Would it be balanced to allow a player to be a race which from 1st level had immunity to an elemental damage type (example: fire), but was paired with a vulnerability to another damage type (example: lightning)?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG Stack Exchange! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for additional help. Your question has been closed as opinion-based, probably because you are asking how others would handle it, which is asking for opinions, where many answers would be possible and it would be hard to say one is correct. It might help to frame it as a specific question about game balance like in the title, as we have many such questions about homebrew being balanced, and these are generally OK. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 30, 2022 at 8:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this has been closed because you broke the really technical requirements people like to put on new people here. It's pretty clear this is asking about balance, but because you asked for opinion people dislike that. If you want it reopened, just remove opinion and ask if it is balanced, or what other considerations you should have. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Oct 30, 2022 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri The stack guidelines apply to everyone, not just new people. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2022 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov my point was that this is so obviously not asking for an actual opinion that our "stack guidelines" being "stack enforced rules" is painful to watch. Why we can't just answer questions sometimes is beyond me. Your edit makes this a good question fit though, but it shouldn't be needed. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Oct 31, 2022 at 12:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri We've seen before where we thought someone was asking a stackable question and just adjusted it accordingly, and OP objected to the change because they really were only interested in the unstackable version of the question. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2022 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


Two unbalancing features do not equal balance

Combining a vulnerability with an immunity is problematic and does not lead to a balanced character, because they normally happen at different times. So your character is either invincible, or likely to die, depending on the situation, neither of which is balanced.

The main problem is that vulnerabilities can easily lead to player death. Especially at the lower levels, one of the major reasons for unwanted death are critical hits, that double the damage dice on a hit. If you only have 10 or 15 hit points, that can easily take you down from nearly full health to death. Vulnerability is the same -- even around level five, as a fighter with full health, if you are vulnerable to ligntning and are hit with a lightning bolt for 16d6 due to vulnerablity, you are going to die. That you are immune to another type of damage does not help fix this.

The second problem is that immunity invalidates challenges. Being immune to some other type of damage also can make encounters unbalanced. For example, immunity to fire, which is very common, would make an encounter with a fire elemental, or a challenge of overcoming a river of lava trivial for the character.

As a side comment, not all damage types are equally common in the game. For example, fire damage is more common than lightning damage, outside of specific campaign considerations (many more monsters and spells deal fire damage than lightning). Having immmuntiy to fire is bound to show up a lot more often in play, than being vulnerabilty to lightning.

This also does not fit the design of 5e, which has been to make combat less swingy and more predictable with bounded accuracy. For example, the edition got rid of most immunities even on monsters - various demons and many undead used to be immune to damage from non-magical weapons in earlier editions of the game, now they have only resistance to such damage. Bounded accuracy on both AC and to hit serves to make hit chances relatively predictable (they stay at about 65% throughout the game), and both PCs and tougher monsters just get more hp, to avoid swingy combat outcomes. Immunitiy and vulnerability undermine that.

You can also see this from the fact that none of the published races has a damage vulnerability, and only the Yuan-ti and Grung have a damage immunity (to poison, most creatures that deal poison damage do not only deal poison damage). I would not combine immunity and vulnerabiltiy to create a balanced playable race.

  • \$\begingroup\$ slight correction: the Yuan-Ti Pureblood monstrous player race (VGtM, p. 120) has immunity to poison. That's the only example that I'm aware of, though, and playing a monstrous race is up to DM adjudication anyway. Either way, immunity is much less problematic than vulnerability - even NPCs / monsters rarely have vulnerabilities, yet there are plenty with immunities. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2022 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster Grung also have poison immunity. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2022 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm reminded of 3E's level adjustment system, which attempted to balance overpowered stats/abilities with a major drawback and utterly failed at it. This answer does a great job of explaining that. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2022 at 22:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Only thing I'd add is you didn't go far enough by pointing out the difficulty this makes to a DM. If you know your player has both vulnerability and immunity how do you choose opponents for them? if you pick a strong foe that uses lightning you can be seen as having it out for him, if you keep throwing fire foes at him it's favoritism. What really happens is you get forced to try to avoid both damage types since either option is likely to lead to a very unenjoyable fight for the party. It's not fair to put that burden on the DM. \$\endgroup\$
    – dsollen
    Nov 14, 2022 at 20:16

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