I'm pretty sure he does it just to annoy the rigger at least half the time.
Regardless, because there's spirits about, I still need to know what they do on the rare occasion our mage decides to put them on a task. Or, more frequently, when I sick a spirit on the party. So, that's today's installment, in two parts.
When Spirits Attack
First, how spirits perform actions. This is a specialized set of rules that isn't likely to see as much use as other aspects of the game, so I'm inclined to keep both design and application simple. That means some of this might suffer from broad simplification, but if so we can always tweak it in play and revise as we go. In the meantime, let's hit some basics:
- Method = force step
- Die pool = force rating
- Assign knacks as appropriate (Earth elementals probably have Might, Endurance, and Unarmed Combat, for example)
- Damage = force rating, modified by power/attack
The latest edition of Shadowrun introduces the option of spending summoning successes on additional spirit abilities, giving you a little more flexibility beyond choosing the force of the spirit. I like that, and I'd be tempted to say that you can add knack dice to the summoned spirit in excess of the hits required to summon it. If you're the GM, you can add whatever knacks you want to opponent spirits, of course.
As for modifying damage, I've noticed that certain kinds of spirits have something more than a basic attack. Insect spirits often get a higher damage because of claws, and other spirits might gain bonus elemental effects. However, given that most serious weapons have a damage rating somewhere between 6 - 10, making the damage equal the spirit's force as a base is the only way to make them at all competitive. Even this makes a lot of their basic hits a little weak (without considering those bonuses mentioned above), but this is balanced by one big factor:
Spirits are immune to all ranged and technological attacks. Guns, bombs, grenades, missiles, all of them do a flat 0 amount of damage. They will never harm a spirit, at all, ever. This means if you want to take a spirit out and you've got no magic, you've got to close to hand to hand combat range and beat the thing to death. And no, ramming it with a car doesn't work either.
Finally, casting a spell on a spirit has a difficulty equal to the force of the spirit. Thus, if you generate 5 hits to cast a spell on a rating 4 spirit, you have to spend 4 of those hits just to make the difficulty, leaving you with only a single hit to apply toward the effect.
As mentioned above, weapons tend to fail abysmally when fighting spirits, and spellcasting is a little rough. That means that you've got only two options when attacking a spirit: banishing and melee. Assuming you're not a mage, that means mixing it up close and personal.
Attacking a spirit in melee is a standard test. You roll whatever knack is appropriate and you even get to add in any weapon modifiers you might have, like reach (that goes for the spirit too, by the way). Use yin dice for defense and apply yang dice to your attack.
Here's where things change though. When you hit a spirit, you're damaging it with your force of will; the weapon itself is irrelevant. Thus the damage code you modify isn't based on the weapon, but on your will, represented by your Resolve knack.
Otherwise, combat proceeds as normal. Simple, eh?