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I am the GM in a SR4 game, and am considering setting my PCs' next run in space (interesting + dangerous + unique = perfect location).

However, as far as I know magic is impossible in space, and I have a mage and a dual-natured drake adept in my group. I don't want to just remove their magic and powers for a whole scenario (seems unfair), but I don't want to allow unrestricted magic in space either (that changes the whole setting).

Is there a way to combine both, to show that magic in space is an issue but without frustrating my PCs?

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Note: it was extremely difficult not to add the tag "spaaaace". –  Cristol.GdM Jan 26 at 22:57
    
Do they know they're going into space? Could they bring some magical source with them? –  okeefe Jan 26 at 23:30
    
@okeefe They will know beforehand - they will receive a mission along the lines of "go get [McGuffin] in Space Station Y", and enough time/money to prepare a bit. –  Cristol.GdM Jan 26 at 23:49
    
Did SR4 get rid of the whole "if you use magic at all in outer space the mage dies instantly"? –  Pulsehead Jan 27 at 2:33
    
@Pulsehead Nope (well, instantly dead or insane), that's actually my whole issue. –  Cristol.GdM Jan 27 at 6:36

3 Answers 3

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Removing their powers is clearly a bad idea, as you've stated. Players really don't like that. So you're left with

  1. Don't go to space
  2. Change the game so magic works in space just like it works elsewhere
  3. Invent a reason why magic-users can go to space and still use magic for this mission

So give them an item of some sort which lets them use magic safely if they're inside its effective radius, or carrying it on their person, or whatever. It's very rare, it's possibly experimental and may or may not always function, but it's good enough that they can expect to be useful while off-planet.

Then make sure it gets lost, or stolen by a charming band of child pickpockets (spontaneous group singing by said band of child pickpockets is entirely optional), or damaged.

If it's an unreliable item, maybe alongside the chance of failure make sure there's a chance that things will turn out better than expected - maybe it overpowers 5% of spells, which could be good or bad depending on what kind of spell it is and what you're using it for.

Or maybe it works perfectly, but was created by a process so atrocious that the characters are going to be very reluctant to carry on using it once they find out how it works.

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+1, and also you can make the search for that item be a whole quest by itself. They need a pre-mission run to extract said magic-in-space item from from the vaults of Evil Space Magic Inc, as preparation. In fact, you can use it as a seed for many more adventures regarding magic and space and various attempts to reconcile the two. –  lisardggY Jan 27 at 9:37
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Good points. I didn't quite realise as I was writing that how much of a shift in the balance of power the possession of such an item could instigate. Any magic-heavy faction is going to be desperate to get their hands on it, and maybe taking it away from the people who developed it is as important to the PCs as having it so they can do their space mission. –  Matthew Walton Jan 27 at 11:28
    
Ooooh, that's beautiful, thanks :) –  Cristol.GdM Jan 27 at 18:04
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You could also make the "Magic Field Generator" simply burn out after so many hours active, or so much energy used, or have it detonate upon return to an area where magic normally works. –  aramis Jan 29 at 8:12

The space-station might already have some sort of 'Manasphere-generator' - at least for certain-sections of the station. This lets you not completely cripple your PC's, but also throw a new challenge for them to overcome - i.e. the macguffin is stored in a mana-less zone of the station, whereas the bulk of the run will happen within the manasphere.

Here's the fluff-based rationalization:

Space research stations in the Shadowrun World are usually used so that researchers can get AWAY from the manasphere of Earth. Usually this sort of research requires mages of some sort to do the actual tinkering, but there might be elements of that work that requires a manasphere and some parts that don't. Thus they might have built something that can create a manasphere as needed, or different parts of the station have it maintained continuously.

Either dream-up somesort of cool greenhouse thing full of life-giving plants, or some mana-tech thing that broadcasts magic-energy like a wifi-signal. Overall, the station should have a couple points of background-count, but how many I'll leave up to you.

Hopefully this answer isn't too late to help.

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There is reference to a Ares station that has just such a greenhouse, I think it's in Street Magic. –  Dave Jul 17 at 22:06

Have the Space Station be built with an item that had a big Mana Barrier anchored to it, allowing Mages and Shamans to go in astral inside, or use magic inside the Barrier. Have the Space Shuttle ferrying them have a similar item built in with the anchored Barrier.

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Could you talk a little about the impact of this kind of thing on the universe fiction and mechanics of the game? It sounds like a good idea, but is lacking in details –  wax eagle Jul 17 at 19:13

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