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The Zeal cleric capstone Blaze of Glory reads as follows:

When you are reduced to 0 hit points by an attacker you can see, even if you would be killed outright, you can use your reaction to move up to your speed toward the attacker and make one melee weapon attack against it, as long as the movement brings it within your reach. You make this attack with advantage. If the attack hits, the creature takes an extra 5d10 fire damage and an extra 5d10 damage of the weapon's type. You then fall unconscious and begin making death saving throws as normal, or you die if the damage you took would have killed you outright.

The Dhampir has a natural weapon bite attack (1d4) that can be empowered to heal them for the piercing damage dealt by the attack (or give them a bonus to their next attack).

Hypothetically, using an empowered bite for your blaze of glory would then result in you being healed 1d4+5d10 (no additional damage from divine strike, since it's not your turn that you're making the attack on), while the blaze of glory renders you unconscious, since there's no conditional mitigating of that clause for healing above 0 hit points.

Does RAW result in the silly situation of a PC getting lots of healing from their attack but still collapsing unconscious as though they had ended their action at 0 HP? Are you conscious but fall prone? Does the healing above 0 HP prevent death from an attack that would have otherwise killed you outright, since that effect is stalled until after the healing?

Presumably there's no death saving throws since you've been healed/stabilized "as normal."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this a homebrew/third-party cleric Domain? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19 at 17:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nope. Zeal is an official cleric subclass for the Amonkhet setting \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19 at 17:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov media.wizards.com/2017/downloads/magic/plane-shift_amonkhet.pdf \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Jan 19 at 17:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, Plane Shift. Yeah, the Plane Shift material occupies a weird spot. It’s published by WotC, but it isn’t published in the same way as the “official” D&D content they publish as print books or on DDB. Notice the title page says “compatible with Dungeons & Dragons”, which would be a weird thing to say about “official” D&D content. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19 at 17:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ We had a question recently asking about a similar issue where a reaction to something that kills you ends up healing you, still trying to find it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19 at 18:10

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It should undo falling unconscious and making death saves, but not instadeath from massive damage

This clearly wasn't considered by the authors of either ability (Dhampir Bite or Blaze of Glory), so we have to work it out from the wording and sequence of events.

The Blaze of Glory ability specifies (emphasis added):

You then fall unconscious and begin making death saving throws as normal, or you die if the damage you took would have killed you outright.

The "as normal" bit means it's not a consequence of using the ability, it's the expected outcome of falling to 0 HP. You end up not falling to 0 HP due to the healing, so you stay conscious. The effects apply in sequence:

  1. You drop to 0 HP
  2. Instead of immediately falling unconscious, you make your final attack
  3. You heal as a consequence of the attack
  4. No longer being at 0 HP, you're no longer going to fall unconscious, as normal

On the other hand, if the damage taken would have killed you outright, healing no longer matters; the ability specifies that after the action, you die if the original damage would have killed you outright, so whether or not you heal during that attack is irrelevant, you'll die when the action ends no matter what. The sequence of events is:

  1. You drop to 0 HP and delay being killed outright
  2. Instead of immediately dying outright, you make your final attack
  3. You heal as a consequence of the attack
  4. But because Blaze of Glory says any attack that would kill you outright ends in death after the action, you die anyway

To be clear, it would work the same way for non-Dhampirs if their Cleric buddy had readied their action to cast Cure Light Wounds if their ally takes damage. If Blaze of Glory triggered from simply dropping to 0 HP, and they healed you, you'd end the Blaze of Glory reaction with positive HP and there's no reason for you to fall unconscious, as normal. But if you'd have been killed outright, Blaze of Glory's language resolves the ambiguity over what should happen; at the time you took the damage it would have killed you outright, so when Blaze of Glory's reaction ends, you die outright, whether or not you were healed in-between; all that matters is whether you'd have died outright before Blaze of Glory triggered.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not certain your reading of the instant-death clause is correct - the readied action only happens AFTER the damage has taken effect, while this ability takes place before the resolution of damage. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21 at 0:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @IsaacKotlicky: I agree there's some ugliness about how it would work based on timing, but that ability specifically saying "you die if the damage you took would have killed you outright" does override any arguments about the precise timing there; the damage would have killed you, and as such you die after you Blaze, so post-facto healing is irrelevant; you heal, then die, or you die then heal, either way, you're dead. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21 at 1:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IsaacKotlicky: I decided to remove the alternate timing analysis and comparison to the reaction. The ability's language alone is enough to say you definitely die when the action ends if you'd have been killed outright by the original damage. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21 at 2:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm still not convinced that the "as normal" clause doesn't also apply to the instant death condition, since the healing may put you in a position where, effectively, the excess damage would no longer have exceeded your base HP. So if your healing prevented you from taking unconscious once you hit zero, it would also effectively buffer your HP from instant death, though you might still fall unconscious depending on the excess damage \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22 at 2:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @IsaacKotlicky: The healing isn't responsible for preventing you from becoming unconscious at 0 HP, Blaze of Glory does that, and once that ability ends, you're not at 0 HP anymore, so you were never operating under normal rules at 0 HP and it all works out. In the insta-death case, the healing occurs after the damage, and therefore after determining if the damage was insta-death level. Blaze of Glory specifically says "you die if the damage you took would have killed you outright". Before any healing occurs, it would have killed you outright, so you're dead. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22 at 22:52

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