Death and XP


Rules Questions


We recently ran into a character death situation. It was actually my paladin that died and was raised.

The issue I have found here is that since my character was close to leveling (from 7th to 8th) he was penalized more than the 2 other previous deaths we had where the characters had recently leveled.

Question is, what do you guys do for character death? Has anyone addressed this?

Ive looked throught he new book and dont see any notations on what is done with XP when you die or have levels restored. We previously used it where you were set back to the minimum XP for the level you are restored too. This just seems incredibly unbalanced to me.

Anyone have any suggestions, comments? or just how do you handle this? If there is a page number that makes it more clear can you reference it for me plz?

Thanks :)

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Vult Wrathblades wrote:

We recently ran into a character death situation. It was actually my paladin that died and was raised.

The issue I have found here is that since my character was close to leveling (from 7th to 8th) he was penalized more than the 2 other previous deaths we had where the characters had recently leveled.

Question is, what do you guys do for character death? Has anyone addressed this?

Ive looked throught he new book and dont see any notations on what is done with XP when you die or have levels restored. We previously used it where you were set back to the minimum XP for the level you are restored too. This just seems incredibly unbalanced to me.

Anyone have any suggestions, comments? or just how do you handle this? If there is a page number that makes it more clear can you reference it for me plz?

Thanks :)

In Pathfinder there is no longer any such thing as loss of XP or permanent loss of levels. Resurrection by way of the raise dead or resurrection spells bestows permanent negative levels upon the character (2 and 1, respectively), but these ARE NOT the same as losing a level. Negative levels may be removed with restoration or greater restoration spells, and while they're expensive to cast, when they're done your character will be as hale and hearty as he was before he died.

Bottom line: You will never, ever, ever, ever lose XP progress toward the next level. Crafting takes none any more, and the penalties from resurrection can all be removed in some way or another.

The parameters of the raise dead spell can be found on p.329, resurrection on p.334, and information on what negative levels do is on p.562.


In Pathfinder, its a bit more simplified (IMHO). You never lose XP (or class levels) for any reason (death, magic item creation, etc).

When a character dies, the XP level doesn't decrease. The consequences of coming back to life depend on the method used. If Raise Dead (pg 329) or Reincarnation (pg 331) is used , then the character gains 2 permanent negative levels. If Resurrection (pg 334) is used, then the character gains 1 permanent negative level.

In the case you gave, your Paladin would still be a 7th level Paladin, with 2 negative levels. After gaining a bit more XP, it would be an 8th level Paladin, with 2 negative levels.

Once the permanent negative levels are removed (via Restoration (pg 334) or some other means), then the character no longer suffers any adverse effects from being previously dead.

Take a look at Energy Drain and Negative Levels (pg 562) for more info.


Vult Wrathblades wrote:

We recently ran into a character death situation. It was actually my paladin that died and was raised.

The issue I have found here is that since my character was close to leveling (from 7th to 8th) he was penalized more than the 2 other previous deaths we had where the characters had recently leveled.

Question is, what do you guys do for character death? Has anyone addressed this?

Ive looked throught he new book and dont see any notations on what is done with XP when you die or have levels restored. We previously used it where you were set back to the minimum XP for the level you are restored too. This just seems incredibly unbalanced to me.

Anyone have any suggestions, comments? or just how do you handle this? If there is a page number that makes it more clear can you reference it for me plz?

Thanks :)

Why are you losing XP at all? I haven't studied up on PFRPG that much yet but I got the impression that you just gained permanent negative levels with Raise Dead and they only become actual level loss if you fail your saving throw for the negative levels 24 hours later, or 24 hours after that, or so on. Maybe I'm still in 3.5e thinking here because I haven't read enough in PFRPG, but couldn't you just get a Restoration to remove the negative levels and avoid the level loss altogether?


Weird. For some reason the previous two replies weren't showing up when I read the thread and posted a reply. I only saw them after I posted.

But yeah, what they said.


Ok... so are you saying that while you are under the effects of negative levels you continue to track your XP total as if you were the same level same when you died?

My character died with 44,170 XP, working on lvl 8. So should I keep tracking XP as if I was lvl 7 until I get the restoration spells cast on me? Then also what happens if I gain enough XP to be lvl 8 before the spells are cast?

This is just a bit confusing to me and also very important.

Thank you for the reply!


Vult Wrathblades wrote:

The issue I have found here is that since my character was close to leveling (from 7th to 8th) he was penalized more than the 2 other previous deaths we had where the characters had recently leveled.

Question is, what do you guys do for character death? Has anyone addressed this?

My group will probably continue using the 3.5 rules for death when we convert to Pathfinder (character drops a level and xp is set for the midpoint of that level).

As to the situation you mention, when a character dies in my campaign I either apply the death then give the xp for the session or give the xp and then apply the death - whichever is more beneficial to the character. In this case, I would have given the xp to level the character to 8, then applied the death making the character level 7 again setting the xp at the midpoint.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

The Pathfinder RPG wrote:


For each negative level a creature has, it takes a cumulative –1 penalty on all ability checks, attack rolls, combat maneuver checks, Combat Maneuver Defense, saving throws, and skill checks. In addition, the creature reduces its current and total hit points by 5 for each negative level it possesses. The creature is also treated as one level lower for the purpose of level-dependent variables (such as spellcasting) for each negative level possessed. Spellcasters do not lose any prepared spells or slots as a result of negative levels.
Vult Wrathblades wrote:
Ok... so are you saying that while you are under the effects of negative levels you continue to track your XP total as if you were the same level same when you died?

Hi, Vult. And yeah, that's my understanding, too. Under the Pathfinder ruleset, he'd be "a 7th Level Character with two 'negative levels'." This is really very different from "a 5th Level Character."

Vult then wrote:
My character died with 44,170 XP, working on lvl 8. So should I keep tracking XP as if I was lvl 7 until I get the restoration spells cast on me? Then also what happens if I gain enough XP to be lvl 8 before the spells are cast?

What would happen is ... what wold normally happen: your character would advance to 8th Level, still carrying the burden of the two negative levels. Advance everything you'd normally advance, including an attribute point, and then lay on those negative levels.


Vult Wrathblades wrote:
Ok... so are you saying that while you are under the effects of negative levels you continue to track your XP total as if you were the same level same when you died?

Yes. Negative levels - even permanent ones - are not "lost" levels. They're more like a spiritual weakening that carries a specified set of penalties regardless of class or level.

Permanent, in this case, means "permanent until removed", like always in Pathfinder (and previously 3e). You need magical assistance to get rid of them, but they're not gone forever.

since you are actually level 7 (with negative levels), you need the regular amount of XP to get to actual level 8.

Experience points are no longer a rescource or commodity. You never lose XP, you never spend XP for anything. Which makes sense, since you cannot unmake an experience. You can fail to learn from an experience, but not unlearn.

One of my favourite PF changes.

Vult Wrathblades wrote:


My character died with 44,170 XP, working on lvl 8. So should I keep tracking XP as if I was lvl 7 until I get the restoration spells cast on me? Then also what happens if I gain enough XP to be lvl 8 before the spells are cast?

You keep tracking your XP as if nothing happened to them - because nothing happened to them. Keep gaining XP as usual, keep gaining levels as usual (except that you apply the penalties for the negative levels until you're rid of them)


Ok, thank you all very much.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Vult Wrathblades wrote:

Ok... so are you saying that while you are under the effects of negative levels you continue to track your XP total as if you were the same level same when you died?

My character died with 44,170 XP, working on lvl 8. So should I keep tracking XP as if I was lvl 7 until I get the restoration spells cast on me? Then also what happens if I gain enough XP to be lvl 8 before the spells are cast?

This is just a bit confusing to me and also very important.

Thank you for the reply!

The terminology is annoying, I know.

When raised you do not lose any levels or experience points.

You GAIN 1 (or more, depending on the circumstances) "Negative Levels". Negative levels do not take away levels. You do not adjust your character to be a lower level. Look up "Negative Levels" for their effects.

So in short, just don't even think about it from the perspective of losing levels or experience points, because you don't.


Personally I think the cost of removing permanent negative levels that were gained via death are too cheap. Death related negative level in my games cost 250gp per level lost [minimum 1000gp as per Restoration].

Example: An 8th level dude dies and Raise Dead is used to bring him back. He gains 2 permanent negative levels as per the spell [his 8th & 7th levels]. His 8th level will cost 2000gp's to remove [8*250] and his 7th level will cost 1750gp's to remove [7*250].

Negative levels made permanent via a failed save only cost the regular 1000gp's.

Death needs to be something you want to avoid but not a pain in the ****. The move away from XP loss and un-making your character was very welcome, but a little too easy RAW for me.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm all about getting rid of the entire "negative level" concept and replacing it with something equally distressing yet less disruptive. Something like a permanent -2 Con each time you die... and that's it. It has a long term effect (-1 hp per level) and it means you can only die X number of times. Just have to assume all cats have 18 Con though (heh).

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