SR5:Combat Rules:Elemental Damage

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5th Edition Rules
Basics Combat Magic Matrix Driving Character Creation
Armor Weapons Elemental Damage Modifiers Called Shots Martial Arts

This is damage caused by non-kinetic sources, like acid, fire, etc. Most of the time you’d look to magic for this sort of damage, but some mundane weapons and attacks can deliver added elemental effects.

Acid Damage

Acid damage is Physical. In addition to its normal damage, it also reduces the rating of any Armor it hits by 1. If the acid isn’t removed from the target (by washing it off, or because the acid is from a spell and evaporates into mana after the spell ends), then the acid continues to burn. Each Combat Turn the base DV of the acid is decreased by 1 and damage is applied again. The acid also continues to burn through armor reducing the target’s Armor rating by 1 until the acid is removed, neutralized, or loses all its base DV. The Armor reduction should be applied to worn Armor first but could be applied to Armor accessories (+Armor items) if the gamemaster allows.

At the gamemaster’s discretion, acid can also create Light Smoke conditions in an area around the target.

Cold Damage

Cold is just the absence of heat, but it hurts when too much heat is absent, and calling cold “absent heat” doesn’t make it any less painful. Cold damage is Physical. Additionally, cold damage can make armor brittle, liquids freeze, lubricants gum up, etc. Make a simple Armor Test for anything directly hit. If the armor gets no hits, it breaks and cannot be used as armor. It can be repaired with the Building & Repairing rules. In the case of a glitch, it’s destroyed irreparably. With a critical glitch the armor breaks irreparably in a dangerous way.

Electricity Damage


Wombat has been drinking pretty heavily and the bouncers at the Blue Flame Tavern remember the last time they had to ask him to leave, so they call Knight Errant and wait for the officers to arrive and help them escort Wombat out the door. Well, Wombat can’t stand Pawns (his term of endearment for KE cops) and decides “quietly” is not an option for how he wants to leave. The KE officers feel sufficiently threatened, and they decide it would be easier to carry Wombat out than try to change his mind.

Both officers pull their Yamaha Pulsar tasers and fire before poor Wombat can reconsider his options. They score 4 and 3 net hits, so Wombat must make a Damage Resistance test against 11S and 10S respectively. Luckily for Wombat, he upgraded his lined coat with nonconductivity rating 4.

Against the first damage he rolls Body 6 + Armor 9 + nonconductivity 4, with an AP adjustment of –5, for a total of 14 dice. He gets 6 hits, reducing the damage to 5S. Since he took damage he also suffers the secondary effects of –1 to all actions for 1 Combat Turn and –5 to his Initiative Score.

Against the second hit he rolls the same pool of dice and gets 7 hits. He still takes 3S, but the secondary effects are changed. He doesn’t lose any more from his Initiative Score, and the –1 dice pool penalty is already there and does not increase. It does, however, get extended by 1 Combat Turn to a total of 2 Combat Turns.

After Wombat lays out one of the Pawns on his Action Phase (he may be slowed but he’s not out) the other hits him with another dart from the Pulsar. The KE officer scores 6 hits but is limited by the Accuracy of the weapon, which is 5, so Wombat is facing 12S.

Wombat rolls his Damage Resistance but spends a point of Edge to throw some extra dice into the pool and gain the Rule of Six. After an awesome roll that scores 14 hits, he shrugs off the damage. Since he didn’t take damage he doesn’t suffer any secondary effects and still has some actions left to KO the other KE Pawn.

A wide variety of nonlethal weapons are designed to incapacitate targets with electrical shock attacks, including stun batons, tasers, cyberware shock hands, and similar electrically charged weapons. These weapons rely on a contact discharge of electricity rather than kinetic energy. Spells and critter powers such as Lightning Bolt and Energy Aura cause similar effects.

Electrical damage is treated as Stun or Physical damage depending on the source and/or target. The Non-conductivity armor upgrade adds its full rating to the Armor value. The gamemaster can also decide which (if any) other factors may modify the target’s damage, such as extra conductivity for a character covered in water.

An Electricity attack that does damage can stun and incapacitate the target as well, though if there is no damage, there is no secondary effect at all.Secondary effects for characters injured by Electricity damage include a –1 dice pool penalty on all actions and Defense Tests, but not Damage Resistance Tests, for 1 Combat Turn and an immediate Initiative Score reduction of 5. The dice pool penalty and Initiative Score reduction do not accumulate with multiple attacks, but the length of the penalty is extended by 1 Combat Turn for each successful damaging attack while a character is affected. If the character’s Initiative Score is reduced to 0 or below, they lose their last action. If they have no Initiative Score left the reduction comes on the start of the next Combat Turn.

Electronic equipment and drones can also be affected by Electricity damage. They never suffer Stun damage so Electricity damage is Physical when used against electronics and drones. They resist damage as usual and suffer a secondary effect if they take even a single box of damage.

The secondary effect for electronics and drones damaged by Electricity damage is shorting out or overloading. In game terms this is reflected as secondary Matrix damage equal to half the Physical damage rounded down.

Vehicles can be damaged by Electricity attacks but do not suffer any secondary effects. Specific systems of vehicles can be targeted by a Called Shots (p. 195).

Fire Damage

Open Flame –2
Fire-based spells –spell Force
Flame-based weapon –6

Wombat is having a bad day. He left the bar and ran afoul of one of those really deranged members of the Halloweeners who carries a flamethrower! His reflexes are a little off due to the booze and he gets a solid blast of flame. The gamemaster calls for a test to see if his lined coat catches fire and rolls the lined coat’s Armor 9 — the flamethrower’s AP of 6 versus the two net hits the Halloweener got on the test. He only gets one hit, so the coat, and therefore Wombat, catches fire.

At the end of the Combat Turn Wombat has not put out the fire and has to resist 3P damage.

The next Combat Turn begins, and the fire’s DV increases to 4P. In his next Action Phase Wombat decides to try to put out the fire with the classic stop, drop, and roll. The gamemaster calls it a Complex Action with a Drop Prone free action and asks for an Agility + Intuition roll modified by his wounds. Wombat hits the dirt, rolls — and fails.

Another Action Phase comes up and Wombat keeps trying. This time he gets 1 hit, still not enough to put out the fire but enough to lessen it a little.

At the end of this Combat Turn Wombat faces 3P damage again and needs to think fast about how he’s going to get this fire out.

Fire damage is Physical. It can also make things catch fire. To determine if something catches fire, roll Armor Value + Fire Resistance – Fire AP (see Fire Armor Piercing Ratings table). The threshold on this test is the net hits rolled on the fire-based attack. If the item succeeds, it is not on fire (for now). Armor accessories are excluded from the test but the gamemaster may require them to make their own test.

When something catches fire, the fire has an initial Damage Value of 3. This damage is caused at the end of each Combat Turn, and the DV increases by 1 at the start of each subsequent Combat Turn until the item is completely destroyed or the fire is put out. You can fight the fire a number of ways (water, smothering, etc.), making an Agility + Intuition Test and reducing the fire’s DV by 1 for each hit. Remember, as long as the fire is burning it can ignite any nearby flammables, including furniture, vehicles, foliage, and elves.

Pollutant Damage

Vector Inhalation
Speed Immediate
Penetration 0
Power (DV of attack)
Effect Physical damage, anaphylactic shock (see below)Armor provides no dice to resist a Pollutant attack. Armor upgraded with a Chemical seal (p. 437, SR5) provides immunity to the damage and toxic effects.

Pollutant attacks deliver a concentrated burst of chemicals and other invasive elements that cause a severe reaction. Effects depend on the strength of the attack and the target’s ability to resist, but can range from mild discomfort to complete and debilitating shutdown of the target’s body. Treat any Pollutant attack as a toxin with the following characteristics:

Anaphylactic Shock
If the damage from the attack with this effect is not completely resisted, the victim enters anaphylactic shock, resulting in muscle spasms and autonomic system failure if left untreated. The victim continues to take 1 box of unresisted Physical damage each Combat Turn until death, or until the victim is treated as per Stabilization.

Radiation Damage

Radiation powers and spells used by toxic spirits, magicians, and adepts cause highly concentrated bursts of radiation to be inflicted upon the target(s). Immediate effects are burns similar to being exposed to extreme heat. The ongoing effects, however, are much more damaging, causing the body to begin to break down at the cellular level.

Radiation attacks cause Physical damage. Armor provides no dice to resist Radiation damage, unless it has an upgrade to provide Radiation resistance, which provides dice equal to its rating for the Damage Resistance Test and the following Toxin Resistance Test. Treat every Radiation attack that hits as a toxin causing Nausea with a DV equal to net hits of the attack (before the Damage Resistance roll).

Water Damage

Water damage comes into play when water is delivered with sufficient force and pressure to cause injury. Water damage does not directly affect any Condition Monitors; instead, it has a chance to knock characters down. The base Water damage for knockdown purposes is the Force of the spell. The targeted character rolls Agility, reducing the Water damage by the number of hits. If the remaining damage is higher than the character’s Physical limit, the Water damage knocks them down, as if they had been forcibly taken a free Drop Prone action. Additionally, the area around the target with a radius of (Force / 2) meters is slippery for the next ten minutes. Any action involving movement in this area, including Defense Tests, take a –2 dice pool penalty. Active fires in that same area have their DV reduced by the spell’s Force. Also, any exposed and unsealed electronics may be damaged. For any such devices, make a Device Rating (3) Test; failure means water hit the sensitive innards of the device and bricked it.

Other Types of Damage

Falling Damage

When a character falls more than three meters, he takes Physical damage with a DV equal to the number of meters fallen, with an AP of –4. Use Body + Armor to resist this damage. The gamemaster should feel free to modify the damage to reflect a softer landing surface (sand), branches to break the fall, and so on.

Falling characters drop 50 meters in the first Combat Turn, 150 meters in the second Combat Turn, and 200 meters every Combat Turn after that. Terminal velocity for a falling body is about 200 meters per turn.

Fatigue From Environments

Mild 6 hours
Moderate 3 hours
Harsh 60 minutes
Extreme 1 minute (10 Combat Turns)
Deadly 6 seconds (2 Combat Turns)

Hot, cold, humid, dry, polluted, or irradiated environments can cause fatigue damage, depending on the severity of the surroundings. As with running fatigue, the DV from a harsh environment starts at 1S and increases over time. Unlike running fatigue, if you keel over in a hostile environment the damage doesn’t stop rolling in.

Fatigue Damage

Fatigue damage is Stun damage' you incur through doing something strenuous or for being in the middle of something stressful. It’s caused by harsh environments, hard exertion, and drek like that. Fatigue damage is resisted with Body + Willpower, not with any armor. Fatigue damage cannot be healed while the condition causing it still exists.

Fatigue From Running

If you sprint over multiple consecutive Combat Turns or during multiple Action Phases in the same Combat Turn, you risk taking fatigue damage. For every consecutive Action Phase or Combat Turn in which you use the Sprint action, you take a cumulative 1S DV of fatigue damage, which means that the second time you take it without dialing it back you take 2S, then 3S, etc.If you’re only running (using your running movement rate) instead of sprinting, this damage is taken every 3 minutes.

Hunger, Thirst, And Sleep Deprivation

After 24 hours, if you haven’t eaten, slept, or had a (nonalcoholic) drink', you risk fatigue damage. Like running, the damage starts at a mere 1S and increases over each interval it is taken. The interval for hunger is 6 days, for thirst is 2 days, and for sleep is 3 hours. This damage stops when you eat, drink, or sleep, respectively.