Does the revivify spell work on characters who have suffered stat drain death, like that from a Shadow's Strength Drain?



Revivify (PHB, p. 272):

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.

Shadow (MM, p. 269):

Strength Drain. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) necrotic damage, and the target's Strength score is reduced by 1d4. The target dies if this reduces its Strength to 0. Otherwise, the reduction lasts until the target finishes a short or long rest.

Strength Drain kills the character, then revivify brings them back to life. The only restriction on revivify is that it can't revive a character who has died of old age, and the effect of Strength Drain doesn't match that. Revivify's only other effect is to set the creature's hit points to 1; it doesn't affect any other game statistics, so the creature will still have a Strength of 0 until they take a short or long rest.

There is no general rule for "stat drain death"; creatures that kill while draining ability scores have the rules for it specified in their stat blocks. Strength Drain killing the creature it hits is part of the effect of the hit, not a persistent condition (it doesn't say "as long as the target's strength is 0, it's dead.")

Note also that a creature killed by Strength Drain may have more than one hit point when they are dead. There's no rule that says that dying causes a character's hit points to drop to zero. In that case, revivify would still set the revived character's hit points to 1.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually the person will die again if their strength is not restored right away. sageadvice.eu/2017/01/06/… \$\endgroup\$ – Simon H Jun 4 '17 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice find! I don't see that as a clear statement that the 0-str character will die again, however. Do you know of a specific rule or ruling to that effect? \$\endgroup\$ – Marq Jun 4 '17 at 15:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I can't think of a general rule for such a thing so it seems it's left to the specifics of the Shadow stat block and the Jeremy Crawford tweet, which really comes down to how you read and understand the English. "The target dies if this reduces it's strength score to 0" even if revived it was still "this" that reduced it to 0 so they should die again, but even if you separate that to the very instant of reduction then the tweet saying "Ready Greater Restoration to save them" implies the alternative is them dying unless save could mean something else. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon H Jun 4 '17 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that Crawford seems to be implying that, but the wording of the Strength Drain effect (as discussed in my answer) doesn't seem to bear that out. \$\endgroup\$ – Marq Jun 4 '17 at 16:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ The next line of the attack "Otherwise, this reduction lasts until the target finishes a short or long rest" also seems to imply that it's still under the effect of the attack after revival since their STR is 0 and they haven't taken a rest and would still be subject to the dying effect. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon H Jun 4 '17 at 16:25

RAW, yes. In the rules there are no set reactions to an ability score being 0, death is an additional effect from the attack itself. When revived the character will still have 0 strength, but is alive.

It is ultimately up to the DM however as they may rule that the additional text of the drain ability is itself a rule for having 0 strength.


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