Last session our group was confronted with a shaman accompanied by his pet spirit. The spirit used his critter power "Fear" (Core Book pg. 397) on us, a pretty common power judging from the published adventures.

The critter makes an Opposed Test using its Willpower + Magic against the target’s Willpower + Logic. The terror lasts for 1 Combat Turn per net hit scored by the critter.

Now my character has pretty good WIL/LOG attributes for a guy using guns (9 dice total) but even using a point of Edge for rerolling the misses, I "only" scored 5 successes. I put "only" in quotes because I think 5 successes on a combined WIL/LOG roll is pretty good. I have played valid characters that would not even had 5 dice to roll.

The spirit scored 7 successes. So my character is out for 2 rounds. In Shadowrun with my group, that's about 5-8 actions per character. That's a lot of real time with me sitting around twiddling my thumbs doing nothing. There is no agency left, the powers description is pretty clear. For the character: Run and hide. For the player: Go watch TV or something.

Obviously this is no fun. I got an IPad and played a computer game for about 30 minutes.

How to prevent this?

As far as I know, there is no defense other than the one given. Anti-Magic does not work (because it's not magic) there is no skill to raise or device to buy. Did I miss a defense? Should my character have been better prepared with something I don't realize?

If it cannot be prevented, how to mitigate this?

How to mitigate the agency loss? As far as houserules go, in D&D we always had fun when being charmed by basically treating what the GM said as kind of a "Wish" spell... the player would sit back and find out how to best "lawyer" this. For example if the suggestion was "attack your closest ally with your strongest weapon", the mage might actually draw his dagger. The GM had said "weapon". Or the fighter might use his old rusty two-hander instead of his fancy magic longsword-of-insta-death, after all the two-hander gets the most strength bonus. The player was still engaged, finding a clever way to play his character. But there is no way doing something like this here. Run & Hide is nothing you can do in a smart, tongue in cheek way.

Assuming that disengaging from the game and doing something else is not the preferred way to play Shadowrun, what do you do in this situations?

Preferred are solutions where I can play my character. "Just play an NPC for the time" is not what I came for, to me that's in the same league as the IPad game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Would it be D&D and your archer failed the save on Hold Person, how would you expect things to go? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10, 2017 at 11:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin I would expect somebody in my group to dispel it. And I might think I need to get better saves. And on top a DnD round does not involve 4 complex actions per character so it plays faster. In other words there are options before and during combat, asking if I may have simply missed them in SR is the first part of my question. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Sep 10, 2017 at 11:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not a frequent Shadowrun player, but from my quick reading of the ability, I'd question (a) whether it can't be affected by anti-magic (given it's a magic roll), and (b) your seeming assumption that once you're out of LOS you have to just sit there until it wears off. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aesin
    Sep 10, 2017 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Critter powers are extremelly powerful. And i tell you this based on two spellcaster characters i have played that created hell to our GM by summoning spirits and using their powers creativelly. They are often underestimated based on what is written, and often ignored by the rulebooks. So there is little clarifiation anywhere other than forums discussing raw. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 11, 2017 at 13:09

2 Answers 2


You prevent this by either killing or banishing the spirit before they can act. Killing is usually the prefered method used by most shadowrunners, but is by far the least efficient, unless the entire team can act before the conjurer does, which could happen. The conjurer has to command his spirit and spend one service so they can force/ask the spirit to use a certain power, unlike telling the spirit "Fight them!".

This means that removing services from a spirit, exactly what the Banishing skill does, is the fastest method of getting rid of spirits. It's a contested roll of Banishing + Magic [Astral] against the spirit's Force (normally around 6 dice), and each net hit means one less service for the conjurer to use. You would be surprised at how good this works.

A lot of people will not recommend the Banishing skill (preferring to Stunbolt them), especially if you treat it as secondary to your other skills (and most do), resulting in checks that only net one or two successes, not enough to fully banish the spirit and leading to frustration. But a good (and possibly Edge-fueled) Banishing check can remove the spirit from the game completely in a single action.

If you know what is coming your way and you realize it's a nasty effect (like Fear, Confusion or Compulsion), it's generally a good idea to use your Edge before you make the roll, so you can take advantage of the exploding 6's. Re-rolling should only be done when odds are in your favor, but the dice are not.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Banishing never occurred to me (maybe because I'm not our groups' mage). A good thing to look into. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Sep 11, 2017 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Using Edge before the roll with WIL 5, LOG 4 and EDG 4 is really the same probability. Using it to reroll gives you 5 successes on average, using it before the roll gives you five successes on average (including the average number of exploded 6s). So it's basically trading the chance to keep your Edge when lucky anyway for the chance to be lucky above average on exploding dice. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Sep 11, 2017 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are correct, the average is the same. I am just nearly always using pre-edge and I get really lucky with exploding 6s, so my memory is biased towards it against post-edge. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 11, 2017 at 14:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt not exactly. The expected successes provided you choose to reroll is $$\frac{5}{9} \cdot (4+5) = 5$$ but the expected successes for pre-edge is $$\frac{2}{5} \cdot (4+5+4) = \frac{26}{5} = 5.2$$ \$\endgroup\$
    – fabian
    Sep 11, 2017 at 15:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fabian While that is probably correct from a mathematical point, the .2 are not significant enough for me to justify the cost of an edge point spent that might not need to be spent. So you are right they are not equal, but for me they are "the same" as in "the same ballpark" or "not significantly different". \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Sep 11, 2017 at 16:48

One reading of the power effect is that it's designed to render the critter's opponents so scared that they refuse to confront it directly, as opposed to so scared that they can't do anything at all.

This power gives a critter the power to fill its victims with overwhelming terror. The victim flees in panic and doesn’t stop until he is safely away and out of the critter’s sight. The critter makes an Opposed Test using its Willpower + Magic against the target’s Willpower + Logic. The terror lasts for 1 Combat Turn per net hit scored by the critter. Even once the fear fades, the target must succeed in a Willpower + Logic (critter’s net hits) Test to gather the nerve to face the critter again.

The victim flees until out of line of sight. To face the critter again (on other words, confront it within visual range), the victim must make a save.

The way the rule is written, it's easy to imagine that once the character is out of visual range of the critter, while they might be unable to directly confront the critter, they could perform a variety of other tasks. They could call in support, find a network to hack into, provide information to the rest of the team, and so on. So the character isn't just sitting there chewing their nails. They've gotten away from the terrible creature and don't want to confront it, but can still function.

As you point out, "the Counterspelling skill does not work against spirits, critter powers, or alchemical preparations." (p.294). If you could get access to Increase Willpower (p.288) that would help your defense a bit.


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