View Full Version : What are all the types of damage in DnD/D20?

2010-04-25, 02:47 AM
What are all the different types of damage that can be used?

I'm working on an ability that lets something expand the type of damage it can deal with its attack and I'm looking for all the possible options. Even random and weird damage types are acceptable, but keep in mind I'm looking for types that have used in actual DnD/D20 supplements not random things like "cupcake damage".

so far I've got

Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing, Fire, Cold, Electricity, Acid, Sonic, Force, Divine, Profane, Desiccation (by far the most obscure, this is damage that comes from aridness or dehydration, i saw it in sandstorm), Positive/Negative energy Nonlethal/subdual...

Im sure im missing some obvious ones but if i did, please fill the gap

Kuma Kode
2010-04-25, 03:23 AM
There's also Vile, from the Book of Vile Darkness.

Holy, Unholy, Axiomatic, Anarchic...

d20 Modern has Ballistic which is sometimes used in D&D settings with gunpowder.

2010-04-25, 04:26 AM
There are three basic meta-categories:

* Physical: bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing.

Some DMs consider falling/collision damage to be a special case of bludgeoning damage. d20 modern introduces ballistic as a fourth class of physical damage.

* Energy: acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic.

Some sources list lightning instead of electricity, but it's really the same thing. The various abilities that allow energy damage types to be swapped around are generally limited to these five.

* Arcane Principles: force, negative, and positive.

4e lists radiant and necrotic instead of positive and negative. Personally, I consider force to be a bit of a weird one. It's really just a way of saying "blidgeoning and slashing and piercing (whichever physical type is most advantageous to the attacker) that can hit ethereal and gaseous creatures".

* Aligned Principles: divine, profane, axiomatic, and anarchic.

This was a bit of a kludge introduced to make "really hot" fires that can hurt fire giants. Personally, I'd remove these from the game's list, and just say that any creature with "immunity to energy type X" actually has "energy resistance X 30", unless it is literally made of that energy type.

Holy and vile are really just synonyms for divine and profane. Axiomatic and anarchic do for law and chaos what divine and profane did for good and evil. Again, these weren't so much a damage type as a label that exists solely for interactions with damage reduction.

* Others: dessication.

Had this been included in the core rules and not Sandstorm, it would most likely have been listed as a energy type alongside electricity and cold. It's unique among dmage types in that it has a special effect intrinsically associated with it.

* Lethality: lethal, non-lethal.

3.0e uses the term subdual damage instead of non-lethal damage. This item is essentially a modifier that appears in conjunction with one of the other types listed above. There is no such thing as an attack that merely does "non-lethal damage". It might not be explicitly specified in the rules, but there's always an implicit assumption of "non-lethal fire/cold" for environmental damage, "non-lethal bludgeoning" for a sap, and so on.

2010-04-25, 05:59 AM
On the subject of aligned principles, there's also the sanctified damage type; found in the Book of Exalted Deeds. It deals 1 extra point of damage to evil creatures or 1d4 points of damage to evil outsiders and evil undead. It presumably works similar to vile damage, in that such damage must be healed within an area that has been desecrated.

2010-04-25, 10:04 AM
Ability damage. :smalltongue:

2010-04-25, 12:35 PM
Crushing damage

Lix Lorn
2010-04-25, 12:48 PM
I think I read somewhere that there's Hellfire, Frostburn, Desiccation and...one more I forget the name of, which are souped up versions of fire, cold, earth and sonic that function the same as they normally do, just they ignore damage reduction and immunity.

2010-04-25, 01:00 PM
Holy and vile are really just synonyms for divine and profane.

Not at all correct. Vile Damage, appearing in Book of Vile Darkness, has a whole bunch of special rules associated with it.

Vile damage, like regular damage, results in the loss of hit point or ability score points. Unlike regular damage, vile damage can only be healed by magic cast within the area of a Consecrateor Hallow spell. Vile damage represents such an evil violation to a character's body that only in a holy place can healing magic repair the damage.

Anyway, you can also add Sanity damage to this list if you're playing in a campaign that uses the Sanity system.

2010-04-25, 01:06 PM
As a subset of ability damage, poison and disease.

Negative levels reduce hit points.

There's lots of untyped damage from various spells. For example, phantasmal killer deals 3d6 damage on a successful save just by scaring the target.

There's falling damage.

Damage from inability to breathe, such as drowning/suffocating/smoke inhalation


Real Sorceror
2010-04-25, 03:54 PM
Divine damage is not an alignment principle. It deals directly with the gods, good or evil. Any deity or cleric can deal divine damage through spells and salient powers like Divine Blast, regardless of alignment. Its meant to be the be-all-end-all damage type that hurts everything (I believe the Defiant prestige class and Divine Shield are the only things that provides immunity/resistance to it).

In the list of special damage, I would also include Taint.

Lix Lorn
2010-04-25, 04:06 PM
I think Divine damage is considered untyped in core rules, and nothing's immune to it.

2010-04-25, 04:39 PM
Just to be clear on this.

Divine - Untyped but named. If you were immune to the divine like some Elder Evils, you'd be immune to it.

Sacred - "Good" divine energy. No real notes.

Profane - "Bad" divine energy. No real notes.

Holy - Good divine energy. Harms evil normally, half damage to neutral, if it applies, and no damage to good targets.

Unholy - Evil divine energy. Harms good normally, half damage, if it applies, to neutral and no damage to evil creatures.

Sanctified - Holy damage that cannot be healed naturally and healing magic only sticks in an Unsanctified area

Vile - Unholy damage that cannot be healed naturally and healing magic only sticks in a Sanctified area.

Last i checked, there weren't lawful or chaotic versions of anything other than Holy/Unholy. I have seen Sacred/Holy and Profane/Unholy resistances before, but never on a Wizards product.

Bleeding - is a keyword on damage. It's untyped physical damage that applies at the end of each round. It was used as an actual damage type in Pathfinder but has been pretty much that for a long time.

2010-04-25, 05:17 PM

Because piercing is different.

Bullets rip holes into people then starts tumbling around. It will possibly fragment and then those fragments tumble around. This doesn't account for the differences of hollow-points or other kinds of rounds either.

Bulletproof vests don't stop knives unless they're specifically designed with that goal in mind.

Crossbows might fall under the category of "ballistic" because of the wound trauma involved.

2010-05-04, 02:41 PM
Crossbows are still piercing weapons. Bullets fall under Ballistic damage because they are a projectile moving at high speed, and can be stopped by materials that can absorb energy and stop a high speed solid projectile. Thus, they rely on the actual impact of the projectile to do the damage. This sets them apart from bludgeoning weapons, as bludgeoning weapons rely on a force crushing an object, where bullets require sheer velocity. Crossbows are still piercing weapons, because at the end of the day the bolt requires the ability to pierce armor on it's own.

In short, armor does not stop a long metal pointy thing. Pointy = piercing.

2010-05-04, 04:23 PM
Negative levels reduce hit points.

Energy drain, ability damage, and ability drain are all explicitly considered kinds of damage in their own right by RAW, but somehow, I think the OP only intended hitpoint and nonlethal damage to be within his scope.

Bullets fall under Ballistic damage because they are a projectile moving at high speed, and can be stopped by materials that can absorb energy and stop a high speed solid projectile.

Not so. Put enough crap in the way of a bullet, and it will stop.

The reason a bullet does a 'different' kind of damage to a crossbow is that the exact behaviour of a bullet isn't easy to predict. The bullet could lodge in someone, it could break up and shred an organ, it might snap a bone or do innumerable nasty things.

It does a different kind of damage because it doesn't fit into one of the existing pidgeonholes. That's all.

For future reference, a ballistic vest - especially one of the heavier ones designed to catch rifle rounds - can resist a knife blow, it's just a lot less than ideal.

2010-05-04, 08:40 PM
not sure if im right about this but there might be "untyped" damage. :P

2010-05-05, 06:19 AM
not sure if im right about this but there might be "untyped" damage. :P

A bunch of spells do this, actually. Searing Light, Vampiric Touch, Disintegrate, etc.