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When a shadowrunning team tries to break into a facility protected by magic, it seems to me as a GM like the team's biggest liability is getting past magical security. If a mundane B&E character tries to use Infiltration to get up close to the facility, a watcher spirit, bound spirit, or astrally projecting security mage can spot them, because they're lit up like a torch in the astral plane.

This gives rise to closely-related questions:

  • As a GM, how should I handle stealth vs. a spirit or astral projection? Should I make the astral being roll Perception (or Assensing?) against the stealthy character's Infiltration? Is it possible for the character to be stealthy without a spirit providing the Concealment power?
  • If the observing entity is a spirit, is there a way for the intruding team's mage to misdirect the spirit so that the intrusion goes unnoticed?
  • How can a mage on the intruding team go unnoticed when astrally projecting to scope out the site?
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I just want to correct you on something you said: You do NOT flare in the astral being a mundane. Even a mage wont, unless he is astrally perceiving, casting a spell, sustaining a spell or has active foci. –  ShadowKras May 4 at 11:46

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

So, as you said there are several cases. Lets go through them in turn:

As a GM, how should I handle stealth vs. a spirit or astral projection?

There is some information on this on the Shadowrun FAQ (Under the Astral subheading), although it speaks only of dual-natured or projecting characters. For dual-natured characters, it is an opposed Infiltration vs. Assensing test using the modifiers from pg. 114 of Street Magic (Basically a penalty if you're sneaking by all alone, or a bonus if there is a lot of stuff and people in the area). While the rules don't explicitly allow it, I'd use the rules outlined for dual-natured characters for standard characters as well- possibly with an extra penalty.

If the observing entity is a spirit, is there a way for the intruding team's mage to misdirect the spirit so that the intrusion goes unnoticed?

Absolutely, and really there are as many ways as you might misdirect a real guard. Create a disturbance, use an illusion, be found and then lead the spirit away. There are a lot of great options for the PC.

How can a mage on the intruding team go unnoticed when astrally projecting to scope out the site?

Again, check out the Shadowrun FAQ. Here is the relevant snippet:

Astrally projecting Characters attempting to hide in astral space may use Infilitration + Logic, Palming + Logic, or Shadowing + Intuition as appropriate—the character makes an Opposed Test against the target’s Assensing + Intuition

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1) Yes he can be stealthy, mundanes do not flare in the astral, being "lit like a torch" only happens when the character has spells sustained on him or has active foci (or is actively casting a spell or astrally perceiving for mages). Mundades cannot actually be seen by astral beings, they can only see colorful auras that they must recognize with assensing checks, they have to materialize to be able to see them and identify them visually. Living beings do not flare up on the astral plane unless they are awakened critters (such as astral plants) or the previous conditions i mentioned. Astral security is there for the astral, not the physical. The mundanes handle the physical. Otherwise nobody would use physical security anymore.

2 and 3) If the mage is astrally perceiving, he can see the astral security unless said security is trying to be stealthy. The mage, being able to see them, could then roll his stealth (for himself or his team) to try to bypass that astral security. Concealment is a physical power, it does not work in the astral. (Tip: Never try to use it against a dragon).

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I'm intrigued, why should you never use it against a dragon? –  Marc Dingena May 4 at 14:02
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Because they are dual-natured and can see the astral plane all the time. The power is physical, meaning it only works in the physical world, so he can see you and the spirit using concealment. –  ShadowKras May 4 at 14:03

Stealth is applicable if there are plenty of astrally-interesting objects around. For example, if there are lots of plants, other people, etc., then an opposed test is reasonable (or if the spirit has a very large area to cover). Otherwise, no, if you're lit up like a torch, you can't really be "stealthy".

Most things that a mage can do to a spirit (like attempt to take control of it from its summoner) will tend to alert the summoner. However, spirits can be distracted. I'd allow that a reasonable chance of success (at least enough to enable the infiltration opposed test above) if the players come up with something sensible. Combat is probably not a good idea, but perhaps the mage could summon a spirit that would tease the sentinel spirit about being forced to do such a boring job, while it is free to run around.

The best hope for an astrally projecting mage on the intruding team is to get in so fast that no-one notices--or at least it used to be in SR3. I'm not sure if you can still launch yourself into an area at fast astral speeds (if the GM will let you), and then figure out where exactly you are when you slow down.

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Not to mention recon ahead of time. Intel and planning are the best ways through security. –  Chad Jul 25 '11 at 16:00

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