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The aura of life spell description (PHB, p. 216) states:

Life-preserving energy radiates from you in an aura with a 30-foot radius. Until the spell ends, the aura moves with you, centered on you. Each nonhostile creature in the aura (including you) has resistance to necrotic damage, and its hit point maximum can’t be reduced. In addition, a nonhostile, living creature regains 1 hit point when it starts its turn in the aura with 0 hit points.

Does "living" here mean:

has 1 HP or more?

or

not undead or death state?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure what you mean by "death state". Being dead is not a condition in the mechanical sense in 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Nov 18 '18 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ The wording you've quoted doesn't match the spell description for aura of life in the PHB (p. 216): "Life-preserving energy radiates from you in an aura with a 30-foot radius. Until the spell ends, the aura moves with you, centered on you. Each nonhostile creature in the aura (including you) has resistance to necrotic damage, and its hit point maximum can’t be reduced. In addition, a nonhostile, living creature regains 1 hit point when it starts its turn in the aura with 0 hit points." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 18 '18 at 19:53
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It heals undeads

In 5e, "Undead" is just another type of creature - like Dragon or Giant - and is not dead. These are described in the beginning of the Monster Manual (specifically, pages 6 and 7).

Healing spells that don't affect undeads explicitly say so, e.g. Cure Wounds

A creature you touch regains hit points equal to 1d8 + your spellcasting modifier. This spell has no effect on undead or constructs.

Additionally, some spells, like Raise Dead, say

The spell can't return an undead creature to life.

This means an Undead creature was alive to begin with (dying does not change the type of a creature, i.e. if you cast revivify on a zombie, you revive the zombie, not the original creature).


As a note, "Dead" is not a condition in 5e, mechanically speaking. Death actually changes the creature from Creature to Object (corpse is an object).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice answer. I think for completeness, it might be worth pointing out that your average undead is unlikely to be "nonhostile" to your average PC. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Nov 19 '18 at 3:31
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Yes, it can heal undead.

Use context clues. There is no reason this should not effect undead. If this was a spell that had anything to do with not healing undead, it would be a necromancy. The reason it says living is so that people don't use it to heal already-dead characters. Also, undeads count as alive for every purpose in D&D 5E.

Monster Manual Pg. 23:

Each non-undead creature...

Here is an example. If undeads did not count as living, WOtC would simply say "each living creature". WOtC, like any other game company, is very precise and consistent with its wording. Also, the reason that undead are called undead is that they are not dead. This is true in general, not just in D&D.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good start of an answer. Can you add some support from 5e specific rules/text? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 18 '18 at 16:55

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