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Clarification questions about familiar/spirit mechanics and manifestations

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  • Clarification questions about familiar/spirit mechanics and manifestations

    I've read the section on ephemeral beings several times, and I think it's starting to make more sense. However, I just can't quite seem to wrap my head around a couple of things.

    I found this very useful post by one of the mods in another thread about ephemeral entities, which I will copy into a spoiler below for easy reference:

    Without any prerequisite Conditions, an ephemeral entity in the physical world is in Twilight Form by default. It's invisible and intangible. A spirit can use the Reaching Manifestation to apply the Reaching Condition to itself, allowing it to use its Numina to affect the material world from the Shadow, or the Shadow from the material. An ephemeral entity of any kind can use the Discorporate Manifestation to voluntarily shed its Essence and retreat to the safety of dormancy. Any Manifestations beyond that require certain prerequisite Conditions. These Conditions can either be personal - applied to a creature or object, or environmental - applied to an area.

    The most basic Manifestation Condition varies for different types of ephemeral entities. Spirits and goetia require Resonant, ghosts require Anchor, and Angels require Inferastructure. A spirit in a Resonant area can use the Gauntlet Breach Manifestation to cross from the Shadow to the material world or from the material to the Shadow. An ephemeral entity of any kind in an area marked with the appropriate baseline Condition for its type can use the Image Manifestation to make its Twilight Form visible. In order to do anything more complex than that, the entity has to use the Strengthen Influence Effect to apply the Open Condition to the object or area marked with its baseline Condition.

    An ephemeral entity of any kind in an Open area can use the Materialize Manifestation to apply the Materialized Condition to itself, effectively making it solid. A spirit in an Open area can use the Gateway Manifestation to open a portal to the Shadow. A ghost or death-aligned spirit in an Open area can use the Gateway Manifestation to open a portal to the Underworld. A goetia n an Open area might be able to use the Gateway Manifestation to open a portal to the Astral? I'm not sure about that one.

    An ephemeral entity of any kind can use the Fetter Manifestation on an Open creature or object to apply the Fettered Condition to itself and the Urged Condition to the subject if it is a living creature. This gives the entity a limited measure of control over the subject's actions, as well as creating a zone around the subject where it is free from Essence Bleed, but it cannot leave the area around the subject or use its Numina on anything other than the subject. However, the entity can use the Unfetter Manifestation to temporarily remove the Fettered Condition from itself (and the Urged Condition from the subject), allowing it to roam around freely in Twilight Form and use its Numina as it pleases until the effect wears off.

    An ephemeral entity of any kind can use the Possession Manifestation on an Open creature or object to apply the Possessed Condition to the creature or object. This allows the entity direct control of the subject's actions for the duration, though living subjects are difficult to control at first and incur penalties, which gradually lessen with repeated uses of the Manifestation.

    Controlled, Claim, and Claimed don't appear in Mage for wordcount reasons, but they are in the core rulebook and can be used at your discretion as Storyteller. An ephemeral entity of any kind can use the Control Influence Effect on an Open creature or object to give it the Controlled Conditon. Alternatively, repeated use of the Possession Manifestation on an Open creature or object can also give it the Controlled Condition. The Controlled Condition doesn't do anything on its own, but an ephemeral entity of any kind can use the Claim Manifestation on a creature or object with the Controlled Condition to give it the Claimed Condition, effectively merging with the subject. The subject and the entity become a single being, composed of physical matter but possessing some of the powers of an ephemeral creature, and with the potential to develop stranger Dread Powers. This merging is normally permanent, but the creature can voluntarily rend itself back into spirit and flesh if it desires. This process is quite painful.

    Finally, a mage can use the *Familiar* Spell to give a spirit, ghost, or goetia the Familiar Condition. There are no prerequisite Conditions for Familiar, but it can only be put on an entity by a mage, the entity can't gain the Condition of its own volition. An entity with Familiar is free from Essence Bleed, shares a Connected sympathetic link with the mage, and the mage and the entity can share Essence/Mana and borrow each other's senses.

    One of my players in a PBP game has a rank 2 spirit familiar with influence over technology. The PC is a "computer security consultant" (hired hacker) who has her own skillset related to her career, but her goal is to use this familiar to help influence or control electronic devices that she can't hack or are beyond her hacking ability. Her idea was to have the spirit "housed" in a steel earpiece that she also uses as a Dedicated Tool. I believe her intention was to have the spirit able to come out and hijack technology, but there are obvious benefits to having a spirit familiar that can leave the mage's immediate area and go scout ahead in Twilight.

    My understanding is that because of the Familiar Condition, this spirit can roam the material world in Twilight at any distance and for any period of time it desires without bleeding Essence per hour when away from a relevant Resonant Condition. Here are my questions:

    1. How does this condition interact with the Fettered Condition or the Fetter/Unfetter Manifestation effects? For example, the Manifestation Effect table reads, "(Requires Fettered Condition) By spending one point of Essence, the entity temporarily suppresses the Fettered Condition for a Scene, allowing it to use other Manifestation Effects or roam in Twilight. When the Scene ends, any Manifestation Effects used during it immediately end. If the entity isn’t back within range of its Fetter (see p. 260) when Unfetter ends, it immediately goes dormant." What happens to a Familiar spirit that Unfetters from an object, but doesn't return to it after the duration ends?

    2. To represent this spirit familiar the PC desires, which Manifestation effects should it have?

    3. Can the spirit be "housed" in the earpiece without being Fettered to it?

    4. What are the best Manifestations to use to hack electronic devices, and how are they different (if at all) from just using Influence over the technology?
    Last edited by rwknoll; 08-03-2016, 09:48 AM.


    My Games
    Mage 2E: The Supernal Suburbia (IC / OOC) - Storyteller
    Mage 2E: Mountains of Shadow (IC / OOC) - Storyteller and Bruiser, Thyrsus Arrow and Perfected Adept

  • #2
    1. I think it goes dormant, and would need to be sought out and woken up by the mage. Fetter's major disadvantage is that the entity "must stay within five yards of the Fetter" and "may not use [Influences] or Numina on another target as long as the Fetter lasts." Unfetter allows the entity to circumvent that temporarily, at the risk of not getting back in time and going dormant. Honestly, being Fettered seems like kind of a bum deal for Familiars, the sort of thing a mage imposes on them to keep them easier to control.

    2. I'd forget Fetter and Unfetter and just go for Possess, tbh. Maybe Image or Materialize if you wanted a second.

    3. You could just say that the spirit normally communicates with her by Influencing or Possessing the earpiece, causing it to make certain sounds. It can hang out around the earpiece without being Fettered to it.

    4. I'd probably go with Influence: Technology 2 and give it Possess. Let it possess tech and control it directly. Possess is like the Control influence, but better.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by MagicSwordsman View Post
      1. I think it goes dormant, and would need to be sought out and woken up by the mage. Fetter's major disadvantage is that the entity "must stay within five yards of the Fetter" and "may not use [Influences] or Numina on another target as long as the Fetter lasts." Unfetter allows the entity to circumvent that temporarily, at the risk of not getting back in time and going dormant. Honestly, being Fettered seems like kind of a bum deal for Familiars, the sort of thing a mage imposes on them to keep them easier to control.

      2. I'd forget Fetter and Unfetter and just go for Possess, tbh. Maybe Image or Materialize if you wanted a second.

      3. You could just say that the spirit normally communicates with her by Influencing or Possessing the earpiece, causing it to make certain sounds. It can hang out around the earpiece without being Fettered to it.

      4. I'd probably go with Influence: Technology 2 and give it Possess. Let it possess tech and control it directly. Possess is like the Control influence, but better.
      I'd second Influence: Technology 2 and Possess. Together, they will get you most of what you need, as stated.

      As for Numina:
      Left-Handed Spanner is great for fouling up tech and machinery.
      Aggressive Meme is fun.
      Omen Trance would be odd, but might be justified as data analysis and prediction.
      Pathfinder for supernatural GPS.
      Sign for messages on other devices (not needed due to Possess).
      Rapture, maybe, for sensory overload.


      Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
      Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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      • #4
        Hey, that's my post about Manifestation Conditions! I'm glad you found it useful.

        To answer your questions,
        1. There is nothing about the Familiar Condition that would prevent it from being sent into dormancy when the Unfetter Manifestaton ends if the entity isn't back within range of its fetter. However, since the Familiar Condition allows the entity to share Mana/Essence with the Mage it is linked to, it will have a much easier time recovering from dormancy than other ephemeral entities. The Mage can just spend enough Mana to give the familiar the Essence it needs to re-form. Potentially a bit costly, but much faster than just waiting to gain enough Essence from a Resonant Condition.

        2. I would probably give it Fetter and Unfetter. Alternatively, Possess and the second one can be pretty pretty much anything depending on what else you want it to be able to do.

        3. Fetter is probably the most literal expression of the concept of a spirit "housed" in an object. As pointed out above, Fettered is pretty much all downside for an entity with Familiar, but it can be very advantageous for the Mage to have an object that they know their familiar always has to return to and will never be too far off from. Personally, I think that's the perfect way to express the idea of a spirit of technology that a Mage keeps bound to his headset. That said, Possession could work too, if the Mage really trusts the spirit. That would have the advantage of allowing it to pretty directly control any piece of equipment it wanted to possess, and the headset could just be its go-to thing that it likes possessing. But it does have the disadvantage of the Mage not having as much control over where the spirit goes and what it does. Which route you go mostly depends on how cooperative or how contentious the player wants their character's relationship with the spirit to be.

        4. Possess and Claim are pretty much the only Manifestations that will give an entity control over technology. That will come more into play with its Influences and its Numina. [Left-Handed Spanner] and [Message] are probably the two most appropriate Numina for a technology spirit, so I would definitely recommend those two. [Sign] in particular would be a great way to express your player's idea of the spirit speaking to him through the headset. A Rank 2 entity can have 3-5 Numina normally, and can trade Numina for additional Manifestatons and/or Influences on a 1-for-1 basis. So my personal recommendation would be:

        Influence: Technology 2
        Fetter, Unfetter, and Possess
        [Left-Handed Spanner] and [Sign]
        And up to 2 other Influence dots, Manifestations, or Numina that you feel are appropriate. [Aggressive Meme] could be pretty funny, having the technology spirit literally creating internet memes. Innocuous is a good go-to Numen. That's probably how I would do it, but there's a lot of options.


        Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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