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    Default Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Should non-intelligent, non-living constructs (i.e. mindless) be immune to psychic and poison damage?
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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by Leeham View Post
    Should non-intelligent, non-living constructs (i.e. mindless) be immune to psychic and poison damage?
    Poisons require metabolism to function. Just like how they don't work on undead, they won't work on constructs. I suppose you could rule that certain poisons are extremely corrosive.

    The psychic one is different. For example, if a psion is doing Force damage, that's not a mental effect. That's him hitting the thing with a psychic sledgehammer that has a physical presence.
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    This is one that I think you would want to evaluate on a case by case basis. The different types of damage would have different affects based on what the construct is made of. For example, if it was fashioned of wood or some other highly flammable material fire damage would work really well against it, the opposite would be true if made of most types of stone.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Most Golems (aside from Flesh Golems) are already immune to poison. They shouldn't be immune to Psychic damage though. They still have a magically created "mind", it's just usually not sentient.

    4e generally assumes powers work as listed, and leave it to the players and DM to rationalize how. Knocking Gelatinous Cubes prone is the famous example. It also generally avoids making entire classes of enemies immune to common effects (which is why Sneak Attack no longer needs an enemy with vital organs).

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by Leeham View Post
    Should non-intelligent, non-living constructs (i.e. mindless) be immune to psychic and poison damage?
    I'd say that a non-intelligent construct which is acting as a creature would generally have some sort of "program" with which psychic attacks could interfere, so they wouldn't be immune. Non-intelligent constructs functioning as traps might have no such "program" or one simple enough to not be disrupted, making them immune. Immunity to common psychic effects(like sleep, charm, and fear) might show up in any of them, as whatever "programs" they have may not include subroutines for those things.

    For poison immunity, I'd generally look to the elements of the construction. Any fluids: fuel(for the construct itself or its weapons), lubricants, coolants, or hydraulic fluids may cease to function properly when contaminants are added, so a construct that uses any of those in its design could be damaged by poison. Barring such elements, poison immunity is pretty likely.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    I agree. I've used a lot of homebrewed constructs (I borrowed warjacks from the Iron Kingdoms, if you must know), and I've been giving them immunity to poison and psychic, and usually necrotic as well.

    A couple of exceptions, though: possessed objects should probably be affected by psychic; flesh-based constructs should be affected by necrotic and maybe poison.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    4th Edition doesn't actually have nonintelligent creatures like 3E did, so that's not a problem.
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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Generally the assumption in 4e is that if a power can conceivably work, it should. Immunities are fairly rare, and resistances are usually counterbalanced by damage weaknesses. Immunities also generally apply to rarer things, that won't invalidate entire characters. The problem with psychic immune constructs is that it's quite possible that 75% or more of a Psion, Bard, Warlock, or Wizard's powers will be psychically based, more or less taking them out of the fight, which goes against 4e's design philosophy.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Uh oh, I see someone's contemplating whether my Grasping Shadows should damage his crab constructs :P.

    In my (at least in this case) admittedly biased opinion, immunities are one thing that probably shouldn't be tampered with because of the staggering impact they have on builds and classes (particularly the ones noted by the above poster); their wholesale elimination in 4E relative to 3.5 was part of a conscious attempt to permit the greatest possible range of viable builds and powers. Even in the case of mindless automatons (or undead when it comes to that) you could justify it as psychic/psionic energy doing actual physical damage.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
    Even in the case of mindless automatons (or undead when it comes to that) you could justify it as psychic/psionic energy doing actual physical damage.
    I guess I need to say this again: There are no mindless creatures in 4E!!!

    Seriously, Golems and Skeletons have Int 3. Rats have Int 2. Zombies and various bugs have Int 1. There is NO REASON they should be immune to psychic damage!
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    The ability scores do not necessitate the presence of a conscious mind or sentience to effect; in most 4e source material, these sorts of undead (skeletons/undead) are referred to as mindless. There is also the case of original material by the DM for things that _are_ truly mindless, beyond debate.

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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    There's a huge difference between a conscious, sentient mind and a mind. Undead and contructs might lack the former, but they still have something that makes them aware of their surroundings and controls their actions, even if it's just an enchantment. That's what your psychic powers are affecting.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by KillianHawkeye View Post
    I guess I need to say this again: There are no mindless creatures in 4E!!!
    He specified "non-intelligent", though.
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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    The way that I would run this situation would be for the poison to be ineffective, whereas the psychic effect, depending on the sort, might mess with the force that animates the construct.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by Suedars View Post
    There's a huge difference between a conscious, sentient mind and a mind. Undead and contructs might lack the former, but they still have something that makes them aware of their surroundings and controls their actions, even if it's just an enchantment. That's what your psychic powers are affecting.
    But that's the thing; they don't actually have a proper mind so much as an animating force, and what of purely mechanical constructs/automatons? There's no mind or even force to assault in the latter case. Again, I don't think that you can quite cover all the bases given the strict, rules compendium definition of 'effects that assault the mind'. Expanding on that to incorporate a type of otherworldly energy that tends to ravage the mind but is also capable of imposing physical harm seems more tenable.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
    But that's the thing; they don't actually have a proper mind so much as an animating force, and what of purely mechanical constructs/automatons? There's no mind or even force to assault in the latter case. Again, I don't think that you can quite cover all the bases given the strict, rules compendium definition of 'effects that assault the mind'. Expanding on that to incorporate a type of otherworldly energy that tends to ravage the mind but is also capable of imposing physical harm seems more tenable.
    A purely mechanical construct still takes in information about its surroundings, processes it, and acts based upon it. It functions as if it had a mind.

    Look, it's fine to say "The construct's data processing works differently than a human mind, so psychic assaults on it don't work", but that's not how 4e works. In other games more emphasis is placed on function following form. A fireball in other systems behaves as fire will. It probably won't work underwater or in a void. In 4e a fireball is a ranged burst 3 that does 5d6+Int mod fire damage. Nothing about not working underwater. Nothing about starting fires when it hits flammable things. Part of 4e's design philosophy is that powers work and do what they say, and don't fail because the DM can't justify it working.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by Suedars View Post
    A purely mechanical construct still takes in information about its surroundings, processes it, and acts based upon it. It functions as if it had a mind.

    Look, it's fine to say "The construct's data processing works differently than a human mind, so psychic assaults on it don't work", but that's not how 4e works. In other games more emphasis is placed on function following form. A fireball in other systems behaves as fire will. It probably won't work underwater or in a void. In 4e a fireball is a ranged burst 3 that does 5d6+Int mod fire damage. Nothing about not working underwater. Nothing about starting fires when it hits flammable things. Part of 4e's design philosophy is that powers work and do what they say, and don't fail because the DM can't justify it working.
    Sure, form follows function, I acknowledge that about 4E's design, and that's precisely why I'm in favour of psychic effects working as normal. What I'm saying is that you simply can't (plausibly) justify psychic effects working on certain targets based strictly on their definition in the rule compendium. However, I recommend expanding on that definition for those DMs who have a problem reconciling with this to consider the notion that the psychic 'energy' may be just as capable of physical destruction as it is of mental destruction; mental energy that rends and distorts reality as well as the minds of other beings.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Oh, ok. I was misunderstanding your point. I think what will make sense in terms of justification will vary from group to group, as evidenced by our disagreement over whether "vanilla" psychic power fluff can justify them affecting constructs.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    It's not that hard to come up with a justification for damage on the fly, especially in standard D&D where a psychic attack on a construct is MAGIC trying to affect something that is powered by MAGIC.

    (From a Gamma World Game)
    Player: Okay, I'm going to hit that droid with a psychic assault.
    Me: Droids have simple, command-based minds, but they're still minds. You can see the ones and zeroes that make up its processes...
    Player: I stick a 'two' in there! (everyone laughs)

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Naw, I mean it's almost comparable to trying to burn a fire elemental or drown a water elemental; it just won't work (yes I know low level fire elementals are inexplicably not fire immune in 4e). Even if you accept a construct's processor or an undead's animating force as some sort of crude analogue to a 'mind', it is still completely and totally different, which is why I recommend expanding the definition of what a psychic attack constitutes.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
    Even if you accept a construct's processor or an undead's animating force as some sort of crude analogue to a 'mind', it is still completely and totally different...
    Why? We don't have constructs, undead, or psychic damage in real life so you're treading on very uncertain ground here.

    e: Also it's pretty easy to come up with justifications for damaging elementals with their own elements if you use your imagination. Fire? Adding your fire causes it to flare up and burn out. Water? Using your mastery over water to tear the elemental apart.

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    Last edited by John_D; 2011-03-24 at 11:44 AM.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by John_D View Post
    Why? We don't have constructs, undead, or psychic damage in real life so you're treading on very uncertain ground here.
    We do have mechanical automatons in real life, though we don't have psychic damage. That said, computers are vastly different from biological minds despite several superficial similarities, and thus almost certainly would not be subject to something that specifically injures the latter.

    e: Also it's pretty easy to come up with justifications for damaging elementals with their own elements if you use your imagination. Fire? Adding your fire causes it to flare up and burn out. Water? Using your mastery over water to tear the elemental apart.
    It's not about using your mastery over water to 'tear the elemental apart' it's about a specific case of trying to drown the thing in water which is a blatant impossibility.

    As for fire, how would 'flaring it up and burning it out' even work? You mean trying to cause it to expand and explode outward such that it dissipates? You're looking for oxygen/hydrogen and the like, not more fire. You still can't burn a fire elemental to death regardless.

    The fact is trying to use a strictly mind affecting attack to destroy a true automaton is essentially comparable to trying to kill something with something else that creature is blatantly immune to.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
    As for fire, how would 'flaring it up and burning it out' even work? You mean trying to cause it to expand and explode outward such that it dissipates? You're looking for oxygen/hydrogen and the like, not more fire. You still can't burn a fire elemental to death regardless.
    Technically, if you got it trapped in a sealed room and used more fire to consume all of the oxygen in the space the fire would then go out as it can not burn without oxygen.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Sure, but you're not killing it directly with fire, ignoring the fact that this would be ridiculously circumstantial.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Oh okay I thought you were talking about a power that dealt water damage, but I should have realised there's no water damage type. If there's a water elemental type creature that doesn't have the aquatic trait (therefore making it immune to drowning) it's more down to bad creature design, I guess?

    I figure if you're a fire creature you're constantly burning up stuff around you, right? If someone else casts a load of fire around you it's robbing you of the fuel and oxygen you need to survive, therefore dealing damage. That was straight off the top of my head, but if I was a creature made of fire I probably wouldn't want to go up against a guy who magically manipulates fire all day every day. ;)

    Undead and constructs aren't computers! They are creatures animated by magic, being affected by magic.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    I figure if you're a fire creature you're constantly burning up stuff around you, right? If someone else casts a load of fire around you it's robbing you of the fuel and oxygen you need to survive, therefore dealing damage. That was straight off the top of my head, but if I was a creature made of fire I probably wouldn't want to go up against a guy who magically manipulates fire all day every day. ;)
    As long as there's an adequate oxygen supply (and there usually is), I honestly can't see fire attacks doing much of anything. In either case, they certainly wouldn't be dealing damage to a fire elemental by their own accord.

    Undead and constructs aren't computers! They are creatures animated by magic, being affected by magic.
    They can be affected by magic, but that doesn't meant they're affected by something strictly mind affecting. Animating magic is _at least_ as different from an actual mind as computers are; same principle really.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    What's really odd is knocking enemies prone while swimming. I mean, how does that happen?

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
    They can be affected by magic, but that doesn't meant they're affected by something strictly mind affecting. Animating magic is _at least_ as different from an actual mind as computers are; same principle really.
    Where does it say that animating magic is different from an actual mind and the same principle as a computer? You've assumed this. I've assumed that animating magic creates a facsimile of a mind that can be similarly affected by psychic damage, and the reason I've assumed this is it's supported by the rules.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by John_D View Post
    Where does it say that animating magic is different from an actual mind and the same principle as a computer? You've assumed this. I've assumed that animating magic creates a facsimile of a mind that can be similarly affected by psychic damage, and the reason I've assumed this is it's supported by the rules.
    By 'same principle' I am referring to the degree of difference. It's so far removed from an actual mind (like a computer) that it's essentially the same idea.

    Furthermore, 4e source material often refers to the unintelligent undead/constructs as being effectively mindless, to say nothing of past precedent in 3.5.

    Lastly the rules only really demonstrate/support a conclusion of 4e's commitment to function over form, not an assumption that animating magic creates a facsimile of a mind that can be affected by psychic energy. These things were handwaved for the explicit purpose of broadening the scope of effective powers/builds.

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    Default Re: Damage Immunity for Constructs

    Quote Originally Posted by Surrealistik View Post
    We do have mechanical automatons in real life, though we don't have psychic damage. That said, computers are vastly different from biological minds despite several superficial similarities, and thus almost certainly would not be subject to something that specifically injures the latter.
    Psychic damage targets "the mind"(PHB page 55). It does not specify biological minds. Anything that can make evaluations or decisions can be said to have a mind, even if that mind is utterly alien to human minds.

    A computer's body differs from a human body to a great degree, but a well-swung axe will severely mess up either of them. The fact that a computer's mind differs from a human mind doesn't mean it can't be damaged by the same effects.

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