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The Magus subclass 'Sparkling Targe' has the following abilty (emphasis mine), which increases your shields hardness when blocking:

When you’re in Arcane Cascade stance with your shield raised, your circumstance bonus to AC from your shield also applies to your saves against spells and other magical effects. In addition, damage you take as a result of a spell or magical effect while you’re in Arcane Cascade can trigger your Shield Block reaction, even if the damage isn’t physical. When blocking damage in this way, increase your shield’s Hardness by an amount equal to the extra damage from Arcane Cascade [...] These benefits apply whether you’re using an actual shield, the shield spell, or something else that works like a shield [...]

What does "when blocking damage in this way" refer to exactly? Does it refer only to blocking spells, or to blocking damage in general? Does the hardness increase apply only to damage from spells or to damage blocked from any source?

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Yes

The increased hardness given by the Sparkling Targe hybrid study only applies when using Shield Block against damage you take as a result of a spell or magical effect while you’re in Arcane Cascade.

"When blocking damage in this way" most reasonably applies to this new way to block, and would distinguish between the usual trigger of Shield Block.

Trigger While you have your shield raised, you would take damage from a physical attack.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't like this ruling, but I think it's correct. It's a bit of a stretch to say that "in this way" is referring just to using Shield Block while in Arcane Cascade stance but not the other stipulation in the same line haha \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ifusaso Exactly, the author is likely just saving words. Not seeing what else 'in this way' would refer to?? I mean, I guess they could have said 'when using Shield Block in a way that you could not normally...' \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 5:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @brandon there are three stipulations for the Sparkling Targe ability... you must be in Arcane Cadence Stance, you may block magic effects, and you do use your reaction as a (modified) Shield Block. You gain the additional hardness when you block 'in this way' can only mean all three in the context given (as opposed to leaving out the allowance for magic effects). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 10:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wasn't saying you were wrong, I was pointing out you were right even if I don't like the implications for shield magus \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 10:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I actually disagree it has to be read that way. "In this way" could just mean while in Arcane Cascade. I'll do an answer when I get the chance. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 22:49

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