I have a bit of confusion about the Raise Dead spell. It states that it can raise a creature from the dead, but cannot do so if major organs needed for life are missing (such as a head).

Killing anyone though will likely severely damage or destroy major organs. Jabbing a sword through someone's heart will leave it in little pieces. Can that heart reform itself if Raise Dead is cast? What if an enemy purposefully grinds it up as best as possible in the chest so nothing is really left except fragments? What if they remove the main heart muscle?

Also, with the head issue - what if someone is beheaded, but the head is held onto the body and the spell is cast? How about if someone is cut in half lengthwise by a nasty trap and then held back together? I'm sure that'd do major organ damage, but if both halves were available?

Some of these particular situations may be arising soon, as you might guess. Best if I know ahead of time what my PCs can fix.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Jabbing a sword through someone's heart will leave it in one piece with a hole. A person dies because hearts don't function with holes in them, not because the heart is broken into pieces. In the real world, using weapons that cause excessive morcellation (breaking up into pieces) is actually considered a war crime. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


Take a look at the full detail of what it actually says (my emphasis):

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.

It doesn't matter if the organs are shattered, splattered or ground to mincemeat - if they are there the spell works, if they are missing or lacking then it doesn't. For your specific example, a decapitated creature can be raised so long as both the head and body are present (how close together you can leave as a DM's call).

Compare this with Resurrection:

This spell closes all mortal wounds and restores any missing body parts.

You can Resurrect a creature from en eyelash.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much, your clarification on the phrasing is very helpful! \$\endgroup\$
    – Evoker
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 6:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What if you have two eyelashes? Can you resurrect the creature from one, and then again from the other, effectively creating a clone? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trenin
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 16:31
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Trenin No, technically the creature wouldn't be dead anymore. Also the creature's soul has to be free and willing for the spell to work too. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 25, 2017 at 16:56
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Trenin Nope. One pre-condition of Resurrection is that the creature is actually dead. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jon
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 16:56
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You have no idea how happy this answer will make any of my players who don't manage to solve the riddle over the trap that drops into a chute that splits in half with a blade between. :) Thank you Grimtooth's Traps Too for that one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Evoker
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 20:07

Despite the restorative power of puns, a severed limb is still missing even if it is squished right up against where it used to be attached.

Missing limb is in the sense of absent, not simply can't be found.

Not present or included when expected or supposed to be.

From the point of view of a body, a completely severed appendage is absent. Sticking it back in place is not making the body whole again. The appendage is still discontinuous with the rest of the body despite the parts being adjacent to each other.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Would a Make Whole or Mending spell reattach the limb well enough for the Raise Dead spell to work for you? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kyyshak
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 9:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kyyshak I don't know what the make whole spell does, but mending probably fits the bill since a corpse is an object. That might be an interesting question for the stack unto itself. \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 13:19

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