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I have been comparing the stats of the different spells and i am a little stumped as to how the drain has been decided.

Blast is Indirect Physical stun at line of sight does F drain (AOE)
Indirect can be dodged, but does greater damage
Physical means no spirit can be hit by it
Stun means can't damage machines

Ball lightning is indirect elemental physical damage at line of sight that does F-1 drain (AOE)
Elemental means extra effects or damage (linked to the element)
Damage means it can affect unliving targets

Assuming you don't need to stun, "Blast" sucks.

Why is "Blast" more draining than a better alternative?


References :

Blast

BLAST (Indirect) Type: P Range: LOS (A) Damage: S Duration: I Drain: F
These spells smack the target(s) with invisible psychokinetic force, similar to a bruising punch, that inflicts Stun damage. Punch requires you to touch the target. Clout affects a single target, while Blast is an area spell.

Elemental attacks (they all have same stats anyways)

BALL LIGHTNING (Indirect, Elemental) Type: P Range: LOS (A) Damage: P Duration: I Drain: F – 1
These spells create and direct vicious strikes of electricity that cause Electricity damage (p. 170). Lightning Bolt is a single target spell. Ball Lightning is an area spell.

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3 Answers 3

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Let me start by saying that I don't know any official citation that gives a reason for stun being more draining than lethal damage. But I know what happened in in my group and that sheds light on a list of valid reasons why they might have done it:

In , spells doing stun damage were cheaper on the caster than spells doing real damage. However, a person that is completely stunned in a combat is just as dead as a person that is really dead. Because killing a stunned target is basically a free non-combat action without cost. If not getting enough damage to be out of the fight instantly, you get modifiers. But it does not matter if it was stun or real damage. The modifiers are always the same. So:

  • to stun somebody, you would prefer to do enough stun damage.
  • to kill somebody, you would prefer to do enough stun damage and later kill him trivially with a knife or firearm

Going for real damage only made sense in combination with other damage sources that did lethal damage so it would add up to an amount ending the fight. A well optimized caster could take out people without such a use of combined arms however. So for a well optimized caster, using the cheaper stun powers for killing was the economically viable choice.

So my guess is that the more powerful spell (choice between stun and stunned and later killed anyway compared to always killed) was made more costly than it's lethal counterpart so people intending to kill actually use the deadly spell for this purpose.

Considering in-game justifications for the mechanics, at first glance it seems odd because killing is more powerful and should be more taxing on the caster. But one could argue that the drain actually takes it's toll from the amount of control you have to assert and killing someone outright requires little control while managing the exactly right amount to stun somebody requires a lot of control over the magical energy used.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You raise an interesting point. The fact that its more draining because it's giving you a larger spectrum of choices. But then again, mechanically, it does not make a lot of sense. (Never ever thought about stunning people to murder them afterwards, lol) \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Nov 28, 2014 at 13:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mouhgouda I think mechanically it makes a lot of sense to put the choice of stun or death at a higher cost. For fluff reasons, at first glance it seems odd because killing is more powerful, but for a in-world-explanation one could argue that the drain actually takes it's toll from the amount of control you have to assert and killing someone outright requires little control while managing the exactly right amount to stun somebody requires a lot of control over the magical energy used. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Nov 28, 2014 at 14:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ yes, rulewise its a lot of sense. I guess your fluff reason is actually pretty logical, too. You should consider putting that comment in the answer, i believe it to be much relevant. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Nov 28, 2014 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ While it depends on your definition of "powerful" in the real world a weapon that could consistently stun or knock someone out with minimal chance of accidentally killing them would be dramatically more useful and almost certainly more expensive than a lethal weapon. I would argue that Blast generally is the more "powerful" of the two spells here. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 16, 2022 at 22:37
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Situations Where Blast is a Good Option

Any character who takes the Assassin's Creed variant of the Code of Honor negative quality is going to prefer non-lethal means of disabling mooks, so an AOE that deals potentially lethal damage is generally not a good idea unless a job goes completely sideways and your back is up against a wall with nowhere to go. Also, getting a reputation as a runner who doesn't kill low-level guards is a good way to make sure if Knight Errant or some other security corps manages to capture you, you're most likely looking at a short pit-stop in jail waiting for your buddies to break you out instead of being executed on the spot. If for some reason you have no other choice but to hit an area with Blast that contains friendlies, it is also a huge benefit to simply be stunning them as opposed to killing them.

Why Blast Has Slightly Worse Drain

Despite the advantages laid out above, Code of Honor is still a negative quality. Focusing on using non-lethal force to complete missions is still slightly more dangerous than frying a room with Ball Lightning or simply putting two in the chest and one in the head of every non-friendly you encounter. The slightly worse drain is ultimately reinforcing the idea that honor and morals tend to make you hesitate when the correct choice tactically is murder. Think Superman versus Zod.

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    \$\begingroup\$ doesnt the fact that they can be reanimated rather easily already covers that point? (at least, easier than reanimating a DEAD GUY) \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Nov 27, 2014 at 20:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ And that certain corps get really upset when you kill their guards, rather then rendering them uncontentious? At least one of them takes it really personally. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mourdos
    Nov 28, 2014 at 11:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ i understand your argument, it just seem off that "its harder to shoot tranquilizer darts than poison darts, because -reasons- ", or even "you punch one sensitive nerve and the guy falls unconcious, but its easier to hit that same nerve harder to kill him on the spot". Plus, i dont see a RP reason why magic makes it easier to kill than to put to sleep. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Nov 28, 2014 at 12:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mouhgouda In the real world it is much easier to kill than it is to consistently put someone to sleep in a non-lethal way, especially at a distance. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 16, 2022 at 22:39
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Blast is more selective. If you need the guard's equipment, you can not use Ball Lightning. If you want to take out the Decker but not the Deck, you can not use Ball Lightning. The same goes for the tank and the Rigger.

You pay the extra Drain for the precision.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ if you pay for the precision, you'd really be better off with a DIRECT spell, which emanates from the inside of the target. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Nov 27, 2014 at 20:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ direct spells do much worse damage \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Nov 27, 2014 at 20:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ yeah, and that lower damage is the cost of precision. But that Direct stun spell got even the same drain as blast... which means its overall even LESS effective than blast, which is understandable, as you focus on building the effect -IN- the guy. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Nov 28, 2014 at 12:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I always thought direct spells are incredibly weak. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Nov 28, 2014 at 12:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Against someone with incredible dodge and crazy armor, it does way better than indirect(i mean, 3 hits is still better than 0, right? :P). \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Nov 28, 2014 at 13:05

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