How much attention do spirits (bound and unbound) patrolling a facility typically pay to non-astral threats? It probably depends on the orders given to the spirits, but what is typical in Shadowrun 4E?

Will spirits typically raise an alert or attack if:

  • A non-awakened entity is attempting to sneak in, or behaving oddly?
  • Someone or something enters the facility under the effect of a spell (invisibility / mind control, etc)
  • Combat breaks out but their controlling mage is nowhere nearby, and there is no astral activity
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Very interesting shadowrun question. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2012 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I join Brian on the semantic value of both of his statements. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2012 at 15:13

2 Answers 2


Typically, I think the common answer would be yes, yes, and yes, with the primary issue being that spirits don't see what's going on with computers, so digital stuff is fine so long as there's not someone loitering suspiciously.

This is sort of hit and miss, of course, based on spirit detection and whether or not it's been told to care, but probably all of these will be observed and responded to.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you Kyle. Do you know if this is outlined at all in any of the source books? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2012 at 16:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ From third edition (including Magic in the Shadows) you can find similar rules for player-set watcher spirits and the like, so I'm extrapolating from that. I'm not as familiar with fourth edition stuff, so I can't say exactly where to look, but I've read enough to know it's pretty similar. As far as attacking or alerting people, the taste is ultimately up to the mage. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2012 at 16:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. I think the spirit would have a chance to miss non-living intrusions like drones; however, the spirit can read emotions and so forth from auras (if it's bigger than a watcher spirit), so if a human guard spots an intruding drone, or gunfire breaks out, the spirit would also be alerted. \$\endgroup\$
    – RMorrisey
    Feb 23, 2012 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, drones are unnoticeable (unless the spirit is projecting physically), but even heavily cybered people would be bright enough to notice. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 23, 2012 at 15:51

The fact is, "Non astral" is not the concern for visibility in Astral Perception. The Astral Vision perceives Essence, which permeates most of the Living world. Plants and unawakend humans, dogs, whatever, all have an aura, however small. Mages (through Astral projection or otherwise), Spirits, Spells have a brighter aura for their magic nature.

The corollary of this is that non-living things are "dimmer" and intangible in the Astral World, hence the use of Spirits and Astral Projection for reconnaissance and espionage. This also means that a sufficiently cybered (i.e. Essence-drained) person may also escape detection from a Spirit.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In theory, yes, and I agree with your point in many ways, but spirits can also perceive how things with essence respond to cyberware, and they can check things out much faster than humans can. So yes, spirits can miss really low-essence individuals, but they can still see how things react to them. Also, spirits (at least in 3rd edition) on astral react and move at equivalent speeds to deckers, so if they missed something on first glance they can check again fairly quickly. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2012 at 17:02

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