Death Attack vs. Regeneration


Rules Questions

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Does Death Attack bypass Regeneration, or does Regeneration have to be turned off before hand?


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Dead is actually a condition:

Quote:

Dead

The character's hit points are reduced to a negative amount equal to his Constitution score, his Constitution drops to 0, or he is killed outright by a spell or effect.(emphasis mine)

Death effects (like an assassin's Death Attack, a cleric's Circle of Death spell, a ranger's Master Hunter attack) outright kill a creature that fails the effect's Save DC. Regeneration doesn't matter because the creature is straight up dead.

Also, the description of the regeneration universal monster ability states:

"Attack forms that don’t deal hit point damage are not healed by regeneration."

Since successful death effects straight out kill the target on a failed save, the effect/spell/attack didn't actually deal hit point damage. The effect/spell/attack outright killed the target. Blood may have shot out the troll's neck when the ranger's arrow took it in the jugular, but regenerating more blood ain't possible since the troll's soul is already on its way to the troll afterlife.


I'm pretty sure it doesn't bypass it. What happens instead is that the assassin knocks it out and it goes to negative con score in hit points. When the regeneration brings it to positive hit points, the creature gets back up.


What Laarddym said.

You can be killed by a death attack/effect while technically still be in positive hit point territory. It's not just magic that has "save or die" powers.

Something similar was debated not too long ago. A lot of arguments, but no real consensus.

IMO, regeneration = "harder to kill by normal means", not "impossible to kill unless you have a pack of matches".


Also, creatures killed by death effects cannot be brought back to life through the spells Breath of Life, Reincarnate, or Raise Dead. Just figured I'd throw that in there in case it comes up in your game.


Imo, the regeneration would have to be bypassed, but as Cranky Dog said there is no consensus. The "they cannot die as long as their regeneration is still functioning" is what does it for me.

Just talk to your GM, and expect table variation.


If it said "cannot die from hit point damage as long as their regeneration is still functioning", that would be different.

Note that so far as I know, the ring of regeneration does not actually grant the regeneration quality, but I know our GM house rules it to because otherwise why's it worth 90k?


Regeneration would have to be turned off.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Samasboy1 wrote:
Regeneration would have to be turned off.

Death effects turn off regeneration as they kill you.


"Attack forms that don’t deal hit point damage are not healed by regeneration."

It's literally right in the description of regeneration under "Universal Monster Rules".

Death effects do not deal hit point damage. They deal death damage. If you fail the save against the death effects, you take the effect of death. As a result of failing the save vs. death effect, you gain the dead condition, which is a defined condition that I copied right from the CRB earlier.

Since the death effects kill you outright, and do not deal hit point damage, they bypass regeneration since regeneration can only cure hitpoint damage.

Similarly, if a character with regeneration took enough Con damage to lower their Con score to 0, that character is just plain dead. Because regeneration only heals hit point damage, not ability score damage.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
laarddrym wrote:

"Attack forms that don’t deal hit point damage are not healed by regeneration."

It's literally right in the description of regeneration under "Universal Monster Rules".

Death effects do not deal hit point damage. They deal death damage. If you fail the save against the death effects, you take the effect of death. As a result of failing the save vs. death effect, you gain the dead condition, which is a defined condition that I copied right from the CRB earlier.

Since the death effects kill you outright, and do not deal hit point damage, they bypass regeneration since regeneration can only cure hitpoint damage.

Similarly, if a character with regeneration took enough Con damage to lower their Con score to 0, that character is just plain dead. Because regeneration only heals hit point damage, not ability score damage.

Nor would regeneration prevent you from being killed by a Shadow which is death by strength loss. No hit point loss involved.


seebs wrote:
the ring of regeneration does not actually grant the regeneration quality, but I know our GM house rules it to because otherwise why's it worth 90k?

Because it's still fast healing 1, negates all bleed damage, automatically stabilizes you when you go below 0 health, and can regenerate any severed limb, organ or body part after 1 hour.

Honestly I haven't encountered severed limbs yet in Pathfinder/3.x, the only ability I remember that could sever limbs was the Sword of Sharpness from 2nd edition. I guess though it's one of those things, better to not get a severed limb and be able to regrow it than have to search furiously for the PFS insurance policy dismemberment clause.....


LazarX wrote:
Samasboy1 wrote:
Regeneration would have to be turned off.
Death effects turn off regeneration as they kill you.

Nothing in the rules states this.

And while Regeneration can't heal Strength damage, it prevents you from death while it heals naturally.

Because "they cannot die as long as their regeneration is still functioning."


They may not "be able to die" while regen is functioning but since death effects don't deal HP damage and all regen does is heal HP damage, a person who dies to a death effect while wearing the ring gains no benefit from the ring.

The ring heals HP damage and reattaches limbs.
Regeneration does not bring you back from the dead.

Death effects bypass HP damage and kill you straight out. There is nothing for the ring to heal and the ring does not say it makes you immune to death effects.

You can say you "aren't dead" if you want to- but if the death effect kills you and the ring can't heal you, then there's nothing else for you to be but dead.


Selgard wrote:

They may not "be able to die" while regen is functioning but since death effects don't deal HP damage and all regen does is heal HP damage, a person who dies to a death effect while wearing the ring gains no benefit from the ring.

The ring heals HP damage and reattaches limbs.
Regeneration does not bring you back from the dead.

Death effects bypass HP damage and kill you straight out. There is nothing for the ring to heal and the ring does not say it makes you immune to death effects.

You can say you "aren't dead" if you want to- but if the death effect kills you and the ring can't heal you, then there's nothing else for you to be but dead.

First, I am not talking about the ring, which isn't the Regeneration ability, it does what it says it does and that's it.

But just because Regeneration can't heal something doesn't mean it isn't still active, and thus "you cannot die."

Ability score damage will drop you, and won't be healed. But you don't die, and normal healing rules would apply.

Dehydration damage will drop you, and won't be healed. But you won't die, you just probably need help to recover once unconscious.

An Assassin's Death Attack will deal damage, but if you fail the save you still don't die. Because you "cannot die." Death Attack doesn't say "apply the dead condition" it says "she dies." And you "cannot die" so you don't.

Nothing says Regeneration is turned off by Death effects, so it isn't.


You quoted the relevant bit in the regeneration text.

Quote:


they cannot die

Now if your death attack possessed the bypass for the regeneration (/chaotic for example), then it would die.


*Flagging due to double thread, answered in other thread.


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Regen does not grant immunity to death affects. Since I was in the other topic about this, I won't waste my time on a 2nd one.

PS: I am well aware this ability should be been written better, and I hope they get to it soon.


If you can't die, I think that makes you immune to death effects. Because, see, they only work if you can die.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
laarddrym wrote:


Death effects

like an assassin's Death Attack,
a ranger's Master Hunter attack

"assassin's Death Attack"

Not a death effect

"ranger's Master Hunter attack"
Not a death effect

Those kind of attacks reduce you "to a negative amount equal to his Constitution score" and can be healed by regeneration as the effect of the attack is to deal hp of damage.

Death effects are defined as such, not all effects that kill you are death effects.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
wraithstrike wrote:

Regen does not grant immunity to death affects. Since I was in the other topic about this, I won't waste my time on a 2nd one.

PS: I am well aware this ability should be been written better, and I hope they get to it soon.

More than a better written regeneration we need a official definition of what is a death effect.


Is this a real argument?
I'm still amazed that people still try this kind of stuff in non-competitive games.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
MrTheThird wrote:

Is this a real argument?

I'm still amazed that people still try this kind of stuff in non-competitive games.

Munchkin threads never die... they just regenerate. This one is in it's Colin Baker phase.


Take a look at the FULL sentence that states it cannot die, whats before it in the same sentence? Dealing hit point damage.
if u are dealing hit point damage, then no u cannot kill said target until u turn regeneration off.
you CAN starve it, sufficate it, kill it out right with a save or die spell or effect, lock it away until it died of old age, drown it, kill it by keeping it from sleeping, reduce one of its atributes to zero,etc etc.

As LONG as u are attacking it ONLY doing hit point damage, then it cannot be killed until u turn the regen off. So if u are against something that has regen, no fear just get creative.

If its to good to be true, then it aint true. If u look at JUST cannot be killed part and said just that, then it cant be killed unless u turn regen off. You look at the FULL sentence, u see it cannot be killed by doing hit point damage.


Though the troll is the iconic regenerating monster, we also have another regenerating big baddie which has its own specifics.

The Tarrasque (Bestiary, not the Inner Seas Gods one):
Regeneration (Ex) No form of attack can suppress the tarrasque's regeneration—it regenerates even if disintegrated or slain by a death effect. If the tarrasque fails a save against an effect that would kill it instantly, it rises from death 3 rounds later with 1 hit point if no further damage is inflicted upon its remains. It can be banished or otherwise transported as a means to save a region, but the method to truly kill it has yet to be discovered.

In this case, they specifically mention the exceptions to death effects with respect to the Tarrasque. And looking at the list of the Tarrasque's immunities, death effects is not one of them. So it *can* be slain with a death effect, but its über regeneration brings it back 3 rounds later.

It seems to imply that normal regeneration doesn't work on monsters slain by anything else than hit point damage. Once dead, you stay dead. (Cue Breath of Life thread)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber

Can a coup de grace bypass regen?

Coup de Grace:
Coup de Grace: As a full-round action, you can use a melee weapon to deliver a coup de grace (pronounced “coo day grahs”) to a helpless opponent. You can also use a bow or crossbow, provided you are adjacent to the target.

You automatically hit and score a critical hit. If the defender survives the damage, he must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + damage dealt) or die. A rogue also gets her extra sneak attack damage against a helpless opponent when delivering a coup de grace.

Delivering a coup de grace provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening opponents.

You can't deliver a coup de grace against a creature that is immune to critical hits. You can deliver a coup de grace against a creature with total concealment, but doing this requires two consecutive full-round actions (one to “find” the creature once you've determined what square it's in, and one to deliver the coup de grace).


No, CdG isn't a death attack.

I do find the tarrasque argument persuasive; clearly at least some of the writers thought that death attacks Just Kill You.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber

but CdG says: save or die


Diego Rossi wrote:


More than a better written regeneration we need a official definition of what is a death effect.

Agreed, there are a number of abilities that we treat as death effects at my games that don't actually say "death effect" in their descriptions. They read like they should be death effects, but the actual term isn't there.


Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
but CdG says: save or die

Doesn't make it a Death Effect. If it doesn't have the "death" descriptor (on a spell) or say specifically that it is "a death effect", it's not.


seebs wrote:
Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
but CdG says: save or die
Doesn't make it a Death Effect. If it doesn't have the "death" descriptor (on a spell) or say specifically that it is "a death effect", it's not.

Correct! Death attacks/effects are a special category of "ways to kill stuff".

From the PRD glossary:
Death Attacks

In most cases, a death attack allows the victim a Fortitude save to avoid the effect, but if the save fails, the creature takes a large amount of damage, which might cause it to die instantly.

Raise dead doesn't work on someone killed by a death attack or effect.
Death attacks slay instantly. A victim cannot be made stable and thereby kept alive.
In case it matters, a dead character, no matter how he died, has hit points equal to or less than his negative Constitution score.
The spell death ward protects against these attacks.

From the PRD spell descriptors
Death: Spells with the death descriptor directly attack a creature's life force to cause immediate death, or to draw on the power of a dead or dying creature. The death ward spell protects against death effects, and some creature types are immune to death effects.

Death (attack/effect/descriptor) is such a generic term that it's easy to confuse it.

BTW, the "no Raise Dead" is a clause I didn't remember.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber

Ok, I think I'm starting to understand. A death attack is something that, if you fail the Fort save, gives you a large amount of damage, as per the definition:

Death Attacks
In most cases, a death attack allows the victim a Fortitude save to avoid the effect, but if the save fails, the creature takes a large amount of damage, which might cause it to die instantly.

...unlike the assassin's death attack or CdG, which gives you damage first, and then you save AFTERWARDS to see if you die or not.

Hilarious that an assassin's DEATH ATTACK is not in fact a DEATH ATTACK.

:)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber
Cranky Dog wrote:
BTW, the "no Raise Dead" is a clause I didn't remember.

Under the raise dead spell, last paragraph:

"A creature who has been turned into an undead creature or killed by a death effect can't be raised by this spell. Constructs, elementals, outsiders, and undead creatures can't be raised. The spell cannot bring back a creature that has died of old age."

(there's a typo in that raise dead spell as it turns out, as it should say "death attack" not "death effect"; the glossary further complicates things though, as it says "Raise dead doesn't work on someone killed by a death attack or effect. ")

So we have the definition of Death Attacks great... but not Death Effects (so I'm gonna assume from now on both are the same: if it's not Save or LOTS OF DAMAGE, it's not a Death Attack/Effects, and Raise Dead works... which means Raise Dead works on CdG and Assassin Death Attack victims)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Purple Dragon Knight wrote:

Ok, I think I'm starting to understand. A death attack is something that, if you fail the Fort save, gives you a large amount of damage, as per the definition:

Death Attacks
In most cases, a death attack allows the victim a Fortitude save to avoid the effect, but if the save fails, the creature takes a large amount of damage, which might cause it to die instantly.

...unlike the assassin's death attack or CdG, which gives you damage first, and then you save AFTERWARDS to see if you die or not.

Hilarious that an assassin's DEATH ATTACK is not in fact a DEATH ATTACK.

:)

Not only that. Generally it say somewhere in the attack description that it is a death attack or it is a spell with the death descriptor.

An Assassin death attack essentially deal a lot of hit points of damage, so regeneration allow you to survive and recover.
On the other hand disintegrate, even on a successful saving throw deal some damage. If that damage is enough to bring you to 0 hp you are disintegrated. In that situation your regeneration don't help you as the added effect oft he spell is something beyond any level of hp of damage. (Note: disintegrate hasn't the death descriptor, but it has a added effect that go beyond simply dealing a lot of damage.)

There are a lot of situations where the difference isn't clear, but, for me, it is essentially:
- it do some or a lot of hp of damage, even to the point of bringing you to -constitution in one attack (like CDG or the assassin death attack), it can be recovered by regeneration;
- it kill you in some other way, from a poison reducing your constitution to 0, to a shadow reducing your strength to 0 (and only a shadow, as has a special ability that kill its target if its strength is reduced to 0 instead of putting it in a coma) or it has special effect if you are killed (I recall a old monster that had you bursting into flames if you were killed [reduced to -con in 3.X terms] by the damage dealt by its claw), then regeneration don't help you.


I don't think disintegrate is "a death attack", but it does have some overlap because it also prevents raise dead from working (because the body's missing).


Disintegrate is not a death attack or death affect, but raise dead requires your body to not be dust so it is just as good in many cases.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
wraithstrike wrote:
Disintegrate is not a death attack or death affect, but raise dead requires your body to not be dust so it is just as good in many cases.

Regenerate say: "Attack forms that don't deal hit point damage are not healed by regeneration."

Being turned to dust kill you, but it don't deal hit points of damage.


Diego Rossi wrote:


Regenerate say: "Attack forms that don't deal hit point damage are not healed by regeneration."
Being turned to dust kill you, but it don't deal hit points of damage.

I am going to link the previous thread.

It already covers a lot of this ground.


Huh, interesting question.

"Any creature struck by the ray takes 2d6 points of damage per caster level (to a maximum of 40d6). Any creature reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by this spell is entirely disintegrated, leaving behind only a trace of fine dust. A disintegrated creature's equipment is unaffected."

Now, if we're going to be excessively pedantic, I can point out that this does not say it results in your death.

What's interesting is that this is a hybrid. On the one hand, it does damage, and you are only turned to dust if that damage is enough to... knock you unconscious.

If it were "any creature killed by this damage is entirely disintegrated", that'd be unambiguously Not A Death Attack, because it was the damage that killed you.

But if you have 80 hit points and a con of 20, and you take 80 points of damage from anything but disintegrate, you're not even unconscious, usually. But if it's disintegrate? Dead.

This leaves open another question:

If something is a "death effect", but you save and it only does damage, and the damage kills you, can you be raised because you were killed by damage rather than the save-or-die? Or can you not be raised because the effect which resulted in your death was a death effect? (And yes, I know disintegrate just dusts you anyway.)


A death effect is a specific term that refers to a spell with the [death] descriptor or anything that specifically says it is one. Nothing else. This has been clarified multiple times.

As for the debate, it's essentially:

Death effect: "You die"

Regeneration: "No I don't"

over and over. A FAQ is needed.


I have a question related to this topic..... does this mean trolls still regenerate even via death attack? I ask as for trolls it explicitly states they do regenerate even if a single piece of their flesh is intact. And can regrow back to a full body from even a toe and that only way to prevent such is dousing -every- body part in fire or acid? Meaning they have super regeneration that is not the same as listed in the standard monster condition.

“ A troll’s appetite and its regenerative powers make it a fearless combatant, ever prepared to charge headlong at the nearest living creature and attack with all of its fury. Only fire seems to cause a troll to hesitate, but even this mortal threat is not enough to stop a troll’s advance. Those who commonly battle with trolls know to locate and burn any pieces after a fight, for even the smallest scrap of flesh can regrow a full-size troll given enough time. Fortunately, only the largest part of a troll regrows in this way.”


Arkainmon wrote:
I have a question related to this topic..... does this mean trolls still regenerate even via death attack?

Since there is still no official ruling about it: It's up to your GM. At least I found nothing about it in the Bestiary / Core Rulebook FAQ.

Personally I find the Tarrasque argument in this thread convincing and would rule a death attack can kill a troll.

In practice, fire or acid are easier to come by than a death attack, anyway. You don't even need magic for the two elements (torch, vial of acid etc.). I could imagine a corner case when the GM wants to troll you with a troll variant that doesn't suffer from fire or acid - then you could kill the thing with a death attack, avoiding Knowledge checks respective trying around.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber

This question keeps coming up and never makes much progress towards a resolution. I found this entry about Trolls which comes from Monster Codex that goes into details about trolls stating that they can be drown, starved, etc. This goes along with the reasoning that regeneration saves you from hit point damage but death caused by non hit point means bypasses regeneration.

The counter is that a drowned/starved troll isn't dead but is a suspended state until such time as the adverse condition is removed. So the room full of water and drowned trolls is an effective trap. The water subsides and you have a room of very hunger trolls. :)

I think it's a bit more consistent to say that death effects can kill a creature with regeneration, as will any method that kills via non-hp damage (con damage, suffocation, starvation). But the debate continues, and likely will until there's a FAQ that actually answers the question.

I also see the Tarrasque entry to point to the belief that death effects override regeneration hence the need to make the Tarrasque immune.


There will not be a FAQ that answers the question. PF1 is done. Table variance is the answer.

IMO death effects/coup de grace override, it makes the ecology of the world make a little more sense regeneration is strong enough as is.


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Hey, this thread regenerated. It took 6 years, but it came back from the dead.

/cevah


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Cevah wrote:

Hey, this thread regenerated. It took 6 years, but it came back from the dead.

/cevah

Found the answer. Spoilery, but in book 3 of rise of the runelords someone literally kills some trolls by beating them unconscious then drowning them. Given that that AP has been updated from 3.0, and reprinted at least twice with that detail included, non hp death kills trolls.


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The evidence from the Monster Codex states the same thing (you can drown trolls) and has already been pooh-poohed by regeneration hardliners. Still good to have a second official reference point though!

/in before "APs break the rules tho"

(edited for clarity)


Cevah wrote:

Hey, this thread regenerated. It took 6 years, but it came back from the dead.

/cevah

Wow. Minus thirty million HP? That's a lot of gratuitous stabbing.


seebs wrote:

No, CdG isn't a death attack.

I do find the tarrasque argument persuasive; clearly at least some of the writers thought that death attacks Just Kill You.

Do you have a RAW definition for Death Attacks?

A Coup-de-grace is save or die. Why would you not consider it a death attack.

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