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New to SR4: Magic Question

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Beansidhe

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« on: <09-09-10/1338:47> »
I have played Shadowrun for many years, from brief experiences with 1st edition, several play sessions of 2nd edition, and running a fair amount of third ediiton, but I have been out of the loop for probably 8 years on really doing anything with Shadowrun. 

I have had the book on my shelf for a while for 4E and just finished reading it.  I'm now sitting down to design a character (Dwarven Bear Shaman) and was wondering what the Spirit types associated with the different types of spells had to do with the way I perform my magic.  I see on page 180 and 181 (of the 20th Anniversary Edition) that they assign the different types of spirits to different aspects of magic, but I didn't notice where they explain what that really means. 

In a linked question (I feel it is), Hermetic Mages can now have Spirit Mentors, which if my memory serves was one of the large differences between Shamans and Hermetic Mages before.  What is the real difference these days (unless that was answered above).  Not sure if it is just a choice of what spray paint you are using on your awakened character or not in SR4. 

Critias

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« Reply #1 on: <09-09-10/1405:45> »
The differences, rules-wise, between Hermetics and Shaman aren't that huge (what spirits they can summon, and what attributes they resist drain with).  There are additional magical traditions in Street Magic (which is a book chock full of info you'll like, with the character you're making) that offer additional options, and more "differences" between the Hermetic/Shaman split (bigger differences in spirits, some that possess you instead of materializing, in particular is a big change).

The shift in SR4 is, largely, one towards allowing would-be mages to design their own tradition.  Want a mentor spirit, despite being a very logical and scientific-minded spellcaster?  Here you go.  Want to cherry pick the exact spirits you imagine your character being able to summon?  Sure!  Want to resist Drain with Logic because you see yourself as out-thinking physics and bending it to your will?  You can do that.  Prefer to use Charisma as your Drain stat, because you wield supernatural forces through sheer life energy and force of personality?  Whatever floats your boat.

The crunch differences are small.  Spirits available, Drain stat.  The fluff differences -- the flavor, the feel, of your Tradition -- is left in your hands, instead of being spelled out in the books, now.  Being a magic user has become a lot more personal, and a lot less class-based, in my opinion.

FastJack

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« Reply #2 on: <09-09-10/1411:07> »
It's mostly flavor text, IMO. For instance, if a Mage wants help with an illusion spell, he'll summon a Water elemental to help him cast it, while a Shaman would summon a Spirit of Air to help him.

There is no real "rules difference" between the two. They modified the rules so that a) magic-users are all pretty standard across the board and b) to make it easier to create new traditions. If you pick up Street Magic, you can see they have another 15+ traditions written out. The spirits assigned to the different areas of magic give you a look into how that tradition sees how it accesses the magical powers of the awakened world. Regarding the Mentor spirits, a Shaman with a Cat mentor spirit would view Cat as his Totem, the pure perfection of all cats and how to conduct himself to achieve greater magics. A Mage with a Cat mentor spirit would view that same spirit as a familiar, a mystical being that whispers secrets to new magics when it pleases the spirit.

Edit: Ninja'd by Crit, but I'll leave it.

Beansidhe

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« Reply #3 on: <09-09-10/1418:59> »
Thanks for an excellent answer to the second question.  Any thoughts on the first and the lists of linked spirits to spell types?  

Combat: Beasts
Detection: Water
Health: Earth
Illusion: Air
Manipulation: Man

That is what it has for Shamans.  If you answered it already, I totally still didn't notice the connection (maybe the night of sleep that I didn't have).  

Thanks again for the response you passed on to me already.  

I have Street Magic (and numerous other PDFs of SR4) on my computer, but want to try and play with the system before confusing my brain with another 200 pages of reading or so.  Might take a peek into the book for some more info on some of this. 

@FastJack: Thanks for the further answer on this.  It helped me pick up a further understanding.  Taking what you are saying to the next step, if I am a Shaman and have an Animal Spirit summoned, it would be able to aid me with Combat spells but not with other spells?

Critias

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« Reply #4 on: <09-09-10/1428:37> »
Sorry about that, Bean, I actually kind of missed the first question.

If you're using the Anniversary Edition, check for Spirit Services on page 186.  Specifically -- if I'm understanding your question -- you'll want to read over the sub-section on Magical Services, under bound spirits (page 187 in the Anniversary book).  

You can only get an "aid Sorcery" for a combat spell, for instance, from a spirit that your Tradition associates with combat magic.  For your Bear Shaman, that would mean if he wanted a bound spirit to tag along and help out on a combat-heavy Shadowrun, he'd want for it to be a Beast spirit.  If he wanted one to help him with healing, instead, it would have to be an Earth spirit that he bound ahead of time.

So on the one hand, you're picking the five types of spirits you can summon.  For Hermetics it's the "classic" elementals, plus Man (perhaps symbolic of metahumanity's logic being as potent as fire, earth, air, or water)...all very symbolic stuff, right?  But it's also limiting them to those five spirit types, which means a by-the-book Hermetic isn't gonna whip up a Beast spirit any time soon.  Beast spirits might be able to do really cool stuff that you REALLY want your spellcaster to have access to, so you could see that as a limiter.  On the other hand, a Hermetic can call up a Fire spirit (and a by-the-book Shaman) can't, so maybe you're missing out on something awesome.  So you've got to pick your five a little carefully, and make sure they're the spirits you picture as associated with your mentality/outlook/ability, right?

And then comes the way they're affiliated to each spell type.  It's a convenient breakdown (in that there are five types of spells, and you get to choose five spirits), for starters...but, "crunch wise," in terms of hard and ugly game rules, it's mostly only a factor for Binding a spirit (so, that stuff on page 187) and making them give you spellcasting dice.

Is that a little closer to your question?

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Edit: Ninja'd by Crit, but I'll leave it.

Ninja'd?  I was like five minutes before you!  It's not like I snuck it in there under the radar.  Sheesh.   ;D

EDIT:  Just noticed that you specifically mentioned the Anniversary edition, Bean, so getting rid of my "extra" page references.
« Last Edit: <09-09-10/1433:33> by Critias »

FastJack

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« Reply #5 on: <09-09-10/1433:18> »
Sorry about that, Bean, I actually kind of missed the first question.

If you're using the Anniversary Edition, check for Spirit Services on page 186.  It's page 177 in the older core book (regular SR4).  Specifically -- if I'm understanding your question -- you'll want to read over the sub-section on Magical Services, under bound spirits (page 187 in the Anniversary book, 178 in the regular SR4). 

You can only get an "aid Sorcery" for a combat spell, for instance, from a spirit that your Tradition associates with combat magic.  For your Bear Shaman, that would mean if he wanted a bound spirit to tag along and help out on a combat-heavy Shadowrun, he'd want for it to be a Beast spirit.  If he wanted one to help him with healing, instead, it would have to be an Earth spirit that he bound ahead of time.

Is that a little closer to your question?

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Edit: Ninja'd by Crit, but I'll leave it.

Ninja'd?  I was like five minutes before you!  It's not like I snuck it in there under the radar.  Sheesh.   ;D
Yea, but it took me more than five minutes to double-check SR4 and type up my response... I'm not always as fast as my namesake... ;)

Critias

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« Reply #6 on: <09-09-10/1434:28> »
Edited that last one (that 'Jack quoted) to try and expand a little more...I think I'm answering your question, Bean, but I'm still not terribly sure.

Critias

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« Reply #7 on: <09-09-10/1458:53> »
And, by the way, if I'm way off base here, someone just say so.  I'm new to SR4 magic, myself (just making my first mage characters, like right now)...so I'm mostly just answering because it's all fresh in my brain, since I've just been reading over it this week.  So, yeah, I might not actually know what I'm talking about, I'm just sharing my own (recent) learnings.

There's a good chance I'm totally wrong and stupid and nobody likes me.  If that's the case, I'd appreciate it if folks stuck to the "totally wrong" part, here in this thread, mind you...  :'(

Beansidhe

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« Reply #8 on: <09-09-10/1515:06> »
On my way to the page in the book, but I believe the two of you have covered it nicely for me.  Thanks much.  

Edit: That did address it.  Thanks much.
« Last Edit: <09-09-10/1520:57> by Beansidhe »