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We had a character lose an arm trying to avoid dying from a magic disintegration effect (removing their arm was successful). We are too low of a level to have regeneration cast.

There is nothing in the magic rules for the transmutation school which say what happens once such an effect ends. Since nothing is mention, could a character be returned to their original form, which would include the lost limb, assuming that its within a short time frame, so that the limb being lost is not considered normal (or a per-exhisting condition).

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    \$\begingroup\$ So, to be clear, this question wonders if chain of events can go Darn it! Lost that arm! However, because I only lost that arm a moment ago, I'll cast beast shape I and assume the form of a normal and gots-all-its-arms monkey then, upon resuming my original form, I'll have fooled the universe so hard into thinking that my original form is me but with all my limbs that my original form will have regrown its arm! Is that accurate? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 8 '18 at 8:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Basically yes. Just wondering if your true form which you return to is the one thats complete or the one thats missing bits. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jul 9 '18 at 5:30
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No

Spells do exactly what they say.

As stated on page 13 of the Core Rulebook

Spells specify what they what they can target, what their effects are, and how they can be resisted or negated.

On page 218 the rules about what is in each portion of a spell state:

Descriptive text

This portion of a spell description details what the spell does and how it works.

Looking at the specific case - curing hitpoint damage, restoring ability drain damage, limb restoration etc do not occur because the spell does not say that it does. Your "normal" form is whatever it was when the transformative spell was cast, not what it was some time earlier, whether that was one round, 1 minute or 10 years. Otherwise results could include:

  • Character is healed of the damage from the twelve crossbow bolts, five darts and two throwing knives they were hit with in the round before they shifted form.
  • Character is on the point of death all over again because their "normal" form is considered to be as it was before Cure Critical Wounds was cast on them.
  • Character is 10 years old again (because that was their "normal" form - when they were 10).

Looking at RAI, if transformations could undo all negative conditions and changes then Restoration / Regeneration / Cure / Heal spells would be worthless.

The character is going to have to learn how to live with their disability. If you are really lucky then some cleric who can cast Regenerate will see an opportunity to get a mission done cheaply - it might be worth advertising with some role playing...

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As other answers have said, spells generally do what they say they do, and not more than that. Anything above and beyond what is written is a houserule—solely up to your GM. We cannot tell you that polymorph effects can be used this way. Those spells do not say they do, so only your GM can state that they do for your game.

On the other hand, disintegrate doesn’t say that it works this way either—all disintegrate does to a creature target is damage, and if that damage is enough to kill the target, destroys the corpse. In fact, nothing in all of Pathfinder’s official, core rules says that it removes limbs. Limb loss is not a part of the game. Nothing can cause it. Anything your GM says has caused it, is also a houserule.

And as a result, we can’t help you, because Pathfinder doesn’t really address this concern that cannot actually happen within its rules. The only reason regenerate exists is as a legacy thing, and maybe a potential plot hook. In the normal course of things, it heals a condition that cannot happen.

When your GM changes the game (by allowing disintegrate to remove a limb), he or she ought to take responsibility for that change—by considering its ramifications and what else needs to change. For example, restoring a lost limb should not be dramatically more difficult than restoring someone to life— that’s ridiculous. So some regenerative effect should be added at lower levels—probably to lesser restoration.

But you will have to ask your GM about that. If your GM refuses to address this issue, and feels that it’s appropriate to cripple PCs and take players effectively out of the game via “clever” houserule, then I suggest you find a new GM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, snap! I totally forgot Disintegrate only Disintegrates the target if it brings HP to 0 and not whatever is hit. I really need to sleep if I'm making that kind of rookie mistake. +1 for pointing that out! \$\endgroup\$ – Sora Tamashii Jul 12 '18 at 14:18
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RAW

Quite simply: No. Pathfinder, alongside many popular TTRPGs, follows a policy of "The spell says what it can do." You can't cheat the universe, even with magic. Magic is systematic and being able to use low-tier magic in such a way would make high-tier magic that does the same thing quite worthless, which is something that games, TTRPGs especially, try to avoid unless for a specific reason.

RAI

You could, for your campaign, get away with loosely interpreting the spell as doing such, but that would be a DM decision. It's a decision I personally would never agree to, but if you (assuming you're the DM) or your DM says it's valid, the DM does have every authority to say so for that game, but in doing so, this will set a precedent for other similar situations. Make rulings like this only after considering what it means for the next time something like this happens. How does allowing it cheapen the game's overall experience? Is the cost worth it in the end? Personally, I'd say it's better to trust the game's creators made the game with the intention of having the player's best interests in mind. Changing the balance of things without careful consideration can result in a very unfun experience for all involved.

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