This answer to a different question (about D&D 5e) says:

To open, lets look at a sample of the rules that say you cannot permanently kill such a creature outside of their home plane...

The only way to truly destroy a demon is to seek it in the Abyss and kill it there.

MM 51

Devils that die in the Nine Hells are destroyed forever

MM 67

Only on its native plane can a yugoloth be destroyed permanently

MM 311

Of note: Angels in the 5E MM do NOT have this protection. Weird as it may seem, it is actually easier to kill a Celestial than it is to kill a Fiend.

So, going by the lore available in 5e, it is implied (only by the lack of any details to the contrary) that celestials can be killed permanently on any plane. Obviously this quote doesn't mention fey, but I think of celestial, fiends and fey as being grouped together due to certain spells in 5e, such as find familiar or find steed, saying that the spirit can be one of those three.

Anyway, my question is, even though the lore stating that fiends (specifically devils, demons and yugoloths) cannot be killed outside their native planes is well established, is there any lore from any edition of D&D that suggests that the same rules exist for celestials or fey (such as angels or satyr, for example)?


3 Answers 3


I will try to provide a somewhat subjective answer from 2e. The outsiders (as they got to be collectively called later in 3e) are beings that are the embodiments of their respective planes and everything in the Outer Planes is about belief. As such, the way we played 2e, we used to assume that the destruction of an outsider's material form should not be final, in some way its essence must find its way back to the plane itself. Yet depending on the worldview it represented, the essence can assume different forms. Fiends are self-centered so it is possible that they could just reform on the plane, while certain other essences might simply prefer to merge back to the pool, content to be formless again or be part of the collective again (you can interpret this as the effective death of the individual).

Our motivation to play this way was the belief-based foundations of the Planescape campaign setting as well as examples from various Planescape monstrous supplements. Here are a couple that I could identify:

  • Aasimon Solar: Unless it is on its home plane, only the material form of a solar can be destroyed. Its spirit requires seven decades to reform.

  • Modrons: The bodies of modrons slain anywhere immediately disintegrate. It is suspected that whatever energies were trapped within the creature’s mortal form find their way back to Mechanus and merge with the energy field of the plane. This field is what sustains the modron race.

It is worth noting that these qualities are not present in 3e. For example, the entry for solar in the 3.5e SRD mentions nothing about what happens to them when they are killed. Being just outsiders, they cannot even be raised:

Unlike most other living creatures, an outsider does not have a dual nature—its soul and body form one unit. When an outsider is slain, no soul is set loose. Spells that restore souls to their bodies, such as raise dead, reincarnate, and resurrection, don’t work on an outsider.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the Modrons @ZwiQ So, if you true polymorph a creature into a Modron and kill it, that is it, curtains for all eternity as they will have re-merged with the energy of Mechanus! \$\endgroup\$
    – Thank-Glob
    Feb 17, 2020 at 17:10

D&D 3.5 doesn't have the same rule for either fiends or celestials. However as per the rules for conjuration magic summoned creatures can't be killed:

A summoned creature also goes away if it is killed or if its hit points drop to 0 or lower. It is not really dead. It takes 24 hours for the creature to reform, during which time it can’t be summoned again.

The same does not apply to fiends or other creatures that leave their home plane via other means(which includes other conjuration magic such as calling spells).



The general rule is that creatures die when they reach 0hp; PCs being an exception.

The Monster Manual (p. 6) says:

Certain spells, magic items, class features, and other effects in the game interact in special ways with creatures of a particular type. ...

The game includes the following monster types, which have no rules of their own.

AFAIK, none of the published Celestials have specific rules about not dying unless they are on their home plane so the follow the general rule and die at 0hp wherever they are.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm familiar with 5e, I was hoping on information from other editions, which is why I tagged this [dungeons-and-dragons]. \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Feb 4, 2020 at 7:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you want to discuss 5e in depth, you could adjust your answer to be more complete: "Creatures die when they fail 3 death saves, suffer instant deaths, or some DMs have monsters die instantly when they hit 0hp." (perhaps include that the MM is notable in differing from the BR/PHB by saying that "A monster usually dies or is destroyed when it drops to 0 hit points" and that the celestial/fey types do not make any special mention of mechanics. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4, 2020 at 8:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @pwi and DaleM: I was also after more of a lore-based answer, not a mechanics-based answer, so I don't so much care about celestial or fey "creature types", but rather in-universe lore on, say, angels, satyr, etc. (similar to how the quotes in my question describe devils, demons, etc, not just "creatures of the fiend type") \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Feb 4, 2020 at 10:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS in 5e lore and mechanics are one and the same, so certainly in 5e there is no lore. I couldn't find anything in FR either. Interested to see if someone can pull up anything more conclusive though. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4, 2020 at 12:39

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