How Does Damage Resistance Work in DnD 5e


Damage Resistance in DnD 5e is one of the mechanics you always have to take into consideration when in combat. But it’s not the only thing.
In truth, the entire combat system of DnD is quite complex with many elements intertwining and working together.

So, today we will be taking a brief look at the combat system – with a specific look at damage resistance.

Here’s what we’ll be looking at today. For starters, damage resistance and what it exactly means. Following that, we’ll take a look at damage immunity. And to end it all we will be discussing damage vulnerability and how it differs from the other terms.

Let’s go.

Damage Resistance in DnD 5e

The Player’s Handbook on page 197 explains damage resistance as such.

“Some creatures and objects are exceedingly difficult or unusually easy to hurt with certain types of damage. If a creature or an object has resistance to a damage type, damage of that type is halved against it.”

That basically explains how damage resistance works in simple terms, but let’s elaborate further.

The mechanic of damage resistance works as such by allowing certain creatures or objects to take less damage from certain sources. Take for example the Dwarves’ resistance to poisons as a racial trait.
But it doesn’t end at just poison. There are multiple types of damage, these are.

Acid, Bludgeoning, Cold, Fire, Force, Lightning, Necrotic, Piercing, Poison, Radiant, Slashing, Thunder.

As you can see, there’s an entire host of elements that can damage you. Thus, it becomes essential when building your character and party to include variety. The worst thing you can come upon if you’re overly specialized is a party of enemies that are a direct counter to the type of equipment and characters you have.

And one more thing that’s important to mention here before we move on to the next part. Damage resistances do not stack. Remember our Dwarf from before? Well, if he drinks a potion of poison resistance he does not gain extra benefits – or what’s more, immunity.

Speaking about immunity.

What Damage Immunity is

Strangely enough, this is a mechanic that exists that isn’t written about in any core rulebook that I am aware of. Strange considering how often it appears during games.

Damage Immunity is the big brother of resistance. Whereas Damage Resistance makes you take half of the damage from attack – Damage Immunity entirely negates it.

What this means is, certain creatures and objects are entirely immune to this type of damage, so it’s a waste of time to try and attack them with those types of attacks.

In other words. If you’re resistant to fire, you can freely go to a volcano and take a nice little swim in the lava. Hell, you can even eat hot coals and lava for breakfast instead of cereal and milk if you so desire.

Now that we’ve covered these two, let’s look at the opposite.

Damage Vulnerability

Damage Vulnerability is the complete opposite of Damage Resistance.
Whereas Damage Resistance made you take half damage from a certain type – Damage Vulnerability makes you take double the damage from that type of damage.

What does all this mean in relation to what we’ve said up until now?
Well, it means you have to be more tactical when approaching combat. If you have a certain type of vulnerability then do not directly engage enemies who have those types of attacks. If you have a certain resistant then engage enemies that do that type of damage freely.

Ways to get Damage Resistance in DnD 5e

Magical Items

This is first on the list as this is something everyone can get. From things like potions to magical items – all the way to a tattoo.


A few of the races have an inherent resistance to certain elements. This is one of the most important things to consider when creating a new character. Carefully look at each option and consider the types of combat situations you would like to get in.

Class features

Certain class features will allow you to get Damage Resistances of some sort. Be it in the form of feats that you can pick up, subclass abilities, and spells that you can learn.


Spells are one of the main ways that you can get a certain resistance type in the middle of combat. Any good supporting caster should have one or two of these on hand for any situation.

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