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The guardian of faith spell description states that it disappears after it has dealt a total of 60 points of damage.

There are two things about that which I am questioning:

  1. What about creatures which are vulnerable, resistant or immune to radiant damage? Do you factor in the amount of damage it actually does, or the attempted damage (10 or 20 depending on save)?
  2. What happens if it has done 50 damage after several creatures have gotten close to it (e.g. one saved, two didn't), and then a creature enters its range and fails the save? Do they take 10 damage or 20 damage?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ This exact issue is now addressed in the Sage Advice Compendium. You may want to re-review the answers (and potentially reconsider which one you have accepted) given that update. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 7 '20 at 2:28
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The rules differentiate between dealing and taking damage.

The Damage and Resistance section of the Basic Rules (emphasis mine) gives an example of such wording:

Resistance and then vulnerability are applied after all other modifiers to damage. For example, a creature has resistance to bludgeoning damage and is hit by an attack that deals 25 bludgeoning damage. The creature is also within a magical aura that reduces all damage by 5. The 25 damage is first reduced by 5 and then halved, so the creature takes 10 damage.

Example:

Emily casts fireball and rolls a total of 20 damage.
- A red dragonborn fails its DEX save. The fire damage is halved by the dragonborn's fire resistance, so the dragonborn takes 10 damage after reduction.
- A goblin succeed its DEX save. The fire damage is not reduced, so the goblin takes 10 damage without reduction.

The fireball deals 20 damage to the dragonborn, but only 10 damage to the goblin. The dragonborn and goblin take only 10 damage each.

The spell description says:

The guardian vanishes when it has dealt a total of 60 damage.

Failing the save means the guardian deals 20 damage, while succeeding means the guardian only deals 10 damage.

You factor in the outgoing damage towards 60, regardless of the damage the creature actually receives. The last creature failing the save on your example also takes 20 damage; after that, the guardian vanishes.

  1. First enemy fails. The guardian deals 20 damage. Has the guardian dealt 60 damage? No. Then do nothing.
  2. Second enemy fails. The guardian deals 20 damage. Has the guardian dealt 60 damage? No. Then do nothing.
  3. Third enemy saves. The guardian deals 10 damage. Has the guardian dealt 60 damage? No. Then do nothing.
  4. Fourth enemy fails. The guardian deals 20 damage. Has the guardian dealt 60 damage? Yes. Then guardian vanishes.

Total damage accumulated: 70 damage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ruse success on the save means the spirit deals only 10 dmg, not 20 dmg. Succeeding save is not "reduction" mentioned in the "Damage and Resistance". The guardian can deal 10 and 20 damage, depending on the target's save. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vylix
    Dec 12 '18 at 8:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ I still don't understand why halving the damage with the save is considered "damage dealt" and not damage taken. In fact, guardian of faith never even says it deals damage, it just says that "The creature takes 20 radiant damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one". I'm starting to think that the rules do not differentiate between damage taken and dealt as you claim, but rather that it is only happenstance on the subject of the sentence: targets take damage, and sources deal damage. Can you provide other examples of this differentiation? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruse
    Dec 12 '18 at 8:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your last paragraph is WAAY to brief an answer to the other half of this question; if the last creature takes 20 damage then the spell has dealt 70 damage rather than 60, which the querent is unsure the spell can do. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12 '18 at 9:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ I still think that your own examples prove you are wrong, including fireball. If damage dealt only refers to the damage before resistances then why doesn't fireball use the "dealt" verb to describe its damage? If damage taken only refers to damage after resistances (etc) then why does the fireball say that each " target takes 8d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one" even though resistances (etc) have yet to be applied? The answer to both questions is simple, dealt and taken damage have no special relation to resistance. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruse
    Dec 12 '18 at 11:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question is now explicitly addressed in the latest Sage Advice Compendium: "When a creature successfully saves against guardian of faith and takes 10 radiant damage, how much damage does that count against the total amount of damage the spell can deal? Is it 20 because that’s how much it dealt or 10 because that’s how much the target took? It dealt 10 damage to the creature, so 10 is subtracted from the total." You may want to update your answer accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 6 '20 at 8:10
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Guardian of faith factors the actual damage done.

This part of your question was addressed in the Sage Advice Compendium, although in different terms:

[Q:] When a creature successfully saves against guardian of faith and takes 10 radiant damage, how much damage does that count against the total amount of damage the spell can deal? Is it 20 because that’s how much it dealt or 10 because that’s how much the target took?
[A:] It dealt 10 damage to the creature, so 10 is subtracted from the total.

The question implies that damage dealt is attempted and damage taken is actual. However, the answer ignores that implied distinction, because damage taken and dealt are one and the same: both are what you are referring to as the "actual damage done"; there is no such thing as "damage attempted".

Extrapolating for there, guardian of faith accounts for the save, for multipliers (such as resistance and vulnerability), for modifiers, etc. because what matters is the actual damage done to the creature.

Guardian of faith can deal more than 60 damage.

Nowhere in its description does guardian of faith state that is can only deal 60 damage; instead, it states:

The creature takes 20 radiant damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The guardian vanishes when it has dealt a total of 60 damage.

For example, say the guardian had dealt a total of 50 damage so far; then it deals another 20 damage, and now it has dealt a total of 60 damage so it vanishes. In particular, although the guardian dealt 70 damage, that also means that "it has dealt a total of 60 damage" at some point in time (but that point in time is indistinct because the 20 damage is dealt all at once) and there is no indication that you need to retroactively reduce that last instance of 20 damage.

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