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Need some help with rule calls I made



This seems like the best place to post this, but if there's a better way to get answers to stuff like this I'd appreciate a headsup too :)

There have been a few controversial rules interpretations in my game yesterday. I made rulings on them on the spot to keep the game going, but promised to inquire about them:

1) Home Ground (Astral Acclimation):
How big of an area does this actually cover. Does it cover all of Chicago? All of the CZ? Or just a city block or two?
In a way I feel it makes sense to be able to get it for the whole CZ, it's one of the few things Awakened characters can do to mitigate the ever present BC there. I mean Deckers stack up on all sort of Noise reduction too and for far less than 10 Karma.
So, my ruling was to allow it, for that game at least.

2) Improved Reflexes (Adept Power) + Cram (drug)
Do they stack for a total of +5d6?
I'm honestly not sure. The FAQ is super vague on the issue too.

--- Quote ---Note: initiative dice are not considered
attributes, therefore, they can be increased with drugs up to a maximum of 5D6, except in cases where the rules
specifically state they may not be further enhanced, e.g. Synaptic Boosters.
--- End quote ---
The first part of it seems to say "Sure, it can go up to 5d6 this way (since there's no way to reach 5d6 with only a single drug, it seems to indicate that yes, they stack somehow with something) But then goes on to say "unless stated otherwise"... and IR states it can't be enhanced by technological or magical means... So I guess the question is:
Do drugs count as "technological" or not?
My ruling was: I allowed it, since by reading both the FAQ and the description of IR, I think RAW says yes, it stacks. But I believe RAI would say no.

3) Indirect Combat Touch Attack Spells
If you miss with your Unarmed Attack to touch the target, does the spell still "go off" and you suffer drain, or did you simply fail to cast it in the first place?
I said it causes drain, Caster still gathered the mana into her to make the magic work, but it fizzled away as no contact was being made. In a later discussion it was pointed out that you could also interpret it as "Well the spell requires a touched target to cast in the first place. So without touching, you can't even cast it, aka no drain". Which makes sense to me too, and I think if it came up again I would go with this now.

4) Does Chaotic World or Opium Den affect the targets Initiative?
CW says it affects "all tests", while OD says it affects "all actions" of the target. So I would say OD "No, since Initiative is not an action", but for CW I'm not sure. It's been pointed out multiple times that Initiative is not a Skill Test at least, so want to hear someone elses thought on this too.

5) Does Opium Den and Chaotic World stack?
I don't really see why it shouldn't, but it makes for very powerful debuffs, that often leave the NPC with 2 dice or less, so I wondered if I missed something.

From my POV:

1: Home ground can be as small as a room to as large as an entire neighborhood. But not an entire City. Its hard to define, and would be a player by player case. A mage that is a total shut in would have the "Home Ground" advantage  for only his flat, as they never really leave it and are those not comfortable with anything past their walls.
A Mage that makes a pointed effort to get to know the area (Because they are say, an avid Jogger, and ALWAYS go jogging down the same route everyday at 5am) would have a larger "home Ground" advantage.
This also means that while a Mage may initially start out with a small area of advantage, he can also grow that area by spending more time in it and learning it's in's and out's.

2: Remember kids, "Drugs are BAD" mmm'kay?
    No, seriously. The key wording you are looking for is in the power/cyber. Some powers and cyber say they can not be combined with anything else. (which IR states.). Anything that isn't natural to your own body is a "technology" is the very loosest term. Even venom from spiders or snakes is a biological technology developed by that organism - we call this evolution in biological lifeforms.
    You are free to allow it if you choose - Drugs come with some nasty side effects that act as a limiter to them, not to mention their short duration. But another way to look at it too, is that magic works best in a "pure" environment - including the awakened working the mojo! This is why Magic is tied to Essence; it reflects the purity of the mage's body. By dumping a bunch of chemicals alien to the host, you are "clouding" the body - even if only for a limited time.

3: Nothing happens. The mage stays charged up until he chooses to release the spell, or makes that touch attack. He doesn't complete the casting of until he makes that melee attack. Only then does he act as a conduit for the mana and suffer Drain. Until that time, he is just a battery of charged Mana, waiting to release it.

4: Tests generally involve skills. Every thing else is a "roll". Also, "Tests" generally either set a target number, or have to beat a target number. Initiative isn't a Test per say, and doesn't establish a target number - you can't "pass or fail" an initiative roll. (just like you can't "fail" a damage resistance roll - or test as many call it.) But that doesn't mean what happens on your initiative isn't a test... everything from standing up from prone to shooting a gun, to using the matrix, to rigging a drone involves a test and thus would be affected!
And yes, different spells do stack different effects. But DO keep in mind the maxim of "one attack per target" in SR 5. lots of threads on this to read so I won't get to windy here, but essentially with AOE spells, a single mage couldn't target the same group of people with 2 different multicast spells, as he is now hitting the same targets twice in the same initiative pass. However, he could cast one spell, then the next pass cast the other. Or, 2 mages could work together to hit the same group with 2 different spells
at the same time!
And yes, this is very crippling for NPCs. But remember also: "What's good for the goose, is good for the gander."

I pretty much agree with Reaver on this though there's two I thought I'd clarify my thinking on as I suspect it's a bit different.

1) While a case could be made for home ground being a city (or even larger) as theres plenty of examples in fiction e.g. Vampire prince of a city this is a game not a story. So for balance purposes the player needs to be limited if nothing else. For that I can see a neighbourhood being about as large an area especially in a city you could claim. Both because it's not just a matter of memorising all the streets/buildings/back routes but making it feel like a home. I could tell you all about the city of Sydney near central station but when I'm in the mall shopping it doesn't give the same feel as my apartment or the streets immediately next to where I live and if I go into the city rather than out of it I need a gps to find a location.
Secondly in an urban environment especially you'll have other people claiming a home ground and I've no idea how the rules would work on that.

3) I've always treated it as unless otherwise specified (Since there are abilities/drugs/etc that state specifically they can't benefit from other sources) you can combine things.
For that specific ruling the way I read it was that it was specifying initiative dice are different to other ability enhancements so they can go up to +5d6 rather than only getting +4 which is the usual maximum.


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