My DM said that monsters that have advantage against spells and magical effects are extra resistant to damage.

We fought some demons that have resistance to slashing, piercing, and bludgeoning damage from non-magical attacks. We all have magical weapons, but he was saying that the monsters were still resistant to the damage because they have advantage against magical effects.

Is this a correct interpretation of the rules?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 3 '19 at 18:16

Resistance and advantage are two separate mechanics

Advantage has to do with rolling the dice, resistance has to do with reducing damage in half.

Easy illustrative example is a Dwarf

Dwarven Resilience. You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage (explained in chapter 9). {Basic Rules, p. 15}

The dwarf rolls 2d20 whenever she has to make a saving throw against poison. Because a dwarf is resistant to poison, any poison damage she takes is halved.


If a creature or an object has resistance to a damage type, damage of that type is halved against it. {Chapter 9}

Advantage and Disadvantage

... ability check, attack roll, or saving throw is modified by special situations called advantage and disadvantage. ... When you have either advantage or disadvantage, you roll a second d20 when you make the roll. Use the higher of the two rolls if you have advantage, and use the lower roll if you have disadvantage. {Basic Rules, p. 5}

What to share with your DM from the rules

A creature with advantage on saving throws versus magic/spells still rolls the saving throw: 2d20, pick the higher score. Resistance is applied separately once the amount of damage is determined by the saving throw's success or failure.

Resistance and then vulnerability are applied after all other modifiers to damage.
{Basic Rules, p. 78}

Dwarf Example:

Exceka the dwarf is hit by a giant scorpion's tail; the damage roll for poison is 24. Exceka has advantage on the saving throw. She rolls a 3 and a 19, she saves. Damage is halved, so she takes 12 damage, except, she has resistance to poison! She takes half of that damage: 6 HP is the final damage.

Demon Example: Balor

What Magic Resistance means for this demon is explicitly spelled out in its stat block.

Magic Resistance: The balor has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects. (MM, p. 55)

That is different from the Damage Resistances in the stat block (MM p. 55) that says

Damage Resistances Cold, lightning, bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from non magical weapons

And that is different from

Damage Immunities Fire, Poison

And that is different from

Condition Immunities Poisoned

To illustrate: Balor is hit by Ice Storm spell (cold + bludgeoning damage)

Each creature in the cylind⁠er must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 2d8 bludgeoning damage and 4d6 cold damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

A Sorcerer cast the spell, and rolled damage: 12 bludgeoning and 16 cold.

  1. Step 0. Is the spell a magical effect? Yes. Apply advantage to the saving throw.

  2. Step 1. Is there a saving throw? Let's say the Balor rolls a 9 and a 17; spell caster's DC is 16. Balor saves.

  3. Step 2: Save -> half damage.
    a. The magical bludgeoning damage becomes 6. Demon is not resistant to magical bludgeoning attacks. (The barbarian with the non-magical maul who did 16 damage last time only did 8, due to Damage Resistance cited above)

    b. The cold damage becomes 8.

  4. Step 3: Now apply resistance.

    Balor is resistant to cold, so it takes only 4 points of the 8 cold damage.

Final note

Damage is by type. Magical is not a damage type (but it is a kind of attack or effect). The damage types are on basic rules p. 78, and in PHB p. 196:

Acid, Bludgeoning, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Necrotic, Piercing, Poison, Psychic, Radiant, Slashing, Thunder

| improve this answer | |
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a ridiculously thorough answer KorvinStarmast, there must be a dozen rules citations here at least. It certainly leaves no queries unasnwered. Personally I would have been happy with "Resistance and advantage are two separate mechanics"! \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Nov 5 '19 at 12:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jgn sometimes, an illustration helps to explain a rule. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 5 '19 at 13:24

Agreed with Korvins answer, advantage just means roll two dice and use the higher number, that means if they are doing a spell save roll against your magic they have a better chance of avoiding it maybe, but they don't take half damage off the bat like with resistances as that's different.

If you tried to hit some one with a fireball for example they might have to do a dexterity roll to avoid it, they could do that roll with advantage which gives them a better chance.
If they fail however and take damage from it you THEN look at if they are resistant to magic or specifically fire magic and if they are then can take reduced damage, however the advantage doesn't cause changes in damage itself.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the stack and please take our tour to learn more about how we operate! Great first answer, but it would be an improvement if you can add support to your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 4 '19 at 14:24
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ In addition to what NautArch said, rather than referring to answers "above" or "below" (sorting may change depending on votes, and a user's chosen sorting method), it's best to make references to other answers clear (e.g. by mentioning author) and linking to them where necessary. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 6 '19 at 4:55
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ok makes sense thanks for the help but why would I add support to my answer isn't that for if you are confused about how something on the site works? Or did I misunderstand the use of that tag? \$\endgroup\$ – Harrules123 Nov 20 '19 at 10:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Support: if you are explaining a rule (and the person asking the question was a bit uncertain on how a couple of rules worked together) you show from the rules text (or a valid analysis where the text is ambiguous) why the answer/solution you offer is sound. (What we want to avoid is idea generation and opinion, which is what you see a lot of on discussion forums and reddits ...) Other forms of support include how you've seen a particular interaction work effectively in play. I may have gone overboard in the amount of support I offered, the point is each answer needs to stand on its own. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 20 '19 at 13:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.