Domain questions

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« on: (16:15:42/02-06-18) »
Was reading through the background count/domain section of the Street Grimoire and had some questions:

1.  Anyone else think it was a little odd how much domain levels increased betweeen 4e and 5e?  4e had Hiroshima/Hagasaki/Auschwitz/Abilene Re-Education Center all as rating 6 domains (p121 SM).  5e has most of those at rating 13 and Auschwitz at rating 16 (p.31 SG)  Was this just an attempt to make magic more dangerous to use?  Does anyone actually use these values in their games?

2.  How do you handle the edges of domains?  Do you have the background count ramp up till it hits its max or do you go from surrounding background count to domain background count in one step?  For example, once you get past the fence of the Abilene Re-Education center, are you fine or do you need to walk 10/30/100 meters before you no longer feel any effect from the domain?  I know in earlier editions, Cermak Blast Zone increased in background count the closer to the center you got (p 145 Bug City) and Tai Shan increased as you went up the stairs towards the top (p?? ??), but I don't see any mention of that in 5e.

3.  Background counts of 12 or more are supposed to cause stun damage.  This includes places like Stonehedge, T'ai Shan, The Great Cairn Line in Tir Na nOg and the Aurora Borealis (Rating 18??) (p. 31 SG) How dangerous is it for magically active people to live in northern Canada / Alaska / Siberia if the background count can jump from baseline (3-4?) to 18 without much warning?   Are there no dual natured creatures up north?

And it jumps immediately to damage.  Rating 11 is fine, but rating 12 is causing 12 stun damage a round (p32 SG).  Was this just lazy writing?  And it is only resisted with Willpower.   It doesn't matter if you are a total newbie mage or a multiple-initiate expert, they both resist damage the same way.  It's like all the training and experience in channelling mana  or having a higher magic attribute doesn't make a lick of difference. 

4.  Obviously, casting is harder when you are standing in an area with a high background count, but if you are outside the area, but casting spells in, do they just fizzle and vanish when the background count exceeds their force?  Anyone have this come up in their games?

5.  Mana storms start in areas of +4/-4 or greater (p36 SG).  Is this a hold-over from 4e?  In 4e, 4 was a pretty significant background count, but now you can get rating 4 background counts at sold-out rock concerts.  Or are mana storms just more common now?  (The two mana storms given as examples have ratings 8-12 and 14-16.)

6.  Ritual magic in high background counts - does the background count subtract from both the ritual spellcasting test and each of the teamwork tests, or just the spellcasting test?

« Reply #1 on: (17:49:58/02-06-18) »
1) I think the disparity has more to do with the change in granularity between editions.  Skills go all the way up to a theoretical 13 in this edition, for example.

2) Personally, I feel the edges are easy to handle if you're the GM.  First of all, just don't set any action on the edge where reasonable combat maneuvering can bring someone from inside to out or outside to in.  Sometimes that's not possible... for example I ran a game where the runners were in the process of catching a murderer in the act of torturing his victim prior to the ritual killing.  It was a published scenario but it didn't mention what the background count should BE much less how far throughout the building it might extend.  I figured the background count would just extend to the outer walls of the building (which was a glorified warehouse).  Of course, some PCs wanted to do things from outside the building INTO the building, which meant some were in the BG and some were out... and some actions (like a lightning bolt) were cast outside the BG into the BG.  I figured a hard binary check satisfied my needs in running the scene: if the PC's physical/astral location or the PC's action involves the BG area, then the BG penalty applies.

3) Having lived (and even ran a SR campaign) in Fairbanks I've learned that the environmental effects of the cold environment are silly and not written with campaigning in Alaska in mind.  Then again, the same is true for most RPGs, so Shadowrun is hardly the only offender game :D  But to be helpful and relevant to your point, I'd go with the simplest answer of saying for the purposes of your game, local natives have ways of avoiding that that are beyond the means for Runners from "the lower 48" to replicate or even understand.  Of course if you're running a campaign in the Great White North, you'll probably have an easier time just House Ruling some tweak(s) to the rules as-is.  For example, I house-ruled a hard cap of 12 hours on any not-bound spirit rather than allowing them to potentially stick around for months until the next sunup/sundown :D

4) See my #2.  I decided that if you're outside the area but casting into the BG, it fully affects you.  YMMV.

5) Can't comment much on 4e... I largely skipped that edition.

6) It effects EVERY Magic related check (although remember Drain rolls are not "checks").  Of course, keep in mind that ritual magic cast from an aligned BG is gonna be fearsomely potent if all the participants are correctly aligned.  Imagine how much easier it is for MIT&T undergrads who become aligned to the local background count there to use magic for their academic projects than it is once they get out into the professional world without those bonus free dice on tap all the time...
« Last Edit: (17:54:35/02-06-18) by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »


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« Reply #2 on: (08:33:15/02-08-18) »
3) do note that if one spends sufficient time becoming acclimated to a given source of BC the person ceases to be affected by it. Living/being born in places with naturally high/active would certainly qualify. It's traveling into unfamiliar BC that causes problems. Also a great many of the exceptional high count phenomenon are confined in area of effect. The Aurora Boralis for example while powerful is largely confined to the upper atmosphere in terms of area of effect. Between acclimation and limited physical area affected local life would be largely undisturbed.

It's the tourists and other visitors then need to be careful. Runners included.

5) Hold over seems likely, there are other systems with this sort of error. I would venture to say that 6-8 is more appropriate in 5e's scale. That said fluff wise storms would become more common as the overall mana density continues to rise. At least positive count ones. But via acclimation the locals in areas of frequent +count storms would become largely untroubled.