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Scratch Damage

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A wild TOMBSTONE appeared!
Alucard used SLASH!
It's not very effective...
All successful attacks must inflict some measure of damage, no matter how minor.

You've gotten the Infinity +1 Sword (or plus more, even), the spikiest, glowiest armor and trinkets in the game, and your Made of Iron stats make you an almost Implacable Man under most circumstances...

...But the snail that randomly appears outside your hometown still does a measly ONE point of damage! In fact, this is the same amount it did when you first started out, and no amount of Level Grinding will ever change that.

For some reason (probably due to the original Dungeons & Dragons), many games absolutely refuse to let a player be utterly invincible and will let even the weakest enemies do token damage long after pure stat calculations should have zeroed it out.

In some games, weak enemies will only manage to inflict damage by landing the occasional Critical Hit. But unless there are other game mechanics at work, like self-inflicted damage caused by a distracting or disruptive attack, they shouldn't be able to hurt you at all with their furry paws while you're wearing your Flaming Armor of Awesomeness, Critical Hit or not.

Fortunately for you, many RPG systems apply scratch damage both ways: Your Squishy Wizard's fragile fisticuffs may not be a useful weapon, but even they can be counted on to deliver the token 1 point damage per hit (that is, when they hit), making him Not Completely Useless even when he's been Silenced or drained of his MP. Likewise, scratch damage can sometimes be used to probe for elemental weaknesses: If that Lv.0 magic fireball can inflict at least 1 point of damage, you don't have to risk a Level 100 Holy Hellfire only to discover that your enemy is impervious (or worse) to its effect. But this is by no means universal, and other RPG systems will happily reduce your attacks to zero points or "no effect" if your attack power is too low or the opponent's defense too high.

Occasionally, rare and elusive monsters may be designed entirely around the concept of scratch damage, with their total HP measuring in the single digits but absolutely nothing your strongest warrior can dish out ever scores more than the token 1 point damage. Expect these foes to be the only times where scratch damage is a practical means of attack; other opponents simply have too much HP for the token 1 point to make a practical difference (beyond an occasional Cherry Tapping).

Scratch damage is also common in Fighting Games, where a player's Special Attacks commonly inflict a small amount of damage even when blocked, and are referred to as Chip Damage. It is legitimately possible to KO one's opponent in this manner, but is considered by some as poor sportsmanship (some Street Fighter games would in fact label the victory as "cheesy" or "cheap", with a piece of cheese for the victory icon).

Guaranteed to drive a Munchkin all the way up the wall (and probably through the ceiling due to his optimized Strength...) and is also the bane of those attempting a No-Damage Run, especially when coupled with Random Encounters.

If someone dies from this, it's a Death of a Thousand Cuts when done in overwhelming volume or Cherry Tapping if the last scant bit of Hit Points is depleted with such an attack after weathering a more brutal onslaught.

Damage Reduction may be either a cause or a counter to this, depending on game: It will either make one completely ignore small amounts of damage, or reduce it to 1.


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    Tabletop RPG 
  • Battletech: All attacks that hit deal at least one damage. Even the most heavily armored 100 ton BattleMechs will take damage from the piddly Machine Gunnote .
    • Ferro-Lamellor armor (which is normally mounted on WarShips) averts this. With the exception of a few weapons, all damage inflicted to a 'mech with Ferro-Lamellor armor is reduced by 1 point for every 5 points (or fraction thereof) the attack would deal. This means that if the attack would normally inflict 10 damage, it now hits for 8, and if the damage cluster is 1 point of damage, the mech instead takes no damage from the hit.
  • In Black Crusade, rolling a Zealous Hatred will inflict critical damage if the damage roll itself was enough to actually hurt the target, or inflict one wound otherwise. This also applies for Righteous Fury in the loyalist 40k rpgs.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: All damage must do a minimum of 1 point of damage, even if the roll is something like 1d3-3 (then Damage Reduction can bring it down to zero). For this reason, some small animals like house cats can be surprisingly dangerous for very low-level characters. This rule went away in 5th Edition, which allows successful attacks to inflict 0 damage (but not less than zero) if the attacker has a penalty on the damage roll.
  • Exalted has ping damage, which is the minimum damage you can do (assuming you've hit the target at all, that is.) On the other hand, a heavy suit of artifact armour gives you Hardness, which incoming damage has to beat to have a chance of hurting you at all.
  • Played with in Fate Core, where it's entirely possible for an attack to do no damage if it ties against the defender (or gets reduced far enough by the latter's armor, if the optional weapon/armor factor rules are used)...but the foiled attacker then still takes away a short-lived situational advantage good for boosting one future dice roll with, which may among other uses help their next attack turn out to be a more telling one. (Fate may also straight-up avert the trope at times by virtue of being less simulation-inclined than a number of other games, meaning that the GM has actual leeway to not let a sufficiently feeble attack attempt count as a "proper" attack action to begin with and thus obviate the need to resolve it as one.)
  • In the God Tier RPG (a tabletop based on Homestuck) Fire and Force Abilities work like this, always dealing at least 1 damage if they hit. But due to the fact that Armour and Resist lower damage on a 1:1 ratio and most attacks will always do less than 12 damage, an end-game party completely nullifying all damage they receive is quite feasible.
  • Hero System: With the power advantage Penetrating, against enemies that have a higher defense than what you can deal in damage, you'll still a little bit of damage per damage die of your attack. The defense against "Penetrating" is having a defense with the "Hardened".
  • Pathfinder changes the D&D standard rule to 1 point of non-lethal damage. For this reason, small animals and creatures with ridiculously low strength can only knock opponents unconscious rather than kill them with scratch damage.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition: A successful attack deals a minimum one Wound even if Damage Reduction from the target's armour and Toughness score would reduce it to zero. In earlier editions, the target can No-Sell those attacks.

    Video Games 
  • In addition to normal blocking, many fighting games provide a "powerblock" feature: If the player defends against their opponent's attack with exact timing (generally right before or upon impact), they receive zero damage from it, even if it was a Special Attack (which would normally inflict scratch damage). Street Fighter III has this in the form of parrying, and Garou: Mark of the Wolves has it in the form of Just Defend.
  • 100% Orange Juice!: If one chooses to defend, they will always take a minimum of 1 damage, meaning if player is at 1HP their only option to avoid being K.O.'d is to evade.
  • Ancient Domains of Mystery has mechanics that effectively avert this by default. Every character has a defence value that indicates how hard they're to hit, but also protection value (generally what armour mostly grants) that indicates how many points of damage are reduced from incoming enemy attacks. Thus, if you have a PV of 30, it takes a successful hit that makes 31 points of damage to actually make 1 point of damage; any less will do nothing. Unless the enemy has armour-piercing (PV-ignoring) attacks. A phase dagger is an effective weapon that in principle works based on scratch damage, since it does small damage but ignores PV, but in practice you'll probably have a lot of pluses on that damage from your character.
  • In the Atelier Series games, if you can get the drop on enemies sufficiently weaker than you, you won't even get into a battle with them (you have a chance to get treasure from them, but not experience).
  • In The Banner Saga, every point of armor subtracts one damage from attacks, but any attack will still do at least one damage. However, armor above an attacker's strength stat instead causes a chance of the attack missing entirely, which increases with point difference. As various methods can increase an attack's damage after armor lowers it to one (most commonly boosting attacks with willpower), this can be more significant than it sounds.
  • There’s an entire enemy type in The Battle Cats that’s this trope, called Metal, whose entire gimmick is that they only take a single point of damage unless it’s either a Critical Hit (which is the common way to deal with them) or, more infrequently, the Waterblast cannon, which deals damage based on their current HP. As most mid to late-game Metals have HP in the thousands, you will need those critical hits.
  • In BlazBlue, Amane Nishiki's Drive, Spiral, is all about chip damage. Blocking a single Drive attack at Level 3 without using a Barrier Guard will eat up about a fourth of your health near-instantly. In fact, to a certain extent, getting hit by a string of Drives can result in taking less damage than blocking them.
  • All the RPG Castlevania games have a minimum damage of 1 regardless of the attack and defense values involved, unless you use an item that has the absorb or nullify properties for the attack's element. Monsters aren't immune either, and a determined player can eventually kill any enemy with a series of 1-damage attacks.
    • The extreme examples of these being iron golems from Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow duology, who always take only 1 damage from attacks. The easiest way to kill them is to use the Ice Cream Sundae attack of the waiter Skeletons, that does 1 damage per frame.
    • Dawn of Sorrow's Dead Crusader soul reduces damage by a flat number, making you invincible to weaker enemies. Their attacks still connect, but it does 0 damage and you don't flinch. Comically, the hit effects still occur, which means Soma will still bleed like a stuck pig when hit by an attack that does no damage.
  • Champions Online applies this rule. Especially in the case of the defensive ability of invulnerability, which directly subtracts a flat value from all incoming damage, even enemies tens of levels below you will still be able to hit you for one damage.
  • Chrono Cross lets you hear the odd strike sound when a weak enemy hits your Rainbow Armoured characters for that wonderful 0 damage. It still counts as a hit for disrupting your attacks and so on, but no damage is inflicted.
  • Chrono Trigger's New Game Plus mode largely averts this - many of the early enemies can do zero damage, and the right combination of armour and equipment can get you about a third of the way through the game without ever losing any HP.
    • Although without the specific equipment setup required (Which only three characters could take advantage of), even enemies at the beginning of the game will do single point damage. In fact, the damage formulas are specifically set up so that a single digit number is added after Defense is factored in, so raw Defense cannot completely cancel out an attack.
  • City of Heroes decreases accuracy and damage per level of difference between player and critter: while there's always a 5% chance for a given attack to hit (or miss, on the other end), the damage they do decreases so much there's often no chance for it to register before the player's health regenerates. Aside from that, the game deals with the issue by having the critters ignore the player if the difference in levels passes a certain threshold. They'll only attack (ineffectively) if they or a member of their spawn take damage from the player or a teammate first. At a great enough difference, they'll all run and not even try to attack back. It, also, of course, works the other way - and much higher-level critters generally will be more aggressive toward player characters (based on distance to first aggro) than even-level critters.
  • In Civilization V, all units have ten hit points. A stronger unit will do more damage and take less. A much stronger unit can attack a weaker unit in melee combat and possibly not take damage, but ranged attacks always do at least one hit point of damage. A futuristic Giant Death Robot can be taken down by ten ancient-era archer units (or five units with the logistics promotion, which lets them attack twice in one turn). Even four non-promoted archer units could do it in 4 turns with casualties.
    • Changed in the Gods and Kings expansion. While the minimum 1 hp per attack remains, the health of each unit was raised to 100, meaning it takes a lot more ancient units to take on one that is several tech levels above it.
  • Clockwords: Despite the game showing 0 when enemies are hit with already used words that don't have letters from the boiler, they still take a minimal amount of damage, even if it's 0.1 or so.
  • In the Command & Conquer series, generally, a weapon that cannot hurt a specific enemy will simply not fire at all.
    • Bullets of riflemen, tank rounds and missiles will always deal some kind of damage, no matter how minor. Flamethrowers, energy weapons, lasers and the like on the other hand may or may not deal damage. Atomic, biological and chemical weapons are usually only useful against infantry and light vehicles. Tanks may get damaged, buildings almost never will. Drones are also almost always immune.
    • A clear exception to this exists in Command & Conquer: Generals where radiation cannot destroy structures, but the GLA's Anthrax weapons can. This creates the strange possibility to poison a structure to death.
  • In Crystalis: if you have strong enough armor and/or a high enough character level, the game's weaker enemies will simply bounce right off you without damage. Of course, the inverse of this is that if you haven't reached an entirely arbitrary level, you will be completely unable to hurt bosses, and unable to run away from the battle.
  • In the Deception series, for Deception 3, later enemies have defense so high that a lot of low damage traps will do only a single point of damage. Arrow traps are especially hard hit by this since many of them only do damage rather than move an enemy around or hold them. Some enemies will actually take only one point of damage even from your hardest-hitting traps, so low-damage multi-hit traps become better than hitting with a single giant Spike Ball. Later games don't have enemies with such ridiculously high defense, this keeps your old traps from going obsolete and allows you to use a wider variety of traps.
  • Nero's gun in Devil May Cry 4 does ludicrously low damage even to the weakest Mooks, but is worthy of mention for how effective it is at taking down otherwise difficult enemies. Most enemies can't or don't bother to block or dodge the bullets so, if you've got some time to kill and don't mind getting a low rank, you can take down bosses like Angelo Credo by simply dodging and spamming the fire button.
  • All Nippon Ichi games (the Disgaea series, La Pucelle, Phantom Brave, Makai Kingdom and Soul Nomad & the World Eaters) lack scratch damage: With a high enough defence, incoming damage can be reduced to '0'. Piling up the combos can allow otherwise too weak characters to deal damage anyhow, though.
  • It's rare, but possible, in Dragon Age: Origins. High armor values reduce incoming damage, but it usually doesn't get to a point where it would reduce the damage taken to zero. One case where this could happen is when a Warrior in late-game massive armor fights werewolves in the Brecilian Forest. When it does happen, the damage taken bottoms out at 1.
  • Some games, like the Dragon Quest series, handle scratch damage a little differently. If the final damage would normally be 0 or less, the attack has a chance (usually around 50%) of either doing 1 damage or nothing at all. Incidentally, this the only reason the Metal Slime works in those games, since it has maxed out defenses, but very low HP. If every attack did 0 damage, it would be impossible to kill. If every attack did a minimum of 1 damage, it would be too easy to kill.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout and Fallout 2 don't have regular scratch damage, as armor's Damage Threshold can (and often does) completely negate the damage from attacks. This, coupled with the prevalence of Heavily Armored Mooks, turns the late game into Padded Sumo Gameplay. However, the secondary effects of Critical Hits aren't affected by armor, leading to the famed "You are critically hit for 0 damage and die from the pain." Additionally, the Living Anatomy perk in 2 completely ignores the damage formula to add 5 damage to every hit on organic targets.
    • Fallout 3 had scratch damage outright due to the removal of armor classes and going to a system where armor simply mitigated damage by a percentage. This was not one of the more popular aspects of the game to say the least.
    • Damage Threshold returned in Fallout: New Vegas, but scratch damage still applies: weapons are guaranteed to do at least 20% damage through armor, which will always means you're going to take at least a point or two of damage from weapons. Given enough BBs and repair kits, you can kill a Brotherhood Paladin with a BB gun. This was most likely to counter the aforementioned issue with Damage Threshold in the first two games.
    • Rather than taking off a fixed percentage or subtracting, damage taken in Fallout 4 is approximately proportional to the inverse cubic root of Damage Resistance, thus while damage always decreases as Damage Resistance rises, it only asymptotically approaches 0% (and very quickly drops off in effectiveness).
  • Final Fantasy
    • In Final Fantasy XI a single digit level monster can still do a critical hit for 1 damage against literally anybody that doesn't use Phalanx. Speaking of which, Phalanx works as a (relatively minor) flat damage reduction, making it pretty easy to set yourself up to take literally no damage at all from anything below level 55 or so. Basically, after the game calculates normal damage, Phalanx can remove a flat number from it based on various stats when it's cast (i.e. 15 damage off the top). So if something did 100 damage to you and you have Phalanx up, it would do 85 damage. This can be used to reduce the damage to 0.
    • FFXI also has Stoneskin to cancel scratch damage. Stoneskin applies so many HP as armor, based on the caster's stats. Damage is calculated as it otherwise would be, but the character with Stoneskin up won't take any damage until the Stoneskin's HP has been reduced to zero. This shows up in the chat log as some form of "Character takes 0 damage" if an attack doesn't kill Stoneskin.
    • FFVII's Debug Room contained test armor which boosted your defense to 255. The damage formula in the game works out such that most enemies in Midgar and the surrounding fields actually heal you slightly when they attack. Enough Morph grinding could net you enough stat boosters to accomplish this effect without the Debug Room.
    • Final Fantasy XIII has no defense stat (unless you are a sentinel or wearing special armor, at which point you take damage based on a percentage), so creatures that were doing 30 damage to you at the start of the game will still do 30 damage even with your levels maxed.
    • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: On the one hand, Cactair only has 200 Hit Points. On the other hand, it only takes 1 point of damage per hit. On the other other hand, you have to fight it as part of the main quest.
    • Final Fantasy II (at least the remake version) averts this. If you buy all the best armor before the first dungeon, some enemy attacks will hit some characters for 0 damage, even without level grinding.
    • Final Fantasy V In certain jobs and at high enough levels, enemies just won't deal damage to you. This also means that you cannot do damage to certain monsters, as well (Like Omega, when you first meet him.)
      • The Excallipoor, found by Gilgamesh, always does a whopping 1 damage, without fail. That makes it great for wasting the insanely dodgy Nutkin monsters.
    • Final Fantasy 1, 3, 4 and 6 all have a minimum damage cap of 1. FF6 is a little different in that, instead of simply capping damage at one, it adds one damage after Defense is applied, meaning Defense will never zero out damage on its own, but that last point can be cancelled out by other factors.
  • Fire Emblem averts it — indeed, even in the course of normal leveling on Easy mode, your tanks will find a lot of enemies capable of doing a whopping 0 damage, or who have 0% (or 3%, or something similarly pathetic) to hit. Especially on Easy mode, or with a Crutch Character at the start of the game.
    • This is also combined with a small "chink" noise in the GBA titles whenever the attack hits. This can be especially hilarious when a Swordmaster scores a crit on only result in six or seven chinks, and a dead Swordmaster.
    • Gaiden and Genealogy of the Holy War play it straight, however. Even if a unit's attack power is lower than their target's defense or resistance, they will deal at least 1 damage with every successful hit.
  • Some enemies in Forever Home, such as the Apextu, will only take 1 damage from all sources, but this is compensated by their double digit HP and the existence of multi-hit skills.
  • Front Mission wanzers could be chipped to death by much weaker enemies, but later games threw in a skill that would prevent or vastly lower it - damage prevention for attacks below a certain amount, and locking the damage to a lower number for attacks between a certain span.
  • In zOMG!, the weakest enemies can still hit a player at the level cap for minimal damage (though the player's innate dodge stat will make half of such attacks miss anyway). Similarly, a low-level player in a high-level area can still hit enemies for 1 point of damage. It is possible to zero out damage, but this is a chance-based property of certain buffs and is not limited to weak attacks.
  • Avoided in popular text-based MMORPG GemStone IV, which based damage on a set of calculations that it actually showed you in game: The attacker's strength minus the target's defense, plus a weapon-versus-armor modifier, plus a random d100 dice roll. If the final number is over 100, then a strike is landed - if the number is only around 100-110, it will be a weak hit, while if it approaches 200 you might be removing some important body parts. If the roll ends up under 100, even at 99, then the strike misses completely: for example, if the target's defense is too high for the attacker, and/or their armor is strong against the attacker's weapon. Yes, oddly enough, very strong armor simply causes the attacker to miss entirely.
    • Nowadays times are different, but back in the day it was pretty standard RPG terminology that the word "miss" meant either a literal miss or a hit that did no damage. A bit odd, but that's just the way it was.
  • In Grounded, enemy attacks will always deal at least 20% of their full damage, even if the player is wearing armor strong enough to otherwise completely negate it. Upgrading armor lowers the amount of scratch damage taken, bottoming out at 5% with Level 9 armor.
  • Harry Potter:
    • There's a battle in the Game Boy version of Prisoner of Azkaban where Harry, Hermione, and Buckbeak are up against a werewolf-shaped Lupin, and all of your spells will only inflict 1 damage. Buckbeak will inflict more, and if you've stocked up on Chocolate Frog cards you can do about ten damage per round on Harry's turn, but when Hermione comes up to hit, you're in trouble. You pretty much just have to use her to cast her defensive special ability and then spam attack Lupin with Flipendo Uno, which doesn't cost any magic points to cast and still does one damage. Same with Harry if you run out of Chocolate Frog cards to fuel his special attacks.
    • The Game Boy Color adaptations of Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets have all attacks and spells deal at least one damage, with zero damage indicating that an attack or spell missed.
  • In Jade Cocoon, even if you have the greatest defense stat over the enemy's attack stat, you will still take damage. Even though the damage is so tiny you won't see any change in your HP bar, over time it will go down.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 has break lights, when thrown at a character do one point of damage... and cause him (or her) to bleed, requiring basic medical attention to prevent continuing health loss.
    • ...and it's possible to pester NPC's without aggravating them by trying to throw an object (a toolkit, a bottle, a bit of string, or whatever) through them. The thrown object will conk them on the noggin for -1 HP instead. They may eventually even die from bleeding out of their bit-of-string-induced injuries if you stay in that sector long enough.
  • KanColle has a special damage calculation for situations when the normally calculated damage falls below 1. This allows you to deal damage of at least around 10% of the current HP to any target. If this calculation also returns a value below 1, the attack is instead treated as a miss, so you cannot sink a target with scratch damage alone.
  • Originally avoided in Kingdom of Loathing, but the game was patched with scratch damage to circumvent a glitch where hits that connect for 0 damage show "%dmg" for the amount of damage taken. Originally this was a fairly rare sight, since the stat that governs defense is also used for evasion; thus typically a player would become untouchable long before becoming invincible. The bug became much more well known when a skill was introduced that, combined with a shield, let the player use strength for defense instead.
    • Also, any damage of a type an enemy is resistant towards (fire against a hot-aligned creature, a physical attack on a ghost, etc.) is reduced to 1 point per hit.
    • One particular boss takes only scratch damage from any single damage source. In order to beat it, you have to stack up enough different damage sources to deal 350 HP of scratch damage in the 30 rounds given to you before the fight ends in a draw. Fortunately, the boss takes 3 points of scratch damage from elemental attacks it's weak against, and prismatic weapons deal separate scratch damage for every element involved.
  • In Kirby Super Star, both Kirby and his helpers can "guard" to reduce damage. For the most part guard blocks ALL the damage from weak attacks, but depending on the nature of the attack they'll still take some damage or full damage from certain boss moves. A few copy abilities like the parasol gives him an improved guard mode that fully cancels out damage except for the boss moves. In addition, Kirby deals Collision Damage to the enemies at all times, even while guarding (and the improved guards like parasol boost this ability), making it possible to beat some bosses purely by scratch damage!
  • In The Legend of Dragoon, there are three birds, Yellow Bird, Blue Bird, and Rainbow Bird, that can only take Scratch Damage, even when everything is fully maxed out. The only way to beat them is by using Speed Up and Slow Down, dealing 4 damage before they run away.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, if your current armor exceeds the power of an enemy's attack, it will still inflict one quarter-heart of damage. Guardian beams have a much higher "scratch damage" of two hearts (and even reducing it to that is hard), so they never stop being a threat.
  • LiEat: First game: Defense can get high enough that enemies deal zero damage, for Eofia, that happens at Level 12.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online technically falls victim to this, however the result does not. As players gear up and increase their stats, their in-combat health regeneration will generally negate most damage from weaker enemies, allowing the player to just stand there. In addition, enemies 9 levels or more below the player will normally not aggro. Exceptions are some instances, and the occasional quirk.
  • In the Lufia games, the Scratch Damage formula strangely doesn't apply to Metal Slime monsters. Even though they typically have exorbitant Defense stats, attacks can hit for a variable amount of damage rather than always doing 1 damage. With other monsters, weak attacks will often miss completely.
  • In Mad Stalker: Full Metal Force, you take a very tiny amount of damage from blocking your enemies' attacks.
  • The Mario & Luigi series has any enemies always do at least one damage. Also, Mario and Luigi always do at least one damage to enemies. This does mean, however, that the first few hits of multi-hit moves can do 0 damage, but the last one will always do 1. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga has an example of this, but it's deliberate. There is an optional boss called Jojora near the end of the game. You have to defeat her friend (a giant snow-doll creature), but it is not necessary to beat Jojora. Many players believe it is actually impossible to kill her; she has the highest defense in the game and every attack only does 1 damage. However, the designers actually intended vigilant players to be able to beat her - she only has 50 HP. A multi-hitting attack will wear her HP down in no time, and she drops a rare item and gives decent experience for your trouble.
    • Other examples of enemies that only take scratch damage from attacks include the tree thing on Trunkle's head (killing it is actually the quickest way to defeat said boss, presuming you use attacks that hit multiple times) and Boos (which have something like a thousand for their defense stats and can only be fought 'normally' at really high levels).
    • Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time has the Gold Koopeleons, which also have the highest defense in the game. They only have 10 HP, and every attack, again, only does 1 damage, with the exception of counters and First Strikes, which can do considerably more, for some reason (even killing them instantly at high enough levels). These enemies have a high speed rating, so they usually move first at normal levels when you first reach them, and they have a high chance of running from battle. However, they drop the most coins of any enemy in the game (80 in the Japanese and European versions and 100 in the North American version), which can be doubled, or even TRIPLED with a certain badge. They usually appear in groups of two or three, and if only two appear it is possible to run from the battle and re-engage them, and three might be present! A multi-hitting Bros. Item such as a Red Shell can defeat all three of them in one turn (in the hands of a skilled player); hence it is highly recommended to come back and defeat these creatures once the player's speed rating is high enough to always move first—the rewards are very worthwhile. Using the aforementioned coin-tripling badge, this is easily the fastest way of earning money in the game.
  • No matter how many protect tiles are up on Marvel Puzzle Quest, every attack will give at least 1 damage.
  • A prime example of why Fighting Games had chipping damage was Iceman in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. He took no chipping damage from 99% of the moves in the game, making him rather popular with Turtlers. It did have one weakness, however: War Machine's missiles chipped the hell out of him, making him an ideal choice for those wishing to break the ice.
  • During the chase scene of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, where The Shagohod is chasing you down the runway, and despite Volgin's taunting that your attacks are useless, you actually can do very minor scratch damage to it with rockets. In fact, using tactical reloads (quickly unequipping and re-equipping the RPG-7) and spamming it with rockets, you can drain as much as 40% of its health before the boss battle even begins.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: While Blade Mode used at the wrong time will often show these results, the game actually exploits the trope during a scene of Controllable Helplessness where the final boss, Senator Steven Armstrong, just lets you wail on him with Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs for a whole minute. His health bar is right there, and it does go down, with damage-boosting equipment it will go down a little more, but each punch deals such a pitiful amount of damage you're probably not taking him down to 90%.
  • In Miitopia, no matter how defensive, anyone will still take 1 damage at minimum. The only exceptions are attack damage from Besmirched Noble's Son, which will always deal a flat 0 damage against the General boss and the Final Boss' HP to 1 attack dealt on Miis who have 1 HP left already.
  • Some fighting games (Mortal Kombat, I'm looking at you, although World Heroes 2 Jet did this too) will not only have chip damage from special moves, but will also chip when you block a regular punch.
  • The Paper Mario titles calculate damage simply as "Attack minus Defense", for both Mario and all opponents, making Spam Attacks (such as Bow's Slap) rarely useful against opponents with even 1 point defense. On the other hand, certain techniques such as Mario's Power Bounce can hit an arbitrary number of times (by Action Commands) but with reduced damage after each successive hit — if the initial hit inflicted any damage, all subsequent hits are guaranteed to inflict a minimum 1 point per hit.
    • Super Mario RPG generally permitted scratch damage both ways, but precise timing on the game's Action Commands made it possible to completely block enemy physical attacks with 0 points damage.
  • Parasite Eve: When Aya's defense reaches its higher levels (at least 200 points or more), most enemies, including bosses, will literally do no damage to you.
  • The Pokémon series' everchanging internal damage formula can be very, very loosely defined as "(attack power / defense power) * (long list of possible modifiers) + 1", thus guaranteeing that all attacks (regardless Status Buffs or Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors) will inflict at least 1 point of damage. This does not, however, override elemental immunities: Normal attacks still cannot damage Ghosts, Electric attacks will not damage Ground types, etc.
    • Averted in the first set of games, Pokémon Red and Blue, where damage calculation is such that it is possible to do zero damage. Whenever this occurs, the game displays it as a miss, regardless of whether the move actually hit or not. Such an outcome isn't particularly hard to cause as well: just catch a Weedle and attempt to use Poison Sting against any of Brock's Pokémon.
    • This is used in the "FEAR" (Focus Sash + Endeavor + Quick Attack + Rattata) strategy. Focus Sash will leave you with at least one HP if you were at full health when you took a hit; combine it with Endeavor to make your opponent's HP match your 1 HP. Add in Quick Attack (which strikes first) and the scratch damage will finish off the opponent, regardless of how strong they were. Rattata turns the strategy into a catchy name.
    • Similar is Aron with Shell Bell (restores 10 percent of dealt HP), Sturdy (same as Focus Sash, but reusable) and Endeavor. Add in Sandstorm for the final hit, or Bullet Punch when that doesn't work.
    • The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon spinoffs use a different damage algorithm; most of the time, enemies weaker than you will do no damage or miss with their regular attack, and even using moves does extremely low damage if they connect at all.
    • The Percent Damage Attack "Super Fang" will KO an enemy who's down to its last HP, so it can't be used to guarantee a capture.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], the police, who have a weak little pistol that you can't even obtain due to its uselessness, will always cause at least a bit of damage to a fully-armored Alex. This isn't true of Alex's powers: punching a tank, even with your superhuman strength, is quite pointless. Only certain powers or combat moves can damage armor. The same goes for hunters, who are immune to bullets and Alex's baseline strength.
    • In [PROTOTYPE 2], however, James Heller can become completely bulletproof.
  • There's a certain condition in Ragnarok Online's damage formulas that allows for 0 damage (all attacks that would hit, but deal no damage, will show up as "miss"): Normally, no matter how much DEF or MDEF you have, all attacks will still do a minimum of 1 damage... unless you have special buffs or equipment that reduces damage from a specific source by a percentage (examples: Beret reduces damage of all attacks from Demi Humans by 10%, changing your armor element will alter how much damage each element does to you), which reduces your final damage even further, rounded to the nearest whole number. This is probably due to the same logic that makes all enemies with the Poison armor element take 0 damage from Poison element attacks, because Poison attacks are reduced to 0% effectiveness versus the Poison element on the elemental damage table.
  • Resonance of Fate has this, any bullet will do at least 1 point of damage even to a heavily armored body part. On the other hand, the mechanic called Scratch Damage in the game is only distantly related to this trope. First, it's not actually damage: scratch damage turns a portion of the enemy's health bar blue and must be followed up with an attack from a weapon that deals direct damage to remove that portion of the health bar. Secondly, dealing enough of this Scratch Damage will enable the followup attack to kill the enemy in one shot.
  • World of Mana:
    • In Secret of Mana your characters will simply ninja dodge all weaker enemy attacks. Unfortunately this gets annoying if an enemy can hit fast enough.
    • In Sword of Mana, all attacks, whether yours or an enemy's, will always do at least one damage per hit. The only time that zero damage is dealt is when an attack misses or the target is immune to one or more of the damage's attributes. Most rare enemies also deal one damage to you and briefly knock you flat on your back if you walk into them.
  • Shining Series:
    • Shining in the Darkness gives enemies that can't overpower your defense an increased chance to miss and do no damage, but they may still hit for 1 damage every so often. Annoyingly, this does not work in reverse: early on, when your mage is still puny, enemies with sufficient defense will be said to 'shake off the attack' and never take damage.
    • Shining Force has both friendly and enemy units hit for at least 1 damage, regardless of defense level.
    • Shining Force Feather sees a lot scratch damage as well: due to the vastly increased HP counts, the ability to grind yourself stupid with little effort and the fact that attacks never miss completely, any enemy is able to consistently hit you for 1-3 damage per turn since everyone has multiple physical attacks per turn. It's ultimately helpful though, since Action Commands allow you to gain some extra Force Points this way, which are used up when doing anything except moving around and using items.
  • Applies to most Shin Megami Tensei games, though Persona is an exception: an end-game party fighting early-game enemies will dodge every attack without fail, and vice versa.
  • Some mooks who are out of reach from the player resort to throw rocks in Sly Cooper games, which cause minimal damage.
  • SoulBlazer has a type of armor that will prevent damage from "minor enemies," which comes in handy when you're forced to return to earlier areas of the game to defeat previously unbeatable foes. However, subsequently-obtained armors with higher defense stats will still allow you to be damaged.
  • Darth Vader or Yoda blocking with their lightsabers in Soulcalibur IV can still take the damage everyone else does while blocking. It's anyone's guess why they get hurt when some guy punches them in the lightsaber.
  • Starcraft:
    • If a unit's armor meets or exceeds the attack of whatever hits it, it will take one half point of damage. The game doesn't actually have any kind of half damage mark, so in effect it takes one damage from every other hit. Very few units are heavily armored enough to make this happen. This therefore makes more of an impact on custom games.
    • Invoked by the Protoss Immortal in Starcraft II, whose Hardened Shields ability passively reduce any attack to a maximum of 10 while it still has shields, allowing it to easily face heavy hitters like Siege Tanks. However, it's very prone to Death of a Thousand Cuts from weaker units who trade damage for attack speed.
  • In the third Star Ocean game, it's possible to get defense stats high enough for attacks to cause zero damage. Getting hit with such a weak attack doesn't even stun you or interrupt your attacks.
  • In Super Robot Wars, certain abilities can reduce damage all the way to zero, although pure defense can't reduce damage below 10 (out of HP totals in the thousands or tens of thousands, mind).
    • In fact, even the seishin spell Fukutsu/Invincible allows a single attack that connects with the unit to deal the minimum of 10 damage. That is, however, subject to cancellation by barriers and shields.
  • Everything in the Tales Series is capable of causing at least 1 point of damage when hitting you normally, though abilities exist that will completely negate damage of low values. You can also activate this at will for your party using the Minimum Damage skill that's available in multiple games, which is handy for combo practice and/or grade farming.
    • In Tales of Phantasia, a sufficiently armored character will take no damage and won't even flinch from the attack. It even triggers the blocking/evasion sound when it happens, but the character won't do his blocking/evasion animation.
  • In Terraria, all attacks will inflict at least 1 point of damage, no matter how high the defense of the target is. This applies to both the player and the enemies.
  • In the three Touhou fighting games, neither player can be killed due to chipping damage. However, because blocking attacks continually drain the defender's Spirit, a player who can capitalize on chain attacks and Guard Break attacks can win anyway.
  • In Undertale, when fighting Sans on a Genocide route, he will attack you purely using Scratch Damage. However, since every attack applies Karma and Scratch Damage does not trigger your Mercy Invincibility, it makes to be a very hard fight. In a Pacifist Run, landing a "Fake Attack" on Undyne or following her request to directly attack her through the FIGHT option will inflict exactly 1 damage.
  • If you do the New Game Plus in Vagrant Story, Ashley Riot will eventually be so powerful that all attacks only do scratch damage to him (but even attacks from weak enemies with feeble weapons will still do 1 point of damage no matter how high his defense). And with his various skills and regeneration, that single point will quickly be reduced to 0. The only threat are enemies that can cast a Death spell on him.
  • In Warzone 2100, you can outfit up to 5 tank frames with a laser designator. The laser designator is mainly to increase the accuracy and rate of attacks on targets, but the laser is strong enough to do scratch damage and because the damage is so constant — it's not uncommon to have a damaged enemy unit destroyed by your designator.
  • Damage calculation in the Wild ARMs series is done by subtraction, so the little 0 pops up when the player's defense is that high. Can also go the other way with monsters covered in strong armor.
  • The World Ends with You has your characters completely ignore attacks if they do zero damage.
  • World of Warcraft nearly avoids this in a unique way. Long before the damage would be zeroed out, the level gap will cause almost all attacks to miss.
    • Of course, this also works the other way, and just to make sure people don't get funny ideas, monsters four levels higher than the player will regularly hit low level characters with "crushing" blows that do 150% damage (in addition to an increased critical hit chance), while hits on them will often "glance", dealing half damage. They also pretty much instantly recover their health and mana once they are done smashing you into the ground.
    • Some bosses take far less damage unless players deal with certain mechanics. For example, Primordius in Throne of Thunder has a debuff that greatly reduces the amount of damage players do to him unless they're mutated. Once players acquire five buffs from the slimes, they turn into a saurok and can do full damage to the boss, plus the damage increase granted by the five buffs.
  • In XCOM 2, armor is a flat reduction to damage: if an attack deals 5 damage to a target that has 5 armor, it deals zero damage instead. Attacks that shred armor will only deal damage if they inflict more damage than the armor after it is shredded; if the unit has five armor, and the attack deals 4 damage but shreds two armor, it will deal one damage. However, given the progression of the game, it's difficult to have a weapon that deals less damage than the maximum armor in the game: Gatekeepers that are closed have the most armor, at 7 points, but by the time they show up, you generally have magnetic weapons at least (minimum damage 4), usually beam weapons (minimum damage 6), and a myriad of armor-shredding and armor-piercing attacks to reduce the number. In other words, to see a zero damage attack, you have to be playing very suboptimally.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon: "Invested Vagrant" enemies only take 1 point of damage per hit, even if it's a Critical Hit (unless the character has an extremely high attack score, in which case a crit can deal extra damage). At least they don't have many hit points, so attacks that hit multiple times are effective against them. And the Super High-Frequency Ruler, Eri's Infinity +1 Sword for the Clerk job, ignores enemy defenses and therefore inflicts full damage on them.
  • Zeliard has the player obtain stronger shields later in the game, which will eventually be completely impervious to the game's weakest enemies. An attack from behind will always cause damage though.


Video Example(s):


Lenny hits like a wet noodle

After beating Iudex Gundyr with only his fists which deal around 5 damage to Gundyr's 1000 health, Lenny is thankful to acquire the Broken Sword. Unfortunately, it barely does any more damage due to being a Joke Item.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ScratchDamage

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