One of the non-intuitive functions in Diablo III is how elemental damage works. During development we saw stats for Arcane, Cold, Poison, Fire, Lightning and other types of damage, and most fans thought the game would function much as Diablo II did, where weapons and skills were generally physical damage, unless specifically stated as elemental damage, which usually tacked onto your physical. Plus D3 promised that critical hits from different elemental damage types would do cool things, such as fire inflicting a DoT burn, Lightning granting a stun, Arcane “Silencing” monsters, etc.

    Diablo III had those features during development, but shortly before release the system was much simplified in function. So now we still see all those different colors, and different elements turn monster corpses a nifty smoky green or shattered blue or blackened crisp, and the damage types matter in terms of enemy resistances, but there’s no difference in how the elemental damages are calculated. All work as physical damage did in D2, where they’re modified by stats and skills, and there’s no default DoT effect from poison for instance. Jay Wilson explained this in some tweets shortly before release.

    That change isn’t too confusing once you start thinking of all the elemental damages as different colored versions of physical damage. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t some odd bug-like issues remaining:

    So it turns out that any item that says that it “adds +x% to elemental damage” actually works by multiplying your non-elemental (“black”) weapon damage by 1.0X (so if you have +6% to poision, and you have a weapon with average 950 regular damage, you will get 106% times 950 = (950 regular + 57 poison) damage as your base weapon damage. Basically, if your weapon is all non-elemental damage, you will receive a +6% damage increase as poison damage.

    MANY players are very curious as to whether this is how the modification is actually supposed to work. Because it is in fact, counter-intuitive for it to function in this way when its wording suggests that it should increase the amount of base poison damage by 6%, instead of adding a flat percent increase to your non-existent poison damage.

    I want to know if this is going to be changed or if it is going to continue to function like this indefinitely, because if it is supposed to be this way, things like Zunimassa’s Boots (db) and Triumvirate (db) (otherwise mediocre items) are the absolute best-in-slot items for certain classes.

    Lylirra: The “+x% Elemental Damage” affix works by adding “x%” of your physical damage to your attack, in the form of the damage type listed.

    So, really basic example:

    * Your physical damage is 100, and the item adds +3% Fire damage.
    * You gain 3 extra damage to your attacks as Fire damage.

    Things this takes into account:
    * Rings, mojos, orbs (etc) that have an “X-Y” damage affix (e.g. “1-2 Damage”)
    * The base damage range of your weapon, before any elemental damage is added from the affix
    * +Min or +Max affixes on weapons

    (Note: It doesn’t benefit from “+X-Y Elemental Damage” affixes on weapons.)

    We realize the current wording for this affix can be confusing, and it’s something we’d like to make more clear in the future. If you have any suggestions for how this affix could be better worded, we’re definitely interested in your suggestions. Just keep in mind that space is limited in item tooltips, and that whatever we use would need to be translated into all of our supported languages.

    Can you please explain why it is coded to add 2 * (x%) min damage instead of x% min + x% max?

    Note: I have personally done the math and I can tell you, without doubt, that it currently adds 2 * (x%) min and ignores the max damage on your weapon.

    Lylirra: I’ve reached out to our developers, programmers, and QA about the current functionality. Once I have more information, I’ll respond back to the thread.

    Thank you for pointing this out!

    Have you guys been exploring this “bug?” And more generally, are you satisfied with the “six colors of elemental damage” system we see in Diablo III? Personally, I hope they add some D2-style complexity to it, perhaps in an expansion. I’d like to see different types of damage matter again, from monster resistances to varying damage types. Give players some reason to care about the damage type of their skills and weapons, make monsters more interesting with immunities or at least very high resistances to particular elements, make specific resistances matter (rather than the current system where any armor that lacks Res All is junk), etc.

    Obviously, it would be a challenge to integrate that into the current D3 system, due to features like the lack of a weapon switch hotkey, the lack of elemental damage from gems, and the general necessity of 4 defensive skills to survive in Inferno (leaving no flexibility to use multiple different attacks of different elemental types), but hey, I can dream…

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