In the world of Meridian 59, there are quite a few factors and numerous magics between one's attack and the final damage a victim takes. Additionally, there are various Damage Types.
All weapons and attack spells have base damages that serve as the foundation of damage dealt.
Melee Weapon Base Damages are a function of the weapon's damage type and quality. These damages range from 2-7 on the low end (short sword) to 7-13 on the high end (axe). An attack then receives up to 5 base damage from proficiency in the weapon's specific skill (hammer wielding, scimitar wielding, and so on). 99% gives the full 5 damage. A typical 99% scimitar wielding attack will have 11-17 base damage.
Ranged Weapon Base Damages depend upon the ammo type being fired and the damage bonus of the bow doing the firing. Ammo damages are very similar, but usually come with other properties. Regular arrows deal 1-5 base damage, while nerudite and silver arrows both deal 2-6 base damage. Nerudite arrows have a 10% chance to shatter on impact to instead give 3-8 base damage, while silver arrows deal 5-10 base damage to Undead targets. Battle bows give 2 bonus base damage to all of these values. A bow attack then receives base damage from proficiency in Archery, reaching 5 added base damage at 99%. A typical nerudite arrow and 99% battle bow attack (without a shatter) will have 9-13 base damage.
Touch Spell Base Damages begin very close to each other, with only minor differences. Acid touch, for example, is 4-8 base damage, while touch of flame is 4-9. However, each touch spell gains base proficiency damage, determined by the higher of the caster's punch skill or (Mysticism * 2). At 99% punch or 50 Mysticism, a player gets the full proficiency damage, which is 3 for acid touch, 5 for for the Faren touch spells, and zero for holy touch. Holy touch always deals double its 6-10 base damage to undead, for base damage of 12-20, but it receives no further bonuses to base damage. Holy touch's damage will scale against non-undead targets by +/- 50%, depending on the victim's karma. A typical 99% touch of flame attack with 99% punch or 50 Mysticism will have 9-14 base damage.
Spell Base Damages are unique to each spell attack, and therefore have the simplest format. Vampiric drain is the weakest, with 12-18 base damage, while explosive frost can deal a whopping 13-25 base damage. The sole complication with attack spells is that, later in the equations, their damage is reduced by a percentage based on the caster's spellpower. A zero spellpower attack spell will do half damage, rising linearly up to full damage at 99 spellpower.
Stat-based Bonus Damage
The base damage of an attack is then modified by a percentage, derived from the attacker's stats. The bonus is +1% base damage per primary stat point above 25. So, for example, a character with 50 Might will receive +25% base damage for a Might-based attack, such as a Hammer.
Might also adds an additional 1% damage to ALL melee strikes, including Might-based attacks.
A 99% scimitar attack that deals 11-17 base damage will become 15-23 damage after a 40% bonus from 65 Agility.
A 99% battle bow & nerudite arrow attack that deals 9-13 base damage will become 11-16 damage after a 25% bonus from 50 Aim.
A 99% touch of flame attack with 99% punch or 50 Mysticism that deals 9-14 base damage will become 11-17 after a 25% bonus from 50 Mysticism.
An explosive frost will do 13-25 base damage, becoming 16-31 after a 25% bonus from 50 Intellect and 50 Mysticism (attack spells receive stat bonus damage based on ((Intellect + Mysticism)/2), the only kind of attack that requires two primary stats).
One major exception is illusionary damage, which typically comes with a set base damage range that is reduced by the victim's Intellect by 1 damage point per 10 Intellect points. A character with 50 Intellect, therefore, will take 5 less damage than a character with 1. This is calculated now, due to the 'absolute' nature of illusionary damage (skip to Attack Launched! step).
After stat-based damage is calculated, all of a character's damage modifiers are taken into account. This includes personal enchantments, room enchantments, radius enchantments, gear, faction, and anything else that may magically affect a character.
Bless, for example, can add up to 0-3 damage to melee weapon, ranged weapon, and touch spell attacks.
A Jewel of Froz can add up to 3-5 damage to touch spell attacks, and two can be wielded at once.
Eagle Eyes adds 1 damage to ranged weapon attacks.
Kara'hol's Curse Adds 1-5 damage to attacks.
Jala songs add 1-5 damage against the appropriate karma type.
Jonas adds 2 damage to melee weapon, ranged weapon, and touch spell attacks.
Mana Focus boosts Faren splash attacks by 5 damage and Faren bolt attacks by 10 damage.
Sorcery offers skills that add 2 damage to elemental damages.
At this stage, the attack is launched, and the rest is up to the victim. If an attack is 'absolute' - for example, illusionary damage or backstab - it will be dealt without modification now. This is rare.
Resistances are what determine damage reduction, the follow paragraph is no longer accurate for 103
This is where direct armor comes into play, as well as any special defense modifier effects. All of a victim's personal enchantments, relevant room enchantments, and items are checked. Magical defense modifiers are rare; most direct damage reduction comes from equipped items.
First, Armor of Gort has a priority defense check. It will cap damage at a certain amount OR reduce damage by 1-4 points at 99 spellpower, whichever is better for the victim. Armor of Gort caps physical attacks at 15, partially magical attacks at 20, and fully magical attacks at 25. The roll for 1-4 damage reduction is halved if the attack is partially magical, and ignored completely if the attack is fully magical. Armor of Gort is far and away the best protection against weapons, although, as can be seen, it is far less effective against partially magical or fully magical attacks. Touch spells are partially magical attacks (part punch, part elemental), as are Holy or Unholy dedicated weapons. Kraanan dedicated weapons are NOT partially magical, and are NOT more effective against gort or armor.
After Gort, all other defense modifiers are checked.
Plate Armor, for example, gives 6 direct armor. Direct armor is not merely subtracted from damage; rather, it protects between 33% and 100% of its value per strike. Therefore, a plate armor may reduce damage by 2-6 each strike, averaging 4 damage reduction.
Direct armor is less effective against partially magical attacks, receiving a 33% penalty to the rolled protection for the strike. For example, if a plate armor rolls 4 reduction against a touch spell attack, that roll will be reduced by 1/3rd to 2.6, which will truncate to 2.
Direct armor offers no protection at all against fully magical attacks.
The way armor works encourages an attacker to use partially magical or fully magical attacks to deal more damage, but such attacks are additionally vulnerable to the next stage of defense.
After damage is reduced by mastery in Heavy Arms or any other defense modifiers, the victim's innate resistances are factored in.
Negative resistance will increase damage dealt. For example, a victim wearing robes of the disciple and an ivy circlet will have -30% fire resistance, so that 11-17 touch of flame we discussed earlier will be increased to 14-22. If that attacker was holding two Jewels of Froz and instead did 17-27, the resulting resistance-increased damage would come out to 22-35. Yes, elemental weakness can be very, very painful.
Positive resistance will decrease damage dealt. A victim with 50% fire resistance struck with a 11-17 touch of flame will be reduced to 5-8.
For magical attacks, magic resistance is applied first, followed by the specific resistance.
For weapon attacks, weapon resistance is applied first, followed by the specific resistance.
For example- A mage of the Duke's army hits you with a fireball that would do 50 damage. You have 50% magic resistance and 20% fire resistance. The fireball damage is first reduced by 50% to 25, then again by 20% to 20.
So base damage, stat bonuses, damage modifiers, armor of gort, defense modifiers, and resistances have all been taken into account.
Now, the incoming damage to the victim is limited to 1/3 of the victim's base max health, if so applicable (some servers may have this set to only function for innocents, some allow outlaws and murderers to also enjoy this damage cap). Generally, this cap becomes irrelevant for any character past 90 base max health, due to the next cap. Monsters do not have a damage cap.
Faction Soldier Bonus Damage
If the attacker and victim are both faction soldiers in opposing factions, final damage is increased by +15%, which also makes it possible to do damage up to 34 (assuming the attacker's damage was capped at 30 in the previous step).
This bonus damage generally counteracts the 2 base armor inherent in having a faction shield equipped, so that the damages more or less cancel out, except in extreme damage situations (like a fully buffed scimitar attack) or in situations where armor is irrelevant (such as a fully magical splash spell attack).
Be very wary of this end-step bonus damage. It can throw off damage calculations and plans, and also get one killed far faster than expected.
Finally, the victim actually loses health, and experiences pain and possibly death. Congratulations! You now understand the intricate process of bashing a fellow player over the head.
Frequently Asked Questions & Concerns
"I'm doing pitiful damage to my opponent with my weapon attack, despite being fully buffed and 99%/99%. What gives?"
The very first thing you should quickly assess is whether your opponent is having his damage reduced by armor or by resistances. If it's by large resistances, you will receive text feedback in addition to your attack message, such as 'Victim shrugs off your attack.' or 'Victim laughs off your pitiful blow.' If this is not the case, then it's exceedingly likely that your opponent is using Armor of Gort and lots of direct armor, which comes into effect after Gort's damage cap.
If your weapon is purely physical (and remember, Kraanan dedications do not count as partially magical attacks), then Gort will cap your damage at 15 first, and then that 15 will be reduced by plate armor (2-6 reduction), a full power jonas shield (2-4 reduction), a helm (1 reduction) and possibly even an actively equipped shield (another 1-2 reduction). Such an opponent, completely encased in armor and metal, should rightfully be considered a 'tank', and you'll need to find different ways to deal with him.
"How can I do more damage against superbly armored opponents?"
First and foremost: get rid of that Armor of Gort. If you are Shal'ille, Purge it (obviously). If you're not, the name of the game is melee - specifically, fight with a melee weapon with a Psychochild enchantment that will proc Purge for you. It's up to you to figure out how to mitigate your opponents' attacks during this time. If he's using a bow, I suggest Winds & Sandstorm; if he's using a melee weapon, it's up to you to out-melee him. If he's using spells, he'll be taking his plate armor off, and then your damage should be significantly better (in addition to the loss of armor, robes of the disciple have a 10% weakness to all weapons that comes after Gort's capping).
Second and equally as important: employ partially or fully magical attacks. Give that weapon of yours a holy or unholy enchantment! Doing so will immediately lift your victim's Gort cap to 20, and reduce the effectiveness of his armor by 1/3rd. In the tank case described above, where an opponent was reducing all physical damage to 3-8, simply giving your weapon a holy enchantment will cut through much of that and raise your final damage to 13-16. Yes, you're right to be astounded. The right dedication will double your final damage against superbly armored opponents. Dedications do not increase damage, so you won't see higher totals against unarmored opponents; dedications only make armor less effective.
Just be aware: resist magic will still reduce that 13-16 by 40%, or the appropriate resist enchantment will reduce it by up to 64%. Fortunately, holy and unholy resistance is much harder to come by than other elements. There are no rings or potions for either, and nerudite armor does not resist them, so a player will have to cast Holy Resolve or Unholy Resolve himself - meaning it's exceedingly unlikely he'll have both resistances at once. Resist Magic helps, but has a short duration.
Touch spell attacks are always partially magical, and can be quickly switched between during combat without penalty, as they are no longer spellpower-dependent and function more like skill strokes. These will always be highly effective against very armored opponents. However, like most elemental spells, they are also numerous ways to resist them.
Finally, fully magical spell attacks, such as Lightning Bolt or Shocking Fury, will skip all armor and bring serious pain unless the victim has the appropriate resistance.
"My attack spells just aren't doing the damage listed. What gives?"
It's easy to forget that attack spells receive damage penalties based on spellpower. If you have 0 spellpower, attack spells will do half, rising linearly up to full potential at 99 spellpower. So, a typical Faren mage in town may have 69 spellpower (49 from 99%, 20 from robes). This attack spell will not do full damage. It will do roughly 84% of full damage potential (50% base plus 50% * (69 / 99)). For example, a 30 damage explosive frost would end up only doing 25 as a result. A Faren mage that really wants to kill people will make sure his spellpower is maxed.
"My opponent just resists everything I cast at him with attack spells! What do I do?"
It's entirely possible for an opponent to put up a resist buff to everything, or wear nerudite armor and a resist ring. There are numerous strategies for dealing with a situation like this, including using illusionary damage (which ignores resists), using illusionary form for poison procs that bypass all armor and resistances, using damage types they're not resisting (such as vampiric drain for the rarely resisted unholy damage type), or using weaponcraft attacks.
If your character has no weapon attacks with which to proc Purge or with which you can simply deal damage, you've built yourself into a glass cannon niche. A character that relies purely on one type of attack is going to have problems if the enemy can deal with it. A smart player will always make sure he has some option with which to proceed, be it weapons, illusionary attacks, or Purge.
If all else fails, there's a reason touch spells are the basis for magical reliability. Remember, the damage cap is done last, so, even against an opponent with 70% resistance, you can stack damage modifiers and power through (you are not limited to 30 reduced by 70%, you can reach much higher values like 35 or 40 reduced by 70%). In addition to two Jewels of Froz for 6-10 more damage, touch spells are boosted by every damage modifier that affects weapons, including Jonas faction, gauntlets, Killing Fields, Mirth/Melancholy, and more; and if you're a mage, you should have 50 Mysticism (or more, depending on rose / faction shield), boosting your touch spells even higher.
For example, a 4-9 Touch of Flame will become 9-14 with full proficiency, then boosted to 12-18 by 55 Mysticism (rose), then boosted +1 by gauntlets, +1-4 by berserker ring, 0-3 by Bless, 1-6 by Kara'hol's Curse, 6-10 by two Jewels of Froz, 2-5 by Killing Fields, 1-5 by Melancholy, for a total of 24-52 damage. That will still be doing good 10-15 damage hits through 70% resistance. Seems like a lot of spells, I know, but you are a mage that doesn't have Purge, so you should have all of the listed spells.