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  • Question about locking spells

    As I get closer to running a new Mage game, and re-read the rules, some of them I realize I never understood well in the first place.

    I get the idea behind locking spell effects into a Pattern when it's using a separate Pattern Sphere. I get that if you want to change the a persons gravity, you need Life to lock it in. Or of you want a shirt that lessens the impact of kinetic energy, you also need Matter.

    However, I struggle more when it comes to non-pattern Spheres. Entropy, Time and Mind all effect something that is inherently tied to Patterns in the first place. So do they NOT require a Sphere to lock the effect into? Mind is always going to effect a living persons mind, so it would seem silly to need to lock it in with Life. Same with Entropy. It's either effecting a person or a thing, and would seem useless if it need a Pattern Sphere just to be able to use it. So do these Spheres also require Pattern Spheres in order to lock an effect on to someone or something?

  • #2
    It matter less (somewhat) *what* you use on a pattern, but what pattern you want to use it on

    Spells that use the pattern sphere that is the same as the pattern type of the target (say, shapeshifting them), or spells that should stay in one location need no locking, or sphere combinations.

    You mention Time. Aging somebody with time requires Time+Life. This isn't locking, but a standard requirement for pulling off something like that; Time (aging ability) plus target pattern sphere (What kind of thing to age).

    Likewise, and this is an example of locking, if you wish to erect a field of thickened time around a person so they are protected from the effects of Time-based attacks (somebody trying to age them, etc) requires you to use Time, AND Life in order to make this protective Time field move with the other person automatically. Else that field stays in one location and the person has to stay there as well, unless your Mage accompanies them and actively concentrates on moving that field along.

    And for every two effects you have running that need this kind of active concentration, you get +1 to your Arete roll difficulties - so locking is really handy, but you *can* work without it in case of emergencies or lacking the according spheres. You just risk into runing into higher Arete difficulties as things pile up, *and* if your Mage's concentration gets broken, weird things might happen.

    Literal attacks like forces-based fireballs do not need that additional target pattern sphere. You create the fireball and toss it - that's the effect, and no other patterns are involved in the effect itself. The damage to the other pattern is simply a consequence of mundane physics.
    Last edited by Ambrosia; 06-21-2018, 10:54 AM.


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    • #3
      Originally posted by Ambrosia View Post
      Literal attacks like forces-based fireballs do not need that additional target pattern sphere. You create the fireball and toss it - that's the effect, and no other patterns are involved in the effect itself. The damage to the other pattern is simply a consequence of mundane physics.
      As an useful distinction for when you're not so much creating a hazard but directing an instantaneous curse (like Entropy 4 direct damage), it could be argued that you "concentrated for an instant"...which has no mechanical effect (as the instant ends before you can cast anything else) but preserves the idea that you don't need to lock that which you're concentrating upon.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Vulcan7200 View Post
        However, I struggle more when it comes to non-pattern Spheres. Entropy, Time and Mind all effect something that is inherently tied to Patterns in the first place. So do they NOT require a Sphere to lock the effect into? Mind is always going to effect a living persons mind, so it would seem silly to need to lock it in with Life. Same with Entropy. It's either effecting a person or a thing, and would seem useless if it need a Pattern Sphere just to be able to use it. So do these Spheres also require Pattern Spheres in order to lock an effect on to someone or something?
        Originally posted by Ambrosia
        Likewise, and this is an example of locking,if you wish to erect a field of thickened time around a person so they are protected from the effects of Time-based attacks (somebody trying to age them, etc) requires you to use Time, AND Life in order to make this protective Time field move with the other person automatically. Else that field stays in one location and the person has to stay there as well, unless your Mage accompanies them and actively concentrates on moving that field along.
        This it's an interesting detail: Historically, Mages never needed to add Life to a mind control effect because locking wasn't even an option. Yet by current rules, if you want to, say, Technocratic Social Conditioning to work when you stop concentrating you would need to add Life 4 to the mix

        Personally, as a house rule, I would allow to lock things using Mind/Spirit. That way, if you want to, say, mind control someone, you're using Mind to target the mind...hence you don't need to lock anything because you're using the sphere to control the "quasi-pattern" it's designed to affect in the first place (and the mind moves with the body by itself).
        This would also allow to lock stuff to spirits...and to stuff like "ideas" (similar to what you do with abstract wonders, but of course, the locking breaks in the moment the foundation ceases to be, so you would want to lock stuff into very persistent mental constructs)
        Last edited by Aleph; 06-21-2018, 01:00 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Aleph View Post
          This it's an interesting detail: Historically, Mages never needed to add Life to a mind control effect because locking wasn't even an option. Yet by current rules, if you want to, say, Technocratic Social Conditioning to work when you stop concentrating you would need to add Life 4 to the mix
          Aaactually, no it does not
          The Mind sphere affects minds. Which means the target of the effect in question (the mind), as well as the result of the effect (Controlling a mind) are both within the sphere's description - and thus, in order to use it on a mind, you do not have to lock it in or have to combine it with Life.
          See the rule regarding 'Spells that use the pattern sphere that is the same as the pattern type of the target' not requiring other pattern spheres or locking. HDYDT also shows examples of this without any other pattern being necessary. The Mind is never treated as a literal part of the Life pattern, unlike, say, a peice of matter stuck inside your heart (pacemaker), and somebody wanting to manipulate it.

          If you wanted to turn a mind (or thoughts) into something ELSE, then yes, you'd require the other spheres of course - I think there is actually examples in some books of using Mind and Matter to turn an *idea* into a painting with magic. Or perhaps it was turning emotions into a painting..but yeah, there are examples of stuff like that. You could also use Mind and Spirit to turn imagination into Ephemera.
          Last edited by Ambrosia; 06-21-2018, 02:24 PM.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ambrosia
            'Spells that use the pattern sphere that is the same as the pattern type of the target' not requiring other pattern spheres or locking
            Technically, Mind isn't a pattern sphere (Pattern spheres are Life, Forces and Mater. Spirit it's treated as such sometimes, but Mind isn't as far as I know), and thus this rule, RAW, shouldn't apply. RAI it does make sense, though
            Last edited by Aleph; 06-21-2018, 04:13 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Aleph View Post
              Technically, Mind isn't a pattern sphere (Pattern spheres are Life, Forces and Mater. Spirit it's treated as such sometimes, but Mind isn't as far as I know), and thus this rule, RAW, shouldn't apply. RAI it does make sense, though
              Yeah. I never quite GOT why Mind isn't a pattern sphere officially - just like Spirit it is treated as one ever so often, and it makes sense; Minds are a specific metaphysical thing that *exists* as a sort of pattern in the mage lore. They can be moved between other patterns, can be created, could be put into a mystical vase for storage...you get the idea That's pretty pattern-like.


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              • #8
                So I kind of understand why Aging someone requires Life as well. However, what about slowing someone down? Or speeding someone up? Do those need Life to lock the spell? What about using Entropy to give someone good or bad luck? Would those need to be locked? Because, like in your Time Protection example just having the spell move with them it's cause for locking, which would mean these two examples would need for Locking as well.

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                • #9
                  Yes, if you don't want to concentrate on the spell. It's -1 per two spells kept this way. Personally, I preffer to round down: that way there's no penalty to keep a single spell with concentration. Having a lot of buffs on you or your friends while you curse your enemies at the same time it's supposed to be taxing.

                  Locking is useful to keep many persistent spells. Limiting the amount of curses or blessings a mage can have working at the same time wasn't very cool (A witch should be able to curse a lot of people to do her job, after all) and so I think this, all in all, was a change for the better (albeit poorly balanced and not always flavorful). Keep in mind that choosing between the penalty and the locking wasn't even an option back in Revised - you HAD to take the penalty or make the spell Permanent (which required an ST fiat).
                  Last edited by Aleph; 06-22-2018, 10:47 AM.

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