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

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If you ever played at least one game, you will undoubtedly 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 and answer some interesting questions on how to choose them (and why it is essential to do so) for your campaigns.

The Different Types of Damage in DnD 5e

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.

Physical Damages

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

Slashing damage

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

Piercing Damage

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

Bludgeoning Damage

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.

Poison and Acid Damage

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

Poison Damage

Poison damage is toxic from poisonous creatures, contaminated food and water, 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

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, particularly 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.

Environmental Damages

Fire and cold concerning damages derived from the presence of high and low temperatures, while Lightning damage is linked to the effects of the flow of electric currents (both natural and artificial).

Complete guide to the Damage Types in DnD 5e

Fire Damage

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

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.

Lightning damage

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 on the same water surface could suffer damage from an attack that would only hit one of them.

Damages Linked to Magic/Divine Spells

Radiant and necrotic are about two opposite “lights” and are often connected with concepts of “Light entities” and “Dark Entities”.

Radiant Damage

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

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.

Thunder Damage

Thunder damage is a resounding and echoing sound or magic explosion 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.

All the Different Types of Damage in DnD 5e (Dungeons and Dragons 5e)

Force Damage

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

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

Resistances, Immunities, Vulnerabilities

At this point, it’s essential 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 damage output.
  • Immunity: in this case, if a creature/character has an immunity regarding a type of damage he/she/it receives no damage.

How can a Game Master use Damage types to enhance their games?

A Game Master can then determine the monster’s damage output, namely the amount of damage it causes each round, because it directly affects its challenge rating and 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, a die expression can be used for a monster with one attack or 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 weapon’s size and the creature because if it uses an oversized weapon it deals extra dice of damage. Still, double if the monster is giant, 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. Consider the monster’s most effective attack if it has different attack options.

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

We hope this article has helped you understand the different types of damages available to you in a DnD 5e game. Each type of damage can be extremely useful in certain situations, so it is essential to understand how they work. But for now.. let’s play!


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