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The ability to be immune to attacks or other dangers.

Many events and effects can be dangerous or lethal in games. However, it is quite common that some entities, either those under players' control or those working with or against them, have Invulnerabilities to some of these and thereby create imbalances in how entities can behave in the game environments. In rare circumstances, some entities may be completely immune to the dangers.


Undead are entities in Roleplaying Games that due to their nature as immune to things living are not. In Dungeons & Dragons they are immune to diseases and poison. The GURPS templates for creating undead generalizes this to the advantage Immunity to Metabolic Hazards and includes Doesn't breathe as well. Undead in Oblivion cannot be killing by poison or drowning, and ethereal ones cannot be damaged by normal weapons.

In Ghost Stories, the green player never has to roll the curse dice.

The übercharge ability of medics in Team Fortress 2 can be used to make team mates invulnerable for short periods of times during matches.

Using the pattern

Designing Invulnerabilities consists of deciding what type Damage is protected from, who or what is protected, and if the immunity provided is a permanent feature or a temporary one; if they are temporary then the causes for the Invulnerabilities to appear and disappear also need to be decided upon Invulnerabilities are by necessity Privileged Abilities since if everyone had the same Invulnerabilities the dangers protected against would stop having gameplay meaning. A primary distinction when designing Invulnerabilities is if they should be complete or partial (note that this is a difference between Invulnerabilities and Vulnerabilities since the latter is always assumed to relate to specific, i.e. partial, aspects of dangers). Complete Invulnerabilities can be used to make Early Elimination impossible.

Like Vulnerabilities, Invulnerabilities can be given to players' Avatars, Characters, or Units or to their Enemies. They are more common to be given to Boss Monsters than ordinary Enemies, especially complete Invulnerabilities. Conceivably, they could also be given to Destructible Objects but these are typically naturally invulnerable to everything except what has specifically been designated as being able to destroy them.

One reason to using Invulnerabilities as Balancing Effects when players are disadvantaged. One reoccurring case for this is the Spawning of players' Avatars since they are in this case most likely are unprepared, unsure of where they are, and what threats exist there. To temporarily balance situations, players either can simply be given Invulnerabilities as Temporary Abilities or they can be placed in locations that provide these as Environmental Effects (i.e. Safe Havens).

Unless inherent in the construction of game entities to create Privileged Abilities, Invulnerabilities are often given Time Limits so they do not upset Player or Team Balance for entire game instances.

Partial Invulnerabilities can co-exist with Vulnerabilities if they deal with different types of dangers, but complete Invulnerabilities do not work with Vulnerabilities except when one specific Vulnerability provides an Achilles' Heel to otherwise invulnerable opponents.

A typical use of Sanctioned Cheating is to provide Invulnerabilities, e.g. entering god mode in the Doom series.

Narrative Aspects

NPCs may be given complete Invulnerabilities to ensure that they can play their assigned parts in Predetermined Story Structures. However, this type of Invulnerabilities, and any other where the Invulnerabilities are not explained within the context of the Alternative Reality of a game, will break Thematic Consistency.


Invulnerabilities make Avatars, Characters, or Units immune to some or all types of Damage in games. While this modulates Damage (and as a consequences also Health) it can also work against that pattern when entities are completely protected from all types of Damage and this can in turn lead to conflicts with patterns such as Leaps of Faith, Risk/Reward, and Tension. When possessed by Enemies, they are likely to create more Challenging Gameplay. They can also make it more difficult or impossible to engage in Player Killing or to, more generally, succeed with Eliminate goals. Regardless, Invulnerabilities are likely to change how Combat occurs in games if it can occur at all, and can also modulate Movement if collisions, falls, or Environmental Effects can cause Damage.

Encountering unknown Invulnerabilities is likely to be Surprises to players and lead to Experimenting, Puzzle Solving, and Tactical Planning to figure out how to counter these (or exploit these in the rare cases when one is surprised by one's own Invulnerabilities). If unbalanced Invulnerabilities are allowed to exist permanently or for long in games, this most likely leads to Repeated Domination and upset Player and Team Balance. If it is known that Invulnerabilities exist in games, cautious players may give themselves Gain Information goals related to knowing what Invulnerabilities their Enemies have before confronting them.

The possibility of having Invulnerabilities to Environmental Effects that block access to gameplay areas create Conditional Passageways in games.


Can Instantiate

Experimenting, Privileged Abilities, Puzzle Solving, Repeated Domination, Surprises, Tactical Planning

with Enemies

Challenging Gameplay, Gain Information

with Environmental Effects

Conditional Passageways, Safe Havens

with NPCs

Predetermined Story Structures

with Temporary Abilities

Balancing Effects

with Vulnerabilities

Achilles' Heels

Can Modulate

Avatars, Boss Monsters, Characters, Combat, Damage, Destructible Objects, Enemies, Health, Movement, Spawning Units

Can Be Instantiated By

Sanctioned Cheating

Can Be Modulated By

Time Limits

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Damage, Early Elimination, Eliminate, Leaps of Faith, Player Balance, Player Killing, Risk/Reward, Team Balance, Tension, Thematic Consistency, Vulnerabilities


New pattern created in this wiki.