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Band of Loyalty:

If you are reduced to 0 hit points while attuned to a Band of Loyalty, you instantly die. These rings are favored by spies who can’t afford to fall into enemy hands.

Death Ward:

You touch a creature and grant it a measure of protection from death. The first time the target would drop to 0 hit points as a result of taking damage, the target instead drops to 1 hit point, and the spell ends. If the spell is still in effect when the target is subjected to an effect that would kill it instantaneously without dealing damage, that effect is instead negated against the target, and the spells ends.



So, if a PC could cast Death Ward on a creature wearing a Band of Loyalty (let's say a knockout blow, instead of trying to kill them), would the Band of Loyalty user still be alive? Thanks.

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The death ward prevents the band from triggering

The band of loyalty only kills you instantly if you are reduced to 0 hit points:

If you are reduced to 0 hit points while attuned to a Band of Loyalty, you instantly die.

Death ward, while active, prevents you from being reduced to 0 hit points:

The first time the target would drop to 0 hit points as a result of taking damage, the target instead drops to 1 hit point, and the spell ends.

You instead drop to 1 hit point. Because you never dropped to 0 hit points, the bands ability never triggered, and you remain alive.


P.S. The part of death ward that talks about preventing effects that kill you instantly does not matter here — it protects you from things like a vorpal sword, that can kill you without ever reducing you to 0 hit points first.

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The creature stays alive

Look at the wording of the Death Ward:

The first time the target would drop to 0 hit points as a result of taking damage, the target instead drops to 1 hit point (…)

The creature doesn't actually drop to 0 because Death Ward kicks in and prevents that from happening. As a result, there is nothing to trigger the Band of Loyalty, the creature was never reduced to 0hp.

Side note: It would also prevent the creature from getting knocked unconscious by the blow, so they would be alive and conscious.

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It works, but doesn't help.

As the other answers point out, you can cast Death Ward to prevent the wearer of the Band of Loyalty from dying. That works fine: instead of getting stabbed and falling into death saves, the wearer gets stabbed, his hit points are set to 1, and Death Ward ends.

But then what? He's still up and fighting, just as he was before you did anything. If you stab him again, the Band is still active and he will promptly die. If you don't stab him, he's still up and about. Anything you can do to resolve the situation after the Death Ward / stabbing combo, you could already have done beforehand.

So: yes it works fine and no it doesn't have any useful effects.

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RAW, the PC decides what happens

Xanathar's Guide to Everything (p. 77) contains an optional rule to help adjudicate simultaneous effects:

If two or more things happen at the same time on a character or monster's turn, the person at the game table-whether player or DM-who controls that creature decides the order in which those things happen. For example, if two effects occur at the end of a player character's turn, the player decides which of the two effects happens first.

Both Death Ward and Band of Loyalty trigger on the condition of reaching zero hit points. So strictly, the player may choose for Death Ward to activate first, in which case Band of Loyalty never activates.

Or, an extremely loyal PC could choose to activate Band of Loyalty first, prompting an instant death effect. This effect would be negated by Death Ward, leaving the PC at 0 HP.

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