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Prompted by this question about Sneak Attack and Immunities, it seems a character can hit (although for 0 damage) with a weapon which deals damage to which the target is immune.

What would be the result if a Paladin rolled a 20 (with a non-magical slashing weapon), attacking a creature immune to non-magical slashing damage, if the Paladin casts Divine Smite?

Note: I specify a natural 20 in the actual question to avoid discussion about armor class when considering the result.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The question in the title is slightly different from the one in the body (namely, the body specifically asks about crits). Assuming you want the answer to both, you should probably put both questions in the body of the post. (If you care only about the crit part, that should likely be in the title as well.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 29 at 0:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I only used the natural 20 in the body to avoid questions about target AC. I am well satisfied with the answers provided. \$\endgroup\$ – Davo Jan 29 at 12:32
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Divine smite only requires you to hit, which immunity does not prevent

Some creatures have vulnerability, resistance, or immunity to certain types of damage. Particular creatures are even resistant or immune to damage from non-magical attacks [...]

Being immune means you are immune to damage from that particular damage type/attack. It doesn't make you immune from getting hit with that attack.

Divine Smite only requires you to hit with a melee weapon attack:

when you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack

Thus, the paladin can activate Divine Smite on a creature immune to the weapon's damage type as long as it hits.

On a crit: No weapon damage is taken, but the smite's radiant damage is rolled twice

The result of the attack (with crit) would be that the divine smite damage would be rolled twice and no damage from the weapon itself would apply. Since Divine Smite has a damage type of radiant and is magical (it is fueled by spell slots) it will apply as long as the monster isn't immune to radiant damage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for also confirming the ability to hit immune targets for 0 damage. Unfortunately, I'm out of votes for today. \$\endgroup\$ – Davo Jan 28 at 20:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that, from a purely programmatic and technical standpoint, the weapon damage is still rolled twice, just ignored. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Jan 28 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is the divine smite damage a nonmagical attack still? The errata changed how many of these resistances and immunities worked \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jan 28 at 20:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it's the same attack, then wouldn't using divine smite make it a magical attack overall, and therefore ignore the immunity/resistance of many creatures with the weapon damage also? \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Jan 28 at 22:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer The Divine Smite uses a spell slot but the attack itself doesn't, making this probably not a magical attack. ("Probably" because there's no actual rule saying what isn't a magical attack.) \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jan 28 at 22:42
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Divine Smite's damage is both magical and Radiant

First of all, your question implies that the creature in question is immune to "nonmagical" sources of damage. But the Paladin's Divine Smite feature is magical. In the sage advice compendium, it states (page 17) how to tell if a game feature is magical. One such way is:

  • Is it fueled by the use of spell slots?

So Divine Smite is a magical source of damage.

It is also worth noting that Divine Smite would not do slashing damage. It states in the PHB (p. 85, bold added):

you can expend one spell slot to deal radiant damage to the target, in addition to the weapon’s damage.

As such, a creature with immunity to "non-magical slashing damage" would not be immune to the divine smite's damage, since it is neither non-magical nor slashing. Thus, you would still apply damage from Divine Smite in your scenario (and would double the smite's damage dice on a critical hit).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ First of all, no, because the person asking the question didn't specify that the immunity was to "nonmagical weapons," so I didn't include that in my answer. Second of all, there are instances of immunity to the damage type "slashing that is nonmagical" (such as the Demon Lords in MordenKainen's Tome of Foes). So the original poster's question does fit current rules as written. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Jan 28 at 20:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron The Demon Lords don't mention nonmagical weapons. As an example, the Demon Lord Baphomet (MToF p. 143) states it has a Damage immunity to "bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing that is nonmagical." \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Jan 28 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron if MordenKainen's Tome of Foes has had an errata, changing the immunity I mentioned in my previous comment, I cannot find it. Could you direct me to that errata? \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Jan 28 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Jan 28 at 21:23
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The 'sword' damage would be 0, the 'Smite' damage would be rolled twice

The Divine Smite feature says that it adds radiant damage to the attack on a hit, so on a 20 the radiant damage would be rolled twice and not resisted/immuned since it is not slashing damage. Even if Divine Smite were slashing damage, it still would get through the immunity because it is from a magical source (Divine Smite is fuels by spell slots, one of the conditions for a damage source to be magical).

The damage from the sword itself would become 0 (no damage) since it is attempting to deal slashing damage from a non-magical source.

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