Pathfinder has a complicated system of damage and effects using positive energy and negative energy. Effects that deal negative energy damage harm the living and heal the undead while effects that deal positive energy damage heal the living and harm the undead, except when they do not heal. Under no circumstances does positive energy harm the living or negative energy harm the undead, except in 3pp that introduces just that.

By contrast, positive and negative energy effects simply do not exist in D&D 5e. Instead, necrotic and radiant are standard damage types while healing spells do not affect constructs or undead. I prefer this system for its simplicity, additional possibilities for monsters (e.g. starving wraiths falling to cannibalism dealing necrotic damage to each other), and because the positive/negative distinction is logically questionable.

This makes some conversions from Pathfinder to 5e a bit difficult. Most of the time it is easy enough to swap in necrotic, radiant or other damage types, but other times not so much. For example, a Pathfinder monster with "negative energy affinity" is not undead but reacts to positive/negative energy effects as if it was while a monster with the "light to dark" power can temporarily reverse how positive/negative energy affects it.

These effects would be pointless to convert. It seems a waste to just drop them completely, but I am hard pressed to devise an equivalent.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure there could be a single correct answer to this, it's more like a "homebrew that for me" type of question. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Dec 7, 2017 at 16:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor a suitable answer would be one that presents tried and tested homebrew that achieves what they want. Its extremely unlikely that something exists, but that in itself isn't a reason to close the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Dec 7, 2017 at 22:23

1 Answer 1


As a pathfinder GM, I would look for a way to make the conversion fit the lore of the monster. For example, Wayangs or Dhampir have negative energy affinity because of their undead/shadow blooded origins. This could manifest as a bonus on saves against necrotic effects for PC's, or straight up Necrotic energy resistance, with the penalty that they are subject to Turn Undead or must always roll to resist healing spells. I would homebrew that Necrotic damage grants the character weak fast healing for a time, up to a limit per day.

A similar, well balanced reactive fast healing comes in the form of an Alchemist discovery from the Ultimate Magic book called spontaneous healing. instead of triggering on the character falling unconscious, have it trigger on taking necrotic damage for creatures in Pathfinder with Negative Energy Affinity.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Necrotic resistance makes sense for dhampirs since standard vampires have that resistance. However, necrotic damage does not give undead fast healing under any circumstances. Why would it do so to half-undead or shadowfell natives? \$\endgroup\$
    – Anonymous
    Dec 13, 2017 at 13:31

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