Spell damage vs Elemental damage vs Individual damage elements, I'm confused

I’m working on a Rune Master and a Sorcerer. Both will use more than one damage element (Fire + Lightning) and (Fire + Cold). So how would this work? On the rune master I have a wand with:

  • x% increased fire damage
  • y% increased cold damage

…and an off-hand ritual stone with:

  • w% increased spell damage
  • z% increased damage over time (to increase the damage of ignite ticks)

I have an off-hand tome (potential upgrade) with:

  • a% increased elemental damage

Let’s assume that elemental and spell damage are 10%…

  1. would the elemental damage be greater, less than, or equal to the spell damage in how it would be applied to my damage?
  2. if the spell and elemental damage would be applied equally what would be the point of having both affixes in the game (2 entities serving the same exact purpose)?
  3. are there diminishing returns connected to either spell or elemental damage?
  4. does spell and elemental damage affect DoT damage (ignite, frostbite, electrify) differently?
  5. if I replace the elemental damage on the Tome with fire damage, would the fire damage increase the damage of fire spells (ex: Frost Claw converted to fire with the Lava Talon node) more than elemental damage (already on the tome) or the spell damage (on the wand), assuming the fire damage was 10%?
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The same. 10% inc spell damage = 10% inc elemental damage (for elemental spells) = 10% inc fire damage (for fire spells only, not cold or lightning) = 10% inc cold damage (for cold spells only, etc) = 10% inc lightning damage (for lightning spells only).

More = better. Since elemental is more general (it applies to fire, cold & lightning damage) it generally comes in smaller numbers but it’s more widely applicable.

Everything has diminishing returns, going from 100% to 110% is 10% incrimental, going from 500% to 510% is only 2% incrimental.

Elemental does, spell doesn’t unless the ailments have the DoT tag (those don’t, some of the new Warlock ones do).

No, see #1.

The difference between Spell and Elemental and (for instance) Fire is that the more general the buff is, it tends to have a lower roll range. So Spell might have 10-15 increased, while Elemental might have 12-18 increased, and Fire 15-20 increased. So there might be some overlap on the same level affix/item, but overall focusing on more specific buffs will result in higher numbers as long as the skills you use match the tag.

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Actually it’s the other way round, Spell & Fire/Cold/Lightning will have a higher range (eg, 70%-105% on a wand at T5) than Elemental (58%-79% on a wand at T5).

Last Epoch Build Planner is your friend.

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You’re missing one point when it comes to why both spell and elemental damage exist. Spell damage only applies to spells tags. Elemental can apply to melee skills that are also elemental. So you need more than just spell damage increases if you’re going to allow for melee to do element damage as well. Thats one of the reasons for both as best I can tell.

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Well, there is “elemental damage” and “melee elemental damage”.

And there is “+”, “increase” and “multiply” (I think this shows as X? maybe I’m thinking of D4).

the +baseNumber adds the baseNumber value to the base value. This is just a number. Like 12.

%increased is a percentage increase to the base value for abilities that have ALL the matching tags. So think of it as base + base*totalPercentIncrease. It’s additive (thus the little +) to the base damage based upon the base damaage.

%more damage (thanks GiantOctopodes) This is multiplicative to total damage. Think (base damage + %increase) X more. These are used (well, they SHOULD be) sparingly because they can result in numbers blowing up to absurd values.

Attributes that apply to a lot of different things tend to have higher ranges. So “increased damage” should have a small range, because it applies to everything. But something like “increased melee fire damage” should have a great big range because it only applies to abilities that have both the ‘melee’ and ‘fire’ tags. But then uniques come along and they follow their own rules (which kind of agree with regular loot rules until some designer’s girlfriend dumps him because he’s not enough of a ‘bad boy’ and we end up getting low life build madness… ok, I just made this part up).

And honestly, that’s how I think it works, I’m not 100% sure.

As indicated all “increased” damage which applies to something, from any and all sources, is added together to create the final multiplier. So when comparing potential sources of increased damage which all apply, there’s no benefit to diversifying or specializing or anything, they’re all the same you just want as much as possible.

In terms of what applies, that’s the “scaling tags” on a given ability. So Flame Rush has Scaling Tags of Fire, Spell, Area, Channeled, Movement, Traversal, and Intelligence. Anything which has increased fire damage, increased spell damage, increased area damage, etc etc, increases the damage. Intelligence specifically is noted in the ability scaling as applying 4% increased damage per point of intelligence. Meanwhile Flame Reave has Fire, Melee, Area, Intelligence, and Dexterity, with again Intelligence (and also Dexterity in this case) applying 4% increased damage per point.

So a Spellblade who wants to use both would want to focus on increased fire damage, increased area damage, and intelligence, as melee or spell damage would only apply to one or the other. Generally the scaling tags are pretty logical and you can kinda assume but it’s better to verify. For example Fireball can hit multiple targets and thus technically does deal damage in a small area but it doesn’t have an area scaling tag and thus doesn’t benefit from increased area damage.

One clarification / correction to TyphonBaan, the specific verbiage used to note multiplicative damage is “more” damage. Any time you see “more damage” it multiplies with everything else (and is called out as such).

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The way it works is kind of confusing in my opinion, as it heavily reduces the impact of gear on your ability to scale up damage, which forces you to use spells/abilities with naturally high inate values as 500%increase to 1 = 5. But if i take a skill that does 200, those 500% do more.

The other option is to use dots and stacks %damageovertime with skills that hit very quickly in a rapid succession. [Eg: chaos bolt with modified laddle that inflicts dots on spell hit]. If you do this, make sure to have around 100% chance to inflict X on hit.

I personally prefer dots as i can load them up, then run away during boss phases. If i had to rate the dots, here is my tier list going from good to bad

Poison [self buffs %resist shred], Frostbite [helps itself be inflicted], Ignite, Time rot, bleed, damned, plague, spreading flames

Kinda, it does certainly reduce the impact of gearing (other than flat added damage) in the majority of scenarios. Gear could be reworked so that all % increased affixes are converted to % more, but they’d need to reduce the numbers significantly in order to prevent them from going nuts.

Which is a very odd way of saying that some skills have higher added damage effectiveness which then benefit from flat damage more than those with lower added damage effectiveness. But those skills should be balanced (ish) with either higher mana costs or longer cooldowns.

Or, you know, more if the opportunity cost isn’t too high.

No, not really, the secondary effect is to increase the target’s chance to be frozen which isn’t quite the same. Unless you mean that frozen mobs are easier to apply Frostbite to, which I guess they are since they can’t attack you, but then Shock does the same thing for stun.

Spreading Flames, via the Firestarter’s Torch & a fire skill is awesome for levelling.

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Why not simply remove multiplicative nodes from skills (and wherever)? Sure, they’d have to buff stuff, and they’d have to take a hard look at mob (especially boss) health, but I see the multiplicative stuff as making the game (somewhat inherently) unstable to balancing.

But certainly less exciting for those looking for odd synergies that break the game.

Yeah, or “balance” skills so they generally have a comparable number of more modifiers available so that most skills end up with a similar amount of % damage from the skill tree. :person_shrugging: I’m sure it would be a ball ache to do.

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My bias is definitely showing here. I think I’d like a game with more power in the gear. Not like 90% gear. Maybe like 1/3 skills 2/3 gear?

The way damage is calculated is made up of 3 components.

  1. Base damage

  2. Increased damage

  3. “More” damage, which is multiplicative.

Anything with “Added” or “+” damage adds onto the damage base. For melee, the base is mostly the weapon. All ranged attacks and spells have a moderate base damage usually ranging from ~30-80.

“Increased damage” from all sources adds up together. For example, if you have 35% increased elemental, 50% increased lightning, and 40% increased damage while using a 2-handed weapon, the total would be 35 + 50 + 40 = 125% increased damage.

If you have a spell with 40 base damage, it will get multiplied by all increased effects that relate to it. 40 + 125%x40 = 90 damage.

Then, all multiplicative modifiers come into effect. If you have 2 passives on the skill tree that add multiplicative damage by 50% and 100%, the result would be…

90 x 1.5 = 135


135 x 2.0 = 270.

In short, added base damage and multiply modifiers have the strongest effect on your overall damage because you will usually have a lot of increase modifiers from gear and passives that drown out their effect over time.

This generally makes the best end-game gear either critical strike for direct damage (base, chance, and multipliers work the same was as for damage before crit) and for damage over time the best way to multiply them is either through resistance penetration, attack speed, or special gear/passive effects.

I feel you and am glad people supplied your answers with some great specificity.

-I’m currently taking a break from this game. In a small part, due to too many things affecting the same affixes and also due to throwing hundreds of hours into trying to move the right affixes onto legendary gear.

-I DO wish there were less affixes granting the same buff/etc, it can be a tad unwieldy. I’m a fan of the game and am looking forward to seeing where they take things.

-OI, just noticed I am responding to your post WAY late because things were tagged on much later which made the post appear in “latest”. Oh well, cheers!