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The Strange Relationship between Damage Buffs and Damage Resistance OR "Why doesn't Power Boost work on Cold Shields!?"


Trickshooter
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For years during the original run of City of Heroes, and even now, this question, or similar ones, has been asked. Many of us know to explain that [Insert Power] is immune to the effects of [Insert effect] because Damage buffs and Damage resistance don't get along (or maybe get along TOO well).

For most people, the response to that is, "What?" Because seriously, what? How does that make sense? Well, I'm going to explain it for you.

First, we need to review some game terminology:

 

Attributes

Attributes are basically the power effects in game. Most powers are basically a series of Attributes with assigned values. They include, but are not limited to:

Heal
Endurance
(not like your endurance bar, but rather EndGain and EndDrain effects)
ToHit
Base Defense
AoE Defense
Melee Defense
Ranged Defense
Smashing Defense
Lethal Defense
Fire Defense
Cold Defense
Energy Defense
Negative Energy Defense
Psionic Defense
Toxic Defense
(yes, and there might be a separate post on this)
Lethal Damage
Smashing Damage
Fire Damage
Cold Damage
Energy Damage
Negative Energy Damage
Psionic Damage
Toxic Damage
Hold Duration
Immob Duration
Sleep Duration
Stun Duration
Terrorize Duration
Confuse Duration
Run Speed
Fly Speed

Etc.

Worth noting here is the inclusion of Defense, but not Damage Resistance. We'll come back to this soon, but we have another term to learn first.

 

Strength

Strength increases or decreases the values of Attributes. The simplest example of Strength in effect are Enhancements, but there are plenty of Strength effects in the game, including Power Boost, some Set Bonuses and some power effects, like Nature Affinity's Bloom.*

This is why when trying to calculate how something will perform once fully slotted and with all applicable sources of Strength (again, like Power Boost, set bonuses, etc.), you add them all together first. They are the same effect.

For example, if you had a power that had a 100 Heal effect and 3-slotted it with SOs, the Heal would be increased to roughly 100 * 1.976, or a 197.6 Heal.

If you then also applied a +25% Str(Heal) to yourself, maybe from set bonuses, that Heal would be increased to 100 * 2.226, or a 222.6 Heal.

And here is where part of the strangeness between Damage buffs and Damage resistance begins. Because for most of the effects in the game we might consider buffs or debuffs, such as +/-ToHit or +/-Defense, the Attributes themselves are the effect, and Strength increases or decreases their values to make them stronger or weaker.

But when it comes to +/-Damage, there is no Attribute; the different damage types are each their own Attribute and the corresponding Strength for each type is what buffs or debuffs their base values.

So the "Lethal Damage" Attribute is just Lethal damage and to increase or decrease it, you would use Str(Lethal Damage), and likewise for all the different damage types. A level 50 Damage SO is +33% Strength to the 8 damage types. A Blaster’s Build Up is +100% Strength to the 8 damage types. And a Defender’s Siphon Power is -25% Strength to the 8 damage types.

On its own, this is no issue. It's just slightly different application from other effects we’d consider “buffs”. But going back to the lack of Damage Resistance Attributes, and thus the lack of Damage Resistance Strength, how then does Damage Resistance work? How is it buffed or debuffed? Well that brings us to our next term.

 

Resistance

Resistance is probably the simplest to understand. Resistance decreases or increases how much an attribute can affect an entity. For the most part, these effects are fairly straightforward.**

For example, a positive Resistance to Sleep duration will reduce the length of a Sleep effect, and a negative one will increase the length of a Sleep effect.

A positive Resistance to ToHit will predictably reduce the value of a ToHit debuff, but also a ToHit buff. This is why many buff effects like this are flagged to ignore Resistance (see on City of Data as Unresistable).

But probably the most common throughout the game is Resistance to the Damage types. And the game tends to display these to us similarly to how they're actually set up: Res(Lethal), Res(Smashing), etc. A positive Resistance to a damage type will reduce the damage we take from that type, and a negative one will increase the damage.

 

Now that you know these three terms and how they apply to the game, you might be starting to see the relationship between damage, damage buffs, and damage resistance.

But here is the real kicker when it comes to Strength and Resistance: One can affect the other. 😮

I'd like to picture that this is a GASP moment, but I guess I haven't fully explained what that means. So let's look at an example of this in game.

 

We'll use Scrapper/Super Reflexes/Focused Senses first:

This power grants a base +13.875% Ranged Defense. A single level 50 Defense SO Enhancement acts as a +20% Strength to all the Defense types, including Ranged Defense, increasing the base value to 13.875 x 1.2, or +16.65% Ranged Defense.

However, at level 50 this power also grants an enhanceable +13.84% Res(Base Defense), which we would understand as Defense Debuff Resistance, and that SO includes +20% Str(Base Defense). Since we know that Strength can affect Resistance, this increases the value to 13.84 x 1.2, or about 16.61% Res(Base Defense).

Okay, sure. That makes sense, right?

 

Well, let's look at Tanker/Invulnerability/Temp Invulnerability now:

This power grants a base +30% Res(Smashing Damage) and +30% Res(Lethal Damage). A single level 50 Damage Resist SO Enhancements acts as a... wait. What does a Damage Resist Enhancement grant if there is no Strength for Damage Resistance?

Funny you should ask.

In the same way the Res(Base Defense) of Focused Senses is increased by Str(Base Defense), the way to increase Res(Smashing Damage) is with... Str(Smashing Damage).

But... didn’t we just learn that’s a damage buff? Yep.

So then a Damage Resist Enhancement must grant Strength to the 8 damage types to work? Yep.

And does a Damage Enhancement also grant Strength to the 8 damage types? Yep.

So Damage Resist and Damage Enhancements are the same effect? Yep.

So back to our example using Temp Invulnerability, a single level 50 Damage Resist SO Enhancement acts as a +20% Strength to all damage types, including Smashing Damage and Lethal Damage, increasing their base values to 30 x 1.2, or +36% Res(Smashing Damage) and Res(Lethal Damage).

 

Okay, so big deal, Damage Resist Enhancements and Damage Enhancements are the same thing. That doesn’t change much, right?

Well, not much for Enhancements, no. But Enhancements are only one source of Strength in the game.

What if our Tanker in the above example was given Fortitude by a Defender teammate?

 

A Defender’s Fortitude includes a +31.25% Strength to all the Damage types. Does this mean our Tanker’s Resistance will also be increased by an additional 31.25%?

Nope!

But why? Didn’t we just learn that that is how it should work? Well yes, but steps have been taken to prevent that effect from happening!

 

The reason the Defender’s damage buff won’t increase the Resistances of Temp Invulnerability is a little flag on Temp Invulnerability telling it to ignore Strength from outside sources (i.e. any source other than slotted Enhancements). You can see this on City of Data as Not affected by outside buffs/debuffs. This prevents damage buffs such as those from Fortitude, Fulcrum Shift, Build Up or just chewing a bunch of red inspirations from drastically increasing Damage Resistance effects. This is one of two methods power developers have to prevent this situation.***

The other is to allow outside Strength from outside sources, but any Damage Resistance effects in the power are individually flagged to ignore Strength. You can see this on City of Data as Ignores Enhancements & Buffs.

 

So how does this relate to the question in the header: Why doesn’t Power Boost work on Cold Shields?

Well, the original developers chose to allow the Cold Shields to slot Enhancements for the Damage Resistance they grant. This meant that the first method had to be used and both Shields had to be flagged to ignore Strength from outside sources (or Not affected by outside buffs/debuffs) such as Power Boost. Otherwise, damage buffs would also increase the Damage Resistance.

 

What makes that different from the Force Field Shields? Deflection Shield also grants Damage Resistance.

The difference is that Deflection Shield’s Damage Resistance can’t benefit from Enhancements. The power doesn’t accept Damage Resistance Enhancements, and even if it could, the effect is flagged Ignores Enhancements & Buffs. This allows Deflection Shield to benefit from outside sources of Strength, such as Power Boost.

 

*Notably, Dominator's Domination is not a Strength effect; it's functionally like flipping a switch that activates longer, stronger mez values already built in to the Dominator's powers that only activate as long as that switch is flipped.

**Resistance is very different from what we might call "Protection". Protection is a separate term used to describe whether an effect with a Magnitude, such as many Mez effects, will be able to affect an entity at all. It is not a true effect like Resistance, but rather a preemptive application of negative Magnitude to someone that a power with a positive Magnitude value must overcome before mez duration is considered at all.

***Now this is basically how it’s supposed to be done, but it’s not automatic. These have to be manually done, so there are some powers that are double prevented, such as Link Minds, not being affected by Power Boost, but also being unenhanceable. But then there are also powers that have neither, such as Fade, which has enhanceable Damage Resistance that gets unintentionally increased by Damage buffs.

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Buff Trick Arrows! | Buff Poison! | Powerset Suggestions: Circus Performers | Old Powerset Suggestions:  Probability Distortion | Magnetism | Hyper-Intellect

Some day, the prophecy will be fulfilled; Trick Arrows will be buffed and I will finally be allowed to die. https://twitter.com/trickshootah

 

The Strange Relationship between Damage Buffs and Damage Resistance OR "Why doesn't Power Boost work on Cold Shields!?"

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2 minutes ago, Mister Mass said:

Interesting.  Thanks for posting this.  I get the feeling that this isn't a completely new revelation, but it is well worth bringing to a wider audience.

I think many people know that Power Boost won't affect powers with enhanceable Damage Resistance, but I feel like much less people know why. I just tried my best to explain the relationship that causes this quirk, since it's not exactly intuitive.

Buff Trick Arrows! | Buff Poison! | Powerset Suggestions: Circus Performers | Old Powerset Suggestions:  Probability Distortion | Magnetism | Hyper-Intellect

Some day, the prophecy will be fulfilled; Trick Arrows will be buffed and I will finally be allowed to die. https://twitter.com/trickshootah

 

The Strange Relationship between Damage Buffs and Damage Resistance OR "Why doesn't Power Boost work on Cold Shields!?"

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