Effects like Cutting Words (PHB, p. 54) and Spirit Shield (XGtE, p. 10) reduce damage by a roll, irrespective of damage type (PHB 196). However, single damage rolls can have multiple damage types, as confirmed (for wording) by Jeremy Crawford in this tweet.

How do you know which part of the damage is reduced?

This could actually make a difference to the amount of damage taken if, for example, the creature taking damage is resistant to one or more of the damage types involved.

Cutting Words: ... When a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a damage roll, you can use your reaction to expend one of your uses of Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and subtracting the number rolled from the creature's roll.

Using this ability to expand upon the examples found in this related question and this other related answer:

Barny, an Ice Devil (MM, p. 75) hits Bobby, rolling 9 slashing damage and 11 cold damage.

Bobby's ally, Vera, is a level 10 bard of the college of Lore, and uses her Cutting Words ability on the attack's damage roll. She rolls a 9, which is subtracted from the Barny's damage roll.

Bobby is wearing his Boots of the Winterlands (DMG, p. 156), giving him resistance to cold.

We know that "resistance and then vulnerability are applied after all other modifiers to damage" (PHB, p. 197) and both slashing damage and cold damage are treated as "one big damage roll" (see the JC tweet), so is all the 9 slashing damage removed by cutting words, and then the cold damage halved for 5 total damage, or is 9 of the cold damage removed by cutting words, leaving 2 to be halved for a total of 1 + 9 = 10 damage taken by Bobby?

Who makes this decision?

When an effect (like cutting words) reduces damage without specifying type from a source containing multiple damage types, what part of the damage is reduced?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related to this question and this question \$\endgroup\$ – Isaac Reefman Aug 27 '18 at 2:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Who makes this decision?" Are you sure that you want that in the question? In 5e that's spelled out clearly. You can remove that zero value added additional question and the substance of this question will stand nicely on its own. It will also keep the question focused on game mechanics, which seems to be the core of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 27 '18 at 3:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Personally, I would like to know if there's some RAW answer on who decides which part of the damage is reduced. It may be "spelled out clearly," but I wasn't aware of it. Sometimes, such answers are surprising (such as in XGtE's optional rules on who decides which of several simultaneous effects happens first). \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Aug 27 '18 at 4:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I see it as an aside bit, certainly not the main body of the question and not required for the answer, though it may be a part of the answer. It's possible that the rules specify that someone specific (other than the DM) decides. Otherwise no-one may have to decide, if the rules specify what part of the damage is affected. If there is no written rule, then yes - I'd say the rules are pretty clear who makes rulings where the rules do not have a built-in one. But in this case, if that is necessary, it seems like an oversight to me. \$\endgroup\$ – Isaac Reefman Aug 27 '18 at 7:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can we make this specifically about cutting words? I'm worried that another mechanic will be worded definitely and have a different answer. If we leave it as general, then this could easily be too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 27 '18 at 13:24

The Bard decides, but is somewhat table dependent

As you've quoted for cutting words, the mechanic states:

When a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you...a damage roll, you can use your reaction to expend one of your uses of Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and subtracting the number rolled from the creature's roll.

When damage is being rolled, each type is rolled separately: different die, different modifiers, different functional rolls (but still counts as One Big Roll with regard to damage.)

The bard is seeing the damage coming in and using their mechanic to reduce the damage they want to reduce.

Other tables may differ

However, there is no written rule on this and a DM could easily say it was their decision. But I'd suggest to let the Bard bard and choose when and how they want to apply their mechanic.

But you have to pick one from somewhere in some circumstances (but not all)

Due to issues regarding resistance, vulnerability, there needs to be a mechanic where you choose which damage type to Cut. If there are none of the mechanics in play, then it doesn't matter - but if there are, you need to separate out the types otherwise you have no way to determine how and where to cut the damage.

Crossover damage

In the cases where the damage reduction is greater than any single damage type's value, then the remaining reduction would cross over to the other damage type. The bard has targeted Damage Type A, and the remainder (if any) goes to Damage Type B.

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    \$\begingroup\$ How does Crawford's "one big roll" factor into this? \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Aug 27 '18 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov Very good point that I didn't mean to come up against :) I made some slight wording changes: does that improve the answer or hurt it? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 27 '18 at 15:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ My main issue is that it's not really explained how or why cutting words applies to the individual dice rolls and not the one big roll. I think the question itself assumes that you roll first, subtract, then calculate (as i've noted in comments on the question) but I think that point is in contention. Is Cutting words a damage modifier in context of how and when resistance is applied? I just don't feel like the question is answered enough. \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Aug 27 '18 at 16:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure I follow the logic \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Aug 27 '18 at 17:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I'm having some trouble with this logic too. It becomes particularly problematic if the two types are individually smaller than the total reduced. For example, the attacker rolls 8 slashing and 8 cold, and the bard rolls 9 to reduce. Can the bard only reduce one of the two 8s to 0 (because they only get to reduce one "roll"), or does the bard get to reduce the slashing to zero and then subtract one from the cold damage? Crawford's "one big roll" ruling would suggest you get to reduce any damage dealt in the attack, but your reading suggests otherwise. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Aug 27 '18 at 17:12

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