Astral space, perception, and projection

The astral plane; how to go there and what to do

Sprawlrunners RAW does not use astral projection and significantly limits astral perception compared to Shadowrun.

Our campaign will allow astral projection as a houserule. Astral perception will work like Shadowrun (long distance) and not Sprawlrunners (where it has a very short range).

Characters with the Physical Adept arcane background can choose to purchase Astral Perception as a power. They cannot astrally project. Full mages can both perceive and project, without having to buy any powers.

Seeing the astral world

  • Auras of living things appear like melanges of bright colours in the approximate shape of the person. Sentient beings have a dizzyingly complicated aura of swirling colours; non-sentient ones have simpler patterns but still glow brightly. Plantlife is more muted but still unmistakable.
  • Physical objects appear as flat, opaque, grey shadows. All technological detail is obscured; it’s extremely difficult to tell a gun from a commlink. Glass is not transparent on the astral plane. You cannot read text on a screen or a page.
    • Objects that have spent a long time in proximity to someone who associates them with emotional heft - eg. a wedding ring - carry an echo of that emotional resonance. This slowly fades over time if the object is removed from the person, though.

Astral projection

A mage can safely astrally project for (Spirit Die/2) hours.

Beyond that, the mage must roll a Spirit test every ten minutes, at a cumulative -1 penalty each time (so -1 after 10 minutes; -2 after 20 minutes, etc.) When the caster fails a roll, they get 10 more minutes, then if they do not return to their body they will fade away and die.

Movement

Movement in the Astral has two speeds: ‘slow’ is Pace 100, ‘fast’ is 5 km per initiative turn. At the ‘fast’ rate, everything whizzes past in an incomprehensible blur, so it’s really only useful for long distance travel where the mage knows where they are going. (Mages who do a lot of long-range astral travel get really good at memorising maps!)

Astral beings can fly freely up to the limits of the manasphere (about 80 km). They can pass through any solid objects, but cannot pass through the living earth as that has its own aura.

Astral beings cannot pass through each other. They can pass through the auras of living beings on the physical plane, but the process isn’t very pleasant, and the person being passed through can roll Notice to be aware of it (it’s like an amped-up version of the “someone just walked over my grave” creepy feeling.)

Manifesting

Astrally projecting mages can “manifest” to show themselves to mundanes in the physical world. They appear as a hazy, ghostly version of themselves. They can be seen by people, and talk to them.

This is actually a sort of localised psychic link. They don’t have a real form, and cannot interact with any physical objects. They cannot be recorded by technological devices like cameras.

Manifesting is difficult, and can only be kept up for ((Spirit Die type) * 5) minutes at a time.

Losing your body

If someone moves a mage’s body while they are away from it, they’ll need to make a Dramatic Task to re-locate it before their time on the astral plane runs out!

Assensing

Roll Astral versus TN4. If the target has the Masking Edge and are choosing to use it, they can oppose this test with Spirit. If the target has Masking and the assenser does not, the Spirit roll is made at +2.

Depending on the outcome, you might learn the following:

  • Failure - The assenser doesn’t notice anything special. Without masking, the target appears to be healthy, mundane, and be experiencing no strong emotions. If the target is using masking, they can choose to appear however they want.
  • Success - the assenser can tell:
    • The target’s metahuman race
    • The general physical condition of the target - healthy, injured, or sick
    • If the target is mundane or Awakened of some kind
    • If the target has any cyberware
    • If the target’s aura was masked
  • Raise - the assenser gets more information:
    • The Wound and Fatigue levels of the target. If the assenser is familiar with diseases, they can often take an educated guess at any serious illness.
    • The power level of an Awakened target, relative to their own (in terms of their arcane skill)
    • The general amounts of and types of cyberware (headware, bodyware, limbs, nervous system mods, etc.)

Astral combat

This is handled very much like melee combat:

  • Attacker rolls Astral
  • Defender’s Astral Parry is (2 + (1/2 Astral skill die))
  • Base damage is attacker’s Spirit die
    • Weapon Foci add their die type to this, and can be used while astrally perceiving or projecting
    • Physical adepts who are astrally perceiving and have the Killing Hands power add their approriate die type
  • Astral toughness is (2 + (1/2 Spirit die))
  • Apply Shaken and Wounds as normal. Wounds dealt in Astral combat manifest themselves upon the mage’s comatose body.

Note that - given how fast astral travel is - the back-and-forth of astral combat can easily cover an area hundreds of meters across.

Powers in Astral space

Spells can be used between targets on the Astral plane as usual, but an astrally projecting mage cannot cast spells at auras that exist on the physical plane. However, dual-natured beings (like some magical critters or an astrally perceiving Awakened) can be targeted for spells.

Last modified April 19, 2021: new magic rules ready to publish (306c3e3)