Final Fantasy XI has a complex categorization of damage that supplements a traditional elemental system, with numerous monsters taking more or less damage from damage sources of specific types. Numerous pieces of player equipment modify the Damage Taken stat by damage type. In addition, there are a number of status effects that nullify all damage of a specific type.
Physical damage is a damage type rather than an element. Most Auto-attacks, whether weapons or natural attacks, fall into this damage type. Furthermore most weapon skills and monster TP-based abilities deal damage of this type. Most physical damage has one of the following elements:
- Blunt: This element is dealt by the club and staff weapon types.
- Hand-to-hand: This element is dealt only by hand-to-hand weapons. The Hand-to-Hand element was removed from monster attacks (included Automaton attacks) in the December 2014 version update, and it is unclear whether it still exists in the game at this time. For most purposes it is treated the same as Blunt element.
- Piercing: This element is dealt by the dagger and polearm weapon types. In addition, rapier-type swords inflict this element rather than the usual Slashing element as a hidden effect.
- Slashing: This element is dealt by the Sword, greatsword, katana, axe, and greataxe weapon types.
There are also a few odd weapons that have a physical element that is different from the norm for their weapon type as a hidden effect. Like the eight primary elements, certain monster types take more or less damage from the various physical elements.
The temporary item Carnal Incense adds the Physical Shield status effect that prevents all physical damage, as do the Fanatic's Drink, Fanatic's Tonic, and Fanatic's Powder temporary items. A few monster TP abilities such as Pyric Bulwark also add Physical Shield. The Paladin job ability Invincible adds the Invincible status which has the same effect. The Thief job ability Perfect Dodge is not in fact perfect, as it only evades all physical attacks that are not of the ranged subcategory.
Ranged damage is a special subcategory of physical damage. It is dealt by ranged weapons and a few long range monster TP abilities. All known sources of this damage type have the Piercing element. The temporary item Celestial Incense applies the Arrow Shield status effect that nulls ranged damage.
Magical damage is a damage type rather than an element. Most spells and some weapon skills and monster abilities fall into this type. Most magical damage has one of the eight primary elements.
The Magic Shield status protects against magical damage. Some variants of Magic Shield absorb a fixed amount of magical damage similar to Stoneskin, while others instead cause all magical attacks to miss completely. The temporary items Spiritual Incense, Fool's Drink, Fool's Tonic, and Fool's Powder grant the complete immunity Magic Shield. There also a few monster abilities such as Polar Bulwark that grant this type of Magic Shield. The Rune Fencer job ability Elemental Sforzo grants the Elemental Sforzo status which has the same effect. The damage absorbing variant is seen with the Paladin job ability Rampart and the Soulflayer monster ability Immortal Shield.
Most attacks that deal breath damage are, monster breath weapons. Such attacks usually have the common properties of being one of the eight elements, having a cone-shaped attack pattern, being based on current HP, and dealing less damage to players that are farther away from the monster or not directly in front of it.
Breath damage that does not have an associated element is occasionally referred to by players as "spiritual damage". There are a few sources of such damage:
- Autoattacks done under the effects of the Monk merit ability Formless Strikes.
- The Monk job ability Chi Blast.
- The Sword weapon skill Spirits Within.
- The sword weapon skill Atonement.
No effect specifically guards against breath damage but there are a number of pieces of equipment that have -x% Breath Damage Taken stats.
There are a handful of player attacks that deal damage that don't seem to fall into any damage type:
Quick Draw has one of the eight elements (as selected by the player at the time the ability is used), while the others do not.