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[SR5] Rebalancing spirits

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DigitalZombie

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« on: <08-25-21/1349:26> »
*Rolls Charisma+willpower* = 1,1,3  Critical glitch! 


Yes, I know what you all are thinking: "what a wonderful and totally original topic! I didnt know there were anyone in the whole world with this unique view on spirits. OP must truly be a special snowflake :)"

As I see it there are currently 2   "tools" that various gaming groups utilise to curb the power of spirits.  ( outside crazy stuff, like talking to your players)

1: The game master controls the spirit as its an NPC.  This has 2 effects, 1 the summoner player will find it boring and use spirits less. 2. The GM can willfully play the spirit less optimal, or even directly dangerous to the party- purposefully interpreting orders wrong etc.

2: use edge to resist summoning when at a high enough force ( the CRB states that noone knows if summoned spirits have edge or not- but as they have edge on their profile they MIGHT have edge kust before they are summoned.

Lets presume that both of the above makes spirits "balanced".

I dont like number 1, simply becausr its boring and I think the player should be able to control his spirit within reason.  Therefore I would like to replace it with something else.... but what?
One of the things I have been considering would be to make summoning cost more drain. 3 drain per hit instead of 2. That way a spirit would on average cost the same drain as a manaball... and not as currently where the drain on average is F-1 for a force 3 spirit and F-4! For a force 12 spirit.

Have any of you used other things regarding spirits?



Reaver

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« Reply #1 on: <08-25-21/1401:41> »
*Rolls Charisma+willpower* = 1,1,3  Critical glitch! 


Yes, I know what you all are thinking: "what a wonderful and totally original topic! I didnt know there were anyone in the whole world with this unique view on spirits. OP must truly be a special snowflake :)"

As I see it there are currently 2   "tools" that various gaming groups utilise to curb the power of spirits.  ( outside crazy stuff, like talking to your players)

1: The game master controls the spirit as its an NPC.  This has 2 effects, 1 the summoner player will find it boring and use spirits less. 2. The GM can willfully play the spirit less optimal, or even directly dangerous to the party- purposefully interpreting orders wrong etc.

2: use edge to resist summoning when at a high enough force ( the CRB states that noone knows if summoned spirits have edge or not- but as they have edge on their profile they MIGHT have edge kust before they are summoned.

Lets presume that both of the above makes spirits "balanced".

I dont like number 1, simply becausr its boring and I think the player should be able to control his spirit within reason.  Therefore I would like to replace it with something else.... but what?
One of the things I have been considering would be to make summoning cost more drain. 3 drain per hit instead of 2. That way a spirit would on average cost the same drain as a manaball... and not as currently where the drain on average is F-1 for a force 3 spirit and F-4! For a force 12 spirit.

Have any of you used other things regarding spirits?

I find having players track their own "Spirit Reputation" helps curbs players using Spirits like meat shields and bullet sponges. It also seems to cause players to think of creative uses for spirits that don't fall into "Be my I WIN button".


As for taking over a Spirit as a GM, its true, I do this, simply because players seem to treat their summons are card board soldiers - with as much personality. I give their summons personalities and appearances that aren't just "talking brick that looks like a column of fire".... Again, in hopes of players developing some sort of attachment to their summons other than "my I WIN button"...

Besides, its a good clue to the player that he might want to rethink his spirit strategy when his summons looks at him as goes "Oh, Its YOU! What do YOU want now, you utter piece of Shit?"
Where am I going? And why am I in a hand basket ???

Remember: You can't fix Stupid. But you can beat on it with a 2x4 until it smartens up! Or dies.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #2 on: <08-25-21/1544:25> »
Edge rerolls on the summoning test is a pretty big influence on how powerful a summoned spirit is going to be.  It's legal for SRM GMs to have spirits spend edge on their own behalf to resist the summoning, but it's also somewhat antagonistic on the meta level.  There's definitely a dimension, or at least the perception, of a GM going "I don't want you to have this..."

If you open up the possibility of house rules/deviating from the rules, you could flip that equation on its ear and just forbid ANY rerolls on summoning.  That'll result in spirits with less services, and less services equals less potential to be problematic for game balance.

Another option would be to reject the standard of 1 combat = 1 service.  If 1 combat round = 1 service, or any 1 use of a power = 1 service, you get to the same place as above, but without taking away the player's right to spend edge on an unsatisfactory roll.

Barring any of that, about the only thing you can do is exercise GM authority to tell the player what the spirit does, rather than the other way around.  And, if there's a game balance problem, the spirit can do things 'according to the letter of the command' but twists the intent in such a way to not provide an "I win" button to the problem-maker.

Edit: you could also play around with nerfing Immunity to Normal Weapons, but in 5e it's less of a problem.  But if it IS a problem, remember that ItNW is tied to essence, not force.  There's no reason why a force 6 spirit has to come with full essence.  Maybe it's only got 2 or 3 essence, because it was summoned in a polluted sprawl...  And of course you could just directly nerf the effect, so that the kinds of cheap weapons employed by mundane opposition could plausibly hurt a spirit.
« Last Edit: <08-25-21/1547:46> by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Odsh

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« Reply #3 on: <08-25-21/1810:43> »
If you really want to nerf spirits, why not simply divide their power by two or something similar.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #4 on: <08-26-21/1126:02> »
If you really want to nerf spirits, why not simply divide their power by two or something similar.

Yes, instilling an arbitrary cap on what force you can summon would do this as well. "Force may not exceed 1/2 Magic" would immediately "fix" spirit imbalance.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #5 on: <08-26-21/1254:52> »
'Generally, powerful Spirits will dislike being summoned and resist it' is no more meta-antagonistic than 'if you walk on the street with a bazooka, people will call the cops'.

As for spirits being run by the GM, first of all without that the whole Astral Rep and different traditions their beliefs make no sense, second I find it actually makes thing more interesting as suddenly the spirits have a personality. I have run a Force 4 Bound Air Spirit with a personality to the point where the player made that specific spirit their Ally Spirit later on.
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DigitalZombie

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« Reply #6 on: <08-27-21/1634:31> »


I find having players track their own "Spirit Reputation" helps curbs players using Spirits like meat shields and bullet sponges. It also seems to cause players to think of creative uses for spirits that don't fall into "Be my I WIN button".

Besides, its a good clue to the player that he might want to rethink his spirit strategy when his summons looks at him as goes "Oh, Its YOU! What do YOU want now, you utter piece of Shit?"

Aah yes I had forgotten a bit about the spirit index.
But as Im looking on it now, it doesnt seem that impressive. If the summoner  just uses summoned spirits, and  doesnt rebind old spirits... then his spirit index will never increase under normal circumstances.
 
Unless youve added other things to that list? Like obnoxious behavior towards spirits, or having a bound spirit following you around for like forever, because you only assign it a couple of combat tasks now and then.

And regarding the spirit index' rebinding penalty.. that kinda works against the whole "growing attached" part, which is kinda sad actually :/ it actively punishes players establishing a relationship with their spirits :/


 

Tecumseh

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« Reply #7 on: <08-28-21/0140:47> »
I won't say that this is a watertight rule but one thing you can do is require the summoner to spend more Simple Actions on "Command Spirit" than GMs usually do.

Most players summon a spirit, give it a high-level instruction like "get them" or "protect me" and then - OOCly - have the spirit act in perfect harmony with the rest of the team with no additional instructions, usually passing it off by saying, "Well it has Logic equal to Force and Force equals 6 so it's a genius and behaves optimally." Which, of course, does not reflect the average spirit's limited understanding of the mundane world.

Instead, if you require the PC summoner to spend Simple Actions to give the spirit explicit directions - like "use Elemental Attack on that ganger" or "use Fear on the Knight Errant officer" or "Engulf my mother-in-law" - then there's a cost in terms of action economy. This isn't curbing the spirit so much as it limits what else the summoner can do with his or her remaining actions. (For example, if the summoner wishes to cast a spell while also giving an command to the spirit, then the spell must be Recklessly Cast with the associated uptick in Drain.) It can also mean that sometimes there's a lag between when the spirit will do something - like the optimal attack against a specific opponent - as the initiative order works its way around to the summoner's turn when the summoner will give the appropriate instructions. Sometimes this means that the spirit acts suboptimally for a initiative pass or two, which can be a gentler curb than a strictly mechanical limitation.

MercilessMing

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« Reply #8 on: <08-30-21/1145:34> »
Something 6E did - Spirits roll FX2 to resist summoning instead of F.  This has the effect of more drain, and fewer services. 

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #9 on: <08-30-21/2032:07> »
Something 6E did - Spirits roll FX2 to resist summoning instead of F.  This has the effect of more drain, and fewer services.
Equal drain, actually, because drain per hit is 1 instead of 2. But fewer services yes.

@Tecumseh: An evil GM can then also mandate a service for every specific instruction, or stick to general combat service with less control. If you have a good Astral Rep, it might take the command as a suggestion it's willing to listen to. Otherwise, it might see it as micromanaging and demand a service for each command.
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