The Nightwalker has the “Life Eater” trait, which says (MToF, p. 216; emphasis mine):

A creature reduced to 0 hit points from damage dealt by the nightwalker dies and can't be revived by any means short of a wish spell.

The demon lord Juiblex has the “Regeneration” trait, which says (MToF, p. 151; emphasis mine):

Juiblex regains 20 hit points at the start of its turn. If it takes fire or radiant damage, this trait doesn't function at the start of its next turn. Juiblex dies only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and doesn't regenerate.

Imagine that a Nightwalker hits Juiblex and reduces its HP to 0. What happens? Would Juiblex be dead, or can it regenerate?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The fun case where two incredibly and equally specific rules contradict each other. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Dec 5, 2019 at 23:34
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ Very relevant, given that the wording of Juiblex's regeneration is nearly identical to a troll's regeneration: Are Trolls immune to all instant death effects? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 5, 2019 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RyanC.Thompson Nope, it is not relevant, bcz it is not a instant-death effect, but two effects triggered on 0 hp. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ohar
    Dec 6, 2019 at 1:05
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Ohar Both questions are about a creature with an ability stating "dies only" (meaning they shouldn't die by any other means) targeted by effects stating "the target die". How is this not relevant ? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2019 at 14:08

3 Answers 3


Juiblex lives

One of the core guiding principles in 5e is that the specific overrules the general:

This book contains rules, especially in parts 2 and 3, that govern how the game plays. That said, many racial traits, class features, spells, magic items, monster abilities, and other game elements break the general rules in some way, creating an exception to how the rest of the game works. Remember this: If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins.

To understand how to resolve this, it is important to understand the basic rules so you can see which parts are being changes.

Normally when you are reduced to 0 hp, you are knocked unconscious:

When you drop to 0 hit points, you either die outright or fall unconscious, as explained in the following sections.


When damage reduces you to 0 hit points and there is damage remaining, you die if the remaining damage equals or exceeds your hit point maximum.


If damage reduces you to 0 hit points and fails to kill you, you fall unconscious.


Whenever you start your turn with 0 hit points, you must make a special saving throw, called a death saving throw, to determine whether you creep closer to death or hang onto life.


On your third [failed death save], you die.

How do Juiblex and the Nightwalker modify these rules?

We can see that Juiblex is an exception to this rule, it "dies only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and doesn't regenerate." This means that Juiblex will survive any number of failed death saves, so long as they can regenerate.

The Nightwalker also overrides some of these rules. Usually when a creature is reduced to 0 hp it is unconscious, unless it suffers instant death, and then it has to fail 3 death saves to die. However when reduced to "0 hit points from damage dealt by the nightwalker dies and can't be revived by any means short of a wish spell."

So what happens if Juiblex is reduced to 0 hp by a Nightwalker?

Well, Juiblex modifies the instant death and saving throws part of the rules. But the Nightwalker modifies what happens when you are reduced to 0 hit points.

The key point is that the Nightwalker's ability makes something die. Normally something that dies, becomes dead. However, Juiblex has a special ability that modifies this expectation. In this case, Juiblex's ability modifies the general rule, so Juiblex survives.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot Normally something that dies becomes dead. This is the expectation when considering Nightwalker's ability, this is how we expect it to work. Juiblex's ability is contrary to the normal way things work, it modifies the way that death works for Juiblex. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2019 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, for example, Shadow draining Str to 0 wouldn't kill it either? And it would be immune to all effects that kill without draining HP to 0? What would happen if it would reach negative strength score? This interpretation can have pretty weird consequences. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Dec 6, 2019 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot that's the whole point. "Juiblex dies only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and doesn't regenerate." what about this is unclear? No you cannot cheese a CR23 Demon Lord with a gank of CR1/2 shadows. Yes Juiblex is immune to all effects that kill it unless they are effects that specifically overrule Juiblex's ability or they prevent Juiblex from regenerating. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2019 at 15:34
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ This ruling is very clear. Juiblex can only die when the conditions in its ability are met. This isn't even a matter of specific vs "more specific" - we can consider this case as that the Nightwalker "generally" kills targets, and Juiblex "specifically" cannot be killed unless it does not regenerate and starts its turn with 0 hp. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ajohnson
    Dec 6, 2019 at 19:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ There's a perfectly reasonable answer in here, buried under an attempt to invoke "specific beats general" in a corner case. The reasonable answer is that Juiblex can only die when certain conditions are met. It isn't "more specific"--it doesn't say "not even if he's fighting a Nightwalker"--but it doesn't need to be. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Dec 6, 2019 at 20:06

The DM narrates the result of the character's actions (PHB p.6)

The specific beats general rule doesn't help here because you have one specific rule saying he dies and one equally specific rule saying he doesn't. So we have to fall back on this rule:

Then the DM determines the results of the adventurers’ actions and narrates what they experience. Because the DM can improvise to react to anything the players attempt, D&D is infinitely flexible, and each adventure can be exciting and unexpected.

So, each DM will make their own decision.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think you could expand this a bit to explain that both of these rules are equally specific and that, mechanically, there is no rule specifying that one trumps the other. Therefore "DM decides" is the correct answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Dec 5, 2019 at 23:48
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This answer kind of feels like a cop-out to me, as, under 5e's overarching rule that the DM is the ultimate source of truth, this answer can implicitly be used for any question related to the application of rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrendire
    Dec 6, 2019 at 6:06
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Andrendire be fair - if you check my other answers you’ll see I don’t use this one very often. Only when the rules are definitively ambiguous (which sounds like an oxymoron but isn’t) \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Dec 6, 2019 at 6:53
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure the rules are equally specific, though? It occurs to me that "a creature" (= any random creature) is less specific than "Jubilex" (= one specific, unique demon lord). No? \$\endgroup\$
    – Damon
    Dec 6, 2019 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM I don't think that your answer is invalid per se, nor am I accusing you of abusing this logic in all your answers. I just think that in this specific case the other answer have better applications of RAW and don't deserve to be outshone by a generalist argument. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrendire
    Dec 6, 2019 at 16:23

Juiblex lives to ooze again.

Normally, the Nightwalker's attack dropping someone to 0 HP would kill them instantly. However, Juiblex doesn't die because Juiblex can only die at the start of his own turn. Then at the start of his turn, he regenerates and doesn't die.

Why does Juiblex's protection override the Nightwalker's instant-death effect? For the same reason it overrides the normal rule that a creature dies at 0 HP: because Juiblex can't die. If we resolved the situation in favor of Juiblex dying ("the rule says he dies, it doesn't say 'unless the creature is Juiblex'") then that ability would do literally nothing. We assume it's intended to do something, and that requires it to take precedence over mechanics that say Juiblex would die.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ But Jubilex is dead because of the NIghtwalker effect - dead Jubilex's don't regenerate do they? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Dec 5, 2019 at 23:57
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM He isn't dead because that's not a way he can die. Added a little more detail about the interpretation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Dec 6, 2019 at 0:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .