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BGC Question

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Marcus

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« on: (09:51:06/02-13-18) »
Sorry to bug you Patrick but I was wondering if you might have any thought concerning this thread: http://forums.shadowruntabletop.com/index.php?topic=27007.0
I maybe over stepping my bounds but I still think the -/+ 24 section needs some cleaning up, or at-least some clarification.

firebug

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« Reply #1 on: (19:38:27/02-13-18) »
Any skill test affected by magic would include anything that Stainless Steel Devil Rat mentioned; threshold changes, limit changes, DV changes, any part of the calculation.  Then BGC is applied as a penalty to the dice pool.  What Kiirnodel mentioned is also accurate.  There's no rule about any powers being "treated like foci", it's just a binary of "if magic is helping you do this thing, you get the penalty".

I'm not sure what you're confused about.  Yes, the penalties really do theoretically go up that high and down that low.  The book explains how, once you get to around -16, there starts being effects that are dangerous and can be felt by anyone, not just mundanes.  You can't just compare penalties to wound penalties as for whether or not they are reasonable.  Being totally in the dark is as much as being "on the brink of death", as you put it, but it really does penalize you at -6.

Also there's no rule about acclimation automatically happening, unless you think Forbidden Arcana having a random buddhist quality off-handedly mention the back half of what would be a major rule wasn't a mistake. (I'm sure it was.)

Adepts unfortunately do get completely stomped by background count as it reaches higher amounts in the current rules.
« Last Edit: (22:16:23/02-13-18) by firebug »
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Marcus

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« Reply #2 on: (22:55:37/02-13-18) »
I'm not sure what you're confused about.  Yes, the penalties really do theoretically go up that high and down that low.  The book explains how, once you get to around -16, there starts being effects that are dangerous and can be felt by anyone, not just mundanes.  You can't just compare penalties to wound penalties as for whether or not they are reasonable.  Being totally in the dark is as much as being "on the brink of death", as you put it, but it really does penalize you at -6.

We are going to have to agree to disagree on this one Firebug,  there is no way +/- 24 is acceptable. There is nothing in the game that has that sort of swing. It just doesn't fit with history of the system, and it leads to the question Why hasn't some nut job toxic with +15-20 magic bonus location  unleashed the equivalent of force 30-40 nuke spirit on some city? I'm at a loss as to how you don't see the issue with this.
« Last Edit: (22:59:34/02-13-18) by Marcus »

firebug

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« Reply #3 on: (23:03:02/02-13-18) »
Easy.  Because positive background count doesn't make you any stronger.  It boosts Limit.  That nut-job toxic (who by the way, isn't exactly immune to pollution or radiation or what-have-you and is probably going to die) can't actually achieve anything he couldn't achieve in normal mana levels, he just could cast most of his non-combat spells at F1 since their limits would be so high.  He's really not that much more of a threat, though it would be almost impossible for any average non-toxic mage to cast anything in that area.  Not that they'd be able to go there without getting sick in the first place.  Did you think positive background count gave dice pool bonuses?
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Jeeze.  It would almost sound stupid until you realize we're talking about an immortal elf clown sword fighting a dragon ghost in a mall.

« Reply #4 on: (23:04:19/02-13-18) »
I can't speak for firebug, but I can speak for why I don't have a problem with a potential 24 dice penalty:

Because it's only a potential penalty.  As I said in the other thread, you'd have to not just get creative but expend some serious resources to even get into a mana void of that power level.  I'm pretty sure the intent is they don't even exist on earth so if you don't have a space ship, you don't need to worry about a 24 dice penalty.

Going by the benchmarks (SG pg 31) the most a runner mage should plausibly ever be dealing with is 4-6.  Anything higher would in of itself be a major plot point the adventure revolves around.  Deckers and Technomancers routinely are threatened with more Noise than that (which is probably why it's easier to negate Noise penalties than BGC penalties).

Quote from: firebug
Did you think positive background count gave dice pool bonuses?

I have to admit that I did.  I reread the section on pg 32 and see you're right on that.
« Last Edit: (23:06:23/02-13-18) by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »

Marcus

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« Reply #5 on: (23:06:33/02-13-18) »
Easy.  Because positive background count doesn't make you any stronger.  It boosts Limit.  That nut-job toxic (who by the way, isn't exactly immune to pollution or radiation or what-have-you and is probably going to die) can't actually achieve anything he couldn't achieve in normal mana levels, he just could cast most of his non-combat spells at F1 since their limits would be so high.  He's really not that much more of a threat, though it would be almost impossible for any average non-toxic mage to cast anything in that area.  Not that they'd be able to go there without getting sick in the first place.  Did you think positive background count gave dice pool bonuses?

In aligned zones they have in the past, and unless they have changed the wording toxic powers I think will still.

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« Reply #6 on: (23:10:23/02-13-18) »
I don't know what in 5th edition would say that toxic magic doesn't follow the same rules as background count does for everyone else.  In 5th Edition, positive background count increases the limit of those it is aspected towards.

Once something is lower than -12 or higher than +12, it starts dealing Stun damage to all magically-active beings in the area as well, every combat turn, resisted only by Willpower.  When these happen, they are dangerous.  This is not something that happens every day, this is the magical equivalent of a natural disaster.  Mana storms are a thing, and they are called that partially because they cause actual horrible storms in addition to their awful magical effects.  Imagine the worst hurricane you can think of, but occasionally things explode, fires randomly start, it's sucking the soul out of people, all while nightmarish and confusing illusions appear half-formed in the wind and rain.
« Last Edit: (23:15:35/02-13-18) by firebug »
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Marcus

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« Reply #7 on: (00:05:43/02-14-18) »
Sites of toxic magic have a background count of between 1 and 6, usually. They
are always Domains of toxic magic, and a toxic magician
or adept will always be at least acclimated to the
Domain, and will usually be aligned. This gives the magician
a considerable advantage, as the Rating of the
background count increases the limit for all tests linked
to Magic while in the Domain. See Background Count
(p. 30) for full details. (From SG page 87)

They did updated the last part of the wording, though not the first.
"Domain" the concept referred to in 4th is a die bonus per level, which matches the original wording.
Though I do think it should page 32 and not 30.
And I would assume 1 to 6 should apparently now read 1 to 12.

I've said my piece on this, and I will house rule it down for my table.
Even leaving it as +/- 12 is terrible. It's been 6 for 4 editions and it worked just fine.
This change does nothing but inflict an unmatched die penalties on specific Archetypes.
It's really as simple as that.

« Reply #8 on: (00:07:46/02-14-18) »
Once something is lower than -12 or higher than +12, it starts dealing Stun damage to all magically-active beings in the area as well, every combat turn, resisted only by Willpower.  When these happen, they are dangerous.  This is not something that happens every day, this is the magical equivalent of a natural disaster.  Mana storms are a thing, and they are called that partially because they cause actual horrible storms in addition to their awful magical effects.  Imagine the worst hurricane you can think of, but occasionally things explode, fires randomly start, it's sucking the soul out of people, all while nightmarish and confusing illusions appear half-formed in the wind and rain.

I don't have reason to doubt you but I've looked for that exact thing in the past and failed to find anything beyond the dice pool penalty (specifically: what happens if you ARE an idiot and decide to try to cast a spell on a suborbital flight?).  Can you provide a citation so I can see where I missed it? 

I also got the idea somehow that active spells brought into a BGC lose a number of hits = to the BGC.  However on page  32 all it says is
Quote
Pre-existing active foci, sustained spells, quickened/anchored
spells and rituals are reduced by the background count.

Am I interpreting correctly that spellcasting hits are subtracted, or should the force be lowered?

firebug

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« Reply #9 on: (00:22:13/02-14-18) »
The force of the spells are reduced, which will likely result in the loss of hits beyond the (new) limit of the spell if there's any significant background count.

As for the other effects of penalties, the bottom of the red box on page 32 mentions taking Stun damage.  Should you try to cast a spell in suborbital flight, you'll expose yourself to taking that Stun damage.  Just a spell will hurt, but won't kill you.  The danger comes from the extremely high levels, where should you do something stupid like activate astral perception (or any other toggles, like activating an adept power or trying to project) you're likely to fall unconscious from Stun and then continue taking Stun until you die (Stun transfers to Physical at a 1/2 ratio once the Stun track is full, btw).  Someone projecting into a space would potentially have to resist 12S with just Willpower every 3 seconds or so, which is why projecting into space is a Bad Idea (c).

I've said my piece on this, and I will house rule it down for my table.
Even leaving it as +/- 12 is terrible. It's been 6 for 4 editions and it worked just fine.
This change does nothing but inflict an unmatched die penalties on specific Archetypes.
It's really as simple as that.

That sounds like someone who wasn't coming into this looking for an answer, but a justification.  I've done the same myself on many occasions.  The reason BGC and other penalties are higher in 5th edition is because of the raised dice pools.  Skills go up to 12 now, and attributes often can be augmented to higher amounts than before (a 6 in 4th could only go up to 9 through augments, and lower attributes suffered even more).  If you plan on throwing BGC 8+ at your players enough, without it being a major event, to justify a houserule that's a bit concerning.  I think you're probably just overreacting, and it's very unlikely you'll actually find the effects problematic in-play unless you're mistakenly throwing players into full-on mana warps regularly without thinking about it.
« Last Edit: (00:24:37/02-14-18) by firebug »
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Jeeze.  It would almost sound stupid until you realize we're talking about an immortal elf clown sword fighting a dragon ghost in a mall.

« Reply #10 on: (00:25:18/02-14-18) »
Thanks firebug.  Like Marcus, I'm more familiar with older editions than 5th.  I knew there SHOULD be some awful effect, but for the life of me I just couldn't find it.

Thanks for pointing it out.

Marcus

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« Reply #11 on: (00:45:44/02-14-18) »
That sounds like someone who wasn't coming into this looking for an answer, but a justification.  I've done the same myself on many occasions.  The reason BGC and other penalties are higher in 5th edition is because of the raised dice pools.  Skills go up to 12 now, and attributes often can be augmented to higher amounts than before (a 6 in 4th could only go up to 9 through augments, and lower attributes suffered even more).  If you plan on throwing BGC 8+ at your players enough, without it being a major event, to justify a houserule that's a bit concerning.  I think you're probably just overreacting, and it's very unlikely you'll actually find the effects problematic in-play unless you're mistakenly throwing players into full-on mana warps regularly without thinking about it.

Come on Firebug, I've played and ran this game for a long time, die pools are just about the same as they were in 4th, and we didn't have limits squashing the curve, back then, so if anything 4th was more likely to have higher success total.  +/-24 is a ridiculous swing, a die penalty unmatched by any other in the game.  If you're going to defend it as a penalty that will never happen, or is just super rare then why not just take it out?  5-6 is super bad news beyond that and it's unplayable for those effected. Chicago missions quickly showed that putting even mid background count in seriously squashed out certain Archetypes.


firebug

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« Reply #12 on: (00:55:54/02-14-18) »
It exists for the same reason the rules about milspec tanks and stuff exist.  Same reaso why there's stats for Insect Queens, and why the books are leading towards encounters with the Horrors, the Elder Gods, or both.  It's for the major, shit-hitting-the-fan events that shape a campaign and are so intense their echoes are felt for sessions to come.  Saying something should be taken out just because it's super rare would remove a lot of potential stories from the game.

Yes, -5 to -6 hurts a lot, halving most spellcasting pools and being almost as heinous for adept pools (but being so much wider-reaching as to be a hundred times worse).  It's not something the players should expect to encounter often because of that.  It is intended to be the kind of thing that is actually capable of making even powerful, skilled magicians unable to cast spells because there's no mana.  If it couldn't be any worse than -6, then a starting player would be capable of entering the harshest mana void and casting spells.  That isn't the kind of thing that's supposed to be possible.

This doesn't work out well for adepts though, and trust me, BGC is something I'm working on errata for.  I want a way for it to exist at lower levels without annoying everyone, and I want it to not make adepts just frustrated and upset when every imaginable thing they do is penalized because of their archetype.
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Marcus

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« Reply #13 on: (01:22:04/02-14-18) »
If they actually entered a true mana void and tried to cast a spell in the last editions then iirc they would have taken 12 unsoakable stun.

If you want that non-sense in then very least follow the example of noise and add something to mitigates it. There's lots of tech that does it and the simplest is the classic datajack.
Make Mana storing foci or mana hardening whatever you want to call it. In RAW there's like 3 effects that can reduce BGC effect on players, the Missions band Quality (Homeground), Warrior's way, (I still get sad when I see how bad those were nerfed in 5th) and cleansing meta magic, which is like what 2 metamagic in, and a ritual beyond the scope of most games. Which all means as far as i can tell means, players have ether no or extremely limited recourse on how to deal with it. So address that. If not my stop suggestion should work fine, and all will be well. 

An adept power .25 per level Mana capacitor, body stories mana so when you encounter a BGC reduce they effect by your level in the power, or something similar.

« Last Edit: (01:24:24/02-14-18) by Marcus »

firebug

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« Reply #14 on: (01:29:46/02-14-18) »
Let me share my houserule with you, though if you dislike the Limit mechanic, you'll hate this rule.  I posted it on Reddit, one moment...

Quote
I want to discuss possibly changing Background Count to be a penalty to the Limit of rolls it affects (spells, summoning, etc), and what the implications of that may be.

A limit penalty would feel like less of a penalty than a direct dice-pool penalty, and would have ways to work around it (compared to current BC, which has almost no ways). A spell with -2 Limit could be cast at a higher Force (as the character has to try to draw more mana into them in order to get the same effect), or by using reagents (as the character has to rely on the mana inside of their reagents as there's not enough in the astral around them). Both of these fit the setting very well, I feel. Edge could also be used to counteract BC for a roll.

Balance-wise, a limit penalty does better what a penalty wants to do-- It stops a mage from being too powerful without making them just crap. Rather than just making a magician worse at everything, it forces them to settle for having less potential, or to begin expending resources to reach that same potential. For many cases (like a magician casting a F7 Flamethrower in your average combat), the magician wasn't even expecting to hit the limit in the first place, so the BC won't feel like a problem at low numbers (1-3). This is good, because there is nothing unbalanced about a magician casting F7 Flamethrower with 12 Spellcasting dice; this doesn't need to be penalized. Similarly, Assensing, Astral Combat, and so forth would also get a Limit-reduction when rolls are made.

With summoning, the limit reduction is much more noticeable. With -2 BC, summoning a F6 Spirit means you have a limit of 4 on the roll, and they will get 2 hits on average, which strongly limits how many services you can obtain. However, it makes summoning low-Force spirits almost impossible-- Perhaps justified because the mana in the area is too thin to properly support them anyways. Both of these things, however, can be circumvented by the use of reagents. Whether or not this change would be good, bad, or neutral, I can't say on my own.

To dual-natured creatures (like spirits or the infected), a limit penalty on all actions can be pretty harsh. Spirits traditionally have incredible stats and limits though, so again this presents a situation where low BC will be almost unnoticeable, while higher BC will present a real problem. More-so than a simple dice penalty can, this controls the power of magic, without BC having to be either "never present" or "suddenly a whole crapload", as the small amounts that are often around won't feel like a problem. However, I would have to ask myself "would an Infected firing a gun have lower Accuracy due to the Background Count?". Though realistically, that's not really any stranger than them getting a dice pool penalty-- The mechanical effect is that the character is less able to fight in high-BC zones.

Because it would be a Limit-affecting thing, how BC would apply to sustained/quickened spells or similar magic would also change. Rather than lowering Force, a temporary Limit-lowering affect would be in place on these abilities. Sustained spells would suffer the same effect as a spell you just cast-- The limit is decreased. In this case, the Limit (and any lost hits) would recover at the same rate as Force recovers in the current ruleset.

What BC would not do anymore is lower the Force of anything (active foci, spells, rituals, etc), lower the Potency of preparations, or give dice pool penalties.

A final note is that this would fit better with how the game handles beneficial background count, as now they both modify limits.

I don't mention adepts in this, but it's by no-means intended to be a final version.  If I wanted it to be more serious than a first-draft houserule, I'd probably find a way to allow adepts their own options to mitigate the decrease in Limit.  Maybe for adepts, it could only apply to inherent limits and not any gear limits.  Though, that would basically make it do nothing but hurt Unarmed Adepts, which sounds like a bad outcome.  I'll keep thinking.
« Last Edit: (01:32:38/02-14-18) by firebug »
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