Tomb of Annihilation Preview: Debuff Changes and New Armor Penetration Requirement

One of the system changes in Neverwinter’s upcoming module “Tomb of Annihilation” concerns debuffs. The devs are actively trying to simplify several areas of the game that got too complicated over time, and debuffs and their effect on damage certainly is one of those.

Capped, Uncapped, What?!

Even without debuffs the damage formula would be pretty hefty, but it doesn’t help that they are divided into two categories. The first one, which includes most debuffs, stacks at +100% damage bonus. No matter how many of those you bring to a party, they will only double your damage. Then there’s a smaller group of debuffs, most namely Companions and Weapon Enchantments, that are able to exceed the cap and are therefore called “uncapped”. Tooltips are not very clear about this, so figuring out which debuffs are capped in what way is a time-consuming task for theorycrafters.

Let’s make it easier!

So the good news is that this is a thing of the past. In Module 12 all debuffs are subject to a 300% cap with diminishing returns. Additionally they will no longer be less effective against enemies of level 73 or higher. First tests indicate that you need added debuffs north of a combined 500% to get close to the max.

Damage nerf

What does it all mean? Well first, it’s a nerf to overall top-end damage. While you can theoretically stack capped debuffs higher than before, the uncapped ones were multiplicative and get downgraded to being additive. That’s a huge nerf. Take an army of Sellswords in an endgame group that operates at the debuff cap for example. Such a group gets +100% damage from Armor Penetration and an additional +100% from debuffs. Then the five Sellswords currently catapult the damage to 300% (200% * 1.5), while under the new system it’s only 229% (including the diminishing returns).

This basically is true for anything the wasn’t uncapped before and multiplicative. Frost and Plague Fire Enchantments and most Companions are examples, but also the Scourge’s Tyrannical Curse.

Damage boosts get even more important

This makes straight damage boosts even more important, which do not fall under the debuff cap and are still multiplicative. We are talking about power shares from SWs, OPs or DCs, the GFs “Into the Fray” and HR’s “Longstrider’s Shot”, only to name a few. But also classes that have massive self-debuffs that currently disappear in a group operating at the cap will profit. Weapon Master’s Strike (GF + GWF), Predator (HR) and Vow of Enmity (OP) seem to be the most prominent examples. Classes should be able to profit from these powers much more, even if not at their full value due to the diminishing returns.

Revival of the debuffing Artifacts?

Debuffing Artifacts could see a revival in Mod 12. They are currently more or less obsolete because most groups already operate at the debuff cap. Hence they see little use at the moment. With the changes however all those Lantern of Revelations and Vanguard’s Banners make sense again for support classes.

Mobs get slightly more DR%

In addition to the debuff changes, mobs feature slightly more Damage Resistance in Module 12. The new cap seems to be 85%, up from 60%. Depending on attribute scores and boons the maximum Armor Penetration characters need to fully pierce mobs is 10,000. It’s not a major challenge and builds across the board probably only have to be tweaked a little.

The Meta

Now does all of this change the meta? It doesn’t look like it. Currently you already run DCs, OPs and GFs with a single DPS because all those classes feature massive multiplicative, uncapped buffs. And well, we said those get even more important, so we’re staying put. Even if such a group can’t get close to the full +300% damage increase from debuffs, their power sharing and other stuff is still too massive for something else to overtake their place.

Generally the tendency to stack support classes remains. You should really not run with less than three in endgame content, and it certainly helps if all of them are primarily buffers.

Master of Flame buffer

When talking about debuffs you can’t dodge one specific build, the Master of Flame Control Wizard buffer. With the rework of the DCs it got kicked out of the highest tier of endgame groups and this change doesn’t help. Theoretically its debuffs that currently are completely wasted thanks to the cap partially matter again, but as said the class lacks these power shares and straight DPS buffs that others bring to the table.

The good news however is that a MoF gets better in virtually any other scenario. Outside these super strong 2DC/OP/GF/GWF power combos it will always be at least viable. It will bring 100%+ worth of debuffs to a party and no longer risks being irrelevant thanks to a cap. This is especially true for all those 10+ raid groups, in which a MoF will be all but mandatory.


Overall the change presents a little nerf to the high-end and a little boost to the low-end. Groups get a bit more freedom to pick support classes as they no longer have to fear that some debuffs go to waste thanks to a cap. A Master of Flame Control Wizard for example might still not be as good as an additional Cleric, but at least it contributes something even in stacked setups. It will certainly interesting what the pros make out of this change and maybe they’ll come up with a combo that nobody envisions today!

What’s your take on the debuff changes? Share your thoughts in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!

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13 thoughts on “Tomb of Annihilation Preview: Debuff Changes and New Armor Penetration Requirement

  • July 13, 2017 at 9:57 am

    I’ve come across people saying they’ve gone well over 300% on preview… So it isn’t technically a cap imo.

    • July 13, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Not sure it’s because of that, but keep in mind the cap in ACT shows as 400% effectiveness. You can get +300% damage from debuffs and +100% from ArPen. You can easily get confused because the new cap for debuffs is 300% but ACT shows more. Not saying this is what has happened here, but it’s a common misunderstanding.

  • July 13, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Article is not entirely right, Since debuffs work multiplicative with buffs having a class that when its right build and geared can offer from 180 to 250% debuff solo you can understand where the damage buffs will go. Since all classes lost effectiveness in debuffs their buffs as a consequence went down too. Unless they balance out that factor by introducing debuffs to the party their total output will be less then desired.

    • July 13, 2017 at 10:44 am

      You’re right that overall dps went down because buffs * debuffs do not result in the same output than before. But buffs in relation to debuffs got stronger. Just a little example. Let’s say a party rolled with +100% capped debuff damage, +50% uncapped debuff damage and +50% damage buffs. In the current system taking away 10% debuffs or 10% damage buffs would have resulted in the same dps output. 2.00*1.50*1.40 === 2.00*1.40*1.50. In Mod 12 though where all debuffs are additive it’s (2.00+0.40)*1.50 > (2.00+0.50)*1.40 === 3.60 > 3.50. And that’s not even counting diminishing returns.

      • July 13, 2017 at 11:18 am

        But you forget that now you can introduce a LOT more debuffs than in the past so now you can have a LOT higher
        debuffs values while the buffs remain the same. You calculated with 100 base id capped cause the classes couldn’t stack their debuffs ( cw and 2 dc and paladin for example. but now they can which result in higher multiplicative buff X debuff number. If you don’t have a debuffer the number will be lower. Its that simple. On your example you can have 300% X buffs and not just 150%.

  • July 13, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    No love for Temptation warlocks? Dark Revelry gives a 20% power buff. Power is uncapped as always.

    • July 16, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      You don’t need to be TEMPTATION specifically to use Dark Revelry, I play Fury and also have buff of Dark Revelry and on HB Fury I also do buff with Pillar and it also Debuffs the mob while they stand on it. The only thing that Templock can bring that Fury can’t is the other AP gain-like passive. Learn this people.

  • July 14, 2017 at 4:50 am

    Temptation does more things than only power sharing. Reverly gives and movement speed 20% also.
    aura of cruelty gives 5% life steal chance ally buff.
    pillar of power gives damage buff and mitigation ( temptation capstone with 3 damnation feats).
    sw heal allies deal damage.
    IF they dont want to include it let it be they lose they dont know.

    • July 14, 2017 at 5:28 am

      Please note that this is mainly an article about the new debuff changes, not an in-depth analysis how every single class and build will be affected. We’ve included a few popular powers as examples and the only build we’ve specifically mentioned is MoF because it’s clearly the best debuffer in the game right now. No worries, we’re intentionally ignoring Scourge’s.

  • July 15, 2017 at 5:00 am

    Tr we are always the forgotten

  • July 16, 2017 at 4:49 am

    Any thoughts on net impact of the buff to companion stat sharing? With 5 legendary companions, goes up from 15% to 31% in mod 12.

  • July 16, 2017 at 8:31 am

    But I don t understand why would I need 100%ArPen if mobs have 85% DR.Am I missing something

    • August 7, 2017 at 7:07 am

      You don’t need 100% armor pen, what they mean it that you need 85% and with that being the maximum you have 100% damage output

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