Mind flayers (Monster Manual, p. 222) have the Extract Brain action:

Extract Brain. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one incapacitated humanoid grappled by the mind flayer. Hit: The target takes 55 (10d10) piercing damage. If this damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the mind flayer kills the target by extracting and devouring its brain.

If a mind flayer kills a creature with their Extract Brain action, will revivify return the creature to life as normal?


2 Answers 2


I would say no. Revivify says:

This spell can't return to life a creature that has died of old age, nor can it restore any missing body parts.

Raise dead, which is more potent than revivify, expounds on this, saying:

This spell closes all mortal wounds, but it doesn't restore missing body parts. If the creature is lacking body parts or organs integral for its survival--its head, for instance--the spell automatically fails.

So Raise Dead and Revivify would both fail. Resurrection is the lowest-level revival-type spell that would work, as it:

....closes all mortal wounds and restores any missing body parts.


So there are a couple of interesting things going on here.

One, while Raise Dead says the spell automatically fails if the creature is missing vital parts or organs, Revivify lacks this clause. It is an open question, therefore, whether the spell actually functions on such a target or not.

Two, Revivify also lacks several other clauses. It lacks the clause in Raise Dead that resurrecting a creature causes that creature to take penalties because of strain. It can be cast on any creature that died in the last minute, willing or no, and it allows no saving throw! It is cast in a single action, instead of 1 hour. These are very odd, because Revivify is lower level than Raise Dead. One might say that this is counterbalanced by Revivify only working on those who have died in the very immediate past, but this is not balanced.

When I want to rez somebody, there's a very good chance it's because the party is currently getting its ass handed to it. In this scenario, all the other resurrection magic is useless; you can't rez someone until the fighting is over. But Revivify will get them back into the fight with no ill effects for the cost of one action, able to take actions immediately. This is beyond even the power of True Resurrection, a ninth level spell!

Finally, interestingly enough, by RAW, it doesn't actually matter whether it works or not. If it doesn't work, well, it doesn't work. But there is the absurd possibility that it does work, but the resurrected creature immediately dies a second time.

In other words, Revivify probably needs to be errata'ed. It's a third level spell in many ways more powerful than a 9th level spell. And in this specific case, it doesn't matter whether the spell works (unless some other game effect triggers as a result of the target coming back to life momentarily) - technically, the target is still dead after the spell is cast, although it may briefly have come back to life in the interim.

The most reasonable interpretation is the spell is supposed to include those restrictions, but the designers cut too much out of the description.

  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ There's a much simpler explanation for all this - Revivify isn't really resurrection, it's more like a combination of magical healing and magical CPR. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Jul 22, 2018 at 3:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's still more powerful than True Resurrection, and can still be cast on an unwilling target (it doesn't even offer a save!). (Edit: apparently newlines in comments just don't work.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Ton Day
    Jul 22, 2018 at 3:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...Revivify is basically designed to be used in combat. Other resurrection spells are not. Revivify is not stronger than True Resurrection just because its casting time is lower. The intervening time allowed between death and revival is an important difference, as is the restoration of body parts. Revivify is a very useful spell to have, but if someone dies and you aren't able to get to them in time (or you don't have the spell components), they'll be staying dead for a while. This question/answer details the differences between the spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jul 22, 2018 at 5:03
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This sounds kinda like saying that Cure Minor Wounds is more powerful because it can heal a target before it's even dead. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nat
    Jul 22, 2018 at 18:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBi This answer fails to address the issue of devoured brain, which is the crux of the question. Revivify will not restore the brain, thus even by the strictest RAW, the body returns to life only long enough for the lack of brain to kill it again. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2020 at 15:41

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