Related meta: Merge [resistance] into [damage-resistance]?

There seem to be three closely related tags on RPG.SE at the moment: , , and .

However, at the moment, it's not clear what exactly the difference is, or when each tag should be applied. The linked question above has a single response that frankly doesn't explain the difference very clearly or distinguish when either of the two mentioned tags should be used (or what differentiates them from ):


Systems have a variety of different types of resistance, including magical, arcane and normal weapons and not all of these relate to damage.

Only has tag info:

The D&D mechanic that represents an ability to shrug off or ignore damage of certain types and amounts.

Damage Resistance is the D&D mechanic that represents an ability to shrug off or ignore damage of certain types and amounts.

It typically represents resilience against mundane attacks or to a specific type of energy. It usually functions as a static reduction of damage taken by the entity. It may be possible to bypass it by some means.

Besides the tag wiki suggesting it's specific to D&D, the description also doesn't seem to match its actual usage in practice.

seems to be used on all sorts of questions relating to resistances (mainly in 5e, and to a lesser degree in 4e and rarely in other systems), whether it's to types of weapon damage, types of spell damage, or damage from other effects. Apparently 85 questions have the tag.

is used much less often; only 9 questions have the tag. All but one of them are for 3.5e or Pathfinder (I'm not very familiar with the systems). This might refer to a unique type of resistance that is separate from what the previous tag covers.

Finally, seems the most generically named of the bunch, and is used on 13 questions. 8 of them are for 5e, 3 for Pathfinder, and 2 for AD&D 2e. Given the generic name, I'm not sure this tag covers any unique situation that's not already covered by the previous two. If it does cover a unique situation, it should almost certainly be renamed, because I think the very nonspecific name is causing it to be used in place of a number of different situations.

Is there a difference between these 3 tags? If so, what is it?

If there is indeed a difference between each of the 3 tags, the tag info should be edited to clarify that difference. If there is no difference between some of the tags, they should be merged (or synonymized, or whatever the proper terminology is).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ To throw more at this, note [damage-reduction]. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 30, 2018 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: Ah, yes. I've come across that one in the past as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jul 30, 2018 at 19:39

2 Answers 2


In D&D 3.5e and Pathfinder, at least, these are very different concepts

Which, of course, is problematic because it’s just two systems (that are nearly the same system anyway, at least as these are concerned). They have entirely different mechanics and all raise a number of questions:

  • Damage Resistance is only found as “energy resistance” and reduces certain types of energy damage—the phrase “damage resistance” is avoided because of...

  • Damage Reduction, the physical counterpart to energy resistance—but unlike energy resistance, which reduces damage from a certain sort of energy damage, DR reduces all physical damage except those from certain sources.

  • Spell Resistance uses different mechanics entirely, forcing a spellcaster to roll a special check against a certain number in order to affect the target at all, rather than being a flat reduction in damage.

  • Resistance is just a bonus type, most commonly found on cloaks of resistance. These systems use a “typed bonus” system where you can only use the highest bonus of a given type, rather than add them all together.

So energy resistance and damage reduction are somewhat related, but are complete inversions of one another on one key point. Spell resistance, and “resistance” by itself, are completely separate from these two and from each other. Within the scope of these systems, these are absolutely meaningful distinctions that make sense to separate and categorize through tags.

How to actually support that, however, in a tagging system that should be usable by all systems, I don’t know. It may not actually be worth doing, perhaps. But these are the relevant definitions.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It’s a bit of a misunderstanding that tags can’t be exclusive to a game. They can be when that’s naturally the case. They just can’t exclusively claim a tag name that isn’t naturally exclusive already. Basically, a dominant game can’t squeeze others out of the tag system—they have to share when sharing is called for. So these tags are fine on that count. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 30, 2018 at 16:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Really? These seem like pretty generic names another system might well want to use very differently... \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 30, 2018 at 16:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ They do seems so, yes. If we find the tag wikis are inaccurate in practice, they should be adjusted. I just mean it’s not the case that we shouldn’t have tags for something just because they’d only be used by one family of games. Such tags are okay (qv. [aspects]). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 30, 2018 at 16:15
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie As another eample of that kind of tag, we have pretty much any published adventure for D&D as a tag (or forgotten realms), which obviously is exclusive for D&D. I think the main concern of KRyan here is that it's exclusive to a game without obviously being so, and another game could use the same name for a different thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Jul 30, 2018 at 20:05

I will split the answer in a brief explanation (that I can see) for each tag and what makes them different. I know you are more familiar with 5e (so is most of our site anyway) so I'll try to exemplify with that when possible.

Damage Resistance

It's the most common kind of resistance. It shows up as either resistance or immunity to some kind of damage. I believe there is no mystery behind it here.

Spell Resistance

In 3.5e (and probably in PF), Spell Resistance is a thing by itself. It's like an AC against magical attacks (actually it's literally described this way).

You could also think of this tag applied broadly for, e.g., creatures with advantage in saving throws against spells in 5e.

Note that this is considerably different from Damage Resistance.


Okay, this one is too broad. One question that is not about damage or spells, but broad resistances is this one, though: Legendary Resistance simply saves the creature from a failed Saving Throw, not specifying spell or damage or whatever. Resistances against specific conditions or effects also could fit here.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ "Resistance" also gets used for something called "magic resistance" in D&D which appears unrelated to either of the other types of resistance. (It's fine if the concept it's describing is broad as long as that doesn't cause problems with its usage as a tag.) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 30, 2018 at 14:36

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