Damage Types, Are there too many?

This is based on the weapon list discussion over here: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

There are a lot of different damage types currently in D&D. 
In 3.x we have bludgeoning, slashing, piercing, positive, negative, acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic. (10)
In 4e we have Acid, Cold, Fire, Force, Lightning, Necrotic, Physical, Poison, Psychic, Radiant, and Thunder (11) 
In D&DNext I have found the following damage keywords; bludgeoning, piercing, slashing, acid, cold, fire, force, holy, lightning, necrotic, poison, radiant, thunder, unholy. (14)

Now do we need all of these? Are we happy with lots of different types of damage? I don't know, but there are going to be different types of damage types/keywords. 
What would be the ideal way for these to be written?

Personally, I like the three weapon damage types (bludgeoning, piercing, slashing), I find they help define the weapon a little.
As far as the other damage types I don't have a big opinion on them other than I think we are up to too many damage keywords already. I prefer positive and negative energy damage over holy/radiant and necrotic/unholy. Though I can see the value of expanding on them in this way.
Discuss. 


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Well the more damage types they include, the less powerful resistance types become.  Because if you only resist 1 out of X types, and as X gets bigger the percentage of situations in which your resistance matters goes down.  This could mean that with enough damage types, we could see mundane armor types have resistances...maybe chain can resist slashing, and plate can resist slashing, bludgeoning, and fire but add a weakness to lightning?...if they added things like this the armor table and armor choice would really have more of an impact other than the "what gives me the highest AC?"
Well the more damage types they include, the less powerful resistance types become.  Because if you only resist 1 out of X types, and as X gets bigger the percentage of situations in which your resistance matters goes down.  This could mean that with enough damage types, we could see mundane armor types have resistances...maybe chain can resist slashing, and plate can resist slashing, bludgeoning, and fire but add a weakness to lightning?...if they added things like this the armor table and armor choice would really have more of an impact other than the "what gives me the highest AC?"


Sounds like a great idea to me.

I like having many damage types - as long it makes sense.
Wasn't this the topic of one of their polls/ articles a while back?


Regardless - there is nothing wrong with lots of damage types.  Just so long as that doesn't translate into lots of immunities and common resistances.

Obviously there needs to be a damage type for every type of physical damage (fire, electricity, poison, acid, etc.).  And damage types for the various weapons is a good idea, although more weapons ought to allow for more than one type of damage - even if that extra type comes at a damage penalty.  Perhaps you can slash with a longsword for 1d8 or you can batter for 1d6; perhaps you can stab with a rapier for 1d6 or slash for 1d4.  It's a bit hard to justify anything but bludgeoning for hammers (in fact most bludgeoning weapons).  But for at least some weapons (more than at present) it should be possible to use them in more than one way.

The real question comes in with the damage types that are not tied to the real world.  For example there was a big debate about whether we need both Holy and Divine damage (I think not).  But we do need Necrotic damage, and we need something to be opposed to that (Holy?).  And Force damage has a long history in D&D.

Did I leave anything out?  Oh wait - what about Psychic damage?  Do we need that?


The way I look at it - the cost for different weapons is minimal - just so long as immunities and resistance to these are very rare, do not show up in feats and do not generally show up on items (all of which I think is a good idea).


Or - at least - they should take an idea from 4E and apply all resistances to a single slot.  Or maybe two slots.  But not armor, shields, rings, amulets, helms, etc.  Let the players choose one or two damage types they want to be protected from - don't allow them to assemble the classic MMO 'resistance gear set'.  A ring of fire resistance (if the 'slot' is ring for historic reasons) or an amulet of poison resistance  - but not blanket immunity and no immunity to weapon types (weapon type immunity should be even rarer than elemental damage type immunity among creatures - and unheard of among PCs).  At least as a magic item feature.


If specific armor types have a resistance to a particular type of damage based upon its construction - I probably wouldn't be too upset.  But that should come with a cost.  FOr example - adding resistance to slashing on top of what is already the best AC would be a very bad idea from a balance perspective.  Give characters the best AC and resistance to the most common damage type?  Or even multiple damage types?  In exchange for what?  Vullnerability to a rare damage type?  No, I don't think that is a good idea.   

At least not unless you first double all monsters damage so that the plate is really just breaking even (and then what you are really doing is making the other armors - or no armor - vulnerable).  


   

Carl
Does anyone know what force damage is? I've always wondered. If it is just kinetic energy then weapons should generate it too. If it is something else, I'd really like it to be defined.
If specific armor types have a resistance to a particular type of damage based upon its construction - I probably wouldn't be too upset.  But that should come with a cost.  FOr example - adding resistance to slashing on top of what is already the best AC would be a very bad idea from a balance perspective.  Give characters the best AC and resistance to the most common damage type?  Or even multiple damage types?  In exchange for what?  Vullnerability to a rare damage type?  No, I don't think that is a good idea.   

At least not unless you first double all monsters damage so that the plate is really just breaking even (and then what you are really doing is making the other armors - or no armor - vulnerable).  


I don't know if that would be too much a balance issue - maybe, maybe not. But: maybe would differentiate between "minions" and bigger monsters, if the latter get some traits. Maybe a giant - due to his superior strength and bulk - may have the trait "armor piercing" negating the mundane physical resistance effect of the armor. That alone would make the giant a more formidable foe (at least for adventueres wearing armor with usually granting resistance to the giant's type of weaponry).
I just saw there already is a trait named "armor piercing" - though I don't quite like how it works. I like my idea better (obviolusly, teehee) Wink

I'd also consider the value of such rules from a tactical point of view.
DM: "Here is a mob of orcs, all of them swinging greataxes (maybe because there was a sale on orc-mart and/or because it wouldn't really matter if some had clubs)."
Fighter: "I charge blindly into combat!"
But what if the orcs' weapons would actually matter?
DM: "Here is a mob of orcs, all of them swinging greataxes except the two on this side who use large clubs which seem to be fitted with teeth from a large animal!"
Fighter: "I charge blindly into combat!" (The fighter's name is Nimrod, by the way)
Just sounds a bit more interesting and tactically challenging to me, especially regarding the recent "an orc is an orc" approach.

But maybe it's too complex to work out fluently. I don't know.
Armor Piercing: If the melee attack misses but the attack roll is at least 10, the target of the attack takes X damage of the attack's type.

Yes yours sounds better but it might end up being rather fiddly or cumbersome to implement .

@Carl: I don't remember this topic being brought up previously but it doesn't hurt to revisit it again now that we can see some of the damage types. 
Does anyone know what force damage is? I've always wondered. If it is just kinetic energy then weapons should generate it too. If it is something else, I'd really like it to be defined.

Force is basically a solid energy field that doesn't conduct.  Its an energy type so it can hit incoporeal creatures, but its solid enough to be felt as a physical blow.  You can't ground force like you could electricity, and it doesn't bleed over into it's surroundings like heat does, so it really does act like a physical object with defined area and edges that you can touch, but its still just raw summoned energy.
Yes, there are too many.  Vuln and resist should show up in about 1/2 the battles.  If we assume a party of 4, then we don't want more then 8 different types.

Does anyone know what force damage is? I've always wondered. If it is just kinetic energy then weapons should generate it too. If it is something else, I'd really like it to be defined.

I agree.

Force, bludgeoning, and thunder should be the same.  No reason why spells and weapons should have a compleatly different track.

Necrotic, acid, and poision should also be combined.

I'd remove radiant and necrotic all together.

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F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

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Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Keep 'em all.

Damage types aren't just mechanics, they're also fluff.  The frequency of encountering vuln/resist should not be the sole determinant of the prevalence of damage types.
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Does anyone know what force damage is? I've always wondered. If it is just kinetic energy then weapons should generate it too. If it is something else, I'd really like it to be defined.


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I'l like the list consilidated some, I wont lie. When making mosters it's just easier to know the paladin and cleric are doing radiant/holy damage instead of going, "Well this spell is holy, and this spell is radiant, and this spell is divine...so which resistances would this ghoul have?". For DMs making content this many damage types seems kind of unwieldy and overkill to me.

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The first time I played 4E, we had a Cleric of the Raven Queen who shot Radiant Lance... it was counter imersive to have this grimm-reaper type character shooting light lazers at his foes.

I have always been a big fan of a difference in Negative (unholy), Necrotic and Shadow damage types, though D&D has historically kept these three in one. I also don't like that all Evil Clerics have a touch with undeath. Damage types are largely flavor related, and there should be enough of them to be logical and for players to have the damage types they want. Was would be nice is a chart or table that gives a better description of these damage types and DM's could choose to remove some of them from their game.

IE: In game X all Divine spells deal either Holy or Unholy (positive or negative damage) Monsters with resist/vuln are generalized into these two types. But in game Y Divine spells can Holy, Radiant, Necrotic or Unholy and resist/vuln are unchanged.
erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:12px; margin:8px">I get why they want both necrotic&unholy and radiant&holy but it adds too many damage types. Merge them. I like the classic names of Positive/ Negative but "radiant" and "necrotic" are much more evocative. We don't need a strictly cleric damage type; I liked the idea ofpositive warlocks damaging undead. 

And as many have said, force isn't a type of damage its a type of spell. Change that to the weapon damage types (typically piercing or bludgeoning). Magic missile is a force power that does piercing damage. 

I might rename "poison" damage into "toxic" damage and return "thundering" to"sonic". Thundering just seems unspecific; it's a descriptor not a name."

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My vote is definitely to keep Radiant and Necrotic

Positive and Negative energy I find really deadening as far as flavor goes. It seems like the DnD equivalent of quantum physics, which is cool . . . but not for Clerics.

Domains are now more formalized (thankfully), I think it would be easy enough to build into the Domains: Undeath Domain: Treat all spells that do radiant damage as Necrotic damage.

Even Kord or Moradin would do well with Holy Light radiating forth from their heroes, while the domain would supply them with Lightning and Earth spells as appropriate.

I want Bludgeoning, Sonic, Force, and Thunder to be all combined, but I'm not certain what the name should be. Force weapons sounds . . . Jedi. But spells that do bludgeoning damage to represent Thunder don't seem quite right either. 

My wish list would relatively be the same as 4E after that: 

Lightning
Fire
Poison
Radiant
Necrotic
Psychic
Acid
Cold
Slashing
Piercing
Force/Bludgeoning 
Does anyone know what force damage is? I've always wondered. If it is just kinetic energy then weapons should generate it too. If it is something else, I'd really like it to be defined.

Metaphorically, I see force damage as akin to being body-slammed against the floor or a wall. It hits you EVERYWHERE. Even your internal organs.

Dunno if that's right or not...

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Armor Piercing: If the melee attack misses but the attack roll is at least 10, the target of the attack takes X damage of the attack's type.

That's the Glancing Blow option in Combat Superiority, and has been identified as being weak to useless because it's so rare to roll 10 or better and miss.
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
Armor Piercing: If the melee attack misses but the attack roll is at least 10, the target of the attack takes X damage of the attack's type.

That's the Glancing Blow option in Combat Superiority, and has been identified as being weak to useless because it's so rare to roll 10 or better and miss.


That was from the Ogre in the bestiary. I believe it had Armor Piercing 4. I think Armor Piercing/Glancing Blow would b more effective or at least useful considering how likely they are to hit.

My wish list would relatively be the same as 4E after that: 

Lightning
Fire
Poison
Radiant
Necrotic
Psychic
Acid
Cold
Slashing
Piercing
Force/Bludgeoning 


I could live with this and I think those kinds of damages are enough. Whenever I read about a certain damage type I feel it has to mean something in the game. Otherwise, why have the mechanic to begin with. So an lightning attack should have the potential to harm some creatures more than "normal" damage. So my character can shine when he uses that kind of damage.
On the other hand, too many damage types create a bloat.
I definetely do not need it as fluff. Because I create my own fluff.