So say you have a creature, such as a Gold Dragon, that has vulnerability to cold. And that Gold Dragon, being intelligent, has a Ring of Energy Resistance, Cold, as part of it's treasure and is wearing it.

In what order do they apply? Does the vulnerability happen first, causing 50% more damage, which the ring then subtracts away from? Or does the ring subtract away from the damage first, and the leftover gets multiplied by 1.5?


1 Answer 1


First increase the damage, then apply reductions

The developers have explained how those abilities should work, based creatures that appear on certain adventure paths and monsters that do have that combination of abilities on the bestiaries.

In Mummy Mask #1 (The Half-dead City), there is a clay creature that has a vulnerability to fire, and being a construct, they have hardness , but first you increase the damage by 50%, then you apply hardness, then anything that goes through is normal damage, as explained by the author of the adventure and later confirmed by Robert G. McCreary (a developer).

The animated objects are constructs, so they are now creatures, not objects. As creatures, energy damage is not halved against them (in effect, becoming a creature trumps the normal object rules). So they take full damage from energy attacks (150% if they are vulnerable to that energy type), then hardness is applied. However, page 174 of the Core Rulebook states (under "Vulnerability to Certain Attacks") that "Certain attacks are especially successful against some objects.In such cases, attacks deal double their normal damage and my ignore the object's hardness."

Even though the animated objects are no longer "objects," I would still apply this rule about overcoming hardness to them in this adventure (but the 150% creature vulnerability trumps the double damage to an object part of the rule), as hardness can be quite difficult to overcome for low-level PCs. So if the PCs use fire against the warrior dolls, for example, it would deal 150% the normal damage, and ignore the hardness. Other energy damage would deal full damage which would ten be reduced by hardness, the same as for any other attack against it.

Another example are the robot creatures from the Iron Gods adventure path, where they have linked to McCreary's answer several times when questioning the order of abilities and again confirmed by James Jacobs on his unofficial thread, because all robots are vulnerable to electricity, but some of them are also resistant to electricity, like the iconic Annihilator from the Inner Sea Bestiary cover, and even though they have hardness, they should not be treated as objects, just like other constructs.

You need to determine the total amount of damage the robot WOULD take before applying hardness and electricity resistance. So once the damage is determined, first thing you do is apply the vulnerability effect to get the total damage. Hardness and resistance kick in after that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I found another source which supports your answer. d20pfsrd.com/magic/variant-magic-rules/spheres-of-power/… Under the death spheres. "the target becomes vulnerable to a single energy type (this cannot affect a creature already immune to that energy type—apply vulnerability before protection or resistance)" \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Oct 5, 2017 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering That is from sphere of powers, a 3rd party book. We cannot take it as raw, but surely is good to know. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Oct 5, 2017 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I only found out it was 3rd party after I finished reading everything. The site didnt list it as 3rd party and only as varient rules so I jumped the gun when I made the post. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Oct 5, 2017 at 21:45

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