Damage threshold has become a topic of conversation since the release of Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, but it is not a new concept. This mechanic is present in the Basic Rules and has been since the inception of 5E. However, most campaigns have had little reason to make use of it. Spelljammer might change that, as damage threshold is a component for all of the ships flying through the Astral Sea. See our Damage Threshold 5E Guide for more.
Damage Threshold 5E – How It Works
The damage threshold rules were originally created for things like castle walls. The idea is that some objects are so large and so sturdy, that small amounts of damage have no real effect on it. The damage threshold allows for the destruction of these large objects, just not with a death by a thousand cuts. Mechanically, this rule prevents adventures from leveling a castle by just spamming firebolt repeatedly. The best way to understand this mechanic is to go straight to the text:
So what does that mean? This concept is pretty straightforward. Certain objects of immense size will have a damage threshold. Things like castles and city walls will have a damage threshold, while smaller objects like doors will not. This mechanic makes it possible to deal significant damage or even destroy enormous objects, but only when a single blow has a big enough impact. it is worth noting that these rules were specifically designed for objects, not vehicles. However, the damage threshold concept was adopted for naval combat in the Saltmarsh book, so it is no surprise is has carried over to Spelljammer.
How Does Damage Threshold Apply to Spelljammer?
In Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, the same approach applies to the gigantic space vessels that are the center point of the setting. Every Spelljammer vessel has a Damage Threshold that must be met in order for the ship’s HP to be lowered. However, you might be surprised at how low these thresholds can be. The damage threshold for nearly all Spelljammers is only 15, meaning with enough time, most adventuring parties could make a dent or even destroy these ships. Only two ships have a higher damage threshold. Both the Tyrant and the Bombard have a threshold of 20. There does not seem to be a single factor that determines the damage threshold for each Spelljammer. There are ships with a threshold of 15 that have higher Armor Class and HP than ships with higher thresholds, for example.
Conclusion – Damage Threshold 5E Guide
Whether you are knocking down a castle or battling a Spelljammer full of plasmoid pirates, the damage threshold should play into your strategy. While these rules were originally for objects (not vehicles!) they now apply to Spelljammers. We hope this refresher has been helpful for you!