Certain creatures have a death burst ability that applies when they die eg. steam mephits. If the creature is only present on the battlefield due to a spell like conjure minor elementals, does the death burst still occur if they run out of HP? I am unsure since the spell states:

An elemental summoned by this spell disappears when it drops to 0 Hit Points or when the spell ends.

To my mind it suggests the creature simply vanishes.


Death burst applies... somewhere.

The rules on hit points in the Monster Manual (MM 7) state:

A monster usually dies or is destroyed when it drops to 0 hit points.

The conjure minor elementals text of:

An elemental summoned by this spell disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or when the spell ends.

Is more specific than the Monster Manual ruling, but doesn't state that the creature doesn't die (or get destroyed). So because neither precludes the other, they both happen, but the order is not clear, since they both happen on the same "trigger".

On page 77 of Xanathar's Guide to Everything, the section entitled "Simultaneous Effects" states:

In rare cases, effects can happen at the same time, especially at the start or end of a creature's turn. If two or more things happen at the same time on a character or monster's turn, the person at the game table - whether player or DM - who controls that creature decides the order in which those things happen.

So the person controlling the creature on whose turn the steam mephits get destroyed determines the ordering of the interaction. This might result in incentivizing the summoner to "pop" his own monsters if he fears they'll be destroyed the next round, to get their death effect.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I strongly disagree with this answer, but can't find actual rules references to back up my opinion. In previous editions, summoned creatures didn't die when reduced to 0 hp, they simply return to their home plane. Find greater steed implies that's the case in 5e as well, but I can't find any indication that's not unique to that spell. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Apr 10 at 12:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @gatherer818 You may just have to get used to the fact that 5e is a different game. I have never seen any indication that summoned creatures don't trigger "death" effects, even if they then return to their origin plane (see the demon introduction in the MM for an example): "When a lucky hero manages to drop a demon in combat, the fiend dissolves into foul ichor. It then instantly reforms in the Abyss, its mind and essence intact even as its hatred is inflamed." Nothing prevents the same from occurring for other summons. Remember, that the outer planes work very differently than the Material. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 10 at 12:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron that actually seems to agree with me. It never dies, its form on the Prime Material dissolves and it reforms on its home plane. I played AD&D, which is where 5e takes a lot of its inspiration from, and loved it (in fact, I still have a campaign setting for 2e that I try to get players for), so 5e being different isn't a big deal; but some things shouldn't change - summoning creatures is already iffy, alignment-wise, but the fact that they respawn back home unharmed mitigates it. If they can truly die while summoned, it's Evil to summon anything that can think for itself. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Apr 10 at 16:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @gatherer818 Nothing prevents a demon from dying and also being reformed in the Abyss. And the moral implications of summoning a thing just for it to die are definitely up for debate, but not the subject of the current question. \$\endgroup\$ – Blake Steel Apr 10 at 17:41

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