Percent Damage Attack

A Stock RPG Spell whose damage is proportional to the target's current HP; the most common forms will reduce the opponent's HP by 1/4 (or 1/2) of its current value, weakening the target without killing it.

Like a Fixed Damage Attack, these attacks ignore the game's usual damage calculations altogether, with the only variable being whether or not the attack actually hits the target to begin with.

Naturally, a character at full HP will receive the most raw damage, while characters with low HP will receive hardly any whatsoever. Whether or not this attack is capable of actually landing the killing blow varies by system: The amount of damage inflicted is typically rounded down, so a character reduced to their last Hit Point might receive no damage whatsoever (unless Scratch Damage is required, or if Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors gives it a boost).

Sadly, most Percent Damage Attacks become a Useless Useful Spell in the hands of the player: Despite that enemies have more HP than the heroes (meaning the attack can inflict greater damage), enemies will frequently evade the attack or simply be resistant to them (as a rule), and Bosses have Contractual Boss Immunity against it or have large enough HP pool that any damage the spell does to them usually ends up being capped, meaning they're not any more effective than any other single-hit spell or attack that hits the cap as well.

An occasional variant is a Fixed Damage Attack calculated using a percentage of the target's maximum HP, rather than their current HP.

Compare HP to 1, a more extreme attack that removes all but the last Hit Point from its target. If the damage percentage is 100% then you have a One-Hit Kill. Contrast Randomized Damage Attack and Situational Damage Attack.


Examples

Role-playing games

  • The Final Fantasy series has many examples and frequently classifies them as a "gravity" element, featuring versions that remove 25%, 50%, or 75% of the opponent's HP. Some can target multiple foes simultaneously, and are far more likely to succeed when used against your party members than against monsters.
    • The Blood Sword of Final Fantasy II drains 1/16th of the target's max HP per hit, making it ridiculously powerful against bosses. Enemies' HP-draining physical attacks in the original Famicom version worked the same way.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Contractual Boss Immunity is avoided for some flying bosses, who only have a 50% damage reduction from it instead (including one of the two Bonus Bosses). Also, there is at least one enemy that absorbs gravity attacks as HP: Master Tonberry.
      • Some monsters in Final Fantasy VII, including a mini-boss, are weak to gravity, which means that a 50% damage attack is effectively a one-hit kill if the monster's HP is less than the 9999 damage cap.
      • There is also one Boss in Mook Clothing whose HP total is so high that gravity spells, while still effective, repeatedly hit the damage cap of 9999.
      • The Final Boss has an attack with a spectacular animation that takes about two minutes to complete. It seems like an attack that should achieve an easy Total Party Kill, but in fact all it does is take off 15/16 of each of your characters' current HP, so it's actually incapable of killing anyone.
    • In Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy XII, gravity-based damage is calculated based on an opponent's maximum HP rather than their current HP and therefore becomes a Fixed Damage Attack.
    • One of the first battles of Final Fantasy X involves an boss whose only attack is Demi, which is a gravity-based attack that does damage equivalent to a quarter of each character's current HP. Anyone who knows Achilles and the Tortoise knows this boss can't possibly kill you with this attack alone. Lulu (or anyone with the correct items and/or sufficient level grinding) can learn this spell later.
      • Several Sinspawn battles (particulary Gui and the power cores) use similar Gravity attacks. The most powerful ones pull out a much deadlier version called Gravija, which cuts HP down to critical level, and then use an area-of-attack elemental spell to finish the job.
    • Final Fantasy X-2 has both flavors of percent-based attacks all over the place.
  • In Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, the "Gravity" spell can be used once per battle against a few bosses to inflict a percentage of damage. It also temporarily immobilizes airborne opponents after damaging them, making them easier to defeat.
  • Bravely Default has Bone Crush, which deals damage equal to the difference between the user's maximum and current HP. If the targets are at full or near-full HP, they take Scratch Damage, while if they have half their remaining HP or less, it's a One-Hit Kill. You can get the spell yourself late in the game as Blue Magic (or the equivalent thereof). It also has Dark Breath, Dragon Breath, and Minus Strike, which are somewhere between this and Fixed Damage Attack. Dragon Breath deals damage equal to the user's current HP, while the other two deal damage equal to the difference between the user's maximum and current HP. (Unfortunately for you, those two are also used by bosses....)
  • In Persona 4, while most Light element attacks are instant kills, one attack called "God's Judgement" reduces the target's current HP by half. Being part of the Light element, it can still be nullified/reflected by an appropriate Persona.
    • In Digital Devil Saga, most Hama/Expel spells reduce HP by a percentage with a decent chance of working (both of those depending on the spell), but they will always hit enemies weak to them (Mudo/Death remains a One-Hit Kill).
  • The "Super Fang" move in Pokémon reduces the opponent's HP by half, and is mandated to inflict Scratch Damage if the opponent is already reduced to one Hit Point (which may not be what you want in a Pokemon game). It is not affected by the game's Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors beyond the fact that "Ghost"-type opponents are immune to its element.
    • The moves "Crush Grip" and "Wring Out" obey the standard damage formula (attack/defense power, Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, chances of a Critical Hit), but their base attack power is proportional to the opponent's percentage HP. If one strike reduced the opponent's HP by half, the next strike will only hit for half as much.
    • In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon spin-offs, collateral damage caused by "Selfdestruct" and "Explosion" is always 50% of the teammate's current HP (or if they are Fire-type, 25%).
  • In Secret of Mana characters inflicted with "Petrify" status also lose 50% of their current HP as an immediate side effect.
    • The Moon Godbeast Dolan in Seiken Densetsu 3 possesses an attack that reduces a party member's current HP by half.
  • The Eclipse Dark Tome reduces the target's HP by half in Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.
  • In addition to various HP to 1 attacks, Chrono Trigger features several bosses (mainly Dalton and his Golems) who use attacks that drop your health to half of its current state.
  • Runescape has enchanted ruby bolts which have a chance to take away 20% of opponent's health from the enemy at the cost of decimating player's health. They're used to take down some of the stronger enemies.
  • Golden Sun's summons use the target's max HP to calculate damage, but they also have a fixed base power.
  • Inverted in Tales of Maj'Eyal: the Chronomancy spell "Echoes from the Past" deals damage equal to a percentage of the damage the target has already taken rather than how much HP it has left.
  • Gnostic abilities in The Logomancer. A 50% one is a reward for completing an early Sidequest, and one inflicting 100% damage can be learned by level up. (Certain enemies also have a variant that inflicts 99% damage.) Interestingly, bosses are not completely immune, just heavily resistant, so they can still be useful against them.
  • Continuous Damage in Summoners War: Sky Arena deals exactly 5% of the target's health per turn. Notably, it works on even the bosses, and is the only viable way to kill the Water Guardian.
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals and Lufia: The Legend Returns have IP attacks that do damage equal to a percentage of the target's current HP. Notably, they always avert Contractual Boss Immunity and are typically necessary for overcoming otherwise Hopeless Boss Fights or Time Limit Bosses.
  • The Kingdom Hearts games use the Gravity spells from Final Fantasy as well with their strength being determined by how high Sora's max MP to remove a percentage of remaining HP from bosses, with the added benefit of also flattening enemies and leaving them unable to attack. Although most bosses are immune and all Heartless will get an increase in defense after beating Hallow Bastion the first time.

Other genres

  • The Dungeons & Dragons spell Harm is a 100% damage attack, which reduces the target to one hit point above zero (or 1 to 4 hp above zero in some versions), meaning the next hit that does damage will kill it.
  • In the first Civilization, nukes destroy exactly half of a town's current population, including defending units and one significant structure.
  • The Sorceress in Diablo II has the Static Field skill, which does damage equal to 25% of target's current HP including bosses. Resistances and immunities apply. On Nightmare and Hell difficulties, this skill cannot reduce the health of enemies below 33% and 50% respectively. Against other players, it does only 4.375% damage after applying Pv P damage reduction.
    • The Crushing Blow item modifier provides a chance to reduce the HP of target monster, boss, or hostile player by 1/4, 1/8, and 1/10 respectively with each successful attack. This works with ranged attacks but the effect is halved.
  • ''Worms" has the Battle Axe in some games, which halves the target's HP.
  • In DROD RPG: Tendry's Tale, stepping on a hot tile takes 5% of HP; stepping through an Aumtlich beam takes 50%. Optimisation often requires leaving healing potions untaken so your HP is low when you incur the percentage attacks, then taking them afterwards.
  • Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars has Huskar's ultimate, named Life Break, which does this to himself as well as his opponent, with the damage he takes being reduced as it's leveled up.
    • Necrophos specializes in these kinds of attacks: Heartstopper Aura slowly drains away a small bit of health based on the target's max HP, and Reaper's Scythe deals extra damage based on missing HP, fitting with its status as a Finishing Move.
    • This kind of damage, applied to a hero's right clicks, can make them a carry. Lifestealer's Feast lets him rip through opponents with high Str and/or items giving a lot of health, and Viper's Nethertoxin, while increasing at set points, functions as a "damage increases as enemy HP decreases" effect that will quickly bring down anyone under 20% HP, since the damage scales exponentially and the bonus damage from only two attacks at that point deals about the same amount of damage as a standard nuke spell.
  • Pretty much a staple of League of Legends in several variations as below. Designed as a major tactical decision for a player, since percent damage works extremely well against characters with lots of HP but few other defenses, but is very ineffective against people with low HP that rely on healing or armor to defend themselves. Certain types of percent damage attacks are more common for certain archetypes:
    • Damage set at a percent of target's current HP level, usually used by champions gearing up to kill HP tanks (e.g. Dr. Mundo's cleaver, Liandry's Torment).
    • As a percentage of total HP, usually used for offensive spells to discourage buying HP in favour of resistances (With exception to Vayne, whose total HP based damage passive ability deals true damage and cannot be reduced).
    • As a percentage of the caster's own HP, often owned by tank characters to encourage buying HP boosts (Sejuani, Shen)
    • As a percentage of the target's missing HP and usually called an "execute", used by assassins (e.g. Kha'zix) to finish off foes one-on-one (damage increasing the longer the fight goes on instead of decreasing.)
    • There is also percentage healing: Soraka's healing abilities are increased by 1% for every 2% of the resource the target is missing, Zac heals 4% of his maximum health if he collects the blobs shed by casting spells, and Dr. Mundo does both damage and healing by spending 20% of his current health to heal up to 60% of his maximum health.
  • Warcraft III: The Death and Decay spell damages for 4% of a unit's total life per second, and lasts for 35 seconds.
    • Several spells do percent buffing: The Trueshot Aura increases ranged damage by 10, 20 and 30% (just 10 for the unit version), Roar gives all friendly units a temporary 25% damage increase, and Command Aura gives all units in range a 15% damage increase.
  • Played with in Team Fortress 2, where the Spy's Back Stab does damage equal to a certain percentage of the target's health—namely 600% of it. For most purposes this makes it indistinguishable from a One-Hit Kill, but in certain conditions (most notably using the Dead Ringer) the target may have enough damage reduction that can survive the hit.
  • Outpost Defenders has many items that deal a percent of the target's health. Usually, they are more expensive than other items, and they often only deal around 10% damage, making them only good for bosses.

Other

  • The word "decimate" originates from a Roman military punishment, wherein soldiers found guilty of cowardice were ordered to draw lots, with one out of every tennote  men being executed as a result. The term is rarely used that way any more.

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