Advanced Metamagic: Astral Access

   Here we have some of the advanced metamagical skills for Astral Access in Shadowrun. As usual, the first selection represents new abilities, while the second list represents advanced applications of the basic techniques listed previously. For conveniences sake, the new abilites have some of the advanced possibilities listed along with the basic effect.

Astral Access:

   Adjustment allows you to subtract your initiate grade from the effective background count. Advanced versions can allow the user to learn to maintain an internal reserve of magic for use in low-magic conditions, to extend the benefits of his or her ability to adjust to others, or allow the user to learn to tap into the natural aspect of the background count (such as for destructive or “holy” magic).

   Armory allows the user to create functional armor, weapons, and other accouterments for his or her astral form. In general, you can spend (Willpower) points on this: armor acts as armor (rated at points spent) and weapons do (+Points)M damage or (+Points-4)S damage. Double the cost if you want hardened armor and/or ranged weapons. The advanced forms (1) provide (+6) additional points, (2) provide automatic hardening, and (3) provide automatic range.

   Gestalt Operations allow the user to merge his magic with that of another character. Advanced versions allow additional characters to join in, at one per advance.

   Immersion allows a dual-natured creature from a species which is not normally dual-natured to temporarily suppress that condition. Obviously enough, a distinct rarity. Advanced forms increase the (initially brief) period that the effect can be sustained.

   Patronage allows the user to acquire a totem, idol, or similar sponsor – or to double up on the benefits of one he or she already has. Unfortunately, while the benefits of such sponsorship do stack, the penalties stack as well. Patronage may be taken more than once, but no individual sponsor may be selected more than twice – and combining them may present problems.

   Spellfighting allows the user to “intercept” (technically draw the energies to himself or herself ) spells and engage them in astral combat if he or she is either dual-natured or astrally projecting at the time. Spells are normally treated as generic spirits at half their force for this purpose. Further improvements can extend the radius in which spells can be diverted to the user, allow the user to choose whether to fight or accept such spells, and allow the user to attack sustained spells which have already taken effect on another target.

   *Apparently, as the energy level of astral space has increased, the more subtle energies of spells have faded in comparison – to the point where they no longer seem to have “solid” forms. The same phenomena is responsible for early reports of the astral auras of any living thing being impenetrably dense, and for the fact that the earth was impenetrable on the astral level only a few years ago, but can be slowly “pushed” through now. As the magical density of such astral reflections falls in comparison with the increasing energy density of astral space, the denser fields of active magical beings have taken precedence. Weaker fields are, however, less vulnerable to the drain of mana voids, lending some credence to early reports of astral travel to alien worlds: that may have been possible at the time, at least presuming that there is some interstellar equivalent to high-speed astral movement.

   Spirit Oath allows the user to establish astral links with other sapient minds, whether magical or mundane. This make it easy to establish astral contacts and grants a limited awareness of the condition of those other minds. Upgrades include (1) the ability to use the Endowment matamagic over such links, (2) the ability to share sensory information and communicate over such links, (3) the ability create secondary links, between others, and (4) the ability to create remotely-operated surrogate astral forms for those you’re linked to, allowing them to “ride along” and help out in astral trips and quests.

   Ward Mastery allows the user to create advanced forms of Wards: including (1) wards that can be turned on and off, (2) wards anchored on living creatures and capable of changing shape to accommodate their movements, (3) wards which block or pass only particular categories of creatures, spirits, and effects (the creator may specify up to [Int] such criteria – such as “Hellhounds may pass, Illusions may pass, and anyone belonging to my astral contact group may pass” (making three conditions), and (1) linked wards which the creator can either reinforce or cast spells through when they are disturbed or attacked.

   *According to later information on Wards, Wards must be anchored to a physical object, and will collapse if that object is moved more than a few centimeters from its location at the time of the warding ritual. This raises certain problems, such as the fact that all motion is relative, that the earth moves, that the tidal bulge of the earth’s crust moves everything on the surface more than that up and down twice a day, and so on. Worse, the official FAQ for the fourth edition notes that you can ward – say – a shipping container by anchoring the ward to its walls and move it without collapsing the ward. Ergo, wards can be mobile if you anchor them on a movable object, define the boundaries in relationship to that object or to objects that move with it rather than in relationship to other objects in the area, and then move the anchoring object. Whether or not the bounds of such a ward must correspond to the physical bounds of the anchoring object is not defined, although it seems reasonable. Ergo, wards can be applied to rigid objects (including weapons) and moved about.

Advanced Astral Access Abilities:

   Astral Gate has advanced forms allowing the user to (1) create shallows and overlays, (2) to create or seal astral rifts, (3) create gates, (4) steer gates, and (5) to create metaplanar shortcuts – although that sort of thing gets karma-intensive.

   Awareness can be extended to provide details on the items sensed, as well as to detect the presence of various types of spirits, of metaplanar transfers, of major magical activities, and of disturbances in the local level of magic.

   Dreamgate has advanced disciplines allowing the user to direct and manipulate dreams, to control the landscape within them, to use them for advanced psychotherapy, to drain people’s energies through their dreams, to attempt to drive people mad, to enter the dream of anyone the user has an astral link to, and to unleash spirit-constructs (similar to Allied Spirits) from the fevered depths of his or her own imagination. However, whether fortunately or unfortunately, most of these possibilities remain relatively unexplored. Few high level initiates bother investigating dreams when there are far more generally useful spells and powers to take and when many of the effects can be mimicked by spells and lesser techniques anyway.

   Freedom normally only takes effect at the moment of death, and allows the user to continue to drop by and advise people later on; this is, however, only suitable for brief visits: visiting the earthly plane after death is a lot like visiting the metaplanes while physically alive. Advanced versions of this ability are difficult to develop while still burdened with a physical body, but allow the user to exert additional personal abilities, to act as a patron spirit, and to establish anchorages which allow the user to manifest easily in particular locations.

   Loremaster has advanced versions allowing you to gain karma somewhat faster, to accept augmented karma donations from others, and to gain karma from having large numbers of followers. Unfortunately, this is subject to a backpressure effect: the more Karma you have focused into yourself – whether in the form of initiations, enhanced attributes, boosted skills, or anything else – the more difficult it is to gain more. At very high levels it will actually start to leak away – causing the user to forget infrequently used skills, to become “rusty” with rarely-used powers, and to suffer other power-losses. Eventually you’ll find yourself on a treadmill – using every bit of karma you can scrape together simply to maintain your existing powers. This may be a good thing: it means that even the oldest and most powerful spirits and dragons have limits.

   Manifestation has advanced forms allowing the user to improve his or her manifested form, to take alternate manifested forms, and reducing the feedback-shock of having a manifested form disrupted.

   Masking has advanced forms allowing the user to (1), cover up the existence of personal Foci and Spells, to (2) extend masking to up to (Magic Rating) others in the immediate vicinity, and (3) to conceal anything linked to him or herself, such as wards or the usability of material links. Users may also learn to (1) vary their Signatures at will, (2) to disrupt any magical links connected to their aura, of (1) to augment their ability to sneak in astral space.

   Metaphysics can be upgraded to provide even faster astral movement, a quicker ability to move through the earth, or to allow the user to emulate particular spirit types.

   Metaplane Access has advanced forms allowing the user to penetrate ever-deeper layers of the metaplanes, to establish links to transfer magical energies to and from the metaplanes he or she can reach, to shape the astral environment, to visit or remain on the metaplanes without necessarily being involved in an astral quest, and to establish pocket-realms of their own.

   Possessing can be upgraded to allow for longer-term possession, to allow for minor enhancements to the creature possessed, and – at least in legend – to allow the user to abandon his or her own body and move in on another creatures, permanently usurping their form.

   Psychometry has advanced forms which allow the user to deduce spell and enchantment formulas from the traces left by the use of spells, to determine the age and provenance of objects by touch, to trace the history of magical effects in a location, to examine what impact magic has had on a target’s consciousness and life, to determine what psychic constructs (including spells) a target has, to recover memories from corpses, to relive echoes of the past, and – at least in legend – to recall specters of the great events of history or to establish links to departed spirits.

   Sheltering allows the user to “host” an astral form so that it can regain essence, essentially sharing the user’s life with said spirit. Advanced forms allow the user to carry spirits to and from the metaplanes, to tap into such spirits abilities, to forcibly bond unwilling spirits (there are rumors of blood mages using this to bond the spirits of sacrifices to them, but this is almost certainly a route to insanity), and to transfer such a bond to a vacant body.

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