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Quick Guide to the Damage Types in D&D 5e

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TYPES OF DAMAGES

If you ever played at least one game, you will certainly know that there are thirteen different damage types in DnD 5e.

Damages, within Dungeons and Dragons, can often be intuitive, but it is not always easy to fully understand their applications and their consequences. For this reason, having a detailed guide about the types of damage, as well as applications, examples, and advice on how to operate, can be useful. 

With this guide, we will address all of them, as well as answer some interesting questions on how to choose them (and why it is important to do so) for your campaigns.

First of all, it is essential to list all the different types of damage in D&D 5e:

  • slashing, piercing, and bludgeoning
  • poison
  • acid
  • fire and cold
  • radiant and necrotic
  • lightning and thunder
  • force and psychic.

To better understand them, it is necessary to go to a simple description following the previous order.

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Slashing, piercing, and bludgeoning are damages linked to the “reception of objects” of different nature

Slashing damage is a cut, tear or laceration that the creature can receive for example, from a sword and a greataxe causing the bleeding.

Piercing damage is a hole in the body that can derive from a sharp and any pointy object as an arrow.

Bludgeoning damage is a blow that does not cause tearing or penetration but disorientation and may be caused by something hard like a hammer or a simple stick, because it is not important the mass but the hit. It includes falling and constricting. The player may fall from around 10ft, smash with a quarterstaff, and some others can cause the bludgeoning damage. Playing with knowledge and taking care of your power can help you survive the bludgeoning damage.

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Poison and acid could be seen as similar and be grouped together, but in reality, they are different damages with different consequences.

Poison damage is a toxic substance coming from poisonous creatures, contaminated food and water as well as noxious gases and harmful liquids. It can be taken, for example, from a poison spray or a tarantula’s attack. In some cases, the damage from poison can be associated with a (saving throw) that if failed, imposes the condition “poisoned” which leads the player to have a disadvantage on different shots, such as attack rolls and ability checks. There is a slight distinction between poison and venom based only on the mode of delivery.

Acid damage is an aggressive substance that can dissolve and corrode both the organic and the inorganic material in certain cases. Armor and weapons degradation, concerning the non-magical and in particular the metallic ones, may be associated with the acid damage to make him more powerful. Whenever the target is hit, his armor suffers a permanent cumulative malus of -1 to the armor class and if the latter is reduced to 10 it breaks. It can also degrade weapons in this way, but the difference is that the malus applies to the weapon if you want to attack a creature composed of acid, like a slime (Ooze). When the weapon’s bonus drops to -5 it will destroy.
In addition, can also block the regenerative effects of some creatures, like trolls.
Usually, when acid touches a surface that could be stone, wood or others, it creates bubbles, while when it touches a victim smoke is visible.

Fire and cold concerning damages derived from the presence of high and low temperature

Damage types in DnD 5e: how to use them

Fire damage is a natural element characterized by elevated temperature and may come from a fireball or an explosion. Also in this case can block the regenerative effects of some monsters such as the trolls and can singe hair and skin. Another key element to take into consideration is that Fire Damage, generally, do not burn its surroundings: this aspect must be specified

Cold damage is a pain caused by low temperature and can arrive from the frost with possible consequent hibernation and stiffening. Around it is also possible to notice the air that condenses and the fog similar to the one we emit. The Agathis of armor and cones of cold and frost rays can cause severe damage.

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Radiant and necrotic are about two opposite “lights”: the divine and the mortal.

Radiant damage is an intense light often associated with divine powers and celestial forces and can cause burns on the skin. It’s very effective against undead creatures because it can take away the possibility of rebirth and regeneration in different cases. The radiant damage type of DnD 5e includes also the spells of damaging rays. It consists of the sacred flame, moonbeam and some others. Usually, a divine Smits from the highest positions of the heavens can cause the issue. Moreover, it is similar to the sun that shears vampires’ skin.

Necrotic damage is a gloom of darkness possibly from the decay and death caused by, for example, a vampire touch. Generally, the undead can be resistant and immune to this type of damage.

Lightning and thunder are respectively caused by a high level of electricity and sounds.

Lightning damage is electrical energy that causes shock and stunning to the creatures’ body even by lightning during a storm. A wet or covered metal creature may have vulnerability or resistance to this condition. Many creatures present on the same water surface could suffer damage from an attack that otherwise would only hit one of them.

Thunder damage is a resounding and echoing sound or magic explosions that roars and stirs the earth causing damage to the auditory organs. In fact, are often associated with effects that make temporarily or permanently deaf affected creatures. Examples are the shockwaves and the soundwaves.

Finally, force and psychic are energies concentrated in a specific area

Force damage is magical energy focused on a single point, in fact, this damage comes almost always from magic such as a spiritual weapon or the clash with a magical barrier

Psychic damage is a telepathic ability that damages the mind of the victim, causing him a strong pain in his central neural system (the brain or an organ with a similar purpose). An example is the mind flayer’s ability called “XX” and the spell “magical missile”.

RESISTANCE, VULNERABILITY AND IMMUNITY

At this point, it’s important to explain resistance, vulnerability and immunity.

The creatures in Dungeons and Dragons may have abilities that make them resistant, vulnerable or immune to some types of damage.
Let’s see them more in detail:

  • Resistance: When a creature/character is resistant to a certain type of damage he/she/it receives half damage
  • Vulnerability: in this case, if a being is vulnerable to a specific type of damage, he/she/it receives double the output of the damage.
  • Immunity: in this case, if a creature/character has an immunity regarding a type of damage he/she/it receives no damage at all.
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How a Game Master can use Damage types to enhance their games?

A Game Master, then, can determine the monster’s damage output, namely the amount of damage it causes each round because it has a direct bearing on its challenge rating and it can be calculated in two ways.

  1. The table: using the Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating it’s possible to determine the number of damage the monster inflicts every round. It doesn’t matter how the damage is distributed, because, for example, the creature can damage with a single attack or with multiple attacks. 
  2. Damage on the Weapon: using this method, can be used a die expression, for a monster with one attack or die expressions for multiple attacks, to represent the damage that the creature causes with each attack. It is based on the weapon utilized.
    In addition, it is necessary to distinguish between a natural and a manufactured weapon, because in the first case you can decide how much damage it inflicts and also the type of damage, but in the second case the damage is directly linked to the weapon.
    Another distinction is about the size of the weapon and the creature because if it uses an oversized weapon it deals extra dice of damage, but double if the monster is large, triple is huge and quadruple if gargantuan. Always linked to this, a creature has a disadvantage on attack rolls if the weapon is used for a larger attacker.

 

After that, to determine a monster’s overall damage output, you have to take the average damage it inflicts with each of its attacks in a round and then add them together. In case it has different attack options, take into consideration the monster’s most effective attack.

Instead, if the damages vary from round to round, calculate the damages for the first three rounds. It’s important also not to forget damages during off-turns for example auras, reactions or lair actions.

CONCLUSIONS

We hope this article has helped you understand the different types of damages that are available to you in a DnD 5e game.

Each type of damage can be extremely useful in certain situations, so it is important to understand how they work. But for now.. let’s play!

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