Pathfinder 2 Damage
In the midst of combat, you attempt checks to determine if you can damage your foe with weapons, spells, or alchemical concoctions. On a successful check, you hit and deal damage. Damage decreases a creature’s Hit Points on a 1-to-1 basis (so a creature that takes 6 damage loses 6 Hit Points). The full rules can be found in the Hit Points, Healing, and Dying section on page 459.
Damage is sometimes given as a fixed amount, but more often than not you’ll make a damage roll to determine how much damage you deal. A damage roll typically uses a number and type of dice determined by the weapon or unarmed attack used or the spell cast, and it is often enhanced by various modifiers, bonuses, and penalties. Like checks, a damage roll—especially a melee weapon damage roll—is often modified by a number of modifiers, penalties, and bonuses. When making a damage roll, you take the following steps, explained in detail below.
- Roll the dice indicated by the weapon, unarmed attack, or spell, and apply the modifiers, bonuses, and penalties that apply to the result of the roll.
- Determine the damage type.
- Apply the target’s immunities, weaknesses, and resistances to the damage.
- If any damage remains, reduce the target’s Hit Points by that amount.
Step 1: Roll The Damage Dice and Apply Modifiers, Bonuses, and Penalties
Your weapon, unarmed attack, spell, or sometimes even a magic item determines what type of dice you roll for damage, and how many. For instance, if you’re using a normal longsword, you’ll roll 1d8. If you’re casting a 3rd-level fireball spell, you’ll roll 6d6. Sometimes, especially in the case of weapons, you’ll apply modifiers, bonuses, and penalties to the damage.
When you use melee weapons, unarmed attacks, and thrown ranged weapons, the most common modifier you’ll add to damage is your Strength ability modifier. Weapons with the propulsive trait sometimes add half your Strength modifier. You typically do not add an ability modifier to spell damage, damage from most ranged weapons, or damage from alchemical bombs and similar items.
As with checks, you might add circumstance, status, or item bonuses to your damage rolls, but if you have multiple bonuses of the same type, you add only the highest bonus of that type. Again like checks, you may also apply circumstance, status, item, and untyped penalties to the damage roll, and again you apply only the greatest penalty of a specific type but apply all untyped penalties together.
Use the formulas below.
Melee damage roll = damage die of weapon or unarmed attack + Strength modifier + bonuses + penalties
Ranged damage roll = damage die of weapon + Strength modifier for thrown weapons + bonuses + penalties
Spell (and similar effects) damage roll = damage die of the effect + bonuses + penalties
Once your damage die is rolled, and you’ve applied any modifiers, bonuses, and penalties, move on to Step 2. Though sometimes there are special considerations, described below.
In some cases, you increase the number of dice you roll when making weapon damage rolls. Magic weapons etched with the striking rune can add one or more weapon damage dice to your damage roll. These extra dice are the same die size as the weapon’s damage die. At certain levels, most characters gain the ability to deal extra damage from the weapon specialization class feature.
Persistent damage is a condition that causes damage to recur beyond the original effect. Unlike with normal damage, when you are subject to persistent damage, you don’t take it right away. Instead, you take the specified damage at the end of your turns, after which you attempt a DC 15 flat check to see if you recover from the persistent damage. See the Conditions Appendix on pages 618–623 for the complete rules regarding the persistent damage condition.
Doubling and Halving Damage
Sometimes you’ll need to halve or double an amount of damage, such as when the outcome of your Strike is a critical hit, or when you succeed at a basic Reflex save against a spell. When this happens, you roll the damage normally, adding all the normal modifiers, bonuses, and penalties. Then you double or halve the amount as appropriate (rounding down if you halved it). The GM might allow you to roll the dice twice and double the modifiers, bonuses, and penalties instead of doubling the entire result, but this usually works best for single- target attacks or spells at low levels when you have a small number of damage dice to roll. Benefits you gain specifically from a critical hit, like the flaming weapon rune’s persistent fire damage or the extra damage die from the fatal weapon trait, aren’t doubled.
Step 2: Determine The Damage Type
Once you’ve calculated how much damage you deal, you’ll need to determine the damage type. There are many types of damage and sometimes certain types are applied in different ways. The smack of a club deals bludgeoning damage. The stab of a spear deals piercing damage. The staccato crack of a lightning bolt spell deals electricity damage. Sometimes you might apply precision damage, dealing more damage for hitting a creature in a vulnerable spot or when the target is somehow vulnerable. The damage types are described on page 452.
Damage Types and Traits
When an attack deals a type of damage, the attack action gains that trait. For example, the Strikes and attack actions you use wielding a sword when its flaming rune is active gain the fire trait, since the rune gives the weapon the ability to deal fire damage.
Step 3: Apply the Target’s Immunities, Weaknesses, and Resistances
Defenses against certain types of damage or effects are called immunities or resistances, while vulnerabilities are called weaknesses. Apply immunities first, then weaknesses, and resistances third. Immunity, weakness, or resistance to an alignment applies only to damage of that type, not to damage from an attacking creature of that alignment.
When you have immunity to a specific type of damage, you ignore all damage of that type. If you have immunity to a specific condition or type of effect, you can’t be affected by that condition or any effect of that type. If you have immunity to effects with a certain trait (such as death effects, poison, or disease) you are unaffected by any effect with that trait. Often, an effect can be both a trait and a damage type (this is especially true in the case of energy damage types). In these cases, the immunity applies to the entire effect, not just the damage. You can still be targeted by an ability with an effect you are immune to; you just don’t apply the effect. However, some complex effects might have parts that affect you even if you’re immune to one of the effect’s traits; for instance, a spell that deals both fire and acid damage can still deal acid damage to you even if you’re immune to fire.
Immunity to critical hits works a little differently. When a creature immune to critical hits is critically hit by a Strike or other attack that deals damage, it takes normal damage instead of double damage. This does not make it immune to any other critical success effects of other actions that have the attack trait (such as Grapple and Shove).
Another exception is immunity to nonlethal attacks. If you are immune to nonlethal attacks, you are immune to all damage from attacks with the nonlethal trait, no matter what other type the damage has. For instance, a stone golem has immunity to nonlethal attacks. This means that no matter how hard you hit it with your fist, you’re not going to damage it—unless your fists don’t have the nonlethal trait, such as if you’re a monk.
Some effects grant you immunity to the same effect for a set amount of time. If an effect grants you temporary immunity, repeated applications of that effect don’t affect you for as long as the temporary immunity lasts. Unless the effect says it applies only to a certain creature’s ability, it doesn’t matter who created the effect. For example, the blindness spell says, “The target is temporarily immune to blindness for 1 minute.” If anyone casts blindness on that creature again before 1 minute passes, the spell has no effect.
Temporary immunity doesn’t prevent or end ongoing effects of the source of the temporary immunity. For instance, if an ability makes you frightened and you then gain temporary immunity to the ability, you don’t immediately lose the frightened condition due to the immunity you just gained—you simply don’t become frightened if you’re targeted by the ability again before the immunity ends.
If you have a weakness to a certain type of damage or damage from a certain source, that type of damage is extra effective against you. Whenever you would take that type of damage, increase the damage you take by the value of the weakness. For instance, if you are dealt 2d6 fire damage and have weakness 5 to fire, you take 2d6+5 fire damage.
If you have more than one weakness that would apply to the same instance of damage, use only the highest applicable weakness value. This usually happens only when a monster is weak to both a type of physical damage and the material a weapon is made of.
If you have resistance to a type of damage, each time you take that type of damage, you reduce the amount of damage you take by the listed amount (to a minimum of 0 damage). Resistance can specify combinations of damage types or other traits. For instance, you might encounter a monster that’s resistant to non-magical bludgeoning damage, meaning it would take less damage from bludgeoning attacks that weren’t magical, but would take normal damage from your +1 mace (since it’s magical) or a non-magical spear (since it deals piercing damage). A resistance also might have an exception. For example, resistance 10 to physical damage (except silver) would reduce any physical damage by 10 unless that damage was dealt by a silver weapon.
If you have more than one type of resistance that would apply to the same instance of damage, use only the highest applicable resistance value.
It’s possible to have resistance to all damage. When an effect deals damage of multiple types and you have resistance to all damage, apply the resistance to each type of damage separately. If an attack would deal 7 slashing damage and 4 fire damage, resistance 5 to all damage would reduce the slashing damage to 2 and negate the fire damage entirely.
Step 4: If Damage Remains, Reduce the Target’s Hit Points
After applying the target’s immunities, resistances, and weaknesses to the damage, whatever damage is left reduces the target’s Hit Points on a 1-to-1 basis. More information about Hit Points can be found in the Hit Points, Healing, and Dying section on page 459.
You can make a nonlethal attack in an effort to knock someone out instead of killing them (see Knocked Out and Dying on page 459). Weapons with the nonlethal trait (including fists) do this automatically. You take a –2 circumstance penalty to the attack roll when you make a nonlethal attack using a weapon that doesn’t have the nonlethal trait. You also take this penalty when making a lethal attack using a nonlethal weapon.
Damage has a number of different types and categories, which are described below.
Damage dealt by weapons, many physical hazards, and a handful of spells is collectively called physical damage. The main types of physical damage are bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing. Bludgeoning damage comes from weapons and hazards that deal blunt-force trauma, like a hit from a club or being dashed against rocks. Piercing damage is dealt from stabs and punctures, whether from a dragon’s fangs or the thrust of a spear. Slashing damage is delivered by a cut, be it the swing of the sword or the blow from a scythe blades trap.
Ghosts and other incorporeal creatures have a high resistance to physical attacks that aren’t magical (attacks that lack the magical trait). Furthermore, most incorporeal creatures have additional, though lower, resistance to magical physical damage (such as damage dealt from a mace with the magical trait) and most other damage types.
Many spells and other magical effects deal energy damage. Energy damage is also dealt from effects in the world, such as the biting cold of a blizzard to a raging forest fire. The main types of energy damage are acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic. Acid damage can be delivered by gases, liquids, and certain solids that dissolve flesh, and sometimes harder materials. Cold damage freezes material by way of contact with chilling gases and ice. Electricity damage comes from the discharge of powerful lightning and sparks. Fire damage burns through heat and combustion. Sonic damage assaults matter with high-frequency vibration and sound waves. Many times, you deal energy damage by casting magic spells, and doing so is often useful against creatures that have immunities or resistances to physical damage.
Two special types of energy damage specifically target the living and the undead. Positive energy often manifests as healing energy to living creatures but can create positive damage that withers undead bodies and disrupts and injures incorporeal undead. Negative energy often revivifies the unnatural, unliving power of undead, while manifesting as negative damage that gnaws at the living.
Powerful and pure magical energy can manifest itself as force damage. Few things can resist this type of damage—not even incorporeal creatures such as ghosts and wraiths.
Weapons and effects keyed to a particular alignment can deal chaotic, evil, good, or lawful damage. These damage types apply only to creatures that have the opposing alignment trait. Chaotic damage harms only lawful creatures, evil damage harms only good creatures, good damage harms only evil creatures, and lawful damage harms only chaotic creatures.
Sometimes an effect can target the mind with enough psychic force to actually deal damage to the creature. When it does, it deals mental damage. Mindless creatures and those with only programmed or rudimentary intelligence are often immune to mental damage and effects.
Venoms, toxins and the like can deal poison damage, which affects creatures by way of contact, ingestion, inhalation, or injury. In addition to coming from monster attacks, alchemical items, and spells, poison damage is often caused by ongoing afflictions, which follow special rules described on page 457.
Another special type of physical damage is bleed damage. This is persistent damage that represents loss of blood. As such, it has no effect on nonliving creatures or living creatures that don’t need blood to live. Weaknesses and resistances to physical damage apply.
Sometimes you are able to make the most of your attack through sheer precision. When you hit with an ability that grants you precision damage, you increase the attack’s listed damage, using the same damage type, rather than tracking a separate pool of damage. For example, a non-magical dagger Strike that deals 1d6 precision damage from a rogue’s sneak attack increases the piercing damage by 1d6.
Some creatures are immune to precision damage, regardless of the damage type; these are often amorphous creatures that lack vulnerable anatomy. A creature immune to precision damage would ignore the 1d6 precision damage in the example above, but it would still take the rest of the piercing damage from the Strike. Since precision damage is always the same type of damage as the attack it’s augmenting, a creature that is resistant to physical damage, like a gargoyle, would resist not only the dagger’s damage but also the precision damage, even though it is not specifically resistant to precision damage.
While not their own damage category, precious materials can modify damage to penetrate a creature’s resistances or take advantage of its weaknesses. For instance, silver weapons are particularly effective against lycanthropes and bypass the resistances to physical damage that most devils have.