Death by Attribute Damage and Breath of Life.


Rules Questions

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Can someone killed by attribute damage be brought back to life by Breath of Life?

Breath of Life seems to presuppose that the target was killed by hit point damage, but it only actually makes an exception for Death Effects.


Yup, it works. You immediately come back to life and stabilize.

Then you immediately die from lack of con, again. You have done nothing to negate what has caused the death.

If it is from a monster then you look at the monster's special abilities.

Say the shadow which says you die if your strength damage equals or exceeds your strength score. In which case you immediately die again unless somehow your strength improved between you dying the the spell being cast on you.

So basically it's like using the paddles on someone without a head. Yeah the heart might beat again, but that's really not going to help.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In theory, someone else in the party could ready an action to restore your Con as soon as you were brought back. Bonus points if both healers liberally quote ER (or other, less dated, references) during the process.


Cuuniyevo wrote:
In theory, someone else in the party could ready an action to restore your Con as soon as you were brought back. Bonus points if both healers liberally quote ER (or other, less dated, references) during the process.

Takes three rounds to cast restoration, which is going to make it really hard, considering you only have 1 round to make it work.

Might work a little better with a potion of restoration or lesser restoration, but even then it's going to be a pain in the butt since feeding someone a potion is a full round action.

So basically -- in theory yes, in action no.


Abraham spalding wrote:
Cuuniyevo wrote:
In theory, someone else in the party could ready an action to restore your Con as soon as you were brought back. Bonus points if both healers liberally quote ER (or other, less dated, references) during the process.

Takes three rounds to cast restoration, which is going to make it really hard, considering you only have 1 round to make it work.

Might work a little better with a potion of restoration or lesser restoration, but even then it's going to be a pain in the butt since feeding someone a potion is a full round action.

So basically -- in theory yes, in action no.

Maybe ready an action to cast Bull's Strength on them? That'll give you more than enough time for a Restoration.


Just theory crafting here, but if breath of life works and they just die again immediately, would that not also reset the one round limit? It's horribly inefficient but you could use breath of life multiple rounds in a row while another person either casts or uses a potion of Restoration.

Yes?

No?

Maybe?

*shrugs*


Yes. Unique and expensive torture. (Also this thread arrived at a very opportune time)


Scythia wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:
Cuuniyevo wrote:
In theory, someone else in the party could ready an action to restore your Con as soon as you were brought back. Bonus points if both healers liberally quote ER (or other, less dated, references) during the process.

Takes three rounds to cast restoration, which is going to make it really hard, considering you only have 1 round to make it work.

Might work a little better with a potion of restoration or lesser restoration, but even then it's going to be a pain in the butt since feeding someone a potion is a full round action.

So basically -- in theory yes, in action no.

Maybe ready an action to cast Bull's Strength on them? That'll give you more than enough time for a Restoration.

Depends on what bonuses they had to start with and how far down they went.

If they already have an enhancement bonus to strength and have taken a lot of strength damage (or if they had been in a rage, et al), you might not have enough bonus to make up for the damage they took.


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No, it doesn't work.

The fact that someone actually thinks it does makes me incredibly, incredibly sad.


Scythia wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:
Cuuniyevo wrote:
In theory, someone else in the party could ready an action to restore your Con as soon as you were brought back. Bonus points if both healers liberally quote ER (or other, less dated, references) during the process.

Takes three rounds to cast restoration, which is going to make it really hard, considering you only have 1 round to make it work.

Might work a little better with a potion of restoration or lesser restoration, but even then it's going to be a pain in the butt since feeding someone a potion is a full round action.

So basically -- in theory yes, in action no.

Maybe ready an action to cast Bull's Strength on them? That'll give you more than enough time for a Restoration.

I would allow that, assuming the Bull's Strength or Bear's Endurance or whatever is enough to bring the character above 0 in that stat. That would last for 3 minutes, minimum, which should give the players enough time to get off several Restoration spells.


No, it does not work. If you have 0 con then you do not even come back to life since you need at least 1 con to be alive.


Abraham spalding wrote:

Yup, it works. You immediately come back to life and stabilize.

Then you immediately die from lack of con, again. You have done nothing to negate what has caused the death.

If it is from a monster then you look at the monster's special abilities.

Say the shadow which says you die if your strength damage equals or exceeds your strength score. In which case you immediately die again unless somehow your strength improved between you dying the the spell being cast on you.

So basically it's like using the paddles on someone without a head. Yeah the heart might beat again, but that's really not going to help.

Actually, only Constitution damage or drain down to 0 is immediately lethal. Other ability damage or drain is not immediately lethal unless whatever did the damage or drain also kills you in some other way, like a Shadow does.



{. . .} A character with a Strength score of 0 is too weak to move in any way and is unconscious. {. . .}
{. . .} A character with a Dexterity score of 0 is incapable of moving and is effectively immobile (but not unconscious). {. . .}
{. . .} A character with a Constitution score of 0 is dead. {. . .}
{. . .} A character with an Intelligence score of 0 is comatose. {. . .}
{. . .} A character with a Wisdom score of 0 is incapable of rational thought and is unconscious. {. . .}
{. . .} A character with a Charisma score of 0 is not able to exert himself in any way and is unconscious. {. . .}

So then the question becomes: Does whatever the Shadow (etc.) did in addition to the damage or drain the victim's Strength (etc.) down to 0 to result in death last beyond the damaging or draining attack?

If so, then you would be correct, but it would also suggest that inserting Restorations or ability buffs in between damaging or draining attacks might not be enough to save the victim from death. If not, then Breath of Life should work.


Last time I checked, the only ability damage that can kill you is Con damage.

Using BoL when someone has con damage = con score (a functional Con score of 0) to get enough life into them so they can be restored, healed, bears endurance, etc. seems like a minor breach of the rules, but also like something that might as well work if you can pull the whole thing off.

So in home games it works, in PFS not so much.

Ability Damage:
Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal damage directly to your ability scores. This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability.

For every 2 points of damage you take to a single ability, apply a –1 penalty to skills and statistics listed with the relevant ability. If the amount of ability damage you have taken equals or exceeds your ability score, you immediately fall unconscious until the damage is less than your ability score. The only exception to this is your Constitution score. If the damage to your Constitution is equal to or greater than your Constitution score, you die. Unless otherwise noted, damage to your ability scores is healed at the rate of 1 per day to each ability score that has been damaged. Ability damage can be healed through the use of spells, such as lesser restoration.

Some spells and abilities cause you to take an ability penalty for a limited amount of time. While in effect, these penalties function just like ability damage, but they cannot cause you to fall unconscious or die. In essence, penalties cannot decrease your ability score to less than 1.

EDIT: #1 FAQ! What do I win?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
UnArcaneElection wrote:
So then the question becomes: Does whatever the Shadow (etc.) did in addition to the damage or drain the victim's Strength (etc.) down to 0 to result in death last beyond the damaging or draining attack?

Since the Str damage (etc.) does not go away, and it was caused by the shadow (etc.), the character will still die after receiving a breath of life spell.

Shadow wrote:
A creature dies if this Strength damage equals or exceeds its actual Strength score.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
So then the question becomes: Does whatever the Shadow (etc.) did in addition to the damage or drain the victim's Strength (etc.) down to 0 to result in death last beyond the damaging or draining attack?
Since the Str damage does not go away, and it was caused by the shadow, the character will still die after receiving a breath of life spell.

"Strength Damage (Su) A greater shadow's touch deals 1d8 points of Strength damage to a living creature. This is a negative energy effect. A creature dies if this Strength damage equals or exceeds its actual Strength score."

But you did die.
Then BoL brought you back to life.
Why should you die a second time?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Because this Str damage still equals or exceeds your actual Strength score.

No longer being dead does not change this fact.


I was directed here from another thread which I assume inspired this thread.

What besides negative con would normally kill you? In the thread I mentioned we are discussing how a shadow can cause you to die by giving you strength damage. Unless there are other methods, then I feel these are the two things to keep in mind.

Apparently, ability damage is gained, and added up, and not like traditional hit point damage, which I didn't know before. So, your scores don't goto 0, but equal or exceed your current score. So bears endurance might not matter unless it's one of those after 24 hour deals, but I'm not sure.

Anyways, specifically about the shadow, it says that it deals strength damage that is a negative energy effect. It doesn't say it's negative energy damage, and even if it did, are there rules to keep track of exactly what type of ability damage you take, and what ability damage you want to heal in terms of the special type? To me, if the damage from the shadow brings you to the number you currently have to exceeds it, then it kills you, and the process begins, but keeping track of "negative energy ability damage" isn't a thing. So, breath of life says if you have enough HP to live, and weren't slain by a death effect, then you're valid for being alive from death.

In terms of having the con score meeting or exceeding, it would seem you become alive and just die again unless you somehow resolve it with restoration or something that would fix your con score in time.

I would appreciate it if people could give me more insight on how ability damage works, and if you should keep careful track of specific types of ability damage, such as the ability damage I mentioned before that does it as negative energy effect.


Human Fighter wrote:


I would appreciate it if people could give me more insight on how ability damage works,...

Based on the language of the Ability Damage section it does seem like you could take a theoretically unlimited amount of ability damage. You go unconscious at zero Str, but I don't see anything saying you can't have a 10 Str and take 20 Str damage.

However, based on the language of spells like raise dead, it seems like zero is some kind of minimum.
"Any ability scores damaged to 0 are raised to 1." Perhaps left over from 3.5?


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TriOmegaZero wrote:

Because this Str damage still equals or exceeds your actual Strength score.

No longer being dead does not change this fact.

So your character for the rest of time will be haunted by this? I would like to believe it's when THAT ATTACK being responsible for the meeting or exceeding does it.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Human Fighter wrote:
I would like to believe it's when THAT ATTACK being responsible for the meeting or exceeding does it.

I'd like to believe that too, but until I see language stating that the ability damage is reduced or removed, or that the shadow only kills you when it deals the damage, I can't say that it works that way.


In the other thread someone just pointed out something pretty eye opening.

Ability Score Damage wrote:
Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal damage directly to your ability scores. This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability...If the amount of ability damage you have taken equals or exceeds your ability score, you immediately fall unconscious until the damage is less than your ability score.
Greater Shadow's Strength Damage Ability wrote:
A greater shadow's touch deals 1d8 points of Strength damage to a living creature. This is a negative energy effect. A creature dies if this Strength damage equals or exceeds its actual Strength score.

EDIT: TOZ, are you satisfied? :)


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So if someone dies by Shadow Str drain, is brought back to life via resurrection or something. Goes on their merry way to a long life of living, is str drained by poison years later, instead of falling uselessly weak they die because once in the past a Shadow molested them.

I don't assume the above is the way anyone would play it. Once you die the shadows ability drain *special* is expended and doesn't linger on past being brought back to life. So once alive again it is just 0 str penalty not penalty + shadow *special* .

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Human Fighter wrote:
EDIT: TOZ, are you satisfied? :)

No, because the regular shadow has the same text.

If you're trying to say that only the damage inflicted on the individual attack matters, then a greater shadow would never be able to kill anything with a Con higher than 9. (As you are not counting previous damage, only the current damage, which must equal the characters actual score.)

Kaelidin wrote:
Once you die the shadows ability drain *special* is expended and doesn't linger on past being brought back to life. So once alive again it is just 0 str penalty not penalty + shadow *special* .

I don't see anything in the rules that says the strength damage loses that special quality just because the character died from it already.


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Dead bodies can't have attribute damage. Would the attribute damage still be there if the body was brought back to life?


Kaelidin, pretty much, you'd have to take that interpretation if you believe that once you are brought back, that you'd die. The only other alternative I can think of is that you have special ability damage. The damage is considered to be a "negative energy effect" but they don't type the ability damage. So, to me, you just took ability damage as normal.

I figure that it's actually one of two things that'll kill you. If THAT attack causes your ability damage to meet or exceed your score. The other is kinda super RAW, which is that THAT attack needs to meet or exceed your score.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Doomed Hero wrote:
Dead bodies can't have attribute damage. Would the attribute damage still be there if the body was brought back to life?

Excellent question. The text of raise dead suggests they can. Hard to say if that was an artifact of 3.5 or not.


TOZ, unless there is proof you keep track of special ability damage, I don't see why you would fall back to being dead if you received a BoL. You'd be unconscious from what I figure.

RAW, the damage needs to meet or exceed your ability score.

I figure RAI is that the ability damage needs to meet or exceed.


Okay, I'm sure it's here somewhere and I just don't know where to find it, but by RAW penalties always stack, but other things don't.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that HP damage stacks, it's in the rules like a bazillion times. And there are clear examples of Ability damage being cumulative.

***HOWEVER*** the specific outweighs the general, right?

This rule is unique to shadows. It says, "This damage". It doesn't say, "the running total of strength damage from all attacks by Greater Shadows or this Greater Shadow or all Shadows or whatever the GM thinks is appropriate."

Why should this weird and unique rule be interpreted the way normal ability damage is done - normal ability damage doesn't function like this at all.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Amusingly, the easiest way to keep someone from dying to a shadow is to hit him with another form of Str damage that puts his total to higher than his score. Then he is paralyzed and not dead from Str damage.


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I'm just going to keep hitting the FAQ button on these posts until Paizo releases the Ultimate Ability Damage hardcover.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Human Fighter wrote:
I would like to believe it's when THAT ATTACK being responsible for the meeting or exceeding does it.
I'd like to believe that too, but until I see language stating that the ability damage is reduced or removed, or that the shadow only kills you when it deals the damage, I can't say that it works that way.

The ability to kill with Strength drain/damage is explicitly part of the Shadow's attack. It is otherwise impossible. Therefore death by Strength drain/damage done by a Shadow is only possible as the result of an attack by one.

If we allow that Breath of Life could revive such a victim, then a revived victim reduced to zero Strength would then become subject to the normal rules for zero Strength, as it was only the special effect of the Shadow attack that made it fatal.


@Human Fighter -

Yeah, that's what I figure. I forgot to say I'm very sympathetic to the RAI angle, but RAW? I just don't see it.

We'd house rule it easy enough at a home table, and no one would feel it was unjust if all damage from all shadows is cumulative for this purpose. But that still doesn't make it RAW.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Scythia wrote:
If we allow that Breath of Life could revive such a victim, then a revived victim reduced to zero Strength would then become subject to the normal rules for zero Strength, as it was only the special effect of the Shadow attack that made it fatal.

He's not reduced to zero Strength, he has Strength damage that exceeds his Strength score. If you can find a clause that says returning from the dead removes the special effect of a shadow's Strength damage I'd love to see it.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Amusingly, the easiest way to keep someone from dying to a shadow is to hit him with another form of Str damage that puts his total to higher than his score. Then he is paralyzed and not dead from Str damage.

Those shadows paid you to say that, didn't they?

Shadow Lodge

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I wish. I could use the gold.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Amusingly, the easiest way to keep someone from dying to a shadow is to hit him with another form of Str damage that puts his total to higher than his score. Then he is paralyzed and not dead from Str damage.

I'm not following this. It says meet or exceeds. So if you already passed the score, by the RAI interpretation any damage done by the shadow that exceeds the total would cause the effect to trigger.

I don't believe there are really different forms of ability damage other than just vanilla ability damage.


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It seems pretty clear to me, Breath of Life was intended to bring you back to life if you died from hit point damage.

It is not intended to bring you back from everything else. Is a FAQ even necessary?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Gauss wrote:
Is a FAQ even necessary?

A FAQ will be necessary until every question is answered.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Scythia wrote:
If we allow that Breath of Life could revive such a victim, then a revived victim reduced to zero Strength would then become subject to the normal rules for zero Strength, as it was only the special effect of the Shadow attack that made it fatal.
He's not reduced to zero Strength, he has Strength damage that exceeds his Strength score. If you can find a clause that says returning from the dead removes the special effect of a shadow's Strength damage I'd love to see it.

If you have a clause that says that Strength damage causes death other than when Shadow attacks, I'd love to see it.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Gauss wrote:
Is a FAQ even necessary?
A FAQ will be necessary until every question is answered.

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Scythia wrote:
If you have a clause that says that Strength damage causes death other than when Shadow attacks, I'd love to see it.

Why do I need that, when the character still has the Strength damage from the shadows attacks?


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Scythia wrote:
If you have a clause that says that Strength damage causes death other than when Shadow attacks, I'd love to see it.
Why do I need that, when the character still has the Strength damage from the shadows attacks?

Did you ignore what I mentioned/asked before? Are there rules to keep track of specific ability damage you take? AFAIK, you just take "ability damage".


The problem is the spell says it will return you to life barring a death effect. You will return to life, as the strength damage is not a death effect (neither is the con damage) -- however you are going to immediately flop over dead again.

The spell works -- it's just not going to accomplish anything really useful.

Side thought:

The shadow's create spawn ability doesn't say it only works one time per person, only that it works when you are killed.

As such you die, get brought back, die again == two shadows in 1d4 rounds.

Though it does raise another question:

Raise dead won't work after you have been turned into an undead. However if it goes off before you become undead shouldn't it then? Since the strength damage part isn't a death effect.

The biggest reason raise dead is nice is it has the explicit part about raising stats to 1 or better.


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Glutton wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
A FAQ will be necessary until every question is answered.
The beatings will continue until morale improves.

The moralists will be beaten until continuity improves.

No, wait, that is for alignment threads.

How about the beatings will improve until continuity gains morale?


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Scythia wrote:
If you have a clause that says that Strength damage causes death other than when Shadow attacks, I'd love to see it.
Why do I need that, when the character still has the Strength damage from the shadows attacks?

Because Strength drain can only kill when the Shadow attacks. Any other time, Strength drain causes paralysis.

Like this:
Victim Strength = 4
Shadow attacks, draining 4 Strength.
Victim Strength = 0, with special effect of Shadow attack causing death.
Victim revived.
Victim Strength = 0, with no special effect causing 0 Strength to be fatal, victim is merely paralyzed.

In other words, the "zero Strength equals dead" is only checked when a Shadow attacks because it does not cause death otherwise.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Scythia wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Scythia wrote:
If you have a clause that says that Strength damage causes death other than when Shadow attacks, I'd love to see it.
Why do I need that, when the character still has the Strength damage from the shadows attacks?
Because Strength drain can only kill when the Shadow attacks.

That's not how I read it. We'll have to see what the PDT says is right.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Scythia wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Scythia wrote:
If you have a clause that says that Strength damage causes death other than when Shadow attacks, I'd love to see it.
Why do I need that, when the character still has the Strength damage from the shadows attacks?
Because Strength drain can only kill when the Shadow attacks.
That's not how I read it. We'll have to see what the PDT says is right.

If a monster had an ability that said "if the creature touches a character while their eyes are open, the character dies", would you insist that any form of revival would fail so long as their eyes are open? Having one's eyes open is not fatal, except in that specific circumstance where the special ability is used.

Much like Strength drain.

Grand Lodge

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Not a valid comparison. 'Eyes open' does not equate to 'Str damage'.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Not a valid comparison. 'Eyes open' does not equate to 'Str damage'.

It does in the sense that neither is fatal except under the condition of (and at the moment of) a specific attack.

I can see that we'll disagree.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rynjin wrote:

No, it doesn't work.

The fact that someone actually thinks it does makes me incredibly, incredibly sad.

Why does it make you incredibly sad that someone thinks a 5th level spell that says it can raise a person from the dead unless they died of a death effect can actually raise someone who wasn't killed by a death effect?

As Abraham Spalding pointed out in his initial response to my post, it is very hard to pull off. It would require just the right combination of abilities (quicken rod comes to mind), positioning (you need to be close enough to touch the victim), timing (the caster of Breath of Life needs to delay their turn until after the person restoring has a chance to ready their action, and communicate the plan to said character in the space of a free action) and luck (if the person who gets knocked down was one of the two people who could participate in this dance, it obviously won't work, to say nothing of being interrupted by AoO's on the way to touch the victim). High risk, high difficulty, high cost and low chance of success while appearing to be completely legal? Why on Golarion would any GM disallow this?

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