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If someone is hit by an attack with special effects like poison, disease, paralysis, ability damage and his/her damage reduction is high enough to prevent all damage, do the specials still apply?

  • Example 1: A Ghoul has a bite (1d6+1 plus disease and paralysis) listed.
  • Example 2: A Soul eater has claws (1d6+1/19–20 plus 1d6 Wisdom damage)

Both hit a creature with DR10/magic, as their attacks are not magic the damage (1d6+1) is reduced by 10 resulting in 0 damage for all non crit attacks.

Is the target still subject to disease, paralysis and/or wisdom damage?

Ghoul fever has the injury vector if that matters.

The question Does a successful hit that does no damage due to DR still count as a hit? is similar and more or less answers the disease part because poison and disease should be similar in that aspect but it doesn't seem to answer the other two points about ability damage and paralysis.

We had the situation with the soul eater recently and as we weren't sure the GM ruled that the Wisdom damage has a miss chance in this case.

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If the damage was reduced to 0 by DR (or energy resistance), the additional effects are negated aswell, unless said otherwise on each ability's entry.

The rules for Damage Reduction say:

Whenever damage reduction completely negates the damage from an attack, it also negates most special effects that accompany the attack, such as injury poison, a monk's stunning, and injury-based disease.

Ghouls

A Ghoul's disease is applied on injury (bite attack), and thus would be negated if damage reduction completely negates the damage.

Ghoul Fever: Bite—injury;

However, keep in mind that it does not reduce effects that are energy based or non-physical in nature, so if you have a claw attack that deals an extra 1d6 fire damage, that damage is still applied. On the same line of though, a claw attack that drains energy will also drain energy even if the claw's damage was negated, because the rules for Energy Drain allow them to work even on a touch (no damage), as it says that it simply has to hit the attack.

The Paralizys of a ghoul also does not specify that it's on injury, it simply says:

Some monsters and spells have the supernatural or spell-like ability to paralyze their victims, immobilizing them through magical means.

So, on a rules as written reading, it's safe to assume that even if the damage was negated, a creature would still suffer the paralizing effect, because it's not related to the injury, but a magical effect that afflicts the target. This last part of probably subject to table variation, as many GM's will agree that ghouls are terribly dangerous for their challenge rating.

It's unclear if a ghoul can paralize simply by touching or not, because the paralizys is listed as a Special Attack aswell. You will see the difference when you look at the Green Hag stats, which also has an effect that is applied on her claw attacks, but it clearly states that she must hit with her claws for it to affect the target, or she has to use a special touch attack as standard action to cause the weakness effect.

Damage Reduction does not negate touch attacks, energy damage dealt along with an attack, or energy drains. Nor does it affect poisons or diseases delivered by inhalation, ingestion, or contact.

On this same logic, a disease that simply has a contact as method of transmission would not be negated by Damage Reduction (which is also clear on the rules quoted before).

Stunning Fist

One of the examples of things negated by Damage Reduction is Stunning Fist, which reads:

Stunning Fist forces a foe damaged by your unarmed attack to make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Wis modifier), in addition to dealing damage normally.

Since you have to deal damage to apply the stun effect, stunning fist does not work if the damage was negated.

Soul Eater

Now, the Soul Eater's Wisdom Damage does not say that it must deal damage to work on their target.

Wisdom Damage (Su) A creature hit by a soul eater’s claw must succeed on a DC 17 Fortitude save or take 1d6 points of Wisdom damage. The save DC is Constitution-based.

So it does not matter if the damage was negated, the target will still take Wisdom damage, similarly to how it happens to Energy Drain or contact poisons and diseases.

I would probably agree that all ability damage should qualify as "negate" if it was listed as an example on DR's text. But otherwise i believe that each ability damaging effect should be analized case by case if their effect are on hit or when dealing damage.

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The Pathfinder rules state that

Whenever damage reduction completely negates the damage from an attack, it also negates most special effects that accompany the attack, such as injury poison, a monk's stunning, and injury-based disease. Damage reduction does not negate touch attacks, energy damage dealt along with an attack, or energy drains. Nor does it affect poisons or diseases delivered by inhalation, ingestion, or contact.

also, the Soul Eaters' wisdom damage is actually also listed as a Supernatural ability:

Wisdom Damage (Su) A creature hit by a soul eater’s claw must succeed on a DC 17 Fortitude save or take 1d6 points of Wisdom damage. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Since the wisdom damage can be saved by a Fort Save, and one of the things listed that is denied when DR reduces damage to zero is the Monk's stunning blow, which also gives a save, I'd say it is safe to say that if the soul eater cannot deal damage to you due to DR, it also cannot deal wisdom damage to you.

Note that this is ability damage, NOT drain, which is different. Ability damage is temporary and heals on it's own, while ability drain - which, IIRC, counts as an energy drain - is semi-permanent (lasts until healed by magic or other "special" effects). Thus, DR CAN prevent it as the rule only states that it does not affect energy drain.

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