Negative Levels and Possessing Creatures

Rules Questions

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

If a creature is possessing the body of another, such as with a magic jar spell, and the possessed body is then hit with an enervation, one of two things should happen:

1) The creature's puppet body suffers the negative levels and protects it. The penalties to things unrelated to the body are side-effects.

2) Negative levels are tied to soul energy (canon) and thus affect intangible things like caster levels, so affect the possessing creature and potentially force it to abandon the body to escape.

Which is correct?

Enervation only affects living creatures. Since a soul is not necessarily a living creature the spell is not affecting the soul. The spell also specifies life force, not soul. While they may be related they are not the same.

see old post circa 2016 where this question was stated before.
It references Occult rules. Helpful but it does not explicitly address this case.

The key question is when a creature possesses a body, does it become that creature for spell targeting purposes?
It becomes more complex if an undead possesses a living creature and is then bolstered by Enervation.
Alas, and then we have possession by an undead (servant/familiar) who willingly cedes the body to his master's possession leaving two or three souls in the body.

The effect of an Enervation effecting a presumably high level caster does not lead to "and potentially force it to abandon the body to escape." The magical protections of a caster combined with superior physical protections of the host body will make it difficult to score a hit or ranged touch.

I think the key point is that the nature of the possessing creature's life force doesn't change when they possess a host. While a possessing creature's immunities that derive from their physical form (like a red dragon's immunity to fire), they should technically retain immunities that are tied to their souls/spirits (for example, a ghost should still retain its immunity to mind-affecting effects and necromantic effects).

In which case, I suspect that the enervation or any other effect that specifically affects the life-force of a creature will have one of the two following outcomes with regards to the possessing creature:

(1) Unless you are aware of the presence of the possessing creature, you can't target its life-force


(2) it affects both life forces equally and the results are dependent on the nature of the life forces affected.

I think either of those are reasonable GM interpretation and adjudication of such similar corner cases based on the information provided in Occult Adventures about possessions and the possession spell itself. Unfortunately, neither section specifically addresses what happens with effects that involve life force.



Out of an abundance of free time, I was digging around to see if they ever covered this topic for 3.0/3.5 D&D (the predecessor to Pathfinder 1E), and I had found the 3.0E Ghostwalk campaign setting book. They actually go into more details surrounding possessions. Worth a look if you already have the book.



Thanks guys. Hopefully the Paizo staff answer this in an FAQ and we can get an official ruling. It seems really up to each DM right now.

Falkyron wrote:
Thanks guys. Hopefully the Paizo staff answer this in an FAQ and we can get an official ruling. It seems really up to each DM right now.

I agree that it is up to each GM, and we aren't going to get an official answer now. So I am going to tell you how I would run it:

The enervation affects both the possessor and the possessee, to the extent that it normally would if targetted directly. So basically CB's option 2 above.


I can tell you with nearly absolute certain (99%) that Paizo will not provide an official answer because this is for Pathfinder First Edition. You might get a developer's opinion if you ask them in their "Ask [insert name of the developer]" threads but I would not bother as focusing on Second Edition is their priority (as they should). ;)

I would recommend discussing the circumstances with your group and go with the option that fits you best. Whatever you choose, just be consistent. :)



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