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Playing a Toxic Mage

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Enginseer-42

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« on: (20:16:50/01-08-19) »
So, I may have an opportunity to play a Toxic Mage in the near-ish future and figured I'd open up a discussion on here, since I know the topic is an occasional favorite.

So my thoughts on the matter is that it's certainly a different excercise than building a typical runner. Typical runners can generally count on both being able to make friends fairly easily, and on being deniable. Noone cares if some random Street Sammy lives or dies unless Nuyen can be made off it or a point needs to be made. Toxics by their very nature draw heat like nobodies business. Sure you could try to build yourself up as a magical superman and try to just fight all the heat, but that's both disruptive and kind of dumb. Toxics are rough to fight but not THAT rough buddy. not unless you intend to spend the entire game in a nuclear waste dump. Which you don't. Because you're part of a shadowrunning team.

Erased seems like it'd be your best friend as a Toxic Mage. Erased and Astral Chameleon/Masking. Or Both.

Honestly it seems like one of the most viable paths for a Toxic Mage as a Shadowrunner is the long con Toxic Mage with their abilities focused towards being as unobtrusive as possible. The one who's less about immediately dumping poison into a public park, and more about worming their way into power so as to do so on a grand scale. More Winternight than the Four Horsemen.

Any thoughts?

Reaver

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« Reply #1 on: (23:00:31/01-08-19) »
Toxic magic and mages is mostly covered in the Street Grimoire, starting on page page 84 and goes to page 88, so you have a fair bit of info to work with...

However, there are some things to consider:
Quote
There are a few magicians, however, that embrace, or
perhaps have been driven mad by, the mutated magic
of the area. Instead of being revolted by the toxic magic,
they revel in it.
Those magicians who follow the toxic path almost always
live a solitary life. To become a toxic magician is to
give up everything, leaving behind family, friends, and
even their mentor spirit (if they had one). In their new life
the toxic magician follows an agenda of hatred, destruction,
and revenge. Cut off from the rest of society, their
lifestyle, habits, and motivations grow more and more
alien, diverging from the world they were once a part of.


So, it seems they are generally very solitary, and don't play well with groups or teams. Especially non toxics. (Something to keep in mind.)

Also, every write up on toxics makes it abundantly clear they are insane. INSANE is not something to be discounted. If you have ever dealt with the mentally troubled, you know its no picnic. Even the most rational of them are pretty clearly irrational after a few minutes conversation..
And keep in mind this is not your traditional mental illness; there are no "meds" to take to keep "balanced", Toxics are just filled with what is most often described as "Suffering made manifest".

These people are not long term planners. They are not team players. They are not reliable, dependable, or trustworthy. They are not meant to be a Player Character, or to operate on a Player Team.

Now, that said, nothing is stopping your GM from allowing you to play one if he chooses to. I just wouldn't expect any game that allows a toxic as a player character to be a "normal" shadowrun game...

And, IF you are the only "malignant" arch-type there, then your character involvement  could be over especially fast (as in the first player assensing test..). IF you are not the only "malignant" arch-type, then I expect "nature to take its course" fairly quickly...


Really, we need more to be able to provide more....
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.

Enginseer-42

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« Reply #2 on: (23:31:26/01-08-19) »
I've read that, though I've also read the 4e Street Grimoire, and the 3e blurb on Toxic Magic. As well, I'm largely basing the character's state as a 'long term planner' on hints dropped in 4e (What with Cybermancy, something kept utmost secret by the corps, being a form of Toxic Magic) and lore outright stated in Winternights writeup. Winternight was a Toxic Cult that went unnoticed for years and actively used stealth and espionage to accomplish their aims.

Winternight again is THE ur example of what Toxic Mages are. Destructive, insane, but not dysfunctional to the point of idiocy. While some might be like that, certainly not all are. And Winternight had no trouble getting it's toxic mages to work together with others. Even blending both Avengers (Who hate Pollution.) and Poisoners (Who Love Pollution) together into a single cohesive wholeness of Toxic Horror.

You don't get to the point of having a worldwide network of agents and some of the top people in various fields under your thumb with noone the wiser by being incapable of subtlety or long term planning. Toxics might be insane, but that doesn't make them incompetent or necessarily unreliable. So long as what motivates them is something that you can make yourself an asset to, or at least be VIEWED as an asset.

Reaver

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« Reply #3 on: (04:30:36/01-09-19) »
If you are looking for more Winternight lore and info:

Threats (2e) has large write up for Winternight.
System Failure (3e) the full Winternight plan, how it was to go down, why it was to go down, and what went right and wrong with their plan...
Threats 2 (3e) as I recall had some more info of Winternight. Sadly its one of the few I don't have on PDF So I can't double check.

But they all stress one thing. That Winternight was unique in both its structure, AND its membership.

Also remember that of the Noms, only one was a toxic. The other two where crazy sure, but not toxic. (one wasn't even awakened, and other, by the rules of the day as an adept couldn't be toxic. Only Shamans could be corrupted and turned toxic by the rules of the system back then)

So what you had was, by the admittance of the writers, was toxic death cult lead by one of the most powerful shamans of the age, toxic or no, With a unique power structure that couldn't exist anywhere else. And was probably held together by the Massive power and personality of a single leader - who if I had to guess, probably built an Initiation circle with the other toxic members.

To this conclusion, I point to to what exactly they where trying to do:
Summon and bind massively powerful Storm Spirits to plunge the major cities into an unnatural, localized "winter"
Turn hidden nuclear weapons through unknown metamagics into "Magical EMPs" to fully burn out the matrix infrastructure and destroy the matrix forever (The Virus was PAX's idea, not Winternight. They never trusted it to work).

That's some serious mojo to sling, And Initiation Circles gain advantages to Ritual castings, not to mention cheaper initiation costs.... At the price of compelled loyalty through Geasa...

(But that's speculation based on years of reading and digesting and talking about Winternight...)

And, None of this have any bearing on your character :D

We need to know exactly what type of game this is going to be, otherwise you can't prepare properly.

As I tried to point out in my first post, These types of interactions generally don't go over well  in a mixed game (where only one person is playing a Toxic/blood mage/invested/insect/infected type.) And in a game where everyone is playing as "malignant" arch-type (see list previous), you have different concerns.


Generally at character creation you are not allowed to initiate so, why talk about metamagics... IS he allowing you to Initiate at play? Is he giving you an alotted karma amount?

Are you using straight Priority? Sumto10? Karma buy?



DETAILS MAN! WE NEEDS THEM!
:D 



Edit: Threats was a 2e not a 3e book.
« Last Edit: (04:38:10/01-09-19) by Reaver »
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.

fseperent

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« Reply #4 on: (05:03:52/01-09-19) »
The way you describe what you're after makes me think of the Elder God tradition.
Might be worth your time to browse that section of Forbidden Arcana.

Enginseer-42

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« Reply #5 on: (12:02:21/01-09-19) »
And, None of this have any bearing on your character :D

We need to know exactly what type of game this is going to be, otherwise you can't prepare properly.

As I tried to point out in my first post, These types of interactions generally don't go over well  in a mixed game (where only one person is playing a Toxic/blood mage/invested/insect/infected type.) And in a game where everyone is playing as "malignant" arch-type (see list previous), you have different concerns.


Generally at character creation you are not allowed to initiate so, why talk about metamagics... IS he allowing you to Initiate at play? Is he giving you an alotted karma amount?

Are you using straight Priority? Sumto10? Karma buy?



DETAILS MAN! WE NEEDS THEM!
:D 



Edit: Threats was a 2e not a 3e book.

Straight Priority, Initiation allowed using the Karma available at chargen. Mixed group.

I feel like the key issues in a mixed group are...

1.) You're valuable and thus draw more heat than normal. (Wanted Flaw.)
2.) You're an evil megalomaniacal captain planet villain.
3.) People distrust or hate you by default. Potentially including your team.

Reaver

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« Reply #6 on: (14:23:04/01-09-19) »

Straight Priority, Initiation allowed using the Karma available at chargen. Mixed group.

I feel like the key issues in a mixed group are...

1.) You're valuable and thus draw more heat than normal. (Wanted Flaw.)
2.) You're an evil megalomaniacal captain planet villain.
3.) People distrust or hate you by default. Potentially including your team.


Have you decided on a race yet? (in case you have a favored).
Humans are the easiest to build as mages, thanks to the Human priority cost. (yea, we know this Reaver..)

So essentially you have 50 karma to play with (the 25 good at start, and the 25 bad karma you can gain from Negative qualities).

I agree with you opening statements that either masking or flexible signature are good picks for a toxic. In fact, I would say that they are required!

Of the 2, I am torn on which is better; Flexible Sig increases the threshold to see your true aura by your initiate grade. So, instead of 3 hits to see your aura they need 3+Initiation rank. Masking turns an assensing test into an opposed test pitting their assensing pool VS your Magic + Initiation rank. However, if they get even 1 success they see through the masking.

So, if you initiate, there goes 13 (10 + (Grade x 3) Karma) of your 50 karma.   Leaving 37 total karma for everything else.

From here, you have a ton of choices as well as other things to consider. With your aura covered by either Masking or Flexible Signature, the  next 2 things that can give you away are your spell choices and your Summoning.
As a Toxic, you gain access to some fairly nasty spells namely the radiation and pollution spells. - Do not take them :D Yes they are powerful, but they are a dead give away as to what you are!
Again, as a Toxic, you also can only summon Toxic Spirits, so you may want to fore-go Summoning in its entirety so as to not give away your toxic nature. But this does limit the versatility of a mage :(  Big Risk vs Reward here...


One option for survivability to load up on positive qualities that increase your sociability and talking skills so you can buff, bullshit, and Con your way past some unpleasant questions about your "dirty magic".


RP SIDE:

On the RP side of things. This is were most people have the most problems. For you, its important to remember that you are destructively insane. This is not a mental illness, (where medication could help you) but a Physical and Spiritual corruption and twisting of the very soul of individual. Once one has gone toxic, there is no redeeming them. (there is no known way to 'de-toxicify' a mage, regardless of how many juice cleansing diets he tries :P)

I doubt a Toxic would view a runner team as friends or allies. They would be probably viewed as useful tools to his cause (either the spread of toxic materials, or the revenge for the spreading of toxics). Also, he should be working towards his "master plan" - tied to his toxic nature. So if a Run doesn't directly aid in his overall goal, then he probably isn't interested in it.

Also note that Insane doesn't mean Suicidal or Stupid :P Just because your ultimate plan is to detonate every Fission reactor in Seattle turning the entire city into a radiated wasteland and killing everyone (including yourself!), doesn't mean they wander around putting metal objects into electrical receptacle or that they like to play ball on the freeway :P     

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.

DigitalZombie

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« Reply #7 on: (04:22:57/01-11-19) »
The disease toxic mages in street grimoire are described as being able to cooperate, having long term plans and stuff like that.

Now, I dont know the rest of your party. But you could throw caution to the wind, get everyone at your table into the idea of playing bad guys, and crank the whole thing up to eleven. If everyone at the table is bat-s%$# crazy then you dont have to hide your pollution powers or spirits that much.

Get another player to play an invested insect spirit (a nasty fly for the pestilence power), have other players play some nasty infected monsters, maybe even throw in a crazy dissonance technomancer.

Have a short campaign where you are going to destroy some unimportant big city.
Then afterwards everyone creates new characters that are hired to hunt down uoir old characters.