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In a game that I'm in, the DM has decided to go with a lycan vs. vampire concept, and this has created a few conundrums.

One of the characters in our group is a dragon disciple, and another character is a barbarian. Both of them decided to take the vampire route, but no one is sure what happens with their constitution-increasing abilities. For example, when the barbarian rages, would that increase his charisma, instead of his constitution?

So far as I can find, whenever a creature doesn't have an ability score (such as a construct or an undead or an incorporeal) generally they use another ability score for all purposes the other would cover. For example, undead use their charisma modifier to determine health and fortitude bonuses, as they don't have a constitution score.

QUESTION: When a creature doesn't have an ability score, and that ability score receives an increase from an ability/spell, how does that effect the creature?

Related question for 3.5e

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up vote 18 down vote accepted


As okeefe points out, undead in Pathfinder use Charisma to determine hit points, saves, and special abilities related to Constitution. However, that rule does not mention anything about replacing bonuses to Constitution with bonuses to Charisma. If you have a non-ability in Constitution, then you simply don't gain the effects of that bonus.

Also important to note, from the undead subtype:

Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms).

And from the Barbarian Rage entry:

While in rage, a barbarian gains a +4 morale bonus to her Strength and Constitution, as well as a +2 morale bonus on Will saves.

Note that undead are specifically immune to morale effects, and the Barbarian's Rage gives morale bonuses. In this case, regardless of whether or not the stat boost to con shifts, undead gain no benefits from raging. You may want to talk to your DM about houseruling some of this stuff if he wants your Barbarian friend to keep being effective.

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It seems you found a RAW answer so +1 for finding it in B&W, however, if I were DM I'd implement rule 0 & fix that up pronto – Ben-Jamin Feb 3 '13 at 22:53
Agreed. A good way to look at it: How does being undead affect constitution penalties? The majority of players and DMs would probably agree that undead are immune to CON damage because they lack a CON score. There's nothing to decrease! They should, therefore, behave similarly to buffs; there's nothing there to increase! – Melon Feb 3 '13 at 23:16
However, in the pathfinder campaign setting books (undead unleashed i believe) we have seen undead barbarians that benefit from rage bonuses, their ability is not exactly the same, but has the same name. – ShadowKras Dec 15 '15 at 10:40
@ShadowKras Do you have a reference to that, or a link? I can't find anything like that on the PFSRD, and I'd be happy to add it to my answer if I had a reference. – DuckTapeAl Dec 15 '15 at 16:06
It wont show up on PFSRD because it's a campaign setting book. You would have to look for the PDF somewhere or buy it from paizo's website. When i get home i will search my books for the creature's name and will post here. – ShadowKras Dec 15 '15 at 18:13

Bestiary, page 310

Traits: An undead creature possesses the following traits (unless otherwise noted in a creature's entry).

  • No Constitution score. Undead use their Charisma score in place of their Constitution score when calculating hit points, Fortitude saves, and any special ability that relies on Constitution (such as when calculating a breath weapon’s DC).

It seems that everything that would affect Constitution now affects Charisma.

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I really need to double-check that Pathfinder hasn't changed something before I answer. Good find. Not sure I like the rule, but in this particular case it's better than 3.5's. – KRyan Dec 10 '12 at 5:43
I'm just reporting what it says—check out the link. If someone wants to find rules specifically about undead PCs, that could be very interesting. If being undead was all sunshine and roses, everyone would do it. – okeefe Dec 10 '12 at 5:48
@SimonGill: No, that's the section on the properties of Undead Racial Hit Dice. You don't gain those unless you actually have Undead Racial Hit Dice, and then only for those HD. The things you gain when you become Undead are below, in the Traits section. – KRyan Dec 10 '12 at 15:02
Actually, even though that section says Charisma is used in place of Con, it does NOT say that bonuses to Con transfer to Charisma. I would actually say that bonuses to Con simply do nothing. – YogoZuno Dec 13 '12 at 23:09
OK, so you use your Charisma to calculate how many rounds a day you can raise your Str and Con. Done. – YogoZuno Jun 4 '13 at 10:24

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