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Damage is the process at which a player or monster's life is reduced.

Damage reduction only affects physical damage. The other four damage types each have their own resistance value (e.g. "Fire resistance") which is viewable in the character sheet. Resistances reduce damage taken, and are normally capped at 75%. However, there are passives and items that can increase maximum resistances to allow for values higher than 75%.

If a passive does not specify whether it affects weapon or spell damage, it will affect both.

This page focuses on damage being dealt by the player. For information on how the elements affect him, see status ailments and resistances. For information on when damage is applied see, receiving damage.

Damage Sources

All damage instances have exactly one damage source. Modifiers which apply specifically to one source never apply to the others. There are currently four damage sources:[1]

Attack Damage

Attack damage, or any damage instance caused by a weapon or unarmed. "Attack" is not a generic term for any offensive ability.

Spell Damage

Main article: Spell Damage

Spell damage, or any damage instance whose damage range is defined by the skill itself.

Secondary Damage

Secondary damage is direct damage that is neither a spell nor an attack and as such does not benefit from modifiers to those things. As secondary damage is not an attack or spell it cannot be evaded, blocked, spell blocked, dodged, or spell dodged. Secondary damage still benefits from all modifiers where applicable, some examples being cast speed modifiers, elemental damage modifiers, and area of effect modifiers.

On a skill gem, the Cast keyword indicates that a skill deals all or part secondary damage. The following skill gems deal secondary damage:

Damage over Time

Main article: Damage over time

Damage over time (DoT) refers to damage inflicted continuously over a period of time. Unlike the other three damage sources, damage over time does not hit.

Damage Types

A hit can be composed of several types of damage, but each type of damage has modifiers applied to it seperately from other types in the same hit. Damage over time effects always consist of exactly one damage type. All damage must have exactly one type; there is no such thing as "typeless" or "multi-typed" damage.

Keywords that are based on damage types are dynamic based on the damage types that a hit consists of. For example, supporting Incinerate with Added Chaos Damage effectively causes all hits dealt by that skill to have the Chaos damage keyword. Currently there are 5 types of damage:

Physical Damage

Main article: Physical damage

Physical damage is usually dealt by attacks but can also come from some spells, like Glacial Cascade, Ethereal Knives, Blade Vortex, Bladefall, and Shockwave Totem. Most sources of life leech and mana leech only apply to physical attack damage when determining how much life or mana is gained. Many passive attack skills only increase physical damage, especially those which apply to a specific weapon type.

Fire Damage

Main article: Fire damage

Dealing a critical strike with fire damage inflicts the ignite status ailment. Fire damage has its own unique term for damage over time called burning damage that applies exclusively to fire damage over time effects.

Cold Damage

Main article: Cold damage

Hitting an enemy with cold damage can inflict the chill status ailment, while dealing a critical strike with cold damage can inflict the freeze status ailment.

Lightning Damage

Main article: Lightning damage

Dealing a critical strike with lightning damage can inflict the shock status ailment. Lightning damage has a greater damage range than other damage types---it tends to deal 10-190% of the average damage, instead of 80-120% as with other damage types.

Chaos Damage

Main article: Chaos damage

Chaos damage ignores energy shield, reducing life directly. Notably, while the poison status ailment is associated with chaos damage it is not inflicted when dealing a critical strike with chaos damage.

Other Keywords

Beyond source and type, there are several other ways to classify damage which are best referred to by their generic name Keywords. In the case of a damage instance triggered by a parent skill (such as ignite), these modifiers are all inherited from the triggering hit. See keywords for more information.


Certain skills have an Area of Effect (AoE for short) and can affect multiple enemies or allies at once.


Elemental Damage modifiers affect all types of elemental damage (Fire, Cold and Lightning). Chaos damage is not considered elemental.


Mines are skills which are laid at the characters location and detonated by a separate command.


Modifiers to minion damage function as a generic damage modifier granted to the minion. This means it will apply to all damage dealt regardless of source, type, or keywords.


Melee damage is a category of damage exclusive to the attack damage source; in the case of damage instances who inherit keywords from a parent skill (such as ignite or Puncture's bleed) the melee keyword is not inherited.


Note that skills with the bow keyword are considered to implicitly be projectiles.


Modifiers to totem damage function as a generic damage modifier granted to the totem. This means it will apply to all damage dealt regardless of source, type, or keywords.


Modifiers to trap damage function as a generic damage modifier granted to the trap. This means it will apply to all damage dealt regardless of source, type, or keywords.


Main article: Unarmed

Unarmed damage is a subcategory of Melee Damage and therefore inherits damage modifiers from the Melee and Attack keywords.

Weapon-specific Keywords

Weapon-specific keywords are derivatives of the Attack damage source and therefore are not inherited by damage instances who inherit keywords from a parent skill (such as ignite, puncture's bleed, or Poison Arrow's poison cloud).

Generic Modifiers

Damage modifiers that have no restrictions or specifications are commonly referred to as generic damage modifiers. These modifiers are potent since they will apply to all damage dealt by the modified skill regardless of source, type, or keywords.

Reflected damage

Main article: Damage reflection


  1. Bex_GGG (December 22, 2015). "Recent Community Questions Answered!". Official Path of Exile Forums. Retrieved December 23, 2015.