Improve Your Defenses With Energy Resistance (DMs Analysis)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on March 29, 2010

I think we inadvertently angered a lot of DMs with our series on items that provide energy resistances. Few players needed our help min/maxing and power-gaming, yet over the past couple of weeks the Dungeon’s Master team made it immensely easier for PCs to find items that will protect them from various energy attacks. Today we’re going to set things right. The final installment of this series is geared specifically at the DM. We’ve analysed the item lists across heroic, paragon and epic tiers and offer some advice to DMs on how to best use energy-specific attacks.

Before we get into the number-crunching, you might find it helpful to take a few minutes and review the items that provide the resistances we’re talking about. How many of them do the PCs in your campaign currently own?

The table below breaks down the numbers by tier. The energy types are listed alphabetically in the first column. Under each tier are two columns. The first column lists the number of items in that tier that provide resistance to that particular energy type. The second column shows which percentage of all available energy resistance items in that tier provide resistance to that particular energy type. For example, there are 11 items at heroic tier that provide resistance to acid. This represents 9% or all heroic tier items that provide energy resistance of any kind.

Keep these numbers in mind when building encounters. If 16% of all energy resistance items at heroic tier provide fire resistance (the highest of all energy types) then there’s a pretty good chance that at least one of the PCs in your campaign has some kind of fire resistance. With this in mind you should feel free to include monsters that do fire damage when creating encounters more than monsters that do, say, force damage which only 4% of energy resistance items at the heroic tier provide (the lowest of all energy types).

When I’m creating encounters I like to take inventory of the items my PCs possess. If they have some energy resistance items I make a point of using those energy types against the party a couple of times per level (minimum). The players chose certain items for a reason. Make them feel like they’ve made good choices. This is especially true if they’ve done their homework. PCs who stock up on fire resistance items before delving into a red dragon’s lair should have an edge from their preparation that a normal, unprepared party wouldn’t have.

Particularly mean, nasty or vindictive DMs can also use the analysis below to make life more difficult for the PCs. I wouldn’t recommend this unless your PCs seem to be walking all over the normally balanced encounters you’ve prepared. Look at the energy types that are the least represented at each tier and choose monsters that use these energy types against your PCs. PCs may feel overwhelmed when they find that fight after fight they have to fend off psychic or radiant damage so I’ll again caution any DM from taking this approach with any regularity. Taking this approach once and a while is alright, especially against a party that feels arrogant and overconfident.

Energy Resistacne by the Numbers

Energy
Type
Heroic Paragon Epic Overall
Total
Total
Items
% of
Tier
Total
Items
% of
Tier
Total
Items
% of
Tier
Acid 11 9% 18 7% 21 8% 50
Cold 17 14% 40 16% 43 17% 100
Fire 20 16% 42 16% 48 19% 110
Force 5 4% 6 2% 6 2% 17
Lightning 15 12% 35 14% 36 14% 86
Necrotic 16 13% 39 15% 40 16% 95
Poison 17 14% 29 11% 32 13% 78
Psychic 7 6% 12 5% 18 7% 37
Radiant 5 4% 12 5% 12 5% 29
Thunder 10 8% 22 9% 22 9% 54
Total 123 19% 255 39% 278 42% 656

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