Breath of Life & Memorized Spells


Rules Questions


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

The Core Rulebook, Magic chapter says:

Death and Prepared Spell Retention: If a spellcaster dies, all prepared spells stored in his mind are wiped away. Potent magic (such as raise dead, resurrection, or true resurrection) can recover the lost energy when it recovers the character.

Raise Dead: A character who died with spells prepared has a 50% chance of losing any given spell upon being raised.

Breath of life has no such overriding clause.

Does this mean that prepared spell casters who are raised from the dead by breath of life lose all memorized spells?


Or none of them are gone. Doesn't say you lose spells in breath of life. Only mentions losing spells in the spell raise dead. So it's a part of that spell, not a general thing about death I feel.

Sovereign Court

I'd say Breath of Life is more of a Mulligan.

A successful Breath of Life retroactively negates your ever having had the "dead condition" in the first place.


deusvult wrote:
A successful Breath of Life retroactively negates your ever having had the "dead condition" in the first place.

Where does it say that?


Chess Pwn wrote:
Or none of them are gone. Doesn't say you lose spells in breath of life. Only mentions losing spells in the spell raise dead. So it's a part of that spell, not a general thing about death I feel.

Did you read the section from the magic chapter that I quoted?

Raise dead changes the default assumption from losing all, to losing half, not from losing none to losing half.


I'm fairly convinced that as written breath of life removes all memorized spells, I'm just trying to figure out if I'm missing something since almost nobody actually plays it that way.


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If Breath of Life succeeds in raising you, it's like you never died in the first place. That's why you only have like a round to get it in before Raise Dead or better is your only option.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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As the original designer of breath of life... I can say that the intent was that it stops death the moment before it "takes hold." That's why it has to be cast so quickly after it happens. So, yes... if breath of life saves you, you never died in the first place, and thus you don't lose your spells. It's better to get breath of life than raise dead, in other words.

Sovereign Court

Pirate Rob wrote:
deusvult wrote:

I'd say Breath of Life is more of a Mulligan.

A successful Breath of Life retroactively negates your ever having had the "dead condition" in the first place.

Where does it say that?

Hence my preceeding sentence starting with "I'd say.."

The remainder of my explanation of my conjecture has been rendered moot by the golem.


James Jacobs wrote:
As the original designer of breath of life... I can say that the intent was that it stops death the moment before it "takes hold." That's why it has to be cast so quickly after it happens. So, yes... if breath of life saves you, you never died in the first place, and thus you don't lose your spells. It's better to get breath of life than raise dead, in other words.

Which solves what RAI was supposed to be, but if it is played by RAW, the recipient would lose all spells. That is untill an errata or a FAQ on the subject changes it.


I don't think I know anyone that would rule that you lose all spells automatically.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Lifat wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
As the original designer of breath of life... I can say that the intent was that it stops death the moment before it "takes hold." That's why it has to be cast so quickly after it happens. So, yes... if breath of life saves you, you never died in the first place, and thus you don't lose your spells. It's better to get breath of life than raise dead, in other words.
Which solves what RAI was supposed to be, but if it is played by RAW, the recipient would lose all spells. That is untill an errata or a FAQ on the subject changes it.

Do what works for your game. Don't let waiting for errata hold your fun up.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Lifat wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
As the original designer of breath of life... I can say that the intent was that it stops death the moment before it "takes hold." That's why it has to be cast so quickly after it happens. So, yes... if breath of life saves you, you never died in the first place, and thus you don't lose your spells. It's better to get breath of life than raise dead, in other words.
Which solves what RAI was supposed to be, but if it is played by RAW, the recipient would lose all spells. That is untill an errata or a FAQ on the subject changes it.
Do what works for your game. Don't let waiting for errata hold your fun up.

I feel like you should have a button on your keyboard to paste that.

I think this is a case where the spell doesn't break because of missing intended text/rules and there is a clear RAW. The spell still does it's purpose well and efficiently, regardless of spells lost or not. Your GM should play it whatever way he/she wants and, in PFS, it's probably going to go with the RAW.

Sovereign Court

Xethik wrote:
... and, in PFS, it's probably going to go with the RAW.

Or, not. As the GM may see fit. Table variation and all.


Xethik wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Lifat wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
As the original designer of breath of life... I can say that the intent was that it stops death the moment before it "takes hold." That's why it has to be cast so quickly after it happens. So, yes... if breath of life saves you, you never died in the first place, and thus you don't lose your spells. It's better to get breath of life than raise dead, in other words.
Which solves what RAI was supposed to be, but if it is played by RAW, the recipient would lose all spells. That is untill an errata or a FAQ on the subject changes it.
Do what works for your game. Don't let waiting for errata hold your fun up.

I feel like you should have a button on your keyboard to paste that.

I think this is a case where the spell doesn't break because of missing intended text/rules and there is a clear RAW. The spell still does it's purpose well and efficiently, regardless of spells lost or not. Your GM should play it whatever way he/she wants and, in PFS, it's probably going to go with the RAW.

Oh please don't misunderstand me. I always play by RAI over RAW in my homegames, and I have quite a lot of respect for JJ's posts on intent.

When I say something is RAW, it only means that it is how I understand the written word... But I always apply intent and I sometimes change things if I don't like the result.
But no matter how much we know what RAI is, the fact remains that the general rule is that you lose your prepared spells when you die, and because breath of life has no specific rule that changes the general rule, the general rule stands and thus RAW is that you lose the spells. PFS players specifically would be affected by this.


James Jacobs wrote:
As the original designer of breath of life... I can say that the intent was that it stops death the moment before it "takes hold." That's why it has to be cast so quickly after it happens. So, yes... if breath of life saves you, you never died in the first place, and thus you don't lose your spells. It's better to get breath of life than raise dead, in other words.

Thanks for the clarification!

I'm super curious: Did you have any thoughts on the thread a while back asking whether gentle repose would extend that timer the same way it would extend the timer for raise dead, etc.?


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Obviously for the first round you are only mostly dead...which is partly alive.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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seebs wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
As the original designer of breath of life... I can say that the intent was that it stops death the moment before it "takes hold." That's why it has to be cast so quickly after it happens. So, yes... if breath of life saves you, you never died in the first place, and thus you don't lose your spells. It's better to get breath of life than raise dead, in other words.

Thanks for the clarification!

I'm super curious: Did you have any thoughts on the thread a while back asking whether gentle repose would extend that timer the same way it would extend the timer for raise dead, etc.?

Gentle repose shouldn't extend that timer, no, because breath of life affects you in that split second before you're actually dead, or at least that's the flavor implied (which is also why it shouldn't wipe your spells).

But that said, I do rename the spell to cure deadly wounds in my games so clerics can swap it out and cast it spontaneously...


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
deusvult wrote:
Xethik wrote:
... and, in PFS, it's probably going to go with the RAW.
Or, not. As the GM may see fit. Table variation and all.

Right. I guess I should say expect RAW and don't try to argue it.

Lifat wrote:
Xethik wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Lifat wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
As the original designer of breath of life... I can say that the intent was that it stops death the moment before it "takes hold." That's why it has to be cast so quickly after it happens. So, yes... if breath of life saves you, you never died in the first place, and thus you don't lose your spells. It's better to get breath of life than raise dead, in other words.
Which solves what RAI was supposed to be, but if it is played by RAW, the recipient would lose all spells. That is untill an errata or a FAQ on the subject changes it.
Do what works for your game. Don't let waiting for errata hold your fun up.

I feel like you should have a button on your keyboard to paste that.

I think this is a case where the spell doesn't break because of missing intended text/rules and there is a clear RAW. The spell still does it's purpose well and efficiently, regardless of spells lost or not. Your GM should play it whatever way he/she wants and, in PFS, it's probably going to go with the RAW.

Oh please don't misunderstand me. I always play by RAI over RAW in my homegames, and I have quite a lot of respect for JJ's posts on intent.

When I say something is RAW, it only means that it is how I understand the written word... But I always apply intent and I sometimes change things if I don't like the result.
But no matter how much we know what RAI is, the fact remains that the general rule is that you lose your prepared spells when you die, and because breath of life has no specific rule that changes the general rule, the general rule stands and thus RAW is that you lose the spells. PFS players specifically would be affected by this.

I didn't mean to come off accusing, my mistake. Yes, this could be FAQ'd to retain spells on death. I just don't think it makes or breaks the feat. Pointing out a potential fix does no harm, I just wouldn't expect it to ve modified or brought up anytime soon is all.


I don't think Gentle Repose would work, as the target is "corpse touched".
You're not actually a corpse in effect.


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James Jacobs wrote:
But that said, I do rename the spell to cure deadly wounds in my games so clerics can swap it out and cast it spontaneously...

I actually think that is an awesome change. Joinked for my home games. I never liked Breath of Life as written in the books, because I always thought it was a little silly to prepare for a situation where you'd need it, and I also thought of it as a semi-weak spell. But if a cleric can spontaneously cast it, it becomes so much better,


Thanks James for the response and everybody else for your thoughts.

Silver Crusade

James Jacobs wrote:
seebs wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
As the original designer of breath of life... I can say that the intent was that it stops death the moment before it "takes hold." That's why it has to be cast so quickly after it happens. So, yes... if breath of life saves you, you never died in the first place, and thus you don't lose your spells. It's better to get breath of life than raise dead, in other words.

Thanks for the clarification!

I'm super curious: Did you have any thoughts on the thread a while back asking whether gentle repose would extend that timer the same way it would extend the timer for raise dead, etc.?

Gentle repose shouldn't extend that timer, no, because breath of life affects you in that split second before you're actually dead, or at least that's the flavor implied (which is also why it shouldn't wipe your spells).

But that said, I do rename the spell to cure deadly wounds in my games so clerics can swap it out and cast it spontaneously...

James, I love that change! Consider that bit of renaming genius stolen for my home games.

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:
Lifat wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
As the original designer of breath of life... I can say that the intent was that it stops death the moment before it "takes hold." That's why it has to be cast so quickly after it happens. So, yes... if breath of life saves you, you never died in the first place, and thus you don't lose your spells. It's better to get breath of life than raise dead, in other words.
Which solves what RAI was supposed to be, but if it is played by RAW, the recipient would lose all spells. That is untill an errata or a FAQ on the subject changes it.
Do what works for your game. Don't let waiting for errata hold your fun up.

That reminds me of Havelock Vetinari. "Do not let me detain you."

Sovereign Court

Renaming Breath of Life to Cure Deadly is a neat idea.

I'd shudder at what its Inflict counterpart would do, however ;)


deusvult wrote:

Renaming Breath of Life to Cure Deadly is a neat idea.

I'd shudder at what its Inflict counterpart would do, however ;)

I guess it would do an equal amount of negative energy, and maybe be able to reasemble the dust left behind after a destroyed undead (as long as it is cast within 1 round)?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

deusvult wrote:

Renaming Breath of Life to Cure Deadly is a neat idea.

I'd shudder at what its Inflict counterpart would do, however ;)

The inflict version is either just a 5d8 + level damage spell... or it's slay living.

Paizo Employee Designer

Or maybe it brings back dhampirs that died within the past round. Those poor guys need some way to come back from the brink too!

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
Theconiel wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Lifat wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
As the original designer of breath of life... I can say that the intent was that it stops death the moment before it "takes hold." That's why it has to be cast so quickly after it happens. So, yes... if breath of life saves you, you never died in the first place, and thus you don't lose your spells. It's better to get breath of life than raise dead, in other words.
Which solves what RAI was supposed to be, but if it is played by RAW, the recipient would lose all spells. That is untill an errata or a FAQ on the subject changes it.
Do what works for your game. Don't let waiting for errata hold your fun up.
That reminds me of Havelock Vetinari. "Do not let me detain you."

Oh, not really that much alike. The whole point of Vetinari's line is that it can be taken two ways; there's the innocuous "we're done here" interpretation, and the "don't do anything I wouldn't want you to do" warning that you would be well-advised to take into consideration.


I like the idea that an Inflict Deadly Wounds (Breath of Unlife?) spell brings back undead that have been destroyed for up to 1 round (if it would bring the undead up to more than 0 hp).


Gauss wrote:

I like the idea that an Inflict Deadly Wounds (Breath of Unlife?) spell brings back undead that have been destroyed for up to 1 round (if it would bring the undead up to more than 0 hp).

Now that I think about it, it would only be fair to expand it to "anyone healed by negative energy can be brought back if brought above their respective thresholds", so that it more closely matches it's positive variant.

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:
deusvult wrote:

Renaming Breath of Life to Cure Deadly is a neat idea.

I'd shudder at what its Inflict counterpart would do, however ;)

The inflict version is either just a 5d8 + level damage spell... or it's slay living.

Or Death Knell

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