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SR5: Shedim, disruption and banishing

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acaeti

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« on: <04-15-22/1429:26> »
My GM has us on a mission where we're encountering and fighting Shedim here and there.

Though we've been on a few runs, we have never encountered them before, and therefore some mechanics questions have come to the fore, as you might expect.  My questions revolve around defeating Shedim in combat or a combat-like setting.

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From what I am able to piece together, it seems like the best way to get rid of a Shedim is to just straight-up disrupt it with damage to the (dead) body (i.e. "vessel") it has possessed, leading to it to be disrupted.

1. Based on SG p.93, Shedim (all types) "take possession of the bodies of the deceased" and, indeed, have the Possession (Dead or Abandoned Vessels) power listed in their stat block.

2. Based on SG p.197 "Possession" power, subsection for "Dead/Inanimate Vessels," "the spirit adds half of its force to the vessel's Structure and Armor ratings, Object Resistance dice pool, or Physical attributes, depending on the situation and/or vessel type."  And later in "Damage," "Physical damage incurred during possession is recorded as a single track, and both vessel and spirit retain the full amount of this damage when possession ends, which is cumulative with any previous damage."

3. Then on SG p.192 "Disruption" concerning spirits, "When Physical or Stun damage fills up a spirit's Condition Monitor, that spirit is disrupted and immediately returns to its native metaplane.  Spirits possessing vessels are only disrupted if the vessel's Condition Monitor suffers a lethal amount of overflow damage (See Exceeding the Condition Monitor, p.170 SR5).  A disrupted spirit cannot appear outside its meta- plane for a period of 28 days minus its Force, with a minimum time of 24 hours."

1-3 above adds up to "perform a lethal amount of overflow damage" and the spirit is disrupted, and by being disrupted, the Shedim returns to its metaplane (not the Astral Plane).  I will qualify this by noting that "normal" Shedim have an optional regeneration power, while "Master" Shedim always regenerate, increasing the difficulty of landing the necessary amount of damage with "just" guns'n'bombs.

Banishing doesn't seem to be the way to go, though.  According to SG p.197 Possession, "a possessing spirit may be forced back to the astral plane with a Banishing Test (p. 301, SR5).  If the... spirit is banished, that spirit cannot attempt to possess that vessel again until the next sunrise or sunset."  So, Banishing seems like a bad deal, in part because my runner and his chummer our other mage did not put many dice in Banishing, but even if we did Banish a Shedim from its vessel (dead body), it "merely" be in the Astral plane and could find another dead body to possess as a complex action, and be back in the fight.  Certainly some narrow scenarios lend themselves to banishing-to-Astral (e.g. you don't want to damage the dead body for whatever reason, perhaps "stealth" relative to guns'n'bombs).

==

What causes me some doubt about the "just disrupt them with vessel damage" idea is a number of threads on Reddit and other boards that tend to imply that when a Shedim's vessel is destroyed, it may simply go find another vessel and be back in the fight with a complex action (one thread notes, and I am paraphrasing, "don't fight Shedim in a graveyard").  It could be that some of these threads (many of which are years old) are referencing SR4 rules, which I am unfamiliar with.

Example threads that give me some pause:

1. https://www.reddit.com/r/Shadowrun/comments/1x6l9x/fighting_the_shedim/
2. https://forums.shadowruntabletop.com/index.php?topic=30556.0
3. https://www.reddit.com/r/Shadowrun/comments/3h5kvh/combating_spirits_specifically_shedim/

Some thoughts from the community and validation of my thinking would be appreciated!

Xenon

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« Reply #1 on: <04-16-22/0549:16> »
Shedim are kind designed to be relentless and always keep coming and coming and coming.


"perform a lethal amount of overflow damage" and the spirit is disrupted ...
Note that destroying the vessel with non-magical attacks might also be tricky since it get both resistance to normal weapon as well as regeneration while begin possessed....

(edit, at least the vessel used to get immunity to normal weapons in 4th edition - perhaps this got changed for 5th?)


... possess as a complex action, and be back in the fight
Although the act of possessing a new corpse typically is quick, it might take awhile for the Shedim to actually find a suitable vessel to begin with

Since the first encounter of Shedim back in 2061 (The Year of the Comet) many traditions have revised their burial practices to also incorporate Old World spiritual protection to prevent the corpse being subject to inhabitation or manipulation (game mechanically this is typically represented by the Grave Binding ritual, but it is also common that astral defenses -such as wards- are created to protect cemeteries, crypts, and even morgues).

Shedim now days typically have to resort to victims of random violence or natural causes shortly after death.
They also don't have time to be too picky since while they are in astral form they suffer from Evanescence.


And once possessing it might also take awhile for them to get back to wherever the players are at.
« Last Edit: <04-16-22/0557:02> by Xenon »

acaeti

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« Reply #2 on: <04-16-22/0850:00> »
Shedim are kind designed to be relentless and always keep coming and coming and coming.

Yeah, exactly, that's the "rep" and I am trying to square that up against how things play in SR5.

"perform a lethal amount of overflow damage" and the spirit is disrupted ...
Note that destroying the vessel with non-magical attacks might also be tricky since it get both resistance to normal weapon as well as regeneration while begin possessed....

(edit, at least the vessel used to get immunity to normal weapons in 4th edition - perhaps this got changed for 5th?)

It did, indeed, get changed for SR5.  Possession (SG 197) no longer confers immunity to "normal" weapons.  The vessel gets "buffed up" a bit by the Spirit, and Regen does make it tricky, I agree, if the Shedim has it (optional power for a "normal," non-Master Shedim).  But not immune.

... possess as a complex action, and be back in the fight
Although the act of possessing a new corpse typically is quick, it might take awhile for the Shedim to actually find a suitable vessel to begin with

Since the first encounter of Shedim back in 2061 (The Year of the Comet) many traditions have revised their burial practices to also incorporate Old World spiritual protection to prevent the corpse being subject to inhabitation or manipulation (game mechanically this is typically represented by the Grave Binding ritual, but it is also common that astral defenses -such as wards- are created to protect cemeteries, crypts, and even morgues).

Shedim now days typically have to resort to victims of random violence or natural causes shortly after death.
They also don't have time to be too picky since while they are in astral form they suffer from Evanescence.

And once possessing it might also take awhile for them to get back to wherever the players are at.

Definitely noted.

But, I don't see how a SR5 Shedim can bounce from corpse to corpse any longer (even if one is readily at hand) when they're disrupted by combat damage (normal or magical).  Those with regen will surely be relentless, even in a hail of guns'n'bombs, but it sure seems to me they get disrupted when their CM goes far enough over lethal that end-of-turn regen can't save them.

Reaver

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« Reply #3 on: <04-17-22/0515:06> »
Shedim are kind designed to be relentless and always keep coming and coming and coming.

Yeah, exactly, that's the "rep" and I am trying to square that up against how things play in SR5.

"perform a lethal amount of overflow damage" and the spirit is disrupted ...
Note that destroying the vessel with non-magical attacks might also be tricky since it get both resistance to normal weapon as well as regeneration while begin possessed....

(edit, at least the vessel used to get immunity to normal weapons in 4th edition - perhaps this got changed for 5th?)

It did, indeed, get changed for SR5.  Possession (SG 197) no longer confers immunity to "normal" weapons.  The vessel gets "buffed up" a bit by the Spirit, and Regen does make it tricky, I agree, if the Shedim has it (optional power for a "normal," non-Master Shedim).  But not immune.

... possess as a complex action, and be back in the fight
Although the act of possessing a new corpse typically is quick, it might take awhile for the Shedim to actually find a suitable vessel to begin with

Since the first encounter of Shedim back in 2061 (The Year of the Comet) many traditions have revised their burial practices to also incorporate Old World spiritual protection to prevent the corpse being subject to inhabitation or manipulation (game mechanically this is typically represented by the Grave Binding ritual, but it is also common that astral defenses -such as wards- are created to protect cemeteries, crypts, and even morgues).

Shedim now days typically have to resort to victims of random violence or natural causes shortly after death.
They also don't have time to be too picky since while they are in astral form they suffer from Evanescence.

And once possessing it might also take awhile for them to get back to wherever the players are at.

Definitely noted.

But, I don't see how a SR5 Shedim can bounce from corpse to corpse any longer (even if one is readily at hand) when they're disrupted by combat damage (normal or magical).  Those with regen will surely be relentless, even in a hail of guns'n'bombs, but it sure seems to me they get disrupted when their CM goes far enough over lethal that end-of-turn regen can't save them.

If you exceed the overflow of the vessel, the shedim is disrupted, and is NOT coming back anytime soon...

BUT: Keep in mind, this is not really as easy as it sounds... the vessel is dead.... D.E.D, Dead.  A bullet isn't going to make it more dead 😜

Time to think beyond "Moar lead NOW!!" and dig a little deeper into the tool box.

Also, keep in mind a shedim can abandon a vessel that is useless, in favor for a better vessel if one is near by. (hence the "don't fight in a graveyard), so blowing the limbs off a corpse might stop it from trying to eat you, but it doesn't stop the Shedim from just jumping to a corpse WITH arms and legs...
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.

Xenon

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« Reply #4 on: <04-17-22/1458:22> »
Also, keep in mind a shedim can abandon a vessel that is useless
Actually... do they have the option to also voluntary abandon a vessel once they possessed it??

Even read something about a tactic being to mutilate their vessel as a way to disable it (but with the regeneration power it will not be a permanent solution).

Beta

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« Reply #5 on: <04-18-22/1141:57> »
I don't see a reason why they couldn't abandon their vessel?  A commanded spirit would only leave a possessed vessel if commanded to do so, but I don't see anything stopping Shedim from doing so. 

And as you pointed out, you'd need to go through their overflow boxes as well as the physical condition monitor, so it won't be too common for them to be one-shotted.  So in many cases they may see where things are headed and have an opportunity to jump out.  Which is when having a spirit or astrally projected mage* on stand-by for astral combat can be helpful.
*obvious note about the danger of astrally projecting around shedim applies!  Shaman in my game set up a stading rule with his group that if he wakes up from astral projection and doesn't start babbling the code phrase, they have permission to ice him on the spot. (somewhat relaxed since he got an ally spirit, since it gives one more entity who could give the warning)

But as far as we could figure out, in 5e there isn't anything stopping you from going straight for astral combat damage.  The great thing being that if the shedim spirit stays in its host it can't pursue you (so you can run if hurting).  If you have masking you could even fake injury in hopes of luring a spirit out of its host and into an astral ambush.

However you probably can't just hover well back and bombard it with mana spells, as the spirit is hidden from asensing by the shell of the body  (not an aura, but a blocker of asensing), and mana spells require being able to sense the target as we read it.  Something we didn't do in the past but will do in the future is apply a penalty to the attacker if the shedim is staying well hidden in its shell (basically it has decent cover), but if the shedim fights back it has to be exposing itself at least briefly so we'll drop that penalty then.

We figure most spirits are happy enough to fight shedim, especially if their orders include a release if they are moderately wounded (i.e. "Fight the spirit that is currently inside *that* body, until it is disrupted or until you are moderately hurt, whichever comes first").  The PC's spirits are quickly replaceable, the shedim not so much, so you can wear them down while also attacking their shell (or if they have people fooled and you don't want to be accused of murder, you do it strictly astrally).

It is possible that we missed something in one of the books, but that is how we've been playing things out with shedim.

And a final note that if you haven't messed around with astral combat before, be aware that it tends to be quick and brutal as most beings have no armor, so damage is only soaked by Will.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #6 on: <04-18-22/1756:18> »
Note that the Shedim can no longer easily return to Earth. So they are more likely to play coward and run when in too much danger.
How am I not part of the forum?? O_O I am both active and angry!

Reaver

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« Reply #7 on: <04-18-22/2218:31> »
Note that the Shedim can no longer easily return to Earth. So they are more likely to play coward and run when in too much danger.

That true too.

Shedim don't come from the Astral plane, but from a meta plane: Making them basically "2 plane rides" from home. (And one of the few awakened nasties to come from a meta-plane.)

As such, they don't come back after being either dispelled or disrupted. They must be summoned back through either a meta magic feat, Ritual summoning, or the gateway power of a Great Form Shedim. (And no, players can't learn the Rirual/metamagic)

This is why they MUST inhabit/possess a body/item. Without a connection to the physical plane they suffer from evanensence (not the band!) And  Die in (F) weeks.

Good news for you however!
Not that many cemeteries left in the 6th world. Land is expensive and cremation is the way of most major urban centers - and piles of ash are of no use to the Shedim.
Morgues and hospitals are warded to prevent Shedim hijacking as well... so its just the beggers and bums that die and are not collected in time that pose the biggest risks in a city.

Outside of the cities... out in the wastelands and no man's kands that are BETWEEN cities... well that's where you have the problems....
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.

Beta

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« Reply #8 on: <04-19-22/1600:17> »
Or, you know, those big old cemeteries of historical significance that are hard to get agreement to mess with ... *cough* Arlington *cough*

But yah, there are lots of places in the world with unexpected caches of bodies, and I'm sure that shedim have been vigorously searching them out.

Xenon

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« Reply #9 on: <04-19-22/1719:15> »
There are also rumors in the shadows that they are perhaps orchestrating kidnappings of targeted individuals just to have them murdered so they can be possessed...

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #10 on: <04-21-22/0943:33> »
Can you imagine runners being hired to go into a site while causing a blackout, having to wipe all the evidence, then later on discovering some of the killed guards are still alive? And it turns out their entire run was meant to create bodies for the Shedim to take over?
How am I not part of the forum?? O_O I am both active and angry!

acaeti

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« Reply #11 on: <04-22-22/0149:37> »
If you exceed the overflow of the vessel, the shedim is disrupted, and is NOT coming back anytime soon...

BUT: Keep in mind, this is not really as easy as it sounds... the vessel is dead.... D.E.D, Dead.  A bullet isn't going to make it more dead 😜

Time to think beyond "Moar lead NOW!!" and dig a little deeper into the tool box.

I guess I disagree; in my opinion, guns'n'bombs will still do damage to a corpse.

Possession (SG p.197) has some information that could be interpreted to suggest that a corpse's physical attributes are used (italics mine):

"Dead/Inanimate Vessels: While possessing a nonliving vessel, the spirit adds half of its Force to the vesselís Structure and Armor Ratings (p. 197, SR5), Object Resistance dice pool (p. 295, SR5), or Physical attributes, depending on the situation and/or vessel type."

and later (italics mine):

"Damage: If the spirit or the vessel has already sustained damage, that damage sticks around upon successful possession, but only the greater set of the combined Wound Modifiers applies (modified by the spiritís Force, for living vessels). Physical damage incurred during possession is recorded as a single track, and both vessel and spirit retain the full amount of this damage when possession ends, which is cumulative with any previous damage. When possession ends, the vesselís Physical attributes return to normal while the damage stays in place, so this damage can have potentially lethal side effects."

So, I could see starting with "what was the CM of the corpse when it died?"  If the Shedim can't regenerate (say its a F5 Shedim and didn't take it as the optional), it possesses a corpse and adds half its force to the corpse's attributes.  If the corpse-in-life had Body 4, physical CM 10, its overflow is 14.  Let's say the corpse died from getting shot fulla holes and starts at 15 boxes down.  If a F5 Shedim possessed it, its new body is 4 + F(5)/2 = 7 (rounding up).  It's new CM is then 12 (rounding up), its overflow is 19.  So, just jumping in, it's an animated corpse, shot fulla holes, looking pretty damn ragged (4P to give on its CM).  Shoot it fulla a few more holes to fill the CM to 20, it's "dead" again, and the spirit is disrupted.

If that corpse got "overkilled" (say it starts out at 20 boxes down) it may be "too shot fulla holes" to be possess-able in the first place (after possession it would still be past overflow limit).

Of course, if that Shedim *had* regeneration, well, it's going to quickly regen and be back in good shape with a CM of 12, overflow 19, dead @ 20.  BUT I'd need to do enough physical damage in a combat turn that its regen won't get it under 20.  Average regen would be hits on 5+7=12 dice, call it 4 hits, plus body of 7, for 11.  So I'd need it, at the end of a round, to be at about 31-32 physical damage, on average, to truly "die" and get disrupted (yikes!).

Another possibility is that this corpse died from "natural causes," in which case the CM might be zero boxes to start.  Or maybe the unfortunate "bled out" from a slit throat (called shot to neck, R&G p114) or other rules and I might house rule that the CM resets to the actual damage, removing the bleed-out DV that a Shedim might not be bothered by.  Corpse might still be beat up, but not as bad as "shot fulla holes."

Also, keep in mind a shedim can abandon a vessel that is useless, in favor for a better vessel if one is near by. (hence the "don't fight in a graveyard), so blowing the limbs off a corpse might stop it from trying to eat you, but it doesn't stop the Shedim from just jumping to a corpse WITH arms and legs...

I agree, I don't see anything that suggests a Shedim can't freely abandon a vessel.  BUT, it would do so at its own peril.  Back to Possession (SG p.197, italics mine):

"Damage: If the spirit or the vessel has already sustained damage, that damage sticks around upon successful possession, but only the greater set of the combined Wound Modifiers applies (modified by the spiritís Force, for living vessels). Physical damage incurred during possession is recorded as a single track, and both vessel and spirit retain the full amount of this damage when possession ends, which is cumulative with any previous damage. When possession ends, the vesselís Physical attributes return to normal while the damage stays in place, so this damage can have potentially lethal side effects."

Though the example in the text focuses on the danger to the physical vessel, the Shedim is in just as much peril.  Let's say a F5 Shedim, same as the example above, has taken 12P on its CM, and decides to ditch the vessel.  When it separates, the damage is retained, but is now measured against its own attributes.  It's got a Body of 5, so its CM is 11.  Flipping to the section about Disruption (SG p.192):

"When Physical or Stun damage fills up a spiritís Condition Monitor, that spirit is disrupted and immediately returns to its native metaplane."

Thus, boom, the moment it fled, it dead (or, disrupted, as it were), because it has 12P and its CM is just 11.  Also, fleeing at, say, 10P, only really makes sense if it was purely running away.  Back to Possession (SG p.197):

"Damage: If the spirit or the vessel has already sustained damage, that damage sticks around upon successful possession, but only the greater set of the combined Wound Modifiers applies (modified by the spiritís Force, for living vessels)."

Thus, merging with another vessel, even a "pristine" dead body, would put it essentially right back where it started: 10P on its CM.  The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak, as it were.

A lot of this hinges on assessing a corpse as using its physical attributes and CM as I have done in my examples above.  If you treat a corpse as a barrier with structure and armor, it'd pan out differently.  That said, the physical attributes feel more "right" to me, and a shot fulla holes corpse is still shot fulla holes, even if it has been possessed (it just has a little bit more "go" left in it, from the possessing spirit).