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Final Sacrifice targets one minion, slays it and does damage to everyone close to it.

Nonlethal Spell can make a spell nonlethal, which means it "knock[s] creatures unconscious instead of kill them".

What would happen to my minion if I cast a nonlethal final sacrifice on it? Would it die or not?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like Final Sacrifice should have the Death trait to resolve this question. Probably worth cross-posting on Paizo's forum to see if it needs errata. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Aug 2 '20 at 22:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I assume the death trait is missing because the actual target of the spell are the creatures around the sacrificed minion. And these just take some damage, no death effects. Killing the minion is just a means to that end, like loosing an arrow. \$\endgroup\$ – Biv Aug 4 '20 at 18:20
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The Minion is Dead

Non-lethal damage is described on pg. 459 of the Core Rulebook:

When most creatures reach 0 Hit Points, they die and are removed from play unless the attack was nonlethal, in which case they are instead knocked out ...

Final Sacrifice does not reduce the target to 0 Hit Points, and so whether it is non-lethal or not doesn't matter. The target is "immediately slain", effectively bypassing the entire lethal vs non-lethal issue.

Damage Done is Non-lethal

However, your non-lethal Final Sacrifice does deal damage to creatures around the target. If it reduces a creature to 0 HP they will be rendered unconscious, not dead.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm I checked that section of Nethys and missed that. I feel like the Trait rules are more specific, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Aug 3 '20 at 0:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso In my reading, the Trait rules merely reference the general rules for non-lethal damage. They say, "Attacks with this weapon are non-lethal", but you need to head over to page 459 to learn what non-lethal means. \$\endgroup\$ – indigochild Aug 3 '20 at 1:01
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Your Minion survives... somehow

As written, Nonlethal does not require damage to apply. Because of this, you gain the benefits of the spell being nonlethal.

Attacks with this weapon are nonlethal, and are used to knock creatures unconscious instead of kill them

The spell cannot kill the target of the spell, nor can its damage. From the section on creatures being Knocked Out and Dying,

When most creatures reach 0 Hit Points, they die and are removed from play unless the attack was nonlethal, in which case they are instead knocked out for a significant amount of time (usually 1 minute or more).

and

You gain the dying 1 condition. If the effect that knocked you out was a critical success from the attacker or the result of your critical failure, you gain the dying 2 condition instead. If you have the wounded condition, increase your dying value by an amount equal to your wounded value. If the damage was dealt by a nonlethal attack or nonlethal effect, you don’t gain the dying condition; you are instead unconscious with 0 Hit Points.

By making the entire spell a nonlethal attack or effect, it does not kill the target(s).


Is this unbalanced? Not really. Final Sacrifice requires setup (you have a Minion to knock out), takes an ally (albeit a Minion) out of the fight, and requires you to spend all 3 Actions on the metamagic and spellcast. You could gain the extra 2d6 damage that it does compared to the 3rd level spell Fireball from a weapon attack (or some other Metamagic to penetrate Resistance or add Weakness) or prevent damage to yourself by casting Shield.


As I mentioned in a comment, it was probably oversight that Final Sacrifice was not given the Death trait nor was it indicated that he Death Trait applies to the Minion but not the fire/cold damage. I would absolutely pass this by a GM before assuming you have more spell slots for not-Fireball in-game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This uses the definition of the nonlethal weapon trait, not the definition of what nonlethality actually does from CRB pg 459, "Knocked Out and Dying". \$\endgroup\$ – darch Aug 18 '20 at 9:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Those rules actually support my position, I'll add the quote and see if it sways the community \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Aug 18 '20 at 22:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Side note: I fully support the Minion dying, I just don't think that's how it works RAW) \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Aug 18 '20 at 22:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Both the sections that you cite refer specifically to what happens when a creature is reduced to 0 Hit Points. They don't address what happens when you apply nonlethal to a spell that outright kills its target. I recognize that that's splitting hairs, but that's kind of the territory in which this question operates. See also pg. 461, "Death Effects and Instant Death": "If an effect states it kills you outright, you die ... without being reduced to 0 Hit Points." \$\endgroup\$ – darch Aug 20 '20 at 6:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's... actually a good catch. I didn't think to check the section on Death Effects since it's "not" a Death Effect (probably an oversight as I've mentioned), but the last sentence seems applicable; although it suffers from the same weakness that you point out (my quotes relate to 0 hit points which doesn't happen and those relate to Death Effects which it is not). RAW I still think nonlethal does 'not require' damage as written, but I think it should be interpreted as the creature dies. I'm going to leave my answer as-is but vote for the other answer and let others vote as the see fit. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Aug 20 '20 at 12:24

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