Ability damage and concentration check


Rules Questions


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Sorry if this has already been answered somewhere else. I was not able to find it. I have the following question: If you receive ability damage when casting a spell, do you have to do a concentration check? The rule says: "If you take damage while trying to cast a spell, you must make a concentration check with a DC equal to 10 + the damage taken + the level of the spell you're casting."

Many people by default read it as "hit point damage" but I can only see "damage", which is why I would think that a concentration check is required. But it would be great if somebody could point me to an official (or reliable) answer to this.

The situation that comes to my mind is, for example, being injured by the incorporeal touch of a shadow, that is Strength damage, while you are casting a spell.


Whenever the rules talk about a spell/attack/ability dealing damage, if the rule does not specify a specific damage type (eg, ability damage) then it is hit point damage. I don't see any reason to think the use of the word damage on the receiving side, without any qualifiers, would also mean anything besides HP damage. So RAW I believe concentration would only be HP damage.

That said, I do think it makes sense that at least mental score damage (int, wis, cha) could reasonably require a concentration check.

Liberty's Edge

It says "Injured while casting", and I disagree, "damage" isn't "hit point damage" by default. It is "damage (all kinds)" by default.

Quote:
Injury: If you take damage while trying to cast a spell, you must make a concentration check with a DC equal to 10 + the damage taken + the level of the spell you’re casting.
Quote:

Ability Score Damage, Penalty, and Drain

Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal damage directly to your ability scores. This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability.

I don't see a difference between damage and damage in the two phrases.


Diego Rossi wrote:

Quote:

Ability Score Damage, Penalty, and Drain

Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal damage directly to your ability scores. This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability.

I don't see a difference between damage and damage in the two phrases.

Let me expand your emphasis. Eg, they are specifically calling out ability damage here. I maintain that damage, without any qualifiers, is hit point damage. I concede that the use of the word damage in the conentration rules may be have been intended to go beyond HP damage. But it is very much an outlier if that was the intent.

Liberty's Edge

bbangerter wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:

Quote:

Ability Score Damage, Penalty, and Drain

Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal damage directly to your ability scores. This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability.

I don't see a difference between damage and damage in the two phrases.

Let me expand your emphasis. Eg, they are specifically calling out ability damage here. I maintain that damage, without any qualifiers, is hit point damage. I concede that the use of the word damage in the conentration rules may be have been intended to go beyond HP damage. But it is very much an outlier if that was the intent.

An outlier? In most instances it is clear that they are speaking of hp of damage, but why did Paizo feelt the need to explain that several abilities that increase damage only apply to hp and don't apply to other forms of damage? If the default was "hit point of damage" there was no need for the specification.


Diego Rossi wrote:
bbangerter wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:

Quote:

Ability Score Damage, Penalty, and Drain

Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal damage directly to your ability scores. This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability.

I don't see a difference between damage and damage in the two phrases.

Let me expand your emphasis. Eg, they are specifically calling out ability damage here. I maintain that damage, without any qualifiers, is hit point damage. I concede that the use of the word damage in the conentration rules may be have been intended to go beyond HP damage. But it is very much an outlier if that was the intent.
An outlier? In most instances it is clear that they are speaking of hp of damage, but why did Paizo feelt the need to explain that several abilities that increase damage only apply to hp and don't apply to other forms of damage? If the default was "hit point of damage" there was no need for the specification.

Clarification/specification isn't an indication that something isn't the base. It's simply clarification. (eg, spells like haste, expeditious retreat, etc, specify that the targets get to increase their acrobatics roll for jumps, even though the acrobatics rules already cover that).

Can you provide some examples of abilities that specify an increase to HP damage so we can get the full context?

Liberty's Edge

The basic example is something that most martials have:

Power attack: you "gain a +2 bonus on all melee damage rolls.
...
The bonus damage does not apply to touch attacks or effects that do not deal hit point damage."


Diego Rossi wrote:

The basic example is something that most martials have:

Power attack: you "gain a +2 bonus on all melee damage rolls.
...
The bonus damage does not apply to touch attacks or effects that do not deal hit point damage."

Sorry, let me clarify:

Quote:


...why did Paizo feelt the need to explain that several abilities that increase damage only apply to hp...

I was looking for examples where they explained it only applied to HP damage.

Power attack giving a +2 damage on melee attack rolls supports my general supposition that when the rules mention damage, without any qualifiers, then it is referencing HP damage only. eg, PA does not mention any qualifiers on damage, yet you agree it only applies to HP damage and not other forms of damage.

Liberty's Edge

bbangerter wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:

The basic example is something that most martials have:

Power attack: you "gain a +2 bonus on all melee damage rolls.
...
The bonus damage does not apply to touch attacks or effects that do not deal hit point damage."

Sorry, let me clarify:

Quote:


...why did Paizo feelt the need to explain that several abilities that increase damage only apply to hp...

I was looking for examples where they explained it only applied to HP damage.

Power attack giving a +2 damage on melee attack rolls supports my general supposition that when the rules mention damage, without any qualifiers, then it is referencing HP damage only. eg, PA does not mention any qualifiers on damage, yet you agree it only applies to HP damage and not other forms of damage.

Quote:
The bonus damage does not apply to touch attacks or effects that do not deal hit point damage.

More specify that that?

Should have used the "quote" tag from the start to make it clearer. It is a citation of the feat.


bbangerter wrote:

I was looking for examples where they explained it only applied to HP damage.

. . .
PA does not mention any qualifiers on damage, yet you agree it only applies to HP damage and not other forms of damage.

I think you misread Diego's reply. His post is quoting Power Attack. The ellipses (...) he used wasn't to separate the quote from a comment, it was to show that he was truncating the quote to the applicable part.

Power Attack wrote:
The bonus damage does not apply to touch attacks or effects that do not deal hit point damage.

Saying that it doesn't apply to effects that do not deal hit point damage is pretty much the same as saying it only applies to effects that deal hit point damage.


Diego Rossi wrote:


More specify that that?
Should have used the "quote" tag from the start to make it clearer. It is a citation of the feat.

Ok, I'm tracking what you are saying now and considering its implications. Are you aware of any other examples? I was thinking sneak attack might be one, but SA has no such language. I was also thinking there was a FAQ that SA would not apply to ability damage, but I only came up with the Weapon Specilization FAQ on that.

And for full reference the WS feat

Weapon Specilization Feat wrote:


Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected weapon, Weapon Focus with selected weapon, fighter level 4th.

Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus on all damage rolls you make using the selected weapon.

Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of weapon.

The PDT originally thought WS was clear enough without any clarification in the WS feat. Its unclear from the FAQ question itself (which doesn't ask about damage types) if they added that clarification just because, or if there was also some question about the damage types in whatever thread originally spawned the FAQ.

I also took a look at the DR language.

DR wrote:


...The numerical part of a creature’s damage reduction (or DR) is the amount of damage the creature ignores from normal attacks...

...Damage Reduction does not negate touch attacks, energy damage dealt along with an attack, or energy drains...

Generally ability draining attacks are touch, so would automatically be negated. I can't think of any off the top of my head that are vs AC (as opposed to touch AC), but if there are any I don't believe DR would be intended to work against them either.


bbangerter wrote:


Generally ability draining attacks are touch, so would automatically be negated...

Sorry, I mean would ignore DR here, not be negated. If a AC targeting attack damages an ability score though, should DR apply? (IMO no).

Liberty's Edge

bbangerter wrote:
bbangerter wrote:


Generally ability draining attacks are touch, so would automatically be negated...
Sorry, I mean would ignore DR here, not be negated. If a AC targeting attack damages an ability score though, should DR apply? (IMO no).
CRB wrote:

Whenever damage reduction completely negates the damage from an attack, it also negates most special effects that accompany the attack, such as injury poison, a monk’s stunning, and injury-based disease.

Damage reduction does not negate touch attacks, energy damage dealt along with an attack, or energy drains. Nor does it affect poisons or diseases delivered by inhalation, ingestion,or contact.

It depends on what causes the ability damage.

It is a contact poison? DR doesn't protect you.
It is an injected poison? If the DR completely stops the attack, it stops the poison.
It is an effect of energy damage (like a lighting or cold attack that sap your strength or dexterity)? DR will do nothing.
It is an undefined supernatural effect? Now we are in a gray area (see the Death ward threads for the discussion about that). Strict RAW, if it is delivered by a normal attack and DR totally negates the damage, the ability damage would be negated.

Wight wrote:
Melee slam +4 (1d4+1 plus energy drain)

A normal attack that delivers energy drain. DR will not protect against it.

Liberty's Edge

bbangerter wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:


More specify that that?
Should have used the "quote" tag from the start to make it clearer. It is a citation of the feat.

Ok, I'm tracking what you are saying now and considering its implications. Are you aware of any other examples? I was thinking sneak attack might be one, but SA has no such language. I was also thinking there was a FAQ that SA would not apply to ability damage, but I only came up with the Weapon Specilization FAQ on that.

And for full reference the WS feat

Weapon Specilization Feat wrote:


Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected weapon, Weapon Focus with selected weapon, fighter level 4th.

Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus on all damage rolls you make using the selected weapon.

Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of weapon.

The PDT originally thought WS was clear enough without any clarification in the WS feat. Its unclear from the FAQ question itself (which doesn't ask about damage types) if they added that clarification just because, or if there was also some question about the damage types in whatever thread originally spawned the FAQ.

I also took a look at the DR language.

DR wrote:


...The numerical part of a creature’s damage reduction (or DR) is the amount of damage the creature ignores from normal attacks...

...Damage Reduction does not negate touch attacks, energy damage dealt along with an attack, or energy drains...

Generally ability draining attacks are touch, so would automatically be negated. I can't think of any off the top of my head that are vs AC (as opposed to touch AC), but if there are any I don't believe DR would be intended to work against them either.

Weapon specialization adds to weapon damage. I don't recall any weapon that delivers something different from hp damage as its primary damage.

It is possible that some technical weapons will cause ability damage or other kinds of damage, but I hope they will have appropriate text to explain if WS applies or not.

The FAQ was a needed clarification as there is a previous FAQ that explains that rays count as weapons, and that allowed the application of WS to rays.
FAQ effect stacking and requiring further FAQ. Sigh.

A better argument for your position is the Rogue sneak attack:

Quote:
The rogue’s attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target.

As it doesn't specify anywhere (AFAIK) that it deals hp damage, an arcane trickster could argue that his generation deal 1d4+xd6 negative levels.

Ouch.


Diego Rossi wrote:

It depends on what causes the ability damage.
It is a contact poison? DR doesn't protect you.
It is an injected poison? If the DR completely stops the attack, it stops the poison.
It is an effect of energy damage (like a lighting or cold attack that sap your strength or dexterity)? DR will do nothing.
It is an undefined supernatural effect? Now we are in a gray area (see the Death ward threads for the discussion about that). Strict RAW, if it is delivered by a normal attack and DR totally negates the damage, the ability damage would be negated.

Correct on all of these. But lets focus on the highlighted one here. If I have DR 5, and someone attacks me with a weapon coated in poison, and they roll 7 for the damage, and 3 for the str ability damage the poison does. I take 2 damage, and I also take 3 str damage. eg, the DR does not stop the strength damage done to me. Even though the DR rules don't specify what type of damage it applies to - it only states that damage is reduced (unless it is a touch attack, energy drain, or elemental damage). The poison damage is not one of those types though, yet still we do not reduce the 3 str damage to 0 because of DR.

Likewise, the DR does not stop damage from a contact (or inhaled) poison. Again contact poison isn't one of the specific types called out by DR as not working against, yet we don't subtract DR from the ability damage done.

So the question then, how do we know DR does not work against poison damage, yet poison damage applied when someone is casting a spell should trigger a concentration check? What are you seeing in the rules that tells you "damage" in the concentration check includes things outside of HP damage, but "damage" in the DR rules only applies to HP damage?

Liberty's Edge

bbangerter wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:

It depends on what causes the ability damage.
It is a contact poison? DR doesn't protect you.
It is an injected poison? If the DR completely stops the attack, it stops the poison.
It is an effect of energy damage (like a lighting or cold attack that sap your strength or dexterity)? DR will do nothing.
It is an undefined supernatural effect? Now we are in a gray area (see the Death ward threads for the discussion about that). Strict RAW, if it is delivered by a normal attack and DR totally negates the damage, the ability damage would be negated.

Correct on all of these. But lets focus on the highlighted one here. If I have DR 5, and someone attacks me with a weapon coated in poison, and they roll 7 for the damage, and 3 for the str ability damage the poison does. I take 2 damage, and I also take 3 str damage. eg, the DR does not stop the strength damage done to me. Even though the DR rules don't specify what type of damage it applies to - it only states that damage is reduced (unless it is a touch attack, energy drain, or elemental damage). The poison damage is not one of those types though, yet still we do not reduce the 3 str damage to 0 because of DR.

Likewise, the DR does not stop damage from a contact (or inhaled) poison. Again contact poison isn't one of the specific types called out by DR as not working against, yet we don't subtract DR from the ability damage done.

So the question then, how do we know DR does not work against poison damage, yet poison damage applied when someone is casting a spell should trigger a concentration check? What are you seeing in the rules that tells you "damage" in the concentration check includes things outside of HP damage, but "damage" in the DR rules only applies to HP damage?

CRB-Glossary wrote:

The numerical part of a creature’s damage reduction

(or DR) is the amount of damage the creature ignores from normal attacks.
...
Whenever damage reduction completely negates the damage from an attack, it also negates most special effects that accompany the attack, such as injury poison, a monk’s stunning, and injury-based disease.

Poison damage is a special attack and DR doesn't apply to it.

Apparently, the Developers thought that "normal attacks" and "special effects" were self-explanatory, but the piling of additional rules and books has made that difference less and less clear.
Having different texts for DR in different parts of the rules doesn't help.

Bestiary wrote:

A creature with this special quality ignores damage from most weapons and natural attacks.

...
The creature takes normal damage from energy attacks (even nonmagical ones), spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities.

Noting about poison or EX abilities in the bestiary.


Diego Rossi wrote:


As it doesn't specify anywhere (AFAIK) that it deals hp damage, an arcane trickster could argue that his generation deal 1d4+xd6 negative levels.

Right. I'm quite certain, and I am making an assumption you agree, the SA damage would not apply to enervation. I expect the PDT feels exactly the same as despite a FAQ on arcane trickster and SA, and another FAQ on SA with simultaneous spell attacks they did not feel the need to clarify SA only applied to HP damage. Yet maybe we are both wrong given they did add exlusive language to the WS feat FAQ. But I think it is more likely they did not think of it because it was "obvious".

And that brings me back to my original statement, the default assumption is that "damage" without any qualifiers only applies to HP damage.

Liberty's Edge

bbangerter wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:


As it doesn't specify anywhere (AFAIK) that it deals hp damage, an arcane trickster could argue that his generation deal 1d4+xd6 negative levels.
Right. I'm quite certain, and I am making an assumption you agree, the SA damage would not apply to enervation. I expect the PDT feels exactly the same as despite a FAQ on arcane trickster and SA, and another FAQ on SA with simultaneous spell attacks they did not feel the need to clarify SA only applied to HP damage. Yet maybe we are both wrong given they did add exlusive language to the WS feat FAQ. But I think it is more likely they did not think of it because it was "obvious".

Absolutely.

bbangerter wrote:


And that brings me back to my original statement, the default assumption is that "damage" without any qualifiers only applies to HP damage.

I think that some developers/contributors used that default assumption, but not all.

Consistency in rule formatting isn't exactly one of the main point of strength for Paizo or most RPG with multiple supplements.


Diego Rossi wrote:


...
Weapon specialization adds to weapon damage. I don't recall any weapon that delivers something different from hp damage as its primary damage.
It is possible...

i do!

there is a FAQ for it:

"..note that Weapon Specialization (ray) only adds to hit point damage caused by a ray attack that would normally deal hit point damage; it doesn't increase ability score damage or drain (such as the Dexterity drain from polar ray), penalties to ability scores (such as from ray of enfeeblement) or drain, negative levels (such as from enervation), or other damage or penalties from rays."

Liberty's Edge

zza ni wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:


...
Weapon specialization adds to weapon damage. I don't recall any weapon that delivers something different from hp damage as its primary damage.
It is possible...

i do!

there is a FAQ for it:

"..note that Weapon Specialization (ray) only adds to hit point damage caused by a ray attack that would normally deal hit point damage; it doesn't increase ability score damage or drain (such as the Dexterity drain from polar ray), penalties to ability scores (such as from ray of enfeeblement) or drain, negative levels (such as from enervation), or other damage or penalties from rays."

Right.

AFAIK there isn't a FAQ stating the same for a sneak attack.

On the other hand, your citation has a specification that WS is limited to "hit point damage" and that Paizo thought it appropriate to specify that.

In some part of the rules "damage" is a shortcut for "hit point damage", in other it stay for "any kind of damage".


Diego Rossi wrote:
zza ni wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:


...
Weapon specialization adds to weapon damage. I don't recall any weapon that delivers something different from hp damage as its primary damage.
It is possible...

i do!

there is a FAQ for it:

"..note that Weapon Specialization (ray) only adds to hit point damage caused by a ray attack that would normally deal hit point damage; it doesn't increase ability score damage or drain (such as the Dexterity drain from polar ray), penalties to ability scores (such as from ray of enfeeblement) or drain, negative levels (such as from enervation), or other damage or penalties from rays."

Right.

AFAIK there isn't a FAQ stating the same for a sneak attack.

On the other hand, your citation has a specification that WS is limited to "hit point damage" and that Paizo thought it appropriate to specify that.

In some part of the rules "damage" is a shortcut for "hit point damage", in other it stay for "any kind of damage".

i genuinely can't think of any case (beside maybe some bleed cases) where "damage", without any other explanation, refer to 'any kind of damage' and not specifically to hit points damage. can you guide me to such a case?

about the rogue sneak attack.
from the fact the ability start talking about dealing damage and then talk about what happen when you use non-lethal weapon to deal non lethal damage. i am convinced that the 'damage' at the start mean only hit point damage. if it meant any kind of damage as per the attack method used -why would there be a need to explain that if the attack uses non lethal damage the sneak also do non lethal?

if the writer at the first part talked about any kind of damage (ability\drain\negative levels etc) there would be no need to further explain that non lethal weapon used for sneaking also do non lethal sneak damage -it would be a given from the first part.

EDIT :
"With a weapon that deals nonlethal damage (like a sap, whip, or an unarmed strike), a rogue can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage"
-pretty sure this mean that the normal sneak attack talk only about lethal damage - aka hit point damage. as opposed to ability\negative levels etc. (unless we're talking about 'eventually lethal'. in which case a tickling sneak attack can also be a thing..)


Diego Rossi wrote:


In some part of the rules "damage" is a shortcut for "hit point damage", in other it stay for "any kind of damage".

If this is the case, how do we know which is which?

That is, I can't verify that your claim is an accurate claim unless there is something in the rules that helps us understand when "damage" means "hit point damage" vs when "damage" means "any kind of damage".

Liberty's Edge

bbangerter wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:


In some part of the rules "damage" is a shortcut for "hit point damage", in other it stay for "any kind of damage".

If this is the case, how do we know which is which?

That is, I can't verify that your claim is an accurate claim unless there is something in the rules that helps us understand when "damage" means "hit point damage" vs when "damage" means "any kind of damage".

The only things that can help when in doubt are context and game logic.

Adding sneak damage to something that doesn't deal hit point damage has a disproportionate effect.

Returning to the concentration check, the caster needs to make a concentration check if the weather is bad enough, his vehicle is moving, he is riding, and so on.
Not having to make a concentration check if he loses points from an ability or levels seems to go against the logic of the concentration checks. As ability damage is a form of damage, the easier way to manage that is to manage that as "Injured while casting".
Otherwise, we will have to say that being affected by a supernatural ability that causes ability damage while casting doesn't hamper the casting as it isn't in the table.


sergiogq wrote:
I have the following question: If you receive ability damage when casting a spell, do you have to do a concentration check? The rule says: "If you take damage while trying to cast a spell, you must make a concentration check with a DC equal to 10 + the damage taken + the level of the spell you're casting."

The easy answer is 'Yes'. You'll almost certainly have to make a concentration check. You have to make a concentration check not only if you're damaged, but if you're in the rain and wind and if you're affected by a non-damaging spell while you're casting, such as bane. So you should definitely have to make a check when you receive ability damage (barring some obscure or highly-unusual method of gaining it, like maybe if casting the spell itself costs ability damage or drain).

As for what the DC of the check would be, it's probably easiest to use the damage formula (10 + spell level + damage). Even so, it's likely to be relatively easy, since most ability damage isn't usually as high as damage you'd take from a 'normal' hit.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Thank you all for your comments. I was precisely thinking along the lines of the two preceding comments. But it is true that one additional sentence in concentration check rules would have helped.

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