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Death and 0 Max HP

dnd4vr

Adventurer
So an interesting thing happened in our game yesterday. One of the characters was killed by a vampire and had her maximum hit points reduced to 0 by the bite. A couple rounds later (vampire defeated), our bard with Revivify tried it and the DM ruled it failed (due to her maximum hp at 0). Now it is a race against time as the party has about 20 days (gentle repose) to find a priest to cast Raise Dead.

Our group is wondering will it work? Or is she doomed to remain dead? After all, she is still with maximum hp of 0. She is dead so she can't really rest to recover those hit points. We were thinking maybe we would need a Greater Restoration to restore the maximum hp first and then cast Raise Dead.

I don't know how our DM will rule it so I am thinking of getting compelling argument material in case he rules unfavorably. :) Thoughts?
 

MarkB

Hero
The Greater Restoration option seems like the most reliable one. It should work on the corpse, or if it doesn't, neither should the vampire's bite effect.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
First, I would go with whatever was most fun and best for the story.

There is some wiggle room since Raise Dead says "the creature returns to life with 1 hit point."

However it goes on to state
"This spell also neutralizes any poisons and cures nonmagical diseases that affected the creature at the time it died. This spell doesn't, however, remove magical diseases, curses, or similar effects; if these aren't first removed prior to casting the spell, they take effect when the creature returns to life. The spell can't return an undead creature to life."

So I would say you need a Greater Restoration which can end "
One effect reducing the target's hit point maximum".

They're both 5th level spells, so a cleric that can cast one should be able to cast another.

 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
He is pretty reasonable (most of the time LOL) for a DM. I think the Greater Restoration followed by Raise Dead is the way to go, just to be safe instead of Raise Dead by itself.

Now we just have to get to the city and hope we can find a priest who can do it (9th level is not common in our game), and of course we have to get back in time and try not to get waylaid.
 

jaelis

Explorer
Do note that you can cast gentle repose again before the first casting expires. That helps with time pressure.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Wow, that's an interesting place. I'm think about this both as if I was DMing this party and as RAW as I can get, which sometimes don't line up.

The reduction in max HPs continues until a long rest. RAW, a dead character can't take a long rest. But then RAW there's a question if the object (body of the dead character) is a valid target anymore for the HP drain. (Note that the buried & rise portion does not say that the body must still be at 0 max HPs, just that it was slain via this method, so it gives no guidance.)

Long rest mentions sleep with the possibility of light activity for up to 2 hours of it. Dead you can't sleep so by RAW that doesn't qualify.

Greater Restoration, on the other hand, is very clear that it needs to target a creature, which the dead body does not qualify as. So there's no way to cast that. Remove curse does target a creature or object so it could target the body, but there is nothing in the wording of the Vampire's Bite defining this as a curse.

Both Raise Dead and Revivify specify that you have 1 HP. How that interacts with 0 max HPs is undefined in the game, but the common usage of "maximum" implies it doesn't work.

Raise Dead, Resurrection, and True Resurrection have lists of what could be affecting a corpse, including wounds/damage, poison, disease, curses, and "the like".

Okay, here's thoughts:

Most permissive RAW: There is nothing that states that your HPs can not go above your your HP maximum via non-healing means, so Revivify (and better) would work, though the character's HP max would still be 0 (which is only death in conjunction with the Vampire's bite). A Greater Restoration or long rest to remove that penalty would be STRONGLY recommended. As a DM, I don't like this because it takes the horror away on top of it begin ridiculously legalistic and ignoring common usage of words like "maximum".

Permissive DM: I could allow that when the time for a long rest has passed, the HP maximum reduction has expired and raising after that would work. This is making a ruling that the vampire bite isn't supposed to last for more than about 24 hours so it's a temporary thing. This would still rule out Revivify so it keeps the appropriate level of horror. I might rule this for some tables I've been at.

Moderate DM: Make the ruling that Remove Curse will work (since it can target an object and "curse" seems to fit the vampire myth concept) and/or Greater Restoration can target a dead body since it once/will be a creature. I would likely go rule here myself, it gives a reasonable out and keeps the horror of vampires. (Side note, I'd also allow a Remove Curse before a corpse is buried to prevent rising as a vampire, along the same vein.)

Extreme RAW: Long rests can't happen, it's not a curse, greater Restoration can't target an object. Find another way to do it. Might be a quest or True Resurrection.
 

Stalker0

Adventurer
To me, the fact that Raise Dead provides a very specific note about magical diseases still impacting....I would say magical effects like the HP drain still apply, and so a greater restoration would be the way to go.
 

S'mon

Legend
I'd probably have them come back as a Vampire. :D

Their hp maximum is 0 so they can't be alive, so if they come back it'll be as undead.

Edit: Well really I'd probably let them come back with 1 hp apparently alive, and be able to rest to raise their hp total. The vampire stuff would come later...
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
To me, the fact that Raise Dead provides a very specific note about magical diseases still impacting....I would say magical effects like the HP drain still apply, and so a greater restoration would be the way to go.

Yeah, you'd have to be pretty literal to say that "This spell doesn't, however, remove magical diseases, curses, or similar effects; if these aren't first removed prior to casting the spell, they take effect when the creature returns to life" wouldn't cover max HP from greater restoration.

Worst case scenario I'd rule that a person with max HP of 0 is raised but unconscious at 0 HP. Since they're now alive again they can now take a long rest. Unless of course the group buries them just so they have a vampire spawn to kill for XP.
:erm:
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Do note that you can cast gentle repose again before the first casting expires. That helps with time pressure.
Yeah, we finished the session with Gentle Repose cast and having returned to the manor at the village. One of the characters has a Giant Eagle steed, so we are thinking of placing the corpse (which is under 5 feet tall luckily) into our bag of holding and sending him ahead to the closest major city, where he has the best chance of finding a cleric high enough in level to save her. The rest of the party will follow as quickly as possible. We don't like splitting up, but it seems our best bet.

While I think RAW there is nothing wrong with repetitive castings of Gentle Repose, I doubt our DM would allow it. We already house-ruled revivify because it is OP as is. He likes death to be an actual issue in the game. :)

For those who are interested, I will give a quick recap. The character's max hp was already greatly reduced by the wraiths we faced before the vampire. Two punches knocked the character out, and then a bite as a legendary action ended up being a critical for max damage, reducing the character's already reduced max hp to 0. The party won, but the character in question is one of our two primary spellcasters (secondary healer/ wizard combo).

I'll be interesting to see how it all plays out. I'll update the thread in two weeks when we continue. Thanks for all your feedback!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'd probably have them come back as a Vampire. :D

Their hp maximum is 0 so they can't be alive, so if they come back it'll be as undead. I guess the kindest would be to let them return as a Revenant.
Why would they come back as undead? If they were undead, raise dead won't work. The vampire power is pretty specific: "A humanoid slain in this way and then buried in the ground rises...". So yes, they died, but unless they're buried they don't come back as a vampire.

EDIT: In addition, gentle repose specifically states that while the spell is still in effect the corpse cannot become undead.
 
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LordEntrails

Explorer
Seems like the character needs a blood donation! (After all, that to me is what the reduced HP max of a vamp is, a blood drain.)

I like [MENTION=463]S'mon[/MENTION] 's idea. Sounds like fun to me :) *EG*

To me, Raise Dead alone would not be sufficient, after all, the character only would have 0HP. Maybe they would be alive but in a coma until some means is found to raise their HP max. Does that imply RD is needed before the Greater Restoration? Hmm...

Of course, wraith's have similar impacts on 'dead' characters. So maybe instead of the chance of becoming a vampire, maybe some sort of wraith/ghost/specter undead...

Seem to me like lots of opportunity for fun and unusual things to happen.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So an interesting thing happened in our game yesterday. One of the characters was killed by a vampire and had her maximum hit points reduced to 0 by the bite. A couple rounds later (vampire defeated), our bard with Revivify tried it and the DM ruled it failed (due to her maximum hp at 0). Now it is a race against time as the party has about 20 days (gentle repose) to find a priest to cast Raise Dead.

Our group is wondering will it work? Or is she doomed to remain dead? After all, she is still with maximum hp of 0. She is dead so she can't really rest to recover those hit points. We were thinking maybe we would need a Greater Restoration to restore the maximum hp first and then cast Raise Dead.

I don't know how our DM will rule it so I am thinking of getting compelling argument material in case he rules unfavorably. :) Thoughts?

My first thought was corpse seems like it should be an object, not a creature, so Greater Restoration wouldn't work. However, when I read Raise Dead, it mentioned needing to cure magical diseases on the target prior to being raised, so it does seem like a corpse can be the target of such spells.
 
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MarkB

Hero
With some DM buy-in you could make some sort of blood-ritual, maybe involving combining Raise Dead and Greater Restoration along with donated blood from other party members, to infuse new blood into the body as it is raised.
 

S'mon

Legend
Why would they come back as undead? If they were undead, raise dead won't work. The vampire power is pretty specific: "[FONT=&]A humanoid slain in this way and then buried in the ground rises..."[/FONT]. So yes, they died, but unless they're buried they don't come back as a vampire.

EDIT: In addition, gentle repose specifically states that while the spell is still in effect the corpse cannot become undead.
Once they're Raised the Gentle Repose would not be in effect.

They've been infected with vampirism, a magical disease, so they come back vampirised. I'd have them turn into a vampire later, as happened to my first PC in ES IV: Oblivion. She completed the game without feeding, then after failing to find a cure she walked into the sunlight.
 
Okay, so here is what I see. (I had to stop and rewrite multiple times as I ran across more subtleties, but hopefully this is now all accurate.) I’m going to try to stick with RAW as I’m interpreting it.

1) Greater restoration on a dead body straight up can’t work because they aren’t a valid target.

2) When you are dead you cannot normally have 0 hp. Your body is no longer a creature, so it has a null value of hp. It can have hp as an object, but that doesn’t matter here.

3) If you came back to life with 0 hp the worse that should happen (assuming trying stick as close to RAW as possible) would be that the DM could rule that you aren’t stable and someone needs to stabilize you with a healer’s kit or a Wisdom (Medicine) check.

4) The rules don’t allow you to take a long rest with 0 hp, so if you came back to life with 0 hp you would need a greater restoration to be cast afterwards to restore your hp maximum.

5) Raise dead says if the effects aren’t removed prior to the spell, they “take effect” *when* the creature returns to life. It doesn’t say they “remain in effect”.

6) The hp reducing effect cannot and does not apply to a a dead creature. It can only take effect again when the character returns to life.

7) The phrasing of the attack in question is slightly ambiguous as to whether the state of having a max hp reduction itself is the “effect” that kills you when your hp is reduced to 0, or it is the actual reducing of max hp caused during the attack. I’m going to assume it means the effect caused during the attack, because otherwise these attacks aren’t directly killing you, and also because otherwise you would be treating someone who just benefitted from a raise dead spell as if they were being hit from an attack, rather than under the ongoing results of a state initially delivered by that attack. This is the only real point of ambiguity I’m seeing in the RAW.

8) Therefore what should happen when you cast raise dead on the dead body is that the creature returns to life with 1 hp, then the state of having a max hp reduction until completing a long rest (but not the attack that reduced the the max hp) “takes effect”, dropping their hp to zero. They are now dying due to the normal game effect of having your hp reduced to 0, and cannot gain hit points (including by rolling a 20 on a death save) due to the state of having a max hp reduction that took effect when they came back to life, but can be stabilized normally, either through death save successes, healer’s kits, Wisdom (Medicine) checks, or the spare the dying cantrip. You can now cast greater restoration to remove the max hp reduction effect and they can then recover hp normally.

I seriously doubt that design intent is to make it any more difficult than that, but if someone wants to go with a ruling that really puts (IMO unwarranted and out of harmony with general 5e philosophy) an extra difficulty in recovering from this not terribly uncommon way for an adventurer to die, you could rule that true resurrection is required and works because the spell’s wording implies that it is intended to remove all of the things that raise dead and resurrection cannot. If you want to both stick with a RAW interpretation like I did above in 8, and be harsher than I was (killer DM that thou art), you could require the only other RAW option I can immediately think of, which would be a wish spell’s non-basic usage, with all of the listed risks and penalties.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Casting Aid on someone living with 0 max HP is a good way of getting them conscious enough to take a long rest to get rid of the max HP reduction.
Since Aid has to be cast on a living target, it won't help here since the vampire's bite kills the target when their maximum hit points are reduced to zero. Nice thought, though. :)
 
Since Aid has to be cast on a living target, it won't help here since the vampire's bite kills the target when their maximum hit points are reduced to zero. Nice thought, though. :)
But there's no rule that you need more than 0 hp to be alive, so a Revifiy or Raise Dead cast on the corpse will restore them to life with 0 HP, and then it's time for Aid.
 

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