[RPG] How would a summoner assassin be found


I noticed that in Shadowrun there are a lot of security meassures against spells but only very few if any against spirits. For example there are mirrored windows or the condition that if you are astrally perceiving that you can only target dual natured targets with spells. While that does seem to provide some security against spells it seems to be useless against spirits. Assuming the mage knows the location of the target which he probably can easily find via astral projection he can just send a spirit to take a target out. A nonawakened person is pretty much helpless against a spirit and you can send them pretty much anywhere as a remote service. If you would not want it to do as a remote service, then you could just remain in the astral a few hundred meters from the crime scene. Furthermore it seems to me that the astral signature vanishes with the spirit. There might be one at the place of summoning but that could be pretty much anywhere and can be easily pushed into the background even before the attempt is started.

A magician using astral perception can “wipe clean”
a temporary astral signature (such as from sorcery) or
hasten its normal fading. A magician can spend a Com-
plex Action to reduce the amount of time it takes for
the signature to fade by 1 hour (mentally pushing the
signature into the background energy, if you will). No
test is required. This action can be done multiple times
until the astral signature is gone. If the signature is not
completely erased, it will be obvious to others assensing
it that someone tampered with it. (p.312)

Is there anyway to find the summoner if there isn't an awakened witness that assensed the spirit to get the astral signature of the summoner?

EDIT: This question is aimed at two things primarily:

  1. Precautions that you can do that would make this approach harder, similair to one way windows against spells.
  2. Ways to find the summoner after the target has been killed since it shouldn't take longer then 6 seconds after which the spirit is gone.

I hope this makes it clearer.

Best Answer

Basically: Not really, unless they're pretty sloppy and don't counter your Astral Tracking. Although spirits might not be as unstoppably dangerous as you think.

Any spirit influencing material matters will leave a material trace, just like any physical being - because they must materialize to affect the material world.

If a spirit wants to affect anything on the physical plane, it has to materialize first (p. 314). It gets physical attributes based on its type (Spirits, p. 303) and appears as a solid, physical version of its astral form—it’s relatively solid even if it doesn’t look solid, like a spirit whirlwind or a water elemental.

The spirit is going to leave some kind of physical trace at the scene, and an astral impression wherever it travels. That will fade relatively quickly though, and the mage can wipe it clean - so you're right, it is quite a challenge to track a summoner who wants to stay hidden when you arrive on the scene way too late. Just as it would be hard to track down a Rigger who used a sniper drone, or to find a decker who stole your files, or to find a sneaky assassin, 8 hours after the event when they've covered their tracks.

You do, however have Astral Tracking to fall back on if the mage hasn't erased their tracks everywhere the spirit has been.

Furthermore it seems to me that the astral signature vanishes with the spirit.

I'm not seeing where that's the case in the rules. You've even got a "+1 for every hour since the link was active" mod in the tracking threshold table (p315), which indicates you can track stuff that happened in the past after the link is gone as well as things that are happening now. If a spirit was there 4 hours ago, for example, this would suggest you can trace its origin at a +4 threshold (and tracking master by spirit is a +0 modifier for bound spirits, or +2 if it wasn't bound).

On the theme of danger...

A nonawakened person is pretty much helpless against a spirit

This isn't necessarily the case.

The materialization thing means that even unawakened victims can defend themselves quite effectively. Once the spirit materializes to make its assault they can physically attack it just like any metahuman opponent. Spirits do have all manner of freaky powers, and can more easily sneak up on the unawakened, but they still go down if you pump them full of bullets. Even before they materialize you've got a chance of spotting them:

Physical beings may sense when an astral form passes through their aura. Make a Perception + Intuition (4) [Mental] Test—you receive a +2 dice pool bonus if you’re Awakened. If the test is successful, the character feels slightly breathless, and they experience a chill or tingling sensation from the passing of the astral form. Security personnel are trained to recognize this feeling as a sign of an astral intruder.

Dangerous, yes, but not really any more so than other sneaky backstabbers who might try to kill you.

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