View Full Version : Shadowrun 3

2007-10-09, 09:29 PM
I've got a friend who used to play with another group and she's disenchanted with the game because she never felt like her shaman could _do_ anything. She _may_ not have had access to magic in the shadows, is that relevant?
Now can mages be more effective?

2007-10-09, 09:48 PM
Well, really Shamans are able to do nearly anything Mages can (the only thing that comes to mind are Elementals. That's it). Magic in the Shadows probably would have helped a lot, as it gives some more options.

Otherwise, it may have been that plot wise Shamans were hard to use for the GM. It's unlikely that the corporate facility the guys are raiding will have shamanic spell formula for instance.

2007-10-09, 10:21 PM
I've played ALOT of Shadowrun ever since 2E, it was the RPG I cut my teeth on.

A magician is a hard character to play under the 3E rules. I would not recommend it to someone new at roleplaying. Simply because mechanicaly they can be difficult to comprehend. What with the Combat pool and spell pool to manage, and the various different rolls necessary to cast a spell, first your sorcery check then drain resistance, both of which can be highly variable in terms of target numbers and damage.

Offensively a mage (or shaman) in Shadowrun is going to be at a disadvantage vrs your average street samurai unless they are fairly optimized (which again is tricker to do with a mage). However this is compensated by being able to fairly simply do some tricks that a street samaurai can almost never pull off, such as turning invisible (ruthenium capes aside). So a mage/shaman should focus on tricks like these and others (mask, control emotions, physical barrier, healing, ect...).

For offensive punch your best bet if the stun bolt type spells, as they have the highest damage/drain ratio. The physical manipulation offensive spells (like flamethrower or nova) are cool, but are far to draining for the effect they achieve. Probably the best combo to take is something like stun ball + power bolt. Dump all your magic pool dice into the sorcery test and you should be able to drop just about anyone with a stun ball/bolt. Orks and trolls with few will dice will go down especially easy.

The cool thing about playing a Shaman (besides the cool RP potential of following a totem) is both the bonus dice to your specialty, and the ability to summon spirits of a location. Go with the totem that fits your character certainly, but try and get one that aids the "miscellaneous" type spells you will be casting. For a girl cat is an obvious (if stereotyped) choice. But bonus dice to illusion is never a bad thing.

Summoning spirits of a location can also be highly effective. Virtualy all city spirits can either hide you or hinder perusers, both of which can be very valuable. While your friend isn't playing a mage, their elementals can be devastating in combat (almost to good if the opposition doesn't have a mage or phys-ad). The problem with this is that the mechanics for summoning are again fairly complicated and so it goes underused at the table (at least that has been my experience).

I've always believed that Shadowrun was a game that lended itself toward roleplay more than detailed character optimization. Good tactics trump good build almost every time. However for most shamans I would spend most of my points/priority (after you purchased your magic) in stats, then skills, then more spells. As a shaman you will need all your stats to keep you alive and effective since you can't rely on cyberware/bioware. Skills are next most important, with Sorcery being your top pic, and other face/knowledge/active skills also being nice. Combat skills are not that necessary for a mage in my experience (your not going to out fight a troll or out shoot a sam, so don't try). Make sure to get a vest and a gun, and you should be set for equipment.

Outside of that really character and style have defined my SR experiences, not stats on a sheet so much. So really refocusing on that may turn things around for her (but every game is different). If you can get your hands on a power focus by all means do so! But if you happen across an demonic grinning devil idol of evil power... well... run away!

John Campbell
2007-10-10, 10:20 AM
Byuh? It's possible that full magicians aren't actually the most powerful characters in Shadowrun (that's probably riggers, really, largely because it's so difficult to effectively magic vehicles), but they're definitely close, and they're certainly the most versatile. An individual starting magician won't have the points to spread around to be able to do everything effectively, but, properly focused, they can do just about anything, including things that no one else in the game can do. MitS is nice, but not absolutely necessary... probably less important than M&M is for the cyber-types.

And there's little difference between the capabilities of shamans and hermetic mages. This isn't D&D, with its divine/arcane divide and separate spell lists. The spell lists are identical, the casting rules are identical... shamans (except for Coyote) just get bonus or penalty dice on a category or two, depending on totem. Those balance out, in theory... in practice, you can select your totem so you're using your bonus a lot more than you're suffering your penalty.

The only real difference between a shaman and a mage is the type of spirits they summon. Elementals are a bit more powerful and flexible than nature spirits, but they cost money and have to be prepared in advance, while nature spirits are narrower in scope, but have lots of cool abilities they can use within that scope, don't take expensive materials to summon, and are spontaneously summoned, so you can get whatever you need at that moment - at the price of eating the conjuring Drain on the spot.

IME, shamans tend to conjure pretty much constantly and get a lot of utility use out of their spirits, where hermetics tend to hold their elementals in reserve and rely on their own spells for utility purposes, but when they feel the need to expend an elemental, whatever they hit with it is in serious trouble.

2007-10-10, 10:37 AM
Shadowrun mages ROCK.

Truth spells? Do you have any idea how valuable something like is in a game like SR? Is that Johnson trying to set us up? *ZOT!* Guess so, maybe we shouldn't take this job.

Combat? Hells yes. Mana spells are the schiznit. What you want is a mage whose job it is to keep other mages off your back, and a mage who has a whole bunch of utility spells and the following 3 spells: Manaball, Manabolt, Stunbolt/ball. Why? They target Willpower, which tends to be a dump stat for most combat types, and it almost never gets racial bonuses (unlike someone trying to target a physical spell at a Troll...). Which means that a manaball can wipe the floor with any group short of other mages (which is why you've got that 2nd mage in the group). Red fraggin Samurai only have a listed Willpower of 4!

Mages have a spell that wipes out all phsyical (DNA) traces of your presence. If the mage doesn't have this spell, shoot him and continue to shoot him until the mage's player takes the spell on his next PC (since this one's dead).

Illusions? They're made of (illusionary I guess) win. Stealth and misdirection are the tools of the trade for a runner, and these are perfect distractions or things to throw the scent off your trail. Being chased? Illusion of caltrops behind you. Need to sneak past a guard? Illusionary distraction. Got a bunch of guards lined up the shoot at you when you come out the door? Pull an Elan and go out the window.

No speed-boosting cyberware? Who needs it? You've got spells for that. Cast them out of combat so you can drop your entire pool into resisting the drain, and you've got the equivalent of Wired-2 or better.

That said...

The downsides of playing a mage are complexity and cost. It's pretty cheap to upgrade the street sammy's guns. It's NOT cheap to upgrade, say, your power foci. And getting into spell locks and ritual magic is horrendously complicated. But it's SO worth it.

2007-10-10, 05:02 PM
^ All the above applies to Shamans too.

I suspect you ment Magicians. (That is Mages and Shamans)

2007-10-10, 05:37 PM
^ All the above applies to Shamans too.

I suspect you ment Magicians. (That is Mages and Shamans)

Pfft. They do the same thing. I would have said "hermetics" if I meant them, and "shamans" if I meant them. Magical PCs are just "mages" to me. :tongue:

2007-10-10, 05:44 PM
Fair enough. But it's one of those things that could be confusing.

2007-10-10, 05:51 PM
Listen to Swordguy, he knows what he's sayin'. :smallwink:

Stunbolt in particular pretty much puts one opponent instantly out of combat while hardly causing any drain (it's not necessary to cast it at Deadly damage level, since a magician will likely have so many dice as to easily raise the damage level to D, while even a Spell Level of 6 still leads to a Drain Resistance TN of merely 2.

However, due to the importance of Initiative, a magician may not be the ultimate combat monster... but why should (s)he? Illusions, invisibility, detection, that's where the true strength of magicians lies.

Also, personally, I prefer spirits over elementals any time - the abilities of spirits can cause true mayhem amongst the opponents, striking them with fear or confusion or veiling the entire party out of their sight.

Magic in the Shadows offers a number of additional options, but I wouldn't say these are necessary at all for magicians to be powerful. If anything, MitS can lead to overpowered magic users (high initiation levels are pretty evil) - fortunately, it also offers possibilities how to deal with magicians.

Woo! A roleplaying mechanics discussion in the Playground to which I can contribute, for a change! I... I didn't think I would ever live to see this day. :smallbiggrin: