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Spirits/Abilities and Skills

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MatrixWalker

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« on: <02-06-20/2036:13> »
I have a player that says Spirits can use skills like a normal PC/Player can based on game play at a convention where a ruling from errata team staff were present stating Spirits could do things like Lock-picking, drive vehicles, negotiation, etc because they can default to attributes and in most cases higher attributes than most PC's. I can't find anywhere where this may even be slightly true but then again, I may be aware of all the rules when it comes down to the entirety of SR rules with the number of versions and books out there... I thought that for the most part Spirits/Watchers couldn't use tools, push buttons, smell the roses, read minds, you know beyond the power listed. Am I wrong?

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #1 on: <02-06-20/2052:46> »
Spirits have the sapience power, so that means they can cognitively do anything a metahuman can. So if a skill allows untrained use, there's no reason a spirit can't default.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #2 on: <02-07-20/0213:43> »
Just keep in mind that they suck at electronics. So that car had better be manual controlled and not use AR.
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penllawen

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« Reply #3 on: <02-07-20/0736:02> »
Well we have very different takes on this... just because a spirit is intelligent and physically capable of manipulating a set of lockpicks or a vehicle's manual controls doesn't mean they can pick a lock or drive a car. It's pretty well-established in canon that spirits have almost zero understanding of anything more complex than a class 2 lever. It's not because they're stupid - it's because they're alien, and meatspace is alien to them. I wouldn't just let them default this stuff.

Chatting about this with D4rvill, he suggest that mechanically they'd have the Incompetent quality for activities like this. That's a reasionable suggestion I think. I’d add “no defaulting” on top, like the 5e version of Incompetent, or possibly defaulting at a very stiff penalty for only the simplest of tasks.

Then we started inventing an in-universe sitcom involving some hapless human and a free spirit who are forced to be housemates for some reason. A fish-out-of-water / odd-couple thing. An earth spirit decides to try and make breakfast for the human, staring in total befuddlement at the microwave while holding a frozen burrito. A fire spirit tries to drive the human's car somewhere in an emergency, the human shouting "push that pedal, no NOT THAT ONE, THE OTHER ONE, turn the big circular thing clockwise, no, like a clock, dammit you don't know what a clock is, ummmm, ARGH PUSH THE BRAKES, NO, THE BRAKES NOW NOW NOW" <<bang>> All while the fire spirit is involuntarily setting fire to the inside of the car...

Two And A Half Foci? Modern Summoning? Two Girls, An Earth Elemental, And A Stuffer Shack? How I Met Your Spirit?
« Last Edit: <02-07-20/0802:43> by penllawen »

skalchemist

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« Reply #4 on: <02-07-20/1040:15> »
Then we started inventing an in-universe sitcom involving some hapless human and a free spirit who are forced to be housemates for some reason. A fish-out-of-water / odd-couple thing. An earth spirit decides to try and make breakfast for the human, staring in total befuddlement at the microwave while holding a frozen burrito. A fire spirit tries to drive the human's car somewhere in an emergency, the human shouting "push that pedal, no NOT THAT ONE, THE OTHER ONE, turn the big circular thing clockwise, no, like a clock, dammit you don't know what a clock is, ummmm, ARGH PUSH THE BRAKES, NO, THE BRAKES NOW NOW NOW" <<bang>> All while the fire spirit is involuntarily setting fire to the inside of the car...

Two And A Half Foci? Modern Summoning? Two Girls, An Earth Elemental, And A Stuffer Shack? How I Met Your Spirit?
That is hilarious!

I think the bigger issue here is that even if a spirit were capable of doing this stuff, its not clear you could get them to do it very reliably based on the need to issue commands as "single, discrete, clearly defined actions".  This leaves a lot of scope for "GM f&%ęry", as my friend Jman5000 puts it.  Is "drive me to the hospital!" a single, discrete, clearly defined action?  That's really up to your GM and how much they want to push your buttons on it.  If not, no matter how well you made the roll you are going to run out of services pretty quick. 

That being said, I think I prefer spirits to be more...not human, per se, but definitely having personality and interest.  Its more interesting if your fire elemental spirit is a wise-cracking flaming effigy of Walter Matthau from "the Odd Couple", for example, then just a nebulous alien being of flame.  So I think the idea that a spirit could do human like stuff is not unreasonable, its just that practically I think it would be hard to get them to do it in a reliable fashion.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #5 on: <02-07-20/1044:21> »
Timeless classic: the old, "choose how you word things carefully" trope when commanding spirits.

"Keep my body safe until I return from my astral jaunt" might result in an earth spirit burying it. Or an air spirit hanging it on a hard-to-reach perch somewhere.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

GuardDuty

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« Reply #6 on: <02-07-20/1046:03> »
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its just that practically I think it would be hard to get them to do it in a reliable fashion

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MatrixWalker

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« Reply #7 on: <02-07-20/1927:02> »
Okay so onward to having Spirits building ships, from parts, in bottles (pretty mundane and falls under artisan and physical), they can play chess (sapience and core attributes), they can pilot sailboats (again they fall under sapience and core attributes with a basic default to reaction), forge a perfect (maybe) piece of artwork (with proper supplies) but not a credstick, build a structure from a plan (again with proper supplies) but not from scratch...

I certainly can live with complex items created by man would be alien to any Spirit to work it, use it or copy it. They should be able to understand (sapience) what technology is from a standpoint of a caveman being handed a machine gun and being trained to use it as anything other than a club with the limits of sun rise/sun down.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #8 on: <02-08-20/0548:04> »
There's indeed a difference between Sapience and picking something up at once. Driving a car is relatively simple in comparison to building. So unless you keep summoning the same spirit (and there's debate in-universe whether that is even possible), they won't pick it up quick.

As for Chess: They wouldn't be able to play it well at first (give a point of Edge to an experienced opponent!), but yeah, if you explain the rules they can pick it up. If it's something a normal person with zero experience can do with a bit of instruction, it makes sense that you can teach a Spirit the basics real quick.

Forgery, nah. That sounds like a too-complicated thing to explain. So yeah, how quick can you teach a caveman how to use something?

(As for machine guns: Just wait until the magic book and see if it has Guardian Spirits.)
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Reaver

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« Reply #9 on: <02-08-20/2344:04> »
The other problem with Spirits is, they have never been very clear exactly what they can and can not do over the edition changes.

From 1 to 3, we have a pretty defined idea of what elementals (the Spirits that Hermetic mages summoned) and what Spirits (as what Shamans could summon). An elemental always had the personality of a Rock (No, Not the Wrestler!). You ask them a question, and they just blankly looked at you... (Non-sapient). While a Hearth Spirit could talk your ear off about that time Washington came by and  dropped a flaggon of ale on some poor maid's foot, thus causing a near riot!

And then along came 4e... And they kinda of shoe horned elementals and Spirits and Mages and Shamans into one giant pot without really taking the time to tell us EXACTLY what and how Spirits function now...


Now, for my take on the above Question of "can a Spirit use Skills"....
the default answer is "yes. With exceptions".

The first thing to remember is that Spirits, even when materialized are NOT biological entities. Meaning they don't "See" with eyes. They see with Astral Perception only. (as poorly worded as it is in the CRB, and covered in the 4e book before it).... So this in itself is a HUGE obstacle to overcome...

Just imagine asking a blind person to do the said task. Makes "Press the Red Button!" actions kind of impossible huh? 
The Next is that while Spirits are Sapient, and thus smart, they don't really understand the physical plane. (Remember, Spirits are not affected by stupid laws of phyics or gravity! Those things are for Mortals!) Couple that with half our world being  a grey wash (anythinb not living) with spots of vibrant color (life and Emotion).. its not something that translate well into skills that a Spirit could use that would help a Shadowrunner...

Take "Lock picking" for example.
Well, if its a electronic lock, Then the Spirit can't even read the screen! Or tell one wire from an other to hotwire it...
If its a Combination lock, it can't read the numbers nor even see the arrow to align with...
If its a key lock, it might be able to figure out that a small piece of metal might be able to move the internal keys into the right position....

But, More likely it would be thinking: "Why"? If the portal on the grey wall won't open, just go through the wall and re-materialize. Or fly over the fence. Wait? you want to open the grey Portal, in the grey wall, to retrieve some grey items from inside??? Why???
:P 

As to summoning The same spirit over and over again to teach it a skill...

Well, Things get really murky here.... with 2 different lines of thought and 2 different pieces of supportive info for their cases.

Basically, it boils down to a combination of things:

The first is either Spirits share a Hive mind intelligence, and when you summon a spirit, you are calling forth a small sliver of this hive mind for a limited time... And this is the reason why actions with one Spirit will/can affect interactions with a different spirit later on... Because they are all one giant intelligence..(See: Spirit Rep)

The other line of thought is that Spirits kinda of act like a Girl's locker-room does for Rumors... but on a planetary scale. And thus each spirit is a separate entity, but it's through this "Spirit's locker-room" that other Spirits learn of your miss deeds to Spirit kind... (again: Spirit Rep)

Sadly, there is nothing concrete either way, as everything with Spirits is (probably intentionally) filled with contradictions. Spirts have shown knowledge of things that they shouldn't have knowledge of. And shown a lack of knowledge of what it should know on others... Spirits and tech don't work because biologically, Spirits are just blobs of Ectoplasim... yet there are accounts of Free Spirits BTLing out... 


So yea... Basically, thanks to how little is codified, and the wording of what we do have... GM call to just about anything for a Spirit can do with skills... Or if it can use skills...


Hopefully your GM is up for the task..

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Michael Chandra

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« Reply #10 on: <02-09-20/0456:24> »
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The first is either Spirits share a Hive mind intelligence, and when you summon a spirit, you are calling forth a small sliver of this hive mind for a limited time... And this is the reason why actions with one Spirit will/can affect interactions with a different spirit later on... Because they are all one giant intelligence..(See: Spirit Rep)
To be fair, it might be that Spirits are just massive gossip-mongers.

As for BTL-using Free Spirits, the books are clear that some spirits Mimic actions without them actually mattering for them. That Spirit may 'use' BTLs but it's not actually experiencing one. They basically go through the motions.
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Reaver

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« Reply #11 on: <02-09-20/1139:38> »
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The first is either Spirits share a Hive mind intelligence, and when you summon a spirit, you are calling forth a small sliver of this hive mind for a limited time... And this is the reason why actions with one Spirit will/can affect interactions with a different spirit later on... Because they are all one giant intelligence..(See: Spirit Rep)
To be fair, it might be that Spirits are just massive gossip-mongers.

As for BTL-using Free Spirits, the books are clear that some spirits Mimic actions without them actually mattering for them. That Spirit may 'use' BTLs but it's not actually experiencing one. They basically go through the motions.

Very true.
In the books, the dealer actually swapped empty chips for the real thing.... the Spirit still BTL'd as if they were real..
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.

skalchemist

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« Reply #12 on: <02-09-20/1352:31> »
And then along came 4e... And they kinda of shoe horned elementals and Spirits and Mages and Shamans into one giant pot without really taking the time to tell us EXACTLY what and how Spirits function now...
I admit, having not played SR since 1E, this was one of the biggest disappointments to me with 6E.  I think it was a great idea to make spirits mechanically identical, that was a good choice.  But something I found interesting and exciting was lots in so far as they were made thematically/fictionally similar. 

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #13 on: <02-09-20/1406:11> »
Given how many different traditions, each with their own flavour and spirit preferences, SR4+ supported, I can quite understand the move. SR6 is going to make the choice real interesting since it no longer (explicitly at the least) limits you to only knowing 5 spirit types.
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