This question has bought up some interesting discussion around (un)holy damage. So far, we appear to have established the following:

  • There does not appear to be any link between (un)holy damage and (un)holy weapons.
  • There does not seem to be any rules for (un)holy damage. However, I couldn't find any rules for good/evil damage either.
  • It may be an error, where every instance of holy damage should be good damage and unholy damage should be evil damage.
  • At minimum, both damage types are known to appear several times in the Book of Exalted Deeds and the Book of Vile Darkness, but they also both appear once in the DMG2's (Un)Holy Strike and the errata for the first Monster Manual.

In the interest of furthering the debate on whether or not this damage type is an error, I'd like to ask: what sources mention (un)holy damage and/or its DR? In particular, I'm interested in seeing if there are more cases outside of the BoED/BoVD, as they would be evidence against these damage types being erroneous and a potential place to look for rules about these damage types. I'd also like to see if they (or better yet, rules for them) appear anywhere in 3e.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ A 'list question' (the off-topic kind) is not what most users apparently think it is. A question that can be answered by means of a single shortish discrete list is not a 'list question' in the bad sense. A very open question (like 'What is an RPG that includes wizards?') that can be answered by a long (potentially boundless) list of answers, all of which are as equally valid and correct as each other, with any effort at collating them all together doomed to be out of date almost immediately, is a bad list question \$\endgroup\$
    – Tiggerous
    Feb 18, 2020 at 15:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ As mentioned in answers, for example, here and here, DR applies only to damage that would've been dealt by natural weapon and weapon attacks and not to damage from a magical source (like the extra damage of a magic weapon that possesses the magic weapon special ability unholy). What one needs is resistance to unholy damage, which is at least rare if not nonexistent. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18, 2020 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


Sources of holy damage:

• Spells:

  • Blessing of the Righteous (Player's Handbook II)

• Feats:

  • Holy Ki Strike (Book of Exalted Deeds)
  • Nemesis (Book of Exalted Deeds)
  • Sanctify Natural Attack (Book of Exalted Deeds)
  • Sanctify Weapon (Book of Exalted Deeds)

• Classes:

  • Demonwrecker (Expedition to the Demonweb Pits)

• Salient Divine Abilities:

  • Divine Storm (Deities and Demigods)
  • Energy Storm (Deities and Demigods)

• Weapon Special Abilities:

  • Holy (Dungeon Master's Guide + Book of Exalted Deeds)
  • Holy Surge (Dungeon Master's Guide II)

• Special abilities:

  • Smite Evil (Player's Handbook + Book of Exalted Deeds)

• Monsters:

  • Zaphkiel, the Watcher (Book of Exalted Deeds)

• Templates:

  • Saint (Book of Exalted Deeds)

• Materials:

  • Kuni Crystal (Oriental Adventures)

Sources of unholy damage:

• Spells:

  • Black Bag (Book of Vile Darkness)
  • Damning Darkness (Lords of Madness)
  • Pulse of Hate (Book of Vile Darkness)

• Feats:

  • Corrupt Spell (Book of Vile Darkness)
  • Corrupt Spell-Like Ability (Book of Vile Darkness)
  • Hellsworn (Exemplars of Evil)

• Classes:

  • Diabolist (Book of Vile Darkness)
  • Knight of the Skull (Dragonlance Campaign Setting)

• Domains:

  • Entropy (Fiendish Codex I)

• Weapon Special Abilities:

  • Unholy (Dungeon Master's Guide + Arms and Equipment Guide)
  • Unholy Surge (Dungeon Master's Guide II)

• Items:

  • The Regalia of Evil (Arms and Equipment Guide)

• Monsters:

  • The Dread Emperor (Book of Vile Darkness)
  • Mephistopheles, Lord of the Eighth (Book of Vile Darkness)

• Places:

  • Pit of Many Colors (Champions of Ruin)

There is a link between holy/unholy damage and holy/unholy weapons, in the dungeon master's guide 3.5 it only says "extra damage" but on some handbooks (Arms and Equipment Guide, Book of Exalted Deeds) it is said that damage is holy/unholy.

There are no general rules for holy/unholy damage, the specific ruling of each source must be followed.

There is no good/evil damage. There is damage reduction against good-aligned or evil-aligned weapons, but is has nothing to do with the weapon dealing good damage, weapons can only do piercing, slashing or bludgeoning damage. It's like damage reduction against specific materials, silver weapons don't do "silver damage".

A lot of the sources are located in the Book of Vile Darkness and Book of Exalted Deeds, but not all of them, one of them is from the Lords of Madness for example.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure about Smite Evil in the Player's Handbook? I can't see a mention of Holy damage there. \$\endgroup\$
    – J. Mini
    May 22, 2020 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Smite Evil is a very particular case, because the only source for it saying it does holy damage is in a NPC (Evansheer, Champion of Raziel) entry in the Book of Exalted Deeds. It's a bit dubious at best, but it makes sense. There's no mention about Smite Good, but it would make sense it does unholy damage if it is the opposite of Smite Evil. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    May 22, 2020 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Regalia of Evil also appears in Arms and Equipment Guide. It's interesting to note that despite this book having a lot of (un)holy stuff, The Regalia and Balor’s Sword of Smiting are the only mentions of (un)holy damage that I can find in that book. \$\endgroup\$
    – J. Mini
    May 22, 2020 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ "There is a link between holy/unholy damage and holy/unholy weapons, in the dungeon master's guide 3.5 it only says "extra damage" but on some handbooks (Arms and Equipment Guide, Book of Exalted Deeds) it is said that damage is holy/unholy." I'd like to hear more about this. In particular, it may answer this question: rpg.stackexchange.com/q/164865/53359 \$\endgroup\$
    – J. Mini
    May 22, 2020 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Arms and Equipment Guide p.100: "This Large +5 unholy bastard sword [...] in addition to the +2d6 points of unholy damage the weapon normally deals." Book of Exalted Deeds p.134: "Furthermore, her weapon is considered holy (if it isn’t already) and deals +2d6 points of holy damage against evil creatures." \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    May 22, 2020 at 16:45

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