Has anyone found a better way to explain / notate DR?

Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Going back to 3.0, my groups are consistently confused by DR. It seems very simple to me, but no matter how many times I explain it and/or get them to read the explanation in the book, they keep having the same questions over and over. I answer them, they get it for the rest of that session, but it never sticks. A week later the same people are asking the same questions as though that conversation never happened.

One issue is that I seem to be the only person I game with who gets the notation. Over and over, people are confused by the thing after the slash being what *overcomes* the DR, not what they get DR *against*. Even PCs who themselves have DR of some kind have repeatedly had this issue.

(I do not, as I have sometimes heard, ever describe say DR 10/Magic as "DR 10 against magic". When I catch my players doing this I try to discourage it. At one time I figured this was the source of the confusion. It's not; avoiding that language makes no difference.)

Another recurring problem is that, even when they get what overcomes the DR they're dealing with, they never never never seem to understand that the weapons they have aren't that thing. "But it's magic, doesn't that count as silver? But it IS made of steel (that's the same thing as cold iron, right?)! Why does it matter that it's not adamantine, it's magical/flaming/has a picture of a unicorn on it!" I'm exaggerating, but only slightly. Even when I temporarily get them into a state where they can accurately state what the relevant rule is, they keep, driven as far as I can tell entirely by wishful thinking, trying to make that rule have all kinds of exceptions it doesn't have.

Thirdly, once I *do* get them to understand the notation it just creates a new problem with those PCs I mentioned who have DR of their own. When someone has a DR type other than "magic", they keep wanting it to work against spells no matter how many times I repeat that DR only applies to physical/weapon damage, because "it doesn't say magic gets through it!". In this case sometimes I can't even get it through their heads for the duration of that session. I get someone to temporarily understand this and they're asking the same question again later that same session. AAAAAARGH!

These are not, in a general sense, dense or stupid people. They're smart, well-educated, and in some cases otherwise quite rules-savvy. Most of them have little trouble using sound tactics and sometimes they pull something genuinely brilliant out of their hats. They just DON'T GET DR.

I conclude that the notation must be at least partially at fault. Perhaps in some cases my explanations are too, but I mean... DR is not that complicated a concept, there's only so many ways to explain it and and I'm pretty sure I've tried them all. It doesn't seem to make a difference, at least not a *lasting* difference. In any case the bulk of the problem is not getting them to understand any particular explanation at the time, it's getting them to RETAIN that information.

Has anyone else had this issue and come up with some brilliant solution that solved it in a lasting way? Or think they might have one regardless of their personal experience of the issue, or lack thereof? It's frustrating me out of all proportion to its seriousness (if I'm honest it's a much smaller issue than I'm making it sound, I'm just grouchy about it right now) and I'm tired of answering the same questions every week.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

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(I apologize for the ugly pseudo-formatting; I can't get the formatting instructions to come up, as I've already reported in the Website Feedback forum. When I click the Show button, literally nothing happens.)

Try this: DR is a shortened version of "door". The number is the amount of weapon damage that it takes to break down the door and get to the target. The damage type after the / is the key to open the door and attack the target without reducing damage. Energy attacks have the key to open any door.

(I have the same issue with the show format button)

I'm not sure I have anything helpful to say, as I've never really experienced anyone that didn't understand how DR worked after the initial explanation. I've had plenty forget they had DR, or had problems with players subtracting DR from their damage and not tell me, so then I also subtract it. But I've never experienced beyond the initial explanation of "That's what bypasses it". Maybe just teach them, "Remember werewolves have DR/silver".

I remember having some trouble with the DR/Silver means Silver Bypasses DR, rather than DR vs silver, but it doesn't seem like it should be that hard to learn.

I think Claxon's explanation (Warewolves have DR/Silver) is a really good way to explain it.

It might be worth playing a 1-shot where everyone's Tieflings, so they're forced to understand the difference between DR and Energy Resistance.

Actually Energy Resistance works the opposite way to DR, it tells you the thing that WON'T work against it ... so that might be part of what's causing the confusion...?

DR and Hardness I find are the two ones difficult to explain. The werewolves example is spot on cause it's common lore, though I've occasionally taken it to simplest terms.

DR 5, the creature resists 5 damage from sources. /Slashing, except from slashing.

Zombies I find are the ones at fault, and how I described that is through logic. "It's rotting flesh. Poking it and giving it bruises isn't gonna do much. You gotta lop parts off."

EDIT: One of my tables actually has a corkboard up now because of rules arguements to keep the game running and not slow things down looking for specifics. Putting up a simple explanation like one of mine above so it's always visible may be the best way to do it. Easy to understand, and in layman's terms so there's no question.

I haven't had the issue, but it seems like things would be pretty clear if you pronounce the slash as "except": DR 5, except for magic. DR 15 except silver, etc.

mmmh? never had the issue, notating DR as amount/bypass condition seems the easiest and clearest way to me.

"DR is written as Strength then Weakness. The number is how much it is, and the text after that is what bypasses it."

Pretend you're a teacher in a class of children/young adults learning a new thing for the first time. How do we teach that? Repetition. Explain to them what DR is and how it works. Make them write it down in a few sentences. Proof their work, explain what they did wrong, make them do it again. Repeat until everything is correct. Every session, ask them to explain to you how DR works.

For bonus points, incorporate a carrot/stick situation. Oh, you nailed the concept of DR and retained the knowledge? Your character gets a +1 morale bonus to something this session. Jimmy keeps screwing up how DR works no matter what? Jimmy's character got a nasty case of pink eye from a dirty tavern room and takes a -1 on visual perception rolls this session.

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I tell people to read DR 5/magic as "Damage reduction 5 except against magic."

The "/" means weakness. They have DR 5 but silver is their weakness.

Maybe change DR to PDR Physical Damage Reduction to help clarify that spells usually bypass.

Dark Archive

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Your players are f**%ing with you.

jeffh wrote:
Even when I temporarily get them into a state where they can accurately state what the relevant rule is, they keep, driven as far as I can tell entirely by wishful thinking, trying to make that rule have all kinds of exceptions it doesn't have.

Then this isn't a textual or mechanical problem. It's an out-of-game problem, and you know what they say about out-of-game problems.

How about using the CRB monk as an example? It says right there in the KI pool: At 4th level, ki strike allows his unarmed attacks to be treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

If they forget, refer to the book or online instead of you.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Kind of a little confused. Why do your players care? Very few PC abilities grant anything other than DR/-. So they shouldn't be seeing DR/slashing to be confused by it.

If they're getting confused by you - as DM - saying "this monster has DR/slashing", then the answer is for you - as DM - to say "this monster has DR bypassed by slashing".

I suppose if you happen to have PCs with monster races and stuff where the do have DR/slashing etc, they could write "DR bypassed by slashing" on their character sheets. If they want to shorten it, they can just go ahead and learn the standard statblock short-hand. Y'know... DR/slashing.

I'm kind of with Ouranou.

It does sound like your players are just screwing with you.

Maybe try 'the slash stands for 'except from'. DR 5/slashing means 'Damage Reduction 5 except from slashing'

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When controlling their enemies, you don't need your players to understand or see the DR notation. It's not their job to calculate the impact of the DR on their attacks, it's yours. Just ask them what they're attacking with if you're not sure, and tell them "the enemy seems somewhat resistant to that attack". If they make a knowledge check say, "You think a Cold Iron weapon would be useful here."

You could also print out something like the following and stick it to their side of your GM screen (if you have one) to point at when they get it wrong:

A werewolf has DR/Silver; this means Damage Resistance that doesn't work against Silver weapons.

A +3 weapon defeats DR/Silver or DR/Cold Iron.
A +4 weapon defeats DR/Adamantine.
A +5 weapon defeats DR/Good or DR/Evil.

Damage Resistance can only apply to attacks that inflict Bludgeoning/Piercing/Slashing damage; it does not affect energy damage.

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Don't bother explaining how DR works vs your monsters/NPCs.
Just apply however much is applicable.

Don't bother explaining it over & over to the players about their characters. Jut tell them the adjusted damage total. Or just a total.... If they ask about the DR? Just tell them you already did the math.

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Just replace all DR in the game with DR/--

Then it will be easy to remember.

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Get outta the details, you.

I always refer to it as "DR bar XXXX," since "bar" can refer to both an exception and a straight object. Really, it's pictographic.


DR/xyz = "Damage Resistance except against XYZ"

The problem stems from listing something that you are not immune to. "I resist eating all food except cake." FOOD/cake. I take cake to the face - full force.

It got muddied along the way by mis-interpretations and mis-understandings and even a few rule re-writes which just made it work backwards (4.0?). Thankfully, it is easily understood once again.

If all else fails, tell them it works similar to regeneration. The monster regenerates from everything except what is listed after the /. the DR works against weapon damage except what is listed after the /. (and energy damage ignores DR)

You can check your players' wisdom scores by asking if they go to an airport to take a plane somewhere, do they arrive or depart? I mean, they are arriving at the airport, but they want to depart... (from "Big Trouble") If this makes them think about it for more than a minute, don't try explaining DR. Just do the calculations yourself. Sad how many people dumpstat Wisdom in real life.

The way I think of it is that the / represents "unless". DR 5/Adamantine is DR 5 unless the attack is Adamantine. Whatever is after the / is the exception to the DR. Several other people seem to agree.

Regarding your specific situation, it sounds like either your players are trying to cheat with a bad attempt at rules lawyering or they're just dense and can't remember things that have been explained over and over.

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

This thread feels weird. The OP shows up, asks a weird-ish question, is given eighteen or fifty-two different options, and is strangely silent for a week. I don't quite get it.

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