Channel Energy to heal or harm, affecting myself?


Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

Alright, so I've searched a fair bit on this and so far I can't find anything that answers this question.

I'm playing in an evil game, and I'm playing a character with the Negative Energy Affinity trait. My class is Antipaladin, and soon I am going to receive Channel Energy.

I mentioned that a great thing about Channel Negative Energy for me is that I can always heal myself, even while harming others. My DM argued that by the wording of Channel Energy, that's not the case.

He says that I am only healed by Negative Energy that is channeled to heal undead, and not to harm the living. Now, if it was another cleric/antipaladin channeling to affect me I would say he is right, but it says under Channel Energy "A cleric may always choose to include himself in this effect."

To me, that means that I can always be included in my own Channel Energy, and will be affected by my Negative Energy depending on whether I am alive or undead. In this case, I will be healed because I am considered to be undead.

Am I right that I can heal myself Negative Energy that is channeled to harm the living, or is he right that I can only be healed by Negative Energy channeled to heal undead?

I would be immensely grateful to any dev wandering by that could provide an answer, because both myself and my DM are 100% sure of our positions.

Dark Archive

Ok so lets go through this like a program would parse it.

Channel negative energy to harm living.
Include self in effect per the cleric clause.
Treated as undead for the purpose of resolving the effect of the negative energy. So you get to heal yourself.

You are a legal target for both effects and both heal you. Your DM is wrong if he is running this RAW. He can houserule this if he wants but it isn't overpowered.

The Exchange

"An evil cleric (or a neutral cleric who worships an evil deity) channels negative energy and can choose to deal damage to living creatures or to heal undead creatures."

I believe in 3.5 it did both at the same time. At the time of channel you need to choose to damage living or heal undead. That's btw out of the cleric chapter.

Including/excluding self comes after you select to damage living or heal undead.


Halek's answer is all there is to it. You are correct. You are not undead and are not affected by channeling used to affect undead. Some advice, don't channel energy. You are much better off using a conductive weapon to transfer debuffs to the opponent, or using 2 lay on hands, or using the dread vanguard archetype's ability. Hell, I would rather use channel smite than channel energy, and that's saying something. I am playing a dhampir antipaladin in a campaign right now. Channeling is cool but not very good.

Dark Archive

See but he is a legal target if he selects to harm living. He is a living creature and is taking his channel dice in damage from negative energy. If the cleric selects harm living he can target himself and takes negative energy damage. at eight level he heals from that instead of taking damage. He can also choose to heal undead. per the second clause he can heal from that as well.

At 8th level, you heal damage instead of taking damage from channeled negative energy. If the channeled negative energy targets undead, you heal hit points just like undead in the area.

A cleric can choose whether or not to include herself in this effect.

The Exchange

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Just a Mort wrote:

"An evil cleric (or a neutral cleric who worships an evil deity) channels negative energy and can choose to deal damage to living creatures or to heal undead creatures."

I believe in 3.5 it did both at the same time. At the time of channel you need to choose to damage living or heal undead. That's btw out of the cleric chapter.

Including/excluding self comes after you select to damage living or heal undead.

Lets Look at the relevant Pieces.

An evil cleric (or one who worships an evil deity) channels negative energy and can choose to deal damage to living creatures or to heal undead creatures.

A cleric can choose whether or not to include herself in this effect.

Regardless of sequence of events it does not work. It boils down to the requirement to either target living creatures to deal damage, or target undead to heal. Since you have to make a choice to heal undead or damage living then even if you include yourself when you chose to damage living then you do not receive healing because you are undead, and you're not choosing to heal undead.

I had the same thoughts when trying to pick a class to play my PFS Dhampir boon. It all falls through because you're not just targeting living, or targeting undead, but you're target them to perform a specific action (heal or harm)


DM is correct.

Targeting is a separate issue from how you are channelling.

If positive channelling:

To heal: Heals all targets in range except undead or negative affinity creature which are unaffected.

To harm: Harms all undead and negative affinity creature in range. Non-Undead or non-negative affinity creatures are unaffected.

If negative channelling:

To heal: Heals all undead & negative affinity creatures in range. Non-Undead and non-negative affinity creatures not affected.

To harm: Harms all non-negative affinity creature in range. Undead or negative affinity creatures are unaffected.


I think there is some confusion here. If a creature with negative energy affinity is dealt negative energy damage, it is converted to healing. If they are harmed via channeled negative energy, it would heal them. You wouldnt argue that inflict light wounds cannot heal a dhampir because it says "damage." He CAN heal himself with negative channeling.


Channelling is different.


How is it different? It allows you to deal negative energy damage to living creatures, including yourself. Negative energy affinity converts this damage to healing, does it not?


My opinion is that you would only heal if you channel to heal undead, not to harm living. You can include yourself in the effect all you like, but channels to harm living have no effect on you. You must sellect one type of channel or the other.

When good living cleric channels to harm undead, they similarly receive no healing.

The Exchange

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Smite Neutral wrote:
How is it different? It allows you to deal negative energy damage to living creatures, including yourself. Negative energy affinity converts this damage to healing, does it not?

No it does not, you are treated as undead for the purposes of determining if you are healed or harmed by positive/negative energy.

Because channeling specifically calls out that you have to select both the target creature type (living or undead) AND if you want to heal or harm them. You only do healing, or harming, to the appropriate type.

Since The cleric in this question is targeting living to harm. even if they select themselves to be included, they are still casting to harm, so even though negative energy heals undead they are only channeling to harm creatures, therefore they do not receive any healing.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Just a Mort wrote:

"An evil cleric (or a neutral cleric who worships an evil deity) channels negative energy and can choose to deal damage to living creatures or to heal undead creatures."

I believe in 3.5 it did both at the same time. At the time of channel you need to choose to damage living or heal undead. That's btw out of the cleric chapter.

Including/excluding self comes after you select to damage living or heal undead.

It did not. The channeling we have in PF was new to Pathfinder. But playtest versions of PF did allow both at the same time. The devs backed away from it as too good and divided the options between harming undead and healing living creatures (including the cleric).


Glorf Fei-Hung wrote:
Smite Neutral wrote:
How is it different? It allows you to deal negative energy damage to living creatures, including yourself. Negative energy affinity converts this damage to healing, does it not?

No it does not, you are treated as undead for the purposes of determining if you are healed or harmed by positive/negative energy.

Because channeling specifically calls out that you have to select both the target creature type (living or undead) AND if you want to heal or harm them. You only do healing, or harming, to the appropriate type.

Since The cleric in this question is targeting living to harm. even if they select themselves to be included, they are still casting to harm, so even though negative energy heals undead they are only channeling to harm creatures, therefore they do not receive any healing.

"Negative Energy Affinity: Though a living creature, a dhampir reacts to positive and negative energy as if it were undead—positive energy harms it, while negative energy heals it."

"An evil cleric (or a neutral cleric who worships an evil deity) channels negative energy and can choose to deal damage to living creatures or to heal undead creatures."

It is not a choice to heal or harm. It is a choice to damage living or heal undead. A dhampir is a living creature. When you deal damage to it with negative energy, it is healed.


Here are the relevant rule sentences:

Channel Energy wrote:


An evil cleric (or a neutral cleric who worships an evil deity) channels negative energy and can choose to deal damage to living creatures or to heal undead creatures.
[...]
Channeling energy causes a burst that affects all creatures of one type (either undead or living) in a 30-foot radius centered on the cleric.

EDIT: @Smite Neutral: Please remember that this is worded in the CRB (and thus does not follow normal/modern Pathfinder conventions).


Smite Neutral wrote:
When you deal damage to it with negative energy, it is healed.

Not too sure about this. It seems like you're extrapolating a bit too much. By the way I read it, it's just not harmed by the negative energy and not healed (the same way living creatures are not healed or harmed when a cleric channels positive energy to harm undead).


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Verecoth wrote:


Am I right that I can heal myself Negative Energy that is channeled to harm the living, or is he right that I can only be healed by Negative Energy channeled to heal undead?

I would be immensely grateful to any dev wandering by that could provide an answer, because both myself and my DM are 100% sure of our positions.

I don't think there's an obvious right or wrong answer to this as long as it's treated consistently at your table.

I do think your GM might have a take on it more consistent with the principles used by the positive-channeling cleric. The positive channeler either harms the undead or heals the living (including himself). He can't heal by channeling with the intention of harming anyone else. It sounds like your GM is choosing to keep that idea in place - you can't heal by harming anyone else. Plus there's the balance question because healing while inflicting harm at the same time is a pretty sweet deal, if it happens commonly enough. It's probably why the devs backed away from it in the PF playtests when healing and harming via channeling were coterminous.

That said, having negative energy affinity kind of tosses those expectations upside down and tends to fit with the idea of the anti-paladin better. Maybe an anti-paladin should be able to heal while inflicting harm, though that's a bit more powerful than the cleric's channeling scope. Maybe that's the argument you should make with your GM - that negative energy affinity really does turn channeling expectations upside down and, even though it could be a bit more powerful, it's highly anti-paladin thematic.


I agree with Rub-Eta. If a Dhampir is treated as undead then channeling negative energy to harm the living would do nothing to it.


You do not choose to harm the living. You choose to deal damage to the living, and you include yourself in this effect.

Negative Energy Affinity wrote:
negative energy heals it.

I don't think its extrapolating too much to assume from the words "negative energy heals it," that when a dhampir is subject to negative energy damage, negative energy heals it. Did anyone read Halek's opening response? He explained this pretty well.


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You aren't targeting undead when you damage the living. That's all there is too it. Negative Energy Affinty just tells you what happens when you are targeted by negative or positive energy,

The Exchange

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Rub-Eta wrote:
Smite Neutral wrote:
When you deal damage to it with negative energy, it is healed.
Not too sure about this. It seems like you're extrapolating a bit too much. By the way I read it, it's just not harmed by the negative energy and not healed (the same way living creatures are not healed or harmed when a cleric channels positive energy to harm undead).

This is a good example. By your(The OP, and those agreeing with him) method a normal human (or other living creature) cleric, that chooses to channel positive energy to harm undead would be able to heal themselves at the same time. But even though they can include themselves as targets for that channel, they are still channeling to harm, and since they are not harmed by positive energy, it has no effect.

Same circumstances, you invert them, a dhampir cleric channeling negative to harm living. They can choose to include themselves as targets, but they are channeling to harm, negative energy does not harm dhampirs (since they are treated as if they were undead, even though they are living creatures) since they are not harmed, it has no effect.


Quote:
Though a living creature, a dhampir reacts to positive and negative energy as if it were undead — positive energy harms it, while negative energy heals it.

It sounds to me like the two sides of the debate are:

A dhampir treated as undead for all purposes relating to positive/negative energy - so channelling energy to heal or harm the living will not affect it at all, while channelling energy to heal or harm the undead will affect it as it would any undead creature.

Versus:

A dhampir treated as undead only to the extent that "positive energy harms it, while negative energy heals it" - so channelling energy to heal or harm the undead will not effect it at all, but channelling energy to heal or harm the living will affect it the opposite of how it normally would.

Is that a fair summary?

The Exchange

Azten wrote:
You aren't targeting undead when you damage the living. That's all there is too it. Negative Energy Affinty just tells you what happens when you are targeted by negative or positive energy,

Actually the OP is claiming that the cleric can choose to include themselves as a target on any channel. Which is correct (See Below). The problem is that you don't just channel for specific target types (undead or living) but you also declare if it is to heal or harm. So a cleric that channels negative must declare they are channeling to harm the living or to heal undead. Thus even though a Dhampir cleric is including themselves in a channel to harm the living, they are specifically channeling to harm. therfore they can not be healed by that channel, even though they can also target themselves with the same channel.

Cleric's Channel Energy wrote:

"Channel Energy (Su): Regardless of alignment, any cleric can release a wave of energy by channeling the power of her faith through her holy (or unholy) symbol. This energy can be used to cause or heal damage, depending on the type of energy channeled and the creatures targeted.

A good cleric (or one who worships a good deity) channels positive energy and can choose to deal damage to undead creatures or to heal living creatures. An evil cleric (or one who worships an evil deity) channels negative energy and can choose to deal damage to living creatures or to heal undead creatures. A neutral cleric who worships a neutral deity (or one who is not devoted to a particular deity) must choose whether she channels positive or negative energy. Once this choice is made, it cannot be reversed. This decision also determines whether the cleric casts spontaneous cure or inflict spells (see spontaneous casting).

Channeling energy causes a burst that affects all creatures of one type (either undead or living) in a 30-foot radius centered on the cleric. The amount of damage dealt or healed is equal to 1d6 points of damage plus 1d6 points of damage for every two cleric levels beyond 1st (2d6 at 3rd, 3d6 at 5th, and so on). Creatures that take damage from channeled energy receive a Will save to halve the damage. The DC of this save is equal to 10 + 1/2 the cleric's level + the cleric's Charisma modifier. Creatures healed by channeled energy cannot exceed their maximum hit point total—all excess healing is lost. A cleric may channel energy a number of times per day equal to 3 + her Charisma modifier. This is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. A cleric can choose whether or not to include herself in this effect. A cleric must be able to present her holy symbol to use this ability."


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I HAVE FOUND THE OFFICIAL ANSWER. I AM SORRY I WAS UNAWARE OF THIS.

FAQ wrote:

Negative Energy Affinity: How is this ability (Bestiary 2, page 299) supposed to work?

The intent of this ability is that the creature is healed by negative energy (like an undead) and harmed by positive energy (like an undead); this is automatic and has nothing to do with the intent of the target or the energy-wielder. However, as written, the ability is a bit confusing because of the phrase “reacts to,” which doesn’t have a clear definition. This ability will be changed in the next printing of Bestiary 2.

Update: Page 299—In the description of the Negative Energy Affinity ability, replace the current entry with the following:

Negative Energy Affinity (Ex) The creature is alive, but is treated as undead for all effects that affect undead differently than living creatures, such as cure spells and channeled energy. Format: negative energy affinity; Location: Defensive Abilities.

So for the purposes of inflict spells, channel energy, touch of corruption, whatever, just pretend the dhampir is undead. Question answered. Lemartes was right. Sorry for causing a ruckus.


No sweat and I wasn't the only one who was right.

Good work finding the FAQ. :)

Grand Lodge

Let's leave aside all questions of optimization and whether channeling energy is the best course of action for this thread, can we? I'm only concerned with legality.

See, my problem here is with the line that reads "The cleric can always choose to include himself with this effect."

To me that reads the same as, "The cleric can choose to be affected by their channeled energy however their type is affected by it."

Basically, that they can always choose to be affected by their own channeled energy regardless of whether they channel to harm or heal, with effects varying based on whether they are living or undead.

So a living person who is channeling positive energy can always choose to heal themselves when using their ability, and an living creature channeling negative can always choose to harm themselves when using their ability. Conversely, an undead cleric channeling negative can always choose to heal themselves, and an undead cleric channeling positive can always choose to harm themselves.

This is how I've always viewed it, and I've never believed it to be unbalanced simply because they can only do it 3+Cha mod times per day. Or for an Antipaladin, (1/2 Antipaladin level + Cha mod)/2 times per day.

Now, as I said, if it was another person channeling, I would agree that I am only affected by positive energy channeled to harm and negative energy channeled to heal. I'm not disputing that. I'm only asking whether people think that the line saying "A cleric can always choose to include himself in this effect" overrides it when they themselves are the ones channeling.


You decide to channel negative energy and have NEA. Your options are as follows.

A. Damage living creatures. This will not affect you (see FAQ above), so you cannot choose to include yourself in the effect. This does not affect undead creatures.

B. Heal undead creatures. You can choose to include yourself in this effect (see FAQ above) and it will heal you. It will heal all undead in the area, and will not affect living (except for you).

Grand Lodge

Would that not be overridden by the line in Channel Energy that specifies that a cleric can choose whether or not to include themselves in its effects?

Core Rulebook wrote:
A cleric can choose whether or not to include herself in this effect.

Given that the cleric always has this option when channeling, does this not mean that they can always choose to subject themselves to their channeled energy, the effect of which is determined by the combo of living/undead + positive/negative energy?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

"Include" does not mean "affected in a beneficial way".

It means you don't have to have the Selective Channel Feat in order to exclude yourself.


CRB wrote:
An evil cleric... can choose to deal damage to living creatures or to heal undead creatures.
FAQ wrote:
Negative Energy Affinity (Ex) The creature is alive, but is treated as undead for all effects that affect undead differently than living creatures, such as cure spells and channeled energy.

Even if you could include yourself in the effect when you channeled to damage living creatures, you would not be affected because you are treated as undead for the purposes of channeling energy. If you really want to heal while channeling to harm the living, there are ways it can be done, but NEA alone will not do it.

Grand Lodge

Alright, then. Could you list some of the ways I can do that, then? Mostly out of curiosity, as I'm aware that using my Touch of Corruption to heal myself as a swift action will generally be more efficient. Also so I'm aware if I decide to play a negative energy cleric in future.


Envoy of Balance


Fiendish Vessel


The 8th level power from the cleric's death domain allows it.


Smite Neutral wrote:
The 8th level power from the cleric's death domain allows it.

I'm not sure I agree.

Death's Embrace (Ex): At 8th level, you heal damage instead of taking damage from channeled negative energy. If the channeled negative energy targets undead, you heal hit points just like undead in the area.

By RAW it sounds correct. However, I think this is a case of a poorly worded rule.

I read it as you'll never take damage from positive or negative energy when targeted to harm and you'll heal from them when you are targeted by a healing burst of positive or negative channelling.


They shouldve just kept the 3.5 channel rules to avoid confusion. RAI for death's embrace isn't undisputable. The text before the part you bolded could be interpreted to allow self-healing while channeling to harm living. Or it could be meaningless text that is explained by the part you bolded. Up to the GM to decide.


Yes that's why I said by RAW you're right but RAI...I might be right.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Smite Neutral wrote:
Glorf Fei-Hung wrote:
Smite Neutral wrote:
How is it different? It allows you to deal negative energy damage to living creatures, including yourself. Negative energy affinity converts this damage to healing, does it not?

No it does not, you are treated as undead for the purposes of determining if you are healed or harmed by positive/negative energy.

Because channeling specifically calls out that you have to select both the target creature type (living or undead) AND if you want to heal or harm them. You only do healing, or harming, to the appropriate type.

Since The cleric in this question is targeting living to harm. even if they select themselves to be included, they are still casting to harm, so even though negative energy heals undead they are only channeling to harm creatures, therefore they do not receive any healing.

"Negative Energy Affinity: Though a living creature, a dhampir reacts to positive and negative energy as if it were undead—positive energy harms it, while negative energy heals it."

"An evil cleric (or a neutral cleric who worships an evil deity) channels negative energy and can choose to deal damage to living creatures or to heal undead creatures."

It is not a choice to heal or harm. It is a choice to damage living or heal undead. A dhampir is a living creature. When you deal damage to it with negative energy, it is healed.

PRD wrote:
Negative Energy Affinity (Ex) The creature is alive but is healed by negative energy and harmed by positive energy, as if it were an undead creature. Format negative energy affinity; Location Defensive Abilities

"As if it were an undead creature". If the effect will not heal a undead creature, but only harm living ones, it will do nothing for a creature with Negative Energy Affinity.


Yes. Half of the forum argued your position. The other half argued that the part you bolded only applied to reactions to positive and negative energy. The debate was resolved when an FAQ addressing this issue was cited, above in bold.

Grand Lodge

I no longer believe that the rules as written support my position. A cleric channeling to harm cannot heal themselves, regardless of whether they are living and channeling positive or undead and channeling negative.

I think that in my own games I will overrule this, however.

Thank for your help, everyone. I consider my question answered.

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