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Detection Mage?

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Chalkarts

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« on: (08:11:49/04-22-19) »
I'm considering making an all detection, all seeing, all knowing kind of mage.
I'm also considering making it a mystic adept so it can have things like Eidetic sense memory and enhanced perception.

Is this kind of character effective to have on a team?
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Beta

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« Reply #1 on: (10:32:16/04-22-19) »
I'd make sure that they did more than that.  Detection as a focus has two issues:

- it makes some things hard for the GM, as far as keeping things interesting and exciting.  If things are going overly easy they can't just be 'a janitor happened to be grabbing a nap in that storage closet you are going by and looks out at the noise of your passing, and screams an alarm'  because you are like 'Did he really resist my 7 successes detect life spell with a 42 meter radius?'  Some detection is smart playing, but the always on know-what-is-happening does kill tension.

- detection is passive.  It helps avoid surprises and maybe find the route of least resistance, but it doesn't help you get through a locked door or deal with guards who can't be avoided or convince the receptionist that you really are here to see about the roach problem in the executive suite, or take out that huge fire spirit that is eating the Sammie's face, or whatever.

Fortunately, magic is super flexible, and powerful.  If you have a mentor that helps detection spells and have a specialization in detection spells (along with magic 6 spellcasting 6), you are tossing 16 dice, which will overcome most resistance pools handily.  Perhaps add in a good detection sustaining focus (force 5?) so that at least one spell can be kept up without handicapping you.  Then have ~5 detection spells (say detect life, detect enemies, clairvoyance, [sense=ultrasound] crytesthesia, analyze device), that would still leave you five spells to have a bit of combat and illusion or manipulation, which even at pools of 12 dice is still pretty useful.

And just a thought about regular mage versus mystic adept.  Regular mages get astral projection, which is arguably one of the most potent information gathering abilities in the game.
Jawsey  --
speechthought

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #2 on: (11:11:53/04-22-19) »
You'll risk a Psyche Addiction, but don't forget you can cast some Detection spells on teammates that do not suffer sustaining penalties and let them use them. In Lost Islands Found, my players cast Detect Enemies Extended on the professor they were protecting. Worked like a charm.
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Hobbes

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« Reply #3 on: (13:11:33/04-22-19) »
Detection is powerful, but you run the risk of alerting even basic magic security if you're sustaining some of the larger AoEs.  Any mage running spell defense will know immediately when a Detection AoE washes over them.  Wards/barriers/ect will trigger.  Astral spirits will see the spell auras.  All that.

One of the best ways I saw them used was as Alchemical Command Preparations for an Astral mage.  Mage handed out several goodies and tagged along Astraly dropping Spirits and popping off preps as needed.   

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #4 on: (14:36:55/04-22-19) »
Hm, not so sure if Spell Defense notifies you. The rules simply state Counterspelling may  be used even if you're unaware. As for collision, I wouldn't say the spell has an aura covering the entire area, so I don't think Astral Intersection will happen then. Can't find anything making it explicit. At the very least I'd consider applying the same penalty as applies to Search though.

Also, if Detection Magic were to trigger Astral Intersection, you'd expect Detect Magic to note Wards collapse or kill the spell.
« Last Edit: (14:40:01/04-22-19) by Michael Chandra »
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Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #5 on: (15:14:04/04-22-19) »
I'd agree with Michael Chandra.  As with "defending" against Matrix Spotting or Hack on the Fly, just because you know out-of-character it doesn't mean the character knows.

Or of course the GM can prevent the OOC knowledge by rolling your own resistance test for you in secret.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, youíre fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Hobbes

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« Reply #6 on: (15:21:31/04-22-19) »
GM "Hey, you can roll spell defense, if you want to.  Do you want to?" 
Player "Uh, hell yes.."

I would presume the mage is aware when they're checking spell defense, but that's just been how we've ruled it in our games.  I think you're correct that there is no RAW.

If Wards/Barriers/whatnot don't stop Detection spells what does other than spell defense?  If Astral patrols can't see Detection spells how else could you Detect Detection spells? 

I think the conservative RAW answer is to treat Detection spells like any other AoE sort of spell.  If Detection spell effects aren't stopped/spotted by normal Anti-magic security measures I would think that would be worth noting somewhere, and specific Detection counter-measures would be available?  Or it would make Detection magic, even more crazy powerful, and nearly eliminate technological and social spying.

YMMV, but I would think an unmarked Van at the edge of Extrateritoriality just spamming and sustaining all kinds of Detection magic would get a not-so-friendly visit pretty quickly.  I don't think corporations respect the "Not touching you can't get mad." rule. 




Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #7 on: (15:22:49/04-22-19) »
GM "Hey, you can roll spell defense, if you want to.  Do you want to?" 
Player "Uh, hell yes.."

That's why I'd do it this way:

GM: "Hey, lemme see your character sheet for a sec.
GM: rolls dice behind the GM screen.
Player: "What's up?"
GM: "Nothing you're aware of."
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, youíre fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Hobbes

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« Reply #8 on: (15:24:22/04-22-19) »
I'd agree with Michael Chandra.  As with "defending" against Matrix Spotting or Hack on the Fly, just because you know out-of-character it doesn't mean the character knows.

Or of course the GM can prevent the OOC knowledge by rolling your own resistance test for you in secret.

Toss a clairvoyance spell before kicking the door in to use up the Mages spell defense and still get surprise?  Corner case exploit, but still an exploit.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #9 on: (15:28:42/04-22-19) »
I think most reasonable people would say that combat didn't start until after the door was kicked in, and therefore all pools are full at the start of the first round.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, youíre fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Lormyr

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« Reply #10 on: (15:47:48/04-22-19) »
Spell defense is only of use for spells as they are being cast. Dispelling is used for everything else. As almost all detection spells are sustained, with a little prep, you'll rarely have to worry about spell defense.

As mentioned, your detection spells being detected is the larger concern.

Tecumseh

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« Reply #11 on: (17:24:51/04-22-19) »
Getting back to the original question, I think that Detection mages are great. That said, I don't think that every spell needs to be a Detection spell. If you start with 10 spells and 4 or 5 are Detection spells then that will cover most circumstances while still giving you some other spells to diversify your utility.

But I'd also like to reinforce the points that Beta is making, namely that Detection spells are great for the player but can be a real chore for the GM. I have a love/hate relationship with Detect Enemies; as a player, it seems like a no-brainer, but as a GM it can ruin a lot of fun surprises.

Similarly, a lot of awesome spells like Catalog and Spatial Sense can be very burdensome for the GM. As a player, you have to accept that the GM is not a computer who can crank out highly-realistic results on the fly for every situation in which a spell might be used. It just requires too much processing power. If you can accept that the results will occasionally be "nothing interesting" then you might be able to find a happy balance that's fun for everyone.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #12 on: (17:32:27/04-22-19) »
A key thing to remember about Detection spells in 5E is they're typed as either Active or Passive.  And lots of them (Detect Enemies, notably) are Active spells.

That means you only gain the magical ability to detect enemies while you're spending a simple action to use the sense.  If you sit there at the meet with Mr Johnson and it's been a couple of minutes since you last "pinged", then his assassins have had a couple of minutes to get into position without the spell tipping you off.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, youíre fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #13 on: (01:08:12/04-23-19) »
Let's not forget the primary problem with Detect Enemies: You need to be a SPECIFIC enemy. Not just one of the crowd. I played a blind Vodou mage using Astral Perception and Detect Enemies Extended once, and made very sure to be KNOWN by our enemies. Because if they didn't actively hate my guts, there was a chance I'd fail at detecting them. So I was well-known and made sure my name was what people would say in their worst nightmares.

My biggest weakness was drones... If the Rigger is outside the range of your spell, you don't even know they exist. Even if they are, you won't automatically connect them to the Drone flying around that corner about to shoot your brains out.

Upside: Detect Enemies is a perfect way to snipe through walls/floors, as long as you picked up a weapon skill yourself (which I covered by Channeling a Guardian Spirit, Vodou tradition covers ALL the nice spirit types, only its Possession-required aspect can be a nuisance). So feel free to cast Detect Enemies Extended on your Sniper, let them taunt the enemies then blammo APDS through walls.
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Shinobi Killfist

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« Reply #14 on: (17:32:01/04-26-19) »
Iím not sure Iíd have the entire area be visible magically. Given the size of extended area spells there would be a crazy circumstance that isnít implied in the setting where at all times you see dozens of area detection spells covering the area. Iíd instead have it only visible when looking at the spells target, basically who has the detect enemies ok them.