Does energy drain count as a death effect? Well, what the heck is a death effect?


Rules Questions


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

A missed opportunity to define the oft confusing death effect. What do you think a death effect is?


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Anything that says it's a death effect.

Kind of like precision damage.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Well I'd start with this, which isn't quite a definition, but the game doesn't "define" what a [fire] effect is, either, so...


Anything that says it's a Death effect, which includes Death descriptor spells.
That would kind of be the standard rules approach anyways, is there any reason why this needs more attention?
Is there some effect you THINK is a Death effect, but doesn't say so?
Is there any solid (conservative RAW based) reason to think that? If not, how is this a pressing issue?
The FAQ just clarified that Energy Drain is NOT such a case, so what's the problem?


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I've just seen a bunch of threads over the years of people saying things other than spells with the [death] tag are death effects.

When I first heard about the FAQ, I thought they had finally clarified it, but was disappointed.

They marked one thing off the list of what a death effect could be at least.

Is anything that kills you regardless of your current hit points considered a death effect? I can't think of a specific example at the moment, but I'm sure someone will provide one soon enough.

Liberty's Edge

Ravingdork wrote:
I've just seen a bunch of threads over the years of people saying things other than spells with the [death] tag are death effects.

Since when is "Some guy in a thread" > What is actually written in the book?


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It's an indication of the confusion caused by ambiguous, nearly non-existent definitions of important rule terms.

Liberty's Edge

Ravingdork wrote:

It's an indication of the confusion caused by ambiguous, nearly non-existent definitions of important rule terms.

It's an indication people want things to be there that aren't there.

It isn't unclear. At all.


Is it really that necessary to define it? It's a spell descriptor, and a subcategory, like any other, and sometimes are affected by abilities or other spells.

[Fire] effects are spells that use fire. [language-dependent] spells are spells that depend on language, and having that descriptor means they interact with Countersong. [Death] spells are spells that interact with Death Ward and Raise Dead.

Just because other spells can cause the condition "death" doesn't mean they're [Death] effects, like Phantasmal Killer.


Disintegrate?

Liberty's Edge

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Blindmage wrote:
Disintegrate?

Does it say it is a death effect in the descriptor?

Then it isn't.


ciretose wrote:
Blindmage wrote:
Disintegrate?

Does it say it is a death effect in the descriptor?

Then it isn't.

And that's why Disintegrate is my go-to spell to use against pesky wizards who think they can make themselves immune to everything with Death Ward and elemental resistances. Sometimes preceded with a quickened True Strike if they're proving hard to hit.


Bizbag wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Blindmage wrote:
Disintegrate?

Does it say it is a death effect in the descriptor?

Then it isn't.

And that's why Disintegrate is my go-to spell to use against pesky wizards who think they can make themselves immune to everything with Death Ward and elemental resistances. Sometimes preceded with a quickened True Strike if they're proving hard to hit.

Aroden's Spellbane.


I didn't say it always worked. Just because a strategy can be countered doesn't mean it's not a decent strategy, especially if the counter is three spell levels higher.


Valid, but Aroden's Spellbane does mean that a wizard can indeed make himself immune to just about everything. It'd require ridiculous amounts of paranoia and preparation, and eat most of his slots, but hey, it's possible.


ciretose wrote:
Blindmage wrote:
Disintegrate?

Does it say it is a death effect in the descriptor?

Then it isn't.

That's great! So just make it an explicit definition and everybody will shaddup.

Otherwise we'll still get people wondering if a save-or-die poison or Su ability is a death effect--and with good reason, given the history of the term.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
blahpers wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Blindmage wrote:
Disintegrate?

Does it say it is a death effect in the descriptor?

Then it isn't.

That's great! So just make it an explicit definition and everybody will shaddup.

Otherwise we'll still get people wondering if a save-or-die poison or Su ability is a death effect--and with good reason, given the history of the term.

You mean like having it in the spell descriptor?

Do we also need to say that if you have acid resistance, it works against spells with an acid descriptor?

How childproof do we need to make the game?


I often find I have issues with statements made by Ciretose.

This isn't one of those times.


The problem with the "Any spell with the [Death] descriptor" definition is that it isn't adequate to cover all of those things listed in the glossary.

For example: is Phantasmal Killer a death effect?

It doesn't have the [Death] descriptor, but it meets the criteria (slays instantly and allows a Fort save).

However, some things in the definition of terms kind of rely on the fact that something is known to be a death effect to work.

For example, people slain by death effects can't be raised by Raise Dead, and Death Ward protects against it.

So, some things depend on whether or not Phantasmal Killer is a death effect.

So, which is the accurate definition?

If it's "Any spell with the [Death] descriptor" that should specifically be stated.

If it's "Any spell that kills instantly and requires a Fort save to avoid its effect (which has these added attributes)" that needs to be stated directly as well.

If the sole criteria is "Any spell that says 'this is a death effect'", then that also needs to be clarified, since that makes the existence of two separate and mildly contradictory definitions of the term completely moot, at which point, what's the point of having them?


There are so few death effects in the game anyway.

Isn't it easier to just have a dozen or so specific instances rather than a general rule with a dozen specific exceptions?

Death Effects say they are Death Effects. If it doesn't say Death Effect on the box, it's not a Death Effect.


Is a vorpal weapon's ability a Death Effect?


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There are so many possibilities.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:
There are so many possibilities.

Fortunately the possibilities that are death effects have the [Death] descriptor, so are easily identified.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

3 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 7 people marked this as a favorite.

Thread closed, as it's a tautology: a death effect is defined as anything that's identified as a death effect.

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