[As a result of nothing session report-wise to post this week, I'm posting an excerpt form a book I'm writing: The Corporate Security Handbook. This is a look at actual corporate security as it exists now in the real world and then extrapolations as to how Shadowrun changes this. I'm still in the brain-dump stage of writing at this point, approaching 80-90% complete. This is what I have so far for Astral Projection and how it interacts with security in Shadowrun 5th Edition.]
Astral projection can could be a game-breaker for security, but 5th Edition has neatly addressed the issue. In past editions, those astrally projecting could move about freely and look around, stopped only by living things or being underground. As a result, there was an escalating arms race between those using astral projection and those defending against it that led to downtown buildings covered in ivy or windows with thin layers of living bacteria. This clashed with the color text of immense, sleek skyscrapers and arcologies towering over the urban landscape. For research and exploratory projects to be secure from roving astral eyes, the buildings either have to be short (no more than 10 stories) so they can be covered with living plans or have glass outer structures and hope the bacteria don’t die off from UV exposure (from sunlight).
5th Edition elegantly side-steps this and provides more role-playing opportunities.
Mages in 5th Edition can astrally project, but cannot fully physically manifest back into the world away from their bodies. This means they can only see things from the astral side, where things like posters of information or monitor screens are just shadows with no differentiation for ink – they are essentially blank slates astrally. On top of that, with the heavy use of AR, the data and images don’t even physically manifest anymore, rendering them invisible to the astral traveler.
What mages can do is manifest psychically to one or more individuals of their choice and communicate with them. They can see each other (or at least each other’s astral manifestation) and talk, but the mage is still astral and cannot read anything lying around. This can make for some interesting role-playing opportunities as the mage provides critical information to someone in a crowd, a crowd that cannot intercept or eavesdrop on the information exchange in any physical way.