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@Li-aungYip 's recent question made me think about this.

From the d20SRD:

Regeneration

This white gold ring continually allows a living wearer to heal 1 point of damage per level every hour rather than every day. (This ability cannot be aided by the Heal skill.) Nonlethal damage heals at a rate of 1 point of damage per level every 5 minutes. If the wearer loses a limb, an organ, or any other body part while wearing this ring, the ring regenerates it as the spell. In either case, only damage taken while wearing the ring is regenerated.

Let's assume my PC wears the ring on his left hand. If his right hand is cut off, the hand would slowly regenerate. But what happens if my PC's left hand is cut off?

Theoretically speaking, the spell was active when his hand was cut, but the channeling (if it can be called like this) got interrupted. If my PC immediately (that said, less than 1 round) wears the ring again in his right hand, would he get his left one back? If the answer is yes (which I don't believe), would he get the hand back even if he doesn't wear the ring again (or if he wears it after 1-2 minutes)?

NB: While I would prefer a rules-as-written answer, feel free to answer anyway if this already happened to you and you used a house-rule!

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Perhaps a duplicate copy of the character would grow out of the severed hand with inverted alignment to hunt down the original twin! What a twist! –  Marc Dingena May 8 at 9:25
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Further to Marc's suggestion - if a character is wearing two such rings (one on each hand), cloning becomes a very real possibility! –  scubbo May 12 at 12:09
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12 Answers 12

up vote 28 down vote accepted

"Only damage taken while wearing the ring" does not imply that the regeneration only heals damage done since the last time the ring has been worn.

Let's imagine I'm a character wearing a ring of regeneration. I get dealt some damage, let's say 20 damage, and my ring heals me, round by round, 10 hit points.
Then I remove the ring and I still have 10 damage. I get dealt 3 more damage, bringing the total to 13.
When I wear the ring again it starts healing 10 more damage, bringing me back to 3 hp lost.

What happened? Only damage taken while wearing the ring is regenerated holds true.

So, you lost your hand and we decided this amputation is considered to have been done while wearing the ring. Next time you wear the ring, no matter how much time has passed, no matter if you lost both hands and now are in need of an Hand of Glory to wear it, you start growing back your hand, period.


If the hand gets pressed against the stump in time, instead, I would say the hand would get reattached and the ring would keep working once the hand is attached again.
While not attached, I'd treat the hand as an item, who does not regenerate.

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Next time you wear the ring -> This leads to another question: would the same apply even if I wear another ring of Regeneration? I mean, let's say I've lost that one. Could I buy a new one and still get my PC's hand back? –  Vereos May 8 at 7:08
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@Vereos. No, you'd not be wearing "the" ring. That would be another ring, with no memory of you taking that damage. –  Zachiel May 8 at 16:05
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There is no rule for this.

The rule doesn't exist because D&D 3.5 largely doesn't deal with characters losing limbs or suffering similarly grievous harm, wounds being abstracted away by hit points instead. Which leads to the slightly awkward situation of there existing a lot of ways to recover from dismemberment, but no ways to lose the limbs to begin with.

My guess is that this was done to keep the "gore level" inherent in the game down, opening it up to younger audiences.

However!

Outside the D&D rules text, a very similar situation has been covered rather well:

Precedent: Sauron vs. Isildur

I'd complain rather loudly if dismemberment isn't a valid way to render a ring impotent!

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Check and mate, imo. –  WernerCD May 7 at 19:25
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I would argue that this situation really depends on the nature of the ring - not just that it is a ring. Sauron's ring targets external entities, whereas a regeneration ring is pseudo self-referencing. –  Travis May 7 at 21:51
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@Travis sure, but SAURON. –  Lohoris May 7 at 21:51
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I have a very evil answer to that. Regeneration does occur. The left hand regrows the rest of its body unless the ring is take off that hand (assuming it can be found). If the ring is taken off nothing regenerates as the spell is broken.

Now the question becomes is the man with two hands or the man with one hand the "real" version of the character.

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Can you justify this answer by any relevant rules, flavor text, or canon stories? –  C. Ross May 7 at 17:05
    
@C. Ross: From the rules no and to be honest I haven't read any canon D&D stories in longer than I'd like to admit. If I had to give a literary source it would be the book A Planet Called Treason where the main character's ability to regenerate does essentially what I describe. –  HerbN May 7 at 20:35
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Could be an interesting story, but seems to go against both RAW and RAI. The ring must be worn by a living being. After being cut off, the hand is debatably not "living" and isnot a "being" as that word is commonly used. –  TimothyAWiseman May 7 at 21:17
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The rules never say anything explicit about it. However, let's get legalistic.

We can draw precedent from the regeneration ability that some creatures possess naturally:

Creatures with regeneration can regrow lost portions of their bodies and can reattach severed limbs or body parts. Severed parts die if they are not reattached.

Worth noting here is that regeneration does not apply to severed limbs: if they are not reattached promptly, they die. There are two major implications in this statement. One is that since the limb can die independently of its owner, it is no longer the same creature as its owner. The other implication is that death takes some time. It's reasonable to assume that a severed limb takes as long to die as any other creature that receives no healing and makes no stabilization rolls: about a minute.

So, what happens when the hand gets cut off? It becomes its own creature, and the ring takes effect as though it had a new wearer: in an hour, the hand will receive its first dose of healing. But the hand starts out at -1HP and is dying, so it will die long before that first dose of healing ever arrives. However, the secondary effect of the ring remains in play, so if the hand is pressed against the stump, the ring will do the rest of the work (from the ring's perspective it's healing your hand, not you, but the end result is the same). At that point, the hand becomes part of the owner again. That's a new wearer from the ring's perspective, so the timer resets again, but that's the only lingering effect.

Short-short version: You stop regenerating, but if you reattach the limb within a minute, then the limb heals. If you do this, you will have to wait one hour before your next dose of healing from the ring comes into play. If you don't, then the hand dies.

Sounds reasonable enough to me. You get a chance to reattach the hand, but you have to work fast. It's not explicit RAW, but I hope it would at least satisfy a rules-lawyer. It still doesn't define what happens to a hand that's kept alive long enough for the HP-restoring effect to kick in, but that leaves open some interesting possibilities in its own right. It also doesn't define what happens if you try to attach the hand to the stump of somebody else's severed limb: another interesting possibility that I don't want to mess with.

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+1 for mentioning that the limb can be reattached. I think it could also be argued that the ring's limb-regeneration is triggered at the moment the limb is cut off, and that particular triggering will run its course even if the ring is removed. –  Brilliand May 7 at 20:01
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Answering your first question:

Let's assume my PC wears the ring on his left hand. If his right hand is cut off, the hand would slowly regenerate. But what happens if my PC's left hand is cut off?

A PC cannot be said to be "wearing" a ring if it is on the PC's dismembered hand, as the hand is no longer a part of the living body, so the ring would not provide any regeneration.

Answering the second question:

If my PC immediately (that said, less than 1 round) wears the ring again in his right hand, would he get his left one back?

If the ring is placed on the right hand after the left hand is severed, even if it is within one round, the left hand is not regenerated because the PC was not wearing the ring on the right hand at the moment when the left hand was severed.

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I disagree: the PC was wearing the ring when the wearer lost the limb. As the damage was taken while wearing the ring, RaW says that putting the ring onto the other hand would cause the regeneration. –  Mooing Duck May 7 at 20:05
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Rules as written:

If the wearer loses a limb, an organ, or any other body part while wearing this ring, the ring regenerates it as the spell.

If the person is wearing the ring when the hand is severed, it regenerates. The magic required is imparted in that instant (as per the spell), and does not require the continued presence of the ring.

If you want to get to the absolute nitty-gritty:

Assuming causality holds true, the ring cannot be considered unworn until the hand is no longer part of the body (severed). It cannot be considered severed until that last bit of flesh is cut. Only one step can occur at a time: last bit of flesh is cut -> cosmic world status tracking system considers the hand severed -> ring is no longer considered worn. You can throw whatever additional steps in that you like, but it must occur in that order, so the ring is still worn when the hand is severed, hence it is regenerated, as per the spell.

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The absurdly literal answer would seem to be that the ring regenerates a new hand onto your body. You were wearing the ring when the body part was severed. The duration of regenerate is instantaneous, so removing the ring would not cancel the effect. (In general, removing a ring of regeneration after a body part has started regenerating will not stop that process.) However, once your hand was severed, you would not be wearing the ring, so any further damage would not be regenerated. In addition, your severed hand is an object, not a living wearer, so there is no way that it could gain any benefit from the ring (such as "regenerating" a new body).

An alternate interpretation would be that since the severing of the limb happened exactly simultaneously with the end of wearing the ring, the ring could not trigger at the time of the severing. If you reason that the regenerative effect must be triggered at least some quantum of time after the hand has been severed (i.e. that the regeneration cannot be perfectly simultaneous with the other events), then it could not be triggered while the ring was worn. In this case, putting the ring on your remaining hand would trigger the regeneration, because the ring only cares that you lost the limb while wearing the ring, not that the ring was worn continuously.

A third approach might be to examine the word "while". Before the exact instant the hand is severed, you are wearing the ring; after that instant, you are not. Are you wearing the ring at that instant? There's no coherent answer. If this were mathematics, we might examine a neighborhood of points in time around that instant, and say that you wore the ring "while" that instant occurred if you were wearing the ring in a neighborhood of that instant. In this case, you were not (because there is no time immediately after that instant, however soon, when you wore the ring). Therefore, the ring would not regenerate your hand, then or ever.

The sensible answer is probably that your hand doesn't regenerate. The more sensible answer is not to allow called shots in the first place.

P.S. The sentence "In either case, only damage taken while wearing the ring is regenerated." is not relevant to this particular question. A severed limb is not damage.

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what happens if my PC's left hand is cut off?

I personally would argue that the character who loses his limb is wearing the Ring while suffering the damage that results in his losing his limb. Hence, the Ring would help grow the lost limb back, either by reattaching the old one, or growing a new one.

I know the following reasoning is rather absurd in the RAW D&D world, but imagine it like this: you're likely losing the HP gradually while your hand is being cut off. Should you lose one single HP less, your hand wouldn't get severed totally: it would be dangling there, useless. So, where the Ring's RAW says "while wearing the ring", I, as a DM, would say, it applies to the damage suffered minus 1 HP. And, since the Ring works like the spell, you could reattach and regenerate the severed left hand almost instantly, if you have it (even if you have the ring on that specific hand.) If you put the ring on your other hand, and don't have the severed one, it would regrow the hand in 2d10 rounds. But you wouldn't get back all the HP lost: I'd say you'd be missing that last one, which, in this abstraction, was lost parallel to the final loss of the ring.

This would be my house rule (as the RAW doesn't cover such instances, afaik, just as Ernir said.)

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Targeting limbs is a variation of the game. Normally when you target a specific limb on a character (say the characters off hand) then that player would receive a penalty in whatever tasks would require him use of such limb. Example: If player is wielding a shield, the shield bonus from the severed arm is reduced or ignored depending on the severity. If a limb is targeted that is holding an item is broken, that item is no longer considered linked to the player, then the player no longer receives the buffs or magical effects of the item.

In this case, the magical item is no longer attached to the user, thus it is no longer being powered / it's magical effects are no longer active. So no, the finger would not heal or grow a new arm, etc.

If you put the ring of regeneration on a tree branch, would that branch grow a trunk or leaves?

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Cite please. I'm not sure what you mean by "variation." –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 8 at 1:01
    
Targeting limbs is not mentioned in the core book, it is a custom rule or variation you can add to the game. It is not mentioned in the SRD so it is assumed that critical successes are targeted shots. I have had some dm's treat a targeted shot attempt as a crit and others apply a -4 or -8 penalty to the attack role depending on the difficulty. It is preference.For citing purposes, here is an example of a variation: giantitp.com/forums/… –  DanceSC May 8 at 1:06
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If a body part is cut off, it does not simply fall off from one moment to the next. If you watch it in slow-motion, you see the weapon slowly cut through the flesh and bones till the very moment the last connection is broken and the hand/finger falls off due to gravity.

Taking this into account for the theoretical magical way of working, the ring would heal all damage from the first cut to the very point the connection to the body is cut, because this is the only precise moment where the person in question is "no longer wearing the ring".

So a ring would - once re-attached as in Zachiel's answer - heal all but the last point of damage, probably leaving a scar for the wearer to remember the incident.

A GM however might rule that a strongly magical weapon might disrupt the arcane structure in a way, that the influence of the ring is broken as of the magical distortion before the actual physical cut happened. But I wouldn't do this except for those one few moments where it serves the story-telling.

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A simple solution would be to declare that the hand wearing the ring cannot be "cut off" by anything short of lethal damage, unless the ring is removed first.

Of course, this could go any of a variety of ways:

  • The air gap created by passing a weapon through ones wrist might be deemed a temporary flaw.
  • This air gap might instead be deemed lethal.
  • Or, we could have variations on this theme where the air gap is not allowed to exist.
  • the DM could turn such an incident into a horribly complex disaster requiring the PCs cancel all their plans to resolve the resulting dilemma.
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Welcome to RPG Stackexchange rdm! Please take a look at our About, it'll help you get to know our site. –  C. Ross May 10 at 12:14
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The rules lawyer in me wants to concentrate on the clause

Nonlethal damage heals at a rate of....

Now if you were to lose the non-ring-bearing hand and survive, then, from the viewpoint of the ring the damage is non-lethal. That is:

The thing I am on is still alive and has taken damage. Therefore, HEAL.

If, however, you lose the hand the ring is on, the logic is the opposite. The severed hand is not capable of being alive independent of its body, therefore:

The thing I am on is dead. Sucks to be it, no healing.

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Welcome to RPG Stackexchange Ted Ewen! Please take a look at our About, it'll help you get to know our site. –  C. Ross May 10 at 12:14
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Thanks, C. Ross. I'm slowly but surely making my way into the myriad stacks. This question reminded me of a question from Leomund's Tiny Hut. A 'player' asked about the legality of a Paladin extracting information from a prisoner by putting a RoR on him and removing his face over and over again until he talked.... ahhh the good old days. Trolls actually had to know how to write back then ;) –  TedEwen May 10 at 12:36
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-1: Nonlethal damage has a specific definition in 3.5. It's a separate track of damage, and is not just 'damage that doesn't kill you'. –  DuckTapeAl May 10 at 12:40
    
Whoops, missed the tag. Ah well. –  TedEwen May 10 at 13:59
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