The Stirge is a monster, and it has the Blood Drain action which states (emphasis mine):

Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) piercing damage, and the stirge attaches to the target. While attached, the stirge doesn't attack. Instead, at the start of each of the stirge's turns, the target loses 5 (1d4 + 3) hit points due to blood loss.

After my character was Blood Drained by a Stirge, I lost the 5 hit points when its turn came back around. One of my allies had the Interception Fighting Style, which can be used to reduce the damage dealt by an attack; however, with the Stirge already latched on, this wouldn't work. And then I got to thinking and realized that I don't know if anything works.

The ability simply says the target loses hit points, with nothing actually classifying it as damage or giving it a type; this leads me to my question: In what ways can someone reduce the hit point reduction from Blood Drain?

There are things that grant resistance to all damage (or almost all damage), like the Bear Totem Spirit Barbarian or Armor of Invulnerability, but I'm not even sure if the Blood Drain HP loss counts as damage in the first place.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this a general theory question, or do you have a specific build/character/party composition you want addressed. Not sure if really matters, but specific problems are always helpful. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 0:36
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I am a homebrew subclass of the Barbarian, but after having looked through most of the features I thought might work against this feature and concluding to myself that none of them worked, I am now just interested if anything works at all. So I suppose there's no real problem, though I could reword this to ask "Does Blood Drain count as taking damage?" perhaps? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 0:39
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Now definitely using conjure animals to try for eight stirges whenever my druid is facing fiends with damage resistance. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 14:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/74574/15991 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 3:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also related: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/111813/15991 I figured a question (and/or answers) of this nature had to have come up before. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 4:05

4 Answers 4


I think you're seeing this the right way: there's no damage dealt, just straight hit point loss with no type at all, and thus not affected by damage resistance (even "all damage" resistance). In the narrative of the game, this isn't your body being pierced or struck or burned; it's straight up blood loss that you can't avoid by, say, wearing armor that resists certain kinds of damage.

Now, that isn't entirely consistent with other similar effects. The obvious point of comparison is a vampire's bite, which deals necrotic damage and also reduces your maximum hit points. Necrotic damage is used in a few other places to represent bleeding or other effects that generally mess with life functions. For example, the Sword of Wounding can 'wound' a creature, dealing the target necrotic damage each turn, which presumably represents blood loss (or something similar for creatures that lack blood), and can be halted with a Medicine check. Abi-Dalzim's horrid wilting, which sucks the water out of living creatures, also deals necrotic damage to its targets.

As written, the stirge's Blood Drain ability doesn't technically deal damage and has no type; but if a DM wanted to treat that as necrotic damage I think they'd be entirely justified in doing so, and it might make the stirge fit into the system a bit better. I don't particularly like the idea of stirges having this quirky mechanic that is shared only by Bearded and Horned Devils and may have weird rules implications by not technically being "damage".

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Untyped damage does appear elsewhere, actually. See Miniman's comment on this answer: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/74574/15991 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 3:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, so it's not entirely unique to stirges and the mechanic does seem to be related to bleeding wounds, but sometimes blood loss is necrotic. Still, I wouldn't call it "untyped damage" since I'm specifically stating that it isn't damage when it uses this "lose hit points" wording. (Actually it's kind of funny to me that these "infernal wounds" don't deal necrotic damage. They sound like they should!) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 3:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may want to note that the Horned Devil says: "lose 10 (3d6) hit points at the start of each of its turns due to an infernal wound [...] Each time the devil hits the wounded target with this attack, the damage dealt by the wound increases by 10 (3d6)." Which may prove the Stirge actually is damage \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2021 at 12:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Indeed HP loss is always damage: I found a part of the SAC that confirms this interpretation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 7:58

The HP loss via Blood Drain is damage.

The HP loss due to the Blood Drain is indeed damage: this can be confirmed by the following question on the SAC:

If a shadow rolls a critical hit, does it reduce the target’s Strength by 2d4, as well dealing the extra necrotic damage? No. A critical hit lets you roll damage dice twice. An effect that deals damage is one that reduces the target’s hit points. The shadow’s Strength reduction isn’t damage, because it has no effect on the target’s hit points.

A further evidence is in the description of the Horned Devil's Tail attack:

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d8 + 6) piercing damage. If the target is a creature other than an undead or a construct, it must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or lose 10 (3d6) hit points at the start of each of its turns due to an infernal wound. Each time the devil hits the wounded target with this attack, the damage dealt by the wound increases by 10 (3d6). [...]

We can hence generalize to get the definition of damage:

Damage is HP's loss

Since the Stirge's Blood Drain reduces the HPs of a creature each turn the monster remains attached to the target, the 1d4+3 does count as damage.

There are several spells that can grant resistance/immunity to all damages.

Some spells provide protection from all kind of damages:

[...] While the target is within 60 feet of you, it gains a +1 bonus to AC and saving throws, and it has resistance to all damage.

The sphere is immune to all damage, and a creature or object inside can't be damaged by attacks or effects originating from outside, nor can a creature inside the sphere damage anything outside it.

You are immune to all damage until the spell ends.

It is reasonable to consider it of piercing type. Resistance/Immunity to piercing damage should work.

It is true that the damage dealt has no explicit type stated, and Darth Pseudonym in their answer provides some reasons for considering this damage of the necrotic type.

I nonetheless would rule that the damage due to blood loss is of the piercing type.

Let's parse again the statistics of the attack (emphasis mine):

Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) piercing damage, and the stirge attaches to the target. While attached, the stirge doesn't attack. Instead, at the start of each of the stirge's turns, the target loses 5 (1d4 + 3) hit points due to blood loss.

and its further description

Blood Drain. A stirge attacks by landing on a victim, finding a vulnerable spot, and plunging its proboscis into the flesh while using its pincer legs to latch on to the victim. Once the stirge has sated itself, it detaches and flies off to digest its meal.

These two pieces of text tell that the the proboscis is the body part used to deal the initial damage and the subsequent 1d4+3 due to the blood loss. Since the on-hit damage is of the piercing type, it is not unreasonable to consider the following damage of the same type.

Furthermore, this interpretation agrees with the description of the piercing damage (emphasis mine):

Piercing. Puncturing and impaling attacks, including spears and monsters' bites, deal piercing damage.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "Damage is HPs reduction" is true but doesn't lead to "any HPs reduction is damage". A child is a human, but not any human is a child. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 8:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor Can you provide an example (different from the Stirge and Horned Devil ones)? I think the thing to be aware of with this definition is that we one has not to consider max HP reduction: maybe it is better to use the definition "Damage is HPs loss". \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 8:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Exhaustion pops in mind — it is not damage, albeit it halves max HP, thus might lead to HP loss. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 9:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor Exactly what I meant when I mentioned max HP reduction: suppost a character has 20/20 HPs, but they suffer from exhaustion levels and thei max HPs are halved: then the HPs are 10/10, so they are still at their maximum and there is no HP loss. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 10:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is not so clear in 5e, or, following this logic, leveling up causes HP loss. See Do you gain current HP when you level up? \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 12:11

Kill the flying leeches before they suck your blood.

A stirge can't use its blood drain if it's dead. As such, the best way to prevent this damage is to kill them before they latch onto you. If you're unable to do so, then killing them before their next turn comes up will also prevent this damage.


It does count as damage -- that's pretty much what "losing hit points" means. It is not, however, given a specific damage type; it just says "due to blood loss". Strictly speaking, then, no damage resistances would apply, since those are all based on the type of damage. (Although I could see an argument for the Bear Totem barbarian to resist it, since it resists "all damage except psychic", and the blood drain isn't psychic.)

I would rule, in my world, that it counts as piercing damage, as that's what the initial attack damage type is, and it's a continuation of that same attack, and that makes as much sense as any other choice. Other DMs might rule differently.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ “It does count as damage” Is this your opinion or can you support it with the rules? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 5:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's pretty much what "losing hit points" means. The idea of "using ordinary language" is intended to make it so that they don't have to define a game term for every word that gets used to mean anything. SO -- neither -- it isn't defined in the rules, NOR is it a matter of opinion; it's what the words mean in the English language. \$\endgroup\$
    – PhilB
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is no standard English meaning of "hit points", and "damage" is a specific game term, so I don't think an appeal to ordinary language makes sense in this context. There may be an argument to be made here using references to the Damage and Healing section of the PHB, but I suspect that's going to run into a problem (in that "taking damage makes you lose hit points" doesn't automatically mean "all loss of hit points is caused by taking damage"), and the lack of a specified damage type would still make this a really strange, possibly unique kind of damage. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 19:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Whatever. Hit points and damage are both words and concepts that are not specific to D&D. Not sure why y'all feel the need to argue most of my answers so much of the time. Post your own answers if you think differently. That's MY answer, and I stand by it. \$\endgroup\$
    – PhilB
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 21:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .