In pathfinder, disintegrate states that:

Any creature reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by this spell is entirely disintegrated, leaving behind only a trace of fine dust.

This indicates to me that that troll, Demon, Devil or whatever is GONE. I can see however, that not everyone seems to think so.

What about the Finger of Death spell? It seems to only deal HP damage, 10/CL on a failed save, however, the rules state:

Spells with the death descriptor directly attack a creature’s life force to cause immediate death, or to draw on the power of a dead or dying creature. The death ward spell protects against death effects, and some creature types are immune to death effects.

Which seems to indicate that being reduced to 0 this way is certain death, but is there anything that confirms this, or am i reading this wrong?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ True story: after a vicious fight with a troll (that we weren't really supposed to fight), we were left with the question of what do you do with a regenerating creature. We didn't know how you were supposed to kill them. It turns out poking them in the eyes repeatedly until they (aka the GM) tell you how to end their misery works just fine. The process goes even faster when you all start discussing how the party is going to take turns poking the troll's eyes through the night. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cort Ammon
    Jan 26, 2019 at 0:39

2 Answers 2


The rules are unclear

It has been confirmed that trolls may suffocate to death in Pathfinder, as shown in this answer. But the rules are actually saying the opposite (as shown in that answer as well), the regeneration must be stopped or the creature cannot die.

Regeneration (Ex) A creature with this ability is difficult to kill. Creatures with regeneration heal damage at a fixed rate, as with fast healing, but they cannot die as long as their regeneration is still functioning (although creatures with regeneration still fall unconscious when their hit points are below 0). Certain attack forms, typically fire and acid, cause a creature's regeneration to stop functioning on the round following the attack. During this round, the creature does not heal any damage and can die normally. The creature's descriptive text describes the types of damage that cause the regeneration to cease functioning.

There is an open FAQ request at paizo messageboards asking for clarification on wether trolls can be killed by death effects or not.

Also, notice that Pathfinder's version of Regeneration is worded differently from what we had in 3.5 (link), which made no mention of "they cannot die" and handled things using nonlethal damage instead. While the Disintegrate spell text is mostly the same, including the part where the target becomes dust.

But you can try to remove their regeneration

One thing is certain, you must stop their regeneration, either with the correct damage type, with something that prevents regeneration, or removing regeneration from the creature (by polymorphing, or transfering it).

As much as it sounds ridiculous that a bunch of dust may still regenerate back to life, so is instantly killing them with a death effect and having them return to life a few rounds later.

There are many ways to disable them (sleep, burying, throwing underwater, locking their soul in a gem), but those won't kill the creature.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would a disintegrate spell that reduces a troll's hp to 0 subsequently transform the troll into a "trace of fine dust" that's still alive? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2019 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I dont think that's intended, but its whats raw. Even worse is when you target a troll with something that rips their soul off their body and they are still alive. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Jan 25, 2019 at 14:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ (It may be worth mentioning that while Pathfinder changed substantially from its D&D 3.5 forebear the rules for the special ability regeneration, Pathfinder let largely alone its forebear's description of the spell disintegrate! Sigh. Despite moving on to a second edition, Pathfinder's tech never has quite caught up to its ambition.) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2019 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose the various forms of "drained by undead" would also be inconclusive. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Jan 25, 2019 at 16:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is awkward, but I would interpret it (if maintaining RAW) as something like the dust magically re-forming into the creature, and once HP is back to full it's like the disintegration never happened. Though in combat I would still have the disintegrated creature be out of commission until regeneration had advanced quite a bit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Upper_Case
    Jan 25, 2019 at 20:32

I did consider this once, and the best I could come up with was: " Regeneration also does not restore hit points lost from starvation, thirst, or suffocation" (https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/rules-for-monsters/universal-monster-rules#TOC-Regeneration-Ex-)

So, burying something in a big pile of sand, or locking them up and waiting. There are also a few spells that can accelerate hunger like Feast Of Ashes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How does this actually kill the creature however? \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Jan 25, 2019 at 21:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Suffocation by itself (eventually) causes death regardless of hitpoints, and the starvation/thirst rules cause lethal damage after enough time has elapsed, which wouldn't be covered by Regeneration. \$\endgroup\$
    – Frezak
    Jan 25, 2019 at 22:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ "they cannot die as long as their regeneration is still functioning" -- regeneration doesn't say "does not die because the lethal damage will be healed" or "does not die from hit point damage", it simply states "cannot die" \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Jan 25, 2019 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Yakk: I think to make this answer work as a justification, we need to argue that regeneration needs food / air, i.e. biological "fuel", and thus depriving a creature of those things actually stops their regeneration from functioning. Or maybe we can just interpret the wording as "stops it from functioning for damage from those sources", and thus the "as long as their regen is still functioning" doesn't help them. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2019 at 0:33

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