Scenario: A sorcerer with Elemental Adept (Fire) casts Fireball at a wizard, who uses their reaction to cast absorb elements. The wizard claims that his spell protects him and he takes half damage (or 1/4 with a successful save) while the sorcerer claims that his fire spells ignore resistance and therefore the wizard only gained an extra 1d6 fire damage on his next melee attack by casting absorb elements.

Elemental adept says

Spells you cast ignore resistance to damage of the chosen type.

While absorb elements says

The spell captures some of the incoming energy, lessening its effect on you and storing it for your next melee attack. You have resistance to the triggering damage type until the start of your next turn.

My initial read says that absorb elements gives the wizard resistance but Elemental Adept ignores resistance and therefore absorb elements would not protect the wizard from the damage of the spell at all. On the other hand, we know there isn't any fluff text in 5e, and the Absorb Elements spell specifically says "lessening its effect on you". It can't lessen the effect on the wizard if the wizard still takes the full damage.

So which rule is the more specific rule in this case? I think it would be Elemental Adept specifically ignoring resistance to fire and not Absorb Elements lessening the effect on the caster, but I want to know which ruling is more supported by RAW.


2 Answers 2


Elemental Adept ignores resistance

There is no fluff text in DnD but there is narrative text and mechanical text. The narrative text describe what happens in the game while the mechanical text describes how it happens. In the case of Absorb Elements the text "lessening its effect on you" describes the "what" while "You have resistance to the triggering damage type" describes the "how".

The spell lessens the damage by granting you resistance.

The Elemental Adept feat allows you to bypass resistance. This makes it a specific rule that provides an exception to the more general rule of resistance. It can therefore bypass the protection of Absorb Elements. This does not ignore the description of the spell but rather recognizes that Elemental Adept is a specific exception to both the narrative and mechanical description of the spell.


Elemental Adept ignores resistance, but Absorb Elements still works.

Absorb Elements reduces damage by granting you resistance to the triggering damage, which is ignored if the caster has Elemental Adept - however, the victim is still affected by Absorb Elements, gaining resistance to the triggering damage type against any attacks until the start of its turn, and they will still deal extra damage of that type on their next melee attack.


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