Mana of the Physical Realm while Astral Realm spells (or Mana Spells) would be effected by the Ambient Mana of the Astral Realm. Aspected Mana has been flavored by the environment, actions, thoughts, experiences, or living beings in the area. If reinforced for long enough or after the Create Domain Metamagical Ritual this Aspected Mana will become a Domain and the mana will actively support actions and individuals in line with the philosophy of the domain and resist those who are contrary to it.

Allies/ally actions to a domain get extra dice rolled after the Limit is applied while concordant entities/actions get net hits that are applied to the total after the Limit is applied. Everyone in the domain gets the same effect from the Ambient Mana of the locale which is applied to Limits on their magical actions. For mana warps and ebbs the character has a chance to handle it by resisting Drain.

Example: 

An hermetic mage by the name of Tomas Firebringer rules his Domain which is tied to the metaplace of Knowledge. At his sanctum sanctorum or magical lodge the Domain has a +3 Ambient Mana Rating which drops off to +2 for the rest of his home and +1 to cover his yard and the three mana lines that form the nexus leaving his home to connect to other places of power. The Aspected Mana Rating for the entire Domain is +2. The Background Count of the metro Tomas lives in is 0.

A team of runners with a street shaman raid his Sanctum thinking that he was gone but he was in deep meditation. The street shaman would have -2 dice penalty on all magical tests from the Aspected Mana and +3 to his Limit from the Ambient Mana since they are in Tomas’s sanctum. Should the shaman do any magical activity that would destroy or harm Knowledge in any way such as casting flamethrower in a room full of books then he would have two net hits subtracted from his total after the Limit/Force had been applied. The Magus would have +3 to his Limit from the Ambient Mana and +2 net hits to all his magical activities unless they should directly cause damage to Knowledge as that would be contrary to his philosophy and that of the metaplace his Domain is connected to. Should the battle continue to the lawn then Tomas would have +1 to his magical Limits and +2 net hits on magical activities while the Street Shaman would have +1 to his magical Limit and -2 dice on magical activities that didn’t directly oppose Knowledge.

 

The Schwartzkopf Scale of Ambient Mana provides an awakened character or critter, a spirit, and anything that is dual natured a bonus or penalty to their Limit on all magical actions equal to the rating of the mana they are physically or astrally located at. The normal range on earth is from -7 to +7. A dual natured or otherwise physical being like a ghoul is going to be effected by the Physical Realm Ambient Mana on all their actions except any ‘Mana Spells’ they might cast while a Spirit would be effected by the Astral Realm Mana for most any action unless they Materialize into the Physical Realm.Other than on a narrow band of a mana line and at places of power for the most part awakened beings are effected by the background count of the area (metro or country county) which is usually 0 on the bell curve with the occasional 1 or -1 and the rare 2 or -2 in places like Crater Lake or hidden jungle cities in Amazonia or within 30 miles of the Pyramids. On certain days the background count of an entire area can increase such as the nights of December 24th and October 31st or solstices/equinoxes.

The Schwartzkopf Scale of Aspected Mana Vicissitude is a scale that represents the amount of agency the mana in the locale has to support or deny support to magical activities and beings. The normal range on earth is from 0 to 5. Most areas of Aspected Mana are quite small and could be a closet, or a chapel or a basement. Should a Domain

Mana Turbulence: For contrary actions the awakened being subtracts dice from any magical actions equal to the Aspect Rating. For antithetical actions subtract net hits from any magical actions.

Domains: Areas that have been solidly converted to an orientation, flavor, or perspective of magic and thus aid those who match the Aspect of the Mana in the region of the Domain. Ally actions gain bonus dice equal to the Aspect Rating. Concordant Actions gain net hits equal to the Aspect Rating. Concordant Spirits have an “Acting Force” equal to their original Force plus the Aspect Rating but don’t gain any other bonuses from Concordant Actions. Range 1 to 5 and uses the Aspect Rating. If the Domain Rating is equal or higher than an antithetical Spirit’s Force it is automatically disrupted. For a spirit with an higher Force simply subtract the Domain Rating from its Force to find its “Acting Force” when within the Domain. The regions a Domain covers is usually any mana line/dragon path/ley line/song groove that flows in the area and where they connect. The strength of a Domain radiates outward from the line or place of power and drops precipitously the farther you go until it merges with the area’s background count.

Dragon Paths/Nests, Ley lines/nodes, and Song grooves/pools:  They have two ambient mana ratings; one for physical realm mana and the other for astral realm mana. If the mana is Aspected or Turbulent it would have a third trait of ‘Aspect’. Mana lines/Nodes would only have two traits as their physical and astral realm mana levels are equal.

Example: Mount Shasta has one of the strongest Dragon Nest’s in North America at the top where Hestaby has a lair. It is rated under normal circumstances at Physical 5, Mana 3, and Domain 3 (Air). So, when one of her shamans (an ally) casts a flight spell from the top of the mountain to go to the bottom quickly (concordant action) they would have their limit increased by 5,  and have+3 Net Hits added to their roll.

Mana Voids and Mana Warps:  If the Absolute Rating of the Ambient Mana Scale is over an Awakened Being’s Magic + Grade +5 and they take any magical action or action that is enhanced by magic then the awakened or dual natured character must resist a Drain Value with (Force=Ambient Mana Rating)  as if it was a spell at the beginning of every Combat Turn adding an Initiate’s Grade to the roll (Adepts and most critters/spirits use Intuition + Willpower + Grade). The Ambient Mana also has an effect on handling the normal Drain a character might experience using their magical gifts in that Combat Turn and it is important to remember if the mana in the area is Aspected against the magician then it acts as a penalty to dealing with this Drain as it does with all magical actions.

Filtering: A complex Action that lasts a number of Combat Turns equal to the Magician’s Arcana and counters penalties for lack of mana or mana turbulence equal to the magician’s Assensing Rating. If the mana turbulence or the absolute value of the Ambient Mana is greater than their Assensing Rating than they can’t handle the complexity of the mana in the area and fail to filter the mana in their area. Each time a filtering action is made in an area with low mana the next filtering attempt suffers a -1 penalty to Arcana and Assensing.

 

Definitions:

Geomancy: A metamagic that allows the manipulation of mana through the use of metamagical Ritual Sorcery.

Geomasonry: A metamagic that allows the manipulation of mana through the use of Artificing to create Constructs which shape and alter mana flows and can prevent or lessen Sha and Shen events. Wuxing Towers is probably the greatest modern example while Stonehenge and the Pyramids would be the greatest ancient examples of Geomasonry.

Mana Lines: A path of varying length containing an above normal amount of mana that might or might not connect with other lines or form nodes. Ratings range from 1 to 7 using the Schwartzkopf Scale and the amount of mana is evenly balanced between the two realms.

Mana Nodes: A locale or power site containing an above normal amount of mana that might or might not connect with other lines or form nodes. Ratings range from 1 to 7 using the Schwartzkopf Scale and the amount of mana is evenly balanced between the two realms. Nodes tend to be stronger than the lines that feed into them.

Sha and Shen: Sometimes mana levels surge and increase temporarily in a region which is called Sha and sometimes mana levels ebb and decrease temporarily which is called Shen. Sha and Shen normally also include an increase in mana turbulence or Aspect but don’t have to do so.

Mana Voids: Places that have excessively low amounts of mana in them. Space is dangerous because of the lack of mana which is caused by the lack of life. Lack of mana can make it dangerous to astrally perceive or perform any magic ability.

Mana Warps: Places that have excessively large amounts of mana in them that are also extremely turbulent in nature which can make it dangerous to astrally perceive or perform any magic ability.

Domains: A region with aspected mana that is protected by a Genius Loci. Domains can be created by casting a metamagical ritual or can spontaneously arise. Domains are often connected to a metaplace or metaplane making it easier to summon spirits of that type and use magic appropriate to the Aspect of the Domain. Mana in a Domain can also oppose or resist certain types of spirits and magical actions depending on the nature of the Aspect.

Aspected Mana: Mana that is flavored or distorted and only aids certain individuals, groups, types of magic, categories of magic,  traditions, spirits, or species. There are also types of Aspected Mana that aid certain types of actions depending on the source of the Aspect. A locale with mana aspected towards Fear would provide enhancement towards magic that caused Fear while an area aspected towards Fire would provide enhancement towards fire magic, fire aligned critters, and spirits. Usually Aspected Mana has something antithetical to it that it provides a penalty towards such as a water aspected locale penalizing fire magic and spirits.

Turbulent Mana: Mana that is in a state of flux and hard to use and drain is stronger. Can be temporary or persistent. Annoys spirits greatly and in some cases can disrupt them. Astral pollution or turbulence interferes with ‘mana’ based spells like stun bolt or influence while Physical realm pollution or turbulence interferes with physical spells like a lightning ball or physical mask. This increase in difficulty represents how mana pollution or turbulence disrupts the mage’s fine control and equations from an hermetic perspective or by disrupting the intuitions of a shaman by having an unpredictable flow of mana. Turbulent Mana can happen in a Domain which can make antithetical magic really difficult to perform.

Schwartzkopf Scale of Ambient Mana Density: This scale was designed by the great Dragon Schwartzkopf and his team of researchers at the Charles University of Prague in order to measure the amount of mana in a given region, locale, or mana line or power site. The scale is normalized by the worldwide median average mana level in 2075 at a 0 rating with a minus rating showing lower than normal mana and a positive rating showing a greater than normal amount of mana. It is known that the higher the mana density the easier it is to perform magic and the lower the mana density the harder. At the extremes of the Scale such as found in space or powerful magical locales during Sha events it can be hazardous to magicians and other dual natured awakened entities to astrally perceive or perform magic. A good way to look at it is using Boyle’s gas law. If the amount of mana differential between that contained within the magician and that of the surrounding environment becomes too great then harm can happen to the magician should they become dual natured which connects the magician’s mana to the ambient mana around her. If the ambient mana is too low then astrally perceiving or casting a spell is like taking a needle to a water balloon surrounded by air (which is lower density than the water) and watching the water explode out. If the ambient mana is too high compared to the magician’s mana then when the connection is made the water rushes in like a submarine punctured by a rock. This uncontrolled flow of mana in rare cases can kill those without sufficient talent or skill.

Schwartzkopf Scale of Aspected Mana Vicissitude: This scale was designed by the great Dragon Schwartzkopf and his team of researchers at the Charles University of Prague in order to measure the degree of distortion or change in mana within a Domain. This distortion is measured using an analogous system starting at 0 with higher numbers representing greater mana distortion or aspect. This can be caused by anything from a murder which causes an Ephemeral Domain which can sometimes last just a few hours to the holy aura found at a place of worship to a place of natural power like a volcano or river. Mana Vicissitude in a Domain makes magic use easier for those who are aligned with its Aspect and harder for those who oppose it. There are ceremonial rituals that can create a domain and are usually designed to make an Aspect that aligns the mana in the area towards that magician’s tradition or magical group. A Domain can be created by environmental disaster in which case the Domain is Toxic and the mana is connected to the Physical Realm or an invasion of Insect Spirits in which case the Domain is aligned towards insect magic with the mana connecting and colored or flavored with the Hive metaplane’s mana.

Background Count: This is the normal amount of mana (or density) in a region usually about the size of an American county or traditional City State. There are often many fluctuations or deviations from this at different locales within the region depending on the actions of geomancers, plate tectonics, mana lines, and other causes but for the most part the region has a norm. Worldwide the median average mana density is a 0 on the Schwartzkopf Ambient Mana Scale which spiked up to a 1 during the Year of the Comet and was a -1 prior to the comet and a -2 in 2050. The change in the world’s Background Count effected some magical principles in particular interactions between the Astral Plane and the Physical Plane involving grounding spells. This change wasn’t local but global so even though there are regions today with a Background Count lower than the norm in 2050 a magician can’t ground spells from the Astral to the Physical at those locales or during a Shen event.

Dragon Paths/Nests: Mana lines and Power Sites that have an excess of physical realm mana compared to the locale’s astral realm mana. This has shown to be advantageous to Magicians casting spells that target the Physical Realm but it has also shown to be extremely dangerous to incautious or lower skilled Magicians. Most Dragon locales are in places of great beauty, rarity, clashing elements, exemplar of an element, or obvious physical power such as volcanoes, cliffs, fault lines, lakes, rivers, mountain tops, subterranean caves, coral reefs, heart of the jungle, hidden groves, straits, geysers, hot springs, or places full of non-sapient life and places of great physical tragedy such as a crater from a meteorite, a locale that survived a drastic and sudden flood or flash fire, or an environmental disaster such as an oil spill, toxic waste dump, or radioactive fallout. Dragon Paths and Nests are likely to spontaneously create a Domain upon particular powerful Sha events or after a powerful Magicians, Spirits, or Critters live in the area or after sudden drastic change in the physical environment. Dragon Paths can link to Metaplanes appropriate to the nature of the physical environment such as a river connecting to the Water Metaplane, a volcano connecting to the Fire Metaplane, a coral reef connecting to the Beasts Metaplane, a crystal cave connecting to the Earth Metaplane, a millennia old oak tree connecting to the Wood Metaplane, and a Mountaintop Eyrie for Griphons for Air. Dragon Nests connected to a Metaplane provide extra bonuses to magical actions relating to the Metaplane. Genius Loci tend to be dracoforms though it is not uncommon for the dominant local paranormal animal to influence a Dragon Nest Domain with a Genius Loci representing them. When Dragon locales move or shift it can have effects on the land around it. Living things tend to be healthier in Dragon Regions.

Song Grooves/Pools: Mana lines and Power Sites that have an excess of astral realm mana often from metaplanes and even deep metaplanes compared to their physical realm mana. They are designed for travel and navigation in the physical and astral realms but don’t have the same kind of flex to them that other Mana locales have. This can lead to mana storms, greater mana turbulence in general, and more common Shen and Sha events. They tend to have no influence over the land or the people. There are rumors of Shedim hijacking a Song Pool’s Domain in South America in order to open an Astral Rift to bring in more Shedim from their home metaplane. The rumors say that slavers working for the cartels were hired to bring cargo containers full of SINless people to the site. Tales also suggest that such a thing happened in Chicago.

Ley Lines/Nodes: Mana lines and Power Sites that follow man made and fey features that have an excess of astral realm mana compared to the locales’s physical realm mana. With Geomancy which is a metamagic that allows advanced Initiates to cast advanced metamagical rituals and Geomasonry which opens up the ability to create magical constructs using Artificing they have successfully created modern Ley Lines and Nodes. Very quickly Ley locales tend to become Aspected and form Domains once they flow through areas where sentient creatures congregate and emote powerfully. The original creators of Ley locales can also Aspect or flavor the mana towards different ideas, traditions, and magical groups. The astral realm mana can be influenced by connections to Metaplaces of Battle, Charisma, Destiny, Fear, Knowledge, and Magic in addition to the influence of the geomantic features and the living experiences of the minds in the region of the ley lines and nodes. Ley Regions can also connect with the metaplane of Man and Hy Brasil and other metaplanes of the Faerie. People tend to be happier in Ley Regions.

Genius Loci: Spirits that are formed in some Domains that represent, reflect, defend, and are connected intimately to the Domain. It is a type of spirit with its own personality influenced by its environment and history. A genius loci at a Sylvestrine Cathedral might take the form and personality of an angel while most Dragon Nests have dracoform style spirits. Many also take forms that seem connected to mentor spirits, passions, old pagan gods and christian or buddhist saints. It is rumored that Zebulon is a genius loci spirit. Recently Ares has released that some Hives (which usually have Domains) now have a new type of Insect Spirit that seems to be a Genius Loci Insect Spirit. The Force of the genius loci is usually equal to the amount of Ambient Mana plus the degree of Aspected Mana as represented by the Schwartzkopf Scales. The Force is dependent on those ratings at the specific location of the genius loci so since most Domains have an interior region with the most mana the Spirit is strongest at the heart of the Domain. Killing or Banishing a genius loci can severely disrupt mana flow in an area leading to a Sha or Shen event or even semi-permanent changes in mana lines and Aspects. The effect on Dragon Nests or Paths with Domains can cause physical realm disruptions like a Volcano going off or an earthquake or tsunami or sudden storms. Any Domain connected to a foreign deep metaplane such as the Hive metaplane for example can have unpredictable effects upon the death of the genius loci from Aspected Mana flowing into the region from the metaplane to Aspected Mana flowing out of the region into the metaplane or out and tainting the rest of the mana network in the area.

 Ephemeral Aspect: Temporary distortion of mana towards an Aspect. Aftera powerful experience there can be temporary aspecting of an area’s mana which usually lasts a number of hours equal to the degree of aspecting using Schwartzkopf’s Aspect Scale. In some cases it can last days or weeks especially if the event is reinforced by continuing action. If persistant enough the mana can at some point spontaneously form a Domain.

Aspect Neutralization: Aspects can sometimes be dealt with by removing the cause of the mana pollution which could be as easy as cleaning up the toxins in the soil and planting a garden or by finding an abusive parent and freeing the children from their terror. Sometimes in a matter of hours the degree of mana Aspecting can start to disperse. This can cause problems with Genius Loci who are just fine with the status quo usually. Another way of Neutralizing an Aspect is by taking actions that would dominate the area by basically “covering up” the Aspect with a new and stronger one. Some magicians call this “Hijacking the Aspect.”

Filtering: A complex action that allows a Magician to lessen or eliminate mana turbulence for a temporary period making it easier for her to use magic in the area.

Cleansing: A metamagic that allows a Magician to remove with an Ephemeral Aspect or weaken mana turbulence within an area using Ritual Sorcery or Preparations or Constructs. The filter matrix metamagical spell allows for filtering out aspected mana along with mana turbulence for a temporary fix.

Constructs: The magician uses the Artificing skill to create magical items that influence and manipulate mana.

Antithetical Entity: An awakened being or spirit that is directly opposed by a Domain or Aspect.

Antithetical Action: A magical action that is directly counter to the philosophy of a Domain or Aspect.

Contrary Entity: An awakened being or spirit that isn’t an ally of the Domain.

Contrary Action: A magical action that is from a contrary being that isn’t directly opposing the Domain or Aspect.

Ally Entity: An awakened being or spirit that is an ally of the Domain.

Ally Action: A magical action that is cast by an Ally Entity.

Concordant Entity: An awakened being or spirit that is closely connected to the Genius Loci and/or a metaplane linked to the Domain.

Concordant Action: A magical action directly connected to the metaplane or Aspect of the Domain that is cast by an Ally or Concordant Entity.

 

Shadowrun Overhaul: Knowledges and Skills Overhauled


I went through and attempted to balance out the skills list in fifth edition Shadowrun which are a mess. At least they took Herding and Lockpicking out as you can see by looking at the Errata for page 90. So, I consolidated a lot of the weak Skills or pushed them into Knowledges were many of them belonged anyway. The other major change is the introduction of Concentrations. Many of the Skills should be grouped together for someone who is really good at one thing is very likely to be good at the other. A master gymnast is likely to be an excellent swimmer if she was properly trained and it wouldn’t take nearly as long for her to be trained as it would someone starting athletics from scratch. This system uses my Character Advancement rules. With the consolidation of so many skills into a single skill there are no longer Skill Groups in this system. There are two additional Knowledge categories: Wilderness and Science & Technology. Wilderness works much like Street but deals with life outside of the urban environment. Science & Technology represents practical, theoretical, and applied knowledge within the sciences and technology fields.

Concentrations: Each Skill has three or more concentrations listed with it. With purchase of the skill comes one Concentration for free and each additional Concentration must be purchased in order to access that part of the skill.

Defaulting: The penalty for defaulting when having the Skill but not the needed Concentration is -5. Without the Skill it defaults to Attribute -3 though certain ubiquitous and simple abilities may get a -1.

Character Creation: Skills Priority Table: A: 40 skill points/ 20 Concentration or Specialization points, B: 30/15, C: 25/10, D: 20/10, E: 15/10. Max Skill or Knowledge Rating during Character Creation: 10.

Knowledges keep the free 2(Int + Log) points as in the base rules but in addition to that everyone gets 10 free points they can spend only on Knowledges in the Interests Category.

Character Skill Group Conversion: Any character with a Skill Group can be converted to a Skill with +2 extra Concentrations. So, an Athletics Skill Group of 4 would become an Athletics of 4 with three Concentrations.

Skills:

Performance: Singing, Per Instrument, Dancing,  Comedy, Dramatic Acting, Official Presentations, and more disciplines that involve captivating an audience by using your body or mind and its actions as the medium while Artisan deals with influencing an audience via a created work of art.

Artisan: Cooking, Sculpting, Drawing, Painting, Calligraphy, Runic Inscriptions, Metalwork, Jewelry, Carpentry, Scrimshaw, Glasswork, Ceramics, Matrix Graphic Design, Fashion Design, and other disciplines involving creating an objet d’art as the medium.

Gunnery: Artillery, Ballistic, Energy, Guided Missile, and Rocket.

Piloting: Deep space, Launch craft, Semi-ballistic, suborbital, Fixed Wing, Lighter than air, Rotary wing, Tiltwing, Vectored thrust, Walker, Exotic Vehicle, Bike, Hovercraft, Tracked, Wheeled, Modern Watercraft, Archaic Watercraft, Submarine, and Remote Operation. *A Rigger would need Remote Operation and Bike Concentrations to rig a bike from a distance.

B/R Hardware: Deep space, Launch craft, Semi-ballistic, suborbital, Fixed Wing, Lighter than air, Rotary wing, Tiltwing, Vectored thrust, Walker, Exotic Vehicle, Bike, Hovercraft, Tracked, Wheeled, Modern Watercraft, Archaic Watercraft, Submarine, Bioware Repair, Vat Repair, Commlinks, Smartguns, Cyberdecks, Matrix Host Servers, Robotics, Hydraulics, Structural Engineering, Electrical Power Systems, Bodyware, Cyberlimbs, Headware, Armor, Artillery, Explosives, Firearms, Melee Weapons, Heavy Weapons, Weapon Accessories, Biodrones, Nanomanufacturing Devices, Genetank Repair, Nanoware, Rigging equipment, Exotic Weapons, and Exotic Hardware.

Programming: Software, Computing, Cybercombat, Complex Forms, Compiling, and Decompiling.

Cracking: Encryption, Electronic Warfare, Registering, and Hacking.

Close Combat: Blades, Clubs, Throwing, Cyber, Exotic Melee Weapon, and Unarmed. “X” Martial Art may be taken as a Specialization.

Ranged Combat: Archery, Cyber, Pistols, Longarms, Automatics, Heavy Weapons, and Exotic Ranged Weapon.

Athletics: Free fall, Diving, Gymnastics, Running, and Swimming.

Grifting: Forgery, Con, Escape Artist, Gambling, and Palming.

Awareness: Assensing, Matrix Perception, Social, Bodyguarding, and Combat.

Infiltration: Impersonation, Locksmith, Disguise, and Sneaking.

Influence: Etiquette, Instruction, Intimidation, and Leadership.

Sorcery: Spellcasting, Ritual Sorcery, and Counterspelling.

Conjuration: Summoning, Binding, and Banishing.

Enchanting: Artificing, Alchemy, and Disenchanting.

Arcana: Astral Combat, Spell/Ritual Design, Spirit Formula Design, and Preparation/Focus Design.

 

Knowledges:

Examples of Knowledges in each Knowledge Category.

Wilderness Knowledge Category: “Area” Survival, “Area” Navigation, Hunting, Gathering, Archaic Farming, Tracking, Trapping, Curing, Butchering, Fishing, Herding, Riding, Camping, Gardening, Outdoors Cooking, Leather working, Animal Handling, “Exotic” Animal Handling, Talislegging, Tribal Culture, and Herbalism.

Area: Desert, Forest, Ocean, Jungle, Freshwater, Urban Barrens, Polar, and Plains. “Exotic” could be a difficult to handle and rare non-awakened Beast or a paranormal animal of some sort. Each paranormal animal requires a different Knowledge unless it is very closely related.

Science & Technology: Computers, Software Design, Graphic Design, Host Design, Grid Design, Demolitions, Matrix Design, Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Design, Neuroscience, Physics, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Botany, Bioinformatics, Bioware Design, Cyberware Design, Weapon Design, Medicine, Surgery, Prosthetics, Nanotechnology, First Aid, Robotic Design, “Specific type” Vehicle Design (See Piloting Concentrations), Manufacturing, Engineering Principles, Maglock Design, Spider Security Techniques, Matrix Defenses, Counter-Infiltration Security Technology, Grid Design, Host Design, Cyberdeck Design, Commlink Security, Vat Farming, Rigging Technology, Spider Technology, Remote Operation Technology, Skillwire Design, Hardware cannibalizing, Drone design, Food Science, Nano forge facilities, Genetech, Desktop Nanoforges, Nanofaxes, Nanoneurology, Nanoware Design, Bioware Culturing, and 3D Home Printing.

Academic: Criminology, Literature, Geomasonic Landscaping, History, Corporate Politics, Magic Groups, Magic Theory, Philosophy, Government Politics, Music Theory, Parabotany, Parazoology, Corporate Security, Economics, Black Markets, Gray Markets, Free Markets, Astral Topology, Shadowrunning Theory, “Area/City” Knowledge, Magic Threats, Dragons, Neo-Anarchic Philosophy and Practices, X corporation, and Architecture.

Street: Organized Crime, Magic Groups, Corporate Politics, Gang Identification, Smuggling, Vices, Urban Navigation, Urban Survival, Thrift stores, Fences, Corporate Security, Smugglers, Black Market Pipelines, Urban Critters, Runner Hangouts, Mr. Johnsons, Fixers, Riggers, Counter-Infiltration Security Techniques, Grifting history, Grifting lingo, “Area/City” Knowledge, Dragons, Law Enforcement Tactics, Street Gang Politics, Street Drug Dealers, Street Clinics, BTL dealers, Deckers, Local Technomancers, Neo-Anarchists, Cracked Software Dealers, Small Unit Tactics, Law Enforcement, Safe houses, Infiltration techniques, Building Layouts, Corporate Security Systems, Magical Community (City/Area), Police Procedures, Sprawl Life, Critters, Gang X, Area Squats, Area Black Markets, Gang culture, Local chop shops, Backstreets, Area waterways, Street drugs, and BTL chips.

Professional: Journalist, Professor, Lawyer, Doctor, Security, Military Professional, Mercenary, Business, “Nation/City X” Area Knowledge, “Nation X” Military Regulations, Matrix Security Measures, Spider Security Techniques, Military Strategy, Small Unit Tactics, “Nation X” Best Business Practices, “Nation X” Business Regulations, “Nation X” Laws and Legalities, Bioware Implantation, Cybernetic Implantation, Medical Procedures, Law Enforcement, Corporate Security Systems, Magical Community (City/Area), Magical Forensics, Detective Techniques, Police Procedures, Business, Weapon manufacturers, Cosmetic Surgery, Trauma Surgery, Implant Surgery, Gene Therapy, Border Security and Forensic Accounting.

Interests: Current Simsense Movies, Matrix Surfing, Something Terrible Forums, Victorian clothing, Quilting, Popular Trids, 20th century trivia, Poetry, Great Restaurants, Elven Wine, Troll Grog, Dwarven Mead, Urban Brawl, Microbrewing, Baking, Cooking, Stand up comedians, yoga, taxidermy, Graffiti, Combat Biking, Pop Music, Orxploitation Films, Martial Arts, Martial Art Movies, Extreme Sports, Sprawl dive bars, Floral Arrangements, Parkour, skiing, ice skating, rollerskating, Eating competitions, Opera, Broadway Plays, Horizon’s latest new thing, juggling, drinking competitions, homebrewing, Religion X, Sports, High Fashion, Detective novels, Egyptian Ceramics, SF movies, X Music, AR LARPing, dogs, cats, Matrix Games, Vintage X collecting, Nutrisoy “cooking”, and Jet Black conspiracy theories.

Languages: English, Japanese, German, Sperethiel, Salish, Or’zet, Swahili, Lakota, Mandarin, Russian, French, Italian, Aztlaner Spanish, Traditional Spanish, Dakota, and Dine (Navajo).

Shadowrun Overhaul: Magic: Focus Creation


The current rules for Focus creation from ability to make and the costs of the goods don’t make much sense to me. For one thing there would be an huge proliferation of low force foci and there is really no reason to create from an economic standpoint or from a magician’s standpoint most of the foci or to even use most foci other than Power and Weapon. By changing the costs and formula equations there is now a difference in how difficult it is to design and create different Foci. I also added more options and levels to Foci giving more choices plus options for beginning artificers to actually make low level foci and survive.

In another post I covered putting a limit on Magical Lodges equal to the magician’s Arcana + Magic.

In another post I will elaborate on Telesma rules but for the purposes here assume a normal mundane item has a Telesma Rating of 0.

Telesma size:
Size 0 a ring, earring, amulet or small medicine bag. An item with a Concealibility of -6 to -4.
Size 1: a wand, rod, elaborate necklace or small weapon with a reach of 0. An item with a Concealibility of -2 to +2.
Size 2: a crown or a weapon with a reach of 1. An item with a Concealibility of +4 to +6.
Size 3: a weapon with a reach of 2, full body armor, or a tower shield. An item with a Concealibility of greater than +8.

Focus Multiplier is the “Cost in Karma” depicted on page 318. For example a Qi Focus is Force x 2 in karma thus the multiplier would be 2.

Focus Formulas:

It is assumed that a Formula has a narrow depiction of the Telesma and that most that available on the market are generic lik ring or an Horizon Rapier or a Evo Combat Axe. Thus a weapon focus formula with a Force of 3 using a MCT Katana would need to be retooled to use an awakened Telesma made from a dragon’s talon into a dagger.

Create Original Formula: Arcana + Magic [Astral] (Force x Focus Multiplier + Telesma Rating, 1 day) Extended test.

Retool Formula for different Telesma: Arcana + Magic [Astral] (Force + Telesma Rating, 1 day) Extended test.

Retool Formula for different Tradition: Arcana + Magic [Astral] (Force, 1 day) Extended test.

Formula for upgrading an existing Focus: Arcana + Magic [Astral] (Change of Force + Telesma Rating, 1 day)

Formula for stacking a Focus:  Arcana + Magic [Astral] 2(Original Formula for effect 1 + Original Formula for effect 2…, 1 day)

 

Step 5: Task equation changed.

Artificing + Magic + Telesma Rating + Telesma Size [Lodge] v Focus Multiplier + Object Rating (OR)

Step 6: No change.

Step 7: Determine status of Focus.

Net hits must equal or surpass the Focus Formula’s Force Rating or the Focus is flawed or can fail completely in which case the telesma is ruined for any further artificing. For upgrading the net hits must equal or surpass the change in Force and Karma spent is the difference in cost between the original and the new + 1 Force. So a Qi Focus upgrading from 2 to 5 would have a change of 3 Force +1 for upgrading x 2 for the Focus Multiplier with a total of 8 Karma being spent.

Missing by 1 hit drops the Focus down 1 level of sophistication or has a minor flaw like not working in complete darkness. Missing by two drops the Focus by 2 levels of sophistication or has a major flaw like not working at night.

For Weapon and Qi Foci failure to reach the required net hits either results in failure or the focus has a flaw.

Types of Foci: (-represents a loss of one level of sophistication, — two levels and so on)

Qi x2

Weapon x4

Power x6

-Enchanting x3

–By Skill x2

—By Specialization x1

—By Specific Preparation or Formula x1

-Sorcery x5

–By Skill x3

–By Spell Category x2

–By Specialization x2

—By Specific Spell x1

-Conjuring x4

–By Skill x3

–By Spirit Category x2

–By Specialization x2

—By Specific type of Spirit

-Metamagic x3

–By Specific Metamagic x1

 

Cost of a Focus: (1 + Force^2) x Focus Multiplier x Object Rating of Telesma x 200 + cost of Telesma

Availability of a Focus: 2(Force) + Focus Multiplier.

 

 

My Shadowrun Fiction


I will keep an updated collection on the My Shadowrun Fiction Page. Otherwise this is all the stories that are at least done with the rough drafts. As I polish them and add more I will make individual posts and add it to the above collection.

 

Magic Staff

Black Eagle was proud of his wizard costume for the big Halloween party and was admiring it in the polished chrome of the elevator walls leading from his condo to the parking lot below. It was nice to have an excuse to take his staff with him without having to worry about the shamans teasing him. During his last year of college while he designed the ritual for his thesis he carried the staff everywhere just in case he had an eureka moment. Plus, it really did help with the attunement connection by developing that kind of familiarity. The staff had been sitting in a corner since last year’s Halloween gathering dust despite being his greatest magical creation. Leaving the south side elevator he started walking to his parked Eurocar Westwind 3000i when he noticed four suspicious looking riff raff wearing what looked like biker’s leathers standing next to a beat up van that really shouldn’t belong to anyone living in this neighborhood.

Without warning and with blinding speed the Anglo Ork quick draws a gun from his holster and fires at a woman stepping out of the west side elevator.

“Oh, Tawa what’s going on!” Black Eagle exclaimed in shock.

“Keep out of this Gandalf and you’ll live.” snarled an Anglo human with a mohawk standing next to the Ork with the gun. His accent was barely comprehensible between the growl and Nipponese style Cityspeak of someone from a bad trid or from a Japanese ghetto in San Francisco not a sane and safe place like Sante Fe.

The two asian humans with face tattoos ran to the woman who was now collapsed outside of the elevator.

“The narcojet worked she’s out!”

“Grab her and move, I want this extraction done and done in fifteen.” snarled the Anglo Ork with the gun.

The two street trash were dragging the woman towards the van. She was dressed to the nines in a faux Elven costume including a filigreed bow.

“She must be going to the same party I am going to.” muttered Black Eagle.

“I have to do something for her.”

Gathering up his courage and channeling his fear and anger into his center Black Eagle raised his staff and pointed it at the two gangers and shouted “Crear Fuego!”  Flames leapt from the tip of his staff engulfing the two men causing them to drop the woman and roll on the ground to try and to stop the burning.

The Anglo Ork spun and fired two shots at him striking his chest. Black Eagle looked down expecting to see holes in his chest but instead saw two small darts trapped in the folds of his wizard’s robes.

“Drek! Marty go grab the girl and get her in the van while I geek the mage.”

The ork tossed his gun through the window of the van and turned to Black Eagle with a snarl. With a burst of inhuman speed the thug sprinted directly toward Black Eagle while his hands began to glow with the tell-tale aura of an Adept using the power of Killing Hands which would make his hands as deadly as sword blades. Adepts are martial artists whose magic wove through their bodies allowing for impossible feats of physical prowess.

“Crear Fuego!” Black Eagle screamed flinging flames into the space the ork had been a second before as he weaved back and forth zig zagging until the adept was suddenly only a few feet away and completely untouched by the flames.

Panicked Black Eagle realized that he had no chance of hitting him with a flame bolt or fire ball. The only other spell that might be useful was a touch sleep spell he last used as a prank during hazing week in college. There was no way Black Eagle could lay an hand on the adept but maybe he could get the ork to the hard work for him.

Black Eagle thrust the staff at the ganger who dodged the blow with ease and moved in to strike when Black Eagle awkwardly turned the thrust into a push and the Ork automatically grabbed the staff between Black Eagle’s hands just as Black Eagle put him to sleep with a single whispered “Crear Sueno.” The Adept could feel the magic flow into him through the staff and ground through his psyche as he had just enough time for his eyes to glaze over and his face to turn slightly puzzled looking as he slumped to the ground.

Black Eagle turned to the last of the street thugs and brought up his staff menacingly. The man blanched and ran. Bringing up his AR GUI from his ‘link Black Eagle called Knight Errant and alerted them to the situation with the lady and her location along with the two dead, one escaped, and one sleeping ganger. After getting his first close look at her he realized she was Holly MacMann the network reporter who had had several major successful stories in the news about corruption in the Pueblo Corporate Council and had done a piece on racism against Anglos and Utes with their glass ceiling in the upper echelon corporate and government positions most of which are held by Hopis and Zunis.

“Whoa.”

 

Ephemera

The copycat killer grinned at the litter of ork babies screaming as the new Mayan Cutter went to work on their mother and father with the many surgical blades and lasers that were part of his trade as a professional interrogator.

“Tell me where and when Project Freedom is having an inner circle meeting.” He spoke slowly and carefully as he had during the entire process with never an hint of hurry or worry.

“Frag you!” Whimpered the once strong frame of the ex linebacker and minor hero of the ork rights movement and prop 23 known as Ryan Two-Tusks.

“Tsk-tsk now I suppose removing your eyes by laser after the dental surgery Mr No-Tusks means you won’t be able to see what will happen to this creature you call a baby.” The copycat killer reached down and grabbed the ankle of a few week old baby girl dressed in a purple onesie emblazoned with UW representing the University of Washington one of the first universities to allow in goblinized people to the school and where Ryan had been a star.

“Nooorrrarrw!” Came a roar from Ursa Two-Tusks as all the rage she had felt at watching a former government torturer mutilate her husband merged with the fear for her children and the flood of emotion awakened within her a latent gift for Sorcery that had slumbered since her tribe had cast her out at the age of eight to fend for herself. A vaguely bear-like and hazy mask began to shimmer around her face.

Glancing over at the ork mother the killer smirked on seeing a shaman’s mask appear on her.

“Hmm…that definitely wasn’t in the file. Oh, well. There is nothing you can do little cub. The astral pollution I have created here interrogating and cleansing the world of your filth over the past year will block any attempt to save you and renders even experienced spellcasters helpless…”

Reaching deep down Ursa remembered the training the tribe shaman had given to her all those ages ago before she committed the crime of goblinizing. Calling out to the spirit world and Mother Bear with all her heart and all of the sudden the swirling chaos of fear, terror and pain stopped and a dozen children and a great she-Bear appeared in her mind’s eye.

“Mother Bear is here my daughter. I have quieted the Astral Maelstrom and brought these cubs who have suffered so much at this monster’s hands.”

A dozen children rushed toward her and entered her mouth and were transformed with her gift into a spell that charged like an enraged bear from her soul into the copycat killer’s mind.

“Geeeeeaaaooogghhhhcht.” The torturer fell to his knees his mind teetering over the abyss as the agony experienced by each of the children splashed at once into his psyche.

Little Tara chose this moment to free herself and place her newly erupted tusks into his wrist.

Ryan saw everything that had happened in the astral with his Adept powers but instead of Mother Bear he saw the wisened warrior form of his old football coach telling him this terrible ordeal had initiated him to the inner mysteries giving him increased physical strength and that the chains holding him suspended were no barrier to the prepared and thoughtful player who remembered his lessons.

Ryan used his great ork strength bolstered with his newly improved Adept strength and rocked back and forth with tremendous force causing the bolt in the ceiling to give way dropping him ingloriously onto the concrete of the basement floor.

Using his astral sight he saw his wife exhausted from her first spell and the copycat killer’s aura starting to become ordered again.

Dragging his body up Ryan wrapped the chains that had once imprisoned him around the shaking form of the copycat killer’s neck and began to squeeze.

 

Whitestaff and Blaze

Sergeant Carson was readying his drones laden with nanites designed to find and bond with pollutants and render them safe by altering their chemical makeup as the two mages walked by arguing.

“It really seems unnecessary for this operation to have someone of your limited skill set here,” said the man in a British accent with artfully silvering hair at his temples and dressed fashionably in an Armanté suit under a Mortimer of London Argentum great coat.

“Geezers like you put us all in danger during an operation as delicate as this one. Just because I am an aspected magician doesn’t mean I am not more competent and battle experienced than a wannabe druid who goes to war in a tailored Italian suit.”

“You’re what 14 girl?”

“My name is Blaze just like your name is Whitestaff. I am a chaos magician like my father and his father before him and I spent two years in bug city cleansing out insect based astral pollution, re-aspecting a dozen power sites using advanced memetics to reprogram their genius loci spirits, and dealing with astral fallout from Ares’s nuke so chummer shut the frag up.”

Major Matthew Grayson appeared out of the shadows then. “Now that you’re done bickering I need the two of you with me as we go over the battle plans.

Four hours later a team of four physical adepts in full ruthenium stealth suits entered the swamp from the north while two squads of Knight Errant’s Tactical Division entered in the south with the two mages, Carson and his combat and nannite laden drones.

“I have made contact to the ley line Captain.”

“Thank you Magus Blaze. Lt Foxrunner you are to follow orders and maintain defenses here and protect Blaze at all costs while she performs her Cleansing Ritual. I dont care if four of those horned gators rush you nothing breaks her circle.”

“Yessir,” said the young Sioux shaman before he started ordering a perimeter and began singing to the spirits to lull them to sleep.

“Good luck kid.”
“Same to you geezer.”

Three hours later the team had finally penetrated to the heart of the swamp leaving a trail of dead toxic and mutated creatures and arrived the old dumping ground from the 19th and 20th century with a pond laden with centuries of lead and decades of toxic waste disposal by cost cutting corporations.

“Ready the last of the delivery drones Sarge.”

“Yes sir”

“Are you ready Whitestaff?

“Yes, just give me cover until I get to the nexus point and can access the power site.”

“Team 1 you’re the ram; team 2 you’re the net…let’s go!”

Whitestaff strode forward cloaked with finest enchantments of protection and astral stealth making him invisible to spirits and most dual natured critters but not to a starved looking woman whose gaunt face had seen too much as her hair had fallen out except for a few stubborn patches barely clad in an grungy ‘Terrafirst!’ camo shirt much too large for her body but clutching a State of the Art Heckler & Koch assault rifle who aimed unsteadily at him as she pulled the trigger.

Whitestaff had managed to evade the sudden melee by falling into the toxic pond as toxic critters poured in from all directions and ecoterrorists took badly targeted shots at the Knight Errant forces.

Shuddering Whitestaff realized that the nexus was at the bottom of the pond so he pulled out a golden egg from his soaked great coat and began twisting it until the shell collapsed into a vaguely pyramid shaped device that evoked Babbage’s difference engine or a retro steam punk table weight.

Breathing deep he dove and swam to the nexus and activated his creation which began to send sonic vibrations throughout the land and water by the time he made it back to the surface. Climbing through the mud he saw that the team had mostly survived the initial onslaught and had left a pile of dead beasts and ecoterrorists.

An old man wearing a shirt emblazoned with a biohazard symbol cried out “enough!” Raising his hands above his head a swarm of toxic water spirits and a tsunami wave of acid dove towards the team. Whitestaff attempted to counter the area effect spell but the toxic shaman was far too powerful for his attempt to do much more than blunt the spell so no one died but many screamed as their armor bubbled before they could strip it off.

A backhand from the old man sent a telekinetic strike at Whitestaff that sent him flying more than the length of an football field.

“At least the shield held.” Whitestaff muttered to himself after extracting himself from a twisted tree rubbing his neck which probably had whiplash.

Suddenly a materialized astral face appeared before him looking like a small not as bright version of Blaze. “Master wants Geezer to know the moment is nigh or whatever you Brits say.”

Whitestaff pulled out a small stick from his belt and planted the strangely beautiful wood and channeled his magic into it and the device willing a change in mana flow and the stick became a tree pulling mana from the device which was causing a mini earthquake disrupting the toxic shaman’s domain and purifying it while creating a new power site with Blaze’s ley line.

An howl of rage and it’s echoes filled the swamp and a swamp thing monster that had once been a man concerned about the environment who investigated the wrong locale came barreling towards Whitestaff and the rapidly growing tree as four ghosts or vague shapes like in that old 2d movie predators began rendering the swamp creature into mulch.

“We did it.” Whimpered Sergeant Carson who was clinging to his last aerial drone a few feet above the ground.

 

The Smoky Mirror’s Shield

The light of the noonday sun bored into Javier’s uncovered head causing rivulets of sweat to pore down his face and his stylishly designed airmask designed to filter out the deadly particulates in Tenochtitlan’s smog and also provide ample space for his tusks to move comfortably while talking.

Javier stood at the top of the temple of the sun listening to the chanting in Nahuatl preparing for the ritual ‘Aegis of the Protector’ that would be the key to furthering his career as one of the best bodyguards employed by Aztechnology. The Nahuali priest magicians had moved around him like serpents around an egg since dawn while he stood still without water or food.

“I hope this ends soon” he subvocalized into his commlink which again showed no response to his query about the ritual’s length. “I should become an amigo to a mage so I can know more about this kind of stuff or at least find the answers.”

Shortly after thinking this a young blue haired and eyed girl with pale strangely reflective skin approached him and took his hands.

“You shall be my Shield against my enemies.” She said in a sweet voice in flawless English.

“I am Zyana Annabelle Rivera Citlalmina and you are Javier Padilla Chimalli now and forever.”

With the last syllable the sun came straight down upon the two far different people standing in the exact center of the great pyramid of Tenochitlan burning away their differences in a flash as exact noon struck. All around them Nahuali wonder workers employed blood magic upon enemies of Aztlan and the great corporation that funded the temple removing enemies while strengthening the people.

Javier could now feel the direction and distance of Zyana and her general emotional state and health as if she was him. He was of the Chimalli. The shield of the people. He had arrived to the pinnacle of his profession.

 

Dreamtime Weaving

Maker-of-Death grimaced in distaste causing his Maori face tattoos to ripple. The dwarf shaman a few paces away let go another undulating scream into the cool night air blanketing the desert. The music earlier had relaxed him to sleep for the first time in weeks but the multi tonal screeching put him on edge and seemed to strike at his bowels.

“I should never have taken that fraggin mask. I knew it was unprofessional,” Maker-of-Death whispered to Crimson his long time mate in the Australian shadows.
“Well, who would’ve guessed Maker that…well now I’ve seen everything!”

The ancient samurai mask floated in the air surrounded by a nimbus of neon purple as Crimson saw into the astral for the first time revealing the form of a deadly Japanese warrior whose form bubbled with dozens or maybe hundreds of tiny faces mutely screaming their pain and terror before dropping back into main body of the samurai to be absorbed in a constant flux of suffering.

The dwarven shaman turns to the pair. “You want to unweave the artifact’s hold on you then you must make a better story.”

“What do you mean Allambee?” Said Crimson as his cyber spur popped out.

“Defeat the artifact by overcoming your fear and your friend is free and I can begin the next stage of disenchanting it.”

Maker-of-Death freed his damascene sabre and Ares Predator in a smooth motion firing his pistol as the mana flowed into his mind and body speeding up his motion to a blur and the orichalcum in the sabre began to glow red in the night as it began arcing towards the wispy neck of the samurai and clanged upon an opaque katana blocking the blow while the mask spun and drop kicked Crimson before his cyberspur could strike beginning the melee and a new chapter of the legend of the cursed japanese artifact or a new chapter of the Legend of Maker-of-Death and Crimson…

The battle raged and Allambee told the battle and fear aspected spirits gathered by the hundreds around the Song pool. “We get good entertainment tonight and a new story to share with the Dreamtime no matter who wins.”

 

An Abstract from the Journal of Practical Thaumaturgy Volume 17: Mana Theory

Dr. Joseph Mentem Professor of Ritual Spellcasting at Charles University of Prague.

Mana is the energy that allows those entities capable of using it to perform work by an understanding of memetics or neoplatonic thought, controlled concentration, imagination, force of personality, and training alone. A mage has no need of a tool or physical exertion to harness the power of mana to change the world around him.

Mana flows and ebbs from the Metaplanes though it seems to be influenced by activities in our universe as shown by the increase of mana during Haley’s comet. Mana flows through our physical realm of existence and through our astral realm of existence. There is some feedback between physical realm mana and astral realm mana but as it is today it is minor and slow to transfer and it places certain limitations on how mana can be used to effect change in a Realm the mage is not currently inhabiting. An astrally projected spellcaster cannot cast a spell on an entity or target that is wholly in the physical plane because of the feeble flow of mana from one realm to the other. Decades ago it was possible for an astrally projecting mage to ground a spell through an active focus so it would be released into the physical realm but that is no longer the case though we do not know why precisely however it is theorized that it involves an emergent property of the physical/astral barrier when mana saturation reaches a certain point on the scale.

Mana flows through the astral and physical realms and sometimes forms what could be considered through a metaphor as rivers and lakes. These locations have an abundance of mana and are called power sites and the mana rivers are most often called ley lines. Usually if a ley line exists in one Realm the contiguous area in the parallel Realm has one as well with the same going for Power Sites though the degree of flow may differ.

It is known that aspected mana tends to attract like and repel the dissimilar as a rule thus on occasion a new Power Site will emerge in an area and exert a “pull” on a nearby Domain thus encouraging a ley line to flow between them. Geomancers and Geomasons specialize in encouraging this especially for a megacorporation’s new magical research lab. This can sometimes lead to a war in the shadows as various organizations try to create Power Sites or Domains to alter and weaken the other’s mana network.

 

Domains are Power Sites that when Named and invested with a genius loci become aspected which means that it helps and hinders different types of magic or uses of magic. With this abundance of mana it should be obvious that it can allow magic wielders to attempt more powerful or difficult work than would ordinarily be possible. Most commonly newly created Domains are aspected towards certain traditions of magic, magical societies or individuals of great power or Influence such as Dragons as well as military, political, and corporate leaders. The Domain provides enhanced mana towards those who serve the Individual or to those who share a certain mindset about how magic works and are in line with the genius loci of the domain.  Emergent Domains tend to provide enhancement towards certain magical activities and the genius loci tend to have more personality and variety as every emergent domain is different and usually oriented more towards either the astral realm or the physical realm as well as more vulnerable to changes in Background Count of feeder ley lines than a created domain which tends to be very stable and balanced evenly between the astral and the physical.

For example a minor power site near the university is on land owned by SK and was Named to be aspected to Lofwyr the great dragon. As a consequence those who are either Named Lofwyr or serve him can tap into the greater mana at the site while those opposed would find the power site working against them once the genius loci of the site became aware of them otherwise neutral spellcasters would find themselves unaffected and unable to use the extra mana around them. The genius loci of the site is no surprise in the form of a dracoform. There are rumors of metamagical skills or rituals that allow the renaming of a power site or grant the ability to ‘spoof’ the genius loci into thinking that you are Named by altering the aura of the spellcaster to match the weave of the site and thus gain approval of the genius loci.

Geomancers and Geomasons claim to have the ability to manipulate mana flows as to create domains called Power Sites (analogous to a lake) and Ley Lines (analogous to a river) through manipulation of astral energies in the case of Geomancers and through manipulation of physical energies for Geomasons who often sculpt and modify a physical environment to promote certain aspects onto the mana in the domain. In Europe skilled practitioners are often Freemasons or caretakers of the cathedrals, mosques, and temples while in Asia they are often students of Feng shui. There are specialized “types” of mana described by experts in mana manipulation as being very similar to each other but lending themselves to certain magical activities and derived from different sources as varied as places of worship to tectonic plates. As a consequence of the increased effectiveness of magic to do work at certain locales these power sites tend to be highly prized by magical societies, governments, dragons, and megacorporations.

(The types are known as Song grooves and pools, Dragon Paths and Nests, and are differentiated by the dominance of either astral or physical mana flow compared to a balanced flow between both realms found in what are traditionally called ley lines and power sites. -Editor)

As the pre-eminent scholar of power sites and the ley lines that connect them in Europe the Great Dragon Schwarzkopf has developed the ‘Schwarzkopf Scale of Ambient Mana’ which is most often used when rating a power site and goes from -10 to 10 with 0 being the current world norm. So far no location has been rated above 5 on a permanent basis and above 8 on a temporary basis. However a -10 is found in the void of space representing the extreme sparseness of life, emotion, and mind in outer space. During the year of the comet many regions saw a temporary rise of one or two points and it was a time of power for many mages who achieved effects that they normally would not be capable of doing.

Not all changes in the mana flow of an area are good for the practitioner. Mana can be distorted by powerful emotions or experiences in the astral realm and by environmental damage in the physical. When this happens the mana becomes harder to work with leading to what magicians call Ephemeral Background Count and it is rated based on degree of distortion using the Schwarzkopf Scale to provide an estimate of degree of difficulty in mana manipulation compared to a lack of mana. It is common for there to be bleed-through from one plane to the next in these cases and if there are causes for mana pollution in both realms sometimes that can start a feedback loop leading to more permanent damage to the mana flow in the area known as Persistent Background Count which can lead to regional problems. Certain twisted and deviant traditions can actually reinforce this feedback loop creating near permanent areas and by rumor can use the Background Count as a normal magician would use a power site.  We know some mages are capable of creating domains that match their tradition out of the background count if it is aspected appropriately .

The Filtering Metamagic is known to allow Initiate’s to bypass some of the problems involved in using mana for magic in an area with a Background Count. However despite an area having a similar rating on the Schwarzkopf scale they behave differently as an area with a -2 on the Schwarzkopf scale that has a background count typically has a normal amount of mana it is just polluted to make it harder to use while an area with a lowered mana level simply has less mana to use. Since mana pollution is commonly stronger in one realm than the other knowledge of the state of the local mana in both realms can be really useful in helping a wise mage in spell choice as a physical realm background count without a mana realm background count would naturally lend itself to mana based spells.

If the damage is temporary then the background count is what theorists call ‘ephemeral background count’. A series of traumatic events or a long term and powerful experience can all provide greater difficulty in mana manipulation. What makes this type of mana distortion ephemeral is that as soon as the aggravating element is removed the mana flow returns to normal.

Longer lasting Background Count would be such as the Cermak blast site. In this case the combination of massive defensive magics on the part of the insect spirits, nuclear detonation, and loss of life was enough to disrupt the mana in the area to prevent all but the most skilled Initiate’s from making mana work in the vicinity. This is an example of Persistent Background Count and without the constant presence of Knight Errant and periodic Cleansing Rituals it would be inevitable for a vulnerable shaman to be influenced into becoming an insect shaman should they spend too much time around the Cermak area as it is known to have some sort of astral connection or bridge to the metaplanes of the insect spirits.

Depending on tradition of the mage there are many ways that mana is imprinted on in order to be effected by the mage into having a real world effect. The key to magic involves perception of the nature of something and the ability to rewrite the song of that secret nature. Some call it “Renaming” while others use basket weaving analogies or storytelling metaphors and even religious contexts. But, in effect we all end up reweaving the narrative of whatever it is we are seeking to manipulate with our magic. The pattern of our reweaving varies depending on the spell, ritual, conjuration, or enchantment we are attempting as well as the Name of the target we are attempting to create or alter.

Shadowrun Overhaul: Ritual Sorcery: The Magic Staff Ritual


Black Eagle was proud of his wizard costume for the big Halloween party and was admiring it in the polished chrome of the elevator walls leading from his condo to the parking lot below. It was nice to be able to take his staff with him as the other mages and shamans had been teasing him the entire time of his thesis when he took the staff with him everywhere. It had been sitting in a corner since last year’s Halloween gathering dust despite being his greatest magical creation. Leaving the elevator he started walking to his parked Eurocar Westwind 3000i when he noticed four suspicious looking riff raff Anglos and Japanese standing next to a beat up van that really shouldn’t belong to anyone in his condo. One of them a white skinned Ork pulled out a gun and shoots the woman who just came out of the elevator behind him in a blinding flash of movement.

“Oh, my creator what’s going on?” Black Eagle said in shock having never personally seen violence outside of the gym or an Urban Brawl match on the trid.

“Keep out of this Gandalf and you’ll live but mess with us and you’re a geeked.” snarled an Anglo human in heavily accented Nipponese style Cityspeak like someone from San Francisco or a Japanese ghetto in Seattle not a sane and safe place like Sante Fe.

Two of the men ran to the woman just outside the elevator and one of them shouted “The narcojet worked she’s out!”

“Grab her and move, I want this extraction done and done in fifteen.” snarled the Anglo Ork who must be the leader.

The two street trash were dragging the woman dressed to the nines in faux Elven costume including a fine looking bow. “She must be going to the same party I am going to!”

Screwing up his courage Black Eagle raised his staff and pointing it at the two gangers or whatever they are and said “Crear Fuego!” thus casting his first spell in combat. Flames leapt from the tip of his staff engulfing the two men carrying their victim causing them to drop her and run and roll on the ground trying to stop the burning.

The Anglo Ork spun and fired two shots at him striking his chest. Black Eagle looked down expecting to see holes in his chest but instead saw two small darts trapped in the folds of his wizard’s robes.

“Drek! Marty grab the girl and get her in the van I’ll geek the mage.” The ork tossed his gun through the window of the van and turned to Black Eagle and started sprinting while his hands started to glow.

“Crear Fuego!” Black Eagle screamed at the ork as the flames poured into the space he had been a second before as he weaved back and forth zig zagging until he was suddenly only a few feet away untouched by the flames.

Panicked Black Eagle realized that he had no chance of hitting him with a flame bolt but the only other spell that might be useful was Sleeptouch and there was no way he…wait I attuned this Staff so I could channel that old spell I used to put my brother and sister to sleep when I was a kid through the staff he’d just need to touch him with it.

Black Eagle thrust the staff at the Ork who dodged the blow with ease and moved in to strike when Black Eagle awkwardly turned the thrust into a push and the Ork automatically grabbed the staff between Black Eagle’s hands which would ordinarily allow the Ork to overwhelm quickly his opponent only this time it let Black Eagle put him to sleep with a single whispered “Crear Sueno.” The Ork could feel the magic flow into him through the staff as he had just enough time for his eyes to glaze over and his face to turn slightly puzzled looking as he slumped to the ground.

Black Eagle turned to the last man and brought up his staff and the last man ran. Bringing up his AR GUI from his ‘link he called Knight Errant and alerted them to the situation with the lady and her location along with the two dead and one sleeping gangers. After getting his first close look at her he realized she was Holly MacMann the network reporter who had had several major successful stories in the news about corruption in the Pueblo Corporate Council and had done a piece on racism against Anglos and Utes with their glass ceiling in the upper echelon corporate and government positions most of which are held by Hopis and Zunis.

“Whoa.”

 

Magic Staff Ritual:

[Metamagic: Attunement and Ceremonial Magic, Spell]

This metamagical Ritual allows the mage to “enchant” or more properly ensorcel a staff (or other item) to become an extension of the magician. This allows the initiate to cast touch spells through the staff as if the mage is touching the target and also allows the casting of elemental spells onto the item. This adds that type of elemental damage for as long as the combat spell is sustained. If the staff successfully damages an opponent when used normally as a melee weapon the elemental spell channeled into the staff provides its Secondary Effect. Only one spell at a time can be channeled through the staff or on the staff so if an elemental spell is active then it can’t be used to channel touch spells until the elemental spell is no longer sustained.

The item is attuned by spending time in meditation with the item in a Magical Lodge with a Force equal or greater to the Ritual. The force of any spell cast through or on the newly magical staff is limited by the Force of the Ritual. The Ritual cannot have teamwork as the Initiate mage is working alone and others can’t help him or her make the attunement. The ritual takes as many hours equal to Force to cast and lasts as many days equal to hits on the Ritual Sorcery test against the Object Rating of the item limited by the Force of the Ritual. The Initiate may spend Karma equal to the Force to make the attunement permanent immediately after handling Drain.