Let's suppose you're facing an enemy that has resistance against non-magical weapons. Alas, you have no magical weapon, but you do have your trusty Alchemy Jug that you routinely use to produce mayonnaise. You grab the Jug and use it as an improvised weapon. Does it count as magical for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance?

(How resistant a magical item is to physical damage is a bit of DM's fiat. For the sake of this question, assume the Jug is indestructible.)


2 Answers 2


The answer is No, despite the Sage Advice article others may quote out of context. Just being considered Magical isn't enough to count as a Magical Weapon. There is no doubt the jug is Magical, which is what the question covered, it, however, is not a Magical Weapon.

While his tweets were still official rulings, Jeremy Crawford tweeted the following. Even if it isn't considered official now, it is a good look into what the designers intended:

A magic shield is not a magic weapon, unless its text says otherwise. #DnD

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    \$\begingroup\$ "a magical attack is an attack delivered by a spell, a magic item, or another magical source" -Monster Manual pg. 8. Any attack with a magic item is a magical attack. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 5, 2020 at 20:03

I found a ruling just here

(http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/rules-answers-february-2016) in that you have to read the description of the weapon.

In D&D, the first type of magic is part of nature. It is no more dispellable than the wind. A monster like a dragon exists because of that magic-enhanced nature. The second type of magic is what the rules are concerned about. When a rule refers to something being magical, it’s referring to that second type. Determining whether a game feature is magical is straightforward. Ask yourself these questions about the feature:
• Is it a magic item?
• Is it a spell? Or does it let you create the effects of a spell that’s mentioned in its description?
• Is it a spell attack?
• Does its description say it’s magical?
If your answer to any of those questions is yes, the feature is magical.

Further down: (Emphasis mine)

Do magic weapons give you a bonus to attack and damage rolls? A magic weapon gives you a bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls only if its description says it does. Every magic weapon can bypass resistances and immunities to damage from nonmagical attacks, but only certain magic weapons are more accurate and damaging than their nonmagical counterparts. For example, a +1 longsword and a giant slayer both give you a +1 bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls, whereas neither a flame tongue nor a frost brand provides such a bonus. All four weapons, however, can bypass an earth elemental’s resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical attacks.

In short, a bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls is considered a special property of a magic weapon, not something that all magic weapons provide automatically.

The jug would satisfy Is it a magic item? thus yes, your jug would class as a magical weapon.

Justifying this is pretty hard for me because for the record I don't agree with this but I have to look at the rules as written! There is nothing the DMHB or PHP that downplays the capabilities of using an improvised weapon from an enchanted point of view, there is nothing to say that an improvised weapon is not a "weapon". After-all a magical longbow hitting someone in melee is classed as improvised from a damage roll point of view - but can anyone argue it isn't a magical weapon? It certainly passes the test from the rule clarification.

The rule clarification I quoted above is not solely concerned with magical weapons either:

Determining whether a game feature is magical is straightforward

Clearly the word "feature" means other than "weapon". Indeed, even the 4 questions to ask fail to mention the word weapon at all - the entire PASSAGE fails to mention "weapon". They all say item. so firstly we determine our weapon; it is an improvised weapon "alchemy jug". Now we determine if it is magical, well it passes the "it is a magic item" therefore we have a magical improvised weapon. so:

Every magic weapon can bypass resistances and immunities to damage from nonmagical attacks

The passage I quoted from the rule clarification was also shown to determine if an attack was magical in nature (dragon breath weapon). the "test" to see if it was clearly states as the first time "is the item magical". It does not state anywhere is it a magical weapon.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I still don't see how you bridge Magical Item and Magical Damage. See the links in the main question comments, specifically the last one on Animated Objects. Until there is a clearer bridge, I can't provide an upvote. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 13:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ This ruling is explicitly about the effects of magic "weapons", not magic "items". It gives no mention to the actual question - that is, whether the magic properties of an Alchemy Jug extends to its use in combat. It should be noted that the Alchemy Jug is merely "resistant" to damage - which should give its owner pause if he plans on hitting things with it. \$\endgroup\$
    – pokep
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 13:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like this answer because it does its homework, but I had to downvote. The leap of logic from magic item to magic weapon is unjustified and in my opinion results in an incorrect answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doval
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I had originally thought of that but could find no ruling nor rules in the DMHB or PHB that downplayed the capabilities of an improvised weapon. An improvised weapon (for all intents and purposes) is a weapon. don't forget that normal weapons can also be treat as improvised ones under certain circumstances -would enchanted versions of these be stripped of their powers? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 13:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AngryCarrotTop This still doesn't create the bridge between "Is this thing Magical" and "Does this deliver Magical Damage". However, this question has been closed, but it may still be helpful to you in how you respond to other questions. You can also join the Chat to further discuss it outside of the comments. chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/11/rpg-general-chat \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:13

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