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A recent question asked whether it's possible to cause non-magical damage of every damage type, to which the answer was apparently yes. However, a point was raised a couple of times, such as this comment:

It might be worth removing force damage from your list due to its definition. (still a fine question for all other types). PHB. Damage types. Page 196. Force is pure magical energy focused into damaging form

Answers did find a few instances of abilities or features that cause force damage, but which do not match any of the criteria for being "magical" if you go solely by their own description. For example, the ghost's Incorporeal Movement feature:

Incorporeal Movement: The ghost can move through other creatures and Objects as if they were difficult terrain. It takes 5 (1d10) force damage if it ends its turn inside an object.

Going by the list of things which can cause a feature to be considered "magical", this feature is not a magic item, it is not a spell, it does not make a spell attack, it does not use spell slots, and it does not contain any reference to magic in its description; thus this feature is not magical.

However, as mentioned in the comment above, the description for force damage itself does describe it as magical (emphasis mine):

Force is pure magical energy focused into damaging form

Thus my question: Is Force damage always magical damage, even if the feature or ability causing that damage wouldn't qualify as magical otherwise?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ For context, in what situations is the difference between magical and non-magical force damage applicable? Resistance and immunity to piercing, slashing and bludgeoning is often specific to non-magical instances of that damage type, but I'm not aware of any instances for force damage. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 27, 2018 at 17:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MonkeezOnFire I don't know of anything with specifically "resistance to nonmagical force damage", but there is at least one magic item that just gives "resistance to nonmagical damage" that would presumably include nonmagical force damage if any exists. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 27, 2018 at 17:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a footnote on that item description saying "Immunity: bludgeoning, Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Weapons" (which is how the ability is worded in monster statblocks). Are we sure this isn't just a mistake? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Sep 29, 2018 at 0:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells The rules on damage resistance include an example that only makes sense if "resistance to all nonmagical damage" includes resistance to nonmagical fire damage. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 29, 2018 at 2:25

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Yes, it counts as magical.

You already quote arguably the most specific reference - the definition of the force damage type:

Force is pure magical energy focused into a damaging form.

All force damage is magical. Unless contradicted more specifically in a feature although I doubt this will occur. It is far more likely that they would define an additional damage type or errata the existing definition.

It is also the only damage type that is defined explicitly as magical. One example would be that a dragon's breath is fire damage but not magical; however, the type of damage from the spell fireball is fire and is magical.

Sage Advice further clarifies how to determine what in the game is considered magical under the question "Is the breath weapon of a dragon magical?"

  • Is it a magic item?

  • Is it a spell? Or does it let you create the effects of a spell that’s mentioned in its description?

  • Is it a spell attack?

  • Is it fueled by the use of spell slots?

  • Does its description say it’s magical?

The last one being the most pertinent in the reference to the original question.

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No, it doesn’t

Per the Player's Handbook and Basic Rules, the section on damage types states:

Different attacks, damaging spells, and other harmful effects deal different types of damage. Damage types have no rules of their own, but other rules, such as damage resistance, rely on the types.

Given that damage types explicitly have no rules on their own, then force damage being mentioned as being “pure magic” is no different than the Fluff attached to the monk about ki being magical. Magical from a lore perspective (which includes the entire D&D multiverse) is different than magical from a game mechanics perspective.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I believe there's an actual argument to be made here, but how would you respond if someone were to say that that's the general rule, while the description of force damage is more specific and therefor overrules it? \$\endgroup\$ May 11 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheLittlePeace Another point is the argument made in the Sage Advice Compendium. I have updated my answer in response to a recent downvote to include that, not sure why I didn't when I posted it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    May 11 at 18:51

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