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According to a Pathfinder designer, untyped damage overcomes all DR. The comments are recorded in the last entry in this d20pfsrd FAQ section (just before "Blink and Mirror Image (4/22/10)") and comes from this forum post.

Spells and effects that do untyped damage are pretty rare in Pathfinder, since these spells are quite powerful since their damage can't be stopped by any form of immunity, resistance, or damage reduction.James Jacobs

This is surprising and counter-intuitive to me. As I understand it, DR 5/X is meant to mean "DR 5 bypassed by X", and I'd interpret untyped damage as simply never counting as any value of X, not something that magically ignores it altogether. The Overcoming DR section doesn't mention anything about untyped damage.

I'd like to fact-check this, since it's not unheard of that designers are wrong or confused about their games. By the rules we have actually written: does untyped damage really bypass all DR, even DR/—? Does it only bypass it if it's from a spell, or does all untyped damage from any source (e.g. falling damage) bypass DR? If applicable, please cite relevant rules in your answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ DR reduces weapon damage, not falling damage. There is another thread here that answers that. If I am not mistaken, there is a salt element that is considered 'untyped'. \$\endgroup\$ – DanceSC Jul 10 '14 at 4:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is not considered a value because the player is suppose to tell the dm "I do 5 points of electricity damage, 10 points of bludgeoning/magic, and 3 points of untyped" and the DM matches those up against the creatures DR to determine the final damage. \$\endgroup\$ – DanceSC Jul 10 '14 at 5:02
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It’s not really a property of being untyped that ignores DR (that's more relevant for ignoring resistance/immunity), it’s just the fact that physical attacks are always bludgeoning, piercing, and/or slashing, and thus the only things that deal with DR are also never going to do untyped damage, and the things that do use untyped damage are the things DR doesn’t apply to.

But Paizo isn’t interested in being clear or precise, and likes to treat off-the-cuff developer comments as official rules of the game, so, this kind of confusion is just a part of the game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Criticism of Paizo being confusing in this circumstance is quite duly accepted, though I am not sure it actually got cited as rules anywhere, unless it got compiled in some FAQ asserted as rulings. The one I linked here was just from d20pfsrd. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 10 '14 at 14:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ That specific FAQ linked is considered RAW for Pathfinder Society play, though, and all PF players are encouraged to consider it official errata. Additionally, particular design team members' forum posts on the Paizo forums (regardless of if they're in the PFS section or another PF section) are considered RAW for PFS play. I recall the "charm person" fiasco where several GMs quit running PFS over a poorly written post that had to be considered RAW until redacted and made a first level spell far too powerful. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Jul 10 '14 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I honestly don't see it being confusing, the quote in question was answering a topic about spells, not weapon damage. Confusing would be taking what he said out of context. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jun 23 '16 at 11:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras He explicitly lists DR as a thing that untyped damage ignores as a reason for it being powerful. But every spell does that, and moreover if you could have untyped weapon damage, it presumably wouldn’t bypass DR since it’s not of the corresponding type. The context only makes the inclusion of DR in the list more confusing. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 23 '16 at 12:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Im not sure if we are talking about this post from Jacobs or not, but i surely don't see any confusion here: paizo.com/threads/… \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jun 23 '16 at 12:36
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Damage Reduction only applies to attacks, not spells or environmental damage. The relevant part of the rules:

The numerical part of a creature's damage reduction (or DR) is the amount of damage the creature ignores from normal attacks.

In addition, spells and energy are specifically called out as being exempt:

Spells, spell-like abilities, and energy attacks (even nonmagical fire) ignore damage reduction.

Normal attacks always deal typed damage and are the only things that are affected by DR; untyped damage always gets through (one of the reasons why falling damage and objects are a good way of dealing with high DR opponents).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Except when noted by the spell text explicitily calling for physical damage being dealt: paizo.com/threads/… \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jun 23 '16 at 12:52

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