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I ran into a problem in a game today when it came to Protection from (Energy). There was a character who had a bomb inside of them and the party though it would work if they cast Protection from (Fire) on them to absorb the blast damage. I ruled no, saying that Protection from (Energy) only works for external damage.

However our sorcerer has a spell called Burning Blood that deals internal fire/acid damage. If Protection from (Energy) spells only protect from external sources then Burning Blood would be immune.

I know it's splitting hairs, but unfortunately it's come to a point in the campaign where something as technical as this must be asked. Do Protection from (Energy) spells protect against internal or external sources?

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There is no difference between damage taken internally or externally. With the exception of rules for abilities like Swallow Whole, 3.5 makes no distinction between damage taken from internal and external sources. The damage model is simply not complex enough to handle that level of granularity.

The rules text of Protection from (Energy) is quite clear on this matter:

Protection from energy grants temporary immunity to the type of energy you specify when you cast it (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic). When the spell absorbs 12 points per caster level of energy damage (to a maximum of 120 points at 10th level), it is discharged.

If the bomb does fire damage, and the character takes fire damage, then they ignore the damage until it breaks through the spell, regardless of whether it's internal or external.

You may rule, however, that the bomb is not just fire, it may create a concussive blast as well. Most conventional bombs do. In that case, the character would be immune to the fire damage, but not the other kinds of damage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ (A concussive blast would probably be sonic damage, fwiw.) \$\endgroup\$ – starwed Feb 5 '13 at 4:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or bludgeoning. Sonic implies sound, while a concussive blast is typically just unfocused force. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Feb 5 '13 at 4:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or, potentially, Force damage. Though what, exactly, constitutes Force damage is exceptionally vague. It seems inherently magical in nature, despite the fact that non-magical instances of it exist... \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 5 '13 at 16:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ In "real world" terms, a concussive blast and a very loud sound wave are essentially the same thing. :) Also, I'm not aware of any non-magical Force effect other than that weird "Force Orb" side-effect that clearly wasn't on purpose... \$\endgroup\$ – starwed Feb 5 '13 at 18:00
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The rules do not differentiate between internal and external damage. You’re free to do as you like in your own game, but your players have it right by the rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If it helps, imagine the spell enchanting the character's flesh to make it less flammable, rather than as a thin 'force field.' \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Feb 5 '13 at 5:19
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I would say it protects from internal energy as well as external energy. The bomb is another matter, though--the primary damage is blast, not fire. I might knock off 25% for fire resistance but that's it.

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