Our group operates under the assumption that every ability that deals negative energy damage Heals undead creatures, which makes a lot of sense considering how many places contain an entry like:

Since undead are powered by negative energy, this spell cures them of a like amount of damage, rather than harming them.

Is the opposite of this also true? Are living creatures affected by Positive Energy Healed instead of Harmed?


Effects typically do what they say they do

While "[i]n general, positive energy heals the living and hurts undead creatures" (Player's Handbook 311), some rare positive energy effects that deal damage don't also heal the living.

For example, the 6th-level cleric spell bolt of glory [evoc] (Spell Compendium 35-5) launches a "white bolt of hissing positive energy" that only deals damage, and the 5th-level psion/wilder power celestial conduit [psychokinesis] (Complete Psionic 80) brings forth a "massive charge of positive energy from your psyche into the material world" that also only deals damage (although the effect does deal even more damage to undead creatures).

It's best to adjudicate whether a positive energy effect that deals damage also cures damage based on the spell's description rather than making that in general a constant.


To a certain extent, yes.

Positive energy heals living creatures and damages undead. However, too much of a good thing is bad, even in DnD situations.

This excerpt from the Positive energy plane reads:

This power is dangerous to mortal forms, which are not made to handle it. Despite the beneficial effects of the plane, it is one of the most hostile of the Inner Planes. An unprotected character on this plane swells with power as positive energy is force-fed into her. Then, her mortal frame unable to contain that power, she immolates as if she were a small planet caught at the edge of a supernova.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, the Positive Energy Plane was exactly what came to mind when I read the question. \$\endgroup\$ – asteri Feb 21 '14 at 8:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1, The question is if positive energy heals players even when it doesn't say it does. The positive energy plane says that it does. To answer this question with "yes", you would want an example that heals without explicitly saying so, or a rule that says all positive energy effects always act as healing. Something like the RSoP's Positive Energy Burst would be the counterexample, as it's pure positive energy that does not heal living targets, but does directly damage undead. \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Feb 21 '14 at 10:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ The spell 'antifield' which swaps things around specifically states that it changes positive into negative energy and the other way around, and that this results in negative energy healing living creatures and hurting undead and vice versa. So any positive spell that doesn't heal a living creature is the exception to the rule. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Feb 21 '14 at 11:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik Then how much does the positive energy burst heal? Or Bolt of Glory? It's not explained anywhere. Why do spells like heal mention both functions explicitly if they're just assumed? I've never heard of Antifield and can't find its text, but what you describe just flips effects that are already there. It doesn't add an effect if the spell doesn't say that it does it in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Feb 21 '14 at 12:39

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