In D&D3e, if you successfully hit a target you always did at least 1 point of damage (before applying Damage Resistance), even if you had a Strength penalty. I can't find any mention of that rule in the 5e PHB. Does the rule no longer apply, or did I just overlook it?


4 Answers 4


It is correct to say the 3.5e rule no longer appears in 5e. Another tweet (god I wish we had that back in the 90s) clarifies that the minimum is indeed 0.

There is not a damage minimum of 1, so it is possible to deal 0 damage with an attack.

Jack Abrasion
@JeremyECrawford Do attacks do a minimum 1 point of damage, or would an unarmed strike from a goblin (STR -1) do 0 damage?

8:56 AM - 11 Jun 2015


According to the Basic Rules (DDB Version), it is possible to deal 0 damage (but never less):

With a penalty, it is possible to deal 0 damage, but never negative damage.
(SRD, V5.1, p. 96; Player’s Handbook pg. 196)

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    \$\begingroup\$ While this line doesn't appear in older versions of the PHB nor in the Basic Rules document online dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/basicrules it does appear on page 196 of my 10th printing (October 2018) edition, for those who want a page reference. It also appears in the SRD. It is also NOT mentioned in the PHB Errata, so it is strange that a different edition of the dead tree PHB doesn't have it, but my 10th printing does, with no Errata mention. But, that little strangeness doesn't affect that accuracy of this answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's been in the SRD version that I have which is over 4 years old. And FWIW, it was only in the SRD that we all got a hint that the rule on True Polymorph had changed to "until dispelled" for the permanent (conc for the full hour) rather than actual permanent meaning 'you are now an ancient Brass Dragon forever' \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 15:33

There is no damage minimum rule, on the contrary sources of damage can deal 0 damage.

SAC V 2.6 P 13. says:

Can damage be reduced to 0 by resistance or another form of damage reduction? There is no damage minimum in the rules, so it is possible to deal 0 damage with an attack, a spell, or another effect.

See also SRD, V 5.1, page 96:

With a penalty, it is possible to deal 0 damage, but never negative damage.

So while there is no explicit minimum damage rule such as in 3e, the effective damage minimum is "0 damage."

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    \$\begingroup\$ So you're saying the rule is that 0 is the minimum damage? Isn't that a minimum damage rule? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov read the context of such as in 3e which will lead you to the conclusion that there is no such rule in 5e, but if that is confusing - then I can make it more explicit. If you are worried that the phrase is a contradiction in of itself then the question in the sac should contextualise that for you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov 0 damage = no damage. Saying that you can in fact not deal damage on an attack is equivalent to saying that there is no minimum damage. After all, if -1 dmg counted, it wouldn't be damage anymore, it would be healing (as ridiculous as that would be). The set of numbers that would actually count as damage doesn't include 0. \$\endgroup\$
    – Patrick vD
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 16:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PatrickvD That's actually hotly contested around these parts. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 16:06

There is no such rule in 5e.

An unarmed strike by someone (other than a monk or tavern brawler) with less than 10 strength will never do any damage, (even on a crit), for example.


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