Astral Perception

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
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Bonhumm
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Astral Perception

Post by Bonhumm » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:45 pm

Could use some help figuring out what the Player's guide says about Astral Perception:

P:209 states that Astral Sensing (i.e. Astral Sight) is a limited type of astral perception where the character 'sense' the imprints without requiring him the see astral space itself. It also says that 'full' astral perception is dangerous since the character can noticed by astral creature and just (fully) viewing astral space can drive someone insane.

I'm trying to figure out what IS 'full' Astral Perception as I'm unable to find any clear example of it. 'Full' astral perception seems to have pretty much all the same dangers than being physically in Astral Space so I though that 'full' Astral Perception just meant that (being physically in Astral Space) but, again, p:209 states 'To fully perceive astral space, a character concentrates on forming an image of himself in astral space' so this would mean that its only an image of the character that is in Astral Space (i.e his body is still in Physical Space) so that's not it.

So what IS 'full' Astral Perception? The Nethermancer spell 'Aspect of the Astral Savant' seems to describes this again the p:209 statement ( 'To fully perceive astral space, a character concentrates on forming an image of himself in astral space') seems to imply to anybody can do it by just 'concentrating'.


Also: is there any other way (beside possible spirit/horror powers) to get physically into Astral Space beside the Nethermancer spells 'Step Through Shadow' and 'Spirit Portal'?

Thank you.
Last edited by Bonhumm on Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Astral Perception

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Jul 21, 2019 9:49 pm

As I understand it, This is kind of a holdover from from the old Earthdawn 1st edition's relationship with Shadowrun.

In Shadowrun, Magicians can "Astrally Project", wherein their meat body goes comatose but their spirit can move around on the Astral Plane. A person can be moving and fighting on the Astral Plane but their body is comatose.

Also in Shadowrun, Magicians can "Astrally Percieve", wherein they become duel-natured creatures, existing simultaneously and concurrently in both the Astral and Physical worlds, and can interact with both and be attacked by both. If they want to hit something in Astral Space, they need to move their meat body to attack the Astral presence. In Earthdawn this is called "Full astral perception" and appears to technically still an option available to all Adepts, but is considered so monumentally risky that in 4 editions, no developer has ever bothered to write down the rules for it. I imagine if the rules were there, they would be something like "you can see into astral space, but you are very limited to what you can do there. Your weapons and armor are not in astral space. Things in astral space can see you and affect you with any of their full powers". This is just considered a very bad idea and a particularly unpleasant way to have your soul eaten.

In Earthdawn they have developed the Astral Sight Talent (not available in Shadowrun) wherein you can see into astral space, but you generate no additional ways for things in astral space to see or attack you. Astral Sense and Aspect of the Astral Savant are variants of Astral Sight and they do not suffer the drawbacks of full astral perception.

As you noted, In Earthdawn there are ways to move your physical bodies (and their armor and weapons) into astral space. This is considered risky, but enormously safer than Astral Projection (if you absolutely must go into Astral Space, you probably really, really want your armor and weapons). I don't know whether actual astral projection is known about in Earthdawn, but apparently nobody even considers doing it.


The Netherwalk Talent from the Companion is also a way to physically enter Astral Space.

As I understand it, Step Though Shadow is not an unlimited way to physically access Astral Space. It creates a protected tunnel through Astral Space that you can enter and exit, but I believe it protects you from any interaction with anything in Astral Space. It is only if you are still in the tunnel when the spell expires that the tunnel collapses and you are free to interact with things in Astral Space (and visa versa). This leaves you trapped in Astral Space and recasting this spell will not get you back. So one-way ticket to astral space at best.

Bonhumm
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Re: Astral Perception

Post by Bonhumm » Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:15 pm

Thank you the clarification. The whole definition was definitely giving me a 'Shadowrun Astral Projection' vibe but the description was so vague and, as you said, the lack of any clear game mechanic made me think I was missing something crucial.
ChrisDDickey wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 9:49 pm
Astral Sense and Aspect of the Astral Savant are variants of Astral Sight and they do not suffer the drawbacks of full astral perception.
I'm not sure about the 'no drawbacks' part for Astral Savant. The description states that : The target of this spell becomes partially subsumed in
astral space and perceives it without any filtration offered by the Astral Sight talent
and, furthermore, states that the person using this suffers damage equivalent to casting Raw.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Astral Perception

Post by ChrisDDickey » Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:37 am

Bonhumm wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:15 pm
I'm not sure about the 'no drawbacks' part for Astral Savant. The description states that : The target of this spell becomes partially subsumed in
astral space and perceives it without any filtration offered by the Astral Sight talent
and, furthermore, states that the person using this suffers damage equivalent to casting Raw.
They do not suffer from the most serious drawback of full astral perception.

As you noted in your original post, just seeing too clearly into Astral Space can cause psychic damage. Astral Sense filters this madness out at the cost of fogging out detail the Adept might otherwise want to see. It is safer to have that filtering, and usually the loss of fine detail is considered a small price to pay for that safety. One of the main things that Astral Savant does as it purposely removes that filtering thus allowing more clear viewing, but at the cost of the target suffering the psychic damage. But once again, this removal of the filtering is considered more of a feature rather than a bug, albeit a feature with a hefty price.

However the psychic damage of unfiltered viewing of astral space is considered the lessor of the two big drawbacks with astral projection and full astral perception. The great big huge disadvantage of full astral perception is that when using it, anything on the astral plain can plainly see you, and affect you, just as if you are on the astral plane with them (which you half-way are). With Astral Sight, Astral Sensing, and Astral Savant, you can see into astral space, but things on the astral plane can not see you any clearer than they can anything else on the material plane, and they can only affect you if they have some way to affect the material plane. This is quite literally a life-saver.

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