When you deal zero damage due to the enemy's armor, does it still trigger corresponding moves?

For examle, the Druid's "Balance" move:

When you deal damage, take 1 balance.

For each balance spent, heal 1d4 HP.

It would be weird, if you still get the "balanced" healing, despite you didn't harm anyone, hence the question. On the other hand, the Fighter's "Merciless" move:

When you deal damage, deal +1d4 damage.

Let's say you have a bad damage roll of 2, and the enemy's armor is 2. Or you choose "-1d6 damage" on your Volley move. Anyways, zero damage — can you still assume this move and add 1d4 to deal "real" damage?

  • \$\begingroup\$ You thinks it's weird because you read the move as "balancing" hit points done and hit points healed (or harm caused and harm cured). Whereas it makes sense if you think of it balancing the number of attacks made and the number of healings made. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slow Dog
    Dec 15, 2017 at 16:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SlowDog I've never said the number of hit points must be balanced. It's just seems weird to me when you can scratch someone's armor and threat that the same way as "causing harm" to him. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Dec 15, 2017 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ But it doesn't say "cause harm". You're balancing the number of times you whack a thing with a stick with the number of times you caress a thing to cure it; the number of times you're aggressive with the number of times you're gentle. It's about balancing intent, not results. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slow Dog
    Dec 15, 2017 at 19:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SlowDog I get your reasoning, although the rules say "when you deal damage". Dealing damage is the result. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Dec 15, 2017 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


Page 21 of the rulebook says:

Dealing damage means you roll the damage dice for your class; sometimes your weapon will add or subtract damage too.

It might net out at zero, but (rules as written) define dealing damage as the trigger for rolling the dice.

So, the Druid would gain 1 Balance even if they netted out as zero.

The Fighter would roll an extra d4 at the same time as their regular damage dice (so you would treat a negative number as 0 if it was still negative after adding d4).


\begin{array}{l|r|r} \text{Die source} & \text{Size} & \text{Roll} \\ \hline \text{Class} & \text{d}10 & 1 \\ \text{Volley} & -\text{d}6 & -3 \\ \text{Merciless} & \text{d}4 & 4 \\ \hline && 2 \end{array}

It wouldn't be (1 - 3) = -2 and thus 0. (0 + 4) = 4.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Dealing damage means you roll the damage dice for your class - therefore, when a wizard shoots someone with Magic Missile, he is not "dealing damage"? \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Dec 15, 2017 at 14:51
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor — The spell description uses the phrase "deal damage" but overrides the amount of damage (as per page 21). \$\endgroup\$
    – Quentin
    Dec 15, 2017 at 15:00

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