The problem with weapon damage resistances.

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
While reading up on all the changes to monsters for the 5.5 edition, or whatever they are going to call it, it occurred to me that the default way that 5e handles monsters who have a weakness to special material weapons, like devils and their aversion to silver, isn't handled to the best of the systems ability.

Currently a Bone Devil has resistances to Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks that aren't Silvered. Meaning they take normal damage from either silver or magical weapons. Which is less of a weakness, and more of a "You must be this tall to ride" sign that allows the PCs to use platform shoes. It also has the unfortunate side effect of a magical weapon being a one stop shop for all your resistance and often times immunity needs. While this is nice from a balance perspective due to simplicity, it is also boring as heck because there is no reward for using a silvered weapon on top of or instead of a magical weapon, totally wasting the design space.

In another famous example, the Werewolf, they tried to give immunity to nonmangical and nonsilvered weapon damage. But that proved to be less than desirable as it only served to lock mundane characters out of being effective for the fight, and let casters destroy them with cantrips without any considerable changes at all. The designer response to this was the monster called the Loup Garou, which cannot be killed without silvered weapons (or at least some way to prevent healing) due to their regeneration ability. Needless to say, this is not a practical solution outside of heavily horror games, and even then it can be cheesed by using a simple cantrip (Chill Touch) or a single silvered weapon strike after the party unloads their normal routine.

My solution to this problem is admittedly a bit more complex in terms of wording that WotC may be initially comfortable with, but it is simple enough in play: Give these enemies Resistance and Vulnerability to Silvered weapons. Vulnerability and Resistance cancel each other out, which gives normal damage. Interestingly enough WotC future proofed themselves this time, as multiple resistances don't stack, so adding another resistance isn't going to make monsters harder. Furthermore Vulnerability is a near vestigial mechanic in this edition, with only 100 out of the 2000+ stat blocks for monsters using the mechanic, and honestly players love when they hit a Vulnerability, so it should be used more.

My proposed changes look like this:

A Bone Devil would now have resistances to Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks (deleting the part about Silvered weapons). But also Vulnerability to attacks from Silvered weapons. Because a resistance and a Vulnerability cancel each other out, the new damage results would be: x1/2 for normal weapons, x1 for silver or magic weapons, and x2 for silver and magic weapons. This allows for more tiers of readiness.
  • The PCs have to duke it out with their resisted weapons.
  • The PC's use consumables or other resources (like the Magic Weapon spell) to normalize their damage.
  • The PC's use a bit of prep work to get silvered weapons (or just luckily have a magic weapon on hand) for normal damage without using consumables.
  • The PC's use consumables in conjunction with their prep work to actually exploit the vulnerability.
  • The PC's get special magic and silvered weapons designed for the purposes of slaying such creatures.
The werewolf could keep their immunities (though there is an argument against that), with the the Silver Vulnerability added to that. The trick here is the addition of a resistance to nonmagical weapons on top of their immunity to nonmagical and nonsilvered weapons. At first glance this seems redundant, but the two categories are actually different. Allowing us to use most of the same clever mechanics from the Bone Devil. In summery, a normal weapon is totally ignored. A silvered weapon is both resisted and vulnerable which evens out. A magic weapon deals normal damage. And once again a magic silvered weapon is a true weakness.
 

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Staffan

Legend
I'm pretty sure I've seen one developer mention a few years back (might have been Mearls, but I'm not sure) that the reason there are so few vulnerabilities is that they make things too easy. Doubling damage is much too strong to use other than in very special circumstances.

Also, most of the cases where you have resistance to "Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks that aren't Silvered" or the equivalent aren't meant to be creatures that are extra vulnerable to silver attacks. I'm not sure it was a thing in AD&D, but I think the silver thing with devils in particular was added in 3.5e, where low-level devils had DR penetrated by "silver or good" weapons, mid-level just had "good", and high-level ones needed "silver and good" weapons. Same thing with demons and cold iron. I think the only large-scale monster type where an actual vulnerability would be appropriate are fey, who are supposed to shun and fear cold iron.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Relatedly, regarding "bludgeoning, piercing, slashing" damage types, it seems like a design space that turned out too impractical to implement.

Would we lose anything significant if simplifying all three down to one "weapon damage" type?

The skeleton comes to mind with its vulnerability to bludgeoning, but it seems not worth complicating the entire gaming engine for it.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Relatedly, regarding "bludgeoning, piercing, slashing" damage types, it seems like a design space that turned out too impractical to implement.

Would we lose anything significant if simplifying all three down to one "weapon damage" type?

The skeleton comes to mind with its vulnerability to bludgeoning, but it seems not worth complicating the entire gaming engine for it.
4e already did this. Bringing Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing back for 5e was a symbolic gesture to appease the anti-4e crowd, and skeletons were the token “see? We promise this will actually matter sometimes!” monster. There are a few others, but they all exist solely to gesture at the design space weapon damage types could open up, so the folks who want that complexity don’t get too upset by the fact that the design space isn’t really utilized anywhere else. Worked well enough for the playtest, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it gone next edition.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Gesturing at design space the game could utilize was pretty much WotC’s whole strategy with the 5e playtest. Design a game full of potential avenues for expansion so that people who want to see those avenues expanded on will buy in. Then never expand on those avenues to avoid upsetting the people who don’t want to see them expanded on. Promise modularity, deliver an unfinished game. Everybody wins! (?)
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Gesturing at design space the game could utilize was pretty much WotC’s whole strategy with the 5e playtest. Design a game full of potential avenues for expansion so that people who want to see those avenues expanded on will buy in. Then never expand on those avenues to avoid upsetting the people who don’t want to see them expanded on. Promise modularity, deliver an unfinished game. Everybody wins! (?)
I am open to the idea of complex weapons, like chain armor grants resistance to slashing, but the cost in complexity gains little benefit return.

Even the scenarios that I can think of arent worth the complexity. I guess the entire D&D tradition has rejected 1e weapon complexity.

I am satisfied with one "weapon damage" type.

If I think about it, I like organizing the weapons table into groups for thematic reasons, but even this lacks verisimilitude in terms of which weapons assemblage one is likely to train in. For example, historically one is more likely to train in axe and spear plus maybe bow and sword, rather than longsword with greatsword.

The "weapon damage" seems sufficient.
 

First: I like your Idea!

Second: I also like the Idea of just needing a silvered weapon for the final kill and otherwise having a high regeneration. That works well for the troll and makes sure, everyone can contribute. It is also more fun than just doing half or even no damage at all, when hit points represent more than just bodily health.

Third: I also like resistance to magical weapons, as this will make sure that only the heroes with magical weapons can save the day.

So maybe all those things can be combined. Reistance to nonmagical weapons + regeneration against anything but silver would be my favourite.
On top of that I would like every PC class to have their weapon attacks be treated as magical by level 5 to 7 or so.

I am not sure vulnerability is the best mechanic in many cases, as doubling and halving damage at the same time seems to be a hassle.
I can however see some creatures not having resistance and still having vulneravility to silvered weapons or such and no regeneration.
 

CubicsRube

Hero
Supporter
One of the dissapointing things about 5e for me is the looseness in the design of things like spell schools and damage types (e.g how is force and thunder different?)

I feel like a shill sometimes but I do prefer how Shadow of the Demon Lord does it.

There are virtually no monsters that have any resistance to mundane weapons. So the system truly doesn't assume magical weapons are necessary. There are also mamy creatures that take half damage from spells.

As a result it addresses the power gap quite effectively between martials and casters and makes magic weapons a nice to have rather than an essential one.

Lastly for some items that monsters are vulnerable to (like iron for demons and faeries) it imposes an impaired condition (basically disadvantage) rather than doing extra damage.
 

AnotherGuy

Adventurer
1. Resistance to normal weapons.
2. Resistance to weapon type (a) bludgeoning (b) slashing and/or (c) piercing.
3. Immunity to normal weapons.
4. Specific weapons (a) silvered (b) adamantine-made and/or (c) blessed/radiant charged negate regeneration.
5. Resistance to magic weapons unless (a) silvered (b) adamantine-made and/or (c) blessed/radiant charged.

The above is what I'm contemplating for some monster home-brewery. I've ignored vulnerability.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
With the hit point bloat of 5e, I dont thing making more monsters vulnerable to something would be all that bad. Anyway, making, say, shapeshifter Vulnerable to silvered weapons does not mean those weapon would deal double damage, it just means that the Vulnerability cancel the Resistance, making it null.

I'd personally go with resistance to physical damages from weapon under a certain rarity.
As for spells, I wish more monsters were immune to spells under a certain level, like the Rakshasa.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Also, most of the cases where you have resistance to "Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks that aren't Silvered" or the equivalent aren't meant to be creatures that are extra vulnerable to silver attacks. I'm not sure it was a thing in AD&D, but I think the silver thing with devils in particular was added in 3.5e, where low-level devils had DR penetrated by "silver or good" weapons, mid-level just had "good", and high-level ones needed "silver and good" weapons. Same thing with demons and cold iron. I think the only large-scale monster type where an actual vulnerability would be appropriate are fey, who are supposed to shun and fear cold iron.
The ability to damage devils with silver (and demons with iron) dated at least back to AD&D. A lot of people probably missed it but there's a table at the beginning of the 1e Monster Manual sections on devils (and demons) that lists their general characteristics including resistances and vulnerabilities. And silver weapons do full damage.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I'm pretty sure I've seen one developer mention a few years back (might have been Mearls, but I'm not sure) that the reason there are so few vulnerabilities is that they make things too easy. Doubling damage is much too strong to use other than in very special circumstances.
I like how 13th age approaches vulnerability - instead of doubling damage if you use a weapon of the appropriate type, the crit range is extended by 2. So if you have a creature that is vulnerable to fire and you use your flaming broadsword and you normally crit on a 20, you'd crit on an 18+ instead. You get the feel that the creature is vulnerable to the weapon without the "too good for the math" result that you get of doubled damage with every hit.
 

payn

Legend
4e already did this. Bringing Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing back for 5e was a symbolic gesture to appease the anti-4e crowd, and skeletons were the token “see? We promise this will actually matter sometimes!” monster. There are a few others, but they all exist solely to gesture at the design space weapon damage types could open up, so the folks who want that complexity don’t get too upset by the fact that the design space isn’t really utilized anywhere else. Worked well enough for the playtest, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it gone next edition.
This is a very condescending take. Its not hard to imagine that some folks enjoy damage types and resistances in the game. Maybe, the designers didn't go too into the design space as a gesture towards folks who dislike it not being able to handle its return?
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
While reading up on all the changes to monsters for the 5.5 edition, or whatever they are going to call it, it occurred to me that the default way that 5e handles monsters who have a weakness to special material weapons, like devils and their aversion to silver, isn't handled to the best of the systems ability.

Currently a Bone Devil has resistances to Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks that aren't Silvered. Meaning they take normal damage from either silver or magical weapons. Which is less of a weakness, and more of a "You must be this tall to ride" sign that allows the PCs to use platform shoes. It also has the unfortunate side effect of a magical weapon being a one stop shop for all your resistance and often times immunity needs. While this is nice from a balance perspective due to simplicity, it is also boring as heck because there is no reward for using a silvered weapon on top of or instead of a magical weapon, totally wasting the design space.

In another famous example, the Werewolf, they tried to give immunity to nonmangical and nonsilvered weapon damage. But that proved to be less than desirable as it only served to lock mundane characters out of being effective for the fight, and let casters destroy them with cantrips without any considerable changes at all. The designer response to this was the monster called the Loup Garou, which cannot be killed without silvered weapons (or at least some way to prevent healing) due to their regeneration ability. Needless to say, this is not a practical solution outside of heavily horror games, and even then it can be cheesed by using a simple cantrip (Chill Touch) or a single silvered weapon strike after the party unloads their normal routine.

My solution to this problem is admittedly a bit more complex in terms of wording that WotC may be initially comfortable with, but it is simple enough in play: Give these enemies Resistance and Vulnerability to Silvered weapons. Vulnerability and Resistance cancel each other out, which gives normal damage. Interestingly enough WotC future proofed themselves this time, as multiple resistances don't stack, so adding another resistance isn't going to make monsters harder. Furthermore Vulnerability is a near vestigial mechanic in this edition, with only 100 out of the 2000+ stat blocks for monsters using the mechanic, and honestly players love when they hit a Vulnerability, so it should be used more.

My proposed changes look like this:

A Bone Devil would now have resistances to Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks (deleting the part about Silvered weapons). But also Vulnerability to attacks from Silvered weapons. Because a resistance and a Vulnerability cancel each other out, the new damage results would be: x1/2 for normal weapons, x1 for silver or magic weapons, and x2 for silver and magic weapons. This allows for more tiers of readiness.
  • The PCs have to duke it out with their resisted weapons.
  • The PC's use consumables or other resources (like the Magic Weapon spell) to normalize their damage.
  • The PC's use a bit of prep work to get silvered weapons (or just luckily have a magic weapon on hand) for normal damage without using consumables.
  • The PC's use consumables in conjunction with their prep work to actually exploit the vulnerability.
  • The PC's get special magic and silvered weapons designed for the purposes of slaying such creatures.
The werewolf could keep their immunities (though there is an argument against that), with the the Silver Vulnerability added to that. The trick here is the addition of a resistance to nonmagical weapons on top of their immunity to nonmagical and nonsilvered weapons. At first glance this seems redundant, but the two categories are actually different. Allowing us to use most of the same clever mechanics from the Bone Devil. In summery, a normal weapon is totally ignored. A silvered weapon is both resisted and vulnerable which evens out. A magic weapon deals normal damage. And once again a magic silvered weapon is a true weakness.
Don't have a lot of time, but I'm not sure there is design space available here once you plug back into the game. By this I mean ho totals are a massive factor in the CR and encounter balance maths and this is recommending increasing design that adjusts those totals in more complex ways but isn't looking at what that means downstream for the encounters math. Yes, it's clever, but it's clever in isolation.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
This is a very condescending take. Its not hard to imagine that some folks enjoy damage types and resistances in the game.
I know for a fact that some folks do. I like them myself, when properly utilized.
Maybe, the designers didn't go too into the design space as a gesture towards folks who dislike it not being able to handle its return?
Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Point is, 5e lacks both the simplicity of a system that doesn’t differentiate weapon damage types and the depth of one that does, because WotC tried to please everyone instead of making a decision and committing to it.
 

This was a big discussion in the 3.0e to 3.5e update. In 3.0 you needed a specific material to overcome resistance, in 3.5 a magical weapon overcame all material resistances.

The main explanation I remember hearing from the designers was that material resistances just resulted in a golf bag of different weapons. Players would have their silver weapon, their cold iron weapon, their adamantine weapon, etc. This was considered not ideal for multiple reasons: it increases reliance on items instead of abilities, it prevents players from relying on a favored weapon, it makes players more likely lug around a mobile arsenal of weapons, etc.

Personally, I like the idea of going back to multiple resistances having more meaning, but I don't think it fits in with the zeitgeist of 5e. I would embrace the added crunch, but I would much rather see a deeper design delve into other areas first.

Edit: Staffan corrected my edition misnumbering, but I'm leaving it unchanged here.
 
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Staffan

Legend
I do like the way Pathfinder 2 does it better, where resistances and vulnerabilities are fixed numbers and generally scaled to the creature's level (so the 4th level Abrikandilu has weakness 5 vs good and cold iron, while the 20th level Balor has 20). This means that even lower-damage abilities that trigger weaknesses can be devastating to these creatures. For example, holy water deals 1d6 good damage to undead and fiends, plus 1 point of splash damage even on a miss. 1d6 is nothing in PF2 even at mid-levels, but 1d6+10 against a mid-level demon's weakness is nothing to sneeze at. Also, the guidelines for creating creatures say that creatures with weaknesses should have more hp, so that without the ability to trigger them they'll be harder than a baseline creature, but easier with the ability.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I think your changes are just fine, and better than RAW. Thumbs up.

Increasingly, I've been trying to get into the story of what's going on with a specific monster's resistances, and then use that story to create more nuanced resistances/vulnerabilities (including sometimes a new trait) that don't just apply to weapons but also to some spells.

To use your bone devil example, what is this particular devil resistant to? And why?

They are skeletal, with a skin stretched across their frame.
They fly on fairly delicate insectile wings.
They are envious of their superiors / mightier devils.

So I might come up with something like...

Damage Vulnerabilities. Bludgeoning from silvered weapons.

Envy Weakness (replaces damage resistances & Magic Resistance). The bone devil has resistance to all damage and advantage to its saving throws against magic, unless it is consumed by envy for another creature. While consumed by envy it does not benefit from its resistance to all damage and advantage to saving throws against magic.

Silver Downfall. When the bone devil takes damage from a silvered weapon or a spell consuming at least 100 gp worth of silver as a component, it cannot fly until the end of its next turn. If it is already flying, it is forced to descend 40 feet. If it is higher than 40 feet above the ground, it falls the remainder of the distance.
 

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