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Similar to Does energy damage (particularly acid damage) bypass object hardness in Pathfinder?, but in 3.5. Particularly relevant is the following:

Hardness:
Each object has hardness—a number that represents how well it resists damage. Whenever an object takes damage, subtract its hardness from the damage. Only damage in excess of its hardness is deducted from the object’s hit points (see Table: Common Armor, Weapon, and Shield Hardness and Hit Points; Table: Substance Hardness and Hit Points; and Table: Object Hardness and Hit Points).

and

Energy Attacks:
Acid and sonic attacks deal damage to most objects just as they do to creatures; roll damage and apply it normally after a successful hit. Electricity and fire attacks deal half damage to most objects; divide the damage dealt by 2 before applying the hardness. Cold attacks deal one-quarter damage to most objects; divide the damage dealt by 4 before applying the hardness.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Fastest duplicate I've ever seen: rpg.stackexchange.com/q/56203/15469 \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Feb 2 '15 at 22:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ As much as I'd like the points, it looks like you were 4 minutes faster. :) I'll go delete mine. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Feb 2 '15 at 22:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl You were 4 minutes faster, but I guess it doesn't matter that much. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Feb 2 '15 at 22:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related, but for Pathfinder instead of 3.5: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/45579/… \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Feb 2 '15 at 22:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl and I just finished porting my answer over too! Fortunately are questions weren't just dupes, they even included the same quotes, just in opposite order. You were faster though; I was about to delete this when I saw your comment. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Feb 2 '15 at 22:30
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Short answer, no.

I had this question many years ago and still carry around the printout from the 3.5 FAQ (http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/er/20070731a).

From p76

Many animated objects have hardness scores. What affect, if any, will an animated object’s hardness have on spells used against the animated object? For example, an animated wooden table would have hardness 5, right? How would that hardness affect spells such as fireball, lightning bolt, Melf’s acid arrow, ray of frost, and magic missile?

If the spell in question has an energy descriptor, hardness affects the attack as noted in the rules for damaging inanimate objects (see page 165 in the PH); here’s a summary:

• Hardness applies to acid and sonic attacks. These attacks deal normal damage both to creatures and to objects, and thus would deal normal damage to an animated object (less the effect of the hardness). You would subtract 5 points for hardness from whatever damage a Melf’s acid arrow spell deals to the animated table in your example.

• ...

It goes on to describe every type in the bolded Q there as well.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This must be utilizing the errata (I don't have it) it does contradict the SRD page but Wizards word is gospel since they're the source. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Feb 3 '15 at 0:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, at least this has support consistent with appropriate use of the English language. +1ed. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Feb 3 '15 at 0:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree @the dark wanderer and also already +1ed \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Feb 3 '15 at 1:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ My belief is the FAQ intention is to answer questions that were unclear on the rules but to spell out the intent of the rules with citations where applicable/available. So it's in essence errata-like. I check book as written, then specific book errata, then FAQ. I just happened to know this was in the FAQ because I had the same Q, specifically for force and magic missile=) \$\endgroup\$ – joedragons Feb 3 '15 at 14:37
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No, acid and sonic don't bypass hardness.

The wording of the Energy Attacks section states that you apply acid and sonic damage "normally". This means that you apply the damage the same way you would apply any other damage. Since the "normal" way of applying damage to objects is to apply hardness, hardness will apply to sonic and acid damage.

The line that says that "Acid and sonic attacks deal damage to most objects just as they do to creatures" is important too. If a creature has some form of damage resistance to a particular attack (like energy resistance or DR), then that resistance applies to attacks made on that creature. Hardness is a form of damage resistance like any other, and so it applied just like a creature's damage resistance would.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I didnt -1 especially since I don't have errata but you only provided 1/2 a quote. Question & SRD & wiki all say "...just as you do to creatures." ends that sentence with a period while the other examples of energy attacks make no mention of comparing to creatures & all specifically state to apply hardness \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Feb 3 '15 at 0:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, and if you deal damage to a creature, you apply that creature's damage resistance to the attack. Hardness is a form of damage resistance like any other, and functions identically to energy resistance or DR. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Feb 3 '15 at 3:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl I suggest you re-read dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Damage_Reduction , if by 'damage resistance' you meant 'damage reduction'. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Feb 3 '15 at 6:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer By 'damage resistance', I mean any ability that directly prevents an amount of damage, namely energy resistance, energy immunity, or damage reduction. Damage reduction doesn't apply to energy attacks, but energy resistance does. Hardness 5 is basically identical to Resist (fire, cold, acid, etc.) 5 and DR 5/- in most cases. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Feb 3 '15 at 12:44
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The question seems to be over the wording in "apply damage normally" clause.

Energy Attacks:
Acid and sonic attacks deal damage to most objects just as they do to creatures; roll damage and apply it normally after a successful hit. Electricity and fire attacks deal half damage to most objects; divide the damage dealt by 2 before applying the hardness. Cold attacks deal one-quarter damage to most objects; divide the damage dealt by 4 before applying the hardness.

However, this clause is merely saying that as an energy attack, acid and sonic are not reduced before applying to the hardness factor.

All energy attacks:

Acid/sonic - normal damage before applying hardness

Electric/fire - half damage before applying hardness

Cold - 1/4 damage before applying hardness.

The hardness still applies, there is just no damage reduction beforehand with acid and sonic attacks. So the basic answer is no, they don't bypass hardness.

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Yes, dealing sonic/acid damage to items applies the same way it does to creatures.

The answer is in your question. Break your paragraph into 3 separate sentences:

Acid and sonic attacks deal damage to most objects just as they do to creatures; roll damage and apply it normally after a successful hit. (Hardness does not apply). This rule invokes the "specific rule overrules vs generic rules" rule.

Electricity and fire attacks deal half damage to most objects; divide the damage dealt by 2 before applying the hardness. (Hardness does apply)

Cold attacks deal one-quarter damage to most objects; divide the damage dealt by 4 before applying the hardness. (Hardness **does apply)

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-1
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Yes, acid and sonic damage bypass the hardness of most objects. Despite the fact that the Hardness section quoted states "Whenever an object takes damage...", specific trumps general and the Acid and Sonic energy type entry under the other quoted section states:

Acid and sonic attacks deal damage to most objects just as they do to creatures; roll damage and apply it normally after a successful hit.

(emphases added)

This section is telling you that these kinds of attacks deal the same damage they normally would to a creature, i.e. that you should not apply hardness.

Also of note is the position of the semicolon in the sentence. Were the semicolon a period, the case could be made that the 'normally' referred to here is the normal method of damaging objects. However, the semicolon links the clause to the previous one, indicating that this indeed refers to the normal method of rolling damage against a creature.

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