5E Damage types: How much is a point of [x] damage worth?
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    Damage types: How much is a point of [x] damage worth?

    Something I've wondered about for a while: We all know that some damage types are more-resisted than others, but how big are the differences? And what is the exact order of least-resisted to most-resisted?

    So, over the weekend, I decided to find out. I took advantage of D&D Beyond's filtering options to assemble data on resistances, immunities, and vulnerabilities by CR, and crunched the numbers to see just how much a point of poison, fire, force, etc. damage is worth. If you're a caster picking out damage spells and you want to know how to get the most blast for your buck... this one's for you.

    A note on slashing/bludgeoning/piercing: For each of these types, I only counted absolute resistance to that type. Resistance that can be bypassed by magic weapons is not included. So a black pudding counts as "immune to slashing," but an iron golem does not.

    Summary:
    • Across all levels, poison is by far the least effective damage type, and it gets weaker the higher you go. That's what happens when whole categories of creature are flat-out immune.
    • Fire, cold, and lightning form the second "tier." Fire is weaker than the others, but the difference is not large until very high level. Note that while fire is the most-resisted of the three, it's also the most common vulnerability of all damage types. Which ain't saying much.
    • The third "tier" is acid and necrotic. There are not many monsters that resist these, making them good picks for a damaging cantrip (you always want a reliable fallback). You know... just in case you needed another reason to pick up toll the dead.
    • Psychic, thunder, weapon (slashing/piercing/bludgeoning), force, and radiant are almost never resisted.


    And now, the actual data. (Here's hoping ENWorld formats the tables correctly... *fingers crossed*)

    Damage Effectiveness: This table includes data from the Basic Rules, Monster Manual, and Volo's Guide to Monsters. (I decided to leave out custom monsters/NPCs from the adventure paths.)

    The calculation is the average of "How much damage would this monster take from a point of [x] damage?" So a vulnerable monster counts for 2, a resistant monster counts 0.5, an immune monster counts 0, and everything else is 1.


    Overall CR <1 CR 1-4 CR 5-10 CR 11-16 CR 17+

    (573 monsters) (161 monsters) (204 monsters) (134 monsters) (48 monsters) (26 monsters)
    Poison 0.78 0.88 0.79 0.73 0.71 0.58
    Fire 0.89 0.96 0.92 0.85 0.77 0.65
    Cold 0.91 0.98 0.93 0.87 0.79 0.83
    Lightning 0.92 0.98 0.93 0.88 0.80 0.77
    Acid 0.95 0.99 0.96 0.94 0.90 0.92
    Necrotic 0.96 0.99 0.96 0.97 0.94 0.83
    Psychic 0.98 1.00 0.99 0.98 0.96 0.92
    Thunder 0.98 0.99 0.99 0.98 0.94 1.00
    Piercing 0.99 0.98 0.99 0.99 1.00 1.00
    Slashing 0.99 0.98 0.99 1.00 1.00 1.00
    Force 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00
    Bludgeoning 1.00 1.01 1.00 0.99 1.00 1.00
    Radiant 1.00 1.01 1.00 1.00 0.99 0.98


    Vulnerable/Resistant/Immune, Percent of Monsters:
    This table breaks down what percent of monsters are vulnerable (V), resistant (R), or immune (I) to a particular damage type.


    Overall CR <1 CR 1-4 CR 5-10 CR 11-16 CR 17+

    (573 monsters) (161 monsters) (204 monsters) (134 monsters) (48 monsters) (26 monsters)
    Poison V-0% R-1% I-21% V-0% R-1% I-12% V-0% R-1% I-21% V-0% R- 2% I-26% V-0% R-0% I-29% V-0% R-0% I-42%
    Fire V-2% R-9% I-8% V-2% R-5% I-4% V-2% R-7% I-7% V-1% R-17% I-7% V-2% R-13% I-19% V-0% R-8% I-31%
    Cold V-1% R-11% I-4% V-1% R-5% I-1% V-1% R-6% I-4% V-1% R-19% I-4% V-0% R-21% I-10% V-0% R-19% I-8%
    Lightning V-0% R-9% I-4% V-0% R-3% I-0% V-0% R-7% I-3% V-0% R-15% I-4% V-0% R-15% I-13% V-0% R-15% I-15%
    Acid V-0% R-4% I-3% V-0% R-2% I-0% V-0% R-4% I-2% V-0% R-5% I-4% V-0% R-4% I-8% V-0% R-0% I-8%
    Necrotic V-0% R-3% I-2% V-0% R-0% I-1% V-0% R-2% I-3% V-0% R-4% I-1% V-0% R-8% I-2% V-0% R-12% I-12%
    Psychic V-0% R-0% I-2% V-1% R-0% I-1% V-0% R-0% I-1% V-0% R-1% I-1% V-0% R-0% I-4% V-0% R-0% I-8%
    Thunder V-0% R-2% I-1% V-0% R-1% I-0% V-0% R-2% I-0% V-1% R-5% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-6% V-0% R-0% I-0%
    Piercing V-0% R-3% I-0% V-0% R-4% I-0% V-0% R-3% I-0% V-0% R-2% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0%
    Slashing V-0% R-1% I-0% V-0% R-3% I-0% V-0% R-1% I-1% V-0% R-1% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0%
    Force V-0% R-0% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0%
    Bludgeoning V-1% R-2% I-0% V-2% R-2% I-0% V-0% R-1% I-0% V-0% R-2% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0%
    Radiant V-0% R-1% I-0% V-1% R-0% I-0% V-0% R-0% I-0% V-0% R-1% I-0% V-0% R-2% I-0% V-0% R-4% I-0%

    Vulnerable/Resistant/Immune, Count of Monsters: Same as above, but this is the actual count of monsters in each category:


    Overall CR <1 CR 1-4 CR 5-10 CR 11-16 CR 17+

    (573 monsters) (161 monsters) (204 monsters) (134 monsters) (48 monsters) (26 monsters)
    Poison V-0 R-7 I-121 V-0 R-1 I-19 V-0 R-3 I-42 V-0 R-3 I-35 V-0 R-0 I-14 V-0 R-0 I-11
    Fire V-11 R-53 I-47 V-4 R-8 I-6 V-4 R-14 I-14 V-2 R-23 I-10 V-1 R-6 I-9 V-0 R-2 I-8
    Cold V-4 R-61 I-23 V-1 R-8 I-1 V-2 R-13 I-9 V-1 R-25 I-6 V-0 R-10 I-5 V-0 R-5 I-2
    Lightning V-0 R-50 I-23 V-0 R-5 I-0 V-0 R-14 I-7 V-0 R-20 I-6 V-0 R-7 I-6 V-0 R-4 I-4
    Acid V-0 R-21 I-16 V-0 R-4 I-0 V-0 R-8 I-5 V-0 R-7 I-5 V-0 R-2 I-4 V-0 R-0 I-2
    Necrotic V-0 R-17 I-12 V-0 R-0 I-1 V-0 R-5 I-6 V-0 R-5 I-1 V-0 R-4 I-1 V-0 R-3 I-3
    Psychic V-1 R-2 I-10 V-1 R-0 I-1 V-0 R-0 I-3 V-0 R-2 I-2 V-0 R-0 I-2 V-0 R-0 I-2
    Thunder V-1 R-14 I-3 V-0 R-2 I-0 V-0 R-5 I-0 V-1 R-7 I-0 V-0 R-0 I-3 V-0 R-0 I-0
    Piercing V-0 R-16 I-0 V-0 R-7 I-0 V-0 R-6 I-0 V-0 R-3 I-0 V-0 R-0 I-0 V-0 R-0 I-0
    Slashing V-0 R-8 I-2 V-0 R-5 I-0 V-0 R-2 I-2 V-0 R-1 I-0 V-0 R-0 I-0 V-0 R-0 I-0
    Force V-0 R-0 I-1 V-0 R-0 I-0 V-0 R-0 I-1 V-0 R-0 I-0 V-0 R-0 I-0 V-0 R-0 I-0
    Bludgeoning V-4 R-10 I-0 V-3 R-4 I-0 V-1 R-3 I-0 V-0 R-3 I-0 V-0 R-0 I-0 V-0 R-0 I-0
    Radiant V-2 R-4 I-0 V-1 R-0 I-0 V-1 R-1 I-0 V-0 R-1 I-0 V-0 R-1 I-0 V-0 R-1 I-0

    NEW - Damage Effectiveness by Creature Type: Shows the damage effectiveness calculation broken out by creature type. In the case of fiends, I added alignment as a proxy for demon/devil (so if you're about to play Out of the Abyss, you want to look at "Fiend CE," not so much "Fiend LE").

    Aberration (31) Beast (113) Celestial (8) Construct (16) Dragon (52) Elemental (24) Fey (17) Fiend CE (21) Fiend LE (13) Fiend NE/Other (9) Giant (19) Humanoid (122) Monstrosity (68) Ooze (6) Plant (18) Undead (36)
    Poison 0.97 1.00 0.63 0.31 0.91 0.33 1.00 0.02 0.15 0.33 1.00 0.93 0.87 1.00 0.89 0.11
    Fire 0.90 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.73 0.65 0.97 0.48 0.08 0.44 0.89 0.98 0.93 1.00 1.25 0.92
    Cold 0.90 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.84 1.06 0.91 0.50 0.54 0.56 0.84 1.00 0.93 0.83 0.97 0.79
    Lightning 0.84 1.00 1.00 0.94 0.84 0.92 1.00 0.50 1.00 0.61 0.89 1.00 0.96 0.67 0.86 0.78
    Acid 0.90 1.00 1.00 0.94 0.84 0.96 1.00 0.98 1.00 0.44 1.00 1.00 0.98 0.58 1.00 0.90
    Necrotic 1.00 1.00 0.88 0.94 0.99 1.00 1.00 0.98 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.53
    Psychic 1.03 1.00 0.88 0.63 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.97 1.00 1.00 0.96
    Thunder 0.90 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.98 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.89 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.90
    Piercing 1.00 0.96 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.81 0.99
    Slashing 1.00 0.96 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.67 1.00 1.00
    Force 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.94 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00
    Bludgeoning 1.00 0.97 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.04 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.92 1.08
    Radiant 1.00 1.00 0.75 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.05 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.03
    Last edited by Dausuul; Tuesday, 24th April, 2018 at 07:57 PM.
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    This is a great amount of data and I appreciate the work you put into making this and sharing it, but I was lost after the summary paragraph.

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    This is interesting data. Would you be able to add a sentence that describes how you counted for resistance or immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, & slashing from non-magical weapons?

    Another way to split the data up is by monster type. For instance, I'm aware elementals are immune to poison because of the number of hours I've spent running Princes of the Apocalypse. Characters in that story should avoid poison damage. However, poison damage may be more effective than necrotic damage in a Curse of Strahd game, or more effective than bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing in a game with lycanthropes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aco175 View Post
    This is a great amount of data and I appreciate the work you put into making this and sharing it, but I was lost after the summary paragraph.
    Is it that there's something confusing about the tables, or are you just not interested in digging through the data? If the latter, no problem - that's why I put the summary paragraph in. Some people like playing with numbers, others not so much. Personally, I deeply dislike it when people post a conclusion and don't let me see how they got there.

    However, if you're trying to understand the numbers in the tables and something is hard to wrap your head around, I may be able to clear it up.

    (If you just want to know "How much better is fire damage than poison damage?", the first column in the first table is the one with the big-picture answer. Fire is 89% effective against the average monster, while poison is 78% effective. Everything else is breaking down the details.)
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    The number of poison immune monsters is rather consistent, isn't it? And there's a crazy level of fire and poison immunity at CR17+.

    I also find it interesting that there are almost no poison resistant monsters but a modest amount of elemental resistance (fire/cold/lightning).

    In other words, you really need an alternative to poison damage but you can get away without needing an alternative to fire/cold/lightning as at least you'll be doing some damage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooperjer View Post
    This is interesting data. Would you be able to add a sentence that describes how you counted for resistance or immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, & slashing from non-magical weapons?
    Simple answer: I didn't. The bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing resistances are for straight-up resistance to those damage types: Skeletons are vulnerable to bludgeoning, black puddings are immune to slashing, and so forth. Magic weapon or non-magic, doesn't matter to them.

    I thought about trying to bring in the magical/non-magical stuff, but there are so many variations. You have creatures that are resistant to damage from non-magical, non-silvered weapons; non-magical, non-adamantine weapons; all non-magical weapons... and then you multiply that by slashing/bludgeoning/piercing. And as soon as you get a magic weapon, none of it matters anyhow. It's not the sort of thing that's likely to shape your character choices. Contrast the elemental damage types, which can have a big impact on spell choices for full casters.

    I'll put in a note about that, thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by cooperjer View Post
    Another way to split the data up is by monster type. For instance, I'm aware elementals are immune to poison because of the number of hours I've spent running Princes of the Apocalypse. Characters in that story should avoid poison damage. However, poison damage may be more effective than necrotic damage in a Curse of Strahd game, or more effective than bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing in a game with lycanthropes.
    Very true, and I do in fact have that data. There are a lot of ways to slice it all up. If this seems like the sort of thing people want to know, I can pull those numbers out.

    (Though I wouldn't pick poison for Curse of Strahd, either... isn't that adventure crawling with undead?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dausuul View Post
    Is it that there's something confusing about the tables, or are you just not interested in digging through the data? If the latter, no problem - that's why I put the summary paragraph in. Some people like playing with numbers, others not so much. Personally, I deeply dislike it when people post a conclusion and don't let me see how they got there.
    I'm just awed at big math. I was never very good at it and respect those that can use it. That is why I was happy to see the summary paragraph. I was not trying to be smarmy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aco175 View Post
    I'm just awed at big math. I was never very good at it and respect those that can use it. That is why I was happy to see the summary paragraph. I was not trying to be smarmy.
    Didn't think you were. I just wanted to make sure my initial post was as useful as it could be.

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    Great info, thanks for doing this.

    One small issue. In the second table in the Overall column the % Immune for Poison (21%) seems off. The CR<1 and CR1-4 groups are a bit over half the monsters and are at 21%. However, the remaining not quite half have somewhat higher percentages and should pull the average up a bit. From what's in the table, I calculate the Overall Poison Immune % should be something like 23.8, but there might be some rounding that makes it a bit different if calculated from original data. (All assuming I am interpreting the table correctly, of course.)

    EDIT: Oh, wait, the data is in the 3rd table. It looks like it is the CR <1 % that is off, not the Overall. The CR <1 Poison Immune % should be 12, not 21.
    Last edited by Harzel; Tuesday, 24th April, 2018 at 11:22 AM.
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    Fantastic information, thanks a lot @Dausuul!

    And the breakdown by CR is exactly how that's information is useful to me - well broken out and clearly presented.

    You mentioned you did have the data to pull it in other ways - would it be possible to pull just the vulnerabilities? What you have is fantastic in picking damage types that will be effective, but if you have the luxury of picking multiple different damage types you may want to also pick up something that will be very effective in the right situation.

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