When you permanently lose a level, for example via Raise Dead, can you choose which level is lost? For example, if a Wizard 3/Fighter 2 loses a level, can she choose to lose a level of fighter? If not, which class is the level lost from? The highest levelled class? The last levelled class? A randomly chosen class?

Furthermore, which level of that class is lost-- this matters because the rules for level loss specifically state:

Likewise, the character loses any ability score gain, skill ranks, and any feat associated with the level (if applicable)

While ability scores and feats are tied to total character level (and so the newest one is probably the one lost), skill ranks and especially what specific skills those ranks were spent on are not, and thus which level is lost (and thus which skills are reduced) may well matter.


3 Answers 3


The FAQ includes this exchange:

When a character dies and comes back to life a level lower, are there any guidelines as to which level he must lose? Does it have to be the last level he gained? When he gains a level again later, can he choose a different class than he did originally? What about a 1st-level character (who instead loses a point of Constitution)? Can he begin with a new class completely?

The rules are silent on this issue, but it seems most logical if the character loses the class level he gained most recently. The same is true of any feats, skill ranks, or ability score adjustments gained due to the now-lost level. The character is under no obligation to make the same selection(s) when he next gains a level with XP.

A character who regains a lost level from restoration or a similar effect must regain the same class level (and other abilities) that he lost. In other words, you can’t use level drain and restoration to rebuild your character. A 1st-level character doesn’t lose a class level, so he can’t change his existing class level. (114)

And the FAQ is correct that the rules for Level Loss (Dungeon Master's Guide 296) really are silent on this issue. So while that author views his answer as the logical position to take, an individual DM can make any ruling on this he wants based on whatever he wants. Note also that some take issue with the FAQ in general.

Thus the exact effects of level loss is something that should be discussed with the DM before attempts are made to use it to one's advantage.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The FAQ is silent on ties, but it says 'there are no rules' before making some up anyways, so I think 'there are no rules' is still the clear answer in that case. Regardless, this seems to be the best supported answer, so thanks for that ^^ \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 21:57

The rules on how to actually choose the class that lost the level for multi-class characters is open to DM interpretation. Skip Williams though states in sage advice to use the highest level class, loose class abilities you would have gained for that level, then remove the skill ranks from skills that class is proficient in equal to the number you gained upon level up one at a time from the highest ranked.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Which level of the highest ranked class? The highest? The most recent? (these may not be the same if the PC used e.g. a thought bottle). What if they are tied? Also the advice you mention would contradict the text-- skill ranks lost have to be the ones from the level unless you 'forgot' which ones you put in, in which case the advice is correct. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 10:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Example. you are a level 4 fighter level 5 rogue. You would lose a level of rogue, losing everything you would have gained for being a level 5 rogue. As you now are equivalent level 8 you would also loose your feat gained at level 9. Most people do not record exactly where the placed skill ranks per level and as such this will allow for fair and balanced removal of ranks. If you have recorded everything then the appropriate course of action is to undo everything you gained when you last leveled your highest level class. \$\endgroup\$
    – Elgagard
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 10:22

It is First-In-Last-Out algorithm.
This is because what you actually lose is Character Level, and Character Level is basically a count measuring your power. When you lose a Character Level, your power decreases, but you are the same character as you were one level-up ago, when your power was lower.
In other words, when you gain or lose Character Level you can't change choises that you have made for previous Character Levels.

If you have lost one level you only lose a feat if it was gained last time you leveled up. In case of skill points it is awesome if you keep track of what ranks you picked at each level, in case for you to be able to roll back one or more levels.

One shouldn't be able to say if your character ever lost any levels or just never had them. The main thing here is the fact that your character should be consistent at any time. You should be able to reverse-engineer it level-by-level at any time and all prerequisites for things you do have at any given moment should be in place.
As an example, check the rules for Retraining if you have access to PHB II. They are constructed the way they are constructed for a reason. When you retrain some of your previous choises, you should qualify for the thing you choose anew with only those things that you were able to get prior to the choise. So, once you retrain something it is impossible to say that something was retrained.

If you'll let people pick what levels they are want to get rid of, you'll be faced with numerous issues concerning prerequisites, like so-called early entry becoming trivial or characters risking to stack with unusable stuff.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You're representing your answer as fact, i.e, as the rules. Do you have a citation for where you're getting these rules or is this opinion? And if its opinion, do you have experience using this rule, or is this hipshot? \$\endgroup\$
    – godskook
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @godskook I edited the answer to include examples and reasoning, hope it's more convincing now. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 18:45

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