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The spell Arcane Protection means "hostile powers suffer a −2 penalty". Now, what qualifies as hostile powers? Obviously powers like Mind Reading and in general anything with an opposed roll should be affected. OTOH, indirect spells like Smite don't seem to qualify. What about Bolt? Is bolt's damage the spell effect (in which case protection applies), or is it caused by something that was enchanted or called into existence by the spell (the protection probably does not work then)? What about area-effect spells like Havoc?

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Any power being used against the character. Healing is not a hostile power, so would not be penalized by arcane protection, but lower Trait, stun, entangle, havoc, bolt, burst, blast, puppet and most other powers would be hostile.

GM adjudication is required for some corner cases. Such as the shrink component of growth/shrink. It is possible that shrink could be a beneficial power for infiltration, escape, disguise, or a number of other uses. It is equally possible that it could be a hostile power when used by a foe to make the character weaker during combat.
Similarly, mind link could be a beneficial power used to communicate with allies. Or mind link could be a hostile intrusion to steal the character's thoughts. GM adjudication is required for such cases.

It's important to note that the Savage Worlds rules are consistent about marking rules terms (other than Action). Hostile has no markings to tie it to a technical definition in the rules (it is not capitalized, italicized, bold, underlined, or otherwise marked as a rules term), so hostile is being used in the common form.

adjective
unfriendly; antagonistic.

If the power use is "unfriendly" or "antagonistic" then arcane protection protects from it.

As for non-power "magical" effects, like dragon breath weapons, GM adjudication is required. One creature's breath weapon may be purely magical while another creature's breath is purely scientific - but Savage Worlds trust the GM to make and track such distinctions.

Edit: In the case of area effect powers, the official answers recently clarified that the arcane protection characters can be unaffected by a successful power. In the case of havoc, a total of 4 or more successfully places the blast template but the total is reduced by the arcane protection (-2 or -4, depending) to determine the effect on the protected character. If the modified total is less than 4 then the protected character is unaffected by havoc. If the modified total is four or higher then the protected character is affected and needs to roll Strength (with -2 if the modified total is 8 or higher).

In the case of damaging powers, like smite, the second clause of arcane protection is relevant.

If the power causes harm, damage is also reduced a like amount.

Because smite makes the weapon attack a magical effect, the final damage of the attack is reduced by arcane protection.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you please elaborate why Havoc (or other area-spells) are included, but Smite is not (or is it)? In neither case the character is direct target, and in both cases the spell is most often meant to harm the character? If there are more characters to be affected by the spell, some protected, some not, what does it mean that the spell "suffers -2 to affect this character"? \$\endgroup\$
    – volferine
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Added. How to adjudicate the math is outside the scope of your original question, which is why I excluded it. I hope the addition is useful. \$\endgroup\$
    – ValhallaGH
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with your point of view, it makes quite a lot of sense. It just makes me think that Arcane Protection is a pretty powerful spell given its cost, but that's another story. \$\endgroup\$
    – volferine
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 17:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's a good power when dealing with magic. It's useless when you're being eaten by a swarm of beetles, shot by a mundane crossbow, falling off a cliff, being swept underwater by a rapid river, or any of a dozen other threats that have nearly killed by caster with arcane protection. But when you're being attacked by magic, arcane protection is pretty great. \$\endgroup\$
    – ValhallaGH
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 17:57

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