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  • Mages and Soak Damage

    Hey people,
    In How Do You Do That?, specifically in Martial Arts chapter, they say a Mage can soak lethal and aggravated damage using Life 3. So, my doubt is, how would work? The Mage with Martial Arts and Life 3 possess now the passive ability to soak lethal damage with stamina like a vampire? Or would be a magickal effect with a roll of Arete? Please, my group really didn't get it how it works.
    Thank you all, already

  • #2
    Point 1: Don't put too much stock in what HDYDT says. It's filled with inconsistencies and rules that make no god damn sense at all, such as Chi Healing (oh god... Chi Healing!). There is no reason this effect should be limited to Martial Arts characters.

    Point 2: Vulgar effects like that are never intrinsic. You have to cast the effect and put some duration into it if you want it to hang about.

    Here's how I'd rule it. Let's say you want to to toughen up your skin so it can soak lethal. That's a Life 3 effect with successes split into Lethal Soak Dice and Duration. An alternative rule could just be a flat 3 successes to roll Stamina to soak Lethal for a scene.

    Another way of doing it is to make your body more elastic, making it easier to absorb blows.

    How that's done is more about paradigm and preference, though the ST's job will be to add caveats to the effect chosen. For example, having tougher skin might make it more difficult to feel things adding to difficulty in rolls that require a good sense of touch. While making your body more elastic would also make it more difficult to control your limbs when making big or small movements like running or picking locks for instance.

    Point 3: Don't forget that vulgar body mods like this result in Permanent Paradox for the duration of the effect, along with pattern bleed damage for each day the effect holds.
    Last edited by Saikou; 04-18-2017, 06:49 PM.


    Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running Chapter 35: Rising Tensions

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    • #3
      This would not be a passive ability. The Mage would need to roll their Arete (though they could perhaps roll an attribute+ability and use other means to lower the difficulty of the Arete roll, as well as spending quintessence, willpower, and perhaps doing extended casting as a brief rite, etc. to make the effect better).

      Life 3, if that's correct (others can chime in if How Do You Do That? has bloated up to Life 3 from Life 2 in other editions, but Life 3 sounds about right) would be difficulty 6 if coincidental (though the aggravated soak could be vulgar?).

      Page 502 of M20 has examples of types of feats and the base successes required. I would argue for two successes as a standard feat, although an ST might believe 3 succeses is required base. You then have to determine the duration, which if longer than one day could involve Pattern Bleed (see page 516 and the beginning of the Life entry; be ready to use Prime and quintessence if you want to avoid suffering lethal damage). At the ST's discretion, you might also have a point of 'permanent' paradox (it sits on your wheel and contributes to backlash rolls but does not disappear even if you roll a success on that backlash die; it only disappears when the effect ends; this might relate to whether the ST considers the agg soak vulgar). If you are looking for a duration of only a day, the page 504 chart of dividing successes (noted as optional, but I think it's appropriate when choosing multiple factors for an effect) would require 2 successes for the effect to last a day. So you would need 4-5 successes to do the effect, which means you could possibly do this as a 'Brief Rite' (an extended roll involving 1-2 rolls and about five minutes of time to cast with a cap of achieving 5 successes on the effect).

      Do not that this can burden your character like other maintained effects (for every two full effects, you get +1 difficulty to casting). So if this is your only effect, no big deal. But the moment you run another effect with this sitting on you, you will be at a +1 difficulty for all casting. Once you get to four effects, it's a +2 (and so on).

      I guess an ST could permit you to roll this as your one magickal action in a turn reflexively to attempt to soak a lethal/aggravated attack as it hits you, but you will have to have avoided using a magickal action yet during that turn. I think this is better to roll out ahead of time to ensure you get a duration (at the very least, for a scene; just for one roll is kind of underwhelming) that you want.

      Once this is active, you would roll your stamina to soak lethal or aggravated. If you had armor that also soaked lethal, roll that armor's soak pool and your stamina. If your armor also soaks aggravated (e.g., by using Prime 2), then roll the armor dice pool and your stamina.

      I will leave the paradigm explanation to you!

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      • #4
        Soaking lethal and aggravated damage via Life 3 requires a spell to be cast. Though there are other options (Do, Armor, Wonders, Merits).

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        • #5
          Thanks for the explanation, people o/

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          • #6
            Imperator is correct, Life 3 can be used to allow a Mage to soak Lethal and Aggravated damage (which it says in M20 under the Body Magick chart as well as in the beginning of the Martial Arts section of HDYDT) though it does not state a vulgarity for it. As an additional note you can also use Life 3 to raise your Physical Attributes which includes Stamina thus giving you more soak dice.

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            • #7
              Like most effects, it doesn't have a default vulgarity. A HAP is going to ping seeing someone running around naked getting shot and the bullet bouncing off them, but not someone wearing body armor getting shot without much impact.

              As something that's most useful to have prepared in a sanctum before hand anyway, the spell usually has to worry more about things like permanent paradox and/or pattern bleeding.

              Though as a note, you don't need to enchant armor with Prime to let it soak aggravated damage. There's a general ST judgement call on whether or not normal armor can be used against a weapon.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                Like most effects, it doesn't have a default vulgarity. A HAP is going to ping seeing someone running around naked getting shot and the bullet bouncing off them, but not someone wearing body armor getting shot without much impact.
                Whether or not a person gets Paradox post-casting is a point I've been meaning to start a thread about. I forget what, if anything, the books said about it.

                But yes, a person visibly wearing some kind of protection - or even just thick, form-obscuring clothing - will generally be able to get away with soaking lethal and aggravated, barring a few exceptions. It does raise the question of if a person can try to pull the trick where they get shot in the chest, only to lift a shirt or jacket and reveal they were wearing a sheet of metal or something. The old Clint Eastwood method. Would that make things coincidental, even if HAP couldn't see it? Do the Mythic Threads kick in even when people can't witness it?

                As something that's most useful to have prepared in a sanctum before hand anyway, the spell usually has to worry more about things like permanent paradox and/or pattern bleeding.
                This is another point I meant to bring up in this thread. Is the Permanent Paradox thing actually apply to temporary Life effects? I thought they only kicked in with Permanent Effects. I'm going to need citation on this one.

                Though as a note, you don't need to enchant armor with Prime to let it soak aggravated damage. There's a general ST judgement call on whether or not normal armor can be used against a weapon.
                I think Armor is naturally able to soak aggravated, yes. The main advantage in this aspect of Prime is in being able to turn ANY piece of clothing or equipment into aggravated soaking armor. Same with Matter 3.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                  Whether or not a person gets Paradox post-casting is a point I've been meaning to start a thread about. I forget what, if anything, the books said about it.
                  You can't get Paradox post-casting. That's one of the big reasons limits on active effects, permanent Paradox, and Pattern Bleeding exist in the game: to keep players for just stacking lots and lots of effects on their characters in their Sanctum with extreme long durations and then get to ignore Paradox.

                  However, Unbelief is also an active force in the game. Sleepers witnessing something they can't believe, can unravel the spell even if they can't hit the mage with Paradox points. The books are generally shitty about defining how and when this occurs, but it is supposed to be an issue. A mage giving themself lethal soak isn't going to suffer Paradox points, but the sudden vulgarity of a Sleeper seeing bullets bounce off their bare skin could cause the Unbelief effect to kick in and degrade the spell.

                  Do the Mythic Threads kick in even when people can't witness it?
                  Yes. Mythic Threads don't guarantee a spell isn't vulgar, they make magic easier (aka reduced difficulty) by playing on culturally ingrained tropes.

                  Is the Permanent Paradox thing actually apply to temporary Life effects? I thought they only kicked in with Permanent Effects. I'm going to need citation on this one.
                  M20 doesn't really get into this, but it was addressed by Malcolm for Revised.

                  Permanent Paradox is poorly named, because it isn't always permanently stuck on your character. For things like a long lasting but not-permanent Life spell that's cast in the safety of a Sanctum, but would be vulgar in public, permanent Paradox lasts for the duration of the spell. It's permanent because it sticks around even if it should be discharged in a backlash. Basically, the cost of putting long duration vulgar spells on your character via the safety of a Sanctum to avoid regular Paradox, is that all your backlashes are worse while the spell remains in effect.

                  I think Armor is naturally able to soak aggravated, yes. The main advantage in this aspect of Prime is in being able to turn ANY piece of clothing or equipment into aggravated soaking armor. Same with Matter 3.
                  Well, it depends on the nature of the attack. An aggravated damage attack that directly targets your pattern just ignores armor in general. Armor can't do anything about your body being unwoven from existence.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                    This is another point I meant to bring up in this thread. Is the Permanent Paradox thing actually apply to temporary Life effects? I thought they only kicked in with Permanent Effects. I'm going to need citation on this one.
                    M20 at 547 to 548 alludes to this vaguely: "certain alterations to a creature's Pattern may do so too." Page 652 notes permanent Paradox from a Wonder temporarily added to the wielder's wheel whenever they have the Wonder in their possession. A more clear example of when this might be justified is when a player has enhanced an attribute (either through Mind or Life) beyond an overall score of 5. That definitely involves pattern bleed as far as I can tell in M20, and it seems consistent with old editions (and not inconsistent with M20) to have a point of permanent (so-called) paradox that comes along with that effect until the effect ends. That said, if you made a call that in M20, even upping one's Strength to 9 or 10 only invokes pattern bleed (and perhaps purely temporary paradox or unraveling the spell as appropriate), I wouldn't call you crazy at all.

                    Perhaps someone else can lock this down for M20 / How Do You Do That? I just did a quick control-F search.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                      Whether or not a person gets Paradox post-casting is a point I've been meaning to start a thread about. I forget what, if anything, the books said about it.
                      HDYDT, of all books, states that usually post-casting paradox does not happen. With the exception of permadox through enhancements, hanging spells that have not enacted on reality yet, and such things of course.

                      It kind of makes sense, as the actual violation of reality happens at casting-time (with the exception of hanging spells above, of course).
                      It's the same reason you get a paradox hit the moment you cast vulgar magic in front of an audience, but don't get another, and another, and another for every new person entering the building after that.

                      The counter-argument would be that, while paradox only happens once, it happens as soon as the reality violation actually gets detected (or would have been detected by invisible observers), not the moment it happens.

                      Both approaches make sense to me, really. The ST just needs to decide on one of 'em and stick to it.


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