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When playing PFS, I used Sleep on a group of thugs and disabled them all. When I declared that I was tying up one of them, our GM told us that the thug awoke and was now trying to fight. This left us with no choice other than finishing the thugs, which was rather unpleasant: I don't like to make my characters murderous cretins, and I try to spare any non-mindless enemies that I can and report them to local authorities.

The situation happened rather long ago.

However, just now, rereading the description of Sleep, I remembered this situation and looked at the list of things that can awaken an affected target:

  • Wounding: I understand that as dealing HP damage
  • Slapping: "Awakening a creature is a standard action (an application of the aid another action)"

It is also explicitly noted that "normal noise" is not enough.


  1. Is it RAW to rule that tying someone up awakens them?
  2. Is it reasonable (beneficial for the game) to make such a ruling?

I want to remind everyone that the first question is about rules as written (RAW) and needs to be based on rules alone, no interpretations allowed. The second question is subjective and requires the answerer to state their experience regarding the Sleep spell vs. taking prisoners, or regarding taking prisoners in general.

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RAW, we have

Slapping or wounding awakens an affected creature, [...] Awakening a creature is a standard action (an application of the aid another action).

Since tying someone up is not slapping them, and it does not wound them in any way,1 they are not woken up by being tied, RAW.

As for reasonableness, I think it’s a terrible reason for exactly the reasons you describe. After a successful sleep spell, you can trivially coup de grace everyone to kill them. Even the wizard can carry a scythe for this purpose, since there is no attack roll to take nonproficiency penalties on and the coup de grace automatically scores that ×4 critical hit. A successful use of sleep means that you have won the encounter. What you do at that point shouldn’t really very much matter.

  1. The “wounding” phrasing is actually problematic, RAW, because “wounds” aren’t really a defined thing in the game. I have usually seen this interpreted as hp damage, though presumably nonlethal damage, ability damage, and so on and so forth should also be included. Nonetheless, no reasonable interpretation of “wounding” includes tying someone up, so the ambiguity here is moot.
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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ My scythe was exactly what coup-de-graced them that day... \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Aug 5 '19 at 15:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy I now have a mental picture of your character as a reluctant Grim Reaper. Maybe the robes are colored with a soft blue tone. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 5 '19 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ In your footnote, it's worth mentioning that ability damage wouldn't always make sense (does poison prevent you from sleeping if you fail your save?)... because the issue isn't already confusing =P \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Aug 5 '19 at 17:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso Yeah, true. Even hp damage sometimes wouldn’t make sense; IIRC sometimes things that deal hp damage are pretty specific about how they’re treating the hp abstraction, and that it’s not physical wounds in this case. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 5 '19 at 17:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is very strong to use a scythe especially if you have at least 14strenght, (str X1.5 so becomes 3X4) and if you have power attack you can take your maximum so the X4 is very overkill, piercing or slashing, the scythe is my favorite 2H weapon since you can even trip with it, I love falchions too and halberd (if you get charged often) \$\endgroup\$ – Maxime Cuillerier Feb 6 at 9:09

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