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D&D 5E Living vs dead vs undead

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
While I think I have about the same experience (I still think that there have been a number of cases where it was borderline), there is one thing linked to this that I also have seen consistently, that once someone has become an undead and then died as an undead, he could not become undead again (at least not without going through a "living" phase again). In a sense, he was "deader than dead", although he could be be brought back to life (and then possibly raised as an undead if killed again).

This is consistent with the RAW. When you cats Animate Dead you point at the bones or corpse of a dead Humanoid. It's specifically capitalized so it's not a natural language humanoid (which a zombie is) but a creature typed as Humanoid. With the spell, the bones are "turned into" a Skeleton. Turned into implies becoming something, so your bones are no longer the bones of an Humanoid. They are a skeleton, and when it is destroyed, the remains are... the bones of an Undead, not those of a Humanoid.
 

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Dausuul

Legend
Revivify cast on an inert "Undead" does not bring the target back to "living", but brings back an Undead.
That's Jeremy Crawford's Twitter opinion. It is not stated in the rulebooks, nor is it part of the Sage Advice Compendium; and it directly contradicts the written text of the spell.

Revivify says it "brings the target back to life." If undead are not living (and @Voadam's quote, plus usage throughout the rulebooks, strongly implies that they are not), then "bringing [something] back to life" cannot possibly result in an undead creature.
 

That's Jeremy Crawford's Twitter opinion. It is not stated in the rulebooks, nor is it part of the Sage Advice Compendium; and it directly contradicts the written text of the spell.

Revivify says it "brings the target back to life." If undead are not living (and @Voadam's quote, plus usage throughout the rulebooks, strongly implies that they are not), then "bringing [something] back to life" cannot possibly result in an undead creature.
If you are one of those that believe the lead designer's Twitter "opinion" does not hold total weight over what some players "want", there is nothing to say to you. You are simply wrong. If you can't play by the rules of a game, maybe you should be looking at a different game.
 

Dausuul

Legend
If you are one of those that believe the lead designer's Twitter "opinion" does not hold total weight over what some players "want", there is nothing to say to you. You are simply wrong. If you can't play by the rules of a game, maybe you should be looking at a different game.
The 5E rules are the result of years of careful design and playtesting. The Sage Advice Compendium is the result of an internal process of collecting and reviewing errata. Jeremy Crawford's tweets are the result of whatever Jeremy Crawford dashed off in thirty seconds, in response to some fan asking him a question (and he frequently misunderstands the question). They have not been reviewed, edited, or considered in the broader context of the game.

Jeremy Crawford is not the King of D&D. The rules do not change because Crawford tweets that they did.
 


You will find that this Appeal to Authority does not hold a lot of weight around here.
OK, how appealing to logic and reading comprehension then?

Joe the Fighter has been turned into an Undead, by say, being killed, blowing his death saves, and then Animate Dead cast on the corpse (which by the rules is now an object) by the Evil Necromancer. Joe the Fighter is now a Zombie.

Joe's friends, all 5th level, find Joe the Now Zombie, some 10 minutes after he failed his last Death Save, and say, 8 minutes after he was turned into a Zombie. They recognize the Zombie are their former friend by the feather boa Joe always wore into combat.

So Joe's friends concoct a plan. They will simply have the Cleric cast Revivify on Joe the Zombie's corpse, immediately after "killing" the Zombie version of Joe.

Yeah....small problem with that. Raise Dead, a 5th level spell, and VASTLY more powerful than Revivify has this line in the spell: " The spell can't return an undead creature to life." But we are to believe that a 3rd level spell can do what a 5th level spell cannot do.

This is what drives me nuts. Players will willfully ignore the language in the rules because the rules don't allow to them to do what they want, or think is "cool".

Oh, and while we are at it, we can examine other more powerful spells:
6th level Heal: From the spell writeup: "This spell has no effect on constructs or undead."
7th level Resurrect: From the spell writeup: "You touch a dead creature that has been dead for no more than a century, that didn't die of old age, and that isn't undead"

So yeah, I am pretty confident that Crawford knew what he was talking about when he made his ruling in Twitter.
 

Dausuul

Legend
OK, how appealing to logic and reading comprehension then?
Reading comprehension? Revivify returns the creature "to life." Explain to me how this can possibly result in an undead creature.

Joe the Fighter has been turned into an Undead, by say, being killed, blowing his death saves, and then Animate Dead cast on the corpse (which by the rules is now an object) by the Evil Necromancer. Joe the Fighter is now a Zombie.

Joe's friends, all 5th level, find Joe the Now Zombie, some 10 minutes after he failed his last Death Save, and say, 8 minutes after he was turned into a Zombie. They recognize the Zombie are their former friend by the feather boa Joe always wore into combat.

So Joe's friends concoct a plan. They will simply have the Cleric cast Revivify on Joe the Zombie's corpse, immediately after "killing" the Zombie version of Joe.
There are two ways this could play out:
  • The remains are considered to be those of "Joe the Zombie," an undead creature. The spell cannot return this creature to life, because it wasn't alive in the first place. The spell fails.
  • The remains are considered to be those of "Joe the Fighter," a humanoid. The spell cannot return this creature to life, because it died more than 1 minute ago. The spell fails.
Either way, this plan is doomed to failure.
 

Voadam

Legend
Rules interpretations should probably start with the rules.

REVIVIFY
3rd-level necromancy
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (diamonds worth 300 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: Instantaneous
You touch a creature that has died within the last minute. That creature returns to life with 1 hit point. This spell can't return to life a creature that has died of old age, nor can it restore any missing body parts.

RAISE DEAD
5th-level necromancy
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a diamond worth at least 500 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: Instantaneous
You return a dead creature you touch to life, provided that it has been dead no longer than 10 days. If the creature's soul is both willing and at liberty to rejoin the body, the creature returns to life with 1 hit point.
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.
This spell closes all mortal wounds, but it doesn't restore missing body parts. If the creature is lacking body parts or organs integral for its survival-its head, for instance-the spell automatically fails.
Coming back from the dead is an ordeal. The target takes a -4 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks. Every time the target finishes a long rest, the penalty is reduced by 1 until it disappears.

RESURRECTION
7th-level necromancy
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a diamond worth at least 1,000 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: Instantaneous
You touch a dead creature that has been dead for no more than a century, that didn't die of old age, and that isn't undead. If its soul is free and willing, the target returns to life with all its hit points.
This spell neutralizes any poisons and cures normal diseases afflicting the creature when it died. It doesn't, however, remove magical diseases, curses, and the like; if such effects aren't removed prior to casting the spell, they afflict the target on its return to life.
This spell closes all mortal wounds and restores any missing body parts.
Coming back from the dead is an ordeal. The target takes a -4 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks. Every time the target finishes a long rest, the penalty is reduced by 1 until it disappears.
Casting this spell to restore life to a creature that has been dead for one year or longer taxes you greatly. Until you finish a long rest, you can't cast spells again, and you have disadvantage on all attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws.

TRUE RESURRECTION
9th-level necromancy
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a sprinkle of holy water and diamonds worth at least 25,000 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: Instantaneous
You touch a creature that has been dead for no longer than 200 years and that died for any reason except old age. If the creature's soul is free and willing, the creature is restored to life with all its hit points.
This spell closes all wounds, neutralizes any poison, cures all diseases, and lifts any curses affecting the creature when it died. The spell replaces damaged or missing organs and limbs. If the creature was undead, it is restored to its non-undead form.
The spell can even provide a new body if the original no longer exists, in which case you must speak the creature's name. The creature then appears in an unoccupied space you choose within 10 feet of you.
OK, how appealing to logic and reading comprehension then?

Joe the Fighter has been turned into an Undead, by say, being killed, blowing his death saves, and then Animate Dead cast on the corpse (which by the rules is now an object) by the Evil Necromancer. Joe the Fighter is now a Zombie.

Joe's friends, all 5th level, find Joe the Now Zombie, some 10 minutes after he failed his last Death Save, and say, 8 minutes after he was turned into a Zombie. They recognize the Zombie are their former friend by the feather boa Joe always wore into combat.

So Joe's friends concoct a plan. They will simply have the Cleric cast Revivify on Joe the Zombie's corpse, immediately after "killing" the Zombie version of Joe.
So the creature that died within the last minute is the zombie and not the living character who died 18 minutes ago.

So the question is can revivify return a zombie to life? As an undead it seems a reasonable call to say that revivify will not bring it back to unlife. It would also seem a reasonable call to go the other way and say that bringing an undead "back to life" means bringing them back to unlife. It seems an ambiguous rules situation open to different rulings.

Yeah....small problem with that. Raise Dead, a 5th level spell, and VASTLY more powerful than Revivify has this line in the spell: " The spell can't return an undead creature to life." But we are to believe that a 3rd level spell can do what a 5th level spell cannot do.
That seems a departure from reading comprehension here and not justified by the spells as written.

Spell A (revivify) can do X (bring a creature back to life).

Spell B (raise dead) can also do X but also has an explicit restriction of but not to subset Y (undead).

Reading it straight Spell A (revivify) is not restricted by the restriction of Spell B. It could be restricted similarly because of the definitions of life and unlife and undeath and death, but not because there is a restriction in raise dead.

As a matter of game design and in world logic it could certainly make sense to have the same restriction throughout all the raise type spells or to have the no undead be for all the lower level ones and save a powerful exception for higher level true resurrection, but it does not have to be that way of straight progressions. Each spell can be idiosyncratic in some way for various reasons.

Raise is higher level and costs a more valuable diamond and cannot be cast on undead, but also allows raising within 10 days instead of being limited to within one minute. That expansion of time could be conceptually so powerful that it takes higher level, more value in sacrifice, and requires a restriction in what can be brought back.

There could be a cosmological short time period after death where the animating force is still close enough that it is fairly easy for magic to put stuff back as it was, whereas the souls of undead and living creatures could go on different paths after a specific period of time and the mid level spells are tuned to grabbing life from the dead living creature path specifically and not the undead paths. It then takes the really big guns to grab undead life forces after the revivify window has closed.

Revivify could be the Princess Bride's "Only mostly dead" and it could work on undead too while the others don't.

This is what drives me nuts. Players will willfully ignore the language in the rules because the rules don't allow to them to do what they want, or think is "cool".
Yes, some D&D players will look at how things are actually written in the language of the rules and add in their own restrictions that are not actually there because they do not like the implications of what is actually written. :)

Oh, and while we are at it, we can examine other more powerful spells:
6th level Heal: From the spell writeup: "This spell has no effect on constructs or undead."
7th level Resurrect: From the spell writeup: "You touch a dead creature that has been dead for no more than a century, that didn't die of old age, and that isn't undead"

So yeah, I am pretty confident that Crawford knew what he was talking about when he made his ruling in Twitter.
I have no idea what Crawford says in his twitter account but I think sticking to the printed rules as a primary source is probably more useful in discussing the rules.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Reading comprehension? Revivify returns the creature "to life." Explain to me how this can possibly result in an undead creature.


There are two ways this could play out:
  • The remains are considered to be those of "Joe the Zombie," an undead creature. The spell cannot return this creature to life, because it wasn't alive in the first place. The spell fails.
  • The remains are considered to be those of "Joe the Fighter," a humanoid. The spell cannot return this creature to life, because it died more than 1 minute ago. The spell fails.
Either way, this plan is doomed to failure.
Yeah, I'm with this interpretation. I get what Crawford is saying - if revivify was usable on a zombie, it would return the zombie to (un)life and not change it back to a live person. I just don't think it makes any sense for revivify to affect undead creatures at all because there's no life to return them to.
 

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