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A lot of abilities/feat/tricks/spells last for what is defined as "an encounter". For example the Barbarian rage is bound by two effects linked to an encounter.

At the end of the rage, the barbarian loses the rage modifiers and restrictions and becomes fatigued [...] for the duration of the current encounter

and also

A barbarian can fly into a rage only once per encounter.

My question is, if the barbarian dies, and get back from that, with a revivify spell for example, can he rage again?

I know that the encounter per se has continued for the others, but as far as he's concerned, I'd argue that the encounter has ended for him, in a bad way. I couldn't find a definition of encounter anywhere in RAW nor about the effect of death of a PC. Anything by RAW on that type of situation?

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3 Answers 3

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No

Inaction: Even if you can’t take actions (for instance, if you become paralysed or unconscious), you retain your initiative score for the duration of the encounter. For example, when paralysed by a ghoul, you may miss one or more actions, but once the cleric casts remove paralysis on you, you may act again on your next turn.

Player's Handbook, 137

Compared to being paralysed or unconscious, getting killed is admittedly a more drastic reason for not being able to take actions. Nevertheless, I'd say this rule also applies to a character that is raised from the dead during combat. They keep their initiative score which means the encounter has not ended for them.

Otherwise, if the encounter had ended for the character who temporary could not take actions, this character would have to enter the existing encounter once again. The character would effectively be a "new combatant" (DMG, p 23) and thus would have to receive a new initiative count.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ “which means the encounter has not ended for them.” [citation needed] I don’t believe anything explicitly states that initiative inherently indicates whether an encounter has ended, particularly not in this context. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 23:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan If the encounter had ended for the character who temporary could not take actions, this character would have to enter the existing encounter once again. The character would effectively be a new combatant (DMG, p 23) and thus would have to receive a new initiative count. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 6:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Then, if he's died should not he be considered a new combattant? Do you have a citation that a dead character revived keeps his initiative score? \$\endgroup\$
    – P. O.
    Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 16:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @P.O. As I see it, the definition of "inactive" (as in the paragraph I cited) also matches a character who dies and is revivivied the following round. Being paralysed or unconscious are just examples for conditions that will temporarily hinder someone to take actions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 18:42
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There is no strict definition of “encounter” in D&D 3.5e

Though “encounter” is used in the rules to refer to a particular event with a particular duration (“until the next encounter,” “until the end of this encounter,” etc.), it is never actually defined in such a way. The Dungeon Master’s Guide discusses encounters extensively, of course, but entirely in the context of designing them, deciding appropriate awards for overcoming them, and so on—not as a unit of time.

Tome of Battle does give a definition... for its own purposes. It’s not unusual to “export” that definition to the rest of the game, but it wasn’t intended to be that. Specifically, in the section that discusses how an adept recovers their maneuvers automatically at the end of an encounter, they offer this rule for deciding whether or not you’ve really ended an encounter:

In the case of a long, drawn-out series of fights, or if an adept is out of combat entirely, assume that if a character makes no attacks of any kind, initiates no new maneuvers, and is not targeted by any enemy attacks for 1 full minute, he can recover all expended maneuvers.

(Tome of Battle pg. 40)

So under this rule, if your barbarian is dead (and therefore presumably not attacking or being attacked) for at least 1 minute, then yes, they’ve been out of combat and can then rage once they are raised from the dead. If it hasn’t been a minute, they’re still in the same encounter, and cannot rage again.

But that is definitely applying a rule well beyond its intent—it’s just that, this is the only rule we’ve got.

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He can't rage again, because encounters aren't per character.

While there's no easy definition of "encounter" in 3.5, the Dungeon Master's Guide discusses them at length in chapters 2 and 3. It's somewhat circuitous, and the section actually entitled "Encounters" is singularly unhelpful at coming to any sort of definition or duration, but at least one thing is very clear: the PCs and monsters have one single encounter. The idea that "as far as he's concerned...the encounter has ended for him" is wholly unsupported by the rules.

The best thing to do would be to read the DMG chapters 2 and 3, but it's particularly clear on page 22:

Starting an Encounter

An encounter can begin in one of three situations:

  • One side becomes aware of the other and thus can act first.
  • Both sides become aware of each other at the same time.
  • Some, but not all, creatures on one or both sides become aware of the other side...

The takeaway here is that an encounter has sides. The barbarian does not have an encounter; the encounter has a barbarian. Since the encounter is still going on for the rest of the party, it's still the same encounter for the barbarian, too. He definitely can't rage again.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, even though that's about the begining of an encounter, not the end, it's helpful. \$\endgroup\$
    – P. O.
    Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't take the above quote in isolation, as a single instance from which to draw a ruling. Skim chapters 2 and 3 of the Dungeon Master's Guide, from about p. 20 – 50. It's not just the section on the start of an encounter: throughout the entire discussion of encounters in general, it's clear that an encounter happens to a whole party, not a single PC. From how encounters start on 22 – 24, to the mention of rewards per PC on 37, to the whole discussion on 48 – 50. The party as a group has a single encounter, so even if the barbarian dips out for a bit, it's still the same encounter. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 3:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that "the encounter has a barbarian" but does the encounter still has a barbarian if he dies? If the party splits, the encounter happens only to those who are there, not those who stayed at base. Another way of framing the question could be "are you still one of the party if you die, are you still part of the group?" As a parallel, in all games I played, once a monster was dead, it was taken out of the turn order (maybe the GMs were not RAW on that, I don't know). \$\endgroup\$
    – P. O.
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 2:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the barbarian gets into other encounters, he can rage in those even without dying (e.g. if an enemy teleports him away). He definitely cannot rage in the same encounter he died in, however. His absence doesn't somehow make it a different encounter for the same reason he doesn't get a new use of rage after every individual goblin dies. Partcipants of an encounter can die and it's still the same encounter. There are plenty of unclear things about this situation (I don't think dying actually ends his rage; his initiative is unclear) but he definitely can't rage again in the same encounter. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 12:19

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