I play a Totem Warrior with a greataxe. Last night we encountered our first black ooze, and all I could do was throw javelins to contribute damage!

I'm not trying to deal glass-cannon levels of damage, but it would be nice to not feel completely useless in situations like these.

How can I contribute more damage than this in fights against slash-immune creatures?

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    Are you looking to contribute to the fight as the title? or deal damage, as the bold text? Hellsaint's answer covers damage well, but there are many ways a character can contribute to a fight without doing damage (although a good number don't work against an ooze). – Scott Apr 20 at 1:40
  • @Scott from this answer and OP's answer in comments for it, he probably is interested in ways to contribute other than just do damage, but he might had the mindset that the main way to contribute in >a fight< is doing damage originally. – HellSaint Apr 20 at 4:19
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    Please don't modify your question to thank people for their responses and comments. While it's great to show your appreciation, this site tries to avoid forum-style posts so it's easier to read and find answers to questions. – Cyrad Apr 21 at 22:19
  • Next time, try grappling the ooze. – Peter Apr 22 at 19:16
up vote 73 down vote accepted

Have a non-slash damage type weapon.

Well, that's an easy one. I would usually have at least a simple bludgeoning weapon as a replacement - it might be usefull to bash skeletons as well! A warhammer or maul suits this problem nicely.

If you don't, improvise it!

As other answer mentioned, you can use your actual weapon as an improvised weapon. Instead of slashing with your axe, rotate it and slam with it! - how much damage this action will do is up to your DM (Correction: actually PHB 147-148 defines it - 1d4). You could improvise your torch to try and do some bludgeoning + fire damage as well, use your surroundings and whatever you have available.

If your DM is nice enough to you, a magic weapon solves the problem as well.

But that depends on your DM giving you a magic weapon that deals elemental damage.

You can't and don't need to be useful every fight

I'm not sure if you were talking about Ochre Jelly or Black Pudding, as both are immune to slashing and are jellies. But if you are a melee fighter against a Black Pudding, you just run. It is clearly designed to wreck melee fighters and your rangeds should be doing the job.

Just to clarify this last paragraph, as it led to some argument in comments: I'm not saying you shouldn't be playing. I am saying you aren't going to shine every time, and it should be fine as it is. You are contributing as you can, you shouldn't feel bad (ok, I shouldn't tell you how you should feel, but I hope you get my point) for "just throwing javelins". Sometimes that will be the best you can do - that doesn't actually mean you are "useless".

  • I agree with everything except the last paragraph. IMHO whether a character is willing to run from an impossible fight is dependent on personality and roleplaying rather than the simple fact that the character is at a disadvantage. Most barbarians are relatively reckless and loath to run from a fight (not to say there aren't exceptions), so while running away would be the best metagaming option, it may not be a good in-game choice. – OldBunny2800 Apr 23 at 1:19
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    @OldBunny2800 he will not INSTANTLY run from the fight, I agree, but after noticing everything he is doing is not being any close to effective and some actions (e.g. slashing) are actually making his situation worse, he will (probably) run. He is reckless, but shouldn't be so dumb that he dies because of it. (unless he rolled 3 on both INT and WIS, then he is dumb enough to not understand his situation and without instincts enough to understand that he should be scared and running) – HellSaint Apr 23 at 3:07
  • I randomly remembered the discussion with @KRyan here and added a clarification to my last point. Hope it's clearer now that I'm not telling him to just "waste your time doing nothing". – HellSaint Jun 11 at 6:36

I frequently throw creatures with various kinds of immunities and resistances at my players, and here are some of the ways I plan for them to get around these resistances. Because finding magic items is reliant on the DM, I'm going to focus only on ways that you can get around these resistances without needing the DM to award you anything.

Carry other weapons

If you carry multiple different weapons, you can easily bypass a monster's resistance to one damage type, or exploit a vulnerability to a different damage type. In your case, if you had both a slashing weapon, like a greataxe, and a bludgeoning weapon, like a maul, you could have just swapped to the maul and contributed normally. This also will prevent somebody from crippling you by disarming you of your primary weapon.

Carry weapons made of different alloys

Silver gets around some supernatural resistances, and it's relatively cheap to get an item silvered. Xanathar's Guide to Everything includes rules for treating an item made of adamantine, which can get around the resistances of some creatures, like gargoyles or other such elementals. I had one player who carried around both a silver and adamantine coated weapon at all times, just to get around resistances.

Find a way to make your weapon attacks magical for the purposes of overcoming resistance to damage

There are several class abilities, like those of a Pact of the Blade warlock, or the Way of the Kensei monk, that allow you to treat your weapon as magical for the purposes of overcoming damage resistance. Similarly, Oath of Devotion paladins can use their channel divinity to make one of their weapons magical. You could potentially multiclass to gain these benefits without needing to find anything from the DM.

However, I would not recommend multiclassing though unless you plan out very carefully how your are building your character. It can easily weaken your character as much as strengthen them. Plus, multilcassing is an optional rule that requires DM approval.

Work with your spellcasters

Several classes like Paladin and Wizard can prepare/learn the Magic Weapon spell. This spell requires concentration, but it makes a non-magical weapon magical. Barbarians can't concentrate on spells while raging, so you will likely need to get another player to help you out by concentrating on it for you. My paladin has this spell prepared for exactly this reason; to help me or a party member get around a resistance. Especially since that game has very few magic items.

  • A possible addition to Work with your spellcasters is to use the Help action to give Advantage to your spellcasters' ranged spell attacks or ranged weapon attacks. – heathenJesus Apr 19 at 20:33

You can contribute in a fight without doing damage.

Note that many of the below wouldn't necessarily work against an Ooze, specifically, but are general suggestions for how a martial character can continue to be useful if their weapon is unavailable or ineffective.

Grapple can render the creature you're grappling much less threatening. A grapple could provide time for an injured character to be healed, allow the rest of your party to bring numbers to your advantage (for example, if your party of 4 fights 2 monsters, grappling makes that a 3 vs 1).

Shove Can provide advantage to your allies, hinder movement of the shoved creature, or move them back 5ft (the usefulness of moving them 5 ft is very dependent on the battle layout, but can be a 1 hit k.o. if they stand next to a cliff)

Provide half cover - creatures provide +2 AC and dex saving throws by getting in the way.

Use a skill - Perception is probably a good one. Perhaps more enemies have been drawn by the Barbarian cursing that he didn't bring a hammer.

Take some damage - particularly against low intelligence creatures, if you are standing there, you're likely to be attacked. Give the party's rogue time to run away from the front lines, get healed, and get back in the fight.

Use something in the environment - Why are you fighting this ooze anyway? You're probably faster than it. Spend 3 turns barging down the locked door the ooze is guarding, and then have the party simply leave the fight.

  • Definitely my favorite answer on this question, and the one I’d have written if you hadn’t. – D. Ben Knoble Apr 20 at 7:54
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    Grappling wouldn't have worked very well on a black pudding creature though, sure I could run up and hug it but I'd be taking acidic damage while doing so and it would have been able to swallow me up pretty easily – starscream_disco_party Apr 21 at 17:55
  • @starscream_disco_party - I did acknowledge that in the disclaimer. Other people may read your question, before asking a similar question in their mind, but not about an ooze specifically. They should be aware of grappling as an option. I would say my last point was the most likely one to help you specifically in this case. – Scott Apr 22 at 22:16

1. Plan better

I know it seems blunt (no pun intended) and harsh, but I (as a player) make sure my characters have bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing weapons. (In older editions, I would also get a cold-iron weapon at the first opportunity).

2. Talk to your DM

As a player, I would have asked if I can use the broad side of my axe instead of the slashy bit. Real weapons can be improvised weapons. Maybe it'll do less damage, but it will at least do damage.

3. Obligatory mention of Magic Weapons

Magic weapons generally overcome damage resistances, but they're kind of at the whim of the DM.

(PS - "why would your character know they need every type of weapon?!". Because they're an adventurer. Your character has talked to other adventurers. "Old man, when you used to delve dungeons, what'd you need? Oh, Blunt weapons? Good idea!")

Since other answers haven't mentioned this, another way to be helpful is to literally Help. You can give advantage to the characters that can safely do damage. Even better if you're a Barbarian using Unarmored Defense, since you're not risking either a weapon or your armor by being close.

The simple way would be magic weapons -- a magic greataxe, magic javelins, or a bow, either itself magical or with magic arrows. For some creatures (like were-creatures), silver(ed) weapons might suffice, though that's trading on a vulnerability, in most cases, rather than dealing "magic" damage.

  • I had a silver holy trinket that I threw and did 9 damage with :) I'll have to keep my eyes open for a magic dmg weapon I can use. I was thinking of something like enchanting my javelins or a ring that would do a decent AOE attack once a day – starscream_disco_party Apr 19 at 14:47
  • @starscream_disco_party Problem solved then, just tie it to a stick and you have an improvised magical flail. – Richard Apr 20 at 12:17

Be a meat shield.

Take hits or distract your opponent while other party members do the damage.

  • That wouldn't have been too helpful in that situation, our heals are somewhat lacking and I would have been hugging a big ol' blob of acidic damage haha. I ended up throwing silver objects I had and some javelins. I'm buying a maul as soon as we get back into town. – starscream_disco_party Apr 21 at 17:47

Almost in the same context as the answer that Scott gave, Use the environment. There's gotta be something else you can use. Roll for perception, maybe see if there's a large pile of rocks you can throw at it causing multiple d4's worth of damage, see if you could roll to throw more than one javelin, also doing multiple. Throw a random goblin or two if you can find one. It might take the little snack as a generous measure of food and eat that instead of murdering your party. Dead bodies also work great as snacks for a black pudding. If its anything but a blob of acid damage throw the monster. Roll to try and knock it prone, if thats possible on a black pudding, Move behind it and use the "flanking" mechanic. That'll help as good as anything. Try stabbing the creature with the greatsword (piercing damage In my opinion) and lifting both and slamming it on the ground. If you're near a cliff try to heave it off the side. I dont care what creature it is the ground hits harder than any weapon.

There's any measure of wonderful ways to murder something.

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