In Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, when my character successfully hits a monster in combat, does the GM have to tell me whether the attack deals the usual amount of damage or not? If the monster has vulnerability, resistance or immunity to the type of damage I am dealing, is the GM obligated to tell me?


The DM is obliged to tell you

This obligation arises from the How to Play section on p.6 of the PHB, that is, the most fundamental rule in the book:

3. The DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions.

The player has scored a hit for a known amount of damage (from the dice they rolled and their modifiers): "the results of the adventurers’ actions" is different if the monster has vulnerability, resistance or immunity to the damage than if they do not and the DM is obliged to communicate that difference to the player.

How that communication takes place is up to the individual table DM: some will straight out tell the player's that the monster is vulnerable/resistant/immune and others will describe the effects ("Your blow does more/less/no damage than you expected" smart players will twig pretty quick). However they do it, it is important that they do do it.

Why it is important is simple: the sole source of information about the world comes from the DM. The players need that information so that they can make informed decisions (like switching to a different damage type). This is not to say that the players should get information their character's don't know or can't perceive, however, following a successful attack the effects of the hit are neither.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The effect of the damage is the amount of damage done. Seasoned adventurers would recognize the difference between a more effective and less effective attack without an active check. Example: If I was fighting an Orc Skeleton that was vulnerable to bludgeoning, this would be revealed when I very easily shattered most of the bones with a club, instead of requiring several more hits that would normally be required against a regular Orc. I would also argue that you'll notice something immune to an effect takes no noticeable damage at all from it, like a werewolf. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Feb 14 '17 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments removed, DV removed. The point starting your last paragraph is (to my eye) probably the most important part of your answer in terms of supporting why the DM needs to fold perceivable information into the narrative. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 14 '17 at 16:14

GM is not obligated but should in my opinion provide ample opportunity for the players to gather that information. A creature that is vulnerable or immune to something will react differently and this should be reflected in the descriptions given by the GM.

Examples: A Vampire shying away from sunlight, or a Troll suddenly being more cautious against the fighter with the flaming sword, a Salamander wading unhindered through the Wall of Fire as though it was fresh air to it.

Passive Perception (or in some cases Insight) should pick up a bit of this in my opinion depending on distractions but sometimes I wait for a player to declare their character looks for these things and sometimes I don't even require a roll. Table mileage varies and I would not expect to notice things on the first hit or in the first round.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "It's super effective!" \$\endgroup\$ – David K Feb 14 '17 at 12:57


The GM is not "obligated" to do anything.

Ideally they would describe the hits as somehow dealing less damage than usual, or having no effect, to help properly reflect the game world to you. "Your arrows stick into the skeleton but don't appear to do much damage or impede it in any way." But unless you have an ability to actively detect the source of that issue, you don't know what it is - a spell? Resistance? You don't know, you'll have to reason based on the information you do have (try different weapons, etc.).

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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't make any sense. "Hmmmm, that's 4 fireballs but the red dragon didn't flinch even once. Maybe it's just really strong?" The game is about seasoned adventurers. They would be able to recognize the difference between effective, ineffective, and no effect with various attacks. Based on the way this answer is worded, you wouldn't be able to experiment to detect strengths and weaknesses, which to me doesn't make any sense at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Feb 14 '17 at 15:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LinoFrankCiaralli Depending on what table the game is played at, the DM may make more use of the need to use insight, lore, aracna, history, etc checks to represent the characters either knowing from having spent their lives in world, and hearing legends/teachings, or finding things out as they examine or uncover them during play. "Seasoned adventurers" probably, in the 5e system, don't start being who the players characters are until the Tier II of adventuring (Levels 5-10). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 14 '17 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not knocking that Korvin. I'm just pointing out that resistances and vulnerabilities are readily apparent AFTER you've hit them with something. For example, if I swing my sword at an adamantine golem, I will very loudly proclaim," Weapons are having no effect on this thing!" as it bounces off harmlessly. By the same token, if I notice that acid is fixing the previously damage clay golem, I'm going to stop casting acid based spells at it. These aren't active check requirements because they should be readily apparent AFTER you've made an attack that reveals them. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Feb 14 '17 at 21:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have elaborated, but I am saying yes, the DM would do some description, but is not obligated to tell "amount of damage done" or why it's reduced; this confuses game fiction with game rules. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Feb 15 '17 at 15:11

Depends on the situation

Yes and no. DM is obliged to tell what the character see. What does the character see obviously depends on the character and the situation itself (e.g. how unusual the enemy is).

Is the character capable of understanding the outcome of his attack? Then DM should tell. Is he an optimized dumb Fighter with the Intelligence of 3? He will continue to bash a werewolf with his great axe, being unable understand what damage immunity is.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel this is a more a situation where it should be the player who is dumb choosing not to recognize the feedback rather than none being given (i.e. an RP choice). The player recognizes what the DM says, but the character doesn't. Presumably the rest of the party who is observing should still be able to make reasonable inferences about the effectiveness of attacks ("look how hard he's bashing that monster, but it's hardly making a dent"), but by withholding any knowledge at all you remove that possibility. \$\endgroup\$ – JBC Feb 14 '17 at 18:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JBC I didn't say the GM should withhold any knowledge at all. I said the information GM provide to a player should depend on the player's character. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Feb 14 '17 at 19:40

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