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One of my players has Talon, a +1 Longsword that deals slashing damage, found in the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure.

In regards to a creature that has "resistance to damage from non-magical weapons", does Talon deal magical or non-magical damage?

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Yes, sort of, but damage works a little differently in this edition of D&D

Magical describes the weapon, and the attack

The magical sword makes a magical attack, it doesn't do magical damage per se since "magical" isn't a damage type of its own. This is a subtle point, but it is worth remembering. (The related case of silvered weapons follows this same rule / logic).

... a magical attack is an attack delivered by a spell, a magic item, or another magical source (Basic Rules, DM, p. 4; under Vulnerabilities, Resistances, and Immunities).

You describe Talon as a longsword, +1. In the DMG, you will find such weapons under Magic Items, in the category of Weapon, +11.

In regards to a creature that has "resistance to damage from non-magical weapons", does Talon deal magical or non-magical damage?

You cited the standard rules block incorrectly.

Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks (Magmin; MM)
Damage Immunities bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks not made with silvered weapons (Werewolf; MM)

Unlike some video games and some other RPGs, D&D 5th edition does not specify magical as a type of damage, although Force as a damage type is described as pure magic that does damage.

Damage Types (Basic Rules, p. 75)
Damage types have no rules of their own, but other rules, such as damage rresistance, rely on the types. The damage types follow, with examples to help a DM assign a damage type to a new effect.

The rules cite the following kinds of damage. (edited for brevity)
Acid. Bludgeoning. Cold. Fire. Force. Lightning. Necrotic. Piercing. Poison. Psychic. Radiant. Slashing. Thunder.

Note that 'magical' isn't one of the listed damage types. Long swords do slashing damage. (Weapons table, PHB).

Weapons typically do Bludgeoning, Slashing, or Piercing damage. Monster stat blocks often show resistance or immunity to Bludgeoning, Slashing, or Piercing damage from non-magical, or non-silvered, weapons. (Werewolf, magmin, as above). Some also show resistance or immunity to other damage types. A red dragon, for example, is immune to fire damage. (MM; SRD p. 286 also) Fire is a damage type.

How does this work during play?

Ask yourself: is the creature resistant to, or immune from, non-magical attacks?

If yes, then a non-magical weapon does half damage (resistance) or no damage (immunity), but a magical weapon overcomes that resistance or immunity and therefore still does full Bludgeoning (mace), Slashing(sword), or Piercing(spear) damage to the target; it's attack is magical.

What damage does Talon do?

Talon is a magical sword (+1); it makes magical attacks and thus bypasses resistance or immunity to weapon based slashing attacks, doing full slashing damage.

Put another way, the sword isn't doing "magical damage" (type) but is rather doing a type of damage because it is making a magical attack.

Caveat: against Swarms, the slashing coming from a magical attack, or not, won't matter. Swarms have:

Damage Resistance: bludgeoning, piercing, slashing (MM)

Note that it doesn't specify a source, the way a werewolf does.

Damage Immunities: bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks not made with silvered weapons (MM)


1 Under "Magic Items" we find.

Weapon, +1, +2, or +3
Weapon (any), uncommon (+1), rare (+2), or very rare (+3)

You have a bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. The bonus is determined by the weapon’s rarity. (DMG, p.213)

"Magical Attacks" as a game feature.

A good example of this is the Monk's 6th level ability Ki-Empowered Strikes

Starting at 6th level, your unarmed strikes count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

The attack is magical, which then applies damage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Oct 26 '18 at 2:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ The first line after "What damage does Talon do?" could use some clarification. There are a quite a few creatures (many of them plants) that have resistances to one or more of the "basic three" damage types and do not have a clause related to magic weapons. For example, a rapier of warning (a magic weapon with no +X) is no more effective than a mundane rapier against a treant. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Mar 18 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Resistances that can be overcome by magic weapons (which does happen to be most of them) explicitly call out how they interact with magical attacks. The assorted plant creatures do not have that same text - if they were meant to have the specific exemptions, they would have the text saying so. There are no hidden rules. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Mar 18 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. I don't feel a need to address every edge case in this answer. Do you have a list of such creatures? I see your point on the treant, I hadn't quite "grokked" it at first. Maybe I should add a note at the end to encapsulate your point. Let me ponder on that. Check the revision. Does that address your concern? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 18 at 14:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ So, one thing that may be at play here is that there was an big set of errata somewhere in the last few years (my memory is hazy) where Throughout the book, instances of “nonmagical weapons” in Damage Resistances/Immunities entries have been replaced with “nonmagical attacks. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Mar 18 at 15:22
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In this case: Yes, it's magical

The chest also holds a +1 longsword in a silver-chased scabbard. The sword is inscribed with the name "Talon" ... (LMoP 24)

All of the properties of the item are given by the description "+1 longsword". This is not a generic description of a bonus, but the designation of a specific item detailed both at the end of the adventure (p.52) and in the DMG (p.213). As such, it is a magic item and bypasses resistance to non-magical attacks (MM errata on MM p.8).

Generally: Ask your DM

If you only know the effects or bonuses of an item, it is best to ask your DM (preferably by casting identify).

In 5e bonuses are not given lightly and weapons that have +X are usually magical items. However your DM is free to invent any item. Possibly the sword is of such craftsmanship that it performs better in combat. In that case it might not be considered a magical item and to overcome resistance to non-magical attacks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It’s probably worth noting that saying “+1 longsword” should always refer to the specific (magical) item of that name—DMs who want to create a non-magical longsword with +1 to attack and damage rolls should not use that term, but rather just include that in the item’s description (and, due to the ubiquity of magical +1 bonuses in D&D, it’s probably worth spelling out that it is not magical in that case anyway). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 24 '18 at 15:06
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Yes, it's magical

In this case the answer is yes, as Talon is a magical item which confers a bonus of +1 to attack and damage it counts as a magical item for the purposes of negating damage resistance.

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