Balancing Astral sight

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
JBF
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Balancing Astral sight

Post by JBF » Sat Feb 29, 2020 2:42 pm

Hi all,
In my playing days, my GM had a very liberal of what you could see in Astral Sight, and ended regretting it as he made my Windling Wizard/Elementalist a real mood-killer in any investigation game.
In his interpretation I could sense moods, lies, magic, detect Tehran spies...

I’d be interested to have your take on what can be seen/detected:

1-See people: Y/N/with Patterncraft?
2- know if they are adepts, discipline and circle : Y/N/with Patterncraft?
3-know their mood, if they lie or other secrets : Y/N/with Patterncraft?
4-know if they are horror marked: Y/N/with Patterncraft?
5-know if something has a pattern ( thread item, place ...): Y/N/with Patterncraft?
6:see spirits that are not visible in the physical world : Y/N/with Patterncraft?
7: know if “terrible things” done by the horror happened somewhere : Y/N/with Patterncraft?
8-know if “terrible things” non-horror related happened somewhere


Thank you for your insights

Bonhumm
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Re: Balancing Astral sight

Post by Bonhumm » Sat Feb 29, 2020 3:08 pm

The working of Astral Sight / Perception is not very clear and I'm not a dev but here's my understanding out of it.

Astral Sight is not all powerful, from your questions I suppose you and/or your GM played Shadowrun and are assuming that Astral Sight posseses several of the abilities of this game 'Astral Perception' (Assenssing) which is similar on some aspects but very different on others.

1 and 2- Astral Sight permit you to see the Astral Imprints of things/people and perceive their Patterns. Basically, you see the outline of the person/object and what is 'within' the outline differs depending of the nature of the thing you are looking at:

A -The 'inside' of a mundane item (not magical) is dark and empty (although NOT transparent)
B- A magical item will have a bright pattern somewhere in it. The pattern does NOT fill the entire outline but only part of it. For example, a Thread Item sword might have a bright pattern in the hilt while the rest of the blade would still look bland and empty (but, once again, NOT transparent).
C- The most magical 'thing' in the world is life. Anything that is alive have a bright pattern that fills the entire imprint.

Thus a simple glance could tell you whether something is mundane, magical or alive.

Although it is not specifically said in the rules, it could be argued that the more magical a thing is, the brighter it is, thus a Namegiver would probably have a brighter pattern than an animal and an Adapt a brighter pattern than a non-Adept. Whether the difference in 'brightness' is easily distinguishable or not (i.e. just at a glance) would probably be up to the GM.

HOWEVER, taking the time to study the Pattern would most certainly reveal things like whether one is an Adept or not and the Discipline. This, however, would requires time and, in my opinion, could not be assessed just at a glance.

3- No, There is specific spells and talents (and a whole game mechanic; Social Interactions) to do that. This is THE core difference between Earthdawn's Astral Sight and Shadowrun's Assensing.

4- No no no. There is pretty much NO way to know for certain whether a person is touched/marked or not. That's the main reason why everybody is so afraid of this power. The people THINK testing a person Artisan Skill can reveal whether one is touched or not but its unclear how effective it is and there is 'tricks' to bypass this.

5- Yes, see #1. But again, just a glance would only reveal the presence of a Pattern, this would not reveal anything about its nature.

6- I think so, spirits is my weak point in the game so I won't say for sure.

7- More of less; 'terrible things' done by Horrors is what created Astral Pollution. When one tries to use Astral Sight, he have to 'pierce' the local pollution. If he succeed he automatically knows the local 'pollution level' (Safe, corrupt etc). If he fails, he automatically knows that the failure was due to the corruption and can thus deduce that the pollution level is over whatever result he rolled. This, however, would give no idea whatsoever about the nature of the 'terrible things' that was done there.

8- Nope. Would probably need something like evidence analysis or speaking to nearby spirits for that.

As for Patterncraft, I don't see how it has any link to Astral Sight.

I made a little Astral-Sight guide (2-3 pages) in PDF for my group, poke me in the Discord FASA server if you want it (I use the same name) and I'll sent it to you (can't attach files in this forum).

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Mataxes
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Re: Balancing Astral sight

Post by Mataxes » Sat Feb 29, 2020 9:20 pm

JBF wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 2:42 pm
Hi all,
Hello!
In my playing days, my GM had a very liberal of what you could see in Astral Sight, and ended regretting it as he made my Windling Wizard/Elementalist a real mood-killer in any investigation game.
In his interpretation I could sense moods, lies, magic, detect Tehran spies...

I’d be interested to have your take on what can be seen/detected:
Let's see what we have here...
1-See people: Y/N/with Patterncraft?
2- know if they are adepts, discipline and circle : Y/N/with Patterncraft?
3-know their mood, if they lie or other secrets : Y/N/with Patterncraft?
4-know if they are horror marked: Y/N/with Patterncraft?
5-know if something has a pattern ( thread item, place ...): Y/N/with Patterncraft?
6:see spirits that are not visible in the physical world : Y/N/with Patterncraft?
7: know if “terrible things” done by the horror happened somewhere : Y/N/with Patterncraft?
8-know if “terrible things” non-horror related happened somewhere
1. Yes. Unless the astral sight test fails in the first place (against a DN of 6+modifiers), the viewer will be able to see people with astral sight. They will have a bright, "living" imprint.

2. As I generally run it, not with the default Astral Sight roll. There are a couple of ways you might allow it.

A) Compare the Astral Sight test to the target's Mystic Defense and base the information provided on the number of successes scored -- the more successes, the more information. I would probably limit that information to adept status and rough experience tier (Novice, Journeyman, etc). Maybe on a high result provide some descriptive clues to the type of adept.
B) Allow a Patterncraft roll (the talent is meant to be used to study patterns and the information available to them) to interpret the information the viewer can glean from their look at the pattern, whether in place of the Astral Sight comparison above, or possibly to supplement it.

Both of these would assume the situation is calm enough to allow actual study of the desired pattern. Otherwise, crank the number of required successes up even higher -- it's hard to glean details from somebody's pattern if they're trying to cut your head off in combat!

3. Mood, mental state, and things like that are not available with default Astral Sight. Other talents and spells are used for that kind of information.

4. No on most detection of Horror Marks or Horror taint. (There can be exceptions, Horrors are a varied and irksome lot.) Usually, by the time things are bad enough to be detected with Astral Sight there is other evidence as well.

5. Yes, but conditionally. A magic item is generally noticeable -- it will magically glow in a similar way to a living thing. Larger patterns (like say, of a place) are usually too large to see in that sense, extending outside the range of the sight, and/or blending into the background "noise" of the living earth itself.

6. Yes, the spirit is a living entity and would have a pattern in astral space (even if not manifested in physical space). As native astral denizens, I might require the Astral Sight test to exceed their Mystic Defense in order to see them, or (depending on the spirit) give them a power to "mask" their astral presence (similar to Power Mask, Camouflage, or the like).

7. Generally yes. As mentioned the presence and activity of the Horrors pollutes astral space. Places where Horrors were more active (or more recently active) will be more polluted. This is mainly reflected in the modifiers to astral sensing described in the rules.

8. Generally not, but I don't have a problem with the idea that areas subject to concentrated long-term suffering might show evidence of pollution similar to that left behind by Horrors.

Broadly speaking, Astral Sight is a perception-type ability that gives the user information about the magical nature of whatever they are looking at. It doesn't necessarily provide direct answers -- it is often up to the viewer to interpret what it is they are seeing. Like any kind of investigative ability, the degree to which you explore and elaborate on this is up to your group's personal play style and how much effort the GM wants to put into it. Patterncraft could be used as a supplement to exploring patterns the adept is capable of examining (and detailed examination should require the Astral Sight test to beat the target's Mystic Defense, not just the base "visibility" Difficulty).
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ChrisDDickey
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Re: Balancing Astral sight

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sat Feb 29, 2020 10:52 pm

Another thing you might want to do is study the descriptions of
Empathic Sense,
Lifesight,
Power Mask (Many of the things this says it allows you to hide, are things that can be seen with Astral Sight and other talents. ),
Matrix Sight (companion),
Divine Aura spell,
and Bare Mark (horror stalker from Mystic Paths).

In general, anything that these talents and spells say they allow you to do, can't practically be done with Astral Sight alone.
Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JBF
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Re: Balancing Astral sight

Post by JBF » Sat Feb 29, 2020 10:59 pm

Thanks a lot for yo insight. Matches with what I had in mind( not with what my GM was doing, to his own great regret!)

Slimcreeper
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Re: Balancing Astral sight

Post by Slimcreeper » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:40 am

This is not RAW, but I generally allow Astral Sight to see stuff in Astral regardless of whether you beat the MD. And you get a general sense of the power level - more intense magical patterns are more tightly woven and packed with power, but you can't learn anything more without beating the MD. Learning about a Great Dragon with Astral Sight is like trying to study sunspots by staring at the sun with the naked eye.

In the same vein, I like to give flavor text to Astral Sight tests, succeed or fail. I think it gives a nice sense of atmosphere, even if it gives information that the RAW wouldn't allow.

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Mataxes
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Re: Balancing Astral sight

Post by Mataxes » Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:31 am

Slimcreeper wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:40 am
This is not RAW, but I generally allow Astral Sight to see stuff in Astral regardless of whether you beat the MD.
You can see stuff in astral space even if you don't beat the Mystic Defense.

Player's Guide, Page 205 (under "The Astral Landscape"):
On viewing or entering astral space, an explorer sees the astral imprints of all the people, physical objects, and creatures that lie within their sight. In addition, they see astral creatures, such as spirits and Horrors, and any other astral patterns.

Player's Guide, Page 210 (under "Using Astral Sensing"):
If the {Astral Sensing} test succeeds, the character senses the astral imprint of everything within the range of the astral sensing ability being used. The character can tell whether the imprint is a magical or mundane object, and can also determine the classification of astral space.

(Boldface emphasis mine.)

Deeper analysis of the target's pattern requires beating their Mystic Defense, but you can see the imprint with the basic test, and there are a few things you can figure out from the imprint. For example, if you see the imprint of a person or creature in astral space, but there's no corresponding body in the physical? Pretty easy to deduce it's a spirit or other denizen of astral space.

You're not actually going that far afield. Failing to beat the target's Mystic Defense just limits the amount of information you can get (just like any other insufficiently-high Perception roll). It doesn't actually make the target invisible*.

* Barring certain abilities that actually do that.
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Bonhumm
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Re: Balancing Astral sight

Post by Bonhumm » Mon Mar 02, 2020 11:20 am

Astral Sight (my understanding of it)


The key elements to understand are:

• Astral Space is an exact reflection of our (i.e. physical) world.
• Everything in physical space (living or not) possesses an astral counterpart called an Astral Imprint BUT the opposite is not always true: some living beings and objects exist only in Astral space with no physical world counterpart.

Observing Astral Space:

There is several ways to ‘see’ Astral Space, this section will only cover the most common one (Astral Sight).

Astral Sight:
• Someone ‘switching’ to Astral Sight must first beat the difficulty of local Astral Space with an Astral Sight test. The basic target is 6 but this
number is increased depending of the corruption level of the zone where the character is.
If the Astral Sight test is successful, the character will be able to see the Astral Imprint of anyone and anything around him.
• Attention: Astral Sight have several limitations compared to ‘regular sight’:
◦ Astral Sight last only for a number of Rounds equal the Rank of the Talent.
◦ The Astral Sight talent cost one Strain per use.
◦ The Astral Sight has a shorter range than ‘regular sight’, usually being Rank X 10 yards.

This means:
He does NOT need to beat the Mystic Defense of any being or item present; he will see everyone and everything even if he did not beat their Mystic Defense (see exceptions further down below). This only mean that he can see their Astral Imprint (i.e. their general physical form) and whether the person/object is magical or not (i.e. a non-magical thing will be colorless while something magical/alive will have a vivid aura). Nothing else.
▪ The Pattern of a person/object can only be analyzed IF the test beat their Mystic Defense.
▪ Illusions and other ‘concealment’ talents (like Stealthy Stride) WORKS against Astral Sight.
• Natural lighting/darkness does not affect Astral Sight. The ground (since the Earth itself is alive) is basking the entire Astral world in a constant twilight look. In other words: its never nighttime in Astral Space. Note that Illusion spells affecting sight (ex: Smog) will also affect Astral Sight.
• Astral Sight otherwise works as regular sight: you cannot see someone/something that his standing behind another person/object.

Examples:

You stand in the middle of a market place:

• The local Astral Space corruption level is ‘Open’.
• Several bad guys are attempting to ambush you, they all stand within 10 yards of you:
◦ a non-adept troll is hiding inside a house, he has a Mystic Defense of 7.
◦ an elf Illusionist is using an Illusion spell to appear as a child, the illusion spell he is using has a Sensing Test difficulty of 12 and his own Mystic Defense is 14.
◦ a dwarf thief is approaching us silently in our back using the Stealthy Stride talent. The dwarf has a Mystic Defense of 10 and he rolled 14 for his Stealthy Stride talent.

Anyone attempting to use Astral Sight need to beat a target number of 8 (basic 6 plus the +2 due to ‘Open’ space) to see anything at all.

You rolled 8 (but less than 10) with an Astral Sight talent, you see the following:
• Although rolling 8 allows to see the Astral Imprint of everyone and everything within the 10 yards range, you still cannot see the troll for he is standing behind the walls of the house and thus the Imprint of the wall hide him from your sight, just like the real wall hides him from you ‘regular’ sight. If you were looking through a window, however, you would see the troll AND be able to analyze his Pattern (figuring out details like whether he is an Adept or not and the likes) since you beat his Mystic Defense(7). Since the Astral Imprint has the same ‘form’ than its physical counterpart, you could also obviously guess that the target is a troll.
• You would see the elf illusionist as a child since you did not beat the Sensing difficulty (12) of the spell.
• You would not see the thief since your test did not beat the result of his Stealthy Stride talent (14).
• Note that although you do see everybody/everything else, you cannot see anything past 10 yards since your Astral Sight rank is only 1.

You rolled 12 (but less than 14) with an Astral Sight talent at rank 2, you see the following:
• Just like above, you still don’t see the troll, no matter how high you roll, you can’t see through walls.
• You would see the Astral Imprint of the ‘child’ as having the form of an adult elf since you beat the Sensing Difficulty of the illusion spell (12). However, you would NOT not be able to tell if the elf is an Adept or anything else since you did NOT beat his Mystic Defense (14)
• You would still NOT see the Thief for you did not beat his result for Stealthy Stride (14) even tho you beat his Mystic Defense (10).
• Note that although you do see everybody/everything else, you cannot see anything past 20 yards since his Astral Sight rank is 2.

You rolled 14 (or more) with an Astral Sight talent at rank 5, you see the following:
• Again: can’t see the troll through a wall.
• You would also see the ‘child’ as an adult elf and, if you took the time to analyses his Pattern, could find out that he is an Illusionist Adept since you beat his Mystic Defense of 14.
• You could feel/see the Thief sneaking behind you because you beat the Thief’s Stealthy Stride test (14). You would also able to analyze his Pattern if you took the time since you also beat his Mystic Defense of 10.
• Note that you could see everybody and everything else up to 50 yards away due to your Astral Sight talent at Rank 5.


Other note:
- Astral Sight does not go 'on top' of regular sight. Someone 'switching' to Astral Sight only see the Astral. Thus, if the character has, for example, only Rank 1 in Astral Sight, he will see anything/anyone within 10 yards of him in Astral BUT will NOT 'Physical Sight' the Archer targeting him 11 yards away. Another example would be when fighting a dual-natured Horror; if the 'Physical Horror' is in combat with the character but its 'Astral double' is elsewhere, the character would not see the Horror in Astral Sight even if its currently engaging him in melee range.
Last edited by Bonhumm on Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:47 am, edited 4 times in total.

Sharkforce
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Re: Balancing Astral sight

Post by Sharkforce » Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:39 pm

i would think if a horror's physical form is in one place but the astral form is in another, there would probably be some kind of link between the two. not necessarily a huge obvious thing, but there should probably be some sort of sign if you know what to look for. or if nothing else, the physical form of the horror would be radiating corruption into the astral, which would also presumably be somewhat visible (provided you are able to see through the pollution in the first place).

Aegharan
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Re: Balancing Astral sight

Post by Aegharan » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:23 am

That's a great overview Bonhumm. I would however change some minor details:

If the Troll is behind glass, he would be visible in Astral Sight. The glass would appear like a concrete wall in Astral Space, as a lifeless color.

There is a "Astral Stealth" knack for Stealthy Stride, that also conceals you in Astral Space. I understand your view that Stealthy Stride Talent also conceals in Astral, while the Skill doesn't, but I see the talent magically dampening foot step sounds, etc. In the novels it was described as "like air pillows under my feet".

I'm not sure if by beating an Adept's MD you would be able to learn his discipline. The fact that he is an Adept definitely. However for such details to be seen I'd require some extra successes I believe.

Do you have a source for only being able to see Astral or normal?

I hope you don't mind me stealing your list :)

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