Force damage is one of the best damage types in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.
But, if you’re new to D&D 5e, you may be wondering why.
What is force damage? Why is it so good? And, what causes it?
This guide to force damage in 5e covers everything you need to know about possibly the best damage type in the game.
Side note: this article has a lot of spells, features, and monsters. Rather than explain the full source, check out this list of D&D 5e abbreviations for easy reference.
With that out of the way, let’s start with explaining what force damage is in D&D 5e.
What is Force Damage in 5e?
Force is one of D&D 5e’s damage types. It represents pure magic damage usually dealt by spells.
The easiest way to think about force damage in 5e is that its pure magic channeled in such a way to harm a creature. It exists outside of elemental harm like the lightning or fire damage types. That said, it isn’t as simple as magical bludgeoning damage.
Page 196 of the Player’s Handbook describes force damage in the following way:
It’s honestly as simple as that.
Now, the trick comes how force damage harms a creature. Mechanically, it works the same as any other damage type. The difference comes in how you describe it.
Describing Force Damage
Describing force damage in 5e can be a bit confusing. It seems similar to magical bludgeoning so it’s easy to fall into that line of thinking. But, you have options for describing how force damage harms a creature.
It’s easy to fall into the idea that force is just magical bludgeoning damage. While you can go this route in describing the harm a creature takes, being a non-mundane source of damage, you have a few alternatives at your disposal.
Force damage could take the form of something akin to magical radiation burns. The concentrated magical energy splashing against a creature causes burning across their skin (or other surface).
Another option is force damage dealing metaphysical damage. So, instead of describing how force damage harms a creature’s physical form, explain how a creature seems wracked with pain on an existential level. Almost like you’re dealing damage to the very fabric of a creature’s being.
Force damage is a fairly "unnatural" damage type. It almost exclusively comes magical causes, so it could operate outside of the physical realm depending on how you interpret it.
So, you have a few options in how you describe force damage in 5e:
- Basically magical bludgeoning damage
- Magical radiation damage
- Existential damage
Or, however you want it to look / feel like in your game. Since its kind of a weird damage type, it leaves room for interpretation for you as a GM.
Is Force Damage in 5e Good?
Force is a fantastic damage type in 5e. In fact, force is one of the best, if not the best, damage types in D&D 5e.
The main reasons force damage is such a good damage type in 5e are few creatures have a resistance or immunity to it and it’s relatively easy to use (especially for spellcasters).
We’ll get into the number of creatures with a resistance or immunity to force damage later, but spoilers: there aren’t a lot.
Nearly every damage type in D&D 5e has a good number of monsters that reduce or negate them in some way. That number is significantly lower for force damage. This means if you’re casting a spell or using a class feature that deals force damage, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll deal the full amount of damage.
I will say, many of the spells which deal force damage don’t deal that much damage. But, the concern of the little amount of damage you do do will get reduced even further is practically non-existent for force damage.
Force Damage Resistance in 5e
Only nine creatures have a resistance to force damage in 5e. Making it one of the least resisted damage types in the game.
I turned to DnD Beyond for a full list of monsters. From what I could see, D&D 5e has over 2,200 monsters across all published sourcebooks.
That’s right. 9 out of over 2,200 monsters resist force damage. This means less than 0.5% of monsters have a resistance against force damage in 5e.
List of Monsters in 5e Resistant to Force Damage
- Amethyst Dragon Wyrmling (FToD)
- Young Amethyst Dragon (FToD)
- Adult Amethyst Dragon (FToD)
- Ancient Amethyst Dragon (FToD)
- Lorehold Professor of Order (S:CoC)
- Quandrix Professor of Substance (S:CoC)
- Archaic (S:CoC)
- Lesser Star Spawn Emissary (VRGtR)
- Greater Star Spawn Emissary (VRGtR)
Creatures Immune to Force Damage in 5e
Only five creatures in D&D 5e are immune to force damage. Of the main damage types, force is one with the least number of monsters with an immunity against it.
If you thought it was ridiculous how few mounters resisted force damage in 5e, wait ’til you see how few creatures have an immunity.
Roughly 0.25% of monsters are immune to force damage in 5e.
Between this and how few monsters resist it, you can see why force damage is considered such a fantastic damage type.
List of Monsters in 5e Immune to Force Damage
- Reduced-threat Helmed Horror (Dead in Thay)
- Helmed Horror (MM)
- Scaladar (W:DotMM)
- Tanazir Quandrix (S:CoC)
- Amethyst Greatwym (FToD)
Spells That Deal Force Damage
Spells are the easiest and most common way to deal force damage in D&D 5e. Few spells deal this damage type, but some of them are available at fairly low levels all the way to 1st-level.
With the wealth of spellcasting classes, spells are probably the easiest way to deal force damage in 5e. Many classes have cantrip or 1st-level spells that deal this damage type. So, even a one-level dip or taking the magic initiate feat means its easy for a number of player characters to have some means of doing force damage.
List of Spells Which Deal Force Damage in 5e
- Eldritch Blast – Cantrip; Warlock; PHB
- Sword Burst – Cantrip; Artificer, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard; SCAG
- Chaos Bolt – 1st-level; Sorcerer; XGtE
- Jim’s Magic Missile – 1st-level; Wizard; AcInc
- Magic Missile – 1st-level; Sorcerer, Wizard; PHB
- Magnify Gravity – 1st-level; Wizard (Dunamancy); EGtW
- Zephyr Strike – 1st-level; Ranger; XGtE
- Spiritual Weapon – 2nd-level; Cleric; PHB
- Pulse Wave – 3rd-level; Wizard; EGtW
- Gravity Sinkhole – 4th-level; Wizard; EGtW
- Arcane Hand – 5th-level; Wizard; Basic Rules
- Banishing Smite – 5th-level; Paladin; PHB
- Bigby’s Hand – 5th-level; Artificer, Sorcerer, Wizard; PHB
- Steel Wind Strike – 5th-level; Ranger, Wizard; XGtE
- Disintegrate – 6th-level; Sorcerer, Wizard; PHB
- Gravity Fissure – 6th-level; Wizard; EGtW
- Draconic Transformation – 7th-level; Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard; FToD
- Mordenkainen’s Sword – 7th-level; Bard, Wizard; PHB
- Dark Star – 8th-level; Wizard (Graviturgy); EGtW
- Blade of Disaster – 9th-level; Wizard; ID:RotF
- Ravenous Void – 9th-level; Wizard; EGtW
Eldritch blast is probably the most common way to deal force damage as a player. This cantrip is pretty core to the Warlock player class, so pretty much any Warlock has a consistent method of dealing force damage.
That said, magic missile is another staple spell for the Sorcerer and Wizard classes. Yes, it uses a spell slot. But, it guarantees a hit. And, given how few creatures have an ability to reduce force damage, magic missile is a great way to deal easy damage however little it may be.
Class Features That Do Force Damage
A few class features deal force damage, making it a less reliable method of dealing this damage type. That said, you have the option if you don’t want to play a spellcasting class.
D&D 5e has very few class features that allow a player character to deal force damage. But, at least we have options. Granted, most of these options come from other sourcebooks outside the Player’s Handbook. So, you’ll need to get some supplemental materials to have the full-breadth of access.
Most class features for dealing force damage in 5e are available to caster classes. But, you do have one martial option in the mix.
List of Class Features That Deal Force Damage
- Planar Warrior – Ranger (Horizon Walker); XGtE
- Steel Defender & Arcane Jolt – Artificer (Battlesmith); TCoE
- Eldritch Cannon – Artificer (Artillerist); TCoE
- Wild Surge – Sorcerer (Wild Magic); PHB
- Awakened Spell Book – Wizard (Order of Scribes); TCoE
Monsters That Deal Force Damage
Some creatures in D&D 5e have abilities that deal force damage…or have it dealt to them.
That said, it’s truly some monsters in 5e have the ability to deal force damage. In fact, only three come from the original Monster Manual. Heck, most of them come from Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons due to the gem dragons getting re-introduced to D&D 5e.
I will say, pretty much any spirit-like creature takes force damage if they end their turn inside an object. Monsters like the ghost, banshee, and specter suffer force damage if they end their turn while inside an object using their Incorporeal Movement trait. So, if you’re the GM and use a spirit, keep that in mind.
Now, it’s important to note this list doesn’t include creatures with access to spells which deal force damage. These monsters have the ability to deal force damage through natural traits or features listed in their stat block aside from spellcasting.
List of Monsters in 5e That Deal Force Damage
- Beholder (MM)
- Death Tyrant (MM)
- Beholder Zombie (MM)
- Flail Snail (VGtM)
- Duergar Souldblade (MToF)
- Marut (MToF)
- Retriever (MToF)
- Ancient Amethyst Dragon (FToD)
- Adult Amethys Dragon (FToD)
- Young Amethyt Dragon (FToD)
- Amethyst Dragon Wyrmling (FToD)
- Aspect of Bahamut (FToD)
- Draconic Shard (FToD)
- Eyedrake (FToD)
- Gem Greatwyrm (FToD)
5e Force Damage FAQ
Is Force Damage Bludgeoning?
No. Force damage in 5e is not bludgeoning damage. Bludgeoning is its own damage type.
Force damage is a concentration of pure magical energy causing harm to a creature. Bludgeoning damage comes from getting stuck by a blunt object, magically enhanced winds, or falling in 5e. As such, force and bludgeoning are two separate and distinct damage types.
Does Force Damage Affect Objects?
Force damage in 5e often does not affect objects. Most spells or abilities that deal force damage usually explicitly state they affect a creature or creatures. That said, there are exceptions like the zephyr strike spell.
Most spells and other abilities explicitly state they affect a creature or multiple creatures. Some abilities or spell descriptions do not specify, so there are exceptions when force damage can affect objects. Always read your spells, class features, and monster stat blocks thoroughly.
Does Force Damage Push in 5e?
By default, no. Force damage in 5e does not push creatures.
Unless a spell or feature explicitly states it pushes a target, like the eyedrakes Repulsion Ray feature, force damage by default doesn’t push creatures or objects.
Summary of Force Damage in 5e
That about covers the basics of the force damage type in D&D 5e.
Force damage gets treated just like any other damage type in terms of reducing a creature’s hit points. It represents pure magic in concentrated form, but there’s nothing inherently special about it. That said, it’s one of the least resisted or immune to damage types in D&D 5e, making it one of the best ones to use. Spells are the easiest way of dealing force damage in 5e as few class features or monster abilities deal it.
What’s your favorite spell that deals force damage? Have you tried playing one of the classes that has a feature to deal it? Leave a comment below!
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