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The Rules Compendium text on running suggests that a creature can only run for as many rounds as its constitution before (maybe) tiring. How does this interact with creatures like undead that have no constitution score?

I am looking only for what the rules say (RAW) and analysis based on text. How you would rule it at your table is interesting, but does not answer the question.

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Per the SRD entry on “non-abilities”, having a “-“ in constitution means:

A creature with no Constitution has no body or no metabolism. It is immune to any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless the effect works on objects or is harmless.…A creature with no Constitution cannot tire and thus can run indefinitely without tiring (unless the creature’s description says it cannot run).

So a creature without a constitution can run indefinitely.

There are at least three valid ways to reconcile this with the Rules Compendium:

  • The Rules Compendium is not a primary source. As such, it has no ability to override the basic rules. In this view, the Compendium is just plain wrong.
  • The Rules Compendium describes the rule, but the application is unclear: after NaN rounds of running, a constitutionally-challenged skellington must make a check as described. The modifier for “-“ is +0 (by explicit definition), but there is no reason to treat “-“ as zero in general. As no number is greater than or equal to “-“, the check for fatigue never comes up.
  • The Rules Compendium describes only the general case, and the more specific language from the core books overrides it.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does that mean that overland travel for constitutionless creatures should use the x4 speed modifier, sprinting the entire way? (Is that a separate question?) \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Jan 10 '20 at 17:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5 I would ask it separately. In large part because I don’t know the answer to that one. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Jan 10 '20 at 18:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ The RC, within the first paragraph of the books specifically states: "Years in the making, it gathers resources from a wide variety of supplements, rules errata, and rules clarifications to provide an authoritative guide for playing the D&D game. It updates and elucidates the rules, as well as expanding on them in ways that make it more fun and easier to play. When a preexisting core book or supplement differs with the rules herein, Rules Compendium is meant to take precedence. If you have a question on how to play D&D at the table, this book is meant to answer that question." \$\endgroup\$ – CrimRei Jan 10 '20 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CrimRei there is a significant discussion there. I added a link to address it, but I don’t intend to change this further. If you have a different answer though, please do add it! \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Jan 10 '20 at 19:29
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As a primary source, the Monster Manual (Page 312) explanation for nonabilities (not a score of zero, but lack the ability altogether) is:

Nonabilities: Some creatures lack certain ability scores. These creatures do not have an ability score of 0—they lack the ability altogether. The modifier for a nonability is +0. Other effects of nonabilities are detailed below.

The section detailing constitution specifically states (My emphasis):

Constitution: Any living creature has at least 1 point of Constitution. A creature with no Constitution has no body (a spectre, for example) or no metabolism (a golem). It is immune to any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless the effect works on objects or is harmless. For example, a zombie is unaffected by any type of poison but is susceptible to a disintegrate spell. The creature is also immune to ability damage, ability drain, and energy drain, and automatically fails Constitution checks. A creature with no Constitution cannot tire and thus can run indefinitely without tiring (unless the creature’s description says it cannot run).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Upvoted for the specific citation. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Jan 11 '20 at 0:39

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