In D&D 4e are there monsters who have attacks that can reduce ability scores? In previous versions Wights used to lower your CON or STR score, other monsters could lower INT/WIS, are there any monsters in 4e that do those types of attacks?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I just remembered, there's monsters that steal healing surges! OK that's one way, but I'd still like to know if anyone remembers coming across something that does ability score damage. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 18:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Update: I just found, through some tweaking of my Google searches, this thread which has some of the answers I seek. rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/50559/healing-negation \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Should we close this a dupe? or did you still need answers? Also fee free to self-answer that Yes, yes it does. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose we could close it. From my searches I get the impression that ability score damage is simply absent from 4e, and has somewhat been replaced by healing surge removal. While not ideal, it does suite my needs in my game. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 19:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that question is definitely related, but it's not the same question. If the contents are helpful, use 'em, but I think it's good to leave this open in case someone does confirm either they don't exist or which ones they are. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 20:05

1 Answer 1


No, ability score damage isn't in 4e

Checking the final version of the online compendium, there's no glossary entry or text reference to ability score damage or drain, which is a pretty good indicator that it's completely absent. I've not manually checked every monster, but this confirms my personal experience of running 4e for about 10 years, and my understanding of this edition's design goals.

For better or worse, ability score damage just does not blend well with the kind of game 4e wants to be, so it was omitted from this edition. It's notably the same for level drain, spell drain, and similar "change your baseline so you have to re-calculate everything on the fly" effects.

(Likewise permanent versions of these effects. 4e is very focused on keeping the party in balance with one another, and one character losing stats or levels forever could easily compromise that.)

4e-Style alternatives

You mentioned healing surge drain as a replacement. Often, classic monsters which traditionally drain levels or ability scores have a similarly-themed debuff effect in 4e. For example, monsters that used to do dex damage might get a slow or immobilise effect, monsters that used to damage strength might impose an attack penalty or a weakened condition.

However, as a rule these won't be permanent—4e just doesn't roll that way. If the potential to deal permanent harm is important to you, a disease delivered during combat might be a closer equivalent.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Awesome thank you! I definitely didn't want a monster by monster check of the compendium, just past experience knowledge. Thank you for your answer, it's much appreciated, and seems to agree with what I've looked up as well. I hadn't looked at disease yet, but now that you say that I've run into that in past games. I'll take a look and see if that could be an option, thanks for the idea! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 15:28

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