There are 19 creatures in the Monster Manual that are resistant to necrotic damage. By comparison, only 4 are resistant to radiant damage. This makes playing a Warlock or necromancer Wizard, or using the cleric spell Spirit Guardians as an evil character, unfair compared to other classes that can deal radiant damage.

Is there a way to bypass resistance/immunity to necrotic damage?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Suggesting that the increased number of necrotic resistant monsters is unfair is a bit far-fetched in my opinion. MM has 400+ monsters. This means that less than 5% of the total monsters are necrotic resistant. Also, it is unlikely that during a campaign you'll get to fight the whole roster of MM. Despite this, however, I do think that the question is interesting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aventinus
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 8:21
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, even evil spellcasters/necromancers are very likely to have at least a few spells that deal different kinds of damage. A spellcaster that focuses entirely on necrotic damage to the exclusion of anything else has pretty much made their own constraints. \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 8:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ To be fair, many of the staple bbegs or henchmen tend to be resistant To necrotic (Devils, Demons and Undead), meaning that they probably come up much more often than just being a 1/400 chance of popping up each. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 12:05

4 Answers 4


There is no (easily available) direct way

For some damage types, there is a way to overcome resistances available to most characters. Specifically, the Elemental Adept feat does this for exactly one of acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage. It's conceivable that there someday be an equivalent for necrotic damage, but it does not exist at the moment.

Jacob's answer shows one method, which is available if your DM has made villainous class options available, and you are okay with choosing a particular subclass. But you may want to consider whether this is the problem that you think it is.

This situation is a result of monster categories

Most campaigns are more likely to run against mobs of undead than mobs of celestials. That's a result of the fact that most campaigns follow good characters, who are unlikely to fight angels but quite likely (for example) to fight a dracolich.

It makes sense that many of these creatures would be resistant to necrotic damage, just as using fire damage would be ineffective against a fire elemental.

The fact that these monsters appear in great numbers in the Monster Manual is a reflection of this tendency. It's not necessarily a reflection of what you'll see in practice. If your campaign doesn't focus on fighting undead, you simply won't run into this problem. If your campaign does focus on fighting undead, it's not as a result of a bias in the Monster Manual, but a result of the campaign setting.

Either way, the solution you should consider is the same. Diversify your damage types. Even an evil mage will understand that sometimes they'll fight a rogue specter or wraith from time to time, and should prepare accordingly. In fact, a spellcaster who is *ahem* intimately familiar with undead will be more aware of this fact than your average mage.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that the conclusion of this answer is incorrect and Jacob's answer should be marked as the accepted answer, but +1 for the analysis of damage type distribution and why that isn't an issue. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 18:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I definitely missed that feature. I'll make an edit pointing to the correct answer when I have time. \$\endgroup\$
    – 1600hp
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 21:29

The Death Domain Cleric's 6th level feature, Inescapable Destruction.

There is a subclass included in the DMG for clerics that allows you to bypass necrotic resistance with your spells and channel divinity. See the Death Domain Cleric, Inescapable Destruction lvl 6, p. 97:

Starting at 6th level, the cleric’s ability to channel negative energy becomes more potent. Necrotic damage dealt by the character’s cleric spells and Channel Divinity options ignores resistance to necrotic damage.


No, but you could ask your DM for a homebrew

The Elemental Adept feat (Player's Handbook, p. 166) allows a character to ignore resistance to a chosen elemental damage type (acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder). Unfortunately, necrotic damage is not one of the damage type options.

You could ask your DM to allow a homebrew version based on the feat:

Celestial Adept

Prerequisite: The ability to cast at least one spell

When you gain this feat, choose one of the following damage types: necrotic or radiant. Spells you cast ignore resistance to damage of the chosen type. In addition, when you roll damage for a spell you cast that deals damage of that type, you can treat any 1 on a damage die as a 2.

You can select this feat multiple times. Each time you do so, you must choose a different damage type.


If your DM allow this option to you, there is a Dark Gift option called Deadly Touch that has a feature called Inescapable Death that allows you to ignore resistance to necrotic damage (on top of dealing additional necrotic damage if you use unarmed attacks and/or grapples or being grappled). It’s a fairly niche option though. Dark Gifts are available in Van Ritchen Guide to Ravenloft.

Touch of Death Your touch is pain, harming whoever you come in contact with. The deathly power within you is beyond your control, afflicting any who touch your bare skin. By the same token, you can deliver death to your enemies with your touch.

Further it adds the following features.

Death Touch. You can focus your deadly touch against your foes. As an action, make one unarmed strike. On a hit, the target takes an additional 1d10 necrotic damage. This damage increases by 1d10 when you reach 5th level (2d10), 11th level (3d10), and 17th level (4d10).

Inescapable Death. When you hit a target with an attack roll and deal necrotic damage, you ignore the target's resistance to that damage.

Withering Contact. When you start your turn grappling a creature or grappled by it, the creature takes 1d10 necrotic damage.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. \$\endgroup\$
    – Community Bot
    Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 14:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ You should clarify where this is from, and what kind of option it is (ie. what the associated cost is or if it's equvalent to magic items in being wholly a DM's to grant). \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ But where are our manners? Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 14:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil I did mention the source as being VRGtR and also mentioned it being optional on the DM part, and the draw back is the first quote itself, I’m not sure what is missing. As for links, I haven’t figured them out yet, sorry, I’m new here. Tell me what’s missing and I’ll work on it. Thanks for the comment. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jian Xi
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 20:41

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