Follow TV Tropes


Nigh Invulnerability / Tabletop Games

Go To

  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Tarrasque monster is not only incredibly tough but regenerates at a hideous rate and will not stay dead, and is immunized to 50% of the offensive spells. The only way to kill it is to bring it to -10 hit points (the normal point of death for living creatures in D&D) and cast wish or miracle, specifically wishing for/requesting that the Tarrasque remains dead.
    • Of course, at the same time, it has some fairly major tactical weaknesses - it has an Intelligence of 3 (minimum for non-animal intelligence, human average being 10), is completely groundbound, and has no attacks beyond its reach (and no magical attacks). Thus, it is completely helpless against anything incorporeal (can only be hurt by magic weapons) or airborne. They might have some trouble hurting it, but it can't do anything to them, so doing 1 more damage than its regeneration (on average, per round) is enough to cherrytap it to death, assuming you can keep up if it flees. Also, its regeneration does not work against direct ability damage.
    • Advertisement:
    • The 4th edition version of the Tarrasque just plain cannot be killed; reducing it to 0 Hit Points simply banishes it back to its resting place at the core of the world. However, while still incredibly tough on account of massive hit points and all-purpose damage resistance, it no longer regenerates.
    • There is a possible Shout-Out to this creature in Starcraft, in which one of the higher-level Zerg units is called a Torrasque. It is quite durable, regenerates quickly, and is presented as being continually reincarnated by a specific cerebrate. That may actually also be a reference to the original creature of actual legend, a dragon named "the tarrasque". It had a turtle-like shell, and proved invulnerable to everything - until blessed by a saint, at which point it became both vulnerable, and docile as a lamb. Too bad for it the local villagers weren't in a forgiving mood, despite the saint's pleading.
    • Advertisement:
    • Another Blizzard-related Shout-Out comes from the popular Warcraft III map Defense of the Ancients with an item known as the Heart of Tarrasque. Providing a dramatic increase in health total and regeneration, the Hero carrying it becomes difficult to kill except by sustained vicious focus-fire from the enemy team.
    • Anarchy Online also has a Shout-Out to this critter by having it as one of their early endgame bosses, which drops bits of its own body that you can turn into armor.
    • Prior to 3rd edition, lots of D&D monsters had Nigh Invulnerability to weapons below a certain "plus" value, meaning that heroes without such equipment could only defeat them with spells, fire, or improvised alternative methods (e.g. holding a werewolf underwater until it drowns). This rule got the nickname "You Must Be This Tall To Fight This Monster", and was fortunately replaced with damage resistance in 3E.
    • Advertisement:
    • Particularly noteworthy were the AD&D versions of the rakshasa (invulnerable to mundane weapons and nearly all magic) and the intellect devourer (same deal, and even magical weapons' damage would be reduced to almost nothing on a hit).
  • The Dark Sun setting has the Dragon of Tyr, the most powerful and feared being on the Death World of Athas. Not only is it physically powerful, it possesses enormous psionic and defiling magic. It regenerates, can only be hit by magic items that are +2 or higher (which it only takes half damage from unless they're made of metal), has 80% magic resistance and is immune to most Standard Status Effects. It's outright stated in the book that stats the Dragon and its home that, if the encounter is run properly, the party should not be able to kill it. Even the setting's god-like sorcerer-kings are terrified of the creature.
  • In the Mirrodin block of Magic: The Gathering, there is a substance called darksteel that certain objects, including some artifact creatures, are made of. Anything made of this substance is indestructible, meaning in game terms that it can't be destroyed or killed (although it can be removed through indirect means). A prime example of this is Darksteel Colossus, a huge artificial giant that not only can't be killed by usual means, but if someone manages to actually send it to the graveyard, then it is simply put back into its owner's deck to be drawn again later. The indestructibility mechanic was retained and used in later blocks, and has been applied to many things not made of darksteel.
    • just as an idea of how indestructible it is, Word of God says that it is easier to rewrite the laws of physics such that you find a piece of darksteel in the shape you want than it is to forge the darksteel by any conventional means.
    • Also in the Magic Universe is Squee, an innocent and friendly goblin who just couldn't stay dead. What started out in the books as him simply not retaining any damage as a form of comedic discontinuity was later changed into a legitimate supernatural ability, causing him to come back from any level of abuse, even death. Unfortunately for Squee, this is used as a form of torture when Ertai, The Dragon to Big Bad Crovax, kills him over and over again.
    • Another MTG example is Lord Konda, the evil daimyo of Kamigawa, who stole a powerful spirit from the otherworld and bound it inside an artifact that granted him eternal life and imperviousness to harm.
    • Possibly the oldest example of this trope in MTG is the "Regenerate" mechanic, which (almost always for a cost, though usually a small one) negates the next attempt to kill or destroy the thing being regenerated, presumably by means of a phenomenal Healing Factor. With the right cards and a healthy stockpile of mana, your entire army can essentially become nigh-invulnerable.
    • There are a handful of creature cards with the "Phoenix" subtype, all of which have some ability that allows them, like their legendary namesake, to come back from the dead. The cost and repeatability of this varies, but rest assured if your opponent puts a Phoenix on the battlefield, you'll probably have to kill it at least twice.
    • Platinum Angel gives you Nigh Invulnerability, stating quite simply that while the angel is in play, you can't lose the game and your opponents can't win the game.
    • If you can get your life total above 30note  while he's on the field, Rune-Tail, Kisune Ascendant becomes an enchantment that makes all your creatures impervious to any and all forms of damage.
    • Honestly, there are lots of cards that confer or possess Nigh Invulnerability, far too many to list here. Yes, this is only a small sampling.
    • Can't forget Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, which at least has the justification of being an Eldritch Abomination.
      • Emrakul, while not actually possessing the "Indestructible" rule, does prevent itself from being countered and being affected by almost all spells (so only colorless artifacts can harm him). Given his insanely high Power and Toughness, as well as the flying ability, this makes him VERY hard to put down.
    • If that's not enough, Avacyn gives this power to all your creatures.
    • Special mention goes to Progenitus, a huge, multi-headed hydra creature said to be the incarnation of a fractured world. In game terms, it has Protection from Everything which, in some ways, makes it even harder to get rid of than a creature that is "merely" indestructible, as it takes no damage, and cannot be targeted by any spells or abilities. It is still not completely impossible to overcome, as "universal" effects (which affect everything on the table) still affect it normally, but you more or less have to wipe out everything else on the board to get rid of Progenitus in the bargain.
  • Not only are Warhammer 40,000's Necrons Terminator-like metal skeletons with amazing damage resistance, they have the ability to teleport matter directly to their own system from their tombs for nanites to incorporate it into their forms as a self-repair mechanism powerful enough to rebuild them even if cut to pieces. And if you DO manage to get one to stay down, its various component parts will be teleported back to the tomb and rebuilt no matter what sort of damage has occurred. The Imperium doesn't even know if there exists weapons that can kill Necrons. And given the kind of weapons that exist in Warhammer 40000, that's saying quite a lot.
    • One Necron managed to directly regenerate from being melted into a puddle of metal. And this was not even a leader, just a Necron mook.
    • There is technically a way to kill Necrons and possibly their C'Tan gods — hitting them with weapons that expose them directly to the Warp, since their existence is purely material, and they can't survive the Immaterium. That's the purpose of the Blackstone Fortresses aka Talismans of Vaul. The background tends to get retconned with every version release, so this may no longer be valid.
    • Daemons aren't so easy to dispose of either. Powerful ones cannot actually be killed (at least with physical weapons), merely banished back into the Warp, and even doing stupendous amounts of damage only makes the banishment longer. Kill a daemon, and he'll probably be back in a couple centuries, which isn't much time in Warhammer 40,000. Other supernatural entities share similar traits, such as the bodiless "walking armor" soldiers of the Thousand Sons legion of Chaos Space Marines, who have an annoying tendency to come back from the dead.
    • Space Marines almost constantly wear armour better than most tanks; underneath is a three-metre-tall Super Soldier with a bullet-proof chest and multiple spare organs. Even severe damage near to the point of death doesn't stop them, as they are wired into a Dreadnought and continue fighting.
    • Da Orks are already ridiculously tough, being hulking brutes with physical strength equal to or greater than a fully equipped Space Marine, but they are further resilient due to being animals with a symbiotic relationship to fungi, almost completely devoid of vital organs and any injury short of missing limbs being superficial (it is thought that bolters, self-propelled explosive rounds, were invented originally to combat Orks). There are reports of Orks being decapitated, killing the person who decapitated them then reattaching their own severed head, with no problems whatsoever. Datz reel Orky.
      • Makari (a grot who was Ghazghkull's standard bearer) had the supernatural luck version of this, effectively granting him a great saving throw against pretty much anything. The most recent codex informs us that he "lived to the ripe old age of nine before finally being sat on by his master and subsequently fed to an ill-tempered Squiggoth."
  • The dwarves from the Warhammer games. While still being mortal and technically still squishy on the inside (so no "Made of" rules) the Blood Bowl rule book comments on their "Stubborn Knack of refusing to Die".
  • New World of Darkness:
    • While there's not really such a thing as "invulnerability,", Prometheans come pretty damn close. For instance, most mortals and supernatural creatures take wound penalties to all actions after they take a certain amount of damage. Similarly, if their health meters fill with bashing, they have to resist passing out, and if they fill up with lethal, they start bleeding out. Prometheans experience none of this; the only way to put them down is to fill their health meters with aggravated damage. And after that, they can still come back if their Azoth is high enough. Of course, this is the World of Darkness. The only reason they're that tough (gameplay-wise) is because they need to be tough; the world literally hates them, and the only way out is to lose their powers, including invulnerability.
    • Similarly, there are the slashers who follow the Mask Undertaking. Any attack against them, be it with a sword, a machine gun, or a flamethrower, only fills one box on their health meter, and it has to fill all the way before they go down (and even then, that's not much of a guarantee).
    • No mention of Sin-Eaters? These guys are able to shrug off injury to a degree, cannot be knocked out, and to top it all off, unless you destroy the geist after killing them, they won't stay dead. Of course... each resurrection after the first one sends them further out of sync with the geist and may lead to a Fate Worse than Death.
    • Mummies were made to be immortal, implacable servants of dark gods, and it shows. Like Prometheans, they don't pass out or bleed out, though they do suffer wound penalties. On top of that, they can regenerate damage, and have a couple of methods to accelerate it. They can only be killed when their health meters are filled with aggravated damage and they're not already accelerating its healing. Even assuming you manage to kill one, they will come back - not may, will, albeit still somewhat battered. Not even destroying their bodies can stop them, because they can be called back from death into a new body.
      • And the Decieved actually take this one step further, dropping the "Nigh" from Nigh-Invulnerability altogether. Even if you kill a Decieved, destroy every trace of its body so it has nothing to regrow from, and erase every record of its existence so it can't be called back, it will still spontaneously reincarnate after enough time passes. Even if Earth itself was destroyed, the Decieved would just start reincarnating on Mars.
    • Vampires aren't as dangerous as some on this list, but after their upgrade in the 2nd edition, are still bad. They reduce the damage severity of almost all attacks, so you would need to literally mince them before you can kill them, they have a Healing Factor, if you don't kill them the "right" way they can come back, and that's not even talking about those who have access to Mist Form.
    • Likewise, Werewolves got a major overhaul in their 2nd edition and now gladly embrace this trope. They are effectively immune to the Chunky Salsa Rule, being completely unaffected by any source of Aggravated damage that isn't caused by supernatural attacks or silver weapons. This means that blowing a hole in their head with a sniper rifle, running over them in a truck, blowing them up, it's all about as effective as trying to hit them with a sword or shoot them with regular bullets. Though their Healing Factor is slower than a vampire's (depending on their power level), they have the ability to go into Gauru form, in which they regenerate so quickly that they restore themselves back to full health every single turn. A combat optimised Rahu (combat specialist werewolf) is capable of surviving just about anything shy of someone crashing a 747 into them.
  • Old World of Darkness:
    • Mummies are effectively indestructible. They take damage pretty much the same as any other player character; the difference is they regenerate damage, and have something like 7 wound levels past incapacitated that define various levels of dismemberment to their corpse. The reason? To figure out how long it will take before they can get back up again. The answer is usually not long.
    • Mages in Mage: The Ascension can take the 'Immunity' Merit, which can be taken to a level to prevent all damage from all save a progressively rarer source. If taken to a high enough level, this can prevent all damage not from such sources as the Public Domain Artifact of choice or more common sources under more stringent conditions (the book itself 'mistletoe dagger wielded by a red-headed woman on the night of the full moon' as a viable option). Unsurprisingly, many Storytellers do not allow it in their games.
    • The vampires in Vampire: The Masquerade have the Fortitude discipline, which is pretty much this trope when you get it past even mediocre levels. If you have enough you can reduce sun and fire from One-Hit Kill to "meh", meaning you can walk around in broad daylight, for a short time.
  • GURPS has the Supernatural Durability advantage that gives the ability to survive any amount of punishment unfazed until you reach -5xhp and even then only one form of damage can truly kill you. The rules do say that being blown to pieces by a single attack is still lethal.
    • In GURPS Supers, on the discussion of cosmic scale characters, buying enough Damage Reduction to divide an attack's damage by one billion is noted as being "alarmingly cheap" at just 1350 points. Consider that the destruction of Hiroshima required not even a hundred thousand points of damage.
  • Several characters in Scion come with Invulnerability, though this almost always has one caveat - a character with higher Legend can damage them. There are some exceptions to even this, however.
  • Liches in most games that have them will regenerate from any sort of destruction unless their Soul Jar is broken first.
  • In Nobilis, all Nobles know a simple rite that renders them immune to a certain level of mortal harm. Unusually, as the character gets more powerful, the rite will start to include less severe damage. So, a weak Noble will walk out of a (mundane) nuclear explosion unharmed, but be completely vulnerable to bullets. True masters of this rite can't even be insulted by mortals.
  • Savage Worlds has the "Edge" (AKA feat) called 'Harder to Kill', which grants a player a 50/50 shot at survival any time they would otherwise be killed.
  • In the Dresden Files RPG, this is the purview of the Physical Immunity power, which provides pretty much exactly what it says it does. There is a drawback — like the lesser Toughness abilities, it requires a Catch, in the form of an attack that will completely bypass it. This can be very simple (one sample fire elemental had Physical Immunity to fire, with the Catch being, well, everything that wasn't fire) to incredibly obscure (see Nicodemus's entry in Literature, for instance).
  • The adamantine golem in Pathfinder, by far the most durable golem in existence. Its HP total isn't really impressive (205), but it has 33 AC, DR 15/epic (ignores the first 15 points of damage from weapons except those with magical enhancements equivalent in cost to a +6 weapon at least), is immune to all spells and spell-like abilities that allow spell resistance except for transmute metal to wood that slows it down and changes its damage reduction to 15/adamantine, recovers 10 hp per round and even below 0 HP (constructs are normally destroyed at this stage), it simply gets downed and keeps recovering and may return to the fight if brought back at 1 HP at least, and only a natural 20 followed by a successful critical hit confirmation with an adamantine vorpal weapon while the adamantine golem is downed can destroy it for good.

Example of: