Resist All Clarification

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Hi all,

I am just writing about a potential clarification about resist all (and to check whether this has already been discussed/clarified). The question I am trying to clarify is whether "resist N all" literally means "resist N fire", "resist N frost", etc. . I believe it does simply due to the fact that definitions are if and only if statements. For example, fire resistance N implies that if a creature takes X damage, then the creature takes max(X-N,0) damage. However, it also means that if a creature takes max(X-N,0) fire damage when it is dealt X fire damage, then the creature has resistance N fire. The second way is usually not used, but it is necessary for the definition to be an if and only if statement (which definitions are). To get back to "resist N all", since "resist N all" will make a fire attack worth X damage deal max(X-N,0), it must be that the creature has fire resist (also cold resist, radiant resist, etc.).
So, can anyone find a flaw in my logic above? Also has this been clarified already?

Resist All is insufficiently defined.

It does not count as the sum of all possible resistances, though.

Furthermore, the definitions are not iff for resistance.  That I resisted 5 damage from your fire attack does not mean that I must have fire resistance.  There's lots of other qualities of attacks that are related to resistance and vulnerability:  melee and ranged (for swarms), close and area (also for swarms), weapon attacks (fighter power), elemental attacks (air elementalist).

Resistance is not singularly defined, because attacks have a wide variety of properties and some of them carry through no matter what the rest of the properties are.  An assumption of iff definitions is not valid.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I think the general concensus is that the rule for "Resist All" is in possession of the trait "Reist All Clarification", so the thread title is spot on.
There's also some feat or power that lets you cause extra fire damage to people who have fire resistance, isn't there? So if Resist All means Resist Fire, Resist Cold, Resist X, etc. it would actually be a downside in some cases.
Resist All is never actually defined in the rules.  The examples given in the "Not Cumulative" subsections for both Resist All anf Vulnerable All clearly state that they never stack with other types of resistance or vulnerability and in that case are the same as being all damage types, attack types, and keywords individually, at least for stacking purposes.

Basically, RAW is lacking in this case, but I believe RAI is that Resist All or Vulnerable All act more as catch-alls that only kick in if another more specific Resistance or Vulnerability would not apply to the same instance of damage first.  Resist All and Vulnerable all are NOT the same as having a list of every possible resistance or vulnerablilty (i.e. a creatre with Resist all 5 does not have Resist Fire 5).
    The argument is made by some that if resists 5 from my fire attack, it therefore has resist 5 fire, but it doesn't, it could just as easily have resist 5 vs close attack, or resist 5 vs arcane atacks, etc.
  The rules are also unclear what happens if you have to resistances that apply to an attack where one is unrelated to damage types.  For example, if a swarm has Resist 5 cold and Resist 10 vs melee attacks, and is hit with a frost weapon, does it resist 5, 10, or 15?
   The Not Cumulative section specically states that resistances to the same "damage type" are not cumulative, but say nothing about different resistances that all apply to the same instance of damage where one is not a type; it then continues to give an example where All counts as each type for purposes of preventing stacking, but the case of Resist Cold + Resist (something that isn't 'all' or a damage type) is not addressed.  Resistance to a keyword that isn't a damage type also seems to be applied differently as it is not needed to gain normal resistance under the "combined damage types" rules.

I just got an answer from customer support, which should put the matter to rest:



Thank you for contacting Wizards of the Coast! I would be happy to assist you with your Dungeons & Dragons rules question. If you gain resistance to all damage, you gain that resist value to every individual type of damage. For example, resist 2 to all damage would literally give you resist 2 to fire, resist 2 to frost, resist 2 to necrotic, etc. Damage resistance types are not cumulative so if you already had resist 5 to fire, your resist 2 to all would not give you any additional benefit against fire damage since it is the lesser of the two resistance values for that type of damage but could still give you a resist 2 against other types of damage.

That being said, I would be happy to submit your feedback regarding the definition of resist all to the appropriate department for review. While I can not guarantee any further follow-up with you regarding this issue, we appreciate your input and may contact you for additional information if needed.

lease let us know if you ever have any further questions or concerns. We'll be happy to help you as best we can!

Online Response Crew
Wizards of the Coast
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CS: Making stuff up since 4e began.

That's an interpretation, not RAW.  It's a logical interpretation, but it breaks somewhat when you consider multiple damage types, and when you consider things that trigger off resistance/vulnerable.

There are better interpretations.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
And most importantly, this interpretation doesn't help against untyped damage, because when you have resist against all types, untyped damage is not covered ...
So just reduce the damage by the value of the resistance and hope that there are no multiple vulnerabilities/resistances to take account of.


I just got an answer from customer support, which should put the matter to rest

Heh. If only that were so.

That's an interpretation, not RAW.  It's a logical interpretation, but it breaks somewhat

That's one of the nicer responses to a custsev answers I've seen. To be fair, I like hearing custserv answers: although they typically don't analyze things like we can (thanks to crowd-sourcing and unlimited time), they do at least tend to provide an "average joe" interpretation, which is often how the rules were intended to be read. And with any luck they might contact the developers to make an official ruling some day.

So, for discussion purposes, if this answer were the writer's intent (it seems intuitive enough), what problems would it create, and are there ways to fix it?

Example: I know that it can cause issues in regard to things like "resist: melee" and "resist: area" (which are pretty odd to begin with), but what if those were treated as a subset of "resist: all"... i.e. "resist all (melee only)"?
'Resist all N' means that every time you take damage, you reduce that damage by N. Other resistances overlap, only the highest applies, yadda yadda.

It does not mean that you have resist fire. It does mean that you take less damage from fire attacks.

So, for discussion purposes, if this answer were the writer's intent (it seems intuitive enough), what problems would it create, and are there ways to fix it?

The biggest problem is that it means Resist all triggers effects like Surging Flame, and its not clear if that is actually intended or not.

  I think the best way to handle it is that Resist All does not trigger effects that specifically require a particular type of resistance other than "all", but Resist All is considered the same as any other resistance type for purposes of determining stacking and the maximum resistance to be applied.
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