Author Topic: How does Sheldon work?  (Read 425 times)

Desiani

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How does Sheldon work?
« on: (13:15:41/08-20-17) »
I've read the small bit that street grimoire and forbidden arcana have on the subject and I am still confused as balls. I'm not able to access to access the books at the moment, but I remember Sheidoms hating all life and wanting to possess dead corpses to med with the world. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

How does the sheidom tradition actually work? If the dc gate was closed and none can get In, how does summoning them work fluff wise?

Jack_Spade

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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #1 on: (14:47:19/08-20-17) »
Leaving Big Bang Theory jokes aside, from context I'm guessing you are talking about "Shedim"  ;D

Yes, Shedim show a strong aversion to the living world and are actively working to kill humanity.

There is no Shedim tradition for mages although Master Shedim are powerful sorcerers. There is a metamagic that allows you to summon Shedim though.

Closing the DC gate means that no free Shedim can come into the world anymore, but summoning bypasses quite a lot of problems by opening a direct way for them. The summoned Shedim is usually under full control of the mage - unless he (critical) glitches and the Shedim manages to become a free spirit (that's why they are teaching mages this metamagic in the first place)

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Desiani

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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #2 on: (15:27:08/08-20-17) »
Ah. So it's a 'tradition' only in the fact once you learn the meta magic, through I'm assuming guile and trickery as no sane metahuman wants the extinct of the race, you are able to summon shedim willy nilly as a regular spirit?

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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #3 on: (01:09:43/08-21-17) »
It's not a tradition in any sense of the word; a Shedim is a specific type of spirit, the same way Fire, Man, Guardian, and so on are.

I advocate lighting any copies of Forbidden Arcana you find on fire, but if you do want to use the awful rules contained inside, then you can take the "Spirit Expansion: Shedim" Metamagic if you 1) initiate and 2) are able to negotiate with a Master Shedim who knows the Metamagic (which should just be any Master Shedim).

At that point, you are able to summon Shedim like any other spirit on your Tradition's list.  However, Shedim have many special rules.  They cannot Materialize, and must possess either corpses or the bodies of an astrally-projecting metahuman.  If they don't have that available, they can only exist in the astral for a certain period of time.  As well, Shedim have an allergy to sunlight, which will affect them once they're inside a body.  However, that probably won't be an issue as summoned spirits only stay around for about a day, and bound spirits can be dismissed to their home metaplane (and should be) when not needed.

Keep in mind that summoning a Shedim around basically anyone else will be an incredibly foul and very illegal act.  I'm sure there's groups that would pay for your head, similar to if you are actively practicing blood magic.  On the positive side, a Shedim can be summoned with the Regeneration power and have an aura of fear, and so will be more difficult to destroy than most possession spirits.

I highly suggest to anyone allowing this metamagic to also enforce the Spirit Leashing rules on page 182 of Forbidden Arcana, which will hopefully be errata'd to be usable.  My proposal (and thus, suggested houserule) is to ignore the part about spirits taking Stun damage if the conjurer rolls higher than they do.  Using this, there's an actual real chance of a novice letting a Shedim into the world, as a Shedim won't just leave or attack you if they are freed from your service; they will probably flee.  Seeing as spirits talk, I bet the Shedim have plans for where the rogues can go to...
« Last Edit: (01:13:45/08-21-17) by firebug »
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Mirikon

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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #4 on: (02:28:20/08-21-17) »
Summoning Shedim is a damn good way to get yourself killed. Right up there with practicing blood magic, going toxic, or becoming an insect shaman.

And it is only the insane, the desperate, and the foolish who try and summon Shedim.
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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #5 on: (06:40:36/08-21-17) »
Yeah...  It doesn't even really make a lot of sense as to why someone would want to learn in-universe.  A single Shedim is only a little bit stronger in a melee fight than a possession spirit, while being more restricted, penalized during the day, and not having any form of ranged attack.

The reason they were a threat isn't the kind of thing that plays to what a Shadowrunner will be doing.  Granted, a character doesn't know the exact stats of one, and so might be inclined to believe they are incredibly dangerous, physically (more so than a normal spirit), but...  It's at best a minor boost in exchange for what they know will get them killed if they're lucky, or taken to a corporate black-ops prison, or interrogated by a magical group for information about the Master Shedim that taught them the technique.  All-in-all, I don't actually know what kind of character would legitimately bother to learn this.  The negatives greatly outweigh the positives...

Like, Blood Magic actually makes you able to do some serious stuff with magic (by lowering Drain), Blood Spirits are terrifying, it has rituals and metamagics, and above all, it is legitimately addictive.

Toxic is a result of corrupted mana seeping into you, warping your understanding of right and wrong, or otherwise isolating you until it is all you are able to depend on and relate to.  Toxic is all you will know.

Insect Shamanism is the whole blue/orange morality.  It gets into you, and directly drives you mad.  It changes your thoughts, until you have no concept of what you are doing in terms of the people around you and society.  Everything becomes irrelevant, and all that matters is what your mentor says matters.  You are one of the hive.

But this is just...  There's no "A shady man on the street gives a child a colorful little piece of something that isn't actually candy" deception possible with this.  The Master Shedim can lie to you about who and what they are, but you are learning to summon Shedim.  You can't possibly learn how to do that without knowing that what you're learning to do.  And even if you somehow learned accidentally, you have to actually then choose to summon one.  There's no dark magic making anyone want to do this.  There's no temptation.  There's no offer of power, because one Shedim in a corpse won't help you when a normal spirit couldn't.  Someone who wasn't already doing dark magic wouldn't want to do this, because they have no real reason to learn this as a technique.  And someone already neck-deep in other dark magic will find it totally unhelpful and unnecessary.

This isn't even the worst thing in that damn book...
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ShadowcatX

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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #6 on: (07:36:13/08-21-17) »
I'm not sure I fully agree with that assessment. Summoning a shedim gives a fair amount of versatility to someone who doesn't otherwise have the ability to summon possession spirits. Secondly, you can learn it if you only know how to summon a single spirit type. That is a pretty good deal for aspected magicians who can only summon 1 type (I forget what they are called).

Past that, I can see this spiraling kind of like a horror movie. Random mage A has someone close to him die and is unable to handle it so he seeks out the secrets of necromancy to learn to bring them back. Then, Lo and Behold it works, grandma comes back from the dead. Only grandma is a little off and kills the mail man. But mage A doesn't want Grandma to go to prison or anyone to discover what he has done so he summons a spirit for the mailman....

Also, don't underestimate the allure of a high instruction skill to a country bumpkin mage who doesn't want to leave his current life behind.

Now personally I would have liked to have seen them summoned through the ritual magic skill so aspected sorcerers could benefit. And to bypass the limitations of summoning / binding though that might not have worked because of how easy PC's could abuse it.
« Last Edit: (08:13:47/08-21-17) by ShadowcatX »

Jack_Spade

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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #7 on: (07:45:55/08-21-17) »
Shedim have some amazing abilities - regeneration for one. Use Channeling on them (shudder) and suddenly you have regeneration (and a malevolent spirit inside your head). You can even use the Energy Drain ability to gain massive amounts of Karma (it costs you one service for the spirit to lend you one of its powers)
Deathly Aura is hell on wheels in cramped conditions.
Just for that alone a lot of mages might be tempted to call on them.
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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #8 on: (09:41:22/08-21-17) »
I'm not sure I fully agree with that assessment. Summoning a shedim gives a fair amount of versatility to someone who doesn't otherwise have the ability to summon possession spirits. Secondly, you can learn it if you only know how to summon a single spirit type. That is a pretty good deal for aspected magicians who can only summon 1 type (I forget what they are called).

Past that, I can see this spiraling kind of like a horror movie. Random mage A has someone close to him die and is unable to handle it so he seeks out the secrets of necromancy to learn to bring them back. Then, Lo and Behold it works, grandma comes back from the dead. Only grandma is a little off and kills the mail man. But mage A doesn't want Grandma to go to prison or anyone to discover what he has done so he summons a spirit for the mailman....

Also, don't underestimate the allure of a high instruction skill to a country bumpkin mage who doesn't want to leave his current life behind.

Now personally I would have liked to have seen them summoned through the ritual magic skill so aspected sorcerers could benefit. And to bypass the limitations of summoning / binding though that might not have worked because of how easy PC's could abuse it.

How would that mage not know they're summoning a shedim?  A spirit that's obviously not their grandmother, that they have to command to enter her corpse, that then poofs away at the next sunrise or sunset, and there can only be one of them summoned at a time?  That's a neat story, but it's not the kind of thing this metamagic enables.  And if the way to have it make sense is "have a magician be as ignorant and obedient as possible" is the answer, then there's very little point in coming up with a reason.  I could just say "eh, he thinks it's worth it" and leave it at that.  It has as many unanswered questions as to how and why as the other concept.

The aspect you're thinking of is Apprentice, and it's really not good for that.  Shedim cannot fulfill the role of Possession Spirits.  They can only inhabit corpses, which is a waste of a possession spirit when you could have one take over an active enemy combatant.  On top of the obvious drawbacks to a Shedim, such as persecution and their sunlight allergy.

Shedim have some amazing abilities - regeneration for one. Use Channeling on them (shudder) and suddenly you have regeneration (and a malevolent spirit inside your head). You can even use the Energy Drain ability to gain massive amounts of Karma (it costs you one service for the spirit to lend you one of its powers)
Deathly Aura is hell on wheels in cramped conditions.
Just for that alone a lot of mages might be tempted to call on them.

You arguably can't use Channeling on them; they already have the Possession skill, and it's limited to corpses and empty vessels of which you are neither.  But thank you...  All of that tells me the other things I need to errata like the fucking Fist of God smiting Sodom and Gomorrah.  A player having access to Energy Drain makes me want to cry.

Channeling aside, Regeneration really just makes up for not having Immunity To Normal Weapons, and is stopped by their sunlight allergy.  Deathly Aura is nice in melee, but they have nothing boosting their melee damage and have no weapon skills, so their damage is crap.  Paralyzing Touch is okay, but not that great.  A normal spirit probably could have killed them in the time it takes to paralyze someone, and if you just want someone non-lethally paralyzed, just by some goddamn toxins, don't learn to summon a dark spirit and use an initiation on it!

So a mage with Channeling can at least have the "power" reason, if their GM is a doesn't beat the player into unconsciousness for trying to use Energy Drain.  At least a reason exists.
« Last Edit: (09:44:29/08-21-17) by firebug »
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Senko

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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #9 on: (10:01:41/08-21-17) »
Oh I don't know humans can be very good at denying things especially if its something that carries a huge emotional impact as well. Sure Granma was a little off and stabbed the mailman but that just means you haven't gotten it quite right yet and just need to improve your technique. Say by testing it on that mailman. Look at the many horror movies that involve this kind of thing with someone denying somethings wrong till the resurrected being has tried to eat half the neighbourhood. Pet Cemetry, Flatliners, Frakenhooker, Zombie Strippers, The reanimator, annabelle creation, wake wood, pumpkinhead and that's just off the top of my head of ones I can remember the name of.

Forbidden Arcana does have some nice things in it so I'm curious why you view its rules as especially bad compared to other magic sourcebooks.
« Last Edit: (10:18:41/08-21-17) by Senko »

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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #10 on: (10:04:33/08-21-17) »
I'm not sure I fully agree with that assessment. Summoning a shedim gives a fair amount of versatility to someone who doesn't otherwise have the ability to summon possession spirits. Secondly, you can learn it if you only know how to summon a single spirit type. That is a pretty good deal for aspected magicians who can only summon 1 type (I forget what they are called).

Past that, I can see this spiraling kind of like a horror movie. Random mage A has someone close to him die and is unable to handle it so he seeks out the secrets of necromancy to learn to bring them back. Then, Lo and Behold it works, grandma comes back from the dead. Only grandma is a little off and kills the mail man. But mage A doesn't want Grandma to go to prison or anyone to discover what he has done so he summons a spirit for the mailman....

Also, don't underestimate the allure of a high instruction skill to a country bumpkin mage who doesn't want to leave his current life behind.

Now personally I would have liked to have seen them summoned through the ritual magic skill so aspected sorcerers could benefit. And to bypass the limitations of summoning / binding though that might not have worked because of how easy PC's could abuse it.

How would that mage not know they're summoning a shedim?  A spirit that's obviously not their grandmother, that they have to command to enter her corpse, that then poofs away at the next sunrise or sunset, and there can only be one of them summoned at a time?  That's a neat story, but it's not the kind of thing this metamagic enables.  And if the way to have it make sense is "have a magician be as ignorant and obedient as possible" is the answer, then there's very little point in coming up with a reason.  I could just say "eh, he thinks it's worth it" and leave it at that.  It has as many unanswered questions as to how and why as the other concept.

Because they don't get to open the book and see "Oh, I am using Shedim summoning"? All they get to know is what they have been taught and not every mage in the world spent 4 years at MIT&T. If your mentor tells you "here, this ritual will help you summon grandma" you think you summon grandma. You are using a lot of meta knowledge to determine that it isn't worth it.

Quote
The aspect you're thinking of is Apprentice, and it's really not good for that.  Shedim cannot fulfill the role of Possession Spirits.  They can only inhabit corpses, which is a waste of a possession spirit when you could have one take over an active enemy combatant.  On top of the obvious drawbacks to a Shedim, such as persecution and their sunlight allergy.

You can't think of a use for animating corpses? Especially well armed and armored corpses? Or corpses of important people?

Quote
Shedim have some amazing abilities - regeneration for one. Use Channeling on them (shudder) and suddenly you have regeneration (and a malevolent spirit inside your head). You can even use the Energy Drain ability to gain massive amounts of Karma (it costs you one service for the spirit to lend you one of its powers)
Deathly Aura is hell on wheels in cramped conditions.
Just for that alone a lot of mages might be tempted to call on them.

You arguably can't use Channeling on them; they already have the Possession skill, and it's limited to corpses and empty vessels of which you are neither.  But thank you...  All of that tells me the other things I need to errata like the fucking Fist of God smiting Sodom and Gomorrah.  A player having access to Energy Drain makes me want to cry.

Channeling aside, Regeneration really just makes up for not having Immunity To Normal Weapons, and is stopped by their sunlight allergy.  Deathly Aura is nice in melee, but they have nothing boosting their melee damage and have no weapon skills, so their damage is crap.  Paralyzing Touch is okay, but not that great.  A normal spirit probably could have killed them in the time it takes to paralyze someone, and if you just want someone non-lethally paralyzed, just by some goddamn toxins, don't learn to summon a dark spirit and use an initiation on it!

So a mage with Channeling can at least have the "power" reason, if their GM is a doesn't beat the player into unconsciousness for trying to use Energy Drain.  At least a reason exists.

So you are saying it is both too weak to bother with and too over powered to be allowed and is in need of a nerf.

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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #11 on: (10:23:07/08-21-17) »
Forbidden Arcana does have some nice things in it so I'm curious why you view its rules as especially bad compared to other magic sourcebooks.


Forbidden Arcana has some great things, but they make up a puny amount of the material.  You're not on the errata team, so you can't see the ten threads I've made on it's various chapters and how big of a shitshow it is.

To summarize...
The Mastery qualities are wildly unbalanced, and several don't actually work.  A couple are superfluous.  And it goes from laughably weak to incredibly broken.  Some break lore.
The Blood Magic section has a lot of useless spells that are just normal spells but worse, a metamagic that doesn't make sense, and the whole Blood Crystal thing is really out of place and unneeded.
The Traditions are a fucking travesty.  Some of them should just be Magical Groups, but the writers didn't know that was a thing.  Others just give bonuses for no reason.  There's the "Traditional" version of traditions that has no explanation as to how you qualify or if you have to purchase it.  Several of the traditions are laughably bad, and only give penalties.  One just gives a player toxic magic.  Three are based on a separate, unrelated IP (the Swamp Thing mythos for the record).  Drakes have their own insultingly overpowered tradition.
Tarot Summoning.  Fucking Tarot Summoning.  It's not only overly complex, it's utter shit, and costs 107 Karma to unlock fully, minimum.
The book includes a spell that doesn't make any sense, but makes food, which brings up a lot of questions and messes with the setting.
The entire "Focused Awakened" section is unusable because it doesn't give any rules for how you can actually BE one of those kind of Awakened.
The Harmonious Defense metamagic is totally overpowered.
The inclusion of a metamagic to just become an Insect or Toxic magician is awful and makes it seem like they are options available to normal characters.
The Spirit Leash mechanic is so punishing as to be totally unusable.
The book is full of options that makes your tradition mean less and less, both mechanically and in-story, which is a bad thing.  I don't like that this book would let someone play a Olympian-Voodoo Magician summoning possession spirits of Greek monsters and also this other Christian spirit they just figured out how to do, plus these other two Hermetic elementals they got from taking Chain Breaker.

So much of this goddamn book is poorly written, rushed, not thought out, and the errata team has to rewrite most of the rules, and try and think of ways to "fix" what should just be removed, but can't be because word count and layout.

There's more, a lot more.  If you'd like I can give you a Pastebin of everything I've analyzed about the book (as what I've written isn't using any kind of insider knowledge, so the NDA isn't an issue).  It's a fair amount though.

Because they don't get to open the book and see "Oh, I am using Shedim summoning"? All they get to know is what they have been taught and not every mage in the world spent 4 years at MIT&T. If your mentor tells you "here, this ritual will help you summon grandma" you think you summon grandma. You are using a lot of meta knowledge to determine that it isn't worth it.

No, but you see a shadowy, horrifying spirit appear with an aura of fear that you are not immune to that doesn't seem like your grandmother in any way, shape, or form.  You've seen spirits before, after all, you have the skill to summon them and are at least Initiation Grade 1.  Then when it enters her corpse, her body is wreathed in darkness or some other sign of possession, and she does nothing but follow your orders, and after a task or two, the shadowy stuff goes away and she collapses on the ground again.  You try to talk to her, but she knows nothing about her past and basically acts nothing like your grandmother did.  Can't even make her signature pie anymore when you command her too...

Though to be fair, they have learned it at this point.  I just think this random country bumpkin would probably be horrified, feel sick at the mockery he made of his beloved family member, and swear off ever summoning one of those "things" ever again...  Thus being a waste of the Master Shedim's time, since no summons = no Shedim escaping into the world.

Yes, if someone who is as ignorant as possible and has never learned about the massive historical event that involved Shedim trying to take over the world, but somehow has initiated and is found by a Master Shedim, they could be tricked as long as they ask no questions and believe everything they hear.  A Shedim could certainly teach someone who is basically tabula-rasa when it comes to their understanding of magic and world history, grooming them from early in their Awakened life into a Shedim summoner.

Quote
You can't think of a use for animating corpses? Especially well armed and armored corpses? Or corpses of important people?

What?  No.  But you can do that with non-Shedim spirits.  This is not something exclusive to Shedim.  Any spirit capable of possession can do it, and it's not something so useful as to be worth the backlash that would follow anyone seeing you summon a Shedim.  Also, Shedim do not have the Realistic Form power.  So that "possess the corpse of someone important" doesn't work, when they are obviously possessed (which is how it works, and avoiding being obvious is one of the features of Realistic Form).

Quote
So you are saying it is both too weak to bother with and too over powered to be allowed and is in need of a nerf.

Read what I write before making strawmans.  I'm really not in the mood.  I'm saying they are too weak to use as simple Summons, but using Channeling specifically changes it dramatically into something quite powerful with an ability that needs to be errata'd.  Two different uses that affect their power level.  On their own, I think they are kind of crap.  With Channeling, they break the game because they allow the player to access something that should never be accessible to players.  Nothing I said is contradictory.
« Last Edit: (11:05:50/08-21-17) by firebug »
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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #12 on: (10:35:47/08-21-17) »
@firebug
Channeling doesn't care about the previous materialization/possession abilities of the spirit - it allows you to call any kind of spirit into your own body and turns it into a channeled spirit.

As a player I'd never bother to try it - the GM is just one glitch away from doing some really horrible things to your character (and entirely justified) - but for NPC villains this is grade A story material.

As for the worth of FA:
Each to their own tastes, but personally I like the book as it gives some much needed fixes (especially for Alchemists) as well as some interesting options.
It having some major problems is... really nothing new if you compare it to the other SR5 books
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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #13 on: (10:52:39/08-21-17) »
For channeling, I just mean an argument could be made.  Though I'll admit it's not a strong one...  Realistically there's nothing stopping it from happening.

Forbidden Arcana is more than "some major problems" though.  The only thing that makes it acceptable is the tiny number of things in it that help Aspected magicians and a couple good Alchemist qualities.  Okay, there's a few more things.  But even that's handled poorly.  For instance, Durable Preparations is inferior to Practiced Alchemist in every way.  Same requirements, same Karma cost, and Islamic magicians can get Practiced Alchemist even easier.  But they didn't fix Aspected Enchanters (even the new Enchanter aspect) getting no preparations for free during character generation.  The good is at the bottom of an ocean of bad.

Not to mention, that while having the options is important, loading the Alchemist archetype up with qualities to fix their deficiencies instead of actually changing what's broken results in Alchemists having no space for other qualities.  If you want to start with a Mentor Spirit, Practiced Alchemist, and Potion Master...  That's all your starting qualities.  Just to make up for the fact that Alchemy is weaker than it should be.  I'm not satisfied with that.  It's not a "fix", it's a band-aid on a broken bone.  Dressing to make it look like it's fixed despite the problems still being there underneath the skin.

A lot of things in the book should be NPC villain only.  I don't mean "Players shouldn't ever use Blood Magic!" but they go overboard with presenting toxic magic to the players to just use like it's not supposed to be a huge freaking deal.

Ugh...  I've stressed myself out so much from this thread and writing errata that I've given myself a stomach ache.  Jeeze...
« Last Edit: (11:10:00/08-21-17) by firebug »
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Re: How does Sheldon work?
« Reply #14 on: (14:50:37/08-21-17) »
To the original point, master shedim have astray gateway, so can open a rift to their native metaplane.  Presumably that would let them bring more over.  They may not always play well with others of their kind,  but presumably this would let them bring over more?  So as long as you have one still lurking around ....