How do you describe DR to players?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

Scarab Sages

Hey, not sure where exactly to put this. Mostly wanted to know what the other GMs out there do about DR to let their players know that the attacks are doing less damage than they are rolling.

I can explain fairly well when they are using the correct thing "You hear a hissing as your cold iron weapon slices easily through the skin of the devil" or adamantine weapons getting through constructs hardness is fine, etc... Even this is difficult and sometimes monotonous and difficult with DR/Alignment, since there is nothing to describe.

So what do the GMs out there say? Do you let players know? Give me a few examples of what you guys do, cause I really struggle not sort of repeating myself.

Thanks GMs. :)

Scarab Sages

Most of the time, I just say "your hit doesn't do as much damage as you would have expected" and leave the details of how/why vague. When I do actually describe the effects, I vary my descriptions based on what seems appropriate for the situation. I.E. The nature of the weapon and the creature.


Well they need to know if there is DR.
So for some encounters you might describe how their weapons only make small/minor wounds or not even penetrate the skin (assuming the players don't overcome DR).

Dr/aligment - make a response from the devil - Your puny weapons can't harm me! WHAT! DAMN YOU! (we have a kinda laid back humours playing style)


Luckily my players are very good about picking up knowledge skills and asking for defensive stats when they roll it. So they are suprised by something having a resistance or DR and I dont have to put it in a fluffy roleplaying term.

In case I do I say something like "Your attacks seem less effective "

Liberty's Edge

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"You swing mightily, dealing a crushing blow. The creature shrugs it off, and continues its assault against you..."

Or someting like that.

Liberty's Edge

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I tend to describe it based on the type of creature and DR.

For things like Golems (adamantine): "your weapon bounces off ineffectively as if you had swung at a stone wall."

For Lycanthropes and Fey (Silver and Cold Iron) I will usually describe the wound closing up right behind the weapon as it is withdrawn. Granted, this could be confused with regeneration, but I'm okay with that. I would describe regeneration as happening more slowly though.

For Alignment related DR, I've usually gone with something along the lines of "you feel something almost malignant pressing against your attack and slowing it at the last moment."

Admittedly, this does sometimes give clues as to the type of DR needed to overcome the attack, but I think it is "realistic" enough that fighting a creature like this might give clues as to what might be more effective. Plus, my parties almost always load up on knowledge skills for weakness identifying purposes so as soon as DR is established they are making rolls to know the type anyway.

Scarab Sages

The Sweater Golem wrote:

I tend to describe it based on the type of creature and DR.

Thanks for the fantastic ideas people. I just like to describe combat a lot and was really irritated with my lack of DR related terms, this lot certainly gives me a fair few more!

I'm liking the malignant force slowing down the blade, that's been a real tough one.


I usually describe the effect of DR after a blow or two as an inability for mundane weaponry to penetrate or bite deeply; with the monster's resistance being either "minor", "moderate" or "strong" depending on whether the DR is /5, /10 or /15.

Bigtuna wrote:
Well they need to know if there is DR.

Amen. I've been in the rather frustrating position of having a GM neglect or flat out refuse to say when the PCs' blows are being turned aside by a creatures' DR; gleeful in the knowledge that the PCs are largely unable to damage his pet. This usually results in a pointlessly slow grind or character death with the GM smirking as if it's some sort of great joke the players will appreciate after the battle is over.

GMs take note: Damage Reduction only functions as a game mechanic if the PCs can quickly realize that their weapons are ineffective and they have the opportunity or had the foresight to acquire appropriate weapons with which to defeat a monster.

Sorry for ranting.

Scarab Sages

Amen. I've been in the rather frustrating position of having a GM neglect or flat out refuse to say when the PCs' blows are being turned aside by a creatures' DR;

Don't worry about the rant, I entirely agree. I was more wanting a fresh arsenal of comments which are more exciting than "it doesn't do as much as you thought" which doesn't really help when things such as d12 greataxes exist, with fluctuations much greater than 5 damage occur every round. At that stage it becomes "This creature has DR" which is just announcing the mechanics far too much for my personal flavor of GMing.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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I mix it up. Some monsters I describe it as the weapon just bouncing off. Others I describe as the weapon just passing through the monster harmlessly. Some I describe as the wounds healing partially even as they're inflicted. And others I describe as looking like normal, but that the monster doesn't seem phased at all by the attack.

Usually prompts a player to ask, "Does it look like it's fast healing or does it have DR?" At which point I have them make Knowledge checks. If they make the check to learn about the monster's defenses, I'll just tell them the DR in game terms.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

"The Skeleton's undead bones seem unnaturally resistant to your blow."

"The Zombie's rotting flesh absorbs the impact with little effect."

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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GM: You hit; roll damage.

Player: 17.

GM: The number 12, in a blocky white font, appears out of thin air above the monster's head for a second or two before vanishing again.

How's that? ;)


Jiggy wrote:
GM: The number 12, in a blocky white font, appears out of thin air above the monster's head for a second or two before vanishing again.

Funny, but that very thing actually happened to me in a tabletope game. My GM was using KloOge to map out our combat when I, being the one sitting closest to the screen, noticed that the tiny red damage number flashing over a monster's icon was five points less than a player had just dealt. I put two and two together and...

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