A single attack, spell, trap, or other harmful effect can often result in multiple Damage Rolls. Determining the resulting damage from these various rolls can be difficult due to hidden mechanics which are commonly referred to by the community as damage "sources" and damage "riders". The term damage "instances" is sometimes used in place of damage "sources," but for the purpose of this page the only terms to be used are damage source(s) and damage rider(s). The game does not inform players what is a damage source vs. what is a damage rider, or how these two interact with each other. This page describes the mechanical differences between damage sources and damage riders, how they interact, and lists which effects and abilities fall into each category.
Damage Sources (DS) vs. Damage Riders (DR)[edit | edit source]
A damage source is an attack or other effect that directly deals damage to one or more targets. Examples include striking a target with a weapon, many spells, or thrown items such as an . Damage sources usually require the use of an action (e.g. throwing an object such as a grenade), bonus action (e.g. making an attack with your offhand weapon while dual wielding) or reaction (e.g. the Hellish Rebuke spell).
A damage rider is something which adds to the damage dealt by a source. A rider cannot deal its damage independently - there must be an applicable damage source for it to "ride". Examples of damage riders include the Hex spell adding damage to the damage from a Warlock's Eldritch Blast or weapon attacks, coatings applied to weapons providing additional damage to a weapon attack, a 6th level Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer applying their elemental affinity to a spell of the appropriate damage type, or a raging Barbarian adding bonus rage damage to their weapon attacks. Many damage riders are gained from passive features or other kinds of buffs. Any eligible damage riders from a damaging effect will be applied to a damage source which is a part of that damaging effect.
Damage Riders treated as Damage Sources (DRS)[edit | edit source]
There are some damage riders which defy the typical trends described above. They still must "ride along" with a damage source in order to be applied, but when the damage is calculated they are treated as damage sources instead of damage riders. This means that these "damage riders which are treated as damage sources" can then cause normal damage riders to be applied once again as part of the same ability (e.g. attack or spell) which caused the damage.
Nearly all DRS effects are treated like normal Damage Riders when playing on Honour mode, making much of the following information irrelevant for those players.
Example Calculation[edit | edit source]
Damage Sources (DS):
- Thrown weapon attack using the applies 1d6 (damage die) + 1 (weapon enchantment) + 5 (Strength modifier) piercing damage
Damage Riders (DR):
- Lightning Charges (Condition) add +1 Lightning Damage to each damage source
- The adds 1d4 damage which is of the same type as the weapon used (piercing in this example) to each damage source.
- Hex adds 1d6 necrotic damage to each damage source.
- Tavern Brawler adds the character's Strength modifier to thrown weapon attacks an additional time
Damage Riders treated as Damage Sources (DRS):
- The additional 1d4 damage from the is a damage rider treated as a damage source. This means it will cause all of the Damage Riders listed above to activate a second time.
Calculating total damage:
To determine the total damage applied take each DS and DRS. Then apply the damage riders onto each of these. In this example that means one should evaluate the normal damage source of throwing a spear plus all damage riders, followed by the additional lightning damage from the with all damage riders applied again.
- 1d6 (3.5 avg) (weapon damage die) + 1 (weapon enchantment) + 5 (Strength modifier) Piercing from the thrown weapon attack, [DS]
- +1d4 (2.5 avg) Lightning damage}} from the bonus effect of throwing the , [DRS]
As a hypothetical scenario to show the impact that this minor detail can have, instead imagine the bonus lighting damage from throwing the is treated as a DR in the above scenario. In this hypothetical scenario the above damage roll would yield 24 total damage on average (ignoring resistances) calculated as follows:
- 1d6 (3.5 avg) (weapon damage die) + 1 (weapon enchantment) + 5 (Strength modifier) Piercing from the thrown weapon attack, [DS]
- +1d4 (2.5 avg) Piercing damage from the , [DR]
- +1 Lightning damage from Lightning Charges (Condition), [DR]
- +1d6 (3.5 avg) Necrotic damage from Hex, [DR]
- +5 Piercing damage damage from Tavern Brawler on a character with 20 Strength, [DR]
- +1d4 (2.5 avg) Lightning damage}} from the bonus effect of throwing the in the hypothetical scenario where it is treated as a traditional damage rider [DR]
This is a simple example to demonstrate the underlying principles. By mixing and matching multiple DR and DRS effects it is possible to deal hundreds (and in extreme cases with proper conditions over thousands) of points of damage with a single attack.
DRS effects[edit | edit source]
The following are a list of items and abilities which have DRS effects, and what the relevant DRS effect is. Most of the below effects appear to instead be treated as normal damage riders for Honour mode difficulty, so the below tables should only be applied to other difficulty settings.
|Item||Act Found||Relevant Effect||Notes|
|All||Deals Weapon Damage + 2d4Acid (Dexterity Save to negate). Creates a permanent Acid Surface.||N/a|
|All||Deals weapon damage + 2d4Fire (Dexterity Save to negate). Creates a Fire Surface for 2 turns.||N/a|
|All||Deals weapon damage + 2d4Cold (Dexterity Save to negate). Creates an Ice Surface for 2 turns.||N/a|
|All||Deals weapon damage + 2d4Lightning (Dexterity Save to negate).||N/a|
|Prepared (Condition)||All||Spend 6 m / 20 ft of your movement to deal additional physical damage (minimum 1) on each successful weapon attack for the rest of the turn.||Weapon Action available to all Greataxes. Recharges on Short Rest|
|One||Deathly Slumber: Deals an additional 1d4 Necrotic damage to creatures that are Knocked Out or Sleeping .||N/a|
|One||Inflicts Shattered on hit. When attacking a Shattered target, deal an additional 1d4Piercing damage.||N/a|
|One||Deals an additional 1d4Slashing damage to Burning targets.||Can apply multiple times.|
|One||Deals an additional 1d6Fire damage to Plants, Insects or Small creatures.||N/a|
|One||Deals an additional 1d4Piercing damage to Burning targets.||Can apply multiple times.|
|One||Revitalising Strike: Smash into a foe, wounding them and healing your own injuries. On a hit, heal 1d6hit points. You deal additional Necrotic damage equal to your Proficiency Bonus.||This is a weapon action specific to this weapon. As with all weapon actions, it recharges on a short rest.|
|One||Willing Whip: Grants Resistance to Necrotic damage. Deals an additional 1d6Necrotic damage to nearby targets, including the wielder.||This damage does not benefit from many damage riders that are applied to the base weapon attack. For instance when used as part of a smite attack, bonus damage applied to spells is not applied to the damage caused by the willing whip ability.|
|One||Blood Sacrifice: Pain is a path to power. Take 1d4Slashing damage to receive a +1d4 bonus to Attack Rolls and Saving Throws.||Damage riders are applied to the self inflicted damage.|
|One||Break the Unbroken: Deal an additional 1d8Piercing damage to targets that still have all their hitpoints.||The target must be at full health.|
|One||Lightning Blast: Once per Long Rest you may focus the electricity in your veins as a bonus action. Your next lightning spell or cantrip deals additional Lightning Lightning damage equal to your remaining Lightning Charges. On a hit, all of your Lightning Charges are consumed.||This is a usable once per long rest and only applies to Lightning Spells or cantrips.|
|One or Two||Gargantuan Cleave: Swing your weapon with all your might. You can attack multiple targets, but become Off Balance.||This is a weapon action specific to this weapon. As with all weapon actions, it recharges on a short rest.|
|One||When the wielder has 50% hit points or less, they deal an additional 1d4Slashing damage.||N/a|
|One||All enemies within 6m of range have a 1d4 penalty to Charisma, Wisdom and Intelligence Saving Throws. Affected creatures receive an extra 1d4Thunder damage. The sword will stop Shrieking if unequipped.||This is a weapon action specific to this weapon. As with all weapon actions, it recharges on a short rest.|
|One||Soulbreaker: Rend the enemy's body and soul, dealing an additional 4Psychic damage, and possibly Stun them.|
|Two||Throwing: Lighting Damage: When launched at a target, deal an additional 1d4Lightning damage.||This is only works when thrown.|
|Two||When the wielder attacks with Advantage, they deal an additional 1d8Psychic damage||Only applies to attacks made with the weapon itself.|
|Two||Moonlight Butterflies: Strike a foe, conjuring an illusory swarm of moon-pale butterflies, gaining Advantage on attacks against the target. Deal additional Psychic damage equal to your Proficiency Bonus. When the target moves away from your illusion, it takes 1d6Psychic damage.|
|Two||Tippler's Rage: When you have the Alcohol condition, you have Advantage on Attack Rolls. You also create a blast with each attack, dealing 1d4Thunder damage for 3m / 10ft.||This damage does not benefit from many damage riders that are applied to the base weapon attack. For instance when used as part of a smite attack, bonus damage applied to spells is not applied to the damage caused by the Tippler's Rage ability.|
|Two||Shadowsoaked Blow: Strike an enemy, adding your Proficiency Bonus to the damage. Moreover, if the attack hits, it also deals an additional 1d6Psychic damage. This attack doesn't break concealment.|
|Two||On a Critical Hit, the target takes an extra 10Necrotic damage as long as it isn't a construct or an undead. You also gain 10 temporary hit points.||N/a|
|Three||Profane Scourge: Strike with subjugating fury, adding your Proficiency Bonus to the damage roll. If you hit a Fiend or Undead creature, deal an additional 2d6Slashing damage and possibly Bane it. Undead and Constructs can't Bleed.||This is a weapon action specific to this weapon. As with all weapon actions, it recharges on a short rest. This weapons special bonus damage vs undead and fiends is applied to both the weapons base damage and the damage applied by the Profane Scourge weapon action.|
|Three||Whenever you score a Critical Hit, deal an additional 1d6Force damage.||N/a|
|Three||Your Sneak Attack deals an additional 1d4Force damage||N/a|
|Three||Hellflame Cleave: Spew hellish flames and strike your foes. On Save: Targets still take half damage. Hellfire ignores Resistance and Immunity to Fire damage.||This is a weapon action specific to this weapon. As with all weapon actions, it recharges on a short rest. This weapon action counts as a spell for effects that add bonus damage to spells. Bonus damage is applied to the base weapon damage and to the bonus fire damage separately.|
|Three||Dawnburst Strike: Deal additional Radiant damage equal to your Proficiency Bonus. On a hit, light erupts around you in a 3m / 10ft area. Enemies in the light must succeed a DC 13 Constitution Saving Throw or be Blinded.|
|Three||Deal additional damage equal to your Proficiency Bonus. On a hit, Large, Huge, or Gargantuan creatures take an additional 2d6Slashing damage and must suceed a Strength Saving Throw or fall Prone.|
|Three||(Only when wielded in main hand) When you make an attack with Advantage, the target takes an additional 7Piercing damage.||This applies for most damage sources in the base attack, It does not apply on some DRSs eg the ranger colossus slayer ability.|
|Three||(Only when wielded in main hand) On a hit with a melee weapon, use a reaction to deal additional Necrotic damage equal to your Proficiency Bonus.||N/a|
|Three||Zephyr Connection: This weapon will return to your hand when thrown. You cannot be forced to drop the trident. When thrown, the weapon creates an explosion that deals 3d4Thunder damage in a 6m/20ft blast centered on the target.||This is only works when thrown.
This damage does not benefit from many damage riders that are applied to the base weapon attack.
|One or Three||Soulbreaker: Rend the enemy's body and soul, dealing an additional 4Psychic damage, and possibly Stun them.|
|Rogue||1|| Sneak Attack: Deal an extra 1d6 damage to a foe you have Advantage against. You can also use Sneak Attack if you have an ally within
||Sneak Attack is only treated as a damage source if you use the automatic reaction. Using the Sneak Attack action is instead treated as a damage rider.|
|Paladin||2||Divine Smite: Your weapon emanates divine might as you strike, dealing an additional 2d8Radiant damage. Deals an additional 1d8Radiant damage to Fiends and Undead.||N/a|
|Hunter Ranger||3||Colossus Slayer: Once per turn, your weapon attack deals an extra 1d8Physical damage if the target is below its hit point maximum||This can be applied multiple times for each damage source in the portion of the attack that triggers it. This could include the entire attack or just portions of it.|
|Cleric||8||Divine Strike: Once per turn, deal 1d8 damage (damage type depends on Cleric Domain) in addition to your weapon's damage.||The 1d8Physical variant from War Domain Cleric is treated as a damage source only when triggered as a reaction. All other variants of Divine Strike work as damage sources either when used as a reaction or when used directly.|
|Way of Shadow Monk||11||Shadow Strike: Teleport to a foe from a hidden position, striking them with the creeping, psychic ferocity of the shadows themselves, dealing an additional 3d8Psychic damage.||N/a|
|Warlock||12||Lifedrinker: Your melee attacks deal additional Necrotic equal to your Charisma modifier.||N/a|
|Ability||Ability Type||Relevant Effect||Notes|
|Eldritch Blast||Cantrip||Conjure a beam of crackling energy. Deals 1d10Force damage to a target. This cantrip fires an additional beam at level 5 and 10.||Has a damage source per beam fired.|
|Ensnaring Strike (Melee) and Ensnaring Strike (Ranged)||1st Level Spell||Your attack summons thorny vines, dealing Weapon Damage and possibly Ensnaring your target.||Ensnaring Strike allows spell based bonus damage to ride along with weapon based damage riders as sources. Most damage riders do not apply to the ongoing damage.|
|Hail of Thorns||1st Level Spell||Shoot a volley of thorns. They deal weapon damagePhysical and explode, dealing an additional 1d10Piercing damage to the target and surrounding creatures.||The initial hit and explosion are separate damage sources.|
|Hunter's Mark||1st Level Spell||Mark a creature as your quarry to deal an additional 1d6Physical damage whenever you hit it with a weapon attack.||Only when used with thrown weapon attacks.|
|Ice Knife||1st Level Spell||Throw a shard of ice that deals 1d10Piercing damage. It explodes and deals 2d6Cold damage to anyone nearby. It leaves an Ice Surface. On miss, the shard of ice still explodes.||The Piercing and Cold Damage are separate damage sources.|
|Magic Missile||1st Level Spell||Create three darts of magical force, each dealing 1d4 + 1Force damage to its target. The darts always hit their target, and can each be targeted individually.||Each dart fired is a separate damage sources.|
|Searing Smite||1st Level Spell||Your weapon flares with white-hot intensity. It deals, on top of weapon damage, an extra 1d6Fire damage and marks the target with Searing Smite.||The weapon damage and extra fire damage are separate damage sources. Searing Smite allows spell based bonus damage to ride along with weapon based damage riders as sources. Most damage riders do not apply to the ongoing damage.|
|Thunderous Smite||1st Level Spell||Your weapon rings with thunder as you strike, pushing your target 3 m / 10 ft away and possibly knocking them Prone. In addition, your weapon deals an additional 2d6Thunder damage.||The weapon damage and extra thunder damage are separate damage sources. Thunderous Smite allows spell based bonus damage to ride along with weapon based damage riders as sources.|
|Witch Bolt||1st Level Spell||Link yourself to a target with a bolt of lightning. Deal an additional 1d12Lightning each turn by activating it.||The additional activations apply most damage riders and are a separate damage source.|
|Wrathful Smite||1st Level Spell||Your weapon absorbs your wrath as you strike, possibly Frightening your target. In addition, your weapon deals an additional 1d6Psychic damage.||The weapon damage and extra psychic damage are separate damage sources. Wrathful Smite allows spell based bonus damage to ride along with weapon based damage riders as sources.|
|Branding Smite||2nd Level Spell||Your weapon gleams with astral radiance as you strike and possibly mark your targets with light, preventing it from turning Invisible. In addition, your weapon deals an additional 2d6Radiant damage.||The weapon damage and extra radiant damage are separate damage sources. Branding Smite allows spell based bonus damage to ride along with weapon based damage riders as sources.|
|Heat Metal||2nd Level Spell||Cause a metal Weapon or Armour to glow red-hot and force the creature touching it to let go or receive Disadvantage on Attack rolls and Ability Checks. If the creature is only wearing metal armour, it always receives Disadvantage.
If the creature is still touching the metal, you can use a Bonus Action on subsequent turns to Reapply Heat Metal to deal another 2d8Fire damage and force the creature to let go or receive Disadvantage.
|The additional activations apply most damage riders and are a separate damage source.|
|Scorching Ray||2nd Level Spell||Hurl 3 rays of fire. Each ray deals 2d6Fire damage.||Each ray is a separate damage source.|
|Blinding Smite||3rd Level Spell||Evoke a heavenly flare and possibly No results your target. In addition, your weapon deals an additional 3d8Radiant damage.||The weapon damage and extra radiant damage are separate damage sources. Blinding Smite allows spell based bonus damage to ride along with weapon based damage riders as sources.|
|Call Lightning||3rd Level Spell||Call down lightning to hit all targets within range and its area of effect for 3d10Lightning damage.||The additional activations apply most damage riders and are a separate damage source.|
|Lightning Arrow||3rd Level Spell||This spell allows spellcasters to fire an arrow of electricity that bursts on impact, dealing additional Lightning damage to creatures in the vicinity.||The initial hit and explosion are separate damage sources.|
|Ice Storm||4th Level Spell||Impel a storm of hail and ice to crash from the sky, covering the ground and striking all objects and creatures within range, dealing Bludgeoning and Cold damage. It also creates an Ice Surface that lasts 2 turns.||The Bludgeoning and Cold damage are separate damage sources.|
|Curriculum of Strategy: Artistry of War||5th Level Spell||Summon the apparitions of 6 master strategists. Each apparition strikes a target of your choosing, dealing 2d6 + 6Force damage (for a total of 12d6 + 36Force).||Each of the six apparitions is a separate damage source.|
|Destructive Wave||5th Level Spell||Create a shockwave of either divine or malevolent thunder that damages nearby creatures and possibly knocks them Prone. This spell deals 5d6 Thunder damage and 5d6 Radiant or 5d6 Necrotic damage.||The Thunder and Radiant or Necrotic damage are separate damage sources.|
|Flame Strike||5th Level Spell||This spells allows the caster to make a pillar of divine flame at a chosen location dealing 5d6 Fire damage and 5d6 Radiant damage.||The Fire and Radiant damage are separate damage sources.|
|Sunbeam||6th Level Spell||This spell allows spellcasters to project a beam of light, Blinding and dealing 6d8 Radiant damage to everything in its path. You can then use Recast Sunbeam on subsequent turns without expending a Spell Slot.||The additional activations apply most damage riders and are a separate damage source.|
Technical details[edit | edit source]
The scripts defining all the effects in the game are found in
.txt files inside
Shared.pak. (See Modding:Unpacking and converting files). In these scripts, damage rider effects are implemented with one of several damage functions. These are:
The basic, well-behaved damage bonuses are implemented with this function. The bonus will apply only to the triggering attack, and nothing else.
Example effect: 2Acid from Caustic Band.
Damage riders using this function will apply their bonus damage to each independent damage instance. When combined with damage riders using
DealDamage()(see below), a single attack can create numerous independent damage instances. In these cases,
DamageBonus()will apply its bonus damage multiple times, but
Example effect: 2Radiant from Callous Glow Ring.
This function is used by all damaging attacks, spells, and status effects to apply their damage. It is also used by "damage riders treated as damage sources" to apply their bonus damage. It creates a separate damage instance that can be independently boosted by applicable
DamageBonus()effects. Furthermore, damage riders using
DealDamage()can trigger each other in some cases, creating far more damage instances than might be expected.
Example effect: 1d8Physical from Colossus Slayer.
Each of these functions can optionally specify the damage type. If not specified, the damage type will be inherited from the triggering
Potential bugs[edit | edit source]
The following items compose a non-exhaustive list which indicates that the "Damage Riders" as compared to "Damage Riders treated as Damage Sources" may include several bugs and therefore many of these abilities may change in future patches:
- Patch 3 changed Lightning Charges from a "Damage Rider treated as a Damage Source" to a "Damage Rider."
- Patch 5 changed Tavern Brawler as it applies to thrown weapons from a "Damage Rider treated as a Damage Source" to a "Damage Rider."
- Sneak Attack is treated as a Damage Rider when a character uses the Sneak Attack action, but as a "Damage Rider treated as a Damage Source" when Sneak Attack is applied by the automatic reaction system.
|Resources||Action • Bonus action • Reaction • Movement speed • Concentration|
|Dice rolls||Ability check • Ability score modifier • Advantage • Attack roll • Damage roll (Mechanics) • Initiative • Inspiration • Proficiency (Bonus) • Saving throw|
|Other mechanics||Alchemy • Approval • Damage types • Difficult Terrain • Enchantment • Healing • Reactions • Resting • Stealth • Barter ( Attitude • Traders • Trading and item pricing)|
|Items|| Equipment (Weapons • Clothing • Armour • Shields • Headwear • Handwear • Footwear • Amulets • Rings • Cloaks)
Consumables (Arrows • Coatings • Dyes • Elixirs • Grenades • Potions • Scrolls) • Containers • Miscellaneous
|Ability scores||Strength • Dexterity • Constitution • Intelligence • Wisdom • Charisma|
|Races||Dragonborn • Drow • Dwarf • Elf • Githyanki • Gnome • Half-Elf • Half-Orc • Halfling • Human • Tiefling|
|Classes||Barbarian • Bard • Cleric • Druid • Fighter • Monk • Paladin • Ranger • Rogue • Sorcerer • Warlock • Wizard|
|Character features||Armour Class • Backgrounds • Creature size • Feats • Hit points • Illithid powers • Point Buy • Skills • Spells (List • Mechanics)|