I'm relatively new to TTRPGs and completely new to making Wizard characters. I'm currently trying to make a Wizard, and having trouble fully understanding the Grim Tendrils spell from the Pathfinder Playtest (2nd edition):

Black shadows curl out from your fingertips and race through the air, taking the form of ephemeral comes spiked with thorns.

You deal 2d4 negative damage and 1 persistent bleed damage to living creatures in the line, depending on their fortitude saves.

Negative damage would mean healing them right? But that seems weird since it has thorns. Looking in both the Pathfinder books in the playtest as well as online I don't see any explanation for this. Is it just me or is it really unclear?

What is negative damage?


1 Answer 1


It's negative energy damage

The ability is talking about negative energy damage, which is the opposite of positive energy damage, and is simply another damage type like Fire, Cold, Electricity or Acid. Each of these damage types originates from one of the elemental planes.

However, for negative energy, it comes from the Negative Energy Plane and will hurt living creatures. Its opposite, positive energy, from the Positive Energy Plane, will harm undead creatures and usually heal the living.

But there are several other types of energy damage. Damage types are explained on page 293 of the playtest rulebook describing Damage Types:

Damage comes in many different types. Weapons, spells, and abilities indicate the types of damage they deal, and immunities, resistances, and weaknesses function against certain damage types. An effect that deals a type of damage gains the matching trait, if appropriate.

Bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage typically comes from weapons; these types are collectively called physical damage. Spells, special weapons, and environmental dangers can cause many other types of damage. Acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic are all types of energy damage. Force damage comes from pure magical energy and can damage ethereal creatures, such as ghosts.

Negative damage harms the life force of living creatures, and positive damage hurts undead. Effects that exist purely in the target’s mind deal mental damage. Weapons and effects keyed to a particular alignment can deal chaotic, evil, good, or lawful damage.

  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ This correct answer may be improved by quoting from the p.292 damage section describing several damage types including: "Negative damage harms the life force of living creatures" \$\endgroup\$
    – Sdjz
    Aug 13, 2018 at 12:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, negative damage is like Fire/Cold/Acid but less specified? As in, all Fire damage is negative damage but not all negative damage is fire damage? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mast
    Aug 14, 2018 at 5:48
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Mast From what I understand: No, there is Fire damage, Cold damage, Positive damage and Negative damage. So Fire damage is not Negative damage and Negative damage is not Fire damage. (Correct me if I'm wrong) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 14, 2018 at 7:40

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