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A player's PC received an enchanted mace, a +1 weapon with the ability to shine like a torch.

(Lightbringer from Lost Mine of Phandelver for those familiar.)

Does this mace deal magical damage for the purpose of overcoming resistances?

Nothing like that is mentioned in the stats; but another player argued that a weapon that's magic should be a "magical weapon". I disagree as I like to follow the books, and they seem to be pretty specific about this kind of thing, but I wanted to ask people with more experience.

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The mace provides a magical attack that does bludgeoning damage.

The term "magical attack" is defined as:

... a magical attack is an attack delivered by a spell, a magic item, or another magical source (Basic Rules, DM, p. 4; under Vulnerabilities, Resistances, and Immunities)

Let's also clear up the misconception exposed by the wording of the question. There is no such thing as "magical damage". The list of damage types includes "radiant", "necrotic", "bludgeoning","fire", and so on. The +1 Mace does Bludgeoning damage, but it is a magic item and therefore does so as a magical attack. Hence it bypasses the resistance to "bludgeoning damage from non-magical attacks".

The mace does not bypass resistance to bludgeoning attacks in general. There are not many examples, but the Treant is resistant to Bludgeoning damage, period, and is therefore resistant to this mace. (The ettercap's web is also immune to bludgeoning damage, and there may be some other examples along those lines.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it the fact that it is a +1 mace, not "the ability to shine like a torch" which makes the attack magical? \$\endgroup\$ – Trisped Jul 1 '16 at 0:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Trisped No. The phraseology is always "nonmagical weapons" (except for the Yochlol in mist form when it is "nonmagical damage"). A weapon is magical even if that magic does not give a numerical bonus. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Jul 1 '16 at 2:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Trisped, see the answers here: [rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/83153/… . It's a magic item because it says so. +1 weapons are magic. A mace you find that glows like a torch might be a magic weapon, or it might be a normal weapon with a continual flame spell on it. In your case, Lightbringer is magic. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Grant Jul 3 '16 at 2:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ After errata, magical attack does have a definition: "... a magical attack is an attack delivered by a spell, a magic item, or another magical source" (Basic Rules, DM, p. 4; under Vulnerabilities, Resistances, and Immunities). I think it would help if you retooled this answer with that fact established. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mar 18 at 14:50
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The mace will overcome resistance to nonmagical weapons

Most creatures that have defenses against ordinary weapons will say that they are "resistant to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical weapons."

The mace does not deal "magical damage"; the +1 bonus to damage from the magic weapon is a bonus to whatever damage the mace would ordinarily deal, which is bludgeoning. However, any damage dealt by the mace will bypass the defenses some monsters have against ordinary weapons.

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Yes, it is a magic weapon

All weapons with magical enchantments are magical weapons. I don't know if it's specified in the starter adventure, but in the Dungeon Master's Guide, starting on page 135, goes into detail about magical items. And on page 133 specifies the "[t]ypes of magic items include armor, potions, scrolls, rings, rods, staffs, wands, weapons, and wondrous items."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ DMG pg 213 Also explicitly lists Weapon +1, +2, and +3 as a magic weapon. "You have a bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon". \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Jun 30 '16 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't want to include that since the weapon in question isn't just a +1 mace. I don't have LMoP, so I can't comment on the wording of the specific weapon partywipe is asking about. \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jun 30 '16 at 14:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Either way, I think he needs some more proof that it is a magic weapon. I think that if it's listed explicitly outside of the weapons chart, it's magical, though I also don't have the book handy to see the wording \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Jun 30 '16 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Christopher: LMOP does actually describe it as a "+1 mace" in the body text and then follows that with its special properties (the details of +1 weapons and armor in general are provided in the appendix). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mar 18 at 23:30
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All weapons that have a plus and are magic are magic weapons, by definition.

Phandelver goes further, and says explicitly that Lightbringer is a magic weapon:

  • On page 25, it is called a magic weapon in the NPC's notes.
  • On page 48, it is called a +1 mace in the Treasure for that area, and…
    • Note the italics in “+1 mace”! By calling it a +1 mace in italics, the text is saying “this is a magic weapon” — this is the formatting that indicates a magic item in D&D 5e. See “Appendix A: Magic Items” (p. 52–3).
  • In “Appendix A: Magic Items”, it explains further that (again note the italics)

    Some +1 weapons have additional properties, such as shedding light.

    … matching Lightbringer's description.

This is enough to defeat a resistance to nonmagical weapons. Any resistance that keys off the weapon being nonmagical simply says so — there's no further requirement to bypass it than being magic and a weapon. For example, the relevant half of the Damage Resistance entry for

Mormesk the Wraith

is to “[…] bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons that aren't silvered” (p. 59). This resistance doesn't apply to Lightbringer, because Lightbringer isn't a nonmagical weapon, so it does its full damage when it hits.

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