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A creature has Evasion:

'If she makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, she instead takes no damage.'

And also has Vulnerability to Energy:

'Some creatures have vulnerability to a certain kind of energy effect (typically either cold or fire). Such a creature takes half again as much (+50%) damage as normal from the effect, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed, or if the save is a success or failure.'

Which rule takes precedence if a creature is attacked by an effect of that energy type and a successful Reflex saving throw is made against this energy attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "Half again as much damage as normal [...] regardless [...] if the save is a success[.]" Parsing the text for Vulnerability in this way might help future answerers. It seems surprising that, on a quick search, this question hadn't been asked for 3.5e before now. \$\endgroup\$
    – NFeutz
    Dec 20, 2020 at 18:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ If precedence matters in this case, which I don't think it does, you might find this question relevant. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    Dec 20, 2020 at 21:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes that is very useful thank you. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2020 at 21:21

1 Answer 1

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It doesn't matter, the target with Evasion takes no damage either way.

If the creature with Evasion makes the saving throw, they take no damage. Let's do an example:

Bob casts Fireball, and rolls 20 damage. Alice has evasion, and is also vulnerable to Fire damage, but she passes her saving throw. Since she has vulnerability, the total damage she takes is increased by 50% (a 1.5 multiplier).

If evasion is applied first, then the damage is reduced to 0 from Evasion, and is then multiplied by 1.5 for vulnerability, and anything times 0 equals 0. (20 * 0) * 1.5 = 0, so Alice takes no damage.

If vulnerability is applied first, then we multiply the damage by 1.5, bringing us to 30 total, and then reduce it to 0 from Evasion. (20 * 1.5) * 0 = 0, and Alice still takes no damage.

Evasion (from the Rogue class description) says:

If she makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, she instead takes no damage.

So here, the ability says "instead". This means that when one thing would happen, it doesn't, and something else happens in its place. In this case, it replaces taking damage with not taking damage.

But wait, what about the text of Vulnerability? Well, let's take a look at that too.

Some creatures have vulnerability to a certain kind of energy effect (typically either cold or fire). Such a creature takes half again as much (+50%) damage as normal from the effect, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed, or if the save is a success or failure.

First, we have "regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed". This is pretty straightforward. This just means that they take the bonus damage regardless of the source of the damage, be it a dragons breath weapon or a Fireball spell (which both allow saving throws), or a flaming sword (which does not allow a saving throw).

Next, we have "or if the save is a success or failure". This means that, when normally, a saving throw would apply a reduced effect, they still take a 50% increase to that reduced effect. So normally, a 20 damage fireball to a creature with vulnerability would take 30 damage, 20 * 1.5 = 30. On a save, they would take only 15 damage, as half of 20 is 10 (for the save), and half of 10 is 5 (for the 50% increased effect), so (20 / 2) * 1.5 = 15. This happens even if you do it the other way around, (20 * 1.5) / 2 = 15.

From the way you asked the question, and your further confusion in the comments, it appears that you are calculating the vulnerability damage, then applying saves/evasion, then adding the vulnerability damage to the damage total afterwards, but the calculation of the extra damage from vulnerability and the application to the total happen at the same time, not separately.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @RevenantBacon RE: "[V]ulnerability is less specific than evasion." How can a reader tell? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2020 at 21:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Because Evasion applies to a more specific situation than vulnerability. Vulnerability applies whenever one takes the applicable type of damage. Evasion applies whenever one succeeds on an applicable type of saving throw, as long as making that saving throw would result in a particular outcome. More specific usage. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2020 at 21:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2020 at 14:43

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