Divine Aura

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JetBlackJoe
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Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:01 pm

Divine Aura

Post by JetBlackJoe » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:53 am

So; in my group - mostly my GM and I - we have been discussing what this spell actually does and what information you can divine with it. The description is very vague, and with my Astral Sense shenanigans already ruining some of his planned surprises :D, I feel like my GM ruled on the side of caution versus the unlimited power that I seem to infer from the spell description.
Effect: Glean information about a target's state of being.
Description:This spell detects aspects of the aura of living beings. [...] he chooses what he wishes to divine from the target's aura - this could be anything from an emotional state, like anger or fear, to hurt or fatigue. [...]
The problem is that the spell is very broadly defined and described, which makes it hard for me to argue about what it actually does and for him to argue what it does not. I feel like the "this could be anything [...]" phrasing combined with both a mental and a physical example about the target's state is key (to unlimited power).

How do you play this spell in your groups? What can I divine and what can't I? How specific must I be in my questions and how should the GM answer them?

Examples:
  • Can I divine if the target is poisoned or sick? If yes, can I divine the specific poison or disease?
  • Can I detect the influence of a Horror? Obviously not a Mark, but if the target's mind is under foreign influence?
  • Can I divine what the target thinks about me? If yes, can I divine his Attitude or more specific opinions?
  • Can I divine his Theran heritage and what he thinks about slavery?
  • If he seems nervous, can I divine the specific answer to why?
  • If I find he is fearful, can I divine the source of his fear?
  • Who does he love?
  • How much Blood Magic damage has he taken?
  • Wounds? Injury?
  • The list goes on.
Please enlighten me with your opinions on this.
"Mind over Body. Body over Mind."
- Verron Vittraxi, Wizard Extraordinaire

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 476
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: Divine Aura

Post by ChrisDDickey » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:32 am

I tend to read this MUCH more narrowly than you do.

You mention your "Astral Sense shenanigans", and that might be part of the problem. A lot of players and GMs play that a whole lot of information about health, etc. is available at a barest glance via Astral Sight or Astral Sense. The assumption is that all this information is abundantly obvious in the basic versions, so Talents and Spells that enhance Astral Sight must give godlike levels of information. I have heard players state quite certainly that of course Astral Sight allowed them to see their opponents spell matrices, and know at a glance each spell that was in each one, and to specifically target a specific matrix that held a specific spell. I had to point him to the ED Companion where SOME of those abilities are granted by the Matrix Sight Talent at Warden or higher tiers. Astral Sight nor Astral Sense by themselves do not allow you to do any of that.

So the first thing to bring your understanding of what Astral Sight can't do to realistic levels, is to read the descriptions of LifeSight and Matrix Sight, and realize that Astral Sight don't allow you to do these things.

Also look at the Divine Aura spell and realize that it gives information that Astral Sight and Astral Sense can't readily give you. Or at least they can't give it to you as easily and quickly as casting Divine Aura would be. Astral Sight allows you to see Auras. Lifesight allows you to see them clearer and helps you interpret them. Divine Aura also allows you to interpret them. I see no reason why Aura Reading could not be a skill. But it is not a skill listed in the book and your character probably does not have it. If the information Divine Aura gives is available without the spell, it would probably be with ether Lifesight or a great deal of study and guesswork. The Divine Aura spell provides the divination.

So now that we have made it clear that emotional state and health information is not available from Astral Sense alone, without something to help you interpret it, lets look more closely at Divine Aura.
It does not say "This could be anything", it says "This could be anything from A to B". Those are very different statements. I don't interpret the fact that A is emotional and B is Physical as being as widely liberating as you do.

To me the key to this spell is that "he chooses what he wishes to divine from the target’s aura". Which is to say that what is divined must be WITHIN the aura. Note that this is just the Astral Imprint. NOT THE PATTERN, and not the brain. This could be emotional state, or hurt or fatigue, or such similar things.
  • With one success I would allow you to know the target was ill. With more successes I might give more detail (poisoned or sick). I would probably require a lot of successes to reveal the exact specific poison or disease, and that only if the viewer was familiar with the poison. It might be that the best the viewer could understand is that "he has been poisoned, his liver is almost dead".
  • It would depend upon what exactly the horror was doing, the amount of corruption, and the number of successes when I secretly also compared the spell result to the horrors SD. But might give something about "upset of the mind", "derangement of the mind", etc. a lot of successes might earn a "corruption of the mind".
  • No I would not allow you to read thoughts. The thoughts are not present within the aura. You might pick up something about "fear" without knowing if he is afraid of you or somebody else.
  • No, for heritage, it is probably within the pattern, but not the aura. Feelings about slavery are not within the Aura, and probably not within the pattern. Again, you might pick up clues about feelings about slavery if you Aura Read people during a slave auction. But you can't be certain that they were not happy or angry about something unrelated entirely.
  • No, you don't know why he is nervous or fearful, or whom he loves. It might be about what he is looking at right now. Or not.
  • Wounds, yes. with locations except that this system does not bother with them. Injury, yes, "He seems like a very vital man, his few scrapes and bruises impedes him hardly at all". Blood magic, yes.
But the short answer is that the spell only allows divination of things that are within the targets aura (again, not pattern or mind). This is health information and basic emotions.

JetBlackJoe
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:01 pm

Re: Divine Aura

Post by JetBlackJoe » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:24 am

Thank you for your feedback, it is much appreciated.

I think you read a little too much into my statement about Astral Sense shenanigans - I was referring primarily to my ability to spot his baddies lurking in ambush around the corner on my astral radar, before they get the jump on us. I have read the very long thread on Astral Sense from start to finish and made sense of it, so it's not like I'm using it in the ways you suggested.

I'm playing a wise, researchy and knowledgeable Wizard, and my intent is definitely for him to develop as many abilities as possible, that will allow him access to information. Being Circle 3, for now that consists of Astral Sight, Astral Sense spell, Divine Aura spell, Item History, Research and Book Memory (and, to a small degree, the Wizard's Half-Magic ability). I am fully aware that there are other spells and Talents out there, and that their right to exist is defined by their ability to do different things. Lifesight, True Sight, Evidence Analysis and the Identify Magic and Evolved Consciousness spells are achievable within the foreseeable future (too many cool Talent Options available!).

Your views on Divine Aura make sense - I hadn't considered the perspective that while broadly defined, the information sought must be present in the aura, while internal thoughts and feelings are more deeply buried and thus hidden from this spell. It actually makes it quite easy for me to imagine what questions it might answer.

Others are more than welcome to contribute their thoughts and ideas of course. What's the coolest thing you ever did with Divine Aura?

Bonus question: Do undead creatures have an astral imprint that you can see with Astral Sense? We agreed on yes, but there was some doubt.
"Mind over Body. Body over Mind."
- Verron Vittraxi, Wizard Extraordinaire

Bonhumm
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Location: Right behind you

Re: Divine Aura

Post by Bonhumm » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:21 pm

JetBlackJoe wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:24 am
I was referring primarily to my ability to spot his baddies lurking in ambush around the corner on my astral radar, before they get the jump on us.

Remember that non-living object also have an astral imprint and they are NOT transparent: if you cannot visually see someone because he is hiding behind a wall then you won't be able to see his imprint either because it is hidden by the imprint of the wall.

JetBlackJoe wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:24 am
Bonus question: Do undead creatures have an astral imprint that you can see with Astral Sense? We agreed on yes, but there was some doubt.
Anything and everything has a astral imprint, thus so will undead creatures Living creatures (and magical things) imprints have much more vivid than non-living objects but EVERYTHING has an imprint. It is, however, open to debate whether an undead creature would be seen astrally as an 'empty' object or a vivid living thing.


As for Divine Aura itself, I've found that when trying to figure out the 'intent' of a rule, mechanic, spell or talents it helps to take into account the history of the Earthdawn game itself. Back when it was created, Earthdawn was intended to be the 'past' of their other popular game Shadowrun and therefore a lot of things in Earthdawn were intended to reflect similar mechanics in Shadowrun. Therefore when a rule seems unclear it might be a good idea to look at its 'original version' to get a better understanding of what was the intent of the developers when it was created.

I do believe that Divine Aura is basically just the Earthdawn equivalent of Shadowrun Assensing. Assensing is indeed only allowing to get a general sense of the health and feeling of the target, not 'reading his mind' or stuff like it (some stuff, of course, does not apply at all to Earthdawn although all the 'cyberware detection' stuff could easily apply to blood charms):


1
The general state of the subject’s health (healthy, injured, ill, etc.).
The subject’s general emotional state or impression (happy, sad, angry, etc.).
Whether the subject is mundane or Awakened.

2
The presence and location of cyberware implants.
The class of a magical subject (fire elemental, manipulation spell, power focus, curse ritual, and so on).
If you have seen the subject’s aura before, you may recognize it, regardless of physical disguises or
alterations

3
The presence and location of alphaware cyber implants.
Whether the subject’s Essence and Magic are higher, lower, or equal to your own.
Whether the subject’s Force is higher, lower, or equal to your Magic.
A general diagnosis for any maladies (diseases or toxins) the subject suffers.
Any astral signatures present on the subject.

4
The presence and location of bioware implants and betaware cyber implants.
The exact Essence, Magic, and Force of the subject.
The general cause of any astral signature (combat spell, alchemical combat spell, air spirit, and so on).

5+
The presence and location of deltaware implants, gene treatments, and nanotech.
An accurate diagnosis of any disease or toxins which afflict the subject.
The fact that a subject is a technomancer.

JetBlackJoe
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:01 pm

Re: Divine Aura

Post by JetBlackJoe » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:51 pm

Bonhumm wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:21 pm
Remember that non-living object also have an astral imprint and they are NOT transparent: if you cannot visually see someone because he is hiding behind a wall then you won't be able to see his imprint either because it is hidden by the imprint of the wall.
This directly contradicts the statements made by Mataxes in the other thread. Astral Sense allows me to sense the presence of an imprint, even if it is behind something. I am well aware that this does not (except from Mystic Shock) allow me to cast spells at them, before I have direct (Astral or physical) line of sight.
Mataxes wrote:Astral Sense doesn't allow a caster to get around other targeting/casting requirements. Just because Astral Sense allows you to detect someone hiding behind a hut, it doesn't overcome other targeting restrictions, as the hut may be blocking that line. A Mind Dagger (for example) can't go through the hut's imprint/pattern. It doesn't matter that you can "see" the person on the other side. The spell is not going to arc up and over the hut. Even as a "mystic" spell, physical objects block it.

If we replace the hut with an area of darkness (magical or otherwise), once the caster is sure of the target's location -- which a successful Astral Sensing test against their Mystic Defense can do -- there isn't anything to actually block the spell.

So, whether a spell or power can be cast on a target detected by Astral Sensing depends on the spell or power in question.
This isn't a thread about Astral Sense or Sight though, so I'll leave it at that.
Bonhumm wrote:Anything and everything has a astral imprint, thus so will undead creatures Living creatures (and magical things) imprints have much more vivid than non-living objects but EVERYTHING has an imprint. It is, however, open to debate whether an undead creature would be seen astrally as an 'empty' object or a vivid living thing.
This is generally the gist of the debate we had. If an animated skeleton stood perfectly still, would I recognize it as different from a regular corpse?
Bonhumm wrote:As for Divine Aura itself, I've found that when trying to figure out the 'intent' of a rule, mechanic, spell or talents it helps to take into account the history of the Earthdawn game itself. Back when it was created, Earthdawn was intended to be the 'past' of their other popular game Shadowrun and therefore a lot of things in Earthdawn were intended to reflect similar mechanics in Shadowrun. Therefore when a rule seems unclear it might be a good idea to look at its 'original version' to get a better understanding of what was the intent of the developers when it was created.

I do believe that Divine Aura is basically just the Earthdawn equivalent of Shadowrun Assensing. Assensing is indeed only allowing to get a general sense of the health and feeling of the target, not 'reading his mind' or stuff like it (some stuff, of course, does not apply at all to Earthdawn although all the 'cyberware detection' stuff could easily apply to blood charms).
I had the same thoughts and actually read up on Assensing before I asked about Divine Aura here. We played Earthdawn and Shadowrun back in the 90's too and have picked up both again these last few years, so I'm well aware of the connections and similarities. I just think Assensing is too focused on Essence to make it easily transferable to an Earthdawn aura.
"Mind over Body. Body over Mind."
- Verron Vittraxi, Wizard Extraordinaire

JetBlackJoe
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:01 pm

Re: Divine Aura

Post by JetBlackJoe » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:07 pm

In any case, I feel like I have a better grasp of the intent and capabilities of Divine Aura now. Thank you both for your thoughts and insights.
"Mind over Body. Body over Mind."
- Verron Vittraxi, Wizard Extraordinaire

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 476
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: Divine Aura

Post by ChrisDDickey » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:29 pm

I would think that a Cadaver Man would look very different from a normal corpse or a normal human.
It might not look like something "alive" but I would think you would see an animating power, possibly looking similar to a spell. Like a corpse with a powerful spell (or horror power) attached to it.

Now of course some horrors have unique powers, and I would not say it was impossible for a horror to be able to "deactivate" CM, so they were nothing but normal corpses until the horror chose to work though them again.

And of course a mediocre Astral Sight roll might show you the astral imprint of the corpse, but totally miss the astral pattern of the animating magic. Especially in corrupted space or if the horror was taking steps to hide it.

Telarus
Posts: 233
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Re: Divine Aura

Post by Telarus » Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:26 pm

According to the adventure Infected, Cadavermen have the spirit of the person re-bound into their corpse, which drives them mad. You could actually talk to the Cadavermen that Moltaa the Grim Legion Nethermancer has "guarding" the town. In my session, they wouldn't leave their post and wouldn't even look at you unless you stood directly in front of them (at which point they would get agitated because they were commanded to "stand at the gate and scan the horizon for threats"). The minds in those corpses were utterly mad, but still there - and references of things from thair mortal life would calm them a bit and allow a bit of back and forth.

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 476
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: Divine Aura

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:06 am

I always thought of it as there being two classes of CadaverMen.
The Parlanth Queen Twiceborn CM were animated with inelegance and personality and I agree that they might probably have had their original spirit re-bound to their corpse.
But I always thought that the more common quick and easy CM were a mindless zombie horde, probably just animated by a spell-like power.
Both types had identical physical stat's, but very different personality. I would think the two different animation types (assuming there are two types) might look very different Astrally.

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