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Stormreach Chronicle - The Academy: Damage Reduction

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Originally posted on Stormreach Chronicle (1-23-09).

The Academy[edit]

In the last edition of the Academy, we discussed Armor Class and other Armor benefits and hindrances. Today, we'll take a look at another potentially confusing subject: Damage Reduction, also called “DR”.

Damage Reduction is another way for a character to mitigate harm. Don't confuse it with Armor Class though! While Armor Class affects the ability of monsters to land their attack on you, damage reduction impacts how much damage you will take from a successful attack against you. The higher the amount of damage reduction you have, the less damage your character will take from an attack. It might seem small on its own, but all those attacks add up, and the more points you can shave off an attack, the fewer points you lose off your health bar!

Damage reduction can be granted from several sources:

You may have seen an item or ability that said it granted “DR 1/adamantine” or “DR 3/-“. This is how Damage Reduction is listed, and tells you how much damage the damage reduction negates, as well as what you're still vulnerable to. Most Damage Reduction is good against physical attacks, but with some exceptions. In the above example, “DR 1/adamantine” tells you the following information about your Damage Reduction:

  • DR stands for Damage Reduction
  • 1 is the amount of damage prevented from an attack. So if an enemy hit you for 10 damage, you would only take 9 thanks to your DR.
  • /adamantine indicates that if the attack is adamantine, you would unfortunately take full damage from an adamantine attack. Whatever is listed after the / is a type of material or energy that you are still fully vulnerable to, despite your DR.

A very good kind of Damage Reduction to have is /- (You may hear other players refer to it as “DR slash dash” or even just "DR dash"). This means that unless the attack specifically ignores DR, no material or energy can overcome the DR provided. So if you have “DR 3 /-“ it means that 3 points of the total damage for the attack will not affect you. For example:

If you have DR 3/-, and a kobold bites you for 5 points, you will only take 2 points of damage from the bite because your damage reduction prevented 3 points of the total damage. This can be very important when you're being hit with multiple attacks, as damage reduction removes damage for the total of each attack!

Unfortunately, Damage Reductions provided from multiple sources don't stack. Only the highest applicable amount is what is counted towards reducing damage. The easiest way to think about it is to sort your DR from highest value to lowest. Go down the list and when you run into a DR type that isn't bypassed, apply that amount and stop. For example:

  • Let's say you have DR 5/Lawful and DR 1/Adamantine (and it doesn't matter if it's from two separate items/abilities or on the same item/ability, ultimately it works the same way).
  • If you're hit by a Lawful non-Adamantine weapon. Your DR 5/Lawful is skipped but your DR 1/Adamantine is applied.
  • If you were hit by a non-lawful Adamantine weapon, the DR 5/Lawful would reduce the damage by 5.
  • If you're hit by a non-lawful non-Adamantine weapon,your DR 5/Lawful would reduce the damage by 5. Your 1/Adamantine wouldn't come into play because the DR 5/Lawful already reduced the damage.
  • If you were hit by a Lawful Adamantine weapon... well you're going to be in a lot of pain, since it bypasses BOTH of your DR types.

Other methods that over-come your DR include: magical weapons, spells, spell-like abilities, and energy attacks (such as non-magical fire). But ultimately, your DR can be used in addition to your Armor Class to try and help keep your character as safe as you are able in combat. The more often your character is getting attacked, the more your DR comes in to play, and can make the difference between life or death.