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How does immunity work when target is immune to one of multiple types of an attack?

For example I attack a Clay Golem with my psi blades. Golem is immune to psychic damage, so I do no damage. What if I use Psionic Weapon on my blades prior to an attack? Now the damage is both psychic and magical. Clay Golem is immune to psychic but not to magical. How would I determine the damage it takes?

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    \$\begingroup\$ When you say "use Psionic Weapon", do you mean the discipline from the "mystic" Unearthed Arcana playtest material? Or something else? \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Nov 26 '17 at 15:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I was referring to the latest (from March 2017) iteration of Mystic from Unearthed Arcana. I should have clarified. Thanks for your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Bober Nov 26 '17 at 16:42
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Clearly immune.

"Magical" is not a type of damage as defined in the PHB p196. There is errata in the first section of the MM errata that might help answer this for you. The rewording of all immunities and resistances to the following:

Damage Resistances/Immunities. Throughout the book, instances of “nonmagical weapons” in Damage Resistances/Immunities entries have been replaced with “nonmagical attacks.”

Crawford has also been heard in the podcasts as indicating that you can think of it as damage from nonmagical sources. But the type never changes, a magical arrow is still dealing piercing damage albeit from a magical source.

So the damage type is psychic but it is treated as a magical source, which in this case really doesn't help. The Clay Golem is immune to Psychic damage, doesn't matter the source.

Example: Black Pudding is immune to

acid, cold, lightning and slashing

No caveats are given for whether the slashing damage is from a magical source therefore it doesn't matter, it is immune to slashing from all sources. If however you used a flaming sword the pudding would take fire damage as indicated.

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It's unclear, because the wording in the playtest material you are using is off, and it's not clear what the authors may have intended.

Previous editions had clear rules for mixed damage types, but 5E does not — and unlike in previous editions, there isn't anything in the official published rules that has multiple damage types.*

I can't immediately find a designer-intent reference, but this seems to be in line with the general trend towards streamlining and simplifying some of the more complicated rule subsystems in prior editions. In 5E in the examples I can find, effects either replace the damage entirely with another type, or add additional dice which are damage of the new type.

In the example you give, I'm assuming you're talking about the Mystic from Unearthed Arcana — the Psionic Weapon "Immortal Discipline" gives Psychic Focus, which says:

Whenever you focus on this discipline, choose one weapon you're holding or your unarmed strike.

When you attack with it while focused on this discipline, its damage is psychic and magical, rather than its normal damage type.

Since there are no rules for two types of damage, it's unclear what to do. Presumably, the intention is that the damage works against creatures which require magical or psychic weapons to hit — but we don't really know.

The other thing here is that "magical" is not normally a damage type — that's a defined term with a short list — psychic is on the list, but in most cases where the effect is pure magic, the damage type is force:

Force is pure magical energy focused into a damaging form. Most effects that deal force damage are spells, including magic missile and spiritual weapon.

As a DM, based on my guess as to the intent and on magical not being a damage type, I would change the wording to be:

... its damage is psychic, rather than its normal damage type, and these attacks count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

With that ruling, the golem would be immune, and we avoid the question of mixed damage types entirely.

Another option would be:

... its damage counts as both psychic and force, rather than its normal damage type, and any creature with immunity to just one of these damage types takes half damage.

which adds a clear explanation of what happens with the mixed types. Which you (or, which your DM chooses, really) depends on how different you want your psionics to be from the normal rules. It's worth noting that there are other abilities in the mystic playtest class which do force damage.


* It's hard to prove a negative, but I'm not aware of any. If anyone has counter-examples, I'm open to correction.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your first solution is the better one. You are right in that magic is not a damage type, it's a modifier that controls how certain damage types affect a creature. The golem is undamaged because it is immune to psychic damage. The fact that it is magical is immaterial to the golem. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Nov 26 '17 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @keithcurtis Yeah, I definitely prefer that too, personally, but I don't really know what the designers meant, and I can see flavor reasons someone might like the other better. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Nov 26 '17 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I also agree with the first solution. Unless WotC specify otherwise I will assume that the damage does not affect psychic immune targets. It also seems more logical to me, because for example creatures immune to fire are unaffected by fire - whether magical or not. I really appreciate your explanation. \$\endgroup\$ – Bober Nov 26 '17 at 20:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ It means if we have a creature resistant to unassisted psychic damage, that's not a thing right? Than it works be overcome. \$\endgroup\$ – Garret Gang Dec 4 '17 at 17:43

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