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The vampire has the following trait:

Misty Escape. When it drops to 0 hit points outside its resting place, the vampire transforms into a cloud of mist (as in the Shapechanger trait) instead of falling unconscious, provided that it isn't in sunlight or running water. If it can't transform, it is destroyed.

Even though a vampire's regeneration doesn't function if the vampire has taken radiant damage since its last turn, there is no similar restriction on misty escape. So I think that if a vampire gets reduced to 0 hp by radiant damage not caused by sunlight (e.g. a paladin's smite, holy water), they can still misty escape. If this is incorrect, please address it in your answer.

Sunburst does radiant damage, and is also sunlight. Its duration is instantaneous, so the sunlight goes away right after doing damage to everyone in the area of effect. If sunburst reduces a vampire to 0 hp, is the vampire "in sunlight" at the moment of taking damage, preventing its misty escape and destroying the vampire?

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1 Answer 1

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The vampire is destroyed

The sunburst spell's effect is instantaneous, but so is the damage. There is no time delay given in the rules between an attack or spell hitting or causing a saving throw, and the resulting damage. With no defined difference in timing, it all must happen in the same instant.1

That means the vampire is in sunlight at the instant where it takes damage, and cannot transform to mist but instead is destroyed, if the damage reduces it to 0 hit points.

Because the rules also do not explicitly say that there is no time delay, you might want to check with your DM in advance if they rule this way if you are unsure about how they would handle it.


1 The rules might allow other things to happen in that same instant. The way the game resolves them is by ordering them in some kind of sequence. For example, if you get hit by an attack, you can react with a shield spell before taking damage, because the spell says so. See also Are getting hit and taking damage simultaneous events? (note that the accepted answer is not the majority answer by wide margin; thanks to @Kirt for digging up that Q&A).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You might wish to cite Are getting hit and taking damage simultaneous events? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Apr 24 at 22:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt I totally might ... I had been rooting around to try and find it but failed. Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24 at 22:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you elaborate on the relevance of the quote? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 25 at 7:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JacobRaihle It at shows that there is no time delay between taking damage and dying, it is the same instant. Unfortunately, we do not have a similar, explicit quote about no time delay between being hit/affected and taking damage (probably because it is somewhat obvious that there would not be none). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 25 at 11:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ If y'all think the quote is not needed, and only confuses the answer, I'll remove it -- thanks for the hints. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 25 at 17:12

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