The Lich has the Lair Action:

The lich targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. A crackling cord of negative energy tethers the lich to the target. Whenever the lich takes damage, the target must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the lich takes half the damage (rounded down), and the target takes the remaining damage. This tether lasts until initiative count 20 on the next round or until the lich or the target is no longer in the lich's lair.

The Lich also has various damage resistances and immunities. I originally thought that the target would only have to save if the Lich actually takes damage, ie if the damage makes it through the Lich's resistance.

However, looking at this answer it seems that damage resistance is applied after all other reductions, therefore, the target needs to save against the full original damage. Only after that half of the damage has been "redirected" would the Lich then apply resistance to the remainder.

For example, my Lich uses this Lair Action on initiative count 20, tethering itself to the party Wizard. The party Fighter then, armed with a mundane sword, attacks and hits the Lich, dealing 8 non-magical slashing damage. In this case, does the Wizard have to make a constitution save or take 4 damage? Or, does the Lich resist all the damage, effectively taking no damage, negating the need for the Wizard to make a saving throw at all?

  • \$\begingroup\$ If I am going to inflict this evil on my players, I just want to be sure :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Destruktor
    Jul 7 '17 at 15:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Possibly related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/101846/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Jul 7 '17 at 15:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Destruktor When in doubt, err on the side of caution. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mindwin
    Jul 7 '17 at 20:05

Going off the phrasing of the effect

When the Lich takes damage

Not "When the Lich is hit with an attack/spell/etc," when they take damage.

In this case, a Lich's resistances and immunities are applied before you determine whether or not Tether fires off. Because until you apply those, the Lich hasn't taken any damage yet.

So, since when you hit a Lich with a nonmagical sword they take Zero Damage, then even if you still ruled that Tether activated, then the Wizard would have to save against taking half of zero damage...so, no damage at all.

The specific wording you are referring to of

Resistance and then vulnerability are applied after all other modifiers to damage

Are all still applied before a creature actually takes any damage. It's not like a Fire-immune creature gets hit with a fireball, takes the fire damage, and them immediately heals that damage. They simply don't take any damage at all.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This sounds correct to me. If the lich takes a damage it doesn't have resistance to, would the tethered creature benefit from its resistance though? What if they both had resistance to the same thing? \$\endgroup\$
    – monoRed
    Jul 7 '17 at 19:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @monoRed Hypothetically, suppose a Lich got hit with Cold damage and Tethered that damage to a PC who had cast Protection from Energy (cold) on themself. We start with 40 cold damage. The Lich has Resistance to Cold Damage, so before they take any damage, the total damage they are about to receive is halved. The Lich is now taking 20 cold damage. It activates the Tether, and the PC fails their save. The Lich takes 10 cold damage, and the PC is now about to take 10 as well. At this point, the PC's Resistance to Cold Damage kicks in, and halves the damage again (before damage is applied). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 7 '17 at 19:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thus, the PC takes 5 cold damage, and the Lich takes 10. See here for a related scenario backed by official WotC statements: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/101846/… \$\endgroup\$ Jul 7 '17 at 19:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ The answer could be improved by editing that example into the answer directly. \$\endgroup\$
    – starchild
    Jul 7 '17 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not relevant in this case, but I have seen a question on here somewhere where the accepted answer boiled down to "taking 0 damage is still taking damage", but I think it was damage reduction rather than resistance. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tin Wizard
    Jul 7 '17 at 22:12

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