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The Setup

The Lightning Bolt and Ball Lightning spells both have their damage type listed as P for Physical (as opposed to S for Stun, such as Knockout). However, the rules also state (emphasis mine):

These spells create and direct vicious strikes of electricity that cause Electricity damage (p. 154).

We thumb over to page 154 for Electricity damage, which states (emphasis mine):

Electrical damage is treated as Stun damage and resisted with half Impact armor (rounded up) - metallic armor, however, offers no protection.

After playing other game systems, it seems strange that Lightning Bolt would cause Stun damage instead of Physical damage.

The Question

Is there any official ruling that Lightning Bolt/Ball Lightning causes Physical damage, and this is a case of specific rule (the spell) overriding the general rule (Electrical damage)? Or is this a typo in the spell profile, and these spells really do cause Stun damage? Or is there at least a general consensus on how to handle this?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

The SR4 errata don't cover this point. I would say that the spell's damage listing is correct; the lightning combat spells should do physical damage; but, also apply the electricity effect rules for incapacitating the target, applying negative modifiers, etc., as with a shock glove or taser.

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From what I read, the spell does P damage but under electricity it says it 'also' does stun damage. So I would imagine it does both.

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Maybe its not an error, we would see it as both. The main damage it deals is physical, as the electricity burns your body. And Stun damage accuse since the mind needs time to recover from the extra electricity shock. If what you state in your question is from the book , then this could be a good explanation for the both occasions.

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While I cannot speak for what the developers intended, we have always treated it as Physical damage with the electrical bonus of 1/2 impact armor.

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