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Do effects that prevent someone from becoming an undead stop the creature from becoming undead, or merely delay it?

For example, if a character is killed by a vampire's bite, but then hit with a gentle repose spell or a similar spell before being buried, does the spell prevent them from becoming a spawn? Or does it only delay them becoming a spawn for the duration?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 22 at 2:59
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The humanoid is protected

The bite creates undead the following night after ground burial

The bite of a vampire (MM, 352) states (my emphasis):

A humanoid slain in this way and then buried in the ground rises the following night as a vampire spawn under the vampire's control.

A vampire spawn (MM, 354) is classified as:

Medium undead, neutral evil

So, should the humanoid be buried after a bite, they would rise the following night as an undead.

Gentle repose prevents that

This is where gentle repose (PHB, 245) comes in:

For the duration[10 days], the target is protected from decay and can't become undead.

In this case, the effects of the vampire bite are RAW completely prevented. Since the Vampire bite's text specifically states that they will become a spawn on the following night, if that night they are protected, then they have passed the gate and are no longer at risk. The fact that the spell continues longer doesn't really change anything as the first night gate has passed and the corpse will not rise as undead after that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I read "the following night" as "the night following burial". Even in Jewish/Muslim practise (which don't hang about), it isn't usual to bury on the day of death. If the humanoid was bitten, died, and had Gentle Repose cast on them on 1st October, then lay undecayed until the 11th and finally buried on the 12th, then I would expect them to rise as a vampire spawn on either the night of 12th/13th, or 13th/14th (depending on what is meant by "following night"). \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Bonner supports Monica Oct 22 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinBonner Agreed that the language refers to "night following burial". If you don't bury until the spell has ended, then there is no effect that prevents anything. It's as if you didn't cast it. And this is why I included the phrase "if that night they are protected." (I guess I did consider this!) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 22 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinBonner: So logically, for folks dealing with vampire victims' corpses, without access to Gentle Repose, the solution is to never bury them? You don't even need to cremate them, just leave 'em exposed on a hillside? \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowRanger Oct 22 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowRanger The technical term is "sky burial", as practised by the Zorastrians and in Tibet and surrounding areas. But yes, that would be the obvious way to deal with the problem. Also, burial at sea works fine too. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Bonner supports Monica Oct 22 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch: "Do effects that prevent someone from becoming an undead stop or delay the effect?" effectS is plural, but its only dived into the one example OP made. Now I am curious if there are other effects, for example effects that might have a delay till taking effect, that might outlast the duration of the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Oct 23 at 4:54

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