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Damage Reduction is an important attribute for survival in Diablo II. There are a variety of different methods of obtaining damage reduction, and these methods can be simply grouped into several categories: Resist, Numerical Reduction, and Absorb. Numerical Reduction is applied first, then resist, and lastly absorb (blocking works by a separate mechanic).

Example: A player has 'Reduce fire damage by 10', '50% fire resist' and '20% fire absorb'.

  • A monster deals 100 fire damage.
  • 10 damage is removed, 90 remains.
  • 50% of 90 is removed, 45 remains.
  • 9 damage is absorbed, resulting in 36 damage. If the player survives this damage, 9 health is healed.
  • Result: 27 damage is received of the original 100.


Resistances work by reducing the received damage by a percentage value, so if an attack deals 100 fire damage, and someone has 50% fire resistance, only 50 fire damage is inflicted. Resistances are very important for any character. Many of the deadlier attacks in Normal and Nightmare, such as Mephisto's skull lightning is rendered quite harmless with high resistances, while in Hell difficulty, high resistances are often necessary for a character not to die immediately when encountering the more deadly enemies. For PvP, resistances are often of utmost importance as well.

Of the various resistances, the four elements are often the primary focus. Physical resistance is harder to come by and is most often seen used by high-level characters. Items such as the Stormshield, a unique shield with 35% Physical resistance, are often viewed as standard end equipment by many builds. There is only one item in the game that provides percentage-based magic resistance: the crafted Safety Shield, which adds 5-10% Magic Resistance.

Damage Type Resist Cap
Natural Max
Physical 50% 50%
Fire 75% 95%
Cold 75% 95%
Lightning 75% 95%
Poison 75% 95%
Magic 10% 10%

The natural cap for elemental resistances can be increased by equipping items that provide +Max Resists. If a character has 200 fire resistance, only 75% will be effective (or up to 95% depending on items), and if a monster has a Conviction Aura that reduces his fire resistance by 75, he will still have 125 fire resistance left. In this case, that will leave the player with exactly the same effective resistance: 75%. Likewise, if a player has 0 fire resistance and is affected by the same aura, he will receive -75% fire resistance, causing him to take additional damage from that element. Negative resistances are never good, and should be avoided at all costs.

Resistances can be affected by several class skills:


  • Fade: Increases all elemental resistances of the Assassin for the duration, while also increasing physical resistance by 1% per point.



  • Amplify Damage: Reduces the physical resistance of the affected enemies.
  • Decrepify: Reduces the physical resistance of the affected enemies.
  • Lower Resist: Reduces the fire/cold/lightning/poison resistances of affected enemies.


  • Resist Fire: Increases the fire resistance and max fire resistance of the player and all nearby allies.
  • Resist Cold: Increases the cold resistance and max cold resistance of the player and all nearby allies.
  • Resist Lightning: Increases the lightning resistance and max lightning resistance of the player and all nearby allies.
  • Salvation: Increases the fire/cold/lightning resistance of the player and all nearby allies.
  • Conviction: Lowers the fire/cold/lightning resistance of all nearby enemies.


  • Cold Mastery: Lowers the cold resistance of all enemies, but cannot break immunities.

If player is affected by any of these skills, his/her resistances will change according to the spell tooltip. Thanks to the resistance cap, a player can never be immune to an element.

Monster Resistances

Monster Resistances work in exactly the same way as player resistances. However, unlike players, monsters' resistances are not capped, and therefore they can become immune to an element if their resistance is high enough. Monsters become immune to an element when their resistance reaches or exceeds 100. An immunity can be broken by any skill that lowers resistances, with the exception of Cold Mastery, which cannot break cold immunity. However, when a skill breaks an immunity, it only functions at 1/5 effectiveness. This means, for example, that a monster with 100 Physical Resistance that is affected by Amplify Damage will be left with 80 Physical Resistance instead of 0. This works the same way for breaking elemental resistances. Since these skills function at a reduced potency when breaking an immunity, it is possible for a monster to have an unbreakable immunity. This occurs when a monster's resistances reach or exceed 144 Cold, Fire, or Lightning resistance, 120 Physical resistance, or 114 Poison resistance.

Numerical Damage Reduction

Like the name suggests, this reduces damage of a specific damage type by a fixed amount. All damage types can be reduced in this way. There is no cap to how much a player can get in numerical reduction, so in theory it should be possible to acquire so much that one cannot be damaged by a specific damage type. It is hardly practical to do so however, and would likely reduce the quality of gear so much that the killing speed of a character would be severely hurt.


Absorb reduces an amount of the damage received and then heals the player with the absorbed amount. Suffice to say this can be very powerful, if coupled with enough normal resist. Absorbs can be found in numerical- or percentage-based forms. There are four types of absorb: fire, cold, lightning, and magic. Magic absorb absorbs all kinds of elemental damage, as well as magic damage. The Druid skill Cyclone Armor provides the player with numerical absorbs for all three elemental damage types. All absorbs are capped at 40%. In practice, this is essentially the same as another 80% resist applied on top of regular resist for the player, basically enabling the player to reach 99% resist.

How it works:

  • A monster does 100 fire damage.
  • 40% Fire Absorb means that 40% of the damage is absorbed, meaning that part does no damage. 60 damage is dealt.
  • After this, the 40 damage that was absorbed heals the player.
  • Result: The net damage dealt to the player is only 20.

If the player also has 95% fire resist:

  • A monster deals 100 fire damage.
  • 95 damage is removed. 5 damage remains.
  • 2 damage (40%) is absorbed. 3 damage is dealt.
  • 2 damage is healed.
  • Result: 1 damage, or 1%, is all that remains.

However, the problem is that if the player does not have 60 hp when this attack lands, he will die, as the healing is only applied after the reduction in hp has been made. Still, it can be very useful at times.


While not of the same kind as the above methods, blocking is another great way to reduce your incoming physical damage. When you successfully block an attack, you completely avoid all damage. If the block fails, you take damage as usual and resistances etc. are applied as usual. In order to block, your character must have a shield equipped (except in the case of an Assassin who has Weapon Block). You can increase your chance to block by adding points to Dexterity or by getting certain affixes on your gear. Chance to Block is capped at 75%, and many Class Builds recommend maximizing block for survivability.