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How does DR with multiple components work?

Take a vampire for example. DR 10/Magic and Silver.

A +3 weapon overcomes DR/Silver. Does this mean that a +3 weapon overcomes both the magic and silver component of the DR? If this is the case, why do creatures with epic DR have any other DR types? Pazuzu has DR /Epic, Silver and Good, but an Epic weapon would already overcome both DR/Silver and DR/Good, so why even add them? If this is just for the edge cases where an Epic weapon has a low base plus, than why do artifacts like St. Cubert's Mace specifically say they act as cold iron/silver?

Does the weapon have to 'separately' overcome each resistance? In this case, one 'plus' of the weapon would be used to overcome the magic resistance, and the remaining +2 would be insufficient to over come the DR/Silver.

Perhaps the plusses can't overcome it at all? +3 weapons only overcome DR/Silver alone, but even a +5 non-silver weapon can't overcome it because there's no provision for it to overcome DR/Magic and Silver.

Please, this is killing me.

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When an attack is successfully made against a creature with DR, the DR checks the weapon (or the handful of spells that do weapon damage) that hit and determines whether it should reduce the incoming damage. If a creature has multiple sources of DR, they overlap (they work together to see which one will block the most damage in this particular case); that is DR overlaps, it doesn't stack:

If a creature has damage reduction from more than one source, the two forms of damage reduction do not stack. Instead, the creature gets the benefit of the best damage reduction in a given situation.

DR with an "and" just has two things that the DR checks for - that both have to be present - when determining whether to reduce damage. For DR/magic and silver, it simply checks "is the weapon magic?" and "does the weapon count as silver?". A +3 weapon passes both checks, so the DR doesn't apply.

Similarly, DR with an "or" also just has two things that the DR checks for, but only one need be present: DR 5/magic or silver can be bypassed by a +1 club, a mundane silver dagger, or (of course) a +3 dagger, but it applies against a mundane club.

Since a +3 weapon counts as silver for the purposes of bypassing DR, it can bypass DR/magic, DR/silver, DR/magic and silver, and DR/magic or silver. Of course, that doesn't mean that DR/magic and silver doesn't have a place - it still affects attacks from +2 weapons that aren't silver or silver weapons that aren't magic.

why do creatures with epic DR have any other DR types?

Mythic Adventures changed the definition of epic weapons:

A type of damage reduction, DR/epic can be overcome only by a weapon with an enhancement bonus of +6 or greater. Weapons with special abilities also count as epic for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction if the total bonus value of all of their abilities (including the enhancement bonus) is +6 or greater.

Pazuzu has DR 20/cold iron, epic, and good. A +1 Vorpal sword has a +6 effective enhancement bonus, but it's only got a +1 enhancement bonus: it's an epic weapon, but it doesn't bypass DR/cold iron or DR/good; damage from an attack with such a weapon would still be affected by DR.

why do artifacts like St. Cubert's Mace specifically say they act as cold iron/silver?

The Pathfinder SRD version of St. Cuthbert's Mace doesn't mention cold iron or silver. I suspect you have a non-errata-ed version of the book?

Overlapping DR

A note on that "overlapping DR" bit: consider a creature with DR 10/magic and also DR 5/silver. If they're attacked with a non-magical silver dagger: the DR 5/silver doesn't apply but the DR 10/magic does. If they're attacked with a +1 club: the DR 10/magic doesn't apply but the DR 5/silver does. And, of course: if they're attacked with a +1 silver (or mithral!) dagger, neither DR applies. But, if they're attacked with a mundane club: both DRs apply, but only the best one will take effect - the attack will have its damage reduced by 10 points, not 15.


Now, all of that said: the "Overcoming DR" table in that section is new in Pathfinder; as far as I've been able to find, 3.5's DR didn't include it. I suspect that there are a bunch of monsters, spells, items, etc. that were imported from 3.5 without taking that chart into account. As both a player and GM, I recommend ignoring it: it removes the variety of using special weapon materials and nerfs DR hard, especially at higher levels where a spot of DR can make a fight a lot more interesting (or a PC more survivable).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. This mostly lines up with a forum post I read, but that was 10 years ago, and a lot of the rules they mentioned changed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 19:04

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