Dungeons & Dragons 5E Damage Types | Damage Types in 5E

5e damage types

When opening up a spell list in Dungeons & Dragons 5E, you may find that there’s a ton of different damages. Chromatic Orb, for example, can deal 6 different damage types. That’s a lot to handle! And if it’s your first time DMing, the concept of Resistance, Vulnerability, and Immunity can be a bit much. So, what are the 13 damage types, and how should you describe them? Check out our 5e Damage Types guide for a few examples!

5E Damage Types

The 5E damage types are designed to give players and DMs alike a wide suite of options. We are living in a magical world, so when magic happens, it can create a whole bunch of different effects. And many monsters have different ways to resist damage, or become straight-up immune to a specific type! So, it’s important to have your options open, and know a bit about what it means to take a type of damage. If you’re confused about any of the 13 different occurrences of damage (and don’t worry – some are weird), you’ve come to the right place! These will be categorized, just a bit.


Slashing damage occurs whenever a bladed weapon is swung through the air, or a sharp object rubs against you. If it gives you a cut, then it was Slashing.

Longswords or swinging blade traps deal slashing damage, for instance.


Piercing damage occurs if an object enters your body, typically creating a relatively small hole.

Arrows, spears, or dart traps deal piercing damage.


Bludgeoning damage occurs whenever you take damage from an object that doesn’t necessarily break skin. Instead, bludgeoning damage causes bruises, or shatters bones. Hammers, swinging log traps, and falling damage all cause bludgeoning damage. When you suffer fall damage in 5E, it is also considered bludgeoning damage. 


Did you swallow something that’s going to hurt your body? Did something enter your skin and start burning? That means you probably took poison damage.

Poison Spray and a scorpion’s stinger deal poison damage. Do know the difference between Poison and the Poisoned Condition!


Instead of burning your blood, Acid burns your skin! This stuff is chemically designed to be unstable, and harm basically everything.

Acid Splash and many, many slimes deal acid damage. Magic is the most common way to get access to acid damage, but alchemical processes work fine too!


Fire, the bane and blessing of society. Rather than just a feeling of burning, fire actually harms you. Fire harms you by simply being so hot that skin and muscle reflexively causes immense pain. If you’ve ever been burnt by a stove, you’ve taken some fire damage!

Fireball and a Fire Elemental’s slam attack deal fire damage. Players can gain access to fire damage most easily through magic, but a lot of magical weapons deal bonus fire damage as well.


Cold damage is not taken very seriously, but it is the exact opposite of fire. Something is so cold that your body quite literally starts decaying. If you’ve ever stepped barefoot into the snow for too long, you probably “took” some cold damage… But realistically, this is talking about frostbite-levels of cold. Good thing these characters are heroic adventurers!

Ray of Frost and the Frostmaiden Auril’s (spoiler alert) attacks deal cold damage. PCs get cold damage by magic in most situations.


The divines themselves are smiting your foes, channeling themself through you. Radiant is linked closely to fire damage, thanks to spells like Sacred Flame, but they’re a little bit different. Rather than simply burning your skin, your soul is getting exorcized; no soul is holy, even a Paladin’s, so your body’s burning is a reaction to the gods deeming you unworthy in some way.

Magic is the most common way to get radiant damage; Sacred Fire and Moonbeam deal radiant damage early on.


Taking necrotic damage means part of your body has just died. Decomposed. Rotted. Rather than a simple cut or burn wound, you’ve literally lost something. This is typically attached to the opposite of radiant – unholy – and is not effective against those without actual life forces, like constructs or undead.

Necrotic damage is dealt via spells – Inflict Wounds or Vampiric Touch, for instance – and from some undead attacks, such as Wraiths.


Lightning damage is caused when high voltages of electricity enters one’s body. This makes the heart skip beats, the skin begins to burn, and the mind is razzled… But, thankfully, creatures in 5E are less likely to die from getting struck by lightning.

Lightning Bolt and Shocking Grasp each deal lightning damage, as do creatures who are closely affiliated to the skies or lighting.


Thunder is different from lightning, and is not necessarily related to lightning. This type of damage is a replacement for “Loud Noises”; something is so loud it just damages your eardrums, or breaks glasses. That’s why spells like Shatter are super effective against crystal creatures or glass.

Thunderwave and Shatter deal thunder damage… and are actually really loud! Think about that the next time you friendly fire!


Pure, unadulterated magical energy slams into your opponent, bypassing most resistances. While most descriptions of Force damage are vague, I always imagined it being like getting hit by bludgeoning damage… but, instead of bruising your skin, it bruises every single particle in and around your skin. 

Eldritch Blast and Magic Missile deal force damage, and thus simply are “magic incarnate” in projectile form. These are typically purple, but nothing’s stopping you from changing the color! Who cares what color “magic” is?


You directly attack the mind. Creatures that don’t have brains are fairly likely to not care about psychic damage at all, nor are creatures that are naturally psychic. However, by directly avoiding contact with the skin or bones, you also avoid creatures that are incredibly physically hardy, like Barbarians. You take Psychic damage when your boss says that you didn’t do what they asked… when you spent the last 20 hours doing what they asked.

Vicious Mockery and Wrathful Smite, as well as the attacks of Mind Flayers, deal Psychic damage.

See Also: Greyhawk vs. Forgotten Realms

Resistance, Vulnerability, and Immunity to 5E Damage Types

A monster (or character) has three columns when talking about damage types; Resistance, Vulnerability, and Immunity. What does it mean when a monster has one of these three words attached to them? 

When a creature is resistant to a damage type, their body naturally just doesn’t mind it. Perhaps their exoskeleton makes it difficult to slash at them, or they live in a volcano and don’t mind fire that much. Because of that, Resistance to a specific type means they take half damage (rounded down) from that type. For example, a skeleton that takes 7 Slashing damage would instead take 3.

Vulnerability is just the opposite. A creature that is vulnerable to something is heavily affected by it. A dry Plant monster, for example, is extremely easy to burn down, and might have vulnerability to Fire. Or that same creature with a hard exoskeleton might be weak to bludgeoning damage, because it destroys their skeleton. Vulnerability increases the damage taken by a creature is doubled. So, if that plant monster takes 27 Fire Damage, they take 54 damage instead! A huge increase to your damage.

Immunity is just how it sounds; if a creature is affected by that damage type, it is instead not affected at all. A creature might have immunity to a damage type if they are made of that element; Fire Elementals, for example, are immune to Fire. Immunity to Poison usually means that the creature doesn’t have blood to poison; for example… Fire Elementals, which are also immune to poison. These creatures ignore the damaging effects of such a spell, and are usually also immune to the conditions that such a spell applies.

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