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Resist all applies to all damage types (including untyped damage), reducing the damage by the resist amount. What happens when a single attack deals two different kinds of damage? Not combined damage, like "1d6 fire and cold damage", but two separate kinds of damage, such as "1d6 fire damage plus 1d6 cold damage"?

Consider the following example:

A creature with the following power...

Rimehound Bite

Melee 1
Attack: +X vs AC
Hit: 1d12+6 damage plus 1d6 cold damage

... attacks a player wearing Rimefire Plate, which grants "resist 1 all".

Does the Rimefire Plate reduce the damage by 1, or by 2?

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Rimefire Plate would only prevent 1 damage from Rimehound Bite.

This isn't actually about resistance. Each time you take damage, Rimefire Plate reduces the damage you take by 1. The real question, then, is whether Rimehound Bite deals damage once or twice.

From the RC, p222-223:

Damage Rolls

When most attacks deal damage, they do so through a damage roll: a roll of dice to determine damage. Whenever a power or other effect requires a damage roll, it specifies which dice to roll and how many of them. For instance, an attack might indicate that it deals 2d8+4 damage on a hit. When a creature hits with that attack, roll 2 eight-sided dice and add 4 to determine how much damage it deals.

Modifiers to Damage Rolls

Many powers, feats, and other game features grant bonuses or penalties to damage rolls. A bonus to a damage roll is added to the damage roll as a whole, not to each die within it. ... If a creature has a bonus to damage rolls and uses such a power, the creature applies the bonus to every damage roll of that power.

Extra Damage

Many powers and other effects grant the ability to deal extra damage. Extra damage is always in addition to other damage and is of the same type or types as that damage, unless otherwise noted. ...

Example: Valenae the cleric might have an ability that causes her to deal 5 extra radiant damage to undead creatures. That ability means she deals 5 extra radiant damage whenever she deals damage to an undead creature.

Rimehound Bite's untyped damage and cold damage are both part of the same damage roll. More specifically, the 1d6 cold damage is extra damage, a modifier to the main 1d12 damage roll, just like the +6 is; otherwise, it would also receive a +6. Because the damage is all a single damage roll, resistances and vulnerabilities are only applied to it once, so Rimefire Plate's resist all 1 only triggers once.

For example, if you roll a 6 on the d12 and a 3 on the d6, Rimehound Bite would deal 15 damage to a target with no resists, 14 damage to a target in Rimefire Plate, and 12 damage to a target with resist cold 30. The attack would deal 12 untyped damage and 3 cold damage, but because it's all part of the same damage roll resistances and vulnerabilities are only applied once, to the full 15 damage.

RAW vs RAI

For those who aren't rules lawyers, RAI is Rules As Intended, how (we think) the designers meant the rules to work, while RAW is Rules As Written, how the rules (as worded in the book / PDF / clandestine radio transmission) actually work. Generally speaking, it's better to stick with RAW rather than attempt to read the designer's minds to determine RAI, especially since RAW will usually accurately reflect RAI (assuming the designers are competent speakers of whatever language the book is in). Sometimes, unfortunately, the RAW is vague and could reasonably be interpreted in multiple ways (as is the case here), and on rare occasions the RAW is just plain silly, and clearly not RAI. In these cases, it becomes necessary for us to attempt feats of psionic prowess to determine what the RAI really is. Or we can, y'know, be logical about it.

So why should we suspect that the RAI is in fact for each damage roll to be treated as a single instance of damage, and have resistances (particularly resist all) applied to it only once, even if it contains multiple types of damage?

  1. It's simple. It follows the 4e convention of having general rules that can be overridden by specific game elements as needed. It's a lot easier to have the rules say, "Resistances apply to each damage roll once," than it is to talk about how they separately apply to & interact with each different type of damage involved, and if there's a case where resistances really do need to apply separately to each damage type, that game element can explicitly say so.

  2. It's less work. What if an attack deals 3 different kinds of typed damage? Which is easier, applying resist all once to the total, or figuring out how resist all combines with other resists for each type of damage involved?

  3. It makes resist all less overpowered (and resist all is pretty darn strong already). Consider an optimized epic-tier ranger, a firesoul & stormsoul Genasi with the Extra Manifestation, Double Manifestation, and Shocking Flame feats, plus the Radiant One epic destiny. Each melee attack with CA deals a certain amount of untyped damage (the normal weapon damage from the power), plus some fire damage (from Shocking Flame), some lightning damage (again from Shocking Flame), and some fire and radiant damage (from Radiant One). Should resist all 5 reduce the damage from this attack by 5? Or by 20?

  4. It's how most people interpret it already. Just ask the official WotC 4e Character Optimization sub-forum, where adding more damage & more damage types is practically the national pastime. Or better yet, ask the official WotC 4e Rules Q&A sub-forum.

Answer rescued from a previous question on this topic.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Quick question for clarification: are you treating damage rolls with different damage type modifiers (1d6 fire damage + 1d6 radiant damage) the same as damage rolls with different damage types (1d6 radiant and fire damage)? \$\endgroup\$ – Ravn May 20 '14 at 16:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ravn If they're a single damage roll they're treated the same by resist all. They're not treated the same by typed resists, but that case is covered fairly clearly by the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage May 20 '14 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ The link to "just plain silly" is broken, as are the other two links. They take us to the WoTC opening page for encouraging people to come and work for them. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 17 '18 at 12:51
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The answer to this is not fully clear in the rules as written, as "Resist All" is not clearly defined anywhere; the DM must interpret this rare and unlikely edge case as they see fit.

A rules-as-written answer to this question requires a clear definition of "Resist 1 All". Unfortunately, that term is not clearly defined anywhere in the rules. This answer to another question on Resist All covers this problem well.

The general definition of Resist is clear. As per Rules Compendium p.224:

Resistance means a creature takes less damage from a specific damage type.

But an item which grants Resist All contradicts this definition. Yes, Resist 5 Fire unambiguously reduces all fire damage by 5, but does Resist 5 All reduce all damage, or all damage types? The general rule on Resist does not help us to understand Resist All.

Therefore, in this ambiguous, rare and unlikely case (involving a specific power against a specific armor and quibbling over one point of damage), the rules-as-written just don't give us enough information, and the DM must interpret the rules and make their own ruling on this case.

Interpretation 1: Resist all damage

If you resist all damage, then you simply take less damage every time you take damage, regardless of type. References to "resist all damage" appear throughout the rules. Rules Compendium p.225:

Similarly, if a creature has resist 5 cold and then gains resist 2 to all damage, the creature still has resist 5 cold, not resist 7 cold.

Petrified condition:

The creature has resist 20 to all damage.

From these examples we definitively know that one can have resistance to "all damage", despite the general rule on the Resist property saying that it only stops one specific named type. In order to resist all damage, you must, by definition, also resist untyped weapon damage, which is explicitly not a type according to Rules Compendium p. 223:

If the power doesn't specify a damage type, the damage has no type. Most weapon attack powers deal damage that has no type.

Interpretation 2: Resist all types

However, there is no equivalent precedent that unambiguously shows someone being resistant to all elements (but not untyped weapon damage). Despite the general rule that Resist only hinders types, there are clear precedents that show Resist applying to all damage. The only argument here is to interpret "Resist 1 All" as "Resist 1 All Types", which, although the DM may rule it, is not strongly supported by existing rules.

One or two damage?

Under the "resist all damage" interpretation, the most likely ruling is that it resists 1 damage. Rules Compendium p.222:

When a typical attack hits a target, the attack deals damage to it, reducing the target's hit points. Each attack specifies how much damage it deals, if any ... Damage is almost always instantaneous.

And, as specified above, resistance triggers whenever you take damage. Yes, it says "from a specific damage type", but under the principle of specific overrides general, Resist All resists all damage, not a specific type. It therefore does not trigger each time you take a different element, but each time you take any damage.

The "resist all types" interpretation, however, forces us to ask whether standard resistance triggers per damage, or per type. The rule as above says that it triggers when you take damage from that type. It seems to me that when you take damage of two types which you resist, resistance should apply to both; there is no explicit limit of one resistance. (This would be different of course if you took, say, "5 fire and cold", a combined damage type; but here you are taking x fire and x cold, and while you take only one chunk of instantaneous damage, resistance triggers whenever you take that type of damage, and you took two types.)

Hence, under a "resist all types" interpretation, you would likely resist 2 damage, though of course this is already highly up to DM's interpretation.

Summary

There is no clear rules-as-written answer in this case, which is why most answers to this question fall back to rules as intended or community interpretation.

The meaning of Resist 1 All is ambiguous and could mean either Resist 1 All Types or Resist 1 All Damage, but there are several precedents for Resist All Damage and none for Resist All Types.

The most likely interpretation to this ambiguous situation requiring DM adjudication is therefore that you resist all damage, and only resist 1 damage per attack regardless of type.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh. So if "Resistance means a creature takes less damage from a specific damage type," it seems to me like in the case of resist all that — by that RAW, anyway — untyped damage becomes just another type of resisted damage, assessed separately from any other damage types. However, this answer seems to lean in the opposite direction. Can this answer (or a comment) disabuse me of this notion? (By the way, full disclosure: I'm not a big 4e guy, but I like the cut of its jib, and I find it shocking that this was never addressed head-on.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 18 '18 at 13:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Taken literally, no rule states that untyped becomes a type; by definition of the word, untyped isn't a type. However, you can acquire resistance to "all damage", which by definition must allow you to resist both typed and untyped damage in spite of the general rule that resistance only applies to types. This is different to other editions (e.g. 3.5) where all weapons are specifically typed (slashing, piercing, bludgeoning). It's just a question of which rule breaks first to allow resistance to untyped: "untyped isn't a type", or "resistance only applies to type". \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jul 18 '18 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know this may sound like a Does-it-even-have-to-be-a-rule? kind of rule, but is there a rule that actually says untyped damage isn't a damage type? I mean, interpretation #1 seems to conclude that untyped damage must be a de facto damage type in its conclusion: "In order to resist all damage, you must, by definition, also resist untyped weapon damage." (Like I said, I'm pretty much an outsider coming at this (ahem) raw, but I do like 4e's ideas, and this seems like a really odd gap. And, seriously, I think the real question is How hard is it to destroy a petrified creature?) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 18 '18 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ "If the power doesn't specify a damage type, the damage has no type. Most weapon attack powers deal damage that has no type." Rules Compendium, p. 223. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jul 18 '18 at 14:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Awesome! So then this really is an unresolvable conflict. (Or, at least, a conflict that can only be resolved by the DM.) I urge including that quotation somewhere in the answer. Thank you for your patience. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 18 '18 at 14:20
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Rimefire Plate would reduce Rimehound Bite damage by 2, or 1 for each type.

RAW

Resistance: Resistance means a creature takes less damage from a specific damage type.

Resistance, Against Combined Damage Types: A creature's resistance is ineffective against combined damage types unless the creature has resistance to each of the damage types, and then only the weakest of the resistances applies. Example: A creature has resist 10 lightning and resist 5 thunder, and an attack deals 15 lightning and thunder damage to it. The creature takes 10 lightning and thunder damage.

Resistance, Not Cumulative: Resistances against the same damage type are not cumulative. Only the highest resistance applies. Example: If a creature has resist 5 cold and then gains resist 10 cold, it now has resist 10 cold, not resist 15 cold.

Damage Type: Powers and other effects often deal specific types of damage. ... Most weapon attack powers deal damage that has no type. It is simply physical damage.

The keyword here is "damage type". Resistant does not stack against same damage type. However, combined damage type is different from multiple damage type, as written:

Fell Court Hellmage, Infernal Bolt (MV:TNV p.51)
Hit: 1d8 + 3 fire and radiant damage.

versus:

Sunsearer, Sunstrike (The Plane Below, p.139)
1d6+3 fire damage plus 1d6+3 radiant damage.

The rule on combined damage type specify what happens to X fire and radiant damage, but does not specify what happens about X fire damage and/plus X radiant damage.

So what happens? We fall back to the general rule: Resistance means a creature takes less damage from a specific damage type. The rule on not cumulative resistances does not applies to damage roll, as written.

And we do have two damage types in case of sunsearer (in one damage roll).

If you have fire or cold resistance, you independently apply your resistant to each damage type. Your fire resistance does not help you resist cold damage, even when it is one same damage roll, and vice versa.

If you have fire and cold resistance, they are still applied independently. If you have fire and cold resistance from the same source, they are still two different resistances, and are still applied independently.

The new resistance rules does not change this mechanic. It just clarifies how you apply resistance to combined damage type, but only when you run into them. There exists no rules that make resist all apply differently from specific resistances.

RAI

While applying resistance once for each damage roll seems to be a easy way out, it collapses when facing anything more than a simple resist all.

Let's say an attack deals 10 fire damage and 8 cold damage. If the target has both resist 6 fire and resist 5 cold, you have to decide what to do.

If you say the higher applies, what happens when the damage is 1 fire damage and 17 cold damage?

  • Do you stand by resist 6 fire and say 5 point of fire resistance bleeds out into the cold damage?
  • Do you say at most 1 fire resistance apply, so that cold resist 5 is now higher?

If you say the lowest applies, again what happens when the damage is 17 fire damage and 1 cold damage?

  • Do you stand by resist 5 cold, confusing it with 18 fire and cold damage?
  • Do you say at most 1 cold resistance apply? It is easier to give up and calculate them independently.

If you say both resistances applies, what happens when you have 10 fire damage + 8 cold damage + 2 fire and cold damage? You have to take high or take low for both resistances, which leads to same problems.

If you are still not convinced, many ghost like creatures has Resist insubstantial; Vulnerable 5 psychic. How are you going to apply insubstantial resistance when it is dealt untyped and psychic damage in one blow? What if another creature gave it some mixed resistance? (It happened in my game)

Additionally, some answers may indirectly encourage using whetstone to bypass resistance, or gaining resistance may increase received damage, or make it difficult to decide what type of damage did the target receive (some effect is only triggered by specific damage type).


By calculating immunities, resistances, and vulnerabilities independently for each damage type, you keep you sanity while getting believable result.

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