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[Resource] [Spell] Pack Mind

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JustADude

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« on: <02-05-12/0949:02> »
Cooked this up using the rules from Street Magic. It's a bit of a low-on-sleep, spur-of-the-moment idea, but I thought it might be worth throwing up here for others to take a look at.

Feel free to leave any constructive comments or opinions you like. Might want to skip the rest of the first page after this post, though, as things got a little "messy".


Quote
Pack Mind (Active, Psychic, Extended Area)
Type: M • Range: T (A) • Duration: S • DV: (F ÷ 2) + 7
       Pack Mind combines facets of several other Detection spells with the interlinked network created by Mindnet to form a constant, two-way flow of thought, perception, emotion, instinct, and intent that allows the Pack to function with a level of cohesion that borders on becoming a collective consciousness. All members of a Pack must be willing subjects, and can leave the Pack Mind link at any time they want, although they cannot be brought back in once they "opt out" without the spell being dropped and re-cast. A subject may only be a member of a single Pack at a time. Sapience, or even a physical body, is not required, only a mind backed with Essence, but guaranteeing the willingness of non-Sapient beings before casting such a draining spell is tricky as best. Not only that, but being linked with animals or Spirits can lead to some strange things coming across the link.
       To form a Pack, the spell must beat a Threshold equal to the number of subjects being interlinked, excluding the caster, as per the Threshold set in Mindnet. If the threshold is met, the Pack is formed and lasts until the spell is dropped or all but one member of the pack "opts out". While Pack Mind is in effect, all "Active" Pack members (i.e. those that are 1) Conscious, 2) Able to perceive, and 3) In Range of the person maintaining the spell) receive a bonus equal to the current number of other Active Pack members. The bonus applies to any roll that would benefit from either the increased awareness and coordination of the Pack, the increased insight of multiple viewpoints, the mental "horsepower" available, or any mixture of the three. That means that if there are three members of the Pack currently Active, they will all receive +2. If Trogdor the Troll (who is currently part of the Pack but sleeping off a Stuffer binge) wakes up from his nap and joins them, the boost immediately jumps to +3.
       Subjects that are behind Wards, in Background Counts, or otherwise Astrally obstructed must subtract the obstruction's rating from the Force of the spell before determining if they are in range or not.
       Due to the in-depth nature of this bond, as compared to other, less intensive, psychic links, not only does the Pack receive the ability to communicate mentally, as per Mindnet, but anything an Active member of the Pack is also considered to be Perceived by all other Active members. This includes, but is not limited to, a target that is clearly visible to any Active member of the Pack being considered visible to all Active members for determining modifiers. The group also includes all Active pack members when determining Line of Sight for spellcasting, but spell-casters still only count direct contact by their own body (or Astral Form, if projecting) when determining Touch range.
       Spells cast using this "indirect" Line of Sight through another Pack member, however, suffer the a -3 penalty on the Spellcasting test due to the increased difficulty of channeling the Mana in a two-stage path, first to the Pack member and then on to the target. In addition, an additional -1 penalty is assessed for every two (2) points of Essence, or fraction there-of, that has been lost by the Pack member the spell is being targeted through, due to their implants disrupting the spell. This is for reasons similar to the penalty assessed in "Healing Characters with Implants" (SR4A, p207), though the effect is lessened due to the spell only being channeled through the reduced-essence character, rather than actively affecting them.
     The Pack link does, unfortunately, also have its drawbacks. Most notably, at least for those who have secretes, is that any member of the Pack that wishes to hide an active thought, impulse, intent, or emotion from other Pack members must make a Composure test with twice the usual threshold to do so. If there is no preexisting threshold, use a threshold equal to the current other Active members of the Pack other than the person attempting to hide something.
     On the more painful side of things, the entire group also suffers the highest calculated Wound Penalty, determined after all members' individual modifiers have been applied to them, from among the entire group. Other effects or penalties, such as disorientation and nausea, may also apply at the GMs discretion, though only at half power, rounded down, and only until the inflicted Pack member is no longer Active.

Note on Drain Value: Pack Mind uses Restricted Target (Willing Subjects) (-1) and Complex Analyze (+2) modifiers in addition to the obvious ones listed in the writeup.


EDIT
Given how this thread has gone, I would like to make it perfectly clear up front to people just joining us that this spell, despite having many functional similarities due to balancing requirements, is not meant to be simply be a "Tacnet For Mages" spell. The details of the rules for TacNet have very little to do with how Pack Mind functions, except in a very broad way as an existing reference for the aforementioned balance concerns. Its actual structure has more to do with me going "Hmmm, what would happen if you turned Mindnet up to 11 and blended it with Passenger".

While I would prefer that nobody even bring up TacNet again at all, If you feel you absolutely, positively must bring TacNet up, please remember that it's going to be an African Swallow to European Swallow comparison.

Got it?

Good.

Carry on, nothing to see here.
« Last Edit: <02-07-12/1318:23> by JustADude »
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Mirikon

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« Reply #1 on: <02-05-12/1003:51> »
So... magical tacnet? Interesting spell, however, I would make a change, for balance purposes. Allow the spell to affect one willing person per level of Force, and the bonus is equal to the number of hits on the spellcasting test, instead of using a threshold.
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Crash_00

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« Reply #2 on: <02-05-12/1015:09> »
Pretty much exactly what I was going to suggest. Lets it work closer to how most other spells work.

I don't really like the Line of Sight through pack members. I think at a minimum there should be a penalty here like casting through fiber optics, but I would really like to see an additional penalty if you're casting through a low essence member of the pack (hard to create a link through something that doesn't conduct the mana worth a damn).

In addition, I'd like to see some requirements other than in range. The way it is worded, technically you can benefit from unconscious subjects in range.

JustADude

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« Reply #3 on: <02-05-12/1026:53> »
So... magical tacnet? Interesting spell, however, I would make a change, for balance purposes. Allow the spell to affect one willing person per level of Force, and the bonus is equal to the number of hits on the spellcasting test, instead of using a threshold.

I took that line about Threshold directly from the Mindnet spell out of SM. I can definitely see your way working better, though.

Pretty much exactly what I was going to suggest. Lets it work closer to how most other spells work.

I don't really like the Line of Sight through pack members. I think at a minimum there should be a penalty here like casting through fiber optics, but I would really like to see an additional penalty if you're casting through a low essence member of the pack (hard to create a link through something that doesn't conduct the mana worth a damn).

In addition, I'd like to see some requirements other than in range. The way it is worded, technically you can benefit from unconscious subjects in range.

How does a base penalty of -3, with an additional -1 per 2 Essence of implants, or fraction thereof? The base Healing w/ Implants penalty seems a bit steep considering it's just going through them, not actually being cast on them, and they're already at a -3 due to the two-stage link.

And yeah, that's one heck of a loophole, though I think Mirikon's suggestion, having the bonus be based off casting hits, makes it moot.
« Last Edit: <02-05-12/1100:12> by JustADude »
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Lethe

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« Reply #4 on: <02-05-12/1209:09> »
TacNet also limits the bonus to the number of senses each member possesses as well as TacNet participants-2 with a maximum of 4.

Reading thoughts and integrating them subconsciously is nice, but it misses all the additional senses from the TacNet requirements to provide more than a +1 bonus. You can't read in thoughts, what the other don't sense.

Mirikon

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« Reply #5 on: <02-05-12/1317:58> »
Not quite, Lethe. Tacnet requires a number of sensory inputs equal to the rating for someone to be part of the network, and you have to have at least Rating +1 members to function. It would also allow drones to be part of that network, as well. A tacnet allows any number of people subscribed to it to get the bonus.
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Lethe

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« Reply #6 on: <02-05-12/1357:11> »
Both from unwired, unless there were some changes i don't know about:
- in order to be counted as a TacNet member each member must contribute a number of sensor channels equal to the tacsoft rating x 2.
- the TacNet bonus equals the total number of members - 2 with a maximum of 4.

So for a plus +2, you need 4 members contributing at least 4 senses each. Useful senses are visual, audio, or olfactory and natural enhancements. Technological senses provided by ware can't be transmitted via magic. Unless all of the members would have natural lowlight or thermographic vision, the bonus would be limited to +1.

JustADude

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« Reply #7 on: <02-05-12/1425:15> »
I asked you to never post in one of my threads again, Lethe.

Go away.
“What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.”
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"Being average just means that half of everyone you meet is better than you."
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Lethe

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« Reply #8 on: <02-05-12/1450:20> »
I asked you to never post in one of my threads again, Lethe.
There is one possibility how you could achieve this: never post anything ever again.
C'mon, do us all the favor ;-)

Orvich

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« Reply #9 on: <02-05-12/1723:45> »
Just wow.

Anyways (Sort of on topic), someone keeps telling me that there is some sort of way to hack into magical communication and eavesdrop, but I can't find any sort of rules for it. If I wanted to run a mindnet backup to our commlinks, or use this spell you've written, I know it could be traced if someone starts astral tracking from one of the linked people, but could the link itself be disrupted directly? I know that barriers and junk will get in the way, I'm talking more about this kind of scenario:

I'm at point A, linked with a groupmate who is two rooms over, at point B. Can a mage/spirit in the room between us (point C) 'hack' our link without being LOS with either of us?

JustADude

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« Reply #10 on: <02-05-12/2309:48> »
I'm at point A, linked with a groupmate who is two rooms over, at point B. Can a mage/spirit in the room between us (point C) 'hack' our link without being LOS with either of us?

Personally, I wouldn't think so. I can't find any rules for "signal hacking" in magic, like there is for Matrix comms. You can see the link, and with enough Assensing tests you can tell exactly what it's for, but you can't figure out exactly what it's transmitting without being connected.

Now, on the other end of the spectrum, using Mind Probe or Thought Recognition on someone that's part of a Mindnet network or Pack Mentality pack would give you the full monty, as far as access to what's being communicated,  but would do exactly diddly-squat to help you track other members of the link-up.

There is one possibility how you could achieve this: never post anything ever again.
C'mon, do us all the favor ;-)

Us? Buddy, hate to break it to you but your imaginary friends don't count, and I'm pretty sure your mom was just humoring you. Also, the "winking" just makes you look like an idiot.

But since you, much like an infestation of New York cockroaches, seem to be impossible to get rid of I might as well actually respond to your utterly tangential and pointless comments about Tacnet.

This spell is designed to generate an end effect that is similar to Tacnet. The formula for calculating the bonus is no more required to be identical to the formula from Tacnet than the functionality of Analyze Truth is required to be identical to the functionality of Lie Detector Software.

So, yeah, you're exactly right about how Tacnet functions, but that's about as relevant as  someone commenting pidgeons during a discussion about the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow.
« Last Edit: <02-05-12/2312:19> by JustADude »
“What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.”
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"Being average just means that half of everyone you meet is better than you."
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Lethe

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« Reply #11 on: <02-06-12/0152:48> »
Now, on the other end of the spectrum, using Mind Probe or Thought Recognition on someone that's part of a Mindnet network or Pack Mentality pack would give you the full monty, as far as access to what's being communicated,  but would do exactly diddly-squat to help you track other members of the link-up.
Wrong ....again.
Thought recognition, not "thought reading", only recognizes if the target thinks about a certain topic, which you have to determine at spellcasting point. It doesn't let you read thoughts.

So, yeah, you're exactly right about how Tacnet functions, but that's about as relevant as  someone commenting pidgeons during a discussion about the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow.
So, how do you suggest the members of you magical TacNet gain the dicepool bonus, if not by taking advantage of additional sensor input. Reading your verbal diarrhea , as amusing as it is, wouldn't help them at all!

JustADude

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« Reply #12 on: <02-06-12/0418:27> »
Now, on the other end of the spectrum, using Mind Probe or Thought Recognition on someone that's part of a Mindnet network or Pack Mentality pack would give you the full monty, as far as access to what's being communicated,  but would do exactly diddly-squat to help you track other members of the link-up.
Wrong ....again.
Thought recognition, not "thought reading", only recognizes if the target thinks about a certain topic, which you have to determine at spellcasting point. It doesn't let you read thoughts.

Wow, you have once again completely and utterly failed to provide any form of constructive commentary in your haste to prove you know more than everyone else about the game system. Since you have this incredible and wonderfully masterful insight into all things Shadowrun and can instantly determine how and why something doesn't work, why don't you enlighten everyone on the forum on the proper way to do things?

Oh, wait, I forgot, you don't have any insight; you just like to tear down other people's work in an attempt to pretend like you have some inkling of creativity.

If you have a better idea then, please, share it with the rest of the class. Otherwise kindly quit running your mouth and lay off the haterade.

As for the subject at hand:

First off, you have conveniently failed notice I also mention Mind Probe as well, which would be the more idea situation. I only mentioned Thought Recognition as a member of the group of spells that are capable of looking into other people's minds. Nice use of selective comprehension, though, to try and twist my point into a straw-man.

Secondly, if you actually knew as much about the rules as you pretend to, then you'd know there aren't any actual rules for "hacking" psychic communications, so if it's going to be possible at all it's going to be a GM's Discretion situation. Based on the stipulated premise that it's possible to "hack" them  at all, using either Mind Probe or a mind-hacking spell designed solely for that purpose are the only available options, and Mind Probe can do the job quite nicely with enough net hits.

So, yeah, you're exactly right about how Tacnet functions, but that's about as relevant as  someone commenting pidgeons during a discussion about the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow.
So, how do you suggest the members of you magical TacNet gain the dicepool bonus, if not by taking advantage of additional sensor input. Reading your verbal diarrhea , as amusing as it is, wouldn't help them at all!

Simply put, a communal consciousness goes much, much deeper than simply providing someone with a few extra tactical blips on their AR display. They get their bonus based not solely on the NUMBER of provided sensory channels, but based on the depth and completeness of the sharing of those senses, hence the total bonus being based off the success of the spell being cast, rather than being a fixed number based on the size of the group.

Given that a presentation for the raison d'etre for the effects of official spells is often utterly nonexistant, or boils down to "It's magic, 'nuff said," that explanation should be more than sufficient... though, knowing you, I'm sure you'll decide to bitch about it anyway.

I don't know why I waste the time and effort to type this, though. It's not like you're actually interested in what I have to say. Since I'm not agreeing with you, you're just going to once more dismiss everything I've said as "verbal diarrhea"... which is hilarious given how much shit you talk.
« Last Edit: <02-06-12/0522:11> by JustADude »
“What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.”
― Albert Einstein

"Being average just means that half of everyone you meet is better than you."
― Me

Crash_00

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« Reply #13 on: <02-06-12/0553:21> »
I think Lethe's point is that it seems overpowered compared to what is already in the game, and I'm not really convinced that he's wrong there. Only playtesting would really tell, but his points on how the TacNet work are very similar to what I meant earlier when I was talking about more restrictions to gaining the bonus.

I don't think Mirikon's suggestion really affected that bit at all, and the way its changed actually makes it more overpowered. Right now, the way its worded it can be taken quite ambiguously, but it can easily be interpreted as each member gets the bonus as long as he's within range of the spellcaster, regardless of how many other members are within range any more (rather than being based on number of members -1). Likewise, the bonus is based on whether or not he's in range rather than how many members are in range and actively perceiving in that area. I would see a model where maximum bonus = number of hits (capping at force as normal), but it still has an additional cap of members perceiving the area in question -1. It almost feels like you're trying to keep it short and sweet, but remember that the TacNet software has lots of rules to it and this is meant to be similar to that and more. Remember, the TacNet is based off of the rating of the software and the size of the group, and is additionally reduced if not all the group is perceiving the target in question.

I think the point being made is that: It's easily able to be more powerful than TacNet, it's able to do considerably more than TacNet (and those things it does in addition are quite powerful to boot), and there is no real drawback to balance it out.

I understand that an actual pack mind should be more effective in theory than just a TacNet, but this spell is simulating a Pack Mind by sending thoughts and intentions throughout the members. It has the benefit of adding your squad's intentions to the mix, which kind of negates the need for all the senses but I'm on the fence about it still. I think a significant drawback would be to also include ill effects suffered by members. Greatest wound penalty applied to entire group, sensory disorientation having to be resisted by additional members (at a possibly reduced threshold), etc.
After all I would think hearing a buddy going, "Shit shit shit, I'm bleeding," and feeling his blood pumping out of his chest and the muscle spasms would be fairly distracting as would the sudden flash and bang of team mate two who just got flashbanged.

To end, calm down. I've only seen one person out of line in this thread and it wasn't Lethe.

FastJack

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« Reply #14 on: <02-06-12/0750:29> »
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