...and apparently I am crazy. Resistance tests have always been a part of Shadowrun from the 1st edition.
The main difference between 1st and 3rd (1st and 2nd appears to be the same) is that one's "spell pool" is equal to his or her sorcery skill in the 1st edition and that 3rd edition makes an actual sorcery test as opposed to a test based on the Force of the spell.
For example, a 1st edition mage can cast a power bolt 5 with a sorcery skill of 6 and roll 5 dice for success (for the force of the spell), plus any dice in his spell pool (six, based on sorcery) for a possible 11 dice. A 3rd edition mage rolls dice equal to his sorcery skill (regardless of spell force) and augments with spell pool (the average of the magician's intelligence, will, and magic rating); the force of the spell only matters for the difficulty of the target's resistance test.
What is the practical effect of this? Well:
- if you plan on allocating your spell dice to beat the drain, 1st (and 2nd) edition is a better deal. Why? Your character can be wired up with boosted cyber-reflexes and still throw mean fireballs, saving your (sorcery-based) spell pool for resisting drain.
- in 3rd edition, dwarves are the best spell-casters (Will bonus), and cybernetic enhancement has terrible downside to one's magic pool.
Oh, yeah...after 1st edition, you can still use bound elementals to augment magic pool (and thus aid in spell defense)...however, I only find the "burn your elemental for auto-successes" rule in 1st edition (which REALLY ups the power level of mages over anyone).
And they took out the spell "turn to goo!" What the f---?!