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Do people use Abilities Enhancing Magic every single time they use magic?

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  • Do people use Abilities Enhancing Magic every single time they use magic?

    Science is an Ability. Computer is an Ability. There are two Traditions whose magic is almost entirely focused through those things, respectively. So why wouldn't they get that bonus every time? For the seven other Traditions, especially the Order of Hermes, there is Occult. Is there any mystic magic, particularly ritual magic, to which Occult does not apply? This seems incredibly broken to me--not to mention cumbersome, with all the additional rolling as players just make Ability rolls part of their magic routine. Have any you played or seen play where Abilities Enhancing Magic is just routine?

    This is a base rule but nonetheless seems like a terrible and utterly transformative one that should be discarded. Magic Enhancing Abilities, however, I have no problem with. There you actually have to come up with a justification for how the magic enhances the ability.
    Last edited by Faradn; 02-06-2017, 10:27 PM.

  • #2
    We use it in my games from time to time. It's very much a context based thing, and the players normally don't unless I offer it up to them.

    Generally speaking, if only roll abilities when their knowledge or skill is particularly pertinent. For example, if my VA wanted to make an Entropy 3 chaos virus, I might let them roll wits and computer to demonstrate the virus bit.
    If I had someone who danced as their focus, and try were trying to use a mind effect to distract people, a performance roll might come into play.
    This would especially work if their speciality came into play. If I had a verbena who had occult specialising in herblore, then if they tried to make a craft a quick balm to heal some damage, this could come into play.

    It doesn't happen often, so it never becomes routine.

    Most of the time all this will do is drop the difficulty of the arĂȘte roll, but sometimes it results in being able to do the spell at all. If one of my mages wants to use forces to activate an electric lock, they'ed have to roll intelligence and Technology to determine if they knew what they were doing. Similar for certain kinds of Life effects and medicine rolls.

    I also use the rank level itself as an indicator of ability. If the VA had only one dot in computers, first of all what the hell is wrong with them, but second, I'd make them roll computer every time they wanted to do something more advanced than opening a window, I'd be more forgiving at 2, and wouldn't require it at 3 or higher.


    Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running UPDATE Chapter 22: The Morning After

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    • #3
      That is a good idea, requiring that the Abilities be really pertinent to the Effect. Especially if the kind of Effect they're doing is considered rare and powerful within the Paradigm. Or for ritual, it could be certain Rotes that for which ritual precision is extra important. Maybe it's also a good idea, if allowing it, to straight up tell players that one does not expect the rule to be used much and the requirements for using it are stringent.

      I also use the Ability minima for stuff. If an Effect is reliant on an Ability, I usually say they can't roll more Arete dice or use a higher Sphere than they have dots in that Ability (not including added Attribute)--unless the Ability is at 5 and their Arete is higher than 5.

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      • #4
        Don't forget that, at least in M20, there's the optional rule that if a mage's focus/instrument is necessarily tied to a given ability (like for instance, Firearms) that ability rating must at least equal the sphere rating in use in order for the mage to employ an Effect without transcending foci.

        Also, don't forget the Occult skill is dramatically different in M20 than earlier versions, being a catch-all skill reflecting Sleeper knowledge of the occult, opposed to a catch-all skill reflecting any knowledge of the occult. To have the focused, guaranteed-to-be-accurate, sort of knowledge that goes along with focus and instrument use, a mage needs the relevant Esoterica specialty rather than Occult. That aforementioned Verbena would need Esoterica (herbalism), or maybe even Medicine, but not Occult.

        That aside, don't forget the minimum difficulty of a given Arete roll is -3 from the default difficulty (to an absolute basement of difficulty 3). There are plenty of ways to reduce difficulty aside from Abilities Enhancing Magick; and to be honest, there's no reason a given mage whose skills well exceed the minimum to use an Effect, shouldn't have a bonus creating that Effect.

        That said, typically I only allow it when there's an instrument in play necessarily tied to a given ability. "I know this blanket ability, so I should have a bonus every time I use magick" doesn't fly by me, nor should it anyone else really.
        Last edited by Theodrim; 02-07-2017, 01:21 AM.

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        • #5
          Our group loves the Ability enhances Magick and visa versa rules. They sound slightly abusive on paper I'll admit but they aren't. If anything it helps with focus / instrument selections with new players. Also remember that doing so takes extra time which isn't alway avaliable. Especially in combat where unless your combat ability or weapon of choice is your focus it takes multiple actions to perform in a single turn.

          As for abilities enhancing magick I often rule that it automatically puts the Arete Roll into requiring extra time (not extended roll) without the -1 bonus. I also feel this section of rules encourage players to better think out how their magick is an extension of their belief put into action. Which makes for better Role Playing.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Tuch View Post
            ...Also remember that doing so takes extra time which isn't alway avaliable. Especially in combat where unless your combat ability or weapon of choice is your focus it takes multiple actions to perform in a single turn...
            This is actually one part of the rules with which I firmly disagree. I know it's there for game balance sake, but on the other hand broken down logically it's contrary as hell. Higher dot ratings don't just imply a broader knowledge base with the relevant ability, and/or a deeper knowledge base; it implies fluency with that relevant ability.

            Mechanically, this reflects itself in higher dot ratings allowing (from a statistics perspective) dramatic success more often, which may reduce time needed to accomplish a given task, and allowing success on extended rolls which fewer rolls made (and thereby, less time). Moreover, this bridges the minor issue that arises when players have high attribute ratings but low ability ratings, versus players with low attribute ratings but high ability ratings, but identical dice pools (or +/-1 dice pools); the former has raw talent for that skill, the latter has fluency in that skill, that allow them to perform on a comparable level.

            Case in point, VA's/ME's as mentioned earlier in this thread. The Computer skill is good and all, but in M20 it actually doesn't encompass a broad or deep enough knowledge base VA's in particular would need to do complex magick (assuming their focus is reality hacking). What does, is Science (computer science); why this isn't made clearer in the core book, and the writers resorted to the older version language of Computer = God-Skill, is beyond me. Maybe I just have a broad enough knowledge of IT myself to know the difference. At my tables, I wouldn't allow a VA with Computer out the wazoo, but nothing or very little in Science (computer science) to accomplish a whole lot.

            But, I digress. You gotta know code languages, to code. And, like any other language, the more practiced you are and the more you know, the more fluent you are, which means you can code faster, cleaner, and with fewer bugs in the end product. Which means your ability to produce on the clock or under pressure is going to be greater than someone with less experience and a smaller, shallower knowledge base. That should mechanically represent itself somehow, and abilities enhancing magick is an excellent outlet for it.

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            • #7
              Theodrim Wait, so if coding has nothing to do with the Computer skill, what does 5 points of Computer let you do?


              Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running UPDATE Chapter 22: The Morning After

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              • #8
                I think there is a hidden question hidden here. What do the VAs think they are hacking into? Why do they think code on a computer can change reality? It is easy to say reality hacking, but harder to define it.


                Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                • #9
                  I'll expand on that using the Matrix as an easy example.

                  Lets say a VA wants to make it daytime. Now there's a fairly good chance that he just has to change the system clock to noon. If he knows where those functions are he can do that. There might also be a subroutine the machines use to change the time. Computers.

                  However, lets say he wants to cause a small thunderstorm inside of a hotel lobby. It's exceptionally unlikely that there is a setting like HiltonLobby.Thunderstorm=False; that he can change. Instead he'll have to change a variety of other variables like incoming air temperature, humidity, coefficient of friction, etc that will interact in the Matrix in such a way as to crate the desired indoor weather. Science.

                  So which skill you use depends a great deal on how you think reality is structured and how you are going about changing it.
                  Last edited by Ramnesis; 02-07-2017, 01:28 PM.


                  Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Theodrim
                    Case in point, VA's/ME's as mentioned earlier in this thread. The Computer skill is good and all, but in M20 it actually doesn't encompass a broad or deep enough knowledge base VA's in particular would need to do complex magick (assuming their focus is reality hacking). What does, is Science (computer science); why this isn't made clearer in the core book, and the writers resorted to the older version language of Computer = God-Skill, is beyond me. Maybe I just have a broad enough knowledge of IT myself to know the difference. At my tables, I wouldn't allow a VA with Computer out the wazoo, but nothing or very little in Science (computer science) to accomplish a whole lot.
                    I would think that high level Computers should cover Computer Science, in the same way that Medicine should cover Medical Science, and not just first aid stuff. Ain't that how things work?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                      Theodrim Wait, so if coding has nothing to do with the Computer skill, what does 5 points of Computer let you do?
                      I didn't say it coding has "nothing" to do with the Computer skill, be careful with your own inferences, there. Case in point, the write-up for the Computer skill, on page 283 of the M20 corebook (emphasis mine):

                      Originally posted by M20 corebook, page 283
                      This knowledge reflects your understanding of Information Technology; a single dot involves basic computer use (whatever that looks like in your chronicle), whereas higher ratings show a deeper understanding of hardware, software, interface, the Internet, and IT culture in general. Certain tasks (like advanced programming or repair) and systems (especially the arcane tech employed by Technomancers) demand at least three or four dots in this Trait before your character can even begin to understand them.
                      Computer has the same relationship with Science (computer science) as Technology does with Science (relevant field). Which is the same relationship, in earlier versions, that Occult had with Lore (relevant specialty); a broad, jack-of-all-trades understanding, specifically of application, which does not necessarily entail a deep understanding of any given aspect of its purview.

                      What do you get with Computer, alone? Script kiddie shit. Simpler programming languages: Java, VB, HTML. Maybe a basic grasp of more advanced stuff like Python and C/C++. More than that, and you have to have a fairly broad background understanding of information theory, network theory, symbolic logic, advanced mathematics, complexity theory, even quantum mechanics and chaos theory (especially when Technomancers are involved). None of which the Computer skill provides.

                      That's where Science (computer science) comes in, because it provides the background theoretical knowledge necessary to do more advanced and complex shit.

                      What do the VAs think they are hacking into? Why do they think code on a computer can change reality...I'll expand on that using the Matrix as an easy example.
                      Basically, yes, it's the Matrix. They believe in the simulation hypothesis, and all they're doing is process tweaking and management during run-time.

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                      • #12
                        Theodrim - I think you're being excessively strict to your players and pretty elitist about programming languages. As far as I'm aware almost everyone else plays Computer as being sufficient for all programming tasks. Requiring a player to take additional dots in another skill to support them in the first skill is just disempowering them.

                        You might want Science (computer science) if you are inventing something like a Wonder but not for general programming.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Aleph View Post

                          I would think that high level Computers should cover Computer Science, in the same way that Medicine should cover Medical Science, and not just first aid stuff. Ain't that how things work?
                          Well, no. Medicine is the diagnosis and treatment of medical problems. A high Medicine skill is going to give you the ability to read a PET scan and figure out from the PET scan what may or may be wrong with a patient, the risk factors associated with administering a PET scan, and an extremely basic understanding of how a PET scan works.

                          How to perform a PET scan, no, not necessarily; that's a lower level of Medicine (enough to administer dyes and monitor patients through the process), Technology, and Computer. Oncologists aren't nuclear medicine techs, and vice versa. How to build or engineer a PET scanner, research potential applications for PET scanning technology, or improve upon PET scanning technology, oh hell to the no.

                          What will happen, on the other hand, is doctors who employ and rely on nuclear medicine on a regular basis, for instance, are going to pick up a dot or two in Science (physics), and Technology, to get a more in-depth understanding of the tools available for use in diagnosis and treatment. Whereas medical research scientists may only have 2-3 dots of Medicine proper, but are going to go whole hog on the Sciences and Technology, because their focus lies elsewhere from diagnosis and treatment.

                          I'll use House as an example. Dr. House as a diagnostician has a fuckload of dots in Enigmas, and a bunch of Sciences on the side; probably even a couple dots of Esotericas, given the weirdo shit he sees. The other doctors around him (his team) may have the same number of Enigmas dots, maybe even a diagnostics specialty, but not the accompanying knowledges he has (which is why they're inferior diagnosticians, and there to learn from Dr. House). Dr. Wilson, on the other hand, is an oncologist and as such doesn't need the wide array of Sciences and Enigmas Dr. House nor his team needs, because he's not a diagnostician; what Wilson will have on the other hand, as an oncologist is a higher Science (physics) rating than Dr. House or his team, because he deals extensively with nuclear medicine being an oncologist.

                          And of all of them, they all have Medicine ratings of 4+ (5 in the case of House and Wilson). It's those ancillary skills (and skill specialties) which are the source of cross-disciplinary knowledge and expertise in a given field.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dogstar View Post
                            Theodrim - I think you're being excessively strict to your players and pretty elitist about programming languages. As far as I'm aware almost everyone else plays Computer as being sufficient for all programming tasks. Requiring a player to take additional dots in another skill to support them in the first skill is just disempowering them.

                            You might want Science (computer science) if you are inventing something like a Wonder but not for general programming.
                            That would be because the Computers skill (among others) was only changed in M20, like many other Knowledges that had proven problematic in previous editions (see, Occult), and that information is easy to overlook, especially among players and ST's unused to such fundamental changes between versions who may not even pay attention to individual ability write-ups for such. Doubly so for skills like Computers, when the last edition was released in '99, and computer use and IT have seen seismic shifts since.

                            Beyond that...

                            In your opinion. Personally, if a player brings to me a character sheet with 4+ in Computers and nothing in Science (computer science), the very first thing I'm doing is asking them where and how they got that education without being introduced, at any point along the way, to rudimentary computer science. Just like if someone brings a character sheet with 4+ Esoterica (yoga) yet somehow few if any dots in Athletics, or a monstrous Drive score and nothing in Crafts (automotive/vehicle repair).

                            Because it makes zero sense, whatsoever, for PC's to have learned a given abilty to a professional level, or to mastery, while having picked up no cross-disciplinary or related knowledge. And, frankly, bringing such a PC to a table is a sure sign of not having put too much thought into the character, let alone enough to consistently or effectively play a paradigm, or looking to twink; neither of which are traits I seek to encourage among my players.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Theodrim View Post

                              That would be because the Computers skill (among others) was only changed in M20, like many other Knowledges that had proven problematic in previous editions (see, Occult), and that information is easy to overlook, especially among players and ST's unused to such fundamental changes between versions who may not even pay attention to individual ability write-ups for such. Doubly so for skills like Computers, when the last edition was released in '99, and computer use and IT have seen seismic shifts since.

                              Beyond that...

                              In your opinion. Personally, if a player brings to me a character sheet with 4+ in Computers and nothing in Science (computer science), the very first thing I'm doing is asking them where and how they got that education without being introduced, at any point along the way, to rudimentary computer science. Just like if someone brings a character sheet with 4+ Esoterica (yoga) yet somehow few if any dots in Athletics, or a monstrous Drive score and nothing in Crafts (automotive/vehicle repair).

                              Because it makes zero sense, whatsoever, for PC's to have learned a given abilty to a professional level, or to mastery, while having picked up no cross-disciplinary or related knowledge. And, frankly, bringing such a PC to a table is a sure sign of not having put too much thought into the character, let alone enough to consistently or effectively play a paradigm, or looking to twink; neither of which are traits I seek to encourage among my players.
                              That just feels like you're imposing a skill tax of sorts. The whole point of WoD's ST style games was to get away from D&D style Skill Trees like this.

                              I'd say if I had someone with Computer 4 but no Science, or Science 4 (computer) but no computer, I'd rule that the former had a practical understanding of the subject, while the latter had a theoretical understanding.

                              It would be the same if someone had Performance (Music) but nothing in Academics (Music Theory), or vise versa.

                              When it came time to roll about something relevant, I would allow both these character to make a roll, they are approaching the issue from different sides, and as a result may produce differing results.

                              I know a lot of Doctors that have effectively no understanding of molecular biology, similarly I know a lot of Biomedical Scientists who couldn't do first aid to save their life (literally).
                              You don't need to be athletic to do yoga, you could just be very flexible or practised. You don't need to know the inns and outs of your car and how it's built in order to have the reflexes and capability to drive it and drive it incredibly well.
                              You don't need to understand anything about how computers work in order to be a coding master. It's the old joke, How many Software Engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer: "Hold on, that's a Hardware problem, not my field".

                              Would you also say that a person can't have Law 4 without Expression?
                              or Politics 4 without Subterfuge?
                              or Science (astronomy) without Cosmology?

                              Why?
                              Last edited by Saikou; 02-12-2017, 05:51 AM.


                              Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running UPDATE Chapter 22: The Morning After

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