Let's say I am a cleric with the Heavy Armor Master feat which has this line:

While you are wearing heavy armor, bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage that you take from nonmagical attacks is reduced by 3.

I have cast Warding Bond on my ally and they later get mauled by an ordinary brown bear which deals some non-magical slashing damage from the bear's natural weapons (claws).

Do I get to reduce my share of the joined damage by 3?

Or is my damage share automatically considered magical because of the Warding Bond spell, and hence negating the HAM feat here? Is it still even considered attack damage for me?

Or what if I have the lycanthropy curse?

Damage immunity for Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks that aren't Silvered

Is my share of Warding Bond damage magical here or not?


4 Answers 4


The feat protects from attacks, Warding Bond does not make any attack.

The spell description says:

Also, each time it takes damage, you take the same amount of damage.

In particular, there is no distinction on the source of the damage: AoE spells, weapon attacks, et cetera. Such text does not specify if the source of damage counts or not: a strict reading of the description suggests that the spell is dealing damage.

But the feat instead is quite specific (emphasis mine):

bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage that you take from nonmagical attacks is reduced by 3.

Warding Bond is not making/redirecting any attack to you, is simply dealing the same amount of damage to you: hence, the feat plays no role at all and you cannot reduce the amount of damage in this case. It does not depend on if the damage is magical or not.

The same happens if one is affected by the lycanthropy curse, since it specifically states

[...] nonmagical attacks that aren't silvered.


Magical or not, your damage is not from an attack

Your heavy armor master says:

...damage that you take from nonmagical attacks is reduced by 3.

The damage that you take is not from an attack, however. What counts as an attack? Anything that has an attack roll, or that is specifically called out as an attack.

The bear made an attack roll to damage your ally; no attack roll was made against you. The damage that was applied to you is applied automatically as a consequence of the warding bond:

Also, each time it takes damage, you take the same amount of damage.

If you directly took damage from a fireball, your Heavy Armor Master feat would not help, because it was not an attack. Neither does it help with the damage you took because of warding bond.


Yes, but it's irrelevant

Per the guidelines from the Sage Advice Compendium, the damage from warding bond counts as "magical".

However, this is irrelevant as the features mentioned in the question do not actually care about "magical damage". Resistance/immunity features such as from Heavy Armour Master or those possesed by many monsters always use the wording "damage from nonmagical attacks" or in the errata, "damage from attacks with nonmagical weapons". Warding bond is not an attack -- it simply deals damage. From the Player's Handbook:

If there’s ever any question whether something you’re doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you’re making an attack roll, you’re making an attack.

Warding bond does not make an attack roll, nor is it a special attack such as a shove or grapple. Therefore it is never subject to these sorts of resistances/immunities.

There are a few effects that do make reference to "nonmagical damage" where this question would be relevant. Namely, gaseous form, stoneskin, and armor of invulnerability. Since warding bond is a spell and thus magical, it would nor be affected by the resistances/immunities from these effects.

Warding bond's damage could, however, be reduced by the Oath of Ancients Paladin feature Aura of Warding:

... You and friendly creatures within 10 feet of you have resistance to damage from spells.

Note that this feature grants resistance to "damage from spells" rather than "magical damage". While all damage from spells is magical (again per the Sage Advice guidelines), not all magical sources of damage are spells.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ “There are no features that care about magical damage”. This is not correct, the description of the armor of invulnerability states: “you can use an action to make yourself immune to nonmagical damage”. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gaseous Form and Stoneskin also make reference to "nonmagical damage". I've changed that statement to focus on the features mentioned in the question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29 at 18:47

Warding bond deals magical damage

As the damage is from a spell, according to the guidelines in the Sage Advice Compendium, it is magical. For the ssme reason, fireball deals magical fire damage, even though it does not say so.

You thus cannot reduce it with Heavy Armor Master or other features that work against non-magical damage, such as a lycantropes' immunity vs damage from non-magical attacks.

(In addition, spell damage that is not from a spell attack also does not count as an "attack", only things with an attack roll do. But warding bond would also deal damage vs things that work against non-magical damage that is not from an attack, such as the caster wearing an armor of invulnerability.)

Warding Bond says

This spell wards a willing creature you touch and creates a mystic connection between you and the target until the spell ends. 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. Also, each time it takes damage, you take the same amount of damage.

It is warding bond that is dealing damage to you. It is not redirecting the damage from the warded creature at all. It only gives that creature resistance to damage, and deals damage to you, when that creature takes damage, in the same amount. It is not the same damage, you just determine how much it deals based on the amount of damage the other creature takes. There is no damage "sharing", even though it may feel like that for non-magical damage, because each you and the warded creature end up taking half the amount of the original damage.

Note that is not how the designer intended it: Jeremy Crawford opined in an inoffical tweet that the damage should be considered as damage from the original attack (thanks @Kelderek).

Is warding bond the source of its generated damage instance? If so what damage type is it? Is it still spell damage? thanks

When you take damage via warding bond, you're taking damage from whatever caused damage to the target of warding bond. #DnD

That is technically incorrect, but it is the designer's take on it, so you should probably ask your DM how they handle it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "resistance to nonmagical damage". Why "nonmagical"? WB says "all damage". Also, the OP has a tacked-on question about lycanthropy in the final para. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 29 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ my Google search skills improved after I posted my question and I found this from Jeremy Crawford (yes I know it isn't official): twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/805222825183219712?lang=en "When you take damage via warding bond, you're taking damage from whatever caused damage to the target of warding bond." That seems to contradict your answer perhaps? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kelderek
    Commented Apr 29 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the intention of the spell and the language it is written in are likely contradictory, and suggestions that it is magical damage is quite rules-lawyery \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Apr 29 at 16:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ You’re burying the lede a bit here, don’t you think? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29 at 18:48
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Jack, Added a bit about lycantropy. The same reasoning applies to it and other sources of immunity vs non-magical damage: because the damage is magical, they do not protect you. Fixed the other bit, that I just plain jumbled up - thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29 at 21:17

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