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Fire slinging Magic in mage 20

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  • Tamuz
    started a topic Fire slinging Magic in mage 20

    Fire slinging Magic in mage 20

    So i have been looking through the 20th anniversary rules for mage, and have found a few things i am unsure about.
    1) slinging attack spells that roll arete to attack rather than a combination of dexterity and melee/guns etc.
    how exactly is this supposed to work?
    from my reading I am understanding that it works as an attack roll in exactly the same way that the ability roll would have if the mage was using a gun as an instrument. Ie, you roll successes and the target dodges but if you have at least 2 successes remaining then the damage from the effect is dealt.
    a) does the dodge roll reduce the damage caused in this case? I cannot find anything in the rules to suggest it does, but I have heard people interpret it this way. My reading is that arete simply replaces the attribute plus talent role, and if it hits then the spell deals it's full damage. Am i wrong in this?
    b) elsewhere it is said that arete may only be rolled once in a turn. Is this an exception where an extra arete roll is made as an attack roll? Is the same roll used as is used for the effect (meaning a more powerful blast is also harder to dodge)? Is it simply a single roll with the dodge directly reducing the effects successes?
    c) If you roll to hit with arete should you use the damage chart to determine your number of successes to hit? Because arete pools tend to be so low it is really easy to dodge lightning bolts where each dice of arete only gives a single success, as you are comparing a single stat to the total of two stats. Doubling the arete successes as per the damage table would redress this imbalance.
    It seems to me that it is already beneficial to use weapons and martial arts as magical instruments in combat because of the way magic enhancing violence works. Mages relying on mystical arts such as flinging fireballs already pay a tax in terms of the action economy (with their use of their instrument and effect roll counting as separate actions), and likely suffer +1 difficulty due to fast casting. Making their effects ridiculously easy to dodge as well just seems punitive.

    2) how do area effect spells work in terms of the successes needed? I am currently leaning towards simply using the base successes chart (meaning it would take 5 successes to cast an effect large enough to affect a mob, 10 successes to cover a building, and 20 successes to affect a city (along with the necessary sphere ratings). Because damage is a function of the base successes, the bigger the area covered by an explosion the more damaging it is, which seems intuitive. Am i going about this the right way? Is there anything I have missed? Does anybody have a better solution to creating explosions and area affect spells?

  • Muad'Dib
    replied
    Originally posted by Aleph View Post
    By the same vein a group of mages doing a ritual it's no joke. While mages don't need to be bad people nor do bad things, they're supposed to be powerful nevertheless. Otherwise Hubris wouldn't be a theme. Mage isn't a game of humble mystic practitioners scared of the dark
    It's not only Rituals with group of Mages that makes them a force to be reckoned with. Each person in a group of four or five Mages can cast one or two different Spells ( for example scrying, time divination, sense weakness, items scan, thoughts reading, body state scan, when investigating a person or an event ) in regards to a person, while at the same time being able to expand more Willpower and more Quintessence than a single Mage. Then they can also follow up with a group Ritual and/or mundane actions.
    Last edited by Muad'Dib; 09-19-2018, 05:10 AM.

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  • Aleph
    replied
    It may be worth to note that normal humans being pretty much screwed when faced with supernatural power it's a big staple of World of Darkness.

    What can a strong thug do when a Werewolf transforms into Crinos in his face? - most likely he won't have enough Willpower to act rationally, not that such would have made a lot of difference. What can a normal person do when a Vampire decides to employ the ol' "look into my eyes" Dominate? - other than rare Merits or super high willpower there's no much a human can do to resist a vampire. Blood bond only makes it creepier.

    It's no different with magick, a surprised mage trying to reach her wand in the face of a group of hunters that know what she can do should be genuinely scary (enough to try to stop her, desperatelly). Magick should be genuinely scary - if it was inferior to having a gun at hand (and sometimes is) then it wouldn't be much scary. By the same vein a group of mages doing a ritual it's no joke. While mages don't need to be bad people nor do bad things, they're supposed to be powerful nevertheless. Otherwise Hubris wouldn't be a theme. Mage isn't a game of humble mystic practitioners scared of the dark

    But, of course, there's always greater monsters. That's another staple of WoD. Of course this manifests differently in each game. In Vampire it's about age and the potency of the blood (before an elder's Domination you aren't much better than a normal human). In Mage it's,among other things, about the powers unleashed by rituals of other mages. Antagonistic mages often are more powerful or resourceful than our heroes (usually it's the Technocracy that plays the role of boogieman), and even when they aren't you never know what powers or countermeasures the other mages may have

    So yeah, ranged magick and rituals are crazy powerful. Better not forget that the other side can use it too.
    Last edited by Aleph; 09-18-2018, 10:13 PM.

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  • Muad'Dib
    replied
    Originally posted by alexendy View Post
    There is another thing, not very related, I was thinking over about magical violence. From what I understand, with just Life 3 + Correspondance 3 you can kill pretty much anyone (I mean normal people, without special fortitude or magical defenses) at a distance. "Only" 7 successes on damage - which could reliably be achieved in 3-5 rolls for a beginner mage at Arete 3 at low difficulty - would be enough to yield 14 dice of damage, which is enough to kill a normal human in 60% cases. (...)

    Do I get it correctly ? I'm awed at how deadly this simple combination of Spheres you can start the game with is, but it's not completely unbalanced either. (...)
    One of Hunter: the Reckoning books has a Mage first using misfortune and mind influence Magick while trying to run away from a Hunter. After he is left no other options, as he is cornered in an apartment, he uses what is probably Life Magick, targetting the Hunter's head, to kill her in an instant.
    So yes, sometimes there is nothing at all a person can do to protect herself or himself when targetted by Magick of a Mage.

    Such use of Correspondence Magick like described by you should require either having items related to the target, or placing appropriate items near the target. This involves some work, and possibly risks.
    Last edited by Muad'Dib; 09-18-2018, 04:06 PM.

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  • 11twiggins
    replied
    Originally posted by alexendy View Post


    Well, it looks like you're right. My bad. That's quite insanely destructive, but well... yeah, that's magic.
    And of course Paradox can be a problem; but I maintain that damage is one of the easiest things to make Coincidental. Using a taser? They can kill people instantly. Sure it's rare, but tasing someone and them falling to the ground unconscious (?) won't be Vulgar; sure they could be dead (they are!) but they might just be knocked out. Using a gun? No question. A sword? Easy.

    Damage is very believable, essentially.

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  • alexendy
    replied
    Originally posted by Jefepato View Post
    As far as I can tell, magick deals levels of damage, as indicated by the chart on M20 p. 504; the combat example on page 415 seems to reflect this chart as well.

    Well, it looks like you're right. My bad. That's quite insanely destructive, but well... yeah, that's magic.

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  • 11twiggins
    replied
    Originally posted by Jefepato View Post

    As far as I can tell, magick deals levels of damage, as indicated by the chart on M20 p. 504; the combat example on page 415 seems to reflect this chart as well.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the rules said something different (like the aforementioned "2 dice per success") on another page, but I haven't found it in M20 yet.

    The notion that you could deal six levels of damage straight-out just by rolling two successes on a Forces effect (because Forces effectively gives you an extra success for damage) seems a little crazy, but that's what the rules appear to say.
    To be fair, 2 successes on a Forces effect is quite a lot when your Arete pool could be as low as 2 for that effect.

    But yes Magick does inflict a L O T of damage.

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  • Jefepato
    replied
    Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
    Wait does magick inflict points of damage or dice of damage?
    As far as I can tell, magick deals levels of damage, as indicated by the chart on M20 p. 504; the combat example on page 415 seems to reflect this chart as well.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the rules said something different (like the aforementioned "2 dice per success") on another page, but I haven't found it in M20 yet.

    The notion that you could deal six levels of damage straight-out just by rolling two successes on a Forces effect (because Forces effectively gives you an extra success for damage) seems a little crazy, but that's what the rules appear to say.

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  • alexendy
    replied
    EDIT: leaving that here not to break the flow of the thread, but I'm actually wrong, disregard this post

    Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
    Wait does magick inflict points of damage or dice of damage?
    Dice. The basic rule is 2 dice per success dedicated to damage on the Arete roll. You need one success just to affect something other than yourself, so basically you need 2 successes to start doing damage (2 dice), 3 successes = 4 dice, etc. And using Forces add one extra success to damage (so, two dice). That's how I understand it, at least.
    Last edited by alexendy; 09-16-2018, 03:29 AM.

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  • 11twiggins
    replied
    Wait does magick inflict points of damage or dice of damage?

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  • Moirdryd
    replied
    Yep, Mages can be incredibly deadly, but there are numerous ways sphere magic can prove fatal to a regular human.

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  • alexendy
    replied
    There is another thing, not very related, I was thinking over about magical violence. From what I understand, with just Life 3 + Correspondance 3 you can kill pretty much anyone (I mean normal people, without special fortitude or magical defenses) at a distance. You would need some body sample or possession in order not to waste too many successes on Correspondance, but it's often not so complicated to get, and you would still require a good number of successes, but since you are in no hurry and can work from the safety of your sanctum and treat it as a ritual, it's not so complicated: the base difficulty is only 6 if the attack is coincidental (heart attack, stroke, etc.) and can be further reduced by the sanctum background, personalized instruments, etc. "Only" 7 successes on damage - which could reliably be achieved in 3-5 rolls for a beginner mage at Arete 3 at low difficulty - would be enough to yield 14 dice of damage, which is enough to kill a normal human in 60% cases.

    Do I get it correctly ? I'm awed at how deadly this simple combination of Spheres you can start the game with is, but it's not completely unbalanced either. It's still serious ritual work with a potential for going horribly wrong (I snigger at the thought of how I would handle paradox backlash if such a ritual botches), it's long and tiring, and you would end up accumulating gruesome resonance. And all really major figures (politicians, leaders, etc.) are certainly under Technocratic Correspondance 2+ protection and oversight. If a player wanted to do that, I would let it get away with it a few times, until he picks the wrong target and triggers technocratic (or other) magickal tripwires, or does it often enough to attract some unwanted attention (maybe technocratic entropy procedures spot weird patterns in recent deaths, maybe some death spirit or nephandus find him "insteresting", maybe the Euthanatoi are pissed off about all those people dying when they shouldn't have, etc.)

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  • alexendy
    replied
    I'm interested in this discussion. If I'm not mistaken, there are at least three situations:

    1) Ray guns, enhanced pistols, magic swords and the like: no brainer, you make a normal attack roll with the right Attr + Ability, if it hits you roll Arete for damage

    2) Effects that directly affects the enemy pattern: the Forces + Life fire attack that locks on the enemy Pattern, and I would also put in the same category raw Life 3 and Entropy 4 attacks. It seems quite clear to me that they can't be dodged, you just roll Arete and damage.

    3) Direct attacks that are not based on weapons, such as "normal" fireballs:
    a- Some people advocate a direct Arete roll that can be dodged, which makes this less interesting than using weapons, which sort of makes sense. I would be tempted to swing that way.
    b- Some say treat it like case 2 with an attack roll. The problem I have is, which ability ? I'm not satisfied with solutions like Athletics (I really don't see why your skill at directing fireballs would depend on your athletical abilities, except if you use some athletics-based focus) or Occult (especially in M20 where Occult is knowlege of the Sleeper occult world). Esoterica (for most mystic mages) or Technology (for technomancers) would make more sense I think, but it's giving more importance to those already important abilities. And about the attribute, the most obvious is Dexterity, but for some paradigms it makes little sense and a mental attribute would probably be better. I'm tempted to just give up this question and use Arete only if there is some doubt.

    I'd be tempted to use rule 3a and combine it with a lax interpretation of what a weapon is. If a mage (let's consider a stereotypical hermetic mage) is desperate and casts a fireball without any instrument designed to channel violence (for example with just incantations in Enochian and ritual amulets), I would use a raw dodgeable Arete roll. If she came prepared, for example she has "wands and staves" as an instrument and she came to the fight with a blasting wand dedicated to martial deities and carved with fire magic sigils, I would let her use Dex + (probably) Esoterica.

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  • Theodrim
    replied
    Originally posted by Tamuz View Post
    2) how do area effect spells work in terms of the successes needed? I am currently leaning towards simply using the base successes chart (meaning it would take 5 successes to cast an effect large enough to affect a mob, 10 successes to cover a building, and 20 successes to affect a city (along with the necessary sphere ratings). Because damage is a function of the base successes, the bigger the area covered by an explosion the more damaging it is, which seems intuitive. Am i going about this the right way? Is there anything I have missed? Does anybody have a better solution to creating explosions and area affect spells?
    That's really the intent with Forces. Don't forget in earlier editions Forces 4 and 5 were considered horribly underpowered, because by the time players split successes between the base effect, area of effect, duration if applicable, delay if applicable, and targeting, there generally weren't enough left (if any) to do enough damage to matter considering the potential for collateral damage, Paradox to be gleaned due to vulgarity, the high difficulties associated with high-level sphere use, and the potential for catastrophic failure exacerbated by high difficulties.

    The fix to that was to consider area-effect innate to Forces 3, 4, and 5, so all one needs to consider is base effect, damage, then the optional stuff like duration, delay, targeting. The scales involved with Forces 4 and 5 get massive, so the base success needs to be dialed accordingly. If you wanted to do something like create a cold snap to cool down Hell's Kitchen by a few degrees in the middle of summer, that's well within the range of Forces 4 and ten successes should do the trick since it's not a particularly major Effect, it just happens over a substantial area. Remember, successes still have to be sunk into duration, so that cold snap is going to require up to five more successes if the mage wants it to last the whole summer.

    The thing with environmental hazards is a bit trickier. There are really two ways you can do this. The most straightforward is to consider the large-scale Effect as having simply created an environmental hazard, and use their rules for affecting the difficulty and range of actions that can be done with them, and for damage. If a mage wants to create a firestorm that consumes a city block, that's going to be Forces 4 and require somewhere between ten to 15 successes. Consult the section on fire on page 434, and everyone in the city block suffers those effects. Easy peasy.

    Or, alternatively, large-scale Forces Effects are big and uncontrollable. Environmental hazards spring up as a consequence of their having been cast. Not content to simply cause a firestorm that consumes the city block, the mage decides they want to blow that fucker up. I'd personally rule it still requires the same base success pool, but the player goes that extra mile and applies successes to damage which is dealt when the Effect goes off. The rub is, by the time enough successes go into damage to really achieve the desired effect, you're talking about 20-25 successes total anyways because the Effect needs to deal enough damage to compromise or destroy hardened materials like reinforced concrete, bricks and cinder blocks, and steel beams.

    That's going to create environmental hazards anyways as a consequence of the explosion. The power grid's going to fail, gas lines are going to rupture, there'll be smoke and secondary fires, debris, and the like. None of which will be necessarily controllable to the mage, unless they use later Effects to mitigate or aggravate the environmental effects.

    That's honestly, in my experience, the best way to handle large, violent Effects and the amount of damage they deal. Figure out base successes (the book lists blowing up a building as 20), ballpark the amount of damage it would take to overcome the durability and structure of the building, figure out how many successes it would take to deal that damage, and knock those successes off the top. That way you're giving the player a base success total they feel is achievable while baking partial success into the Effect as ruled, and giving the player the satisfaction of saying they did X fuckton damage while giving yourself an easy reference for resolving damage.

    The benefit of looking at it that way, is it becomes modular. If, for whatever reason it were to come up in a game, a sub-megaton nuclear blast would be Forces 4. The natural response to that would be the base successes should be 40 or 50, that's what I estimate. But here's the rub; the Ascension book (the only hard source for this I've ever been able to find) lists nukes as doing 40 levels of aggravated at ground zero if I remember right, I could be wrong. That would convert into 20 successes' worth of damage, so that allows for dialing it back to 25-30 base successes plus however many successes the player or storyteller puts into damage. Then, the storyteller can recalibrate the narrative and mechanical effects of the blast having gone off.
    Last edited by Theodrim; 08-04-2018, 11:49 AM.

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  • Faradn
    replied
    Originally posted by Ambrosia View Post
    As a simple rule, magickal attacks that can actually be dodged use a normal attack roll for hitting, and the Arete roll for magickal damage.
    So don't worry, there essentially are no situations of Pure Arete Roll vs. Dodge.
    Good to know, thanks. I don't think I will use that rule though, since it involves more rolling.

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