Author Topic: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?  (Read 707 times)

Senko

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Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« on: (23:40:18/12-11-16) »
I personally really like the idea of being able to summon the variety of spirits man, plant, task, etc with the differences between traditions determining apperance and basic affinities. So I'm slowly working away on opening up more summoning options and this is where I am currently. I'd appreciate feedback on whether people think it would be a balanced house rule or not?

Metamagic: ? (possibly Advanced Spirit Summoning).

With advanced spirit summoning the mage has learnt to expand their options when summoning spirits beyond what is normal for a follower of their tradition. For each rank of initiation that a mage posses they can choose to summon an additional basic spirit type (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Beasts, Plants, Man, Guidance, Guardian or Task) OR to add an additional role not normally found in a spirit type they can already summon for their tradition. More unusual spirit types e.g. blood, toxic, shadow, ally, great form can not be selected using this metamagic.

So for example a follower of the Shinto tradition can summon Summon Air (Combat), Water (Detection), Plant (Health), Beasts (Illusion) and Man (Manipulation). If they take this metamagic they can choose to learn a new spirit type to summon (at which time they must assign a role) e.g. Fire (Combat) OR to expand the roles of a spirit type they already know e.g. Man (Manipulation, Health).

I think its reasonably balanced as you'd need half a dozen initiations to summon all the spirit types and more initiations than most PC's will ever see to get all the roles on all the spirits. However I would appreciate feedback as an alternative I was considering was splitting it into two metamagics one for spirit types (Earth, Air, FIre, Water, Beast, Plant and Man) and one for spirit roles (Guardian, Guidance and Task). Thoughts?

Rosa

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #1 on: (06:06:46/12-12-16) »
Well in my game we have instituted a house rule that is somewhat similar to what you are trying to do here.

It is a metamagic simply called Summon [spirit type], as it's prerequisite it has the Calling [spirit type] ritual from street magic. Learning this metamagic will allow the summoner to summon one additional type of spirit that his/her tradition doesn't normally allow. the spirit can be summoned, bound, made into a great form and generally use all types of services except the aid services as the summoner already has those assigned to the normal spirits their tradition can summon. This metamagic can be learned several times to learn how to summon new types of spirits as long as the prerequisite calling ritual is known.

We chose to have you actually have to pay every time you wanted to add another spirit type instead of "just" having it be one metamagic that then adds more bonus spirits as you initiate Again and Again sort of like how centering Works. We felt that it would be too powerfull for too small a cost if it was like that as spirits are enormously powerfull and useful tools in any mages arsenal.

Kiirnodel

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #2 on: (07:30:19/12-12-16) »
If it matters, 4th edition had a rule somewhat related to this.

There wasn't a metamagic for being able to summon additional types of spirits, but there was an echo for technomancers to be able to compile additional types of sprites. It functioned approximately how Senko describes, the Echo simply added another type of sprite to the list they could compile, the echo had to be selected multiple times if you wanted to keep adding more.

Now it could also be important to note that while there was this rule for Sprites and Technomancers, there was still no rule that allowed Magicians the same sort of ability for Spirits (in 4th). I don't necessarily think that it is out of the question or particularly unbalancing, just wanted to point out that distinction.

Rosa's suggestion seems good to me, requiring knowing the Calling ritual first and then the Metamagic expands on it. Effectively letting the magician summon the new spirit type as if it were one of their traditional spirits. I also agree that it probably shouldn't be tied to Initiate Grade, and I'm not a big fan of the idea of being able to "expand" which role the spirits can aid.

If you really want some sort of bonus tied to Initiate Grade, I would suggest a sort of compromise: The Metamagic "Spirit Link" allows a magician to use their knowledge of calling spirits to summon a spirit as if it were one normally allowed for their tradition. To do so, they must know the proper Calling ritual for spirit they wish to summon. For each Initiate Grade, they can select another Calling ritual to add to their list of spirits that they may summon.  (Effectively this does both effects, it still has a nominal, 5 karma, cost to learn a new spirit type, and it also requires higher initiate grade to be able to have a huge list of options without requiring the magician to use up all of their metamagics on just the one trick.)
« Last Edit: (17:23:17/12-12-16) by Kiirnodel »

Senko

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #3 on: (16:33:02/12-12-16) »
Its not so much that I need to tie it to an an initiate grade its just that given the levels most runners operate at (there are some exceptions on this board) I felt that requiring they spend a metamagic for each type of spirit was a bit too expensive. I know spirits are extremely powerful but adding more types to me seemed less of a concern given that they can already summon multiple ones and more of a roleplaying aid except in niche situations. That is if a mage can summon Earth, Air, Fire, Beast and Man does allowing them to also summon water and then water/plant really make such a big difference? Expanding the roles of the spirits might but then again from what I've seen a lot of people just ignore that restriction anyway so I wasn't sure.

I'd be quite happy to add the pre-requisite you need the calling ritual first, perhaps a compromise how would you feel if I added this?

Metamagic: ? (possibly Advanced Spirit Summoning).

With advanced spirit summoning the mage has learnt to expand their options when summoning spirits beyond what is normal for a follower of their tradition. For each rank of initiation that a mage posses they can choose to summon an additional basic spirit type (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Beasts, Plants, Man, Guidance, Guardian or Task) OR to add an additional role not normally found in a spirit type they can already summon for their tradition. More unusual spirit types e.g. blood, toxic, shadow, ally, great form can not be selected using this metamagic.

So for example a follower of the Shinto tradition can summon Summon Air (Combat), Water (Detection), Plant (Health), Beasts (Illusion) and Man (Manipulation). If they take this metamagic they can choose to learn a new spirit type to summon (at which time they must assign a role) e.g. Fire (Combat) OR to expand the roles of a spirit type they already know e.g. Man (Manipulation, Health).
However it is necessary to possess the calling ritual for each additional spirit type selected to represent this additional study, that is to summon a fire spirit you must first purchase the calling fire spirit ritual if it is not part of your traditions normal spirit summons.

That way you don't need to spend 13+ karma and rare metamagics each time but there is still an ongoing cost if you want additional types. 5 karma for an additional ritual that gives you very limited summoning for the spirit type then when you initiate you can select it as an additional summoning type opening up the greater ease and options available with that?

Kiirnodel

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #4 on: (17:18:53/12-12-16) »
ETA: Just noticed that I referenced the wrong person in my previous post, I had meant to say: "Rosa's suggestion seems good to me, requiring knowing the Calling ritual first..." (I blame looking bake over the topic summary while typing my response and the posts being in reverse order... Not saying your idea was bad Senko, just that my original statement was referencing the idea of making Calling a prerequisite.


Yeah, that's pretty much what i meant with my compromise. I still don't see a reason to have the part about adding additional roles to the spirits for your tradition, for two reasons: 1) as you pointed out, if people don't want to be bothered with this aspect of spirits they are going to ignore it anyway. 2) I personally think the spirit roles as they relate to the tradition is an important part of how spirits really work and relate to the magician.

A metamagic expanding what spirits the magician is able to summon is one thing, but allowing those spirits to replace what role they play to the tradition really devalues traditions in general. People may not always agree with the idea that "only Fire spirits will participate in combat for Hermetic Mages," (which I think is a short-sighted view of that restriction, but I won't get into that discussion again) but at the very least it also dictates what sort of spirits the magician needs to bind for things like Aid Sorcery. If you have a metamagic that could (for instance) make it so that one type of spirit counts for every type of magic, it completely breaks down the basis for that restriction in the first place. That basis is the idea that the different traditions follow different spirits for different purposes. The Hermetic magical belief is that Fire is only useful for destructive purposes, it can't teach a magician Health spells because that isn't how they view Health magic.

For the most part, metamagics should expand on the abilities of the magician without altering the core tradition. Adding additional spirits that can be summoned follows that idea. Altering or replacing the spirits' roles within a tradition breaks that concept.
« Last Edit: (17:22:20/12-12-16) by Kiirnodel »

Tym Jalynsfein

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #5 on: (17:55:30/12-12-16) »
If you want a SPirit that Aids in everything the Magician does, you can do it... It is called an Ally Spirit. :)
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Senko

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #6 on: (18:25:46/12-12-16) »
So this looks ok then?

Metamagic: ? (possibly Advanced Spirit Summoning).

With advanced spirit summoning the mage has learnt to expand their options when summoning spirits beyond what is normal for a follower of their tradition. For each rank of initiation that a mage posses they can choose to summon an additional basic spirit type (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Beasts, Plants, Man, Guidance, Guardian or Task). However it is necessary to possess the calling ritual for each additional spirit type selected to represent this additional study, that is to summon a fire spirit you must first purchase the calling fire spirit ritual if it is not part of your traditions normal spirit summons. More unusual spirit types e.g. blood, toxic, shadow, ally, great form can not be selected using this metamagic.

So for example a follower of the Shinto tradition can summon Summon Air (Combat), Water (Detection), Plant (Health), Beasts (Illusion) and Man (Manipulation). If they take this metamagic they can choose to learn a new spirit type to summon (at which time they must assign a role) e.g. Fire (Combat).

Kiirnodel

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #7 on: (23:37:42/12-12-16) »
Metamagic: Advanced Summoning; Expanded Summoning; Spirit Link

A name like this seems fine. Also, if it matters, I would probably place it as a metamagic of the Invocation Art.

So for example a follower of the Shinto tradition can summon Summon Air (Combat), Water (Detection), Plant (Health), Beasts (Illusion) and Man (Manipulation). If they take this metamagic they can choose to learn a new spirit type to summon (at which time they must assign a role) e.g. Fire (Combat).

As I said before, I don't see a reason for this last part. This metamagic is (to my eye) a magical shortcut. Any magician can already bind any spirit, it simply requires a more difficult process. Normally, if a magician encounters a spirit, and they successfully banish that spirit there is a brief window (before the spirit leaves) where that spirit can be "summoned" to bring it under the control of a new magician (pg 301 Core Rulebook, last paragraph of Banishing).

Once you have control of that spirit, you can do what you would normally be able to do with said spirit. The Calling ritual, likewise lets you perform a ritual to bring in any spirit you want. So combining these two rules, you could Call, Banish, then Summon any spirit. This is a pretty intensive process, requiring two extra (high drain) steps just to get the chance to try and Summon the spirit. This metamagic basically eliminates these steps, which seems pretty fair.

If these spirits aren't normally part of your tradition, they simply don't fit into the normal hierarchy. They can't aid Alchemy/Sorcery/Study, but that's pretty much their only limitation in that regard. Since (as a tradition) those spirits aren't ones normally consulted for those kinds of actions, it seems pretty normal that they wouldn't suddenly gain the ability to give that sort of bonus.

Senko

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #8 on: (01:15:40/12-13-16) »
That last part's there simply because all spirits have a role whether the group ignores it or not so I figured the new ones should assigned one simply to fit in so you could have . . .

Combat: Air, Guardian
Detection: Water
Health: Plant
Illusion: Beasts
Manipulation: Man, Guidance

Rather than . . .

Combat: Air
Detection: Water
Health: Plant
Illusion: Beasts
Manipulation: Man
Unassigned: Guardian, Guidance

Just seems a bit simpler to cover all basis and have you assign a role at the start. If like me you ignore it as an unnecessary restriction since sometimes you'll want a combat Beast spirit (Big Tiger) and somtimes you'll want a detection one (Small Dog) but aside from some stat variances its all about your force rather than type really. Then it doesn't matter, if you actually enforce it (as I know some do) you know exactly where you stand in the rules.

Kiirnodel

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #9 on: (02:25:19/12-13-16) »
But like I pointed out, there are already rules for taking control of spirits that are normally outside your tradition. These new spirits don't "take on a role" relate to the tradition under those circumstances. It isn't a core mechanic of spirits that they have a role, that is a mechanic of the tradition. So yes, summoning a spirit that is normally outside your tradition means that it doesn't have a "classic role" that it would fill within your tradition's ideals.

I follow the idea that how the tradition views spirits influences what you would use them for. Using Shinto for example (since you've been referencing it quite a bit here), if we want to go into battle we would call upon the Spirit of Air, which would manifest as something fitting for that tradition. Doing a quick search for Shinto Air spirits I actually found an article about the Kamaitachi, which were spirits of destruction and violence in japanese folklore, which probably stems from the typhoons that plague that area. In Shinto tradition, spirits of the air, or unseen spirits are usually dangerous and violent. On the other hand, in that tradition animal spirits were often viewed as tricksters, which is why Beast spirits are associated with Illusion in Shinto tradition.

So your example of "sometimes you'll want a combat Beast spirit (Big Tiger) and sometimes you'll want a detection one (Small Dog)" leads me to the question Why? Why would a Shaman (I'll assume that example led with Beast as combat because we're switching to the core Shaman tradition) want to call upon a Spirit of Beasts for something as simple as locating someone/something? The wild spirits of the animals like Wolf or Bear are ferocious warriors called upon in times of need to fight your foes, we don't call upon them to perform a task that the wise river spirit would be better suited to accomplish. Spirits of water, flowing from beyond are the bringers of knowledge so they would be better suited to this task.

It's all about perspective. Approach the spirits from the ideals of your tradition and you'll find they make more sense.

Senko

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #10 on: (02:52:40/12-13-16) »
I reference shinto because its the one I personally prefer any one will do I just know its spirits off the top of my head unlike the others.

Also nope no switching I was still speaking from a Shinto tradition just providing examples of other roles i may want to summon a beast spirit for and part of why I personally toss that roles thing out the window for my games. As for why its probably a bit of the modern mindset combined with not having actually grown up trained a magician but I look at "beast spirit' and rather than thinking "I can summon the kitsune for illusions and tricks" I think well sometimes I'll want a dog for tracking, a tiger for combat, a kitsune for illusions, a dog for healing via licking (I was reading ghost sweeper mikami recently), a kitten to play with and so on. I can't quite wrap my head around the whole this spirit is just X because I can see so much outside X they can do hence why I'm trying to develop this in the first place because I can see so much potential in being able to summon fire, earth, guardian etc spirits outside of combat that I want to be able to do so.

As you said all about perspective and why I'm trying to make this in the first place.

Also probably why I'm so bad at arguing for why it should be included this way since my inclination is to drop it in the first place. So I think I'll drop it here because really I think you're better at coming up legitimate reasons to include the limitations/unaligned spirits than I am. Its not like its a major change just add the spirit type and have it unaligned for those who use it then its not tied to any particular role as its not part of your tradition and for those who don't it doesn't matter since they can all do different things depending on need anyway.

Reaver

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #11 on: (05:59:00/12-13-16) »
If it helps you Senko, my Mage regularly summons a giant Bulldog looking spirit for combat....

It's STILL a fire spirit, as fire spirits are the combat spirits of his tradition, but it LOOKS like a Bulldog.

What a spirit looks like is not related to what it is. A fire Spirit can look like a column of fire, a dog, a firetruck, or and angsty tween with a lightsaber....

BUT they are still generally tied to the role that the tradition sets out for them.

Remember Traditions are deep, fundamental beliefs and values held by the mage, and not some idle, trend of the week Fad. They shape his core values and perceptions and thus have a direct effect on their magic....

Your Shinto Shaman may want a Tiger for combat, but he is still summoning an Air Spirit for the role.... it just happens to look like a tiger.

Nor does what a spirit looks like, or it's domain determine it's personality...

So your Shinto shaman summons a cute little kitten spirit to play with, and the spirit responds with sarcasm and boredom to the very suggestion it roll around chasing a piece of string. (Or charges you a service for the very task!) Of course, nothing says it wouldn't want to play with the string either.

<Remember, a spirit's stats are related to it's force... Thus when a mage summons that Force 12 spirit for combat, that Spirit is actually smarter then the summoning Mage!!>
« Last Edit: (06:10:37/12-13-16) by Reaver »
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Rosa

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #12 on: (06:28:29/12-13-16) »
Senko i think you downplay a Little bit how much power a new type of spirit actually adds to a mages arsenal, because what they bring is more and more versatility and also some of them brings powers that no other spirit type has such as guidance spirits and task spirits for example, but that being said i think your current suggestion is basically sound and fair. However i agree with Kirnodel that the "new" spirits shouldn't be assigned roles as you already have those roles assigned from your tradition and that assigning new spirits to those roles erodes the tradition.

Reaver is totally right about the appearance of the spirits, take for example a mage from the Christian Theurgy tradition it would be very conceivable that if they summon spirits, that all those spirits would appear angelic no matter the type of spirit. My own mage also tends to summon spirits that look build from the same theme ( my tradition ) while still showing their type as well.

Senko

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #13 on: (06:47:50/12-13-16) »
As I said before the site stopped responding to me I've taken Kirnodel's advice on board my current metamagic looks like this . . .

Metamagic: ? (possibly Advanced Spirit Summoning).

With advanced spirit summoning the mage has learnt to expand their options when summoning spirits beyond what is normal for a follower of their tradition. For each rank of initiation that a mage posses they can choose to summon an additional basic spirit type (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Beasts, Plants, Man, Guidance, Guardian or Task). However it is necessary to possess the calling ritual for each additional spirit type selected to represent this additional study, that is to summon a fire spirit you must first purchase the calling fire spirit ritual if it is not part of your traditions normal spirit summons. More unusual spirit types e.g. blood, toxic, shadow, ally, great form can not be selected using this metamagic.

No assiging a role or adding extra roles.

@Rosa and Reaver
I know its not a fad of the week and traditions affect the summoning but I also know there are many sacred shinto sites that would lend themselves well to a earth spirit but not so well to air or water. Not to mention fire rituals, sacred flames etc. Then you have guardian spirits for shrine guardians and that's just with shinto. The guardian spirits would work well for hermetic mages and guidance ones for shaman's. I'm quite happy to negotiate cost but I really want to break that 5 spirit limit if I can do without unbalancing everything because there's simply so much room for it outside of combat if you have a group who aren't min-maxing munchkins who'll abuse and break a game if you give them an inch.

That point about the force is why I'm not so convinced adding extra spirits for a cost of 13+ for initiation and 5 for the appropriate calling ritual is so unbalancing. You still need seperate ones for great spirits, ally spirits and really in the end whether you summon air or fire is less important than if you summon a force 1 or force 12 spirit generally speaking.
« Last Edit: (15:01:29/12-13-16) by Senko »

Rosa

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Re: Swiss army spirits, is this close to balanced?
« Reply #14 on: (10:10:51/12-13-16) »
It looks good now.