Question: Can falling, fire, drowning, and acid damage be used to hurt creatures that require magical weapons (or spells) to harm?
I've allowed fire to be used as a weapon against things like lycanthropes.
I imagine a lycanthrope can be drowned, too.
I figure if fire would hurt one, so, too, would acid.
And would falling damage such a creature, too?
Some creatures (non-living) wouldn't be harmed by drowning (elementals, for instance, save the fire variety). Fire won't likely harm something like a gargoyle, given they are stone (nor would drowning, since they aren't alive), but a fall might (if they are rendered flightless, of course).
Maybe the answer is, "It depends on the creature."
It's a good question and your answer seems appropriate as a rule of thumb.
I imagine a werewolf, for example, falling over a cliff and breaking many bones upon impact at the bottom. I then imagine the fractured bones snapping back into place, blood spurting, wounds closing, etc. as its body slowly mends. The few rounds it takes for the lycanthrope's body to heal itself give the PCs time to run!
To take a suggestion from 3.5ed., this kind of damage is called 'non-lethal damage.' It is added to the lethal damage a creature takes, but once the creature reaches 0 hit points, it is merely unconscious, not dead. It heals non-lethal damage at a faster rate than lethal damage and is only killed if it suffers lethal damage equal to, or greater than, its hit point total.
For example, the PC's only have a single +1 sword wielded by the party's fighter. He hits twice, but the werewolf is about to kill him. The dwarven barbarian pushes the werewolf over the cliff to the sound of breaking bones and furious howls. Peering over the edge, the PCs see the mangled body bubbling and twitching as the evil magic heals the wounds of the unconscious creature. Not wasting a second longer, the PCs turn and run for the safety of the nearest temple, grabbing up silver holy symbols to club the creature with if it assails them within its holy confines.
Some good points have been brought up here. For myself, I do not see magical weapons as always being necessary. For instance . . . fire.
Fire destroys flesh . . . period. What? Running water can kill a Vampire, but fire cannot? What is the reasoning behind "running water" in the first place?
Some of the creatures mentioned have great regenerative powers, but that doesn't keep them from dying, or being destroyed.
For a Vampire, dirt from its grave must be kept in its coffin, that's where its "restoration" comes from. Take the ashes of a burnt up Vampire, place them in its coffin -- not some "other" coffin -- and it will "return." Failing that, the Vampire is destroyed and will remain so. That's one example.
As for a Lycanthrope, the process is the same . . . it's still flesh, fire burns and destroys flesh. I cannot think of a way in which the ashes would reform into the Lycanthrope. Of course -- in both cases -- this method would require the body to be completely destroyed, not merely "burnt badly." I can see the Lycanthrope's badly burnt body healing itself.
As for a significant fall . . . if you can get to it, beheading will "kill" anything. That's not to say that the creature's restorative powers will not bring it back, not if you foolishly leave the head there! But take the head with you and I think you've done of fairly good job of "killing" the creature more "permanent" like. Bury the head someplace far away.
In the example of the lycanthrope attacked by fire I'd imagine that the burns caused by a flaming torch or a produce flame spell will quickly heal just like other attacks. What's more relevant is the amount of damage caused. Whereas a few serious burns would heal a lycanthrope reduced to ashes might not.
Perhaps for example you could use a guideline that if the creatures sustains fire damage equivalent of twice its total hit points it's incinerated enough that it cannot regenerate the damage.
You could apply this to other creatures and damages too. Perhaps falling damage (broken bones etc) is easier for a lycanthrope to recover from so it would need to sustain 3 or 4 times its total hit point sin falling damage?
Acid on a lycanthrope? Oh yeah, they'll die permanently for sure if they were dropped in a vat and couldn't get out. I reckon they could regenerate from a partial dousing. Same would go for fire and falling.
What if they fell from really really high and literally splattered all over the place, I wonder... What's the requirement for a lycanthrope or any non-undead that regenerates, to be able to grow a whole new body? Like one cell? One appendage?
Personally, I'd consider damage from fire and acid non-regeneratable as it is mentioned in the Player's Handbook.
Falling damage could be, though it may take a while for the lycanthrope if driven into negatives, if you rule they take damage from falling in the first place.
I do not subscribe to the "Wolverine" regeneration philosophy as portrayed in movies and some of the later comic books. It seems ludicrous to me. If the majority of the body is destroyed, the creature dies.
Besides, lycanthropes don't regenerate in the true sense of the word. They are immune to non-magical attacks (barring fire and acid, I think) and only 'regenerate' after/between shifting (10-60% of any damage sustained).
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