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I'm trying to understand how objects make saving throws, specifically attended objects that are being individually targeted. In the case at hand, a Vermlek demon is inhabiting a human body and enchanting it with Gentle Repose to use as a disguise. However, the corpse is dead and thus I would think an object.

If a cleric were to cast Decompose Corpse on it, I'd like to rule that the corpse could be instantly destroyed and the disguise ruined, but there must be a saving throw associated with it - if the object makes a fortitude saving throw, what is its bonus? Or does it simply not receive a saving throw in this case and defer its roll to the Vermlek?

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Under the damaging objects section:

Unattended Non-Magical Items: Non-magical, unattended items never make saving throws. They are considered to have failed their saving throws, so they are always fully affected by spells and other attacks that allow saving throws to resist or negate. An item attended by a character (being grasped, touched, or worn) makes saving throws as the character (that is, using the character’s saving throw bonus).

So as long as the corpse can be considered non-magical* and unattended, it automatically fails its save.

However the corpse whith the Vermlek inside shouldn't be considered "unattended" (because the Vermlek is wearing it!), so it should use the Vermlek's bonus.


*In the case where you would assimilate the corpse to a magical item, here is the formula for its bonus to saves:

Magic items use the same saving throw bonus for all saves, no matter what the type (Fortitude, Reflex, or Will). A magic item’s saving throw bonus equals 2 + 1/2 its caster level (rounded down). The only exceptions to this are intelligent magic items, which make Will saves based on their own Wisdom scores.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I didn't even think to look under the "unattended" section. Thanks for the extra effort for the formulas and explanation! \$\endgroup\$ – Trauma Advocate Dec 14 '17 at 16:35
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While Anne's fine answer assumes that corpses are objects, which has never been confirmed and is an official ruling by Paizo developers (thought it was a rule for D&D 3.5, see the sidebar FAQ) and is subject to table variation, the alternative (covered by this answer) is that corpses are not objects. So, take whichever answer is valid as a rule rule on your table.

Corpses make saving throws normally

A dead character is also unconscious and helpless, as one condition doesn't remove the others unless stated otherwise. Being helpless, they effectivelly have 0 dexterity, so they lose whatever Dex bonus they had on their reflex and take a -5 penalty.

Also note that the rules state that a creature with 0 constitution is dead, but doesn't say that a dead creature loses their constitution. As such, they should be allowed Fortitude saves normally.

They are also most likely prone, and as such, get +4 to AC against ranged attackers, but melee attackers get a +4 bonus to attack them, if that is necessary to land a touch attack.

It is not uncommon, however, to GMs and players to ignore unconscious characters and corpses for area attacks, as that is a ruling that could easily backfire into each other and result in early (and boring) deaths.

Attacking Vermleks

The ruling here is a bit different because this is a special case. The body that Vermleks wear is treated as armor, not actually a corpse, or even an exoskeleton that has to be destroyed before the demon can be attacked. Their abilities says:

Flesh Armor (Su)

When a vermlek inhabits a humanoid body (see Inhabit Body below), it treats the dead flesh and muscle as armor, gaining a +3 armor bonus to its AC.

Inhabit Body (Su)

A vermlek can crawl into the body of any dead Medium humanoid, consuming and replacing the bulk of the humanoid’s skeleton and internal organs as it does so.

This process takes 1d4 rounds, during which the vermlek is flat-footed. Once the process is complete, the vermlek appears for all practical purposes to be a living but hideously obese version of the previous humanoid—it gains a +8 racial bonus on Disguise checks to appear as a normal humanoid while wearing a dead body in this manner, but does not gain any of the abilities that the dead creature had in life, including natural attacks, unusual movement types, or natural armor.

It loses its own burrow speed while inhabiting a body but gains the ability to wield weapons or wear armor shaped for humanoids (although the armor bonus granted by wearing armor does not stack with the bonus granted by the vermlek’s flesh armor ability).

So, the "body" that is being inhabited works as a suit of armor, as explained under those two abilities, and you don't need to destroy it to attack the demon directly. An area attack will cause damage directly to the demon, and his "armor" can't make a saving throw to resist damage.

If you want to target the body to destroy it, the one making the saving throw will be the demon, not the corpse. And thought the GM may allow Decompose Corpse to affect the armor similarly to an attack that could destroy armor, the one making the saving throw would be the Vermlek.

For all purposes, it can be treated as a suit of armor, and even be sundered normally.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I cant see a reason why they cant make a perception check, but its not like they can do anything with that information. Neither unconscious nor helpess mention anything about a creature's senses. Of course, that is probably unintended. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Dec 12 '18 at 15:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ No constitution means they cannot be subject to saves that ask for a constitution check, unless the effect specifically calls otherwise. For instance, the spell Polymorph Any Object suggests that it works on corpses, as it isnt limited to living creatures or objects. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Dec 12 '18 at 16:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, I was incorrect. The rules say (on Ability Scores): A creature with a Constitution score of 0 is dead. But the opposite is not necessarily true. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Dec 12 '18 at 16:28

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