How would Supernatural Strength¹ work with something such as a barrier created by a magic circle. Supernatural Strength includes something called Superior Lifting, which allows a bonus to lifting or breaking inanimate things.

Superior Lifting: Whenever lifting or breaking inanimate things, you gain a +6 to your Might score.

The barrier in this specific case would essentially be a "wall of force". An invisible barrier that you could not pass through, or fire magical attacks into, without surpassing its strength. I believe this would fall under the category of a Ward². This would work as a Block³ with a set strength.

So the real question is: Would Supernatural Strength lend its +6 bonus to an attempt at breaking such a barrier? I understand it would if the magic had created a physical object such as a "wall of ice" or "wall of earth", but with something purely made of force/spirit (read: magic) I would argue that barrier is not inanimate due to the nature of magical energy in the Dresden universe.

  1. Your Story pg 183
  2. Your Story pg 276-277
  3. Your Story pg 252
  • \$\begingroup\$ There seems to be some confusion about the effect you're asking about. Is it a ward against magic, or does it keep out physical objects as well? Is it literally a wall of force, or are you just using that as a metaphor? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 29 '15 at 15:21

Unfortunately, there seems to be a definite lack of pages describing the properties of magic circles. There's not even an index entry for them. So regardless of input, the ruling is going to come down to how you want to run the game.

My answer would be no, the lifting bonus does not apply.

That said, circles pretty clearly fall under blocks, although they are blocks specific to energy and spirits (I am presuming from your question that you are discussing a creature with Supernatural Strength that hails from the Nevernever and is thus partially or wholly spirit, otherwise a circle wouldn't block jack). I don't know that it falls under the rules for Wards, because Wards have definite spells and structure attached to them. In fact, the only bit commentary I can find is a side-note from Bob, which states magical circles should be considered a threshold, but that it shouldn't come up much (see p.230). Still, thresholds work on many levels, but for the purposes of a baddie trying to break through, it's pretty clearly a block.

Now, the question is, do we consider a block as an inanimate object, for the purposes of the lifting bonus. On the one hand, a circle is pretty stationary, and therefore fairly easy to target and take a run on. On the other hand, it's not actually a physical object, even if for something interestingly large enough it'd be easy enough to put their hands around. It's a line which magic and spirit cannot cross, a flat boundary. It'd feel like a wall, sure, but a physical wall is made of things like bricks or drywall that are easily punchable/breakable. A simple wall of will would not be. Per the lore, circles are more a function of willpower, and the spirit creatures that have broken through them have done so with an act of will, not of strength.

If you want the lore examples:

Chauncy, who batters at a circle physically without really getting anywhere. Erlking, whose last attempts to break out take physical form (his sword), but first two attempts do not, and all attempts are felt as an attack on the will of the wizard holding the circle, Harry. Titania, who simply lashes out with will at the meager circle protecting Harry and shatters it.


I don't believe there's a rule that specifically answers this question, so the following is just my opinion:

I would argue that yes, the Superior Lifting bonus should apply to attempts to break down a wall of force. The character is essentially pitting their physical strength against the magical power behind the block. Either this is a valid way of attempting to overcome that block (in which case they should get the bonus for being supernaturally strong, and thus good at it), or it's not, in which case it doesn't work whether or not they get the bonus.

Personally, I would rule that "Imma punch it down" is a fine and sensible response to a wall of force. As narrative justification, I would point out that there's a scene in one of the novels (Storm Front, I think) in which a demon manages to break through the wards on Harry's apartment by what looks like brute strength. As I recall, there's no particular justification given for it being able to do that aside from it being a really powerful demon, and that seems pretty similar to the case described.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Wards (and thresholds in general) work completely differently in both the books and the game than force walls though. You might want to pick a different example. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 28 '15 at 20:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Later in the series, a comment is made that the demon does do this, but at the cost of loosing a bunch of it's power -- all it can do is physical stuff like lob acid. In essence, the wards & threshold weakened it, which isn't something the magic circle mechanics represent (but IIRC I think the threshold mechanics say something on it) \$\endgroup\$ – RonLugge Oct 6 '15 at 1:49

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