House Rules - Magic

House Rules - Magic


The foci addiction rules listed on pages 45 and 46 of Magic in the Shadows are in force on this game, with the following modifications:

  • Whenever a new focus is activated, if the total force of all active foci, including the new focus, exceeds twice the character's magic rating, the character must make a magic test with a target number equal to half sum of the forces of all foci currently active. Failure on this test means the character must immediately check for magic loss.
  • Expendable foci of any kind do not count for this rule.
  • Anchoring foci (both expendable and permanent) do not count toward this rule.
  • A character is charged for foci bonded to him/her, regardless of whether they are in his/her possession at the time.

The first item above modifies only *when* the test is made, not any of the other effects. Mages *may* use karma pool on this roll. The rules about geasa, etc, with regard to magic loss due to foci addiction are unmodified. A maximum of one test must be made each combat turn, even if multiple foci are activated. Power Foci's increase from magic does not count for resisting Magic Addiction.

Magical Adepts are dealt with slightly differently. There are two conditions that can trigger the necessity for a test. If either of them is satisfied, a test must be made. If both are satisfied, only one test is made. As always, the test is made when a focus is activated. The first condition is if the total force of all foci active at that time exceeds twice the character's total magic rating. The second condition is met if the total force of all sorcery/conjuring related foci active at that time exceeds twice the level of the character's Magical Power adept power. In either event, the character's total magic rating is rolled against a target number equal to half the sum of the forces of all foci currently active. The distinction between a 'sorcery/conjuring-related focus' and one that is not related to sorcery or conjuring is made based on how the focus is being used, not just on how it can be used. All other rules apply as per normal.

Aspected Mages

Aspected Elemental Mages have access to the Health spells, since they are not part of any one element's "standard" class of spells. Therefore, aspected elemental mages have access to their own spells, plus all Health spells. The other three schools are excluded to them.

Astral House Rules

Movement in the Astral

The movement of astral beings, such as spirits and astrally-projecting mages, is modified by their wound level. Normally, an unwounded astral being may move at its force (or magic rating) times 1000 meters per combat turn. If an astral being has taken wounds, however, its effective force (or magic rating) for this calculation is reduced by its wound level (i.e. L=-1, M=-2, S=-3, D=-4), to a minimum of one.

Perception in the Astral

Astral perception is somewhat vague in the books. What *can* you see, really, when you use astral perception? There are a lot of answers, but this is the general guideline you use on the game. This can be stretched by GM's for playability.

Astral perception is not like seeing in the normal world. It's not just some magic way to 'be there' and 'see everything'. In the astral realm, you see mostly living things. Those are the things that are bright and detailed. Things that are not alive, and were never alive — those things tend to be dim. Machines tend to be simply featureless silhouettes. You can't tell much of anything about them except their shape. Oh, that's a car. What brand? Hard to tell, unless it has a distinctive silhouette or you know a lot about cars.

In the astral world, emotions and life are what colour things. Inert, non-alive things don't display colour. In the astral plane, you can see someone's emotional state, but you'd be hard-pressed to tell what he was wearing beyond a simple notion of, "big and bulky" or "thin" clothing.

Sound does not travel well in astral space. You can 'hear' the emotional content of the speech of someone in the physical plane, but not the verbal content. The same goes for documents. However, a creature or item that is dual-natured is easily visible and audible, normally, in the astral plane. Two astrally-projecting entities can talk to each other easily and without effort. Even an astrally-perceiving mage can speak, and can hear others in astral space. Eavesdropping on conversations via the astral plane is usually not possible.

Bonding of Foci At Chargen

Bonding of foci at chargen will follow the rule in SR3, p. 60, under "Magical Gear and Spells", not the rule in SR3, pp. 54-55. In short, this means that the cost in spell points to start the game with a focus already bonded to you is equal to the karma cost to bond the focus, not just its force. The latter, mentioned on pages 54 and 55, seems unfair in that a force 3 power focus and a force 3 sustaining focus would cost the same to bond. If you wish, you may purchase the focus in chargen and bond it after character creation with karma, or even apply any karma earned from good backgrounds or rollover toward this purpose.


The deed ordeal will require the surrender of all karma from a plot with a karma value at least equal to the initiates desired grade (not the karma cost of the initiates grade). The plot must still be personally relevant and appropriate to the character.


Detection spells are funky. It is stated in the book that /any/ Detection spell can be resisted by its targets. Meaning that you can see in the dark with Nightvision just fine, until you find people, and then they get to resist and your vision goes black again. Or you just don't see them, while you do see the walls and doors that can't resist with Willpower, having none. Kinda silly.

Henceforth, Detection spells are seperated out into two classes, resisted and non-resisted. Resisted Detection spells are any Targeted Detection spell and any Area Sense. Non-Resisted Detection spells are new Directional Senses, or limited to those targets that cannot resist (those that lack willpower). Sample listing follows.

Resisted: Analyse Truth, Clairaudience, Clairvoyance, Detect Enemies, Detect Individual, Detect Life, Detect (Life Form), Detect Magic, Diagnose, Mindlink, Mind Probe, Translate.

Non-Resisted: Analyse Device, Analyze Magic, Animal Sense, Astral Window, Catalog, Combat Sense, Detect (Object), Enhanced Aim, Eyes of the Pack.


The following rules apply to drain resistance and spell-defense tests.

The drain resistance test is not a damage-resistance test. As such, it is subject to wound penalties and other applicable penalties. Background counts, as in the book, add +1 TN to this test per two levels of background count, rounded down.

Spell-resistance tests are affected by wound penalties, except for elemental damage spells. Elemental damage spell-resistance tests are effectively damage resistance tests, and thus are not affected by wound penalties.

Enchanting (edited 061311)

Expendable Foci and Expendable Anchoring Foci do not require the Object Resistance Modifier (MITS, p 44).

Other foci DO require the modifier. When in doubt of the exact OR, the magician should confer with the Admin on their queue.


Geasa are not permitted in chargen to offset magic loss *except* in cases where the character is willing to take a point of magic loss with no real corresponding advantage. In other words, if you want to have a character whose leg gets blown off and has to get a cyberleg, and said cyberleg doesn't really give much in the way of mega-enhancements, then we'd probably allow the geas. But if you want to take 5 points of essence loss for cyber, then wipe your slate clean with geasa, the answer is 'no'. Sorry. FASA was on crack when they wrote that ability in, since it almost completely negates any disincentive to take both magic and cyberware.

Breaking a geas involves more than just a temporary loss of the point offset. For each broken geas, you are subject to a +1 Target Number penalty to *ALL* magical tests affected by that geas for the duration of the time you are breaking it. Yes, this includes drain resistance on spells.

Finally, a geas cannot be something stupid. This includes: geasa that have absolutely no verifiable effect (must think about elephants while casting); geasa that duplicate something you automatically have to do anyway; geasa that have no conceivable time they can be broken; or talisman geasa that are based on something that cannot be removed (cyberware, bioware, tattoos, or parts of your anatomy).

In short, a geas is a *real* restriction on your ability to cast magic. It puts you at a disadvantage against those who don't have to take them. They're a way to offset magic loss, but they aren't a cheap way around those rules.

To clarify: the above applies to geasa to offset magic loss. It does *not* apply to geasa taken to discount power point costs of adept powers (except for the third rule).

Increased Reflexes

The Increase Reflexes +1D6, +2D6, and +3D6 spells are nearly unique in that they require no specific force in the spell description and, in fact, the spell's result is not linked to its force. To correct this, the spells are modified as follows.

The Increase Reflexes spells are to be combined into a single spell, called Increase Reflexes. This spell has a drain code of +1D and must be cast at a minimum force equal to twice the number of bonus dice (Force 2 for +1D6, Force 4 for +2D6, Force 6 for +3D6). In addition, the number of successes necessary to cast the spell successfully must equal or exceed the number of bonus initiative dice gained (1 for +1D6, 2 for +2D6, 3 for +3D6).


Initiation represents the acquisition by an awakened character of his or her magical essence. This isn't something that 'just happens'; instead, it requires either trials and tribulations or deep study. We want initiation to be more than just a simple matter of 'spend the karma, get the point'. It should be something 'beyond the norm'. For this reason, initiation must be justified when requesting it. Please include your justification when sending your +qmail to the magic queue. Either of the following counts as justification:

1. You may participate in a plot that involves significant magical 'horizon-broadening'. Simply acquiring a spell design won't count. But if you do something that grants you a deeper understanding, such as researching a magical artifact; or, if you perform some service for the greater 'good' of magic as a whole, such as recovering such an artifact, fighting blood mages, etc, then that can serve as justification. Either admin-plots or playerplots count for this.

2. You may spend as many karma points as the initiation costs without group or ordeal bonuses on other magical-related stats, including skills, spells, techniques, etc. For physical adepts, combat and physical skills also count for this total. Extra points don't carry over to the next initiation. These costs in addition to the karma cost for initiation.

3. 'Appropriate' skills for mages and shamans are limited to skills related to magic: sorcery, conjuring, enchanting, spell design, magic background, and other appropriate knowledge skills related explicitly to magic endeavors. Physical adepts have a broader range of skills that can be applied, including weapon skills, martial arts and maneuvers, ambidexterity, stealth, and other skills that are related to their abilities as physical adepts.

4. To be more in line with the rules as to the application of Ordeals:

Magic in the Shadows clearly states on page 60 that an ordeal can only be repeated at the GM's discretion. To standardize the application of this rule the following is adopted:

An ordeal can be performed to reduce the cost of initiation, but the ordeal can not be repeated until four other types of ordeals have been used. So the Astral Quest Ordeal for instance taken as a grade one (1) initiation ordeal can not be repeated until the magic user is ready to initiate to grade five (5).

This is in keeping with the spirit of the rule and also allows for flexibility for the character.

Updated May 08.


The invisibility and improved invisibility spells block normal metahuman senses only (normal vision/low light and thermographic). They do not block ultravision, nor do they block ultrasound vision. As such, those with ultrasound will notice the mage on a regular perception check at +4 visibility modifier to the TN, as per any other situation.

Radar is also not affected; while a vehicle may be unable to perceive the invisible character except through ultrasound with the +4 TN, the vehicle can always use sensors and radar to detect the character's signature, which is unaffected by the use of the invisibility spell.

The Stealth and Silence spells function as per M&M p18, and fully affect ultrasound, rendering the character undetectable to ultrasound unless the spell is successfully resisted.

Learning Spells

If a character already knows a spell and wishes to learn the spell at a higher force, and all the following conditions are true:
1. The character already knows the exact same spell.
2. The new spell has the same options (EXCLUSIVE/FETISH) as the old spell.
3. The character has a spell formula at the full force of the new spell.

Then, the character receives the following benefit:
1. The TN of the roll needed to learn the spell will be reduced by the
'standard' karma cost of the original spell.

The 'standard' karma cost of the original spell is defined as the karma cost that would have been spent on the spell if it were learned at present with the existing options. For example, a force 3 EXCLUSIVE spell would have a 'standard' karma cost of 1 point.

Characters who are learning a spell that they personally designed receive a -1 TN bonus when learning that spell.


This is a clarification of an existing rule from SR3.

In order to learn or design a spell, a hermetic mage needs to have a Sorcery Library of rating equal to or greater than the force of the spell.

In order to conjure elementals, a hermetic mage needs to have a Conjuring Library of rating equal to or greater than the force of the elemental being summoned.

In order to enchant items, a hermetic mage needs to have an Enchanting Library of rating equal to or greater than the rating of the focus or talisman being created.

If you are increasing any of these skills, you must have access to the appropriate library at a rating equal to or greater than the new level of the skill.

The cost of each library is Rating*Rating*1000 =Y=, Street Index of 1. Libraries can be upgraded from one rating to another by paying the difference in cost.

Magical Adepts

Magical Adepts who take the Magical Power adept power are governed by the following:

1. If you cast a spell whose force is greater than either your magic attribute OR the level of the Magical Power adept power, then the spell will cause physical drain rather than stun.

2. Your spell pool will equal the sum of your intelligence; your willpower; and either your magic attribute OR the level of the Magical Power adept power you have taken; divided by three. For example, an adept will Magic 6, Intelligence 6, Willpower 6, and the Magical Power adept power at rating 2, would receive a spell pool of 6+6+2/3 => 14/3 => 4. That same character as a mage would receive a spell pool of6 instead.

3. No more than four (4) points of the Magical Power adept power may be taken at chargen.

4. When initiating, you get either another power point OR a metamagical technique. Not both. (as per p24 of MitS).

Magical Groups

Player Characters may not join NPC Magical Groups, nor may they start out of chargen in a magical group. NPCs may not join PC Magical Groups either. PCs may join PC Magical Groups.

When forming a magical group, you may not use karma pool.

However, if you fail in your first attempt, the next month, you get a -1 TN, as long as none of the strictures have been changed and no paths have been added or removed. This TN modifier is culmulative. In other words, for each consecutive month you try to form the same group, you get a -1 TN.


New Ordeal: Masterpiece

This Ordeal can only be undertaken by an Adept who has the Virtuoso metamagic, or who will be acquiring it as a part of this ordeal. The creation of this work must be completely original - every time the Adept wishes to undertake this ordeal, the Virtuoso work to be performed must have different theme that firmly distinguishes it from earlier ones. The Masterpiece ordeal requires complete attention and cannot be interrupted for any sort of other activity such as work, study, shadowrunning, or socializing.

Material Links

Material links are components that provide some sort of magical link to a person, which can then be used for ritual sorcery. Material links are not all the same, and material links may degrade over time if not Preserved properly.

Type 1: Permanent Links. These are material/magical links that do not degrade. Examples are foci bonded to the target, a magical thesis written for initiation, etc. These items are always effective magical links to the target.

Type 2: Body Parts. A hand. A finger. Something that is part of you. These samples degrade at +1 TN to the linking test per 2 months elapsed since they were taken. This also includes parts replaced during installation of cyberware or bioware.

Type 3: Living Samples: These include items such as blood and semen. They must contain living tissue, though not enough to qualify as a part of someone's body. If they are a pure sample, then they degrade at the rate of +1 TN per 3 weeks. If these are contaminated (e.g. on the ground, on somebody else's body) or a very small sample (just a drop or two), then they degrade at the rate of +1 TN per 5 days.

Type 4: Incidental Samples. These are items such as skin flakes, hair, eyelashes, fingernails, traces of saliva, dirty underwear, etc. They represent dead cells, but still contain enough DNA to be used as a ritual sample. These degrade at the rate of +1 TN per 3 days.

Type 5: Symbolic Links. Symbolic links are introduced in SOTA: 2063. A Favored Object degrades as a link at the rate of +1 TN per 2 months it is out of the target's possession. An Often-Handled Object degrades as a link at the rate of +1 TN per month it is out of the target's possession.
Type 6: Symbolic Representations. Symbolic representations, once created, degrade at the rate of +1 TN per week since they were created. A new representation may be created, however, subject to the usual requirements and penalties.

Once a ritual sample reaches a total TN modifier of +10 on the Linking Test (p37, MitS) due to degradation, it becomes completely useless for ritual sorcery. A new sample must be obtained. The Preserve spell can be used to help increase the time before a sample deteriorates, as per the spell's description.


Please follow the link for more information on changes to metamagics

Power Foci

Aid Power and Power Foci work in the same way. They aid their Force to their master/user's Magic rating for purposes of resisting drain /and/ for determining the maximum Force of spirit that can be summoned, and they add their Force in dice to any of their master/user's Willpower-based Magical Skill Tests each turn, refreshing at initiative as normal. Allies in the astral plane may use this on their summoner.

However, the Enchanting skill is, specifically, *not* affected by power foci or any other foci. As such, Ally spirits only affect Sorcery and Conjuring.


The adept power Improved Physical Attribute does not cost double until it exceeds the Racial Modified Attribute Maximum (the number in parentheses on p245 SR3).


Psionics has a lot of limitations, but no advantages other than their rather wussy 'thought forms'. Therefore, Psionics is going to be considered an 'adept' path, and only requires Priority B.


The wording on page 42 of Magic in the Shadows regarding assistance in Enchanting is rather vague, and is heretofor clarified.

The primary alchemist (ie, the person who sent in the queue) is allowed to be away from the circulation for a period of time no longer than the average of the alchemist and his assistant's Enchanting skills x 1.5, in days, rounded down. This is the maximum 'long-term' time that the enchanter may stay away, and can be taken all at once or in dribbles over the process. As a note, the alchemist may have -one- assistant for game purposes sake and balance.

Example: Bob is the primary alchemist with Enchanting 5, and Sally has Enchanting 6. Between them they have an average of 5 (always round down). Bob can therefore spend 7 glorious days in Hawai'i, or learning a spell, or captured by Aztlan without any penalty to his circulation.


Please follow the link for more information on Spirits and changes made to them.


Please see information under Working Time for more details.


Please see Enchanting Gear for changes in prices and availability.


Please follow the link for the house rules on Tattoo Magics.


Foci may be unbonded by any character who is capable of bonding the focus. The character must spend a number of hours equal to the force of the focus occupied with this process. The time may not be 'split up' for other activities. The focus must remain in physical contact with the character who is unbonding it. A character may unbond foci currently bonded to him/her, or to another character, so long as the focus is kept nearby. There is no karma cost for this action.

Unbonding a focus cancels any spell they are currently sustaining. Unbonding anchoring foci does so as well, but does not prevent them from triggering in the future.


Targets protected with concealment spells (e.g. physical illusions) add complexities with regard to vehicle Sensors, since sensors (unlike other sensory methods) use a combination of technologies to spot their targets.

Each sense that is blocked by a spell (i.e. the rigger or vehicle cannot successfully resist the illusion) that would normally be able to be used to sense the target adds +2 to the effective Signature of the target, up to a maximum penalty of +8 for total concealment. Of course, if total concealment is in effect, then the vehicle has no chance to simply 'notice' or see the invisible target. Only Physical spells can affect vehicles, even if a rigger is controlling them, unless Line of Sight can be gained upon the rigger.

For example, if Chris has Improved Invisibility Force 6 and Stealth, Force 6, active, then the rigger gets to roll Perception + Sensors to attempt to resist each spell. If the rigger fails to match Chris's successes casting the spell, then the spells have full effect. The effective signature of Chris would be raised by 6 (+2 for vision, +2 for thermographic, +2 for ultrasound). Only radar would be able to spot or locate the target.


The various sensory augmentations provided by magic are considered 'Natural' as far as the Visibility Table is concerned, and for any other situation.


Wards, or astral barriers, act to prevent the passage of magic across them. This includes astrally-projecting forms. They block vision in the astral plane. They degrade the effectiveness of spells that pass through them. In short, they're a pain in the butt. This makes them useful.

Wards must be cast on a physical location large enough for a person to easily fit inside and move freely. In addition, the ward may not 'deform' significantly; if it does, then its effect is lost. For example, casting a ward on a suit of armor would not be effective, because the shape of the armor changes as the person moves. Casting it on a tent would be effective only so long as the tent was erected. When it was taken down, the ward would become temporarily inactive until the tent was re-erected. Note that any 'time limits' on the ward continue to run while the ward is inactive.

Wards *may* be placed on vehicles. However, they may only be placed on the interior of the vehicle. The exterior shell of the vehicle is not protected in this manner. The same applies for a room; the ward is effectively just *inside* the walls of the room, barely touching the walls but not penetrating them.

Wards block the movement of spells, active foci, and astral forms that attempt to pass through them. They also engage these items in astral combat if the character persists in the attempt. For all wards except for masking wards, the character may be able to notice that the ward exists before passing through it, *if* it would block them. If the character is carrying active foci that are bonded to him/her, or if the character is sustaining a spell that he/she cast and is maintaining, then the character may roll his magic attribute (for foci) or sorcery skill (for sustained spells) versus a target number of 10 minus the force of the ward. One success on this test indicates that the interaction of the ward with the aura of the spell or focus is recognized before they come fully into conflict, and the character may choose not to enter the ward (if such an action is possible, given circumstances).

If a ward is attacked in astral combat, the creator of the ward will know immediately that the ward has been attacked. This includes attempts to suppress the ward or otherwise to neutralize it.

  • If a ward defeats a sustained spell in astral combat, then the spell is dissipated.
  • If a ward defeats a quickened spell in astral combat, then the spell is dissipated.
  • If a ward defeats a sustained spell maintained by a sustaining focus, then the spell is dissipated and the focus is made inactive.
  • If a ward defeats an active focus in astral combat, then the focus is deactivated.


The book is somewhat vague regarding the use of watcher spirits for astral tracking. On p101, it says, "A watcher can track down any person or place known to its summoner." And "…track down the mental image it got from its summoner." However, no provision is made for how good of an image this is. The following modifiers will apply against the watcher's Force Test:

Situation Modifier
Target is intimate or a close friend of summoner -2 TN
Target is frequent coworker or associate of summoner -1 TN
Target is frequent acquaintance of summoner +0 TN
Target has been met, but infrequently +1 TN
Target has been met only a few times +3 TN
Target has been met only once +4 TN
Target has been seen frequently, but not met +6 TN
Target has been seen a few times, but not met +7 TN
Target has been seen just once +8 TN
Target has never been seen directly Impossible
Target has been assensed (cumulative w/ above) -2 TN
Summoner has Mnemonic Enhancers +Rating dice
Per month since target last seen (unless close friend) +1 TN
Per point of ward force target is behind +1 TN
Per 2 essence points target is below 6 +1 TN

In addition to the above, a GM may grant a bonus of -1 to -5 to the TN for information known about the target. This is primarily used to assist in tracking NPC's. Example information that would apply would be the approximate location of the target, narrowing the search area; psychological profiles; information about habits and 'ware, or other information that might 'distinguish' the person from someone else. It must be information that could be discerned via the astral plane.

If the total target number from the modifiers provided in this houserule goes above +10, then the watcher becomes confused and cannot locate the target.

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