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This may be somewhat a worthless question as I've looked diligently without success. I don't believe the information is physically present but I thought I'd give it a shot.

In my games things have temporarily side stepped in to the sword and planet genre (lol don't ask) and I find myself in need of modelling a famous character from the genre. I was looking at page 146 of the Dungeon Master's Guide under the Futuristic Weapons heading as it states:

Futuristic weapons are like other ranged projectile weapons, though the type of damage they deal is special.

My question, is there any text in D&D 3.5 rules that defines concisely what special damage is?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What character? John Carter? And please don't laugh at the genre, my players and I have had a lot of fun in this genre. \$\endgroup\$
    – NomadMaker
    May 8 '20 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ No it's Dejah I'm modelling for...well it's a long story but has to do with a mirror of mental prowess. \$\endgroup\$ May 9 '20 at 0:22
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If you look at the table (5.6), you'll see in the last column 'Damage type' that they have no entry, just a dash; the flamer is the exception, it has damage type 'Fire'. Compare this to the 'Modern Era' weapons in table 5.5 which mostly have 'Piercing' as damage type.

This has effect on damage reduction; some creatures like Skeletons have 'damage reduction 5/bludgeoning' which means they ignore the first 5 damage points from any weapon that isn't bludgeoning. Other reductions exist for the other regular damage types, slashing and piercing. However, a laser rifle doesn't overcome any of these reductions, which makes sense: chances are it just hits empty space inside the skeleton. A Fire Elemental is immune to the damage from a flamer, as it should be.

So 'special' basically means here: any type of damage that normal (non-magical) weapons don't deal. It isn't a D&D-specific term, it does not have any meaning beyond what it normally means in English. D&D weapons are expected to deal bludgeoning, piercing and/or slashing damage, but these futuristic weapons are special and do not conform to this rule.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this table is available online, or is it? I couldn't find it here and am not sure whether it's legally allowed to upload a picture of it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glorfindel
    May 8 '20 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Take for example force damage p.309 PHB 'force damage: A special type of damage dealt by force effects, such as a magic missile spell...' I'm not suggesting your explanation is incorrect it sounds probable under Occam's razor. However what I would like to determine is whether this 'So 'special' basically means here: any type of damage that normal (non-magical) weapons don't deal.' in so many words can be referenced? Or else I could modify the question to read something along the lines of: Does 'special' damage have its own nuances in the same manner force, fire, cold, acid does? \$\endgroup\$ May 8 '20 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ It isn't a D&D-specific term, it does not have any meaning beyond what it normally means in English. D&D weapons are expected to deal bludgeoning, piercing and/or slashing damage, but these are special. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glorfindel
    May 8 '20 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll leave this question up for a couple of days and if there are no alternative opinions to be considered I'll mark this answered as I'm inclined to agree with you. \$\endgroup\$ May 8 '20 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure, I'm interested in what others have to say as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glorfindel
    May 8 '20 at 14:24

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