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I keep looking through but not finding anything that talks about knocking someone out, other than like paralysis.

Looking for a way to knock enemies out such that they'll get up after a few hours and be ok.

I could house rule it but I was hoping there was something in RAW for this.

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Is Subdual damage a thing in pathfinder? –  GMNoob Jul 20 '14 at 11:51
@GMNoob The term subdual damage was changed to nonlethal damage during the transition between Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition and 3.5. Some d20 games nonetheless kept the term (e.g. both editions of Spycraft). –  Hey I Can Chan Jul 20 '14 at 11:57

2 Answers 2

Most weapons that inflict lethal damage can be used to inflict nonlethal damage if the wielder takes a -4 penalty to his attack roll beforehand. Learn more about inflicting nonlethal damage with weapons here: Nonlethal Damage.

To explain further, when a creature takes nonlethal damage

Do not deduct the nonlethal damage number from [its] current hit points. [This] is not "real" damage. Instead, when... nonlethal damage equals... current hit points, [the creature is] staggered (see below), and when it exceeds current hit points, [it falls] unconscious.


If a creature's nonlethal damage is equal to his total maximum hit points (not his current hit points), all further nonlethal damage is treated as lethal damage.

So a dude has to really be beating on the fool to kill him with nonlethal damage. For example, a creature with a maximum of 10 hp who takes 11 points of nonlethal damage takes 1 point of lethal damage and is unconscious. Then the dude would have to continue beating the unconscious foe for 9 more points of damage plus the unconscious creature's Constitution score to kill him.

Unless the dude's whipping out his Monster Shark Turbo Strike or whatever and using it for enough nonlethal damage to both A) equal the foe's maximum hp and B) equal the foe's remaining actual hp plus the foe's Constitution score, the foe should be fine in a few hours.

You heal nonlethal damage at the rate of 1 hit point per hour per character level. When a spell or ability cures hit point damage, it also removes an equal amount of nonlethal damage.

Aside from that, there are weapons which specifically deal nonlethal damage by default, the list includes the sap, whip, bolas and others. With these, you take a -4 penalty while attempting to inflict lethal damage.

Finally, a character can improve her ability to inflict nonlethal damage using the following feats:

  1. Bludgeoner - no -4 penalty when using lethal bludgeoning weapons for nonlethal attacks.
  2. Stage Combatant - no -4 penalty when using (any) lethal weapon in which you have Weapon Focus. Despite the theatrical name, this is also useful for Paladins and any "merciful" PC with a signature weapon.
  3. Merciful Spell - a metamegic feat which allows a caster to cast a lethal spell as nonlethal (has no level increase).
  4. Betraying Blow - use Bluff for extra nonlethal damage while fighting 1 on 1.
  5. Sap Adept & Sap Master - allow a Rogue to deal a lot of nonlethal damage using sap and sneak-attacks.
  6. Pinning Knockout - allows a Monk to inflict a lot of nonlethal damage while grappling.
  7. Knockout Artist - extra nonlethal damage when combining sneak-attack and unarmed strike (useful for Rogue/Monk, Ninja and some other exotic combinations).
  8. Merciful Bane - allows Inquisitors (and others with Bane class feature) to switch their weapon to nonlethal damage while under the effect of Bane (no -4 on attacks, Bane extra damage becomes nonlethal too).
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Yes, but if you knock someone out with non-lethal damage, they begin to take lethal damage don't they? So they need to be stabilized which was something I was trying to avoid. –  Nerevar Jul 20 '14 at 11:56
No, that's the point of nonlethal damage. Once they drop below 0, they are just unconscious not dying/dead. –  Adeptus Jul 20 '14 at 12:03
OH! I see, I was understanding that non-lethal damage also turns into lethal damage once they take their max HP in non-lethal. So in your example, I was thinking that once the creature took 11 points of non-lethal damage he now had -1 HP and would need to stabilize but really he is just unconscious and with a current 9 HP is that right? –  Nerevar Jul 20 '14 at 12:35
@Nerevar Yes, in the example the creature with 10 hp maximum who suffers 11 points of nonlethal damage suffers only 1 hp of lethal damage and falls unconscious. No further damage is sustained unless, after all this, the unconscious creature is again whacked by the club-wielding dude ("Gotta make sure he stays unconscious. He might be faking"). Be sure to warn such club-happy PCs that the media is always scrying. –  Hey I Can Chan Jul 20 '14 at 12:45
@HeyICanChan - great answer, I think it can be improved by mentioning nonlethal weapons (and perhaps some of the relevant feats, spells and poisons to knockout someone). Care to elaborate (or may I edit and add that?) –  G0BLiN Jul 20 '14 at 14:54

This works if 3.5 materials are accepted in the game, not sure about PF-only:

While subdual damage is a good way to go, sometimes you have to do things like that quick - like, in a round, or so. In those cases, you could use some of the non-lethal (and thus, acceptable for evil adventurers as much, as for the allies of the good cosmic forces) poisons to achieve this:

Sleep-Smoke (DC 15 Unconscious/Unconscious 1d3 mins) (Waterdeep, City of Splendors 152)

Drow Poison (Injury DC 13, Unconsciousness/Unconsciousness)(DMG)

Oil of Taggit (0/Unconsciousness, ingested)(DMG)

Sssartisss (Paralysis 2d6 mins/Unconscious)(Serpent Kingdoms)

Lizardfolk Sleep Poison (Contact, Unconsciousness 1d3 rounds/Unconsciousness 1d3 hours)(Serpent Kingdoms)

Wild Dwarf Knockout Poison (Slows for 5 rounds, then unconsciousness) (PGtF)

Homonculus venom (Sleep)

Pseudodragon venom (Sleep)

For more ingormation, read the Arsenic & Old Lace: The Poison Handbook, the part about poisons for good-aligned adventurers and crowd control gives you the full list of others non-lifethreatening poison effects (and the rest of the handbook will explain how to use them more efficiently)

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