Would it be overly unbalanced if a DM were to houserule that two or more instances of resistance to the same element (such as fire) to be treated as immunity?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe you can expand the question with explanation why you consider such thing in first place? Do you find resistance abilities too weak to use? Is it for sake of 'realism'? Do you have some specific combo in mind? It might help to answer not just original question, but maybe do a bit of frame challenge and point to better solutions to original problem. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 10:42

3 Answers 3


It allows for some explosive combat options and methods to gain extreme immunities

For example, a Tiefling gains resistance to fire damage, they could walk into a group of enemies and cast fireball on the ground and then use absorb elements to gain immunity to the damage of the spell and also all fire damage until the start of their next turn.

There are also certain combinations that effectively make a character completely immune to damage. For example, a Bear Totem Barbarian at level 3:

While raging, you have resistance to all damage except psychic damage. The spirit of the bear makes you tough enough to stand up to any punishment.

They could have the warding bond spell cast on them which states:

While the target is within 60 feet of you, it gains a +1 bonus to AC and saving throws, and it has resistance to all damage.

This would thus grant them immunity to all damage except psychic for a minute. Alternatively, even without the warding bond they would have resistance to all but psychic and then their rage would also grant them resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing which would take into immunity to those three damage types.

Another problematic combination is a 14th level Abjuration Wizard with Spell Resistance:

[...] Furthermore, you have resistance against the damage of spells.

And then also a 7th level Oath of Ancients Paladin as they have an Aura of Warding:

[...] You and friendly creatures within 10 feet of you have resistance to damage from spells.

This would grant the Abjuration Wizard immunity to the damage from any spell.

It also may make abilities which allow you to ignore a creature's resistance to a damage type less helpful (it would be GM dependant how this rules and features of that kind interact).

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    \$\begingroup\$ My first thought was the invincible barbarian, too. The whole concept is also wildly in favour of the PCs - very few monsters have any way to capitalize on this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 0:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman I'm not entirely sure that's true... Most PC class features only grant resistance to a single damage type, whereas monsters often have several base resistances. Monsters can also cast spells, and so can capitalize on those just as PC's can \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 0:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Hopefully you won't be attacked by that evil NPC Barbarian... You might not be able to kill him before your party is all but gone. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 3:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ The bear totem barbarian doesn't even need to stack weird nonsense. Normal rage gives you 'resistance against piercing, bludgeoning and slashing', bear totem rage gives you 'resistance against all damage besides psychic', so a raging bear totem barbarian has resistance against all damage besides psychic AND resistance against slashing, bludgeoning and piercing. Normally this doesn't make any real difference because it doesn't stack, but the bear totem benefit in no way replaces the original rage features, so if you make this house rule, a bear totem barbarian is immune to those types. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 9:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 fair, but I'd say a level 3 that gains immunity to pretty much all non magical, non elemental damage is pretty extreme as well :P \$\endgroup\$
    – Patrice
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 13:31

Yes. It is a game-breaking house rule.

Stacking traits are always problematic. The design of 5e allows for stacking traits only sparingly, unless we suffer the same kind of Cleric of Doom problem we had in 3.5e.

Some scholars of the game meta say that every encounter is designed to drain X resources from the party. Spell slots, HP, equipment, potions, long-rest abilities, short-rest abilities (like the fighter's Action Surge).

Immunity to damage breaks that premise. It hurts the game balance. Besides, if we think of resistance as a halving of damage (including the rounding down), one could argue that two resistances would cause a quarter of the damage to go through. And so on.

That, however is not fun and not simple. Creating such combos is neither fun, nor fair in the game. Especially when one can, at the 3rd level plus one magic item, become invulnerable with the help of a friendly Cleric.

Barbarian 3 (Bear totem): [...] While raging, you have resistance to all damage except psychic damage. [...]

Ring of Psychic Resistance (requires attunement): You have resistance to psychic damage while wearing this ring.

2nd level cleric spell: Warding Bond: While the target is within 60 feet of you, it gains a +1 bonus to AC and saving throws, and it has resistance to all damage.

P.S. It seems a cleric cannot use Warding Bond on themselves.

Note that WB does not require concentration so you can rage. As long as you make an attack and does not end rage, this character is immune to any damage if that house rule is in effect.

So, yes. It is a game-breaking house rule.


In 1e, we had such immunity, but nearly only to elements such as fire, water, electricity... Not to all types of resistance. Also, races in 1e did not have any kind of resistance in comparison to the Tieflings or Dragonborn in 5e. Well... Elves were resistant to "charm" type of spells. But most resistance powers were more bonuses to saving throws which was not giving you that much.

I think that the 5e rules of disallowing cumulative resistance in most cases is for that simple reason: it would make the characters and monsters way too powerful. To a minimum, you could accept accumulation by dividing the damage by a power of 2. So one instance of resistance to the damage type causes the creature to take 1/2 damage, two resistances cause 1/4 damage, three resistances cause 1/8 damage, etc. There are already some cases where 5e allows 1/4th the damage (on a successful save when you have resistance).


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