Do You Count Time Spent as an Undead Against the Resurrection Time Limit?


Rules Questions


With True Resurrection, "you can resurrect a creature that has been dead for as long as 10 years per caster level."

Do you count time spent as an undead against the time limit?

Does it matter if the time was spent as an intelligent undead (lich, vampire, etc...) or as a mindless undead (zombie, skeleton, etc...)?

RAW, it seems like the time spent as an undead would count against the resurrection time, but... it also feels weird to apply that rule to intelligent undead who maintain much of their memories, skills, and personality from life into unlife.

What do you think? Should a 20th level PC cleric be able to resurrect an NPC who has been "living" as a vampire for the last 250 years?


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Well...

I'd say there are two general states of being: living, or dead

Being unconscious, being awake, dying, are all sub-states of living. You have to be alive to be awake or unconscious, and you have to be alive to die.

To be undead, you must first be dead. Hence, being undead would be a sub-state of being dead.

Since you're dead, at least by my logic, it would count against your time limit.


Will.Spencer wrote:
What do you think? Should a 20th level PC cleric be able to resurrect an NPC who has been "living" as a vampire for the last 250 years?

Yes. Spell Focus (Conjuration), Varisian Tattoo (Conjuration), Orange Prism Ioun Stone, Strand of Prayer Beads (Karma). This combination boost CL by 6. You're already CL 20, so a combined CL 26. 10 years per caster level (26) is 260 years, so yes, you should be able to.

Just make sure to kill the vampire first.


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My Self wrote:

Well...

I'd say there are two general states of being: living, or dead

Being unconscious, being awake, dying, ascending to a higher plane of existence and becoming a god (IE, taking levels in wizard) are all sub-states of living. You have to be alive to be awake, and you have to be alive to die.

To be undead, you must first be dead. Hence, being undead would be a sub-state of being dead.

Since you're dead, at least by my logic, it would count against your time limit.

The way I see it is that the limit exists to reflect a souls tenancy to be absorbed my the outer planes where the soul is typically whisked away to. An undead creature still houses it's soul and thus great power isn't needed to draw the soul back from its final resting place.

More to the point, "you can resurrect a creature that has been dead for as long as 10 years per caster level." Undead is just that... not dead.


Time spent as an undead counts as time spent dead. If you have a 100 year-old skeleton or a 100 year-old zombie... it's been dead for 100 years. Just because it was moving around for the last 50 years or so because that's when a necromancer animated it doesn't change that.

If you have a ghost that's been floating around its tomb staring at its 100 year-old corpse. It's been dead for 100 years.

It doesn't matter really were the soul is, whether it went to Paradise, the Far Planes, whether it's locked inside a rotting corpse (willingly or not), whether its being used by a devourer to power its abilities, or whether it's a free-floating spirit completely separate from the corpse you might be casting on (like a ghost).


Pizza Lord wrote:
Time spent as an undead counts as time spent dead. If you have a 100 year-old skeleton or a 100 year-old zombie... it's been dead for 100 years. Just because it was moving around for the last 50 years or so because that's when a necromancer animated it doesn't change that.

That makes sense for mindless undead, but it breaks verisimilitude for intelligent undead.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Will.Spencer wrote:
Pizza Lord wrote:
Time spent as an undead counts as time spent dead. If you have a 100 year-old skeleton or a 100 year-old zombie... it's been dead for 100 years. Just because it was moving around for the last 50 years or so because that's when a necromancer animated it doesn't change that.

That makes sense for mindless undead, but it breaks verisimilitude for intelligent undead.

Well, if you take into account Josh-o-Lantern's point it does make sense. It's not the animation that affects resurrection. It's the absence of the soul. Vampires and liches have no more soul than an animated skeleton or a plain corpse.


GinoA wrote:
Vampires and liches have no more soul than an animated skeleton or a plain corpse.

It is difficult to think of a character as complex as Dracula having no soul. It seems more that he has a soul and it is very evil.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Being undead also means that Raise Dead isn't going to bring you back anyway.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Will.Spencer wrote:
GinoA wrote:
Vampires and liches have no more soul than an animated skeleton or a plain corpse.
It is difficult to think of a character as complex as Dracula having no soul. It seems more that he has a soul and it is very evil.

It's used in a difference sense. What used to be a soul in Dracula's (or any other classic vampire's) body has been replaced by an infernal essence. That's why Angel and Spike were different from all the other vampires in the Buffyverse, they both had their own souls. Angel, as a result of a gypsy curse, and Spike as a reward for passing a set of trials. (although not the one he was hoping for.)


When you run into petitioners on the outer planes, they don't get all the cool ghost powers (not even the good ones so the notion that evil is stealing ghost powers from souls isn't applicable). I take that to mean the ghost is getting the power from somewhere (like the Plane of Shadows), and how does a ghost get that power? I figure they are unconsciously selling (or losing) little bits of its soul to said plane, and therefore the time of undeath counts as being dead for purposes of the spell.


I think this is pretty clearly getting into DM discretion. If the answer is dependent on whether or not undead still have a soul, that's entirely up to the campaign world.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mechagamera wrote:
When you run into petitioners on the outer planes, they don't get all the cool ghost powers (not even the good ones so the notion that evil is stealing ghost powers from souls isn't applicable). I take that to mean the ghost is getting the power from somewhere (like the Plane of Shadows), and how does a ghost get that power? I figure they are unconsciously selling (or losing) little bits of its soul to said plane, and therefore the time of undeath counts as being dead for purposes of the spell.

Petitioners are outsiders, not undead, the way ghosts are.


As it stands, there isn't an explicit rule that states whether or not time spent undead counts in this way. It's implicit that it does so most posters here will say it does, but a GM can overrule that if it suits him/her.

Will, are you the GM in your game? If so, do what you think is best for your game. If not, ask your GM.


LazarX wrote:
Will.Spencer wrote:
GinoA wrote:
Vampires and liches have no more soul than an animated skeleton or a plain corpse.
It is difficult to think of a character as complex as Dracula having no soul. It seems more that he has a soul and it is very evil.
It's used in a difference sense. What used to be a soul in Dracula's (or any other classic vampire's) body has been replaced by an infernal essence. That's why Angel and Spike were different from all the other vampires in the Buffyverse, they both had their own souls. Angel, as a result of a gypsy curse, and Spike as a reward for passing a set of trials. (although not the one he was hoping for.)

Just that you're mixing up different universes.

A lich does have a soul..sort of..locked up in a box but still.
As for other undead there is that thing with Pharasma not liking ANY unead at all for the simple reason of undeath stopping or at the very least postponing a souls travel into its destinned afterlife..but that's still not the point.

Point is there's no rule as such, but through analysis of different things flying around resurrection topics one can expand on the soul topic - yes, the problem is about the soul and to be more precise..

..it's about how deep the soul is into the way to its intended afterlife and beyond the point of no return.

Resurrection needs to draw the way for a soul to come back (while pumping positive energy to its linked body so there's anything to come back to of course). That's why it fails when something is holding the soul captive, when the soul simply doesn't want to come back anymore..or can't becaue it's too far away into other destinies already. That distance is the thing that's limiting resurrection times. The more time has passed the further the soul is and the more power you need to open it a way back.

Having said that, undeath doesn't let a soul go on - it locks the soul down. The soul can continue its way once it's freed from the curse of undeath. Thus the period of undeath shouldn't count towards the resurrection time limit.
I'd go even further - that undeath actually resets the counter, which you can start then start from null once the undead is back to a properly dead state.


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Magic Jar wrote:
In a group of life forces, you can sense a difference of 4 or more HD between one creature and another and can determine whether a life force is powered by positive or negative energy. (Undead creatures are powered by negative energy. Only sentient undead creatures have, or are, souls.)

Even though this is probably a backhanded flavour text, it does state it. The soul may be corrupted, or separated from the actual moving body, but it's still a soul. Probably there is more information in books like Undead Revisited though.

And I agree the time limit is because the soul is decomposed in the outer planes. If someone dies, and its soul is bound, and 500 years later, the gem is broken, and someone tries to revive him, I would say it could.

Maybe the text is refering not to the time dead (physiologically speaking) but the time since the soul has been separated. If it's bound, (by a gem or by undeath) then the soul hasn't passed away.


Gilarius wrote:
As it stands, there isn't an explicit rule that states whether or not time spent undead counts in this way. It's implicit that it does so most posters here will say it does, but a GM can overrule that if it suits him/her.

I don't want to make an arbitrary ruling, I want to make the most correct ruling.

Alas, this seems to fall between the cracks of the rules. I may just split the difference and say "that will take a Wish". Wish is where rules go to die.


Will.Spencer wrote:
Gilarius wrote:
As it stands, there isn't an explicit rule that states whether or not time spent undead counts in this way. It's implicit that it does so most posters here will say it does, but a GM can overrule that if it suits him/her.

I don't want to make an arbitrary ruling, I want to make the most correct ruling.

Alas, this seems to fall between the cracks of the rules. I may just split the difference and say "that will take a Wish". Wish is where rules go to die.

I have a house rule that creatures raised as undead cannot be raised or resurrected by anybody...makes a necromancer bad-guy very scary. Making a Wish (full, not limited) the only way to bring someone back could be a way to get around even my house rule.


StDrake wrote:
I'd go even further - that undeath actually resets the counter, which you can start then start from null once the undead is back to a properly dead state.

By that ruling, if the PCs were to break into a tomb and defile it, and in so doing, anger the dead or activate a curse that causes the entombed to rise as a spirit or come back, then it only counts as the dead bodies being dead for 1 day?

There are numerous cases and adventures where an action can cause an undead spirit or guardian of the entombed to take form even when such a creature did not, and was not, an undead creature before. Such as burning or desecrating a corpse could cause the spirit to return. It makes no sense that there's a 1,000 year-old corpse, but then suddenly it's turned into a mummy or a ghost, then as soon as it's destroyed, the corpse counts as as being dead for 1 day.

StDrake wrote:
Having said that, undeath doesn't let a soul go on - it locks the soul down. The soul can continue its way once it's freed from the curse of undeath. Thus the period of undeath shouldn't count towards the resurrection time limit.

It doesn't matter where the soul is or goes during that time unless it expressly says that it doesn't count as time being dead. If you die or stop living, such as being an undead (not turning into a statue, not being magic jarred in another body, not being trap the soul'd which specifically takes both your soul and material form and then reforms them when ended) you count as being dead.

It doesn't matter if you die and your soul lingers about for 5 days haunting your death site, then goes to the Plane of Limbo for 5 days, then waits around for 5 more days for a messenger of your patron deity to come by. Then you spend 100 years in Paradise... then a necromancer cast Create Undead and somehow brings your soul back in the form of a mummy. Then you run around for 5 days before you get destroyed. You count as being dead for 100 years and 20 days. It doesn't matter where or what your soul was doing.

Look at the Gentle Repose spell. It preserves your body... it keeps it fresh and the time spent preserved does not count as time being dead. It has nothing to do with where or what the soul is doing, only how long the body itself is dead, whether the corpse has been animated as an undead and then destroyed or turned into a marrionette for a macabre ballroom dance, or just lay on the ground rotting.

No where does it say that the distance between the soul and the corpse or the presence or lack of the soul in the area has any effect (even if the soul is still stuffed into its own rotting corpse). Only the time spent dead and the ability/willingness of the soul to return to life.


I would say it time spent undead absolutely would count. Just the way the spell is worded.

d20pfsrd wrote:

This spell functions like raise dead, except that you can resurrect a creature that has been dead for as long as 10 years per caster level. This spell can even bring back creatures whose bodies have been destroyed, provided that you unambiguously identify the deceased in some fashion (reciting the deceased's time and place of birth or death is the most common method).

Upon completion of the spell, the creature is immediately restored to full hit points, vigor, and health, with no negative levels (or loss of* Constitution points) and all of the prepared spells possessed by the creature when it died.

You can revive someone killed by a death effect or someone who has been turned into an undead creature and then destroyed. This spell can also resurrect elementals or outsiders, but it can't resurrect constructs or undead creatures.

If being undead didn't count... then why bother mentioning? what's the practical use? Is there much need to resurrect someone who's been dead 200 years? Nobody in the adventure will have met them, they are old news... unless they happen to be undead.

There's plenty of uses for 'restoring undead to life'... but if that's all it does, then why put the time limit on it? Most of the time you cast the thing the undead will have been 'true dead' for only a few seconds

I feel that trying to analyze undead/dead/redead/animated/location of soul... is really delving deeper then the spell intends.


Pizza Lord wrote:


By that ruling, if the PCs were to break into a tomb and defile it, and in so doing, anger the dead or activate a curse that causes the entombed to rise as a spirit or come back, then it only counts as the dead bodies being dead for 1 day?

There are numerous cases and adventures where an action can cause an undead spirit or guardian of the entombed to take form even when such a creature did not, and was not, an undead creature before. Such as burning or desecrating a corpse could cause the spirit to return. It makes no sense that there's a 1,000 year-old corpse, but then suddenly it's turned into a mummy or a ghost, then as soon as it's destroyed, the corpse counts as as being dead for 1 day.

I admit that part of my proposal is full of holes and I'd feel no shame in backing out of it. That still leaves the part about how deep the soul is into the afterlife as a pivotal point for counting the time.

I'd say being undead halts that progress as the curse of undeath leeches power from the spirit, the spells description about destroyed undead and not raising active undead for me means just that - the creature only counts as dead and raisable when its not in a state of undeath


Pizza Lord wrote:
Look at the Gentle Repose spell. It preserves your body... it keeps it fresh and the time spent preserved does not count as time being dead.

That's targeted towards Raise Dead. True Resurrection doesn't require a corpse -- preserved or otherwise.


Will.Spencer wrote:
That's [Gentle Repose]targeted towards Raise Dead. True Resurrection doesn't require a corpse -- preserved or otherwise.

You are missing the point. It's not targeted at raise dead it just uses raise dead as the most common example. Gentle Repose's effect applies to any effect that returns a dead character to life and has a time limit (which includes raise dead, resurrection, and true resurrection. It even applies to reincarnate as long as you've preserved that one chunk of corpse; even though you're just going to be creating a new one.

The fact that true resurrection can work even if a body has been destroyed is beside the point (at least since nothing in your original question has to do with that.) Gentle Repose would still increase the effective time that someone could be brought back to life with true resurrection, (because it can work with a body part being present.) Obviously there would still have to be a body, otherwise there'd be nothing to cast gentle repose upon.

The point is that your question is about Time Spent Dead... and clearly Time Spent Dead has nothing to do with where or what or how the soul of a creature went or did or was. The only thing a soul has to do with coming back is being free to do so and being willing to do so.

Bringing up gentle repose was to show you that Time Spent Dead is based on the body; not the spirit, not the soul, not the consciousness. So unless some adventure or plane states otherwise, none of the spells that bring a creature back to life are harder or easier if the soul is 7 planes of existence away from the body, or if the soul was last in the same room (or even occupying) its body 10 minutes ago or 10 years ago (as long as it's within the spell's time limit to bring them back.)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Here's another way to interpret, and I think the most common sense way: How long has it been since the creature died? Days as undead are still days since death. If a creature died 82 years ago but was undead for 70 of those, it still can't be raised by a level 8 caster because 82 is greater than 80.

I would probably house rule that if you want to raise from the dead a creature that is currently undead, you first have to kill its undead form. Then, if its original death is recent enough, you can use magic.


LazarX wrote:
Mechagamera wrote:
When you run into petitioners on the outer planes, they don't get all the cool ghost powers (not even the good ones so the notion that evil is stealing ghost powers from souls isn't applicable). I take that to mean the ghost is getting the power from somewhere (like the Plane of Shadows), and how does a ghost get that power? I figure they are unconsciously selling (or losing) little bits of its soul to said plane, and therefore the time of undeath counts as being dead for purposes of the spell.
Petitioners are outsiders, not undead, the way ghosts are.

That is true, but they are both souls that get up and do stuff. The rules question being discussed is not "are petitioners outsiders?", therefore drawing on the parallels between two similar things to inform a rationale is completely appropriate.


Redelia wrote:
I would probably house rule that if you want to raise from the dead a creature that is currently undead, you first have to kill its undead form.

That's the way I read it also. For creatures with Resurrection Vulnerability (Su), you can destroy them with Raise Dead then bring them back with Raise Dead. :)


Souls are treated differently in Pathfinder. For instance, Fey born in the first world don't have souls.


Mummys once actually had a specific vulnerability to resurrection unlike most other undead, that as I recall made even the most ancient mummy vulnerable.

I just checked the PF srd and it seems that resurrection vulnerability no longer exists for the mummy.


'Soul' is a very nebulous concept in the rules. I think there are plenty of options that are equally valid ways to view intelligent undead and how that interacts with resurrection.

One would be that an intelligent undead retains possession of the original soul, so that the time spent doesn't count.

Another would be that although the intelligent undead still has the same soul, dead is dead and the soul has lost affinity for the mortal body, so time spent undead counts as dead.

A third would be that the intelligent undead doesn't have the original soul, it is demonic or a copy made of soul-stuff but not really the original soul, so the undead state doesn't matter as far as time goes.


Will.Spencer wrote:
For creatures with Resurrection Vulnerability (Su), you can destroy them with Raise Dead then bring them back with Raise Dead. :)

Raise dead can't bring back a creature that was an undead (just like it can't if they died from a death effect. It could still destroy one with Resurrection Vulnerability, but not restore them to life. Even true resurrection can't restore a creature that is an undead (unless it's a specific undead that says so), though unlike raise dead it can restore life to a creature that was undead but then destroyed.


Pizza Lord wrote:
Raise dead can't bring back a creature that was an undead (just like it can't if they died from a death effect.

Ahh yes... I continually forget that about Raise Dead.


You can't generally target an undead creature with a resurrect spell, can you? You have to kill the undead, then resurrect the body.

I'd say this suggests that undead is different from dead, and time spent undead is different from time spent dead.


There is no "right" answer to this. The text of undead traits is here: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/undead

Two things stick out:
1) Undead are "formerly living"
2) Resurrection turns them into their former, living selves.

To me, these say they considered dead as far as the spell is concerned.

Either way, do what makes sense for the story.

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