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).
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.
Items can be enchanted with Shards to increase damage.
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.
Abilities like Heavy Arms, when specialized in the Maze, can reduce damage taken. Heavy Arms specialization reduces damage taken by 20%.
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.
Damage against players is generally capped to 30 at most, with one following exception.
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).
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 has high resistances to your chosen attack. If so, 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 your attack is purely physical, acid damage or corrosive weapons can reduce your target's weapon resistances.
If your attack is purely magical, holy damage or purge weapons can reduce your target's magical resistances.
"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 has its own special Intellect-based resistance), using illusionary form for poison procs that bypass all 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. 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.