The description of the Petrify spell (Shadow Spells, page 22) says:



Type: P Range: LOS Duration: S Drain: F – 2

This spell transforms living tissue into calcium carbonate, or effectively, stone. The spellcaster must succeed in a Spellcasting + Magic [Mental] Opposed Test against the subject’s Body (+ Counterspelling). The spell’s Force must also equal or exceed the subject’s body. The subject is not conscious while under the spell’s effect, and any damage suffered by the stone-like subject translates normally to the appropriate Condition Monitor. While in this form, the subject has a Barrier Armor Rating (p. 197, SR5) equal to their Body + the caster’s net hits when they cast the spell. Non-living material is not affected by the spell, including clothing, cyberware, and carried gear.

For the Petrify spell, you only take into account the base BODY of the target, and ignore any kind or armor or protection the target may have since the spell targets the flesh only.

Following the basic rules, from the core rulebook, a full cyborg character a la Robocop, despite being not much more than a brain and spine, still has his full base BODY to resist the spell, since the cyber only makes one lose Essence.

Is there a rule that would allow to recalculate the BODY of a character for the purpose of the spell, taking into account the cyberimplants?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking for an official optional rule, experience with homebrew or if you have missed something in the basic rules? \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 9:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega If I missed something in the basic rules or if there is an official optional rule. If it comes to having to make an homebrew one, I'll ask my GM. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sava
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 0:16
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Relevant meta: Don't signal your edits in text. Instead, you should edit your answer to read as if it were always the best version of itself. Anyone interested in older versions can view the revision history. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 4:14

2 Answers 2


There is no rule, and you shouldn't do it.

I've been playing Shadowrun since First Edition, and while the plotline has advanced and the mechanics have changed, the core of the setting hasn't really. Some of the details have been lost in the edition changes, but the "scientific reality" of the setting hasn't explicitly changed.

While Shadowrun uses Essence as a game mechanical limit to the number of implants a character can have, that isn't exactly how it works in the fiction of the game. The loss of Essence is meant to reflect the difference between the character's "soul" (for lack of a better word) and their physical body. However, there's a bit of cognitive dissonance to wrap one's head around - both the idealized/original soul and the physical body are the same thing. One may be a twisted, damaged reflection of the other, but they're two sides of the same coin.

Even though there is a (game mechanical) quantifiable difference, there really is no difference. A person's body is a person's body, and the Essence lost reflects a certain amount of acceptance of that state on the character's part.

In the case of Petrify, the spell targets the character as a whole, but it only affects living tissue. It ignores worn tech because it's simply not targeting it, but implanted tech is different. It's still part of the target and still determines how well the spell works. How does it know what's the body and what isn't? People have an aura, their presence on magical reality. Worn equipment is not part of the target's body, not part of their aura, so it isn't subject to the spell. Implanted equipment is part of that aura. It may be a twisted, unnatural part of it... but it is the character and still helps them resist the spell. If they succumb, implants won't be altered, but that's after the character has failed to resist.

The only spells that recognize the difference is Health spells, particularly ones meant to restore the body. Why do they have a problem? Because they have no good way to identify or recognize the technology (because magic is bad with technology). It becomes much harder for a magician to heal a target with lots of implants (low Essence) because the guide the magician use to heal the person (the patient's aura, their Essence) doesn't match their physical condition. The spell is harder because it's trying to "correct" the body to a state it can no longer physically exist in.

Based on your other question, you appear to be trying to game the system to get advantages against characters with implants. The setting is not meant to work that way, quite the opposite in fact, so the advantages you're seeking do not exist in the system.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have to downvote your answer because the spell description specifically says that it targets 'living tissue' and ignores cyberware. I have added the full description to my question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sava
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 0:30

You can't cast this spell on full cyborgs.

This is a spell with a range of Line of Sight, and it effects living tissue only. As a result, you can't cast it on a full cyborg because you can't draw a line of sight to their organic tissues, since they're covered completely by their machine components.

Additionally, rules for full conversion cyborgs aren't in the core rulebook; there's a difference between a full conversion cyborg and someone who merely has replaced their arms, legs, torso, and head with cyberware. I'm not sure what book they're in for SR5, but in SR4, they were in the splatbook Augmentation, and they involve transplanting a metahuman brain into a drone, and the resulting cyborg used the drone rules with some modifications. In particular, it had the following to say about targeting them with spells:

Targeting and Magic

Cyborgs are difficult to target with magic. The only living part of a jarhead — the brain — is encapsulated within the CCU which itself is enclosed within the drone body, where it is effectively safe from spell targeting. Instead, the drone body itself must be targeted by spells. Only in the event that the drone’s outer casing/armor is breached or removed would the CCU/brain become vulnerable to magical targeting — though hitting might still require a called shot.

This means that spells cast against a cyborg’s drone body must overcome Object Resistance (Threshold 4+). This also means that the cyborg — or rather, its body — does not make resistance rolls against Physical spells. Mana spells are simply unable to lock on to the cyborg’s living component and are useless as a result.

When viewed from the astral, the living presence within a cyborg cannot be seen through the opaque drone body (unless the astral form sticks its head through the drone body’s shadow and into the brain’s encapsulated aura). Cyborgs do not boast the vibrant aura indicative of a living being and instead appear as drab as any other drone to assensing. Assensing may reveal information as it does with any other non-living object, but it will provide no insight into the brain controlling the drone. Unsurprisingly, the Awakened typically find cyborgs disquieting.


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