Thanks for picking up the bad link.
Here are a few quotes (from that thread) that make me think Astral Sight does not deliver "crisp" images.
Mataxes wrote: Imprints are (relatively) easily detected but don't provide much information beyond "there's magical energy/life force here".
ChrisDDickey wrote:Focusing your attention on the back of the cottage, you pick up the astral imprints of their weapons and armor. Again you need to roll at least an 8 to more closely observe these astral imprints and the astral imprints of their gear.
For this kind of information, you are going to need to have astrally sensed the target, which is made against their Mystic Defense. Even then, I would be skeptical of providing these details unless they have a true pattern of their own. A generic sword has as much of a pattern as rocks - this quickly leads down the path of information overload. If it doesn't have a living pattern, it shouldn't be showing up here. Again, if you would like to provide this information, it is your game and you should do so.
Along those lines, I would consider requiring additional successes to do so: at one, you get basic information. After that, each additional success allows for a question similar to Evidence Analysis. This narrows it down to what the adept is actually paying attention.
Panda wrote:The first test to perceive astral space allows you to differentiate between what you are seeing, just with no real details. It's not that you are seeing the imprint of a dead log, you are seeing the imprint of "stuff". There is a bunch of impenetrable "stuff" on the ground and astrally it is completely uninteresting. You aren't seeing a mundane sword because it may as well not exist compared to the true pattern using it. When you get down to it, Astral Sight is primarily interested in true patterns. If you will, true patterns are visible at the astral wavelength, everything else is some level of background noise.
To be fair, the topic of astral space has been left deliberately vague and mysterious for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons is so GMs aren't boxed in by any "official" answers and you can tell the stories you want. This explicitly isn't a setting where all of the answers are known. Magic isn't fully understood. Arguably, it isn't even well understood. There are a lot of general rules and guidelines, but also a lot of exceptions. Thread items spontaneously generate, here seem to be some correlations, but no one knows how to trigger the event. Same with pattern items. Pattern items cannot be thread items, except when they are (a Weaponsmith's heartblade is the prime example of this). The entire field of true illusions is more like a number of strangely connected loopholes in the "laws" of magic as they are understood by Wizards. Basically the magical equivalent of somewhere between quantum mechanics and mysticism, fully leveraging the observer effect.
Mataxis wrote:If you are aware somebody is there --- typically with normal vision, but at GM discretion awareness through other methods may apply -- then you can astrally sense them with a single action. The level of astral corruption acts as a modifier to their MD.
In the latter case, where you aren't aware of the spirit, it would take two. You could do a 'generic' astral sensing (DN 6+mod) to detect imprints in the area (Note 1), and then once you are aware of the imprint, can focus in on it with a new roll (Note 2).
Note 1: I would rule that most concealing magic would hide the imprint (as discussed with the Stealthy Stride talent) and the generic sense roll would need to overcome that DN (modifed by astral space).
There is also an official quote somewhere in a different thread that I did not find today that an Adept or other living name-giver hiding in (or even just standing next to) a living bush is quite easy to overlook with Astral Sight/Sense. Yes, if you look closely at the bush you CAN sense the name-giver. But if you are not looking specifically at that bush it is easy to overlook the name-giver. Because it is something living in/near something living. Easy to get the two confused if you did not roll very high on your Astral Sensing test.
So my understanding is that the "scan" is pretty blurry and just gives you blobs of "dead mater", blobs of "alive mater", and "air". You have to focus on stuff to get clearer image, and even then you will more easily see the true pattern of a target more then their equipment.
But once again GMs (not players) are free to make the sight as detailed or obscure as they like.
On a different topic...
Bonhumm wrote:Beating the MD would allow you to figure out what kind of magic it is (hey, it's a desperate blow blood charm or a thread item or even a Pattern item) and/or target it for a spell.
I think that is something that would require study with Thread Sight, not a few quick glances with Astral Sight, and again I think it is also important to not allow Astral Sight to not impinge upon the domains of Thread Sight, Matrix Sight, Emphatic Sense, or Lifesight. Astral Sight is good but meant to be limited. Wizards always try to do too much with it.