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Mage Build Question: Summoning vs Sorcery

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Shadowstep

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« on: <01-27-11/0047:27> »
I'm new to SR4 and I'm looking at making a Mage at 425 BP.
The theme is Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files (Books and Series). He's a detective who specializes using Magic to find people. He's helped the police before as a consultant of sorts. I'm not sure how to orient him with regard to Sorcery vs Conjuration. I think he could go either way, but I'm not quite sure about which way is better for what.

What are the pros/cons between Sorcery and Summoning?

Seems to me to go with Sorcery you must Buy Spells (3BP per) and spend points on Foci as needed.
While with Conjuration you can summon Spirits that can attack or do other things, and you only need to spend points on materials to Bind them.

So is there a reason to go with Summons vs Spells? What if I do both? Could I rely on Spirits for Offense, etc and Spells for other things (Imp. Reflexes, Barrier, etc.)?


SECONDLY:
What Magic skills should I be putting more than one point in? I put Sorcery 6, Counterspell 4, Summoning 4, Binding 1, Arcana 1, Assensing 4, Astral Combat 1.

ALSO:
Is it worth going for 1 Essence (total) worth of Bioware Implants at the Cost of 1 Magic? I figured, Cerebral Implant (2) for +2 Logic, maybe Platelet Factories and some Muscle Augmentation.
I can't seem to fit 6 Magic in w/o gimping myself in Skills or other things. I guess Magic 5 is the right way to go or should I make room for 25 pt Magic 6?

This is the stats I'm looking at (Logic Tradition) with Cerebral (2) and Something Else (2) [IE: +2 STR or +2 AGI or +2 REA].

BOD 3
AGI 3
REA 3
STR 1
CHA 3
INT 3
LOG 5 (7)
WILL 5

Does this look right? Or should I put more/less points in certain places?
« Last Edit: <01-27-11/1345:52> by Shadowstep »

tbrminsanity

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« Reply #1 on: <01-27-11/0902:44> »
With conjuring, you are the tank turret.  You directly effect how your group lives or dies by your own actions.  With summoning, you are the general, you command your spirit minions in the heat of battle to effect how your group lives or dies.  In both cases a mage is a rear party character and works best when your not in the thick of everything.  I tend to prefer a mixture of both (because sometimes you need to do things yourself to make sure they are done right, other times you are too valuable to risk getting geeked).  I prefer to use skill groups with my magic skills as you get a more rounded list of skills that usually come in handy in combat (even though you can only have 4 dice in each group).  I'm also a purist when it comes to cyberware and bioware.  This has more to do with the fact that I've been playing SR since SR1 and pre SR4 punished mages hard for taking cyberware and bioware.  If the implants give you a bonus that spells can't, then go for the implant.
Some people call me crazy...  Maybe they are right.

Juxtamon

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« Reply #2 on: <01-27-11/1039:16> »
Dresden!  Lovely!  (He's a dude that would totally translate to pretty-good skills coupled with high Magic rating, and decent Drain attributes.)

The build really depends on what you want to do, of course.

Stats?  Drain resistance is key, if you want to cast spells/summon on the fly all day.  To be as effective (read 'juicy-powerful' rather than 'efficacious', because tactical choices can help a lot), it's Magic and the Active skills.  First build is reaaaally painful for somebody who wants the good-at-several-things aspect, without taking a fair hit at something else.

That's vague and general.  More specific?  If you're doing Binding at all, I'd suggest having its rating at LEAST as high as the Summoning itself.  Otherwise, it can wait.  And Magic is your gauge for how powerful your spirits can be, and how much Force they can have before you start risking your life with Physical drain in their Summoning. 

In my current opinion, if you're doing a lot of Summoning on-the-fly, rather than having a nice, fat spirit ready to command, then you either like to do it that way, or there needs to be more planning involved.  It's a risk of taking drain without anything to show for it, if your spirit resists feistily in the Summoning test.  Spells don't tend to fight their casting like that.

For many spell effects, it almost (almost!) doesn't matter at what Force you cast them if you only get a single, resistable success, or not enough to get past the Object Resistance.  Delivery is important.  Spellcasting is never a lamented choice for high rating.

Again, in my opinion, unless you are willing to take a hit in the magic department, avoid the cyberware unless it's something you feel you absolutely NEED for something.  An extra initiative pass or something, if you can't get Increase Reflexes and a good sustaining method.  It's harsh, though.  Magic and 'ware hardly ever play well together.  And, if you think you may be needing a lot of healing in your career, it's an awful hit to your dice pool (-2 for being magically active, and minuses for having lowered Essence from implants.), so drive carefully.

Do you NEED the Muscle Aug?  I'd go for a Body-related or Reaction boost before that.  Taking a power hit for just average Strength doesn't feel too necessary.

Anyway, there's some more junk food for thought.
"Was it in Tahiti?  Were we on the Nile?"

Shadowstep

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« Reply #3 on: <01-27-11/1314:36> »
Thanks for the help.

In case I didn't mention it, my GM has restricted us to SR4 Book only, so many of the good options from StreetMagic, Arsenal and Augmentations are out. My dilema exists because there are many spells I like, and not nearly enough BP to take them AND build a decent character that isn't entirely one sided. I don't want a guy who a pro with magic, but has to default on everything else.

Also, for those who have read the books, Dresden (book version) is more of a combat mage, but our group already has a Combat Specialist, so I figured I'd go more along the lines of Manipulation/Detection/Illusion focus rather than being just a "combat mage".

Here is the Skills I'm looking at taking (and even with this I feel like I'm still missing others I'd like to have).
MAGIC SKILLS
Spellcasting   6
Summoning   4
Binding   1
Counterspelling   4
Astral Combat   x
Arcana   x
Assensing   x

OTHER SKILLS (Based on what people say is required and recommended in other treads) [In many cases I'd like more points in some of the skills]
Longarms   1  (Could be Pistols)
Perception   1
Etiquette   1
Computer   1
Dodge   1
Pilot (Ground Vehicule)   1

NOT TAKEN BUT WOULD LIKE TO:
Running
Shadowing
Infiltration
Negotiation

I put Binding at 1, because I'd rather have +2 dice on it, should I chose to do it, but I understand that those 4 BP could be spent elsewhere, since I can't really bind a strong spirit with Binding 1. What about the other skills Arcana, Astral Combat and Assensing. Are they worthy of multiple skill points?


My major question remains a little hazy. What are the advantages/disadvantages of summoning a spirit rather than just buying some spells and casting them? I seems like Spirits can do many things that spells can, and don't require you to spend BP on them.

I understand the negative aspect of summoning is that if you do it on the fly your Spirit might resist and you'll end up taking drain and get nothing. But it seems to me like Summoning involves less drain on average than casting. Say you want to cast a Lightning Bolt (DR: F/2+1), at force 6, you'd have to resist a drain of 4 +1/net success. If you summon an air spirit at Force 6, on average he'd make 2 successes and you'd have to resist a drain of 4, and more than likely with 12+ dice you'd get at least 4 successes and end up with 2 services. With 2 services, that Spirit could attack twice with an elemental attack worth 6P+1/net Success (e). Isn't that better? Especially since you can summon him when you wake up in the morning and put him on stand by, then pop him out later. That same spirit can also do other things, AND you don't have to spend as many BP on spells, since your Air Spirit can do Accident, Concealment, Confusion, Search and possibly: Guard, Noxious Breath and Psychokinesis. And all that for ZERO extra BP beyond the normal spent on Magic & Skills.

Maybe I've got it all wrong, and Spirits don't do what I think they do.

Is there some sort of action economy (ie less actions for the same result) that exists from casting spells rather than have a spirit do it for you, or vice versa?

CASTING:
1 Complex to Cast a Spell
DONE!

SUMMONING:
TURN 1 -  1 Simple to Call the Spirit on Standby.
              1 Simple to issue it a Command. IE: Perform Elemental Attack on Enemy A.
TURN 2 -  1-2 Simple Actions to Issue it Commands. (I assume it's 1 service per attack, so I'd run out of services quite quickly)
TURN 3 -  1 Complex Action to Summon another Spirit, (I assume I wouldn't have to spend an action to Call it, since it's here now)
TURN 4 -  2 Simple Actions to issue it two Commands. (I assume I'd get at least 2 services with 12 dice vs a Spirit with 5-6 Force)
Repeat and Resummon as needed.

So assuming I get 2-3 Services / Summon, I end up getting 2-3 Elemental Attacks every 2-3 Turns, or 1 Attack per Turn. If I get 4 Services, I get 4 Attacks per 3 turns, and end up ahead of the Sorcery Mage. Does this make sense?

Would I have to spend a Simple to command it to Manifest? Is that where I start losing out, since I doubt it walks around on the Physical Plane with you all the time? Say I command him to attack one guy, I know each attack is one service but would I have to command him again and again to keep attacking each round? Or does he now keep going on his own? Who's IP does he use? Each Spirit has an IP of 2 in the Physical World, so would it be restricted in what I can do based on it own IP or does it use mine?


CYBERWARE/BIOWARE?!
As for the cyberware/bioware - I too AM adamantly opposed to it, but as a human (Logic Tradition) I can't seem to find the points for Magic 6 AND Logic/Willpower 6. I figure I could MAYBE do Magic 6, Logic 5, Will 5, or save points with LOG 5/WILL 5/MAG 5, but I'm scared that a Drain Resistance of 10 is not enough. I find the focused casting Merit at 10 pts per +1 to be very expensive. Just seems to me for 25 PTs (Assuming I do MAG 6 instead of 5) I get +2 Logic/+2 Another Stat and still have .4 Essence for some other enhancements.

At the moment my GM has restricted us to using only the SR4 book, so some of the other good options are out. What should I do to most effectively use my points?
« Last Edit: <01-27-11/1350:52> by Shadowstep »

Juxtamon

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« Reply #4 on: <01-27-11/1702:14> »
Urph.  Spirits...where to start.

First, make sure you're familiar with the Awakened World section regarding spirits and summoning.  It will answer some of your questions in there.
The FAQ section in the front end of this website is also populated with useful info that may help out in terms of what good stuff spirits can do for you.

Asking 'what's better' really depends on what you want.

Spells vs. Spirits?  Spells are faster, and easier to manage.  They also require (apart from the rigamarole which is Ritual Casting) that your character be Right There (or at least within line of sight, which in most combat situations is Right Frakkin' There).  And, when you're slinging the heavier juice, it's pretty obvious who the mage is. 

  Spirits can be your goons.  It takes precious actions to summon them, and then tell them what do do...and then time for them to do things like manifest, and THEN start acting on your orders.  But they can help you be in more than one place at one time.

In terms of the services thing. one service could be 'take out Ganger X'.  It would then use whatever powers or abilities it felt like to take him out, engaging in combat.  Another service would be the "continuous use of a specific power" (p.186, SR4A).  It doesn't seem like each combat round is a separate service, unless you're micromanaging its power usages and switching its target every moment.

At higher forces, spirits are fairly awesome.  But there are spells that can do all sorts of things that spirits can't...unless you set up a spirit (such as a Spirit of Man) with some Innate Spellcasting, but you'd need to know the spell first anyway, so...

There are some of the pro/con bits, or at least contrasting points, very basically speaking.
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Kot

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« Reply #5 on: <01-28-11/1106:41> »
Try picking skill groups where you'd buy level x of three+ skills. Like Etiquette, Negotiation and Leadership is 12 BP's. The Influence group is 10 BP's. And if your GM allows it, try picking, and then breaking skill groups. Like getting Conjuration 2, and then bumping up Summoning to 4. It's a dirty trick, but i'd allow it, looking at the amount of BP's mages spend on stuff (Spells and Foci usually cost as much as cyber/bioware).
Mariusz "Kot" Butrykowski
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Lansdren

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« Reply #6 on: <01-28-11/1159:09> »
If your going dresden style (I can relate my friend)

I suggest Spellcasting be your aim to start with, Harry as you know is a spell slinger at heart and only does very limited stuff with spirits. My suggestions would be high magic and spellcasting but dont specialise (wait till you can do it cheaper with Karma) Foci up for spellcasting and be prepared to hide behind someone before reaching out and blowing up the enermy. Major spells would be two or three combat (a mana a elemental and a area) to cover the basics at a bare minimum then maybe a couple of manipulation or illusion for balance.

My current mage is very much from the dresden school of wizadry and generaly handles major threats to the party with a overcast spell from his Boomstick (couldnt help myself). My guys gone chaos mage which means a logic drain stat which means fun with a logic boost from bioware but if your only in the main book then that leaves out alot of fun stuff.

Mages can be one of the more fun types as progression can spread out their talents over time so what you start with doesnt have to be the end by a long shot.
"Didnt anyone tell you as security school to geek the mage first?"  "I guess I will just have to educate you with a introduction to my boomstick"

Rascal

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« Reply #7 on: <02-01-11/0943:19> »
Iīve been using one of the magic themes from the Dresden Files quite a lot with my schaman. Namely: Magic is life, so you donīt us it to take lives.
A mage built on Harry Dresden would not be much of a combat mage in my view, instead he would work health, detections and illusions, I would guess. Manipulations might be a little to straightforward most of the time (but grab some sort of armour/barrier-spell to be on the safe side).

Bound spirits can be great in both fights and surveillance, even if they are of low Force. Unbound spirits wonīt sustain spells for you, for example.

A counterspelling foci (Combat) could give you a nice edge on more battleprone magicians. I just love being able to go "veto" on their ugly hurt-spells...
"If you donīt stop driving through walls Iīm going to start rolling for the van to explode - this is an American game!"

Maelstrom

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« Reply #8 on: <02-02-11/1210:38> »
Iīve been using one of the magic themes from the Dresden Files quite a lot with my schaman. Namely: Magic is life, so you donīt us it to take lives.
A mage built on Harry Dresden would not be much of a combat mage in my view, instead he would work health, detections and illusions, I would guess. Manipulations might be a little to straightforward most of the time (but grab some sort of armour/barrier-spell to be on the safe side).

Bound spirits can be great in both fights and surveillance, even if they are of low Force. Unbound spirits wonīt sustain spells for you, for example.

A counterspelling foci (Combat) could give you a nice edge on more battleprone magicians. I just love being able to go "veto" on their ugly hurt-spells...

In the books, Harry is combat heavy with minor summoning.  He is weak with illusions, good with detections, and I don't recall any health spells at all.

Rascal

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« Reply #9 on: <02-03-11/0606:16> »
How can he be combat heavy with his "ban" not to kill people with magic..? From what I recall from the first book, heīs more of an alchemist with some manipulation..?
"If you donīt stop driving through walls Iīm going to start rolling for the van to explode - this is an American game!"

Lansdren

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« Reply #10 on: <02-03-11/1109:32> »
How can he be combat heavy with his "ban" not to kill people with magic..? From what I recall from the first book, heīs more of an alchemist with some manipulation..?

I'm wondering how far you have read in the books and dont want to spoil things for you.

Harry generally describes himself as a evocator (sp) someone who is good with the point and boom school of magic. He also says he is very good with finding things and generally being a detective. Both statements are correct but even by the third book he is having a moment of self realisation about how much combat style magic he has been doing recently.

By the time we reach book twelve and the conclusion of what is a magical war Harry has upped his game somewhat and able to do more difficult and intricate workings (veils being a new one in changes) but he is still very much a combat mage. Mostly he works with Fire and Air but dabbles with the odd bit of Earth and even Ice magic.

It would make intresting reading to see a comparison of spells cast in each book and a shadowrun comparison but I think you will find it doesnt match to well as Harrys form of ritual magic doesnt match with the Shadowrun version.

Best way to show his inclination to combat spells is look at his foci load out

Foci - Harrys use - shadowrun version
Staff - General magic tool covers pretty much all uses - Low / mid level 2- 3 power focus
Blasting rod - combat spells mostly fire - High level 4 - 6 combat spellcasting focus
Cane - Earth magic tool mostly magnatism - Mid level 3 - 4 Manipulation focus
Rings - Combat spell with physical force - Anchored Clout spells (doesnt fit so well due to karma cost of anchoring but similar effect)
Belt buckle - Minor mental healing (makes him feel strong and awake again for a short time) - Low level health focus unsure of spell
Chain - used to hold lightning as a weapon (based on Elaines focus) - unsure either mid level combat focus or anchored combat spell

As you can see most of his tools are combat related with only a couple of others the best of which is the staff which he is very precious about much like a power focus in shadowrun. Infact I'm pretty sure Harry himself says healing magic is way out of his area as he doesnt have the apptitude for it same with mental manipulations.

As for the dont kill humans rule it does get abit pushed to one side as the books go on but thats mostly because Harry doesnt go after muggers and car jackers he's normally dealing with something that doesnt count as human so doesnt get the laws protection.
"Didnt anyone tell you as security school to geek the mage first?"  "I guess I will just have to educate you with a introduction to my boomstick"

Rascal

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« Reply #11 on: <02-04-11/0742:18> »
Heh, I only read the first book (havenīt gotten around to borrow the other ones). But this whole thing about magic coming from life seemed like a strong theme. Too bad if the writer later scrapped that... I guess I should kick my friends into giving me more of the books...

Ooh, and all those foci sure would make him an addict?
"If you donīt stop driving through walls Iīm going to start rolling for the van to explode - this is an American game!"

Lansdren

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« Reply #12 on: <02-04-11/0751:26> »
Heh, I only read the first book (havenīt gotten around to borrow the other ones). But this whole thing about magic coming from life seemed like a strong theme. Too bad if the writer later scrapped that... I guess I should kick my friends into giving me more of the books...

Ooh, and all those foci sure would make him an addict?


Well the magic comes from life thing is very much part of it, you just have to understand that if you are going to stand up to the darkness odds are your going to be combat mage material.

And yea if you did literal thing then he might be addicted but thats abit of a grey issue because it doesnt really translate
"Didnt anyone tell you as security school to geek the mage first?"  "I guess I will just have to educate you with a introduction to my boomstick"

Lansdren

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« Reply #13 on: <02-10-11/1044:54> »
Been thinking abit bout the 425 limit and use of main book only

Heres what I have as a rough idea (very dresden I'm afraid)

Ork Mage from the school of Camp Kaboom
Cost 25

Body 4
Agility 3
Reaction 3 (4)
Strength 3
Charisma 3
Intuition 3
Logic 4 (7)
Willpower 5
Edge 3
Magic 5 (4)

Initiative 7

IP's 2
Essance 6 (5)
Cost of attibutes 210 including special

Qualities
Hermetic Mage
Mentor Spirt Dragon Slayer,  Gives plus 2 to combat spells and plus 2 to one social skill (intimidation taken) Has negatives that require fixing things if you break your word (very dresden)
Gremlins 4 (couldnt help myself)
Incompetent Computers
Spirit Bane (Shadow)    might be a tad cheesy but easy to change

Qualities total -15

Skills
Spellcasting 5
Summoning 2
Clubs 3
Dodge 3
Arcana 2
Assensing 3
Astral Combat 3
Counterspelling 2
Infiltration 3
Perception 3
intimidation 2

Cost of skills 124

Spells
Manabolt, manaball, Flamethrower, Clout, Stunbolt, Detect Life, Improved Invis, Levitae, Physical Barrier
Cost of spells 27


Gear

Staff Power Focus R2
Cerebral Booster R3
Synaptic Booster R1

Gear Cost 240k or 48bp


Granted its not rounded or in fact finished (knowledge skills and other gear to make him livable)


Mostly this was a fun build with a spellcaster who would be pretty powerfull considering M6 using the staff combat spells DP of 13 a drain pool of 12, things like the gremlins were for flavour and can easily be changed for other disadvantages.
« Last Edit: <02-10-11/1046:46> by Lansdren »
"Didnt anyone tell you as security school to geek the mage first?"  "I guess I will just have to educate you with a introduction to my boomstick"