Looking for ideas: How to keep Lightning Ball from "winning" SRM?

  • 59 Replies


  • *
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 2494
  • Success always demands a greater effort.
« Reply #45 on: (22:46:10/06-20-18) »
Be a dick about collateral damage:  Haven't tried it, but it's potentially a tool in the toolbox.  Doesn't matter so much to destroy the NPC's gear as SRM already largely disincentivizes looting so no harm really done if nothing is lootable on the corpses.  But wiping out entire buildings and so on can certainly justify handing out Notoriety and/or Public Awareness points.  Thoughts on just letting a mage happily obliterate helpless opposition, but tamping down on its usefulness in this way?

Look it's not being a dick. Collateral Damage is very serious, Shadowruns overwhelmingly take place in urban environments. You drop an elemental bomb that takes out any sort of decent portion of a block in a city proper, and your better believe you're gonna have serious collateral damage. Millions in property damage, once the insurance companies, utilities, the city, inspectors, the various policy holders get done, jacking up their right offs. Also urban environments have more then just people, they lots of power lines, water pipes, gas mains, fiber-optic lines running through them, and blowing those up can have major secondary consequences. Take out power to a nursing home, can easily lead to fatalities. Blow a gas main, who knows how much damage that fire will do before it's capped off.

This isn't a Fireball goes off in the wood and no one is around here. You make an explosion in concentrated urban environment not even a very big one and odds are you ether going to have hit some one or something directly or the secondary damage is gonna kill or injure someone, very possible many someones. Anyone dumb enough to drop a force 12 elemental AoE at my table better believe they are gonna take some hits for it. And I don't just mean notoriety. You nuke down town and you better run really fast,  and pray you have masking, b/c magic law enforcement does not want to explain this crap to the Mayor without out someone to pin it on. I'd drop high force spirit on them per runner just for openers, if that's the kinda stuff they wanna sling around.
« Last Edit: (23:01:11/06-20-18) by Marcus »
*Play-by-Post color guide*


  • *
  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 395
« Reply #46 on: (08:57:41/06-21-18) »
Creating water hazards is not punishing the casters team, especially not when you're dealing with what sounds like one-trick ponies that spam the same spell at high force 4 times during a combat turn, it's challenging them to come up with alternative strategies, especially since they of course should be warned of said water hazard before casting.

I do agree though that many of the issues with aoe indirect combat spells would be helped if they had kept the defense roll -2 test, that is implied in the book instead of the current rule. We use that in my home game, it still makes aoe spells punishing due to the high AP but less so than under the current rules.

Jayde Moon

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Ace Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 1939
  • Shadowrun Missions Developer
« Reply #47 on: (02:02:05/06-22-18) »
I would call creating water hazards 'punishing' if they were ever present or the players weren't informed about it before they cast.

Player: "I cast lightning bolt."

GM: "Ok, well, you're standing in the same pond as your target so, you die, too!"

P: "Wait, what?  Where did a pond come from?"

G: "QUACK! QUACK!  Some ducks land on your charred corpse."

If a GM had a transparent system about how do determine collateral damage induce 'hazards', I'd applaud that.

"Missing forces an edge test, threshold is the difference in hits between attacker and defender.  Failure means a critical component is hit, if, after structure and armor soak is rolled, it is damaged, it ruptures, introducing, based on a 1d4, toxic gas, flammable vapor, flammable liquid, water."

I'm not saying that's a solid mechanic, it's 1am, I'm in bed with sleepy eyes... THE POINT is thatif the players expect it and it's not something they can say is 'directed at them', it shouldn't feel like punishment.
That's just like... your opinion, man.


  • *
  • Newb
  • *
  • Posts: 64
« Reply #48 on: (13:22:36/06-25-18) »
In my local SRM environment, spellcasters dominate.  Not just demographics, but combat.  And it's largely due to one thing: area indirect combat spells.  Sustained/quickened spells and/or adept initiative enhancers contribute to the problem of "initiative is rolled:  Set up the minis.  Mage goes on 30 or 40 something initiative, and kills most of the bad guys before they ever act.  And if the bad guys survive, they get one action at wounded penalties before being unceremoniously mopped up before they ever get a 2nd pass. Combat is over..." but amazing initiative isn't what I'm looking to get a handle on controlling.  I'm wrestling with how much more effective Indirect Combat spells are than Direct Combat spells.  Like, why ever even cast a Manaball levels of inferiority to Indirect Combat spells.
"All indirect combat spells originate near the magician's body..." p.283.

Are your 'good guys' doing proper Recon? How about considering preparing a Mana Barrier, p.315, or just throwing up a Manipulation Spell 6' in front of one of your offending spellcasters?

They might slow down and be more careful.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

  • *
  • Errata Team
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 1625
« Reply #49 on: (16:14:05/06-25-18) »
I did once play with the enchanting rules.  The SRM mission called for some extraordinarily tough cyberkillers in hardened armor to oppose the party, but they didn't give them ANY mojo support.  I knew with this group they'd need it or else it'd be yet another roflstomp.  "How much hardened armor do they have? 23? Well I guess with F12 I'll get -12 AP and only need 1 net hit to do physical damage...."

So I gave one of the mooks a mana barrier alchemical preparation.  Since I know the group throws F12s, it was a F12 spell enchanted in.  Of course after potency and hits rolled, it ended up being like a F6 barrier, but was still a huge ton of help to keeping the Lightning Balls from winning the fight all by themselves.


  • *
  • Catalyst Demo Team
  • Omae
  • *
  • Posts: 325
« Reply #50 on: (15:48:52/09-08-18) »
If someone is throwing L12+ Lightning Balls, corps should be calling in HTR teams immediately.  Have the defenders use Run for Your Life to get out of the initial radius and call for backup on their first action.  Even without an active call for backup, any decent corp's security should have spirits reacting - combat spirits go after the caster, and watcher spirits run to inform their mages.  That sets an extremely short time limit before the real heavy hitters arrive...and how long does it take to erase the astral signature of a L12 spell?  Did the mage casting it take the time before leaving the area?  With the destruction caused by a Force 12 lightning ball, expect mages with 16+ dice of Assensing (with the specialization of Astral Signatures) to be digging through Masking or Flexible Signatures to find the caster's signature.  If they get it...I expect that runner to be burning a permanent point of Edge pretty soon.

Basically, high Force spells that draw a lot of attention are like terrorists using complex bombs - both have a signature that can be uncovered with sufficient resources, and the corps have effectively unlimited resources.  That is why runners normally stay in the shadows, not causing big enough waves to make it worth a corp's time to track them down.

Also, as mentioned by others, mana barriers impede spells on the plane in which they were cast.  If a corp mage has the spell and can cast it before dropping, it can cause difficulties for nearly any shadowrunning mage.  You bubble a shadowrunner with spells up, and they have to work to get through the barrier before they can go after anyone else.  If they cast an area spell, it'll detonate at the barrier.

Granted, these solutions doesn't address the initial imbalance of being able to ignore defense tests and hit large groups for a mere +2 Drain over the single-target version...but you have to start somewhere. to your players.  Tell them the consequences of that level of force, and suggest that they look at alternatives.  Some players aren't throwing Force 12 spells as an 'I win' button.  They may have had previous experiences in Shadowrun which taught them that overwhelming force is needed to survive.  A different lesson needs to be taught for Missions.

Michael Chandra

  • *
  • Catalyst Demo Team
  • Prime Runner
  • *
  • Posts: 7691
  • Question-slicing ninja
« Reply #51 on: (15:56:10/09-08-18) »
I've seen the opposition in Dragon Song. F12 makes a lot of sense.
CorpSec when an alarm is triggered;: "This is so sad, Alexa play Shoot The Runner"

kyoto kid

  • *
  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 849
  • Bushido Cowgirl
« Reply #52 on: (17:45:43/10-08-18) » through most of this.

Collateral damage  = not just Notoriety but also Public Awareness if there are witnesses about.  PA is next to impossible to get rid of (I believe there are only two missions where you can get a favour that reduces it by one).  The only other way to remove it is spending 16 Karma for the Erased quality after chargen and we know how spell casters value Karma (looks like that next initiation needs to be pushed back a few more missions). 

Armour Resistance mods:  My PCs never go out without full Fire and Non-conductivity on their armour. One character also has electrical resistance on her Orthoskin (another +2 that stacks with the armour mod giving her + 8 ).  She was hit with a F-12 Ball Lightning ("friendly fire" at that) while wearing her sealed FBA (stacked with Orthoskin 4 and Titanium Bone Lacing for an additional 7 armour) and only wound up taking two boxes of stun [after post edging] as she lost just 4 dice from her soak roll.

Another deterrant:  have one or more of the NPCs with automatic weapons lay down suppression fire. Using Flechette rounds makes hitting the dirt more difficult.  In one mission two of the mooks did so in a 90° cross fire pattern and the team was pinned down with heavy penalties (I believe -8 or -9) to any actions they took.

Or lob a couple grenades at the team (even something like neurostun which has both an inhaled and contact vector).  That usually makes PCs run for cover thus reducing their initiative.

As a few have mentioned, it would be nice to draw the situation out so that the players have an idea just who who they can see, and how split up the oppos are so suddnely popping off the bit AOE xpell might not be worth the risk of physical drain. I wish this were done more often and even supplied for in the mission write up.

True even as a player I get a little dismayed when the mages roll a 40+ initiatives, cast boffo force 12 AOE spells, and my amped up gunbunny with the tricked out Yamaha Raiden, chemsealed FBA and 24 initiative becomes little more than a spectator to the show.  Kind of takes the fun out it.  Granted you cannot stop Prime Runner level characters from participating on a mission they never were on, but by the same token, you need to be careful when pushing the envelope so that the lower Karma characters aren't just there to be bullet and/or spell catchers.

As to MAs, yeah they can be game breakers.  I have one with less than 60 Karma who now has a wad of drain dice (after quickening Increase Attribute spells on her drain attributes), prefers mental manipulations and illusions, and makes use of reagents, as the effects of those spells are based off of net hits instead force.  So she casts Opium Den at say force 4, uses 8 units of reagents to raise the limit, and suddenly the mooks in an 8 metre area are standing there drooling while she doesn't break a sweat doing so. Then she has her force 8 Spirit of Man cast foreboding on them and they become a quivering drooling mass.
« Last Edit: (17:31:26/03-25-19) by kyoto kid »
Forsaken daughter is watching you


  • *
  • Catalyst Demo Team
  • Newb
  • *
  • Posts: 96
  • CDT Lead RPG Agent
« Reply #53 on: (03:33:40/12-14-18) »
As soon as I hear "Opium Den" as a spell I get suspicious. It's just as bad as Ball Lightning.

It's literally the same effect as Mass Confusion, except it gets the total incapacitation added to it for the same drain. Drain code needs to go up on that one for sure, but that's an errata thing. I wouldn't have noticed it, except for this year at Origins and Gen Con every mage and their dog was using it and Ball Lightning, so it prompted me to do a little research. This spell has become a pet peeve, but honestly, I can't say I blame the players who use it. It just means they read more of the spells!

Anyway, just make your goons be a little smarter. Use the whole area, not just a cramped little room, and shoot the hell out of the mage. Someone walks into a bar in Full Chem-Sealed Body Armor, or Military grade Armor, its safe to assume they aren't there for a beer. Really, I mean REALLY pay attention to he social problems that wearing that kind of obvious armor would attract. Its not "Illegal" to wear body armor, but when's the last time you saw a non-cop or soldier wearing any kind of ballistic gear just going down the street?

If you really want to turn the screws, a Force 12 spell will leave a heck of an astral signature as well.

It is frustrating as a GM for sure, to have things just be overran because of a weak point in the rules, in this case severity of drain.

Mike Messmer
Freelancer & FAQ Committee member
RPG Lead Agent
Catalyst Demo Team


  • *
  • Newb
  • *
  • Posts: 3
« Reply #54 on: (11:35:40/12-14-18) »
Hello there; I'm coming a little after the battle but... Yeah. I can see where your problem is.

First thing first : How the heck did they never get catched by the police, IRH, or a wandering spirit who smelled all the good magic ?
Do they have the metamagic to suppress their aura or do they only fighted gangers in their home ?

No brcause, once you hit a corpo with runner capable of doing that... The corpos want thoses runners to either :
- Be dead
- Working for them
- Hunted like dog
- Victim of a vivisection.

Anyway. You had receive many path to try and find a solution to your first problem (the better, imo, is to user corridor and situation here the AoE is not only a bad idea, but a dumb idea, the PA and, for the lolz, security team who run like chicken to trap the path of the runners).
Because, yeah, a F12 Lightning ball is something. But if the camera see that... The rest of the security team won't even make it a fair fight : gaz attack, closing door, grenades, other trap like cutting of power on a elevator and forcing them to use stair, etc.
As long as the security don't have the mean to fight an overwhelming power, they won't fight fair but using everythings to help (the flash grenade help as well. After all, the mage can't use spell if he can't see heh).

Anyway, I'm digressing (get used to it !).

Once you manage to make them think differently you're going to have a new whole set of problem : their 40+ of initiative.
What. The. Actual. Heck.
That's... Well. Imagine, if you will, a mage, that act 4 time in one combat Turn. A Combat Turn is a few minutes (3 ? I forgot). It's like having The Flash fighting in front of you but unless fist you see spell being throw at you.

Because with that much Initiative, losing their electrical toy is not going to complicate life much. Either they're going to use meanier spell (chaotic wolrd, wouhou ! The Hot Potato spell is funky as well). Or simply geek the opposition one by one. And if they can launch a F14 Lightning Bolt without so much as breacking a sweat... So many lower, but as deadlier, spell is not going to scare them.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

  • *
  • Errata Team
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 1625
« Reply #55 on: (11:43:29/12-14-18) »
Mystic Adepts.  It's absolutely stupid what's possible when you combine Spellcasting, Summoning (Spirits of Man to sustain your buffs), and Adept powers all in the same character.
« Last Edit: (11:52:37/12-14-18) by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »


  • *
  • Newb
  • *
  • Posts: 3
« Reply #56 on: (11:50:08/12-14-18) »
Unless I'm mistaken. Aspected magician can only do "one" things... And can't be MA.

They can be summoner, but they lose the possibilité to spellcast (and a runner who only summon spirit for him...)
They can be spellslinger but they can only use the spellcasting skill

So either your whole tea has been created as a unit to be "as broken as possible while cleaning all possible mistake". Or they cheating.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

  • *
  • Errata Team
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 1625
« Reply #57 on: (11:53:19/12-14-18) »
No, you're right. I meant Mystic Adepts.  Post is corrected.

Although for what it's worth, the problem has somewhat diminished in SRM's new setting: Neo-Tokyo.  Whereas there largely never were consequences for blowing up a whole city block in Chicago's CZ, the NTMP will ruin your day in Neo-Tokyo.

But that "come on, be reasonable" effect on the players has largely only impacted high force spellcasting... the underlining/contributing factors are as irresistible to the players as ever. Force 9 spirits are still the rule (for beginning level PCs, no less) and init scores over 40 are still expected.
« Last Edit: (12:01:15/12-14-18) by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »


  • *
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 1819
  • Uzi's + Fireballs .... Why I love Shadowrun!
« Reply #58 on: (13:51:44/02-26-19) »
A couple things.

1.  The Dodge Test for AE is a misprint from SR4E where the rules were different.
So they don't get a Dodge Test period & I can't see changing that for SRM which isn't designed for House Rules.

2.  The Run Away / Jump on a Grenade test from R&G seems completely applicable however.

3.  Its the GM's job to tailor opposition based on the Runners.  My GM has removed or added targets as needed based on how many players showed up to SRM game.
So I think you should do the same.

4.  #2 above is for the chosen targets but nothing says about them not being in range to start with.
Change up the opposition a bit.  Instead of 7 guards coming through X-doorway bunched up, have it be only 3-4 & the other 3-4 enter from variant entrances.
Also upgrade their weaponry a bit.  Add EX to their ammo.   Add a pair of Assault Rifles to the Squad of Pistol Armed guards.  Have 1 guard sniping from the rafters or a window.
Increase RC from 1 to 3 for bigger bursts from the guards.  Swap out Pistols for SMGs or SMGs for ARs & use that burst fire.
If the group is Magic Intensive then start adding in a Lt. with the group who is Counter Spelling & has a Spirit with him.

5.  In regards to Quickened F12 Spells.  When they walk through a Mana Barrier / Ward,  start having larger repercussions.  Increase the Ward level to give it a bigger dispel chance.  Have the attending Mage send a F4 Bound spirit to immediately check out the intrusion & if it runs into trouble then send your own F8 Summoned spirit to back it up & call down HRT squads with better armor & gear.

6.  F12 Spells have the power to blow out walls.  When that happens power goes out.  Civilians start screaming in a panic.  Sprinklers turn on.  Etc etc.
MUCH larger response teams start coming.  Fire/Police get called.
Drones show up, first 1 to recon but the minute the destruction is spotted have BumbleBees with MMGs arrive to lay down suppression fire.

7.  As someone else stated, the effects of #6 above can & should start to affect Public Awareness & Notoriety.
Suddenly sneaking around starts to be harder.
Suddenly the some cop recognizes one of their faces on the way in & calls it in.  So as they just start their B&E job multiple HRT teams are arriving behind them.
We had a Druid who cast Ball Lightning in a populated area & killed some Civilians.  Got Notoriety/PA point for that 1 single cast & was spotted several times when we were hiding out & made it harder on the rest of us.

8.  With all those F12 spells.  Are they taking the time to wipe the astral afterwards?   Tracking them should start being easier if not & at the least explosions should make spotting them on any nearby cameras easier as well.  Maybe the Law starts doing a Computer skill check to search traffic/atm cameras & see where they are going because its not a just a quick In & Out B&E any more when they lay waste to half a building & KILL a bunch of licensed security guards.  Corps & Cops start to take that shit personally after a while.

9.  Above all, remember the GEEK THE MAGE FIRST rule.
My GM was notorious for putting more targets on the mage if said mage had high initiative & showed spells/spirits first.
I got good at using my SMG for early fire till all targets had shown up & then casting Stun Ball or Lighting Bolt once I'd assessed where they were best needed.

I've played multiple Mystic Adepts, my elf had 21 Drain dice (5+8+4+4) pretty early after 4-5 runs and I've tossed some full strength spells but usually limited them to Bolts when civilians were around or Blast that doesn't KILL everyone or blow out the walls.

Also the GM always has the power to start tossing stuff back themselves.

The first time the Party has to dodge their own F12 Fireball from a Combat Mage backing up the Swat Team, the hint should be given that some alternative options to tossing SPELL GRENADES as soon as the doors open should be used.
« Last Edit: (13:59:30/02-26-19) by Tarislar »

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

  • *
  • Errata Team
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 1625
« Reply #59 on: (14:41:58/02-26-19) »
The FAQ suggestion of an opposed roll between EDG and FORCE, where NTMP shows up to investigate on a failure, has tamped down a bit on using high force spirits and Attribute buff spells.