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Vanya's Devil
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PostSubject: Free Spirits   Thu May 20, 2010 9:04 am

Okay, so Free Spirit PC Attributes have been bugging me for a while now. On page 92 of Runner's Companion, it says that Force determines "a free spirit’s natural minimums and maximums for all attributes." Okay, what the hell does that mean? How are natural minimums and maximums determined by Force? On the one hand, some have said that it sets both the natural min and natural max to the force, but on the same page it says that "the player must raise Force if he wishes to raise the remaining attributes." Then, on the next page in the Spirit Pacts box describing Friendship Pacts, it says "Every time a pact member dies, the spirit’s Force rating is reduced by one. Its natural maximum attributes are also reduced, which may cause the reduction of one or more attribute ratings". That "if" and that "may" imply that those attributes might not be as high as the force and the overall language suggests that the attributes must be bought after raising the force.

However, if that's the case, why does Force determine natural minimums at all? And if it is the case, in what bizzaro universe is 250 BP an even remotely reasonable metatype cost? If it's not the case and Attributes just equal force, why does the rest of the section talk like your attributes are probably lower than your force? And most importantly of all, WHY THE HELL DOES IT NOT SPELL ANY OF THIS OUT MORE CLEARLY?! Mad

I'm gonna go fume about this and ponder doing a Shadowrun on the Catalyst headquarters now. I hope somebody can figure this out, because I'm too pissed off to bother anymore.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Thu May 20, 2010 10:05 am

Free spirits and PC AIs were pretty low on Catalyst's priority list, and it shows in the shoddy quality of both sections.

But at least they got entries! Free sprites got kicked to the curb... Neutral
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Thu May 20, 2010 3:13 pm

Ok, on page 107 of Street Magic, under "Using Karma" the book says:
Quote :
A free spirit can use Karma in several ways at normal character
costs (see Character Improvement, p. 263, SR4). Spirits normally
have no racial maximums on their skills or attributes.
• It may raise its attributes separately (which all begin at the Force
it had when it went free).
• It may raise or purchase additional skills.
• It may initiate as a magician does, though the process grants
one additional free spirit power per grade rather than a
metamagic technique.
• It may raise its Force by 1 point at a time at the cost of new Force
rating x 10. Raising Force raises all of the spirit’s attributes and
powers that are based on Force.

What this suggests to me is the following:
You pay 250 to be a free spirit, and get a starting force attribute of 2.
The Force Attribute counts as both the current and minimum attributes for the spirit, including the magic attribute (Magic=Force).
Beyond that, you may raise Force, which will raise all attributes. You may also raise the current rating for any individual attributes.
Maximum force for a spirit is 6. With force at 6, all other attributes are at 6 as well.
Raising force costs new force x 10 karma. I would ASSUME that that translates to about 30 BP per force point at build, since attributes cost new rating x 3 karma and 10 bp at build.

In answer to your second question: Paying 250 seems like a lot, on the surface. But I think that once you read and understand the way the rules are written for them, it will be closer to balanced than it looks up front. It is not balanced, but it shouldn't be. It's just somewhat close.

That help??
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Thu May 20, 2010 3:28 pm

Okay, I missed that part of Street Magic, but now that I am looking at it, it directly contradicts Runner's Companion, which explicitly states that the attribute maximums for a free spirit is its force and that lowering its force can cause attributes to lower. However, I like Street Magic's version, as it's actually coherent, so I'm gonna favor that over the segments in Runner's Companion. Still, it's shoddily done.

Regarding the 250 BP thing, that question was rhetorical. 250 is perhaps even too low a cost when the spirit only needs to raise Force to six to bring all attributes to the human maximum. I was referring to how it would be emphatically too much to charge that much in BP for the metatype and then still have the character need to buy up the remaining attributes individually.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Thu May 20, 2010 3:31 pm

Couple problems with your post, Gala:

Attributes cost new rating x 5 karma.

Quote :
Force increases can be purchased at character generation
for the same price as any attribute.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Fri May 21, 2010 5:17 am

Hey, I can't be perfect! And in my defense, I was already pretty tired... I hope my post helped though, even if there were a few problems with it.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Fri May 21, 2010 6:22 am

Well, you've helped me figure out how to handle Free Spirit PCs in my own games, so I'd call it a win. Smile
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PostSubject: One thing over looked.   Fri May 21, 2010 10:57 am

Depending on the GM and player. If they are playing a random spirt, or they are playing a certain type, IE Elemental, Suducer etc. Then what we have done is refered to the Street Magic, and the Critter's list in it. Payed the 250, and raised its force, by attributes etc, and applied the modifiers, Like str id Force +2 Log is Force -2 etc. Just food for thought.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sat May 22, 2010 1:15 am

Quote :
"250 is perhaps even too low a cost when the spirit only needs to raise Force to six to bring all attributes to the human maximum."

With Dura pointing out that raising force only costs 10 BP per point, I actually agree (somewhat). Especially when you consider the super-cool powers that spirits can get... But, 250 is still a VERY sizable chunk of starting points. Especially when it becomes 315 after you raise force to 6... That doesn't leave a whole lot left over for other stuff...
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sat May 22, 2010 2:46 am

Actually, that isn't the way I've read the entry on generating a Free Spirit PC at all.

The way I read it, Force sets the min and max for attributes. But the min isn't equal to the max. I.e. You don't raise force and see a corresponding raise in all attributes. What you've done by raising Force is raise the limit for what you can put into an attribute.

For example, I've made a free spirit named Puck. It was a daunting process because, as you've pointed out, the entry on generating a Free Spirit PC is not at all clear. After several days of banging my head against a wall, this is what I came up with. However, reading this page I'm re-considering my interpretation of the rules. Before I start scrapping his char sheet, I thought I'd share with you my interpretation on the rules, and see what conclusions you all come up with.

Free spirits all start with a basic Force of 2. This is the minimum for all their attributes, as well as the maximum. So, all your character's attributes are set to 2 by default.

One can then raise force normally. Doing so automatically raises magic, which is essentially interchangeable with force for the purposes of character generation - that is, raising force raises magic. The new value for force also determines the new maximums for all attributes.

So, raising Puck's force to 5, I can now spend Bp to bring any of his other attributes up to 5. However, raising Force to 5 does not mean that I've raised his attributes to 5. I've merely raised the maximum rating for them.

So, with Force raised to 5, my maximum attribute rating is now 5, and my minimum is 2, which was the starting Force. I must pay the usual cost to raise my normal attributes. Given the BP cost, this means that a free spirit is going to be hurting unless they buy many flaws to garner some extra BP.

Now, as for what Gala's found, I would refer to this passage in Runner's Companion:

Quote :
Free Spirits have a Force attribute that starts at a rating of 2. This attribute determines a free spirit's natural minimums and maximums for all attributes. It also acts as a spirit's magic attribute. The natural maximum for a Force attribute is 6, although this can later be increased through initiation. A free spirit's Force rating is the natural maximum for all Physical and Mental attributes, as well as its Edge attribute- so the player must raise Force if he wishes to raise the remaining attributes. In addition, free spirits have the same Physical, Mental, and Edge attributes as metahuman characters, which all start at 2 (their starting Force) at the start of character generation...

This does contradict what is stated in Street Magic, however. I'm not exactly certain how to resolve this, but I'm basing this reading on what is given in Runner's Companion (pg. 92.) My suggestion to resolve this seeming contradiction would be that Street Magic may be referring to Free Spirits in general, whereas Runner's Companion is definitely referring to Free Spirit PCs.

I'd like to hear how you all interpret this. If Gala's right, then I can go back and fix up Puck to have uber stats Smile But if I've read it right, then FS's are going to be fairly underpowered in terms of attributes and skills by default.

I don't see this as being inherently unfair, however - FS's have many qualities (not the game sort) that off-set this, not the least of which is that they are inherently immune to damage from firearms. Add in the other aspects of the character derived from being a spirit, and the 250 BP price tag starts to make sense.

While Gala's interpretation would definitely make for a more robust character, I think that it would tip the scales on the "fairness" of FS PCs. It would make it far easier to create an FS uber character, if you would, as you could raise all attributes by simply raising one. Even if that attribute is 3x the cost of a normal attribute to raise, this still makes it far to easy to max out your stats. If Gala's reading is in fact correct, I, as a GM, would most likely refuse to host FS PCs, as they would be inherently unbalancing in a game (unless the game was Great Dragon hunt... maybe).

It's this sort of thing that really hammers home how poor the writing and coordination is at CG. One book offers up one interpretation, a different book another. Makes you wonder if there was any coordination between the projects at all, neh? Even if there was coordination, the writing is so vague that it makes the matter far more difficult and byzantine than it needs to be.

So... yeah. Look it over, look it through, and let me know how it holds up.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sat May 22, 2010 7:18 am

Personally, I thought it was the same way you did, T_Hawk. A Free Spirit has so many advantages, as you pointed out, that also being able to easily get 6s in every attribute is just insulting. Part of that 250 racial cost is to pay for the cost of raising 10 attributes (physical, mental, edge, and magic) to level 2, which costs normal players 100 points. So really the racial cost of a free spirit is 150 BP. Which considering they can't be permanently killed and are immune to physical damage, etc. seems pretty fair.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sat May 22, 2010 10:41 am

I also read it initially the way that T_Hawk read it, but I reconsidered when I read the line about Force determining stat minimums. That just totally threw me off. I forgot the bit about Free Spirits can't be permanently killed, which definitely does well to justify the BP cost, especially since FS PCs pretty much don't need any gear at all.

I should note that Free Spirits aren't completely immune to non-magical damage, despite the power's name. They have Hardened Armor against it equal to twice their Force, which can be bypassed a number of ways. Also, a Free Spirit PC pretty much has to have the Friendship Spirit Pact, as without it they can't gain Karma for themselves at all. With the Friendship pact, however, every point of force is tied to one of the pact members, which means if one of them dies, the spirit loses a point of force. This can make the Free Spirit uniquely vulnerable, especially if the running team is fewer in number than the spirit's force, as that means they gotta protect an NPC who is probably not nearly so good at defending herself and can be kidnapped/coerced/ambushed.

Nevertheless, I am inclined to make Free Spirits spend their BP to raise their attributes, as allowing all their attributes to go up with force is idiotically overpowered. I'm going to try building a couple of Free Spirits and see how they turn out. I'll post the results here.

Incidentally, if the spirit's force is 5, how much does a fifth point of Logic cost, 10 BP or 25 BP? And if the force is 5, does that mean the spirit is only allowed to have one attribute at 5 and the rest at 4 or lower? Or do those rules not apply to Free Spirits, especially since they start at all attributes equal to their force?
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sat May 22, 2010 1:59 pm

I, of course, didn't read it the way you all did, and I stick to my interpretation from the perspective of CG (it would NOT be the first time they created a serious mess)... That said, your interpretation makes a MUCH more playable character from nearly every aspect, and I like it a LOT more.

So, from both the perspective of the GM and the player in me, your interpretation of the FS PC is both more playable, and more allowable. I like it, and I will stick with it from here on out.
Besides, it's not as weak, in the long run, as it may seem. There is no fixed racial max for Attributes... Think about it.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sat May 22, 2010 8:32 pm

I can absolutely see what were you're getting your interpretation, Gala. CG... has got to get some decent coordination going on between their projects and writers. This sort of confusion is utterly ridiculous, y'know?

Vanya, what page is the mechanic you were referring to, with the armor rating? The info on spirits is so diffuse that I want to make certain that I'm referring to the same thing you are.

As for the BP cost for bringing up you atts to meet your Force maximum... that's a very good question. I believe that going by the mechanics of the game as laid out, then yes, one would have to pay 25 to have an attribute equal force. But what about when one raises Force again? What happens to the BP spent on bringing that attribute up to the former maximum? Are they then lost? And if one increases the attribute again, does that mean one has to pay another 25 BP?

If so, then I have to say that FS's are getting the poor end of the stick, rules-wise.

There is another way to look at it though:

Quote :
The natural maximum for a Force attribute is 6, although this can later be increased through initiation. -pg. 92, Runner's Companion

Given this statement, I would say that one should only pay 25 to bring any of the FS's attributes to 6 (after having raised Force to it, of course.) Otherwise, the mechanics are simply too stacked in char creation.

Now, another question would be: Once a FS initiates and raises their Force/Magic above 6, what's the cost for then bringing up the other attributes? Can one pay another 25 BP (or karma equivalent) to further increase one's attributes?

My answer would be that while initiation can increase Force/Magic, it may not necessarily increase Physical and Mental attribute maximums beyond the "natural" maximum of 6. Thoughts?
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sat May 22, 2010 8:46 pm

I had actually tried allowing the Force = Attributes equation for FS creation in Liberty or Death; The character has since been dropped, but the results were -very- frightening from a perspective of game balance.

I don't think I'll allow the same thing if I run another. But, at the same time, FS don't -have- to be solely materilization. They can actually come from a 'possession' tradition, in which case they add their attributes to the hosts when they seize control.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sat May 22, 2010 10:00 pm

Immunity to Normal Weapons is listed in the "Powers" section of the Core Rulebook. I don't have the book on hand at the moment, so I can't tell you the page number, but just go to "Friends and Foes"-->"Powers"-->"Immunity". Or something like that. Yeah, "Immunity to Normal Weapons" is kind of a misleading name.

I'd say only charge 25 BP for the sixth point. As for later stat caps, I find it difficult to justify capping their stats at 6 because Free Spirits are spirits and therefore not bound by fleshy limitations. I'd say let them spend Karma on increasing attributes at the same cost. They have to increase Force each time anyways, so it should be fine. Otherwise you'll end up with a Force 10 spirit being unable to have attributes above 6, which is just silly.

...you know, maybe we should just make our own rules for Free Spirits. And make rules for Free Sprites while we're at it.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sat May 22, 2010 10:44 pm

Here's my take on it for anyone who cares.

Force 2 is the 'Minimum' a free spirit can have. At first it's also the maximum attribute unless the character pays to increase the force. If they raise Force to 3, 2 is now the minimum and 3 is the maximum. The 25 BP cost is for raising your stat to it's 'cap' which arguably means if you have your force at only 3 and you buy your attribute to 3 it costs you 25 BP, which in turn means it's cheaper to actually raise your force and then raise your desired attribute to 3 in character generation.

Raising stats via Karma is honestly quite simple. You just follow the same basic rules on costs. New attribute X5. So if you say after CG initiate, raise your force to 7 and then wish to raise a stat to 7 (Your new maximum) you now have to pay 35 Karma to do so for that one stat. From a min max perspective it's better to start off with as high to your natural attribute (Especially if it's very high such as with Trolls) and leave lesser stats to linger and make up for them later. It'll cost you less karma to raise those up later than it would to raise the higher capped stat to it's maximum later.

In the end Spirits are very powerful characters and the BP cost reflects this. Their also not really intended for 400bp build games if you ask me. Same goes for shifters and most other really high BP cost character races. At 400BP they start off weak and have the potential to grow quite strong provided a steady flow of Karma but that higher power at the end is your trade off.

And honestly the whole friendship pact thing for spirits is likely a way for GMs to be able to keep such characters in check because after a while any character especially a limitless Karma sink like a free spirit will become quite powerful. Pretty much every other character type has a number of hard caps somewhere. The unawakened have some pretty hard set caps all around but they can ultimately access some unique abilities via cyber, bio, nano or other augmentations. They just need the money and access to proper facilities. Awakened have a much more open limit since arguably they just need more karma to sink into magic increases and thus sink into new powers. None the less they still have hard caps on their base attributes. A free Spirit on the other hand has no such caps at all unless the GM gives them one since all they have to do is raise their force, and then they can raise their linked attribute.

This is a largely minimal issue in a play by post game where karma awards tend to be few and far between. But in more realtime settings such as tabletop etc their likely to risk growing out of hand much sooner.

A good example are other PbP games I've been playing in for the past 3 years. In 3 years, I have gained two levels. Put that much work into a tabletop and I'd probably be max level by now.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sun May 23, 2010 7:16 am

Yeah, I was going to point out the same thing as Kesslan. T_Hawk, you only have to pay 25 BP to raise an attribute to its maximum at character creation. If you raise an attribute to its maximum during gameplay with karma it doesn't cost any extra than it would if the maximum was higher.


But for a Force 5 free spirit raising an attribute to 5 during character creation it should cost 25 BP, seems to me. It's raising an attribute to its maximum, which always costs 25 BP during character creation.

One thing to remember is that you do not raise Force to 5, raise an attribute to 5 and pay 25 BP for it, then raise Force to 6 and pay another 25 BP for it all within the same character creation process. That's... not how character creation works. You don't raise Edge to 7, pay 25 BP for it, then get the Lucky quality and pay another 25 BP to raise it to Edge 8.

And finally, Force determines attribute maximum. Nothing else determines attribute maximum, including other races 'natural' maximums. If you raise Force, you raise the free spirit's attribute maximums. Simple as that. So a Force 10 free spirit would definitely have attribute maximums of 10.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sun May 23, 2010 10:05 am

If you're really afraid of free spirit imbalance, put a lot of mana surges or what have you in the game. Each point of mana interference lowers a spirit's force by the same ammount - all the way down to 1. Which lowers all attributes as well. I mean, you can go over the spirit's force in mana interference, but then it's auto-death.

And who wants that in a game? I mean, unless your game is Brutally Metal, and the wrong move is insta-death without the chance at salvation.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Sun May 23, 2010 2:17 pm

From the lengthy discussions about Immunity to Normal Weapons threads over in Dumpshock.

Here is a more recent one?:
http://forums.dumpshock.com/index.php?showtopic=21562&hl=Immunity++Normal++Weapons

I would not allow a Free Spirit Character unless the rest of the runners were at the level of a 500+ BP character.

But that is just me.

Game On
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Mon May 24, 2010 10:10 am

I agree with Kesslan, mostly, except where late-game power is concerned. The idea that any game, let alone a PbP game, will run long enough for a FS to pose a balance threat to the team is a little bit far-fetched. The sheer cost of raising attributes is so limiting in itself that having a cap is almost irrelevant.

If you figure that the average run pays 4-8 karma, and to take an attribute from 6 to 7 costs 13 Karma for initiation + 35 Karma to raise force to 7 + 35 Karma to raise the other attribute to 7, thats a total of 83 Karma, for something that will give a 1 dice bonus to dice pool. At a game a week, averaging the 4-8 karma per run, and .75 karma payout per session, we're looking at 18ish sessions to earn enough Karma for ONE bonus dice pool; which is a solid 6 months of gaming assuming not everyone can make every session. The same 80 Karma in the hands of a mage buys a force 10 power focus, or a pretty darn powerful ally spirit. The same Karma in the hands of a cyber-sammy buys a kickin' new weapons skill!
At the end of the day, the cost is so insanely prohibitive that having no caps is irrelevant. It would take 2.5 years to get an attribute to 10, and that's without ANY other investment in skills, spells, powers, etc. What good is a single attribute at 10 when you haven't bothered to keep your character balanced. And chances are, you wouldn't last that long without having kept the character balanced to begin with... which just increases the time cost of investment.

I also agree that the 25bp cost is for getting an attribute to the maximum as defined by the current force rating, and that it is a cost only incurred at build, that the karma costs for post build improvement are unaffected by the build rules, which is how any other character is played as well.

Plus or minus the interpretation of the Force thing, I believe that the rules are clear enough that with a small bit of GM intervention, a FS character can be put together for play. I don't think it is necessary to have to scrap the rules as written, and re-write them from scratch.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Mon May 24, 2010 11:45 am

I somewhat disagree with you Gala on the Karma issue in regards to tabletop games but PbP games I'd agree that it would hardly be an issue. Especially since you'll often go 6 months or more without any Karma/XP at all in a PbP environment. This was why I'd used the example of where I'd been playing a character for 3 years and only managed to get them up 2 levels in that time. Playing on a MUSH or in a table top game with a regular group I'd get that in probably a few months. In a MUSH environment it's possible to pull in that much in a few days depending on the system and what's going on though it averages out to far less in general.

Street magic also states that a spirit must spend Force X10 to raise it's force and that doing so actually raises all it's force related attributes by 1 as well. So that 80 karma would actually be what it would cost for the spirit to raise every attribute to 8, not just 1.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Mon May 24, 2010 12:18 pm

I'd considered the Street Magic angle, but I figured that we had thrown that out when we came to the conclusion that at build, Force determines maximum attribute, but not necessarilly current. If Force determines only the maximum, then the Forcex10 does not cover any attribute other than Force/Magic.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Mon May 24, 2010 12:45 pm

Ah, but the Forcex10 cost is due to the fact that the Spirit is raising all its attributes with its Force. In the Runner's Companion, where Force does no increase attributes, the cost of raising Force is the same as for other attributes. Which doesn't cover how much Karma raising it should cost a PC, of course....

I'd probably have it be raised just like Magic.
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PostSubject: Re: Free Spirits   Mon May 24, 2010 2:07 pm

I agree, which is how I priced it in my argument above. It would cost 83 Karma to raise one attribute from 6 to 7, if you include the cost of initiation and raising force as well.
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