Damage Types / Spells dealing Physical Damage - A Serious Question, Designers Please Chime In!!!


Rules Questions


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

I cant help but notice there are some spells in the Core Rulebook that deal damage types other than energy, and while normally spells never count Damage Reduction, I feel there is validity in the following arguement I present.

Spells like Ice Storm deals 3d6 bludgeoning and 2d6 cold damage, and Wall of Thorns deals a flat 25 points of piercing damage minus armor, etc.
There are more spells like these though the Spell Compendium for 3.5 and in the Core Rulebook, but my question is this.

Specifically, a spell called Splinterbolt for Druids/Rangers in the Spell Compendium stated it dealt 4d6 piercing damage, and went on to explain it counted as piercing and magic for bypassing Damage Reduction qualities.

If this is the case that spells that deal bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage, are counted as that type plus bypass magic Damage Reduction, then would the 3d6 bludgeoning damage of an Ice Storm be counted as bludgeoning and magic by that logic, and the Wall Of Thorns deal damage that counted as piercing and magic. If so, then it would mediate the spells that deal this 'weaponlike' kind of damage.

For example, you cast Ice Storm on a group of enemy undead, lets say in this instance, a mixed group of Zombies and Skeletons.
Zombies have Damage Reduction 5/Slashing and Skeletons have Damage Reduction 5/Bludgeoning AND have Immunity to Cold.
In an Ice Storm, what would suffer damage and from what source?, the way I see it the Zombies would suffer cold damage normally and reduce the bludgeoning damage by 5 on accout of Damage Reduction and the Skeletons would be immune to the cold damage and reduce nothing from the blodgeoning damage. This seems (to me), pretty fair and accurate.

And if so, should apply to other spells that deal 'bludgeoning/slashing/piercing' damage in their descriptions. Otherwise I could very well envision someone making up a spell that summons a swarm of conjured arrows that each would deal 1d8 piercing damage and be reduced by nothing by this logic, even though it is still piercing damage. Or they would create a spell that summoned a large spinning blade that travelled along a linear path like a Lightning Bolt that cleaved into anything along that path and deal Xd6 slashing damage (and again be reduced by nothing). Spells like these (if they should ever be made) and spells like Ice Storm/Wall Of Thorns should me mediated by Damage Reduction as 'magic' weaponlike damage of that variety...this is fair and game balanced after all.

Nothing worse than having some 'loophole' damage type, because nothing would be immune to 'piercing' damage caused by the Wall Of Thorns otherwise...and what about creatures like Oozes, some varieties Split when the wrong damage type is used against them, I'd safely say that since the damage type is very specifically called out in the spells they are designed to function as magical slashing/piercing/bludgeoning damage types instead.

That would bring such spells into balance with the system.


PRD wrote:
Spells, spell-like abilities, and energy attacks (even nonmagical fire) ignore damage reduction.

Not saying it's logical or even intended, but unless the spell states otherwise, it ignores DR even if it deals piercing/slashing/bludgeoning damage.


Zurai wrote:
PRD wrote:
Spells, spell-like abilities, and energy attacks (even nonmagical fire) ignore damage reduction.
Not saying it's logical or even intended, but unless the spell states otherwise, it ignores DR even if it deals piercing/slashing/bludgeoning damage.

A player in my group used Ice Storm on such a group of Undead, while the Skeletons were immune to the Cold damage (no question there), I felt it weird to deal the bludgeoning damage to the Zombies without their DR...since its feasible to assume the bludgeoning damage caused by the hail of the Ice Storm would be counted as Magic & Bludgeoning for DR purposes, against the Zombies which had simply DR 5 /Slashing, I dont see how small amounts of Bludgeoning damage of any variety could hurt them with their unique damage reduction.

I have no problems with the RAW, but I'm just wondering what the designers think of this loophole.

I can see mages creating spells that mimic Fireball but that detonates sending (piercing damage) shrapnel everywhere that while it still allows a Reflex save, it wouldnt be reduced by anything and it wouldnt allow SR (as most but not all spells of the Damage Type variety do, Ice Storm is a sole exception to this from the spells that deal this kind of damage i've seen so far).
Thats my problem, its almost as bad as the whole Acid/Sonic Energy Substitution mages who cast Acid/Sonic Damage fireballs and so forth from 3.0/3.5 given that few if anything was really immune to it.
But the difference is, the rules were clear about Sonic/Acid damage and how they applied to resistances/immunities/vulnerabilities, but spells that deal this kind of 'weaponlike' damage dont have ANY mitigating factors from what it seems from the RAW, and I can forsee armies of spellcasters going to their labs to construct spells that deal these kinds of damage to get around pesky resistances (that wouldnt be game balancing though, Fireball and other energy type spells would be second class to these by that logic).


splinterbolt is an exception to the normal rules, damage from spells ignored damage reduction unless the spell itself specifically mentions that it does not (as splinterbolt does). The wording in splinterbolt is not meant to be a blanket statement about spells and damage reduction... that blanket statement is spelled out where Zuria quoted, individual spells might work differently then that blanket statement when explicitly stated in the spell though (as with splinterbolt). it has always been the case that individual spells/items/abilities/etc can override the broader more general rules for such things when given a specific exception.


The way I interpret the RAW is:

- Spells are not subject to DR unless they deal one of the 'physical' types of damage (piercing, bludgeoning, slashing).
- Unless the spell specifically mentions it, the physical damage type is not treated as 'magic' for the purpose of overcoming DR.

(edit) As cwslyclgh says, it's just a matter of rules vs. exceptions.


Another question I have then would be...

If a creature was for some reason, Immune to that damage type (bludgeoning/piercing/slashing) and you hit them with a spell that dealt this kind of damage, would they ignore it?, and what about in the cases of certain Oozes which uniquely 'Split' when hit with the applicable damage type?

The problem I am having is, while I understand its not written definitively in black and white in Pathfinder, to me, if you take into account Immunity and the Split quality, then so should you take into account Damage Reduction since 'bludgeoning/piercing/slashing' damage is physical damage which is something spells dont usually cause, and is in itself a contradiction of the rule regarding Damage Reduction since it causes physical, not energy type damgage.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

7 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Staff response: no reply required. 11 people marked this as a favorite.

When a spell mentions that a specific type of damage caused is bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing, that DOES have to overcome a creature's DR. Some spells create magic effects, while others use magic to create physical effects; that's a major theme of conjuration magic (and creation magic in particular).

If you hit an ooze with the Split ability with the appropriate type of damage, be that from a spell or weapon, it will split.

And if you drop a spell that, say, does piercing damage on something with damage reduction like 5/bludgeoning, that piercing damage will get offset by the damage reduction.

Casting ice storm on a mix of zombies and skeletons would indeed be complex. The zombies would reduce the damage taken from the bludgeoning portion of the spell but take full damage from the cold, while the skeletons would just ignore the cold damage entirely and take full damage from the bludgeoning.

MOST spells don't inflict bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage at all. And most spells don't inflict multiple types of damage either. Lightning bolt, for example, just causes electricity damage. It bypasses DR entirely but not electricity resistance or electricity immunity. And unless the spell description says so specifically, bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage it inflicts is not automatically also treated as bypassing magic. Again; the damaging object is CREATED by magic and PROPELLED by magic, but is not in and of itself magic.

A spell that conjures a flight of arrows that deals piercing damage should be reduced by DR/bludgeoning or slashing. If it doesn't, then that spell's damage type shouldn't be listed as piercing at all, but untyped damage. Spells and effects that do untyped damage are pretty rare in Pathfinder, since these spells are quite powerful since their damage can't be stopped by any form of immunity, resistance, or damage reduction.


James Jacobs wrote:
A spell that conjures a flight of arrows that deals piercing damage should be reduced by DR/bludgeoning or slashing. If it doesn't, then that spell's damage type shouldn't be listed as piercing at all, but untyped damage.

I agree in concept with the rest of your post (with the caveat that it needs to be stated in the rules), but not with this statement. There are plenty of reasons for a spell to deal piercing damage but bypass DR. A good example is the aforementioned ooze. The spell might bypass the DR of a hypothetical ooze that has DR/slashing or bludgeoning, but still the "effect" of the spell is similar enough to piercing damage that effects that trigger off of piercing damage normally, such as splattering nasty blood or splitting an ooze, would occur.


James... I can certainly accept that (in fact it is only logical), but it really, really needs to be written into the rules someplace if it is intended to work like that, looks like more errata.

Sovereign Court

That is a complete 180 from the way it worked in 3.5. Ice Storm only split the damage types to allow for the spell to do damage even against creatures with resistance or immunity. And the Conjuration angle doesn't hold water as Ice Storm is Evocation [cold]...

--Vrock of Ice


King of Vrock wrote:

That is a complete 180 from the way it worked in 3.5. Ice Storm only split the damage types to allow for the spell to do damage even against creatures with resistance or immunity. And the Conjuration angle doesn't hold water as Ice Storm is Evocation [cold]...

--Vrock of Ice

Sorry that is exactly how it worked in 3.x and nothing in PFRPG changed the way it would work. Which is also why their is no need for Errata either. Errata is for when their was a mistake put into the rules. What James is saying is not changing or fixing any mistakes he is just doing a nice job of explaining the way it works using different wording.


Zurai wrote:
... A good example is the aforementioned ooze. The spell might bypass the DR of a hypothetical ooze that has DR/slashing or bludgeoning, but still the "effect" of the spell is similar enough to piercing damage that effects that trigger off of piercing damage normally, such as splattering nasty blood or splitting an ooze, would occur.

If the damage is piercing then it does not matter WHAT or WHERE the damage is coming from as its piercing damage. Which means against a creature with DR 10/Slashing or Bludgeoning it would have to do MORE than 10 points of damage to get through or it will be resisted.

This is no different from a creature with Acid Resistance that gets hit with Acid damage. It does not matter what is doing the acid damage it will get resisted.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Zurai wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
A spell that conjures a flight of arrows that deals piercing damage should be reduced by DR/bludgeoning or slashing. If it doesn't, then that spell's damage type shouldn't be listed as piercing at all, but untyped damage.
I agree in concept with the rest of your post (with the caveat that it needs to be stated in the rules), but not with this statement. There are plenty of reasons for a spell to deal piercing damage but bypass DR. A good example is the aforementioned ooze. The spell might bypass the DR of a hypothetical ooze that has DR/slashing or bludgeoning, but still the "effect" of the spell is similar enough to piercing damage that effects that trigger off of piercing damage normally, such as splattering nasty blood or splitting an ooze, would occur.

That's overcomplicating things though. If you want a spell to overcome a specific DR, it's just as easy and more graceful to say "this spell inflicts untyped damage that overcomes all DR" than "this spell inflicts piercing damage but bypasses DR."


ShadowChemosh wrote:

If the damage is piercing then it does not matter WHAT or WHERE the damage is coming from as its piercing damage. Which means against a creature with DR 10/Slashing or Bludgeoning it would have to do MORE than 10 points of damage to get through or it will be resisted.

This is no different from a creature with Acid Resistance that gets hit with Acid damage. It does not matter what is doing the acid damage it will get resisted.

You clearly did not read my post.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

cwslyclgh wrote:
James... I can certainly accept that (in fact it is only logical), but it really, really needs to be written into the rules someplace if it is intended to work like that, looks like more errata.

It's not errata. It's additional explanation to clarify the way rules work—that's a FAQ if it's anything. Saying something does piercing damage IS saying that it's blocked by damage that blocks piercing damage. That's pretty much ALL saying something deals piercing damage says, since hit points don't care how the damage is inflicted.


James Jacobs wrote:
That's overcomplicating things though. If you want a spell to overcome a specific DR, it's just as easy and more graceful to say "this spell inflicts untyped damage that overcomes all DR" than "this spell inflicts piercing damage but bypasses DR."

Honestly, it's easiest to leave the rules as they're written, which is that spells overcome DR regardless of their damage type. Which is basically what I'm arguing for. It also prevents corner cases like "What if a spell inflicts both piercing and fire damage?" (for a hypothetical piercing-bolt-of-fire spell).


James Jacobs wrote:
That's pretty much ALL saying something deals piercing damage says

This is not true. There are all kinds of non-DR effects that occur based on damage type. It's entirely possible to have a creature with regeneration 10 (piercing), for example.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Zurai wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
That's pretty much ALL saying something deals piercing damage says
This is not true. There are all kinds of non-DR effects that occur based on damage type. It's entirely possible to have a creature with regeneration 10 (piercing), for example.

Good point.

Although I can't think of any example where this occurs, so it's sort of nothing more than a theoretical point.


James Jacobs wrote:
Zurai wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
That's pretty much ALL saying something deals piercing damage says
This is not true. There are all kinds of non-DR effects that occur based on damage type. It's entirely possible to have a creature with regeneration 10 (piercing), for example.

Good point.

Although I can't think of any example where this occurs, so it's sort of nothing more than a theoretical point.

Not for regeneration specifically, but there are other uses for the physical damage types than DR. Oozes splitting when they take slashing or piercing damage, for example.

Honestly, damage spells are bad enough without having to deal with both DR and energy resistance. Leaving them as written is best, in my opinion.


Zurai wrote:
.... Leaving them as written is best, in my opinion.

If we leave them as written then they work as James Jacobs is explaining. What your asking for is a nice house-rule and it may even make things faster, but its not how 3.x including PFRPG actually works.


Zurai wrote:
ShadowChemosh wrote:

If the damage is piercing then it does not matter WHAT or WHERE the damage is coming from as its piercing damage. Which means against a creature with DR 10/Slashing or Bludgeoning it would have to do MORE than 10 points of damage to get through or it will be resisted.

This is no different from a creature with Acid Resistance that gets hit with Acid damage. It does not matter what is doing the acid damage it will get resisted.

You clearly did not read my post.

I read it all right, but I guess I am getting something else out of it. it sure sounds like you want all spells to do SPELL damage that bypasses all DR regardless if it actually does physical damage(ie Bludgeoning, Slashing, or Piercing).

I was trying to explain why spells do not work that way as written. Sorry if I was not helpful...


James Jacobs wrote:
... It's additional explanation to clarify the way rules work—that's a FAQ if it's anything....

As you have such a nicely worded explanation I think I will add it to the FAQ actually.


Zurai wrote:


Honestly, damage spells are bad enough without having to deal with both DR and energy resistance. Leaving them as written is best, in my opinion.

+1

Not to mention the headache of asking what is overcome by what, and what isn't.

Regardless, this *is* a change from 3.5 rules and as such should be highlighted if it is indeed going to be the case.

When a new edition alters things from a prior one it should be done fairly clearly, otherwise the propagation of this knowledge will be spotty at best. This leads to a 'middle of the road' pseudo-system and muddies the waters on what is and what isn't intended. It makes arcane what should be and otherwise would be clear.

In short, it's not good for the system.

-James


This error in judgment is another reason I eagerly await an official compilation of rules corrections and clarifications, whether it be titled errata, FAQ, or whatever.

Zo


ShadowChemosh wrote:
Zurai wrote:
.... Leaving them as written is best, in my opinion.
If we leave them as written then they work as James Jacobs is explaining. What your asking for is a nice house-rule and it may even make things faster, but its not how 3.x including PFRPG actually works.

Sorry, what part of "Spells ignore damage reduction" says "Spells ignore damage reduction except when they don't"? It's an absolute statement. There are no exceptions made. The sentence is not, "Spells ignore damage reduction when they deal damage of types other than slashing, piercing, and bludgeoning". You may not like it and may not agree with it, but what is actually written on the page is that spells ignore DR, period, end of story.

EDIT: And further, this is a change from 3.5. From the official main 3.5 FAQ:

Quote:

How do spells like Evard’s black tentacles and ice storm

affect a creature with damage reduction overcome by magic
and bludgeoning? Do the tentacles and hailstones deal
magical bludgeoning damage?

Any damage dealt by a spell or other magical effect is
unaffected by damage reduction.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I just wanted to pipe in and say that this IS a change from they way v3.5 handled it, and if it is to be implemented officially in Pathfinder, it most definitely needs to make an appearance in the FAQ (or whatever official document/medium you guys decide to go with).


Actually, the rules are absolute except in cases where exceptions are made (the game is full of them such as...Attacks Of Opportunity, and how the Combat Reflexes feat changes how many AoO's per round you may take and allows you to make AoO's while flatfooted which the rules state you shouldnt be otherwise able to do but the feat allows you to do so), and a spell that deals Physical Damage should count Damage Reduction as both piercing/slashing/bludgeoning AND magic for bypassing DR purposes.
The game is full of these kind of absolute rules and gives 'exceptions' regularly, the rules stand as written unless any given example gives or presents an exception, which in this case clearly has happened. You dont get anything except Resistance/Immunity/Vulnerability against spells that deal Energy Damage, but never mentions what happens with regards to Physical Damage, ergo, you'd look up Damage Reduction in that case since it certainly applies to any and all forms of physical damage which in these cases, the spells clearly cause.

A spell that inflicts physical damage is in ITSELF an exception to the rule of thumb that most spells produce non-physical damaging effects that are energy based in some form. 'Piercing' is NOT a energy type, but the closest possible relation would be 'Force' since it is raw, pure energy but spells that use 'Force' damage clearly state it

Otherwise illogically, you have piercing/slashing/bludgeoning damage that doesnt count Damage Reduction, and if it didnt count damage reduction then it shouldnt affect Oozes causing them to split and it should not bother creatures with applicable Regeneration types. You cannot break down a damage type to only work in some ways and not others, damage types are absolute.

Damage Reduction and Resistance are very similar mechanics, one works against energy types and the other works against physical damage, which Wall Of Thorns/Ice Storm (partially, through the bludgeoning damage) deals. Otherwise as others have agreed, you'd have spells that deal physical damage and that ignore DR, which presents a unbalanced mechanic where spellcasters would want to create spells that exploit these damage types since they can never be reduced despite Damage Reduction/etc.

As for Black Tentacles, they do NOT mention bludgeoning damage in the spell description though logically it is implied. Since it doesnt have a 'type' it is purely 'magic/untyped' damage such as Disintegrate/Holy Smite/etc so it affects anything thats caught by the tentacles equally.

Most importantly, if these spells caused some non-physical kind of damage, this wouldnt even be a debate. If it caused untyped damage/magic damage it would not mention piercing damage in the spell descriptions, to do so implies the spell effect is clearly physical in nature and thusly affected by physical factors such as Damage Reduction.

Ultimately...Damage Types are not 'broken' down in any way to say they apply to one 'trigger' (such as the Oozes Split ability) and not the other applicable 'triggers' (regeneration, damage reduction, etc).

The Damage Type appies to anything that is named as affected by it, such as a Scorching Ray counts against Resistance (Fire) as well as would a nonmagical flaming torch, even though the sources are magical and physical, Resistance counts against both...so why not the other way around?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

+1

I didn't realize there was another thread for this same subject. I'm trying to get a response from devs too. ( well, by now its a moot point, i'm just trying to keep the threads alive. they're probably all on planes to Indianapolis now for gen con ).

I'm irritated by spells like Chord of Shards, evocation spells typically deal energy or force damage. Yet the spell deals piercing damage. Its the purview of conjuration spells to conjure rocks and deal bludgeoning / physical damage. but now rules-bleed has spread to my evocation spells. =(

I remember having arguments with other players in 3.5 about meteor swarm, that it wasn't subject to SR because it was a conjured rock and real fire not magic fire. And i'm having similar arguments at tables with spells that deal typed damage. James can say that a lot of spells in Pathfinder specify their damage type, but that's not true. 95% of the spells from the core book do not have typed damage other than energy types specified. As Princess pointed out, even Black Tentacles doesn't specify a type of damage, and bypasses SR.

However a good 60% of spells in new books, suppliments, APG, UM, DO have typed damage specified in the spell. even when adding a damage type runs counter to the school of magic that the spell is classified in.

If there were a solid methodology to adding types of damage to spells. please clarify that. and if types of damage are becoming part of the core rules that developers and designers adhere to when writing new material, then the Core Rule that spells bypass DR should be fixed.

THIS is the reason I play pathfinder. I could still be playing home games of 3.5, and house ruling everything. But there are developers and designers that have fixed a LOT of things that were broken in 3.5 or that just were uncharacteristically unfair. I play Pathfinder because you ( the developers ) got together and fixed the game.

Now please address and fix this rules-creep for spells.


Sorry, this kills the game. Every spell needs a week of litigation to determine exactly what it can do under every individual casting? I thought the rule was very clear.

Spells, spell like abilities, and energy attaks (Even from nonmagical fire) ignore damage reduction.

That is nothing like what has been ruled in this by the designer.


StarSlayer wrote:

Sorry, this kills the game. Every spell needs a week of litigation to determine exactly what it can do under every individual casting? I thought the rule was very clear.

Spells, spell like abilities, and energy attaks (Even from nonmagical fire) ignore damage reduction.

That is nothing like what has been ruled in this by the designer.

What JJ is saying is basically that if a spell says it inflicts piercing, bludgeoning or slashing damage it means that this is an exception to the general rule of spells overcoming DR.

If icestorm did not mention it inflicts bludgeoning damage specifically it would not be subject to DR, as it is it does give specific damage types and is subject to the rules for those damage types.


Well then, SKR actually answered this.

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