Last week, my unchained rogue got killed; rather than kill me outright, as well as for story purposes, the DM brought me back as undead: I retain my class and skills but apply the "undead" template. As an undead, I now have a Constitution score of 0, which means I would be destroyed when I hit 0 HP (I think?). I also have the rogue talent Resiliency:

Once per day, a rogue with this ability can gain a number of temporary hit points equal to twice her rogue level. Activating this ability is an immediate action that can be performed only when the rogue is brought to below 0 hit points. This ability can be used to prevent the rogue from dying. These temporary hit points last for 1 minute. If the rogue’s hit points drop below 0 due to the loss of these temporary hit points, she falls unconscious and is dying as normal.

Going by the RAW, it sounds like this means I could activate Resiliency if I am taken below 0 HP, but not if I am taken to exactly 0 HP. Is that correct? If not, how would you rule on this?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that, technically, undead don't have a Con of 0; they simply don't have a Con score. They do use Cha in place of Con "when calculating hit points, Fortitude saves, and any special ability that relies on Constitution", though. \$\endgroup\$ – minnmass Nov 13 '20 at 17:56

If your DM doesn't like you, a point could be made that the talent just doesn't work on undead. Undead technically don't die, so something that protects against death may not apply to being destroyed.

That said, I would consider "destroyed" and "dead" to be equivalent so the talent would still be usable. Undead being destroyed at 0hp is listed in their type description separately, and isn't fully attached to their lack of constitution (if you followed the normal Undead rules on constitution, they would die at negative hp equal to their Charisma score).

Additionally, living characters can have negative hp exceeding the point in which they would die, based on the fact that the Breath of Life spell assumes that this is the case. So I would rule that resiliency would apply when an undead is reduced below 0HP.

However, the talent itself also specifies that it doesn't apply when reduced to exactly 0HP. So the sequence hit to 0HP->character uses resiliency doesn't work as written. Then things start getting weird. Buried in the rules for death attacks is this piece of text:

In case it matters, a dead character, no matter how he died, has hit points equal to or less than his negative Constitution score.

Assuming "destroyed"="dead" for rules purposes, this means that upon going to 0hp and being destroyed, an undead character has their hit points set to their negative Charisma score (recall that undead use Cha for all calculations that normally use Con). This has the effect of bringing the hit points below zero, meeting the condition for resiliency to be used. This does require a DM that will let you take one specific action while destroyed, and for the healing from resiliency to exceed your Charisma score for it to be productive.

TL;DR: I think it should work, but an edge case means that starting at exactly zero is equivalent to starting at your negative Charisma score.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The only long-term risk I can see with equating dying here with destruction is that such a ruling cascades to allow all undead creatures with this rogue talent to gain temporary hp when they'd otherwise be destroyed. While this will undoubtedly be a fairly small percentage of undead creatures initially, I'd be wary of word spreading. I mean, I think it's hard enough to destroy a Pathfinder vampire already. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 13 '20 at 18:18

Going strictly by RAW, I would say the ability doesn't work for you, as an undead cannot die. It is already dead. And when it drops below 0 HP, it is destroyed permanently. The exception being if it is a vampire or similar creature with a phylactery, and instead is only destroyed temporarily. But even then, resiliency wouldn't apply because your body has already been destroyed.

As a benevolent DM, however, I would probably work with you to come up with an acceptable alternative for your situation. Probably I would come up with a substitute class trait that could be used in your situation. Perhaps something such as changing the rule to state that when you're about to drop below 0 HP, the resiliency takes effect BEFORE your HP loss, thus potentially preventing your undead self from actually dropping below 0 HP.

Playing a character as an undead can be really cool and fun. One of my characters was killed by a bodak and came back as a bodak, but with self will. It only lasted for a few sessions because being undead there was no way for the party to heal him, but it was fun while it lasted.


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