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Looking for ideas: How to keep Lightning Ball from "winning" SRM?

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Stainless Steel Devil Rat:
In my local SRM environment, spellcasters dominate.  Not just demographics, but combat.  And it's largely due to one thing: area indirect combat spells.  Sustained/quickened spells and/or adept initiative enhancers contribute to the problem of "initiative is rolled:  Set up the minis.  Mage goes on 30 or 40 something initiative, and kills most of the bad guys before they ever act.  And if the bad guys survive, they get one action at wounded penalties before being unceremoniously mopped up before they ever get a 2nd pass. Combat is over..." but amazing initiative isn't what I'm looking to get a handle on controlling.  I'm wrestling with how much more effective Indirect Combat spells are than Direct Combat spells.  Like, why ever even cast a Manaball levels of inferiority to Indirect Combat spells.

I played quite a bit of 1st and 2nd edition Shadowrun back in the 80s and 90s, so 5th ed has had some learning curves for me.  Balancing magic in this edition is proving challenging, especially so since you can't just introduce House Rules to address power issues in SRM.  I kind of suspect that the writers never expected player to play like powergamers given examples of fireballs being thrown at force 4-5.  No, they get thrown at force 12-14 in my experience.  A) the DV is set by the Force, B) the AP is set by the force, and C) you don't get to dodge Area Indirect spells, only indirect single target combat spells are given a dodge test, rendering spell defense dice useless vs area indirect spells.

So what would be some tips from veterans of 5th ed to GM for SRM players who's shadowrunners can throw F12+ Lightning/Fireballs 3-4 times per turn? Each?  And never take drain because of course they have max casting stats and max augmented buffs from sustained/quickened spells?  I'm realizing that taking the pathfinder approach of setting up a map and showing "you're here, bad guys are there" just results in bad guys dying before they do anything.  Maybe not putting any minis for bad guys on the map until someone spends a complex action to "observe" to locate said bad guys would be a help?  Staggering bad guys so that no amount of AoE can wipe them out in one combat round?  How Kosher is it to just provide un-listed extra support (magical or otherwise) to the opposition described in SRM scenarios?

First of all, I hope that the force 12-14 lightning ball is an exaggeration.  First of all spell force is limited to 2x magic, so out of the box 12 would likely be the highest.  Second the drain on a force 12 lightning ball would be 11, so on average would take 33 soak dice to deal with it, and I don't see how even veteran characters get that many soak dice.  Third the area effected is also set by the force, so barring spell shaping the amount of secondary damage (or even damage to their own team) is apt to be high!

But aside from that, my house rule is that counter-spell successes are directly subtracted from spell-casting successes (instead of being added to individual defense tests).  Which make indirect AOE combat spells far riskier, because the odds of them scattering are far higher.  Lightning ball is still very strong, but at least it isn't as reliable.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat:
No exaggeration.  F12 for those who haven't initiated yet, F14 for those with MAG7.

They just never take serious drain...usually none but never worse than 2 boxes or so. Granted they're spending edge to reroll drain failures each time they cast such a spell, but with such spells ending combat it's not THAT expensive to spend an edge or at worst 2 per combat.  Could well also be that I need to stop taking their words for it and start really looking at their dice rather than letting them tell me how many hits they got.  Still I don't REALLY doubt the result of no drain.  I mean it's F-1, so 11 or 13 hits necessary.  Between ~20 dice from drain stats, some foci, and burning edge, it's about mathematically right.

As for the area: yeah the huge area largely works in their favor as bad guys REALLY need to be spread out to not all be killed by one spell.  And those that initiate obviously take the metamagic to make friendly fire less of a concern.  Still, having bad guys just "appear" in close proximity (after having successfully snuck up or such) is a very doable idea... won't be dropping F12-14 if you're hitting your whole team, too.  And barring that, I suppose making a big deal out of the collateral damage might be a viable angle.  The regular SRM GM just flat out doesn't let the players loot the bad guys, so there's no disincentive in destroying the NPC's gear.  However leaving smoking ruins wherever you fight certainly could be "rewarded" with notoriety, and arguably even public awareness as you'd certainly be a high priority for law enforcement to put a stop to...

While there are tons of things a GM can do, SRM kind of chains you. There is an anti-aoe move opponents can do, I don't recall the move name though or it's book.

Also, if you're dealing with initiates that have enough karma to raise their magic to 7 and bond foci that help with drain (hint: there's only one anti-drain focus and it isn't available until after becoming an initiate and only if you take that metamagic) you are dealing with virtual gods, don't be surprised starter level adventures aren't especially challenging.


--- Quote from: Stainless Steel Devil Rat on ---In my local SRM environment, spellcasters dominate.
--- End quote ---
So, have more spellcasters to oppose them.


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