NEWS

[House Rule} Free spirits, free sprites, and AI as PCs

  • 16 Replies
  • 1044 Views

Sphinx

  • *
  • Troubleshooter
  • Omae
  • ****
  • Posts: 621
« on: (17:59:06/08-03-18) »
Free Spirits are long established in Shadowrun and were playable as PCs in SR3 and SR4. AIs are playable in SR4 and SR5, but frankly I find the rules in SR5 to be obtuse and unplayable. Free Sprites ought to be playable as well. As a practical matter, Free Sprites should be mechanically similar to Free Spirits, and AIs should be functionally equivalent to both. This is my attempt at making a consistent set of rules to govern all three. I'm about to start playtesting them in my home campaign; I'd love to hear what people think.

[Trying to attach a PDF document; let's see if this works.]

Reaver

  • *
  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 5911
  • 60% alcohol 40% asshole...
« Reply #1 on: (07:28:01/08-09-18) »
I might be a little late for you, and I am only going to comment on Free Spirits, as I have more interest in the magic side then i do the matrix side currently (way behind in my matrix readings as no one plays a matrix character in my games currently).

I find the rules for your Free Spirits interesting.

But i want to be clear here. from my understanding of the way you want things to work is the Spirit is essentially starting off as a Force 1 (C) or a Force 3 (b) or a Force 6 (a).
Spirit.

I understand that you have separated the attributes from Force, and must be chosen per a meta-human.


But doesn't the Free Spirit's Force still affect many of its spirit powers, including ITNW...


This could be problematic.... even with the cost of doing so. Worth keeping your eyes on at the very least!

And, if it works out well I would love to hear it as those house rules may solve an issue I have nicely..
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.

Sphinx

  • *
  • Troubleshooter
  • Omae
  • ****
  • Posts: 621
« Reply #2 on: (10:33:50/08-09-18) »
Thanks for reading! Never too late for feedback. I expect to revise these rules continually as questions occur. For example, you can strike "Endowment" off the list of available spirit powers from Street Grimoire, it's way too overpowered for a PC. And "Magical Guard" is redundant, since free spirits already have access to the Counterspelling skill.

Mental (and therefore Physical) attributes are separated from Force, but a spirit's Force always equals its Magic attribute (or vice versa, depending how you look at it). For spirits, they might as well be the same thing (equivalent to Level = Resonance for sprites, or Rating = Depth for AI). So it depends which priority you assign to Magic: 2 at D, 3 at C, 4 at B, or 6 at A. You can also spend the special attribute points from the (Meta)Type column on either Magic or Edge, same as the special attribute points you'd get for any other metatype, so any starting Magic (Force) from 2 to 6 is possible. I tried to explain under "Creating a Free Spirit," step 3, but maybe I didn't do it well.
« Last Edit: (10:40:45/08-09-18) by Sphinx »

Marcus

  • *
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 2362
  • Success always demands a greater effort.
« Reply #3 on: (11:17:24/08-09-18) »
I don't have a problem with AI characters or Free Sprites (Though Depth makes me a little nervous).

Free Spirits on the other hand make me extremely nervous. Spirit power are way, way strong, putting them in the Hands of PCs is not something I'm super comfortable with, your rules on them are more limiting then the last go at this i will certainly agree, but they still have all advantages normal spirits have (IE being very difficult to actually kill). Sure you can banish it, instead but that just like a couple day nap, maybe an inforced vacation back home, I don't know how intend to run spirits and the metaplanes. I'm also not really comfortable with spirits earning karma directly. One of the limits on free spirits has always been they need to get karma from metahumans. 
*Play-by-Post color guide*
Thinking
com
speaking

Sphinx

  • *
  • Troubleshooter
  • Omae
  • ****
  • Posts: 621
« Reply #4 on: (13:08:53/08-09-18) »
...  I'm also not really comfortable with spirits earning karma directly. One of the limits on free spirits has always been they need to get karma from metahumans. 

Not much fun for the player if they can't accumulate experience and improve their character like everyone else.

Marcus

  • *
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 2362
  • Success always demands a greater effort.
« Reply #5 on: (15:26:11/08-09-18) »
...  I'm also not really comfortable with spirits earning karma directly. One of the limits on free spirits has always been they need to get karma from metahumans. 

Not much fun for the player if they can't accumulate experience and improve their character like everyone else.

I'm not saying your wrong, but that's always been how its worked. That was the social contract of you play an immortal amazingly powerful spirit and the cost is you are dependent on those poor fragile meta-humans to advance. To be fair force did a LOT for those version. So all they every did was buy up force.

« Last Edit: (15:27:50/08-09-18) by Marcus »
*Play-by-Post color guide*
Thinking
com
speaking

Marcus

  • *
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 2362
  • Success always demands a greater effort.
« Reply #6 on: (18:43:12/08-09-18) »
Oh I just wanted add Your formatting on those rules is really amazing. As someone who enjoys a good layout yours is really very exceptional.
*Play-by-Post color guide*
Thinking
com
speaking

fseperent

  • *
  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 352
« Reply #7 on: (02:36:02/08-12-18) »
It is a sweet set of rules.

I will offer this part up as a suggestion for AI homes:
Monthly rent= 3% of total cost of home X device rating.
Failure to pay the rent results in unresisted damage equal to the device rating.
Damage requires shop tools or better to be fixed.
Optional:
Failure to pay the rent results in (device rating-1) bugs until damage is fixed.
GM's are encouraged to make at least one bug serious enough to worry the PC.
Causing the device to take an action that increase OS every 2 hours or so spring to mind.
« Last Edit: (02:41:10/08-12-18) by fseperent »

Sphinx

  • *
  • Troubleshooter
  • Omae
  • ****
  • Posts: 621
« Reply #8 on: (11:03:27/10-12-18) »
Minor updates from Kill Code and a little playtesting.

Michael Chandra

  • *
  • Catalyst Demo Team
  • Prime Runner
  • *
  • Posts: 7364
  • Question-slicing ninja
« Reply #9 on: (00:45:17/10-15-18) »
This kind of posts is why I need a bookmark-system in the forum. -.-
CorpSec when an alarm is triggered;: "This is so sad, Alexa play Shoot The Runner"

Finstersang

  • *
  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 298
« Reply #10 on: (05:32:38/10-16-18) »
I love it for the AI rewrite alone, but the rules for Free Sprites and Spirits really take the cake ;D

A few humble proposals, though  ;)
  • In addition to the Potential of having Materialization and Possession at the hand of a PC, Free Spirit PCs have the added benefit that their Mental Attributes effectively double as Physical Attributes. I think that should be reflected that in regards to Karma Advancement. Maybe New Rating x 8 (or 10) instead of 5?
  • The true name part part of Spirits could be more fleshed out to be more of an existencial threat (and motivation!) for the PC, maybe by mandatory (GM/storyline-approved) Qualities. Three basic starting conditions come to mind:
    • You are in control of the existing copies of your true name. You have to take care of their safety, with intense security measures reflected by your lifestyle choice. You may also be pretty paranoid about it and on the verge of becoming a recluse.
    • Someone (f.i. a sinister Mr. Johnson? Or even another PC?) has hold of your true name, turning you into his/her slave.
    • Your true name is somewhere out there. You have to pursuit it, and live in constant fear that someone finds it before you do (or already has!)
  • Using the full Edge rating as a Substitute for Initiation/Submersion Grades seems very strong. Maybe go for for Edge/2 or even Edge/3?
« Last Edit: (05:35:32/10-16-18) by Finstersang »
SR5 Summoners in a Nutshell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFuMpYTyRjw

Sphinx

  • *
  • Troubleshooter
  • Omae
  • ****
  • Posts: 621
« Reply #11 on: (10:51:09/10-16-18) »
Finstersang:

Your ideas about new Qualities involving a free spirit's true name are great; I may explore some of these in the next draft. Thanks for the suggestion!

You raise a good point about free spirits' mental attributes, but I think the karma cost for improving attributes should remain consistent with sprites and AI, and by extension technomancers and magicians. I.e., a metahuman magician's Astral attributes go up when she raises her mental stats; and a technomancer's Matrix attributes go up when she raises her mental stats (ditto free sprites and AI); but they don't pay extra karma for the added benefit. Simpler to leave this one alone.

Using full Edge as initiate grade for metamagic powers (or submersion grade for echoes) is consistent with the rules in Street Grimoire ("New Powers," p.203). And since free spirits don't initiate (nor free sprites submerge), using just a fraction of Edge feels too limiting. 

DigitalZombie

  • *
  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 584
« Reply #12 on: (16:20:39/10-18-18) »
First of all I really like that youve managed to compile spirits,sprites and AIs into so few pages- and yet managed to give the player/GM a greater understanding of the mechanics behind all three of them, than data trails tried with just the AI.
Ive done some homebrew myself on AIs and Sprites, but was stumped by the free spirit and hit a wall there.

Some questions though: most archetypes have a lifestyle as a balancing factor - your AI also has that. But arent you concerned that the free spirit and Sprite is given too free (ha) reign? Normally each month a "normal" character would have to sacrifice 1- 2 or more karma points just to "live". While the free spirits/sprites dont.

Regarding the AIs home. Is it correctly understood that an AI can acquire a rating 1 host for free? (Ownership level) - but it cant actually make it its home because its minimum depth is 2? In that case I would just delete the "street" version of the host- as its real benefit would then be making anchors into other hosts- which is cool, but shouldnt be free.
I would also outright delete some of its qualities: hello world!, munge, and fragmentation are all related to the AIs essence, of which it has none.
You mention that AIs can learn new programs and autosofts, as autosofts have ratings how would that work? Rating automatically at depth rating or is it 5 karma pr. Rating?


Free spirits seems very powerful, not that im against that- as they wouldnt be in "vanilla" shadowrun teams anyway. But with regeneration and immunity to normal weapons, "teleports" and near immortality they are a force to be reckoned with- regeneration isnt a normal spirit power is it? If not then maybe skip it as an option?
Im actually slightly bummed out that they cant take computer skills. In howling shadows there are some extra spirits- two of them are spirits of "black trenchcoat" and "pink mohawk" shadowrunners. They come from an evil corporation metaplane, where they usually fight mars macrotechnology and Azcorp etc. And being the very definition of shadowrunner spirits they also do some computer stuff etc.  Would be cool if the free spirit didnt have tjat limitation also.

You might want to post this also in the GM resources section.
« Last Edit: (16:27:35/10-18-18) by DigitalZombie »

Sphinx

  • *
  • Troubleshooter
  • Omae
  • ****
  • Posts: 621
« Reply #13 on: (16:30:41/10-22-18) »
DigitalZombie:
You raise some very good points. I'll share my thinking on a few. 

Regarding lifestyles for free spirits and sprites: True, lifestyle isn't as important for spirits and sprites. They're native to the metaplanes or resonance realms, and can return there whenever they wish. Any metahuman can take a "street" lifestyle for free (SR5 p.95, 369), but it's not meant to be an attractive choice. That's kind of the point, though: Although they can get by without a lifestyle, there are benefits to having one, not the least of which are comfort, entertainment, and a safe place to keep stuff. Hanging out in clubs, going to concerts, and interacting with mortals are all part of a lifestyle expense, too. Consider Buttercup, the free spirit who has a seat on the board of Evo. You can bet she maintains a Luxury lifestyle; probably several.

Regarding the home host/device for AIs: True, a digital "street" lifestyle on a rating 1 host is theoretically free, mostly for parity with metahuman lifestyles (p.95, 369). As you pointed out, though, these house rules don't support AI characters with a rating 1 Depth attribute (or spirits with rating 1 Magic, or sprites with rating 1 Resonance). But Finstersang got me thinking about some new qualities tailored for these rules, and one for AI characters might be the ability to have a home host/device with a rating lower than their Depth. Call it "Digital Hermit" or "Matrix Spartan," maybe 7 karma per level, can make its home in a host or device 1 rating point lower than its Depth per level of this quality (minimum 1).

Regarding existing qualities for AIs: I hadn't gotten around to testing individual qualities, beyond noting that some qualities "may require minor adjustment to fit these revised rules." Since you mention it, though, I would revise "Hello World" (DT p.147) as a bonus to resist dumpshock, "Munge" (p.149) to repair Matrix damage, and "Fragmentation" (p.151) as a reduction of the Core condition monitor by two boxes.

Regarding autosofts as programs for AIs: I hadn't considered autosoft ratings, honestly. The easy answer would be to have autosoft rating equal Depth, but before long you'd have an AI rigger boosting its Depth rating to run seven rating-7 autosofts, then eight rating-8, and so on. Paying karma per rating point seems overly punishing, though. Suppose the AI version of an autosoft simply let the AI share its own skill rating with its drones? Need to think about this one some more.

Regarding free spirits and "teleporting": Spirits can't exactly "teleport." Fast astral travel is 5 km per Combat Turn (100 kpm, 6000 kph), which is fast, but it still takes almost seven hours to go around the world and back. Suborbital and semiballistic flights are actually faster for intercontinental trips. Spirits can travel via the metaplanes, but they can't return to a place they've never been unless they're summoned there by a magician who knows their true name (I should clarify that in the next draft, I guess). Also, being astral or dual-natured can be a real pain in the astral neck when you run into a ward, and those are fairly common in my games. Metahuman magicians can drop spells / deactivate foci and just saunter through a ward, while a spirit is stuck outside unless they push through or smash it.

Regarding free spirits and regeneration: "Regeneration" is listed specifically as a power for free spirits in Street Grimoire (p.205). It applies only to the spirit's materialized (or possessed) form, and it can't regenerate damage caused by magical Drain, weapon foci, spells, or most critter/adept powers (SR5, p.400). In play, it's a relatively minor improvement on Immunity to Normal Weapons. Magical attacks and enemy spirits remain real threats. It's worth noting that a metahuman who takes a Deadly hit and receives prompt medical help (First Aid, Heal) can be back on their feet in moments, but a free spirit that's disrupted by Deadly physical damage is sidelined for most of a month.

Regarding computer skill for free spirits: Spirits could take a knowledge skill in computers (as AIs could take knowledge versions of magical skills), but the Matrix ought to remain beyond their reach (ditto astral space for AIs). Reality in the metaplanes can be quite different, naturally.

  • *
  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 866
« Reply #14 on: (16:54:05/10-22-18) »
How would address an AI on a device at the same time as another user?
Yeah, TMs got thrown in the cell with Bubba the Love Troll and sandpaper for lube.
there is autosofts for everything  8)