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Resistances

There are four main elemental attacks in Diablo II: Fire, Cold, Lightning, and Poison. Each class can resist, or reduce damage from, these attacks by using items or skills.

Curses and Bone-based attacks are not considered elemental, so these resistances will not protect against them.

Some monsters possess the ability to resist physical attacks and magical damage as well as elemental damage. Monsters that can resist magical attacks can also resist the Necromancer Bone spells (Teeth/Bone Spear/Bone Spirit) and the Barbarian's Berserk.

Certain Unique monsters have Spectral Hit, which adds a random elemental property to every blow.

Assassins can use Fade which offers Resist All +%.

Barbarians can devote points to Natural Resistance at level 30.

Paladins have several Auras that can reduce elemental damage, including Resist Cold, Resist Fire, Resist Lightning, Cleansing, which reduces Poison's duration, and Salvation (available at level 30), which provides resistance to Cold, Fire, and Lightning.

When to Use Resistances
Melee characters should consider wearing resistance-providing equipment at all times, as they are the least likely to avoid elemental attacks. Ranged characters might wish to keep a set of "resistance gear" in your Backpack, Horadric Cube, or Stash. When you run into trouble with monsters, put on your gear until the battle is over. Jewelry is best suited to this, as it only takes up a 1x1 space in your inventory. Depending on your character class, you may wish to keep a shield with high resistances in your alternate Weapon Tab. You can switch to this shield when facing monsters with deadly elemental attacks. Charms also work very well for adding additional resistances, especially "Resist All" Charms. As you play later Acts and higher difficulties, Resistances will become very important. You may find that in Hell Difficulty you'll have a difficult time surviving without a lot of resistances.

Ranged vs Melee Characters
Resistances are very important for melee, or hand-to-hand combat, characters. When fighting against monsters that have ranged elemental attacks, they can side step or dodge, but not always. Characters using melee weapons have to close in on a monster to kill it, exposing them to more elemental attacks. Resistances will reduce the amount of damage they take, allowing them to fight longer, survive otherwise impossible battles, and waste fewer Healing Potions. Some elemental attacks are difficult to avoid, such as those used by Undead Horrors, Willowisps, Unique monsters, and Bosses. In these situations, even fighters with ranged attacks may want to improve their resistances.

Minimum Resistance

Your base resistance levels are determined by the game's difficulty:

Normal Difficulty: 0
Nightmare Difficulty: -40
Hell Difficulty: -100

The absolute minimum resistance is -100%. Resistance can never be lowered to below that value.

The Scroll of Resistance increases your base resistance level with 10 per use. Note that if you die this bonus will disappear until you join a new game. The Character Screen does not show this bug. For obvious reasons this is only a concern to Softcore Characters.

Maximum Resistance
Each character has a default maximum resistance of 75%, although certain items can raise that number as high as 95%. You can never become totally immune to elemental attacks with Resistances alone.

Negative Resistance
Having negative resistances actually increases the damage players and creatures receive.

Lightning Resistance
Lightning Resistance comes in most handy against Lightning-Enchanted Unique monsters. Each time you hit a Unique Lightning monster, it will release a Charged Bolt to each of the four corners of the screen. The more you hit the monster, the more Charged Bolts it releases. High Lightning Resistance may save you in these situations.

Willowisps often attack with focused beams of lightning, much like the Sorceress's Level 12 Lightning spell, albeit often more powerful. Packs of these monsters tend to focus their lightning attacks on you simultaneously, and Lightning Resistance may be your key to survival. Lightning Enchanted Unique Monsters are considered the most deadly monsters in Diablo II, especially with other magical bonuses such as Immunities, Teleport and Stone Skin which make them difficult to almost impossible to kill safely. High to maximum Lightning resistance can save you against these monsters.

Fire Resistance
Fire Resistance will be very useful throughout the game, since many monsters have Fire attacks. The Fallen Shaman, your first exposure to Fire creatures, has an attack similar to the Sorceress' Fire Bolt spell. Some Unique monsters are Fire Enchanted -- they have Fire damage added to their attacks, and when they are killed, they explode in a burst of flames, causing large amount of both Fire and Physical damage in a small radius near them. Blood Raven may shoot Fire Arrows. The Countess for example is always Fire Enchanted. The Vampires from Acts II and III (and sometimes seen in the Monastery) cast Fire Ball, Fire Wall, and Meteor (especially in the Arcane Sanctuary). Some Frogs in Act III also cast Fire Ball. Demon Imps in Act V have a Fire based attack and cast Inferno from either a Barricaded Tower or Siege Beast.

Poison Resistance
Poison might just be the most annoying attack, save being Frozen. When you're poisoned, both you and your Life Orb will turn green, and the poison will slowly drain your Hit Points. Some poisons do more damage than others, and some have longer durations. Quite a few monsters have poison attacks: Bone Ash, found in the Cathedral in Act I; Poison Skeletal Mages, Andariel, and the mummies in Act II; Poisonous Frogs; Swamp Monsters; and mummies, who leave poisonous clouds behind when they die. Booby traps and trapped chests can also launch poison missiles or leave behind poisonous clouds. Catapults in Act V sometimes have a Poison attack. Poison can be cured instantly with an Antidote Potion. Certain magical items can reduce how long you are poisoned or how much damage Poison attacks do to you.

Melee characters are often more susceptible to Poison Attacks than ranged attackers. Mummies, Ghouls, and other monsters shoot Poison at close range. Ghouls also leave a poisonous cloud behind when they die. Ranged attackers can avoid these attacks more easily than melee characters.

Cold Resistance
Cold-Enchanted Unique monsters are the most likely to inflict Cold damage. Other monsters with Cold attacks include Claw Vipers, found in Act II, Mages with Cold melee attacks and the Summoner, who casts Glacial Spike. The Zakarum Priests found in the jungle city of Kurast also cast Blizzard. The Cold attack of the Undead Horrors is by far the most damaging. It might be worth maximizing out your Cold Resistance for that reason alone.

When they die, certain Cold-Enchanted monsters will trigger an explosive Frost Nova. Keep a Thawing Potion in your inventory to thaw yourself instantly if you are chilled. When chilled, you move and attack much more slowly, which isn't good for much more than a cheap laugh.

The magical ability "Half Freeze Duration" halves chill length, but this reduction is only applied once, multiple items with this ability do not lower chill length further, while "Cannot be Frozen" provides the ultimate protection against chill by setting the duration to 0. This should not be mistaken with Holy Freeze. Holy Freeze will slow Animation speed directly while still showing the same blue overlay as when you're chilled.

Magic Resistance
Even though it does not appear on the Character Screen, each character has a Magic Resistance. The base is 0 for Normal, Nightmare, and Hell difficulties. The only item that can adjust this Resistance is a Crafted Safety Shield with +5 - 10% Magic Resistance. No skill or item can lower Magic Resistance. The Runeword Oath can also modify the amount of damage taken through absorption. Read below for detailed information on absorption.

Physical Resistance
While it isn't displayed on the Character Screen either, this Resistance reduces Physical damage just like the Elemental Resistances lower or increase Elemental damage. On items it is displayed as "Damage Taken Reduced by x%", and Amplify Damage lowers this by 100%, Decrepify by 50%. It is then lower capped at -100% and upper capped at 50%.

How do items of Absorption work?
After Straight Magical Damage Reduce and Resistances modified the damage done Absorb first heals a player/hireling, then reduces the damage done. Since it heals first, the double reduction rule only counts when a player or hireling is not at full life. A drawback is that if one would end up with a negative amount of life after resistances, you will die before Absorb reduces the damage done.

Absorb is perfect for swarms of Imps or Fallen Shaman, but be careful with Fire Enchanted bosses which may deal enough damage to kill you outright. Below are a few numeric examples where 1000 fire damage is taken. Note that the amount of damage reduced is twice the Absorb% times the damage because half is to nullify the damage taken, and the other half is the healing absorption provides. Note: there is a 40% cap on absorption.

Examples
Direct absorb was not tallied in the examples below, it is usually listed on items like this: "+x Fire Absorb" x being an integer. The Direct Absorb would be calculated after the resistance and percentage absorb in these next cases. (note: Heal amount of 0 = full health upon damage taken or no absorb is present)

full damage / %resistance / %Absorb / heal amount / damage taken

1000          0%            0%        0             1000
1000          95%           0%        0             50
1000          90%           0%        0             100
1000          85%           0%        0             150
1000          80%           0%        0             200
1000          75%           0%        0             250
1000          70%           0%        0             300

____

1000          0%            0%        0             1000
1000          0%            40%       400           200
1000          0%            35%       350           300
1000          0%            30%       300           400
1000          0%            25%       250           500
1000          0%            20%       200           600
1000          0%            15%       150           700

____

1000          0%            0%        0             1000
1000          95%           40%       20            10  
1000          90%           35%       35            30
1000          85%           30%       45            60  
1000          80%           25%       50            100 
1000          75%           20%       50            150 
1000          70%           15%       45            210 
The complete list of all damage modifications are calculated in this order:

Energy Shield
Bone Armor and Cyclone Armor
DR and MDR (damage reduction and magic damage reduction)
Resistances
% Absorb
Direct Absorb

With high resistances, high % absorb and direct absorb, it is possible to heal from specific elements.



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