[RPG] Dealing with Mana Barriers in Shadowrun


In page 316 of the 5th edition core rulebook, in Getting around mana barriers, says that you can opt for breaking through violently or you can try passing through subtly, then:

  • If you want the violent option you have to deal with its armor and structure ratings as any other barrier, that means you can use physical means for destroying a mana barrier? Using guns or melee weapons? On the next page there is a red box titled Breaking mana barriers: going to the source that points to the fact of destroying the physical link of the barrier (a glyph or something), and that makes sense, but Im a bit unclear on the means of the first statement

  • If you want to pass subtly you have to make Magic+Charisma[Astral] vs barrier's Force x 2 opposed test, if you get hits, you can pass, but it also says: You can bring a number of friends, spirits, active foci, sustained spells, or other astral forms with you, one for each net hit you score. So:

    1. What happens with bound spirits that are not summoned? If you have a bound spirit, you can dismiss him and call him after you pass the barrier?

    2. Can the foci be "turned off" pass the barrier and then "turn it on"?

    3. What means friends? Not awakened characters have to check or pass with the help of the hits of the magician? The barrier alerts the magician owner of the barrier if a non-awakened character passes?

If there is a version that explains better this struggle of passing mana barriers I would like to know to see if I can get ideas or adapt the rules.

Bonus question: When a focus is "disrupted" for being forced to pass a barrier and failed his check, is totally broken or it recover over time or something?

Best Answer

The wording of the section on Mana Barriers is talking about magical force to break through the barrier, not physical force. The comparison it makes to any other physical barrier is to inform you to use the same system for tracking damage to the barrier.

On page 315 in the entry you mention there is a chart which describes the caster's options for where the barrier will be present, and lists the specific page governing the spell or effect which causes the barrier. Mana Barrier itself can be found on page 294 of the 5th Edition core rules, and describes a barrier which does not prevent the passage of non-living (physical objects) or living things unless they are 'magically active.' For comparison, the next listed spell is Physical Barrier.

Unbound/uncontrolled spirits active in the area are affected by the barrier and have to contend with it like anyone else. Whether or not a summoning could take place on the other side of the barrier would very much depend on the situation and the barrier.

If a mage (or other affected being) desires to pass or have an item which is affected pass through the mana barrier they have three choices:

  1. The subtle way is trying to magically bypass it as described on page 316, where every additional hit allows them to slip other affected items or beings through with them. This is described as pressing through the barrier, much like Dune's 'the slow knife will penetrate the shield.' This approach does not automatically notify the creator of the barrier

  2. The forceful way is to target the barrier with damage-causing magics. This is handled 'just as you would with any other barrier,' by dealing with its Armor and Structure ratings. These ratings are equal to the Force of the mana barrier. The barrier must be overcome in one Combat Turn or else its Structure refreshes. This approach automatically notifies the creator of the barrier.

  3. The third option (page 317, sidebar) is to attack the source or basis of the barrier. In other words you can deal with the anchor, destroy the lodge, or geek the mage responsible for sustaining the barrier. With the source out of the way, the barrier is no longer a problem. This approach, if it brings down the barrier, will notify the creator automatically.

These choices are the same regardless of where the barrier is on the Astral Plane, on the Physical Plane, or on both.

Mundane gear and allies are unaffected by Mana Barriers.

Affected beings or items cannot normally pass through the barrier, unless they Press past it or bring it down. In some cases a mundane object may force them through the barrier (page 316) in which case they must pass an Opposed Test or be disrupted.

The effects of disruption are listed in the Astral Intersections passage on page 316. Foci are deactivated, spells end, spirits are dispelled, and living beings are Stunned. Afterward, foci can be reactivated, spells can be cast again, spirits can be summoned again, and living beings will recover from Stun... providing the owner of the mana barrier gives them the time to do all of this.

No amount of time is listed as a penalty for passing through a mana barrier, just the condition resulting from that intersection. Using the details of that imposed condition indicates a deactivated focus can be reactivated by the person it is bonded to as a Simple Action - if they are conscious. Likewise, spells and spirits can become available again in the time it takes to call them forth. Living Beings will recover from Stun normally.

Related Topic