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Ok the way I read Direct Combat Spells (Manabolt/Powerbolt/etc), they either deal their force in damage or they have no effect, and only indirect Combat Spells (Fireball/Lightning Bolt/etc) Stage with successes.
I've looked right through the magic section, and this seems to be the case.
The only thing that has been confusing me is discussion around these boards about staging powerbolts etc.
Just after a little confirmation.

Cheers in Advance.
check page 196. specificaly the text covering damage value. there is talk there about the net hits increasing the DV ny 1 pr hit...
This is how I make it out to be. Yeah, it's more detailed than necessary, but I thought it better to be unambiguous (I'm nerdy like that, yeah).

Direct Combat Spells:
  1. Choose the spell to cast (in this case, a direct combat spell).
  2. Choose a force for the spell, up to twice your Magic. If the force is higher than your Magic rating, you are overcasting.
  3. Add your Magic to your pool.
  4. Add your Spellcasting to your pool.
  5. Add and subtract any modifiers, such as for wounds, foci, or mentor spirits.
  6. Roll your dice, add up the hits. Tell the GM if you glitch.
  7. Take the lesser of your hits and the spell's force as the actual hits that you get for the test.
  8. One of the following happens:
    • If your target is a living being, he/she/it will roll Body (against a physical spell) or Willpower (against a mana spell), plus any Counterspelling they're getting. If your actual hits minus your target's hits is positive, add your net hits to the force of the spell and apply that much damage directly to the target's damage track; do not pass go, do not roll for damage resistance.
    • If your target is not living, compare your actual hits to the threshold for non-living targets. If you make at least the threshold, add the excess to the force of the spell and apply that much damage to the target's damage track.
  9. Do the drain thing.

Indirect Combat Spells: check the Indirect Combat Spell Cheat Sheet on my Shadowrun Resources page. (I hate duplicating effort.)
Don't think i'll add net hits to direct combat spells anyway.
It makes them too much better than indirect!
I can see no reason to take an indirect combat spell at the moment.
Remember with direct spells, you need line of sight with your target, and you can only hit one target at a time... you'd be rather hard pressed to put down a half dozen assailants before being overrun.

This is where indirect spells are handy, you can hit a whole whack of targets in one shot. Or if you know that a target is around the corner from an astral peep, toss an indirect spell at the corner and grin as the hiding target takes the brunt of your spell. smile.gif
Yeah but, as much as I hate to make it a numbers game, the drain on indirect spells is hideous, insanely high, compared to direct spells.

I don't care particually about drain codes, but there is a limit and +3/+5 for minimal effect seems to be it!
The advantage of most indirect spells is there elemental secondary effect, for example fire may detonate ammunition, lightning imposes -2 to dice pools. That is the bid advantage and why your taking more drain.

Also in SR3 at least aria elemental spells didnít need LOS to every target while direct attacks did.

Dranem, both direct and indirect spells come with single target and aria versions, note power ball and lightning bolt

Ankle Biter
Actually, from what I can see is the advantage of indirect spells is that THEY DO NOT NEED TO BEAT OR. This makes blowing up drones a lot less of a drag.
and don't forget that the lightning bolt fries its delicate electronics
From a purely game system point of view, I do not see any reason to take an indirect spell over a direct spell because targets do NOT get a Reaction defense against them AND NO armor!

For instance, why in the world would I take Lightning Bolt over Powerbolt or Manabolt?

Manabolt (Direct, Mana, Physical damage)
No Reaction defense! Spellcaster can't miss!
Ignores Armor!
Willpower damage resistance.
Drain = Force/2

Powerbolt (Direct, Physical,Physical damage)
No Reaction defense! Spellcaster can't miss!
Ignores Armor!
Body damage resistance
Drain = Force/2 +1

Lightning Bolt (Indirect, Physical, Physical damage)
Target gets Reaction defense, which means that the caster can miss.
Armor applies.
Body damage resistance
Drain = Force/2 +3

The only downside to manabolt is that it can't damage objects. This does not seem to be enough to justify the Drain difference.

In purely game terms, Manabolt and Powerbolt are significantly more powerful than similar Indirect spells, yet have a much lower Drain. Why?

And, Direct spells seem to imply that the magical effect does not pass through the intervening space between the caster and the target. The mage just looks at the target and it takes damage. Period. Does this mean that a mage in a skyscraper can Manabolt a target looking out the window of an adjacent skyscraper? If armor does not apply, does intervening glass?

A beginning player can easily launch a Force 10 manabolt with 14 dice pool at anything he can SEE. All he has to do is resist Drain 5, with a 12+ dice pool (without any magic items). The target only resists with Willpower. On average the magician will do 14-15 damage, and the target will resist 2 points of that with a Willpower=6. So, the magician can whack someone for 12+ PHYSICAL damage from any distance. And this is a STARTING magician.

In RPing terms, if manabolt and powerbolt are this powerful, it would have severe repercussions on the game world.
-No important person would EVER be caught outside in the open, unless he had two or three magician counterspellers with him at ALL times.
-Buildings and vehicles would NOT include transparent windows.
-Demand for limited supply of rare magicians to act as counterspelling bodyguards would be SO high that they would be paid phenomenal wages. CEOs would easily pay 6 figures to wizards. Far more than they could ever make shadowrunning. It would be financially ludicrous for magicians not to be bodyguards.
-If any insane magician can do such a manabolt, no one would be safe. One whackjob magician could go on a serial killing spree for quite some time before being caught. The public would demand registration, imprisonment, and so on for all magicians.

Or, am I interpreting the rules incorrectly?

If not, here are some balancing solutions I thought might work:

1. Direct spell targets DO get Reaction rolls to avoid the spell.
2. Range modifiers for spells - based on Magic or Spellcasting, or both.
3. Increase Drain for Direct spells.

What do you guys think?
Tisk tisk, you forgot about drain. Sure while he could send off a fricking huge manabolt he would have to resist the physical damage. He might not be that lucky. If a mage were to go crazy his magic would be weakened each time thanks to the pain penalties. If say two corpers were to fire a taser at him,

Besides combat formula are F legal status. That means legally you have to be a megacoper to legally own them in the first place. (Though summoning a spirt to do that would be perfectly legal if you have the license, the joys of bueracracy.)

Remeber also that the characters are not normal. Your average person doesn't have six ranks in a skill. That's PHD equivialnt.
In SR3 there was a very good reason for indirect combat spells, TN. The TN of a direct combat spell was equal to the stat it was resisted with, meaning that no magician was ever going to seriously hurt an albino gnome with a manabolt or a troll with a powerbolt.

This doesn't exist in SR4 due to fixed TNs but there are still thresholds to consider. Metahuman targets have a threshold of 1 but direct combat spells have significantly higher thresholds against vehicles and drones. The fact that indirect combat spells do not suffer from OR thresholds and can cause secondary damage with elemental effects makes them fairly useful against vehicular enemies.

There is also the small fact that you don't need LOS for indirect area spells helps too.
James McMurray
The secondary effects are also very useful. That lightning bolt is gauranteed to cause anyone it hurts to take penalties and might knock them unconscious outright.

Not being able to affect objects can be a huge drawback for manabolt, depending on the campaign. If you're constantly fighting living creatures and spirits then manabolt / stunbolt is your best bet. If you're frequently facing drones powerbolt is the way to go. The safest bet is to proably have them both.
QUOTE (hyzmarca)
There is also the small fact that you don't need LOS for indirect area spells helps too.

Could you get me a page number on that? I've been trying to find it myself but can't.
James McMurray
There isn't one, it's just the general consensus.
What beginning player has a spellcasting dice pool of 14?
James McMurray
Magic 6 + Sorcery 6 + Spellcasting Specialization (+2). If you're willing to shell out for a power focus you can get higher, although starting power foci are limited to force 1 (or 2?) by availability.
You could have a starting character with:

-spellcasting 6 specializing in Combat Spells
-Magic stat of 6
-Mentor Spirit with a +2 bonus for Combat spells
-Force 3 combat spellcasting focus

Which would give you a combat spellcasting pool of 19 dice.


(edit: like he said above. i typed too slow...)
James McMurray
Oops! I forgot the mentor spirit. Kinda odd since I always play shamen. smile.gif
Indirect spells have to hit, like any other ranged attack, but after they hit, they need to be soaked completely - for a direct combat spell, you only need one net hit more than the caster to completely escape damage.


A mage casts a powerbolt at a troll with Reaction: 4 and Body: 9. He overcasts it at force: 10, rolls his 14 dice, and gets 4 hits. The troll rolls his Body, plus spends some Edge, and gets 4 hits. with no net successes, the troll escapes damage. Tsk, he should have cast manabolt.

Same mage, this time casting lightning bolt at the same force, at the same troll, with the same 4 hits. The troll rolls reaction and only gets 2 hits, so the lightning bolt strikes him with 2 net hits. He rolls Body and Edge, getting 4 hits again. But all that does is stage the damage down to 8.

Of course, the mage will be hurting as well, having to soak 8, rather than 6, damage. But the point remains that there will be times when indirect spells are better. Like their SR3 counterparts, their main advantage is that you soak all of the damage, not just reduce it to 0 net hits. For mages who are overcasting, that is often a significant difference.
hmm, ill have to keep that in mind...
Umm ok if for instance a Drone is being hit by a powerbolt or something simular the only thing it saves for is its body? so Pop Pop there goes the big bad drone if a mage has los of it =(

All well its just more newyen needed for replacement or rebuild that I have to spend out of the little jobs we get.
James McMurray
I don't have the book handy, but what is the object resistance number for a drone? It's probably fairly high since it's a highly processed high tech object. That alone protects drones from magic fairly well. The elemental spells on the other hand only have to hit to be almost gauranteed some damage. You might also shut that drone down immediately with electrical, cook off it's ammo with fire, or lower its armor with acid.
should be 4+, although, how exactly the +should be determined is beyond me
James McMurray
A moped or commlink is 4. A drone is kinda like a vehicular commlink so should be at least a 5. The more advanced drones might be a 6. Even with a 19 pool getting a 5 or 6 isn't gauranteed, and you'll still have to soak the drain whether you hit or not.

Page 195: "Direct Combat Spells: Handle these as an Opposed Test. the caster's Magic + Spellcasting is resisted by the target's Body or Willpower, plus Counterspelling. The caster needs at least one net hit for the spell to take effect."

Page 196: "Indirect Combat spells are treated like ranged combat attacks; the caster makes a Magic + Spellcasting Success Test versus the target's Reaction..."

The entry for Direct spells does NOT explicitly state that it is treated like ranged combat, as Indirect spells does.

Do Direct Spells merely use Body or Willpower instead of Reaction? And then if that works the target ALSO gets to make a Body roll to resist damage? If so, the rules are very poorly worded.

Or, Is this how Direct spells work?

Direct Spell
1. Magician casts Manabolt Force 5 at target.
2. Magician rolls Magic 5 + Spellcasting 5 (10 dice) against the target's Willpower 5.
3. If the Magician gets ZERO net hits, no damage.
4. If the magician gets 1+ net hits, the manabolt does 5 damage with no additions due to extra hits, and no resisting with Body.

Is step 4 correct?
No, Aaron had the correct sequence in his earlier post. You add the net hits, although remember that your initial hits are limited to the spell's force (step 7 on Aaron's list). In other words, if you get 7 hits casting a force: 5 spell, your hits are reduced to 5, before the target's resistance roll.
Big D
While I was playing around with min/max chars, I came up with this:

Magic 6
Spellcasting 7 (Aptitude)
Combat spec (+2)
Dragonslayer (+2)
Power Focus (+2)

Starting 19 dice for combat spells, 10 dice for soak drain. You can start with 20 dice if you get a spellcasting focus instead.

It's a lot nastier if you go Manipulation Spec, Firebringer (or Raven for a Shammie, ISTR), Power Focus, though.

After all, why drop a powerball on the opfor when you can make them all kill each other? You don't need nearly as much force on the spell, or nearly as many hits.
One of the mages in my group mind-controlled a goon mage and had him blow his buddy away with a maxed out overcast lightning ball.

After that session, one of the other players got together with this mage, and they approached me, saying "we should probably take this spell out of the game before you hit us with it."

I was amused.

Manipulation spells (especially the mind control/puppet ones) can be very, very sick things to use in combat, but we've found they rapidly strip the fun out of the game when they're used against PCs... and anything the PCs are using is fair game (for me, at least) to toss back. Just be careful of that one.
dont they get a free resistance roll if they are made to do stuff they dont "like"?
Yes, but it only takes one combat turn to have a mind-controlled PC do something like detonate a grenade inside of the team's van. It's pretty harsh.
and when do you roll the resistance roll? on their turn? i would guess it kicked in the moment you declared the action, before its actualy done, no matter who's turn it is.
*shrug* I'm not saying you can't resist your way out of it. But if the first command you give the guy is "pull the pin on that grenade on your chest," that's his second Willpower roll... he's essentially rolled Will + Will versus the other guy's Magic + Spellcasting. Even if your NPCs don't initiate, most magicians that will put up any kind of a threat to a PC group throw more than enough dice for that to be a pretty unreliable defense. The odds are not in favor of whoever's on the receiving end.

Counterspelling is your friend...
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