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During Chargen one of my players brought up this question.

Given a mage uses Detect Enemies (Page 286) near an unalerted guard. The guard has currently no hostile intentions towards the mage (he isn't even aware of him), so I read it as the spell wouldn't detect him.

But in the very same moment where the guard will see mage he will immediatly turn hostile (just assume it is a clever guard). So one could argue that the guard has a passive hostile intention towards the mage, an argument that he is detected with the spell.

Are there any clearer rules or am I creating a situation from nothing here?

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SR5 RAW states explicitly (emphasis mine):

The subject can detect living targets within range who have hostile intentions toward him. The spell does not detect traps (since they aren't alive), nor can it detect someone about to shoot into a crowd at random (since the hostility is not directed at the subject of the spell). The spell can detect targets preparing an ambush or other surprise attack directed at the subject.

Going by RAW, this spell would only detect the guard if the guard has malice toward the caster. Remember, magic in the sixth world has a major component in emotions.

Opinion

As a GM, you of course could rule that malice may not need to be active: the fact that the guard WOULD have hostile intentions when they notice the players might be enough. But then we have to ask if the guard is trained to kill or report and retreat, leaving the heavy work for the threat response team? Because then the guard may not be hostile to the characters, but afraid and trained to retreat to a safer place.

Personally I would go with RAW, given that there are plenty of spells to act as desired, and running the shadows isn't mean to be easy, chummer.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would say that successfully identifying a target and calling the "cavalry" on it is hostile intent. Maybe not direct, but definetly hostile. However, as you said, without knowing a target even exists, there cannot be any hostile intent. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Jul 5 '15 at 17:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Training doesn't equal hostility. Granted, it's more than likely, but correlation, causation, etc. That part is more opinion, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Jul 5 '15 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Added "opinion" to hopefully ensure its viewed as such, though I don't mind discussing them. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Jul 6 '15 at 0:01

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