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If a creature has resistance to fire damage and takes fire damage they would have half damage (lets say 12 Fire.).

So 12 Fire would become 6 due to racial/class resistance but if they cast absorb elements before taking damage, would they take 3 damage instead?

The way I read it would indicate this:

The spell captures some of the incoming energy, lessening its effect on you and storing it for your next melee attack.

The incoming damage being 12 fire, gets reduced to 6 fire before it hits you regardless of your resistance. After this, the whole gaining resistance and such then comes into play.

Would this be the correct interpretation?

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    \$\begingroup\$ There was an active discussion going on about whether this question was a duplicate of this one: Do resistances stack?, so I’m mentioning it for posterity. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 0:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I wondered where the comments went. I will once more state more concisely the question. I was questioning if the "lessening its effect" portion of the description, halved the damage before it hit the player. The answer by 'SeriousBri' seems to understand my POV that it READS like it should, but mechanically it does not. As such, I will be marking them as the solution as they understood my POV. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 16:18

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Narratively your interpretation makes sense, but the rules say no

In the fiction I can see how you are gathering some of the energy of the spell into your weapon, and then taking the remaining damage that you can't absorb.

Mechanically however this is expressed as giving you resistance, and so that doesn't stack with your own resistance.

Honestly I really like your interpretation of the spell, and often in my games I let spells act differently based on the narrative effect, but absorb elements is already a really powerful spell which should be on the list for any spell caster capable of casting it, and absolutely doesn't need a buff like this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You understood where I was coming from and helped fan it out. Thank You <3 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 16:19
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When you have multiple sources of resistance to a particular damage, only one counts.

This is confirmed by the rules about Damage Resistance and Vulnerability

Multiple instances of resistance or vulnerability that affect the same damage type count as only one instance.

In the depicted case, if the character has resistance to Fire Damage and casts Absorb Elements then the damage will be halved just once.

The phrase

The spell captures some of the incoming energy, lessening its effect on you and storing it for your next melee attack

is just a description of the spell, translated in mechanical terms in the next sentence. What happens is the following:

  • the damage is halved once, by the spell or by the other source of resistance
  • you have 1d6 bonus damage of the type chosen at casting time, and the damage does not depend on the reduced damage.
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No, your damage is only halved once

If you are confused what a spell does, it is often a good idea to look at the full text. Absorb Elements (except the "At higher levels" part) says in the description section:

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. Also, the first time you hit with a melee attack on your next turn, the target takes an extra 1d6 damage of the triggering type, and the spell ends.

The first sentence that you quoted describes what the effect is overall, the next two sentences (bolded here) explain what that means in terms of games mechanics. There is not other game mechanical effect described for "lessening the effect", so the resistance is how the effect is lessened.

As per PHB, page 197, in case you have also another source of resistance to the same damage, the damage is only halved once:

Multiple instances of resistance or vulnerability that affect the same damage type count as only one instance. For example, if a creature has resistance to fire damage as well as resistance to all nonmagical damage, the damage of a nonmagical fire is reduced by half against the creature, not reduced by three-quarters.

Because of this, if you are already resistant to the kind of damage you absorb, the spell does not reduce the damage further. You do however get to store and re-deal the damage, because that sentence is a second, independent effect, and does not depend on the amount of damage the spell did (or did not) reduce.

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