Split Energy Damage


Rules Questions


This question came about as to dealing with a lightsaber replacement in the talk about the Technology Guide, but it applies to other aspects as well.

For example, Plasma weapons deal spit fire/shock damage; it's also an option via the Elemental Spell metamagic feat. I'm sure there are other examples, but these are the ones that come immediately to mind.

The question is, how does the split energy damage deal with things like hardness?

The pseudo-lightsaber is a +1 brilliant energy, flaming burst, ghost touch, shocking burst mithral bastard sword. How does the energy damage interact with hardness in such a situation? Is each die of energy damage (1d6 fire, 1d6 shock, plus 1d10 fire and 1d10 shock in the case of a critical) applied separately, or all together?

For example, wood has hardness 5 and 10 hp per inch. If a weapon with flaming burst and shocking burst were to strike the piece of wood, would it deal 1d6 halved (1d3) fire and 1d6 halved (1d3) shock damage before hardness, or would you add the fire and shock damage together before applying hardness?

If the former case (added separately) the energy damage can't overcome the hardness and deals no damage. In the latter case, it could overcome the hardness (by 1 point) and deal some damage.

This is important as Robots use hardness instead of DR (unlike Golems) so a Plasma Weapon might be functionally useless against a robot, if the former is the case, or barely functional, in the latter case.


Well, being a brilliant energy weapon it shouldn't interact with anything that has hardness like constructs or objects.

And since it can't hit them, the energy type damage never gets applied either.

Brilliant energy sounds awesome, but its way too situational. The only way I've seen it used is with a paladin's bonded weapon, so he can choose each time he uses the bond whether to apply that enhancement or not. Otherwise, it becomes a liability.

Also, you shouldn't combine ghost touch and brilliant energy. Brilliant energy says you can't harm undead either, so ghost touch will be invalidated by it except for living incorporeal creatures (if there are any.)


I'm not entirely sure this should be a Rules Question forum, but here we are, and that's fine.

Just for the curious, this revolves around a series of posts starting before this one, but with that close enough to the early part that it doesn't make a difference. Ultimately, we're talking about building lightsabers.

Anyway, ignoring the brilliant energy part of the question then:

Does the energy damage stacked (and thus dealing 2d6/2 (or 2d10/2)) or is each iteration resolved separately to create 1d3 v. 5 and then 1d3 v. 5?


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Claxon wrote:

Well, being a brilliant energy weapon it shouldn't interact with anything that has hardness like constructs or objects.

And since it can't hit them, the energy type damage never gets applied either.

Brilliant energy sounds awesome, but its way too situational. The only way I've seen it used is with a paladin's bonded weapon, so he can choose each time he uses the bond whether to apply that enhancement or not. Otherwise, it becomes a liability.

Also, you shouldn't combine ghost touch and brilliant energy. Brilliant energy says you can't harm undead either, so ghost touch will be invalidated by it.

That is a point, yes, but it was just a specific weapon.

Say the weapon is a +1 flaming burst, shocking burst bastard sword instead. How would that work?

Or, so as to forgo the additional damage form the weapon and strength, how about something like an Elemental Spell scorching ray that deals 2d6 fire and 2d6 shock damage, instead of 4d6 fire damage, on a hit?


Tacticslion wrote:

I'm not entirely sure this should be a Rules Question forum, but here we are, and that's fine.

Just for the curious, this revolves around a series of posts starting before this one, but with that close enough to the early part that it doesn't make a difference. Ultimately, we're talking about building lightsabers.

Anyway, ignoring the brilliant energy part of the question then:

Does the energy damage stacked (and thus dealing 2d6/2 (or 2d10/2)) or is each iteration resolved separately to create 1d3 v. 5 and then 1d3 v. 5?

While we were, ultimately, talking about lightsabers, the question and answer applies to more than just the specific weapon.

I mentioned Robots and plasma weapons in the OP, because Robots have hardness. All of the robots published in the Inner Sea Bestiary have hardness 10, so a plasma weapon might be a bad choice to use against robots. Energy weapons in general would be a bad choice because the damage is automatically halved before damaging a robot, but more-so for plasma weapons.

So the outcome of this question has an important rules factor tied into the upcoming Iron Gods and Technology Guide products.


Sure, I agree with that part. Thus I'm not complaining, only noting the possible problem with it's location that some might have. We're cool, though, at least on my end.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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As it turns out, robots are not objects—they're creatures. And as such, energy damage is not halved when applied to them. That bit about halving energy damage is a quality of an object, not a quality of Hardness. (And in my opinion... it's a kind of silly rule anyway—the idea that fire deals half-damage to paper is ridiculous.)

A plasma weapon used against a robot subtracts 10 points from the total damage done for its hardness 10. For sake of ease, it's best to say it subtracts 5 from the fire and 5 from the electricity, with any leftover (in a case where something does less than 5 fire or 5 electricity) applying to the other damage type.

And in fact, anything that deals electricity damage (including plasma) is a pretty solid choice against robots, due to their electricity weakness.


Indeed, creatures wouldn't benefit from the caveat that objects that half-damage from energy so it doesn't apply.

Apply full energy damage of each type against the hardness.


James Jacobs wrote:

As it turns out, robots are not objects—they're creatures. And as such, energy damage is not halved when applied to them. That bit about halving energy damage is a quality of an object, not a quality of Hardness. (And in my opinion... it's a kind of silly rule anyway—the idea that fire deals half-damage to paper is ridiculous.)

A plasma weapon used against a robot subtracts 10 points from the total damage done for its hardness 10. For sake of ease, it's best to say it subtracts 5 from the fire and 5 from the electricity, with any leftover (in a case where something does less than 5 fire or 5 electricity) applying to the other damage type.

And in fact, anything that deals electricity damage (including plasma) is a pretty solid choice against robots, due to their electricity weakness.

Thanks, James! So, let me be clear: you sum the damage, than halve the total energy portion (splitting it evenly between that which is damaged) instead of reducing the dice of the energy portion, yes?

Also worth considering, that Animated Objects, although creatures by PF definition, use some Object rules. Thus, I can see that there is some precedent to ask the question.

I've always wondered why the "half damage from energy rule is in place. :/

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Tacticslion wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

As it turns out, robots are not objects—they're creatures. And as such, energy damage is not halved when applied to them. That bit about halving energy damage is a quality of an object, not a quality of Hardness. (And in my opinion... it's a kind of silly rule anyway—the idea that fire deals half-damage to paper is ridiculous.)

A plasma weapon used against a robot subtracts 10 points from the total damage done for its hardness 10. For sake of ease, it's best to say it subtracts 5 from the fire and 5 from the electricity, with any leftover (in a case where something does less than 5 fire or 5 electricity) applying to the other damage type.

And in fact, anything that deals electricity damage (including plasma) is a pretty solid choice against robots, due to their electricity weakness.

Thanks, James! So, let me be clear: you sum the damage, than halve the total energy portion (splitting it evenly between that which is damaged) instead of reducing the dice of the energy portion, yes?

Also worth considering, that Animated Objects, although creatures by PF definition, use some Object rules. Thus, I can see that there is some precedent to ask the question.

I've always wondered why the "half damage from energy rule is in place. :/

In most cases, splitting the two energy types individually isn't needed. In the case of a robot, it is because they have additional effects when they are damaged by electricity.

But yeah, you never reduce the actual dice.

And I'm not seeing anything in the animated object's description about them taking half damage from energy attacks at all; they're treated the same as any construct. (I believe at one point conflicting information was presented in the Core Rulebook, but that was an error that we've long since errataed out of the game.)


Ah! Thanks! I probably have an older edition, so that makes a lot of sense that it was an erratta! :D

I love how responses you guys are.

... I really wish I could go to the various cons.

I give hugs! :D
... but it's unlikely for me to go. Ah, well. Maybe next year. Or decade.

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