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Elemental and other non-Physical Damage

Beyond physical damage the game offers quite a bunch of other kinds of damage. This FAQtoid article will cover


All this damage can be resisted. Characters will suffer a penalty of -40% to fire, cold, lightning and poison damage when entering Nightmare difficulty. Entering Hell will increase the penalty to -100%.
D2C Marke Diablo II without Lord of Destruction expansion causes -20% and -50% respectively.
An unit with positive resistance to a kind of damage will suffer this damage decreased by resistance percentage. With negative resistance suffered damage is increased by value of negative resistance percentage.

Common maximum of resistance to cold, fire, lightning, poison and magic damage is 75% in each difficulty; this cannot exceed 95%, even with items. There's no possibility to enhance resistance to magic damage by such an amount, so lack of possibility to enhance maximum magic resistance doesn't matter.
Paladins gain 1% to maximum fire, cold and/or lightning damage for each two hard points spent in the appropriate resistance aura.
An exceeding amount of resistance above the limit steps in when you enter next difficulty, and also counts when you're affected by foeish capabilities of lowering your resistance. Unlike to monsters' immunities there is no penalty to such capabilities against players and their minions with nominal resistance equal or greater 100%.


Any monster with a resistance beyond 99% to a given element is immune to this element's kind of damage. De-immunizing to some elements is only possible with Paladin's Conviction aura or Necromancer's Lower Resistance curse. However, both skills work only to a fifth of their nominal capability against immunes. Thus strong resistances beyond 130% cause an immunity which can't be broken with one of that skills alone. If a monster is affected by both skills each of the skills is subject to this penalty, no matter which one was applied first.
You can't break immunity to magic damage. Exceptions are Paladin's Holy Bolt skill (also the Holy Bolts emitted by Fist of the Heavens) against undead and his Blessed Hammer against both undead and demons; those skills just skip resistance check of given monster types. Only the Paladin himself does profit from that exceptions, they don't benefit his allies of any kind. With 1.13 Blessed Hammer doesn't ignore resistance/immunity anymore.

Player characters can't become immune. However, with very specialized defensive gear it is possible to reduce one or even more elements' damage to a very tiny amount.
Pets may have native resistances of some kind and will gain positive effects of friendly aurae. Their life bar won't show immunities if they're gained from several sources such as a native resistance pushed up to immunity by a friendly aura. Lower Resistance and Conviction don't suffer immunity penalty versus pets.

PvP Marke Versus players any maximum exceeding resistance doesn't count as immunity, thus Lower Resistance and Conviction work always at full capability.

lowering enemy's resistance

Enemy's resistance to one or more elements may be lowered by three player skills only.

skills to lower resistance
ClassSkilllowers resistanceworks agains immunes
NecromancerLower Resistancefire
1/5 of nominal effectiveness
1/5 of nominal effectiveness
SorceressCold Masterycoldno

Another way to lower enemy's resistance is opened, since 1.10 brought an item property called -x% elemental resistance. Those will affect all enemies who suffer elemental damage done by a player unit. Note that Assassin's traps are units of their own and won't count in here. Same for any pet and hireling (unless the hireling wears such items, but again, just the hireling will profit then, not his master).
The property does not work at all against elemental immune monsters, but will work at full capability if immunity is broken via aforesaid skills. Technically the property assigns the same elemental stat to an item the sorceress' Cold Mastery uses as a skill.

No unit will suffer resistance to any damage below -100% by any means.


Absorbing an elemental damage is a very special kind of resistance. An unit will indeed heal some amount of life while suffering damage of an element it is absorbing. You find straight amounts for magic, fire, cold and lightning damage, and percentage amounts of absorption for fire, cold and lightning damage. Percentage absorbtion is hardcoded limited to 40%, no matter if you gain higher nominals. No cap is known to straight numbers, so this is limited only by equipment slots.
First check is resistance, then percentage absorbtion, then straight absorption.

Absorbtion will reduce the given amount of corresponding damage - the unit recieves no damage at this point. Then the absorbed damage value becomes a bonus to unit's life, but it won't exceed its maximum life. Then the now enhanced life value suffers the amount of elemental damage which was not absorbed. If unit was at full health at first point it doesn't gain life via absorption, absorption works similar to resistance then.

see also:

A german listing of all items granting absorption is found at Atair's d2wissen.

To bring some more confusion some skill descriptions of Necromancer's Bone Armor and Druid's Cyclone Armor attest those spells an absorbing quality. This is just poor language, in technical terms they reduce a given kind of damage, but they don't heal.

elemental damage on equipment

Unit's elemental damage on wear and gear is added to physically delivered attacks, say blowing, throwing and shooting. It is not taken into account with spells.
This also applies to some skills which just add elemental damage to attacks ('elemental buff skills').

Special case is Amazon's elemental arrow splash explosion via Exploding Arrow, Immolation Arrow and Freezing Arrow. Corresponding elemental damage from equip will also add to the splash.

Monsters may have an additional elemental damage added to their common attacks, in unmodified game especially in higher acts respectively Hell. Boss attribute Spectral Hit will cause boss and minions to add randomly an elemental damage to their attacks. Cold enchanted bosses and their minions always add freeze damage, fire and lightning enchanted work similar, but only enhance minions' damage in Nightmare and Hell difficulties.

Item's +x% elemental skill damage property will not only enhance corresponding skill damage, but also equipment damage when fighting close combat. This won't work with ranged attacks (throwing and shooting). Assassin's Blade Fury counts as ranged attack here.
This property in combination with Sorceress' Fire and Lightning Masteries is calculated additively to Masteries.

magic damage

This is a confusing term, since it is not properly differentiated even in original english game version.
First of all, magic damage is just another kind of damage delivered by some skills (and a very small number of items).

x% magic resistance

This one describes the resistance to aforesaid magic damage. Characters and hirelings have this set to zero in all difficulties, but it is only enhanceable with very few items.
Paladin's Blessed Hammer and Holy Bolt ignore undead's magic resistance, Blessed Hammer ignores demon's magic resistance, too.
Only a few monsters are highly resistant or even immune to magic damage.

'resist magic' is a boss modification, it increases boss' resistance to fire, cold and lightning to 40% - but not to poison and magic damage oO
A boss can't become triple immune that way.

1.09 Marke In 1.09 magic resistance granted by items didn't work. This was fixed in 1.10.

x Magic Damage Reduce - MDR

This item property reduces fire, cold, lightning and magic damage by straight amount of x.
This modification to suffered damage happens before resistances and absorption.
There is a frame-based penalty to MDR in combination with some skills. So continuing area effects like Fire Wall won't loose too much of their effectiveness against a MDR-stuffed unit. See tommi's table.
Items with MDR property are listed on d2wissen.

cold damage

This actually contains two components, the damage itself and the chill duration, unlikely to poison complete cold damage is applied immediately, not over duration. Some skills will not just chill an enemy but freeze him to the point.
Compared to other kinds of damage cold damage is dealt in lower amounts, the tactical point about using it is chill duration, in which the enemy is slowed down.
Mephisto will sometimes cast an icy ball, this one consists of cold and physical damage and may be blocked with a shield. At least one subspecies of act5's Suicide Minions will decease in a cold explosion.

Monsters affected by cold damage will shatter to pieces on death with 25%-30% probability. They don't leave a corpse for further usage of friend or foe. A freezed monster will always shatter on death.

resistance to cold

The appropriate resistance also determines the chill duration.
Commonly cold immune monsters have resistance so high it can't be broken by Conviction and/or Lower Resistance.

Also cold resistance will affect freeze time of the Hit Freezes Target item property, despite this freeze is no cold damage.

chill duration

A chilled enemy is slowed down by two yards a second. This slowing works additively with other kinds of slowing. Chill duration of spells is not enhanceable with items, attacks get a chill duration bonus by each equipped cold damage affix (which is a difference to 'each equipped item with cold damage'). Item's chill duration is listed at german Atair's d2wissen.
Duration is cut in half when entering Nightmare and again when entering Hell, so in Hell it's just a fourth of its nominal value.
Only one slowing effect by cold damage will work at a time. So if an enemy is chilled for ten seconds, and after two seconds a cold damage with four seconds chill duration is applied, nothing will happen. If after nine seconds this new cold damage is applied again, it will enhance the total chill duration to 13 seconds.

Amazon's Ice and Freezing Arrow skills' freezing duration is enhanced by every cold damage affix equipped. Ice Arrow's freezing synergy to Freezing Arrow is a bad joke compared to that.

Every cold damage affix is a cold damage (thus chill duration enhancing) source. A Charm may have a prefix plus a suffix with cold damage, if so, it counts as two souces. Similar with a bunch of Sapphires or Thul Runes socketed in a weapon.

Some skills and items work a bit differently. Paladin's Vengeance gains chill duration of 15 * (sLvl + 1) frames. His Holy Freeze aura has no chill duration assigened, neither the pulsing cold damage nor the cold damage bonus to attacks.
Unique items with variable chill duration:

1.09 Marke Baranar's Star didn't have any chill duration in 1.09.

cold effectiveness

Chilling duration is affected by difficulty penalty and enemy's cold resistance. But it is also subject to a parameter in MonStat.txt, which controls 'chill duration resistance' of a given unit. This has a range from -50 (common, only cold resistance and difficulty reduce duration) to 0 (unit is not freezable). Also some units even have positive values, so their velocity would indeed increase when hit with cold damage, but those have very high cold resistance assigned, too, so they don't suffer cold and freeze damage.
It's a kind of logic that a cold immune monster can't be chilled or freezed. But the parameter is also set to zero on some units which have low cold resistance or even none at all. 'Immune to chill and freeze' are

* those are immune to cold in Hell; otherwise they'd gain increased velocity by chill or freeze

Characters and hirelings are no subject to difficulty here, cold resistance penalty aside. Besides cold resistance they may wear some items affecting chill duration.

On the one hand there is Half Freeze Duration - HFD - item property, which cuts chill/freeze time in half after resistance calculation. Have a look at a german list on d2wissen.

On the other hand there is Cannot Be Frozen - CBF, aka CnBF - item property, which sets chill/freeze duration to zero. Like always hop over to d2wissen for a list.
You'll find CBF only on Uniques and Runewords, HFD also spawns on Rares. Neither property spawns on Magics.

Both properties only work against slowing caused by cold damage, not against other kinds of slowing like Holy Freeze.

Both properties work against freeze duration caused by Hit Freezes Target, despite HFT being no cold damage.

Thawing Potions immediately set chill duration to zero when drunk. Further they enhance maximum cold resistance by 10% and actual cold resistance by 50% for 30 second's duration. If more than one potion is drunk, enhancement's duration is summed up (but not enhancement itself).

fire damage

Fire may hurt units in various ways. Most of them show graphically some fiery animation, but some don't. Necromancer's (and Nihlatak's) Corpse Explosion applies half physical, half fire damage to enemies in range. At least one subspecies of Act5's Suicide Minions does fire damage on death. Undead's Fetish death explosion does no fire damage, this is a die-hard rumor. But the death explosion of fire enchanted bosses is partly fire, partly physical.
Unlikely to lightning and cold damage fire may burn over some time, especially when ground is set to fire. Those fire patches consist of a bunch of little flames which exist for some time. Nevertheless, fire damage is applied immediately again and again, as long as the patch exists.
Don't call it 'burning damage', since this one is a kind of its own, but not enabled in unmodified game.

resistance to fire

Quite a lot of especially ranged attacks deliver fire damage, so to a player this resistance is more important than some others.

lightning damage

Mainly reknown by a quite big range of minimum and maximum damage, thus it is not easy to consider its danger. This along with a bug concerning certain monsters caused lightning damage to be most feared by lots of players.
Diablo's breath consists partly of physical, partly of lightning damage.

resistance to lightning

Because of the aforesaid considerations and mainly caused by Black Souls in Act5 Worlstone Keep this resistance is at least the second most important one, maybe, at least to a certain kind of player, the most important.

poison damage

Poison damage won't count as 'elemental damage' in some cases. I've added it here anyways, since common mechanisms are the same as described before, so I can focus on differences.
Poison works during some time, which is a main difference to most other kinds of damage. Time count is based on the unit 'frames', you may also read 'ticks' sometimes.
Life regeneration of any unit is stopped during poisoning (it is not set off against poison). Character screen's displaying is of no use counting poison damage, since it neglects duration aspects.
Othin wrote a very informative guide about poisoning based on Amazon's poisonous skills called a Toxic Fairy.

Player characters will loose up to all life except of one remaining hitpoint when being poisoned, they won't die by this. However, one remaining point is no surviving trait. Even repeated appliance of poison will wipe it away, due to the fact that one frame of poison damage is always applied. Same goes for Rabies or Open Wounds, not to mention any other damage form. You certainly can't expect mercy when you fight evil.
Hirlings and Pets may even die in a town, if they aren't cured.

Poison damage won't trigger Hit Recovery, since it works continuously and its damage per frame or dambite would have to be 1/12 of enemy's life.


To calculate delivered damage we need quite a bunch of formulas.
Let's have a look to a single source of poison damage.

Poison duration of a given source in frames is
Dframes = s * 25,
where s is displayed duration in seconds.

Poison strength of a given source is
StrengthSource = [damSource * 256 / Dframes + (Dframes - 1) / Dframes],
content of square brackets is rounded down.

s: seconds damSource: displayed poison damage value n: count of sources ∑Dframes: sum of durations in frames ∑StrengthSource: sum of poison strength

Damage per frame or bite damage is
dambite = StrengthSource * Dframes

Using n sources results in total duration T
T = [∑Dframes / n],
every poison damage affix from wear and gear counts as a single source. A Charm may spawn with poison damage prefic plus poison damage suffix, so one charm may count as two sources. Also this is why some items show very crude values. Some Emeralds or Tal Runes socketed in a single weapon work similar.
Assassin's Venom skill has an odd-looking behaviour. It shortens all equipment poison durations to ten frames (0.4s). If you use it as oskill in combination with other toxic skills like Necromancer's Poison Dagger it won't cut other skill's duration, but enhance physically delivered poison skill damage over complete duration.

Total damage calculates like
dam = ∑StärkeQuelle * T

Applying poison damage to an already poisoned unit will cause a comparison of both dambite values, the weaker one is skipped. If both are even the new poisoning prolongs the existing one.. Druid's Rabies skill is an exception, since illness is a kind of damage of its own, it'll work simultaneously to poisoning.

First bite of poison damage is always applied to enable this comparison.

There's a variety of calculators, namely at d2wissen, d2chars.de and marduke. Unfortunately not one of them covers all special cases.


Some skills deliver poison damage independent from equipment, they differ in needs of physical contact. Poison damage from equipment won't work without contact. Most of the time it will decrease the suffered skill damage when contact is needed.

poison damage delivered by skills
AmazonPoison Javelinno-
Plague Javelinno-
AssassinVenomyesfixed duration at 0,4s
DruidRabiesyesyes, the inflicted may carry it over
to others without contact;
works additively with other poison
Poison Creeper
Plague Poppy
NecromancerPoison Daggeryes-
Poison Explosionnoneeds a corpse
Poison Novano-

poison resistance

Monster's poison resistance will also determine their affected duration. Players are subject to a duration resistance of its own, see following paragraph. Player's poison resistance just lowers dambite, not duration T.
In any case poison resistance is checked in the first frame of poison application. So lowering resistance is useful before applying poison damage and useless to apply to an already poisoned enemy. There's just one skill which can lower poison resistance, Necromancer's Lower Resistance. If a poison immune monster's immunity is broken by that skill, applied poison damage may work even when immunity steps in again due to monster's duration resistance was checked while it wasn't immune anymore.

A skill which covers an area with poison effects will work most effectively if it is released with focus on skill boni in weapon slot and a switch to the alternate slot equipped with 'enemy poison resistance -x'. Enemies in toxic clouds will be poisoned again and again, so lowering resistance after releasing the skill won't counteract aforesaid mechanism. This is most useful to Amazons and Druids, less useful to Necromancers (realistically only when working with Poison Explosion - anyone?), and useless to Assassins, whose sole poison skill is just a buff.

If a bolt shot from Pus Spitter crossbow triggers Lower Resist, the effect to resistance steps in after bite damage is checked, so it is only useful to the next shot. See damage order FAQtoid for further reference.

Poison Length Reduced (PLR)

This item property is a kind of resistance of its own. It doesn't affect StrengthSource, but T.
It is subject to difficulty resistance penalties and has a limit of 75% per difficulty. There are no items which may affect that limit. Malah's Quest Reward for rescueing Anya, the Resistance Scroll, does not give a bonus to PLR.
You may find a list of items granting PLR at Atair's german d2wissen.

Assassin's Fade and Paladin's Cleansing skills also shorten T. Usage of a Well doesn't just heal a player and his minions, but will also (re)set T = 0. Usage of a Shrine of Poison Resistance will (re)set T = 0, but not immediately heal life loss.

An Antidot Potion also (re)sets T = 0 and grants a bonus of 10% to maximum poison resitance plus a bonus of 50% to actual poison resistance with 30 seconds duration. If more than one potion is drunk, enhancement's duration is summed up (but not enhancement itself).

Throwing Potions

Unfortunately there's no way to enhance Throwing Potion's damage, lowering enemy's resistance aside.
No Mastery and no buffing skill will apply to those.

resistance limits for characters and hirelings

omit Boni 1
include Boni 1
subject to
1 via equipment and/or native skill points in Paladin's single resistance aurae
2 not available
3 straight value, only subject to equipment slots
4 limits for magic not in reach
5 base resistance is zero for characters and hirelings in all difficulties
Magic 4, 5-100%75%75%n.v. 23yes
Poisonn.v. 2n.v. 2no
poison duration75%175%
physical 5-100%50%n.v. 23no


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