Let's say I have a Wizard. I cast mage armor on myself. Nasty kobolds kill me with their traps. Luckily, I have a cleric who (for sake of this question) can cast breath of life, at will. He "raises" me from the dead. Do I still have mage armor?

Conversely, what if I was polymorphed into a lion? What if I was cursed by a witch? Hexed by the same witch to suffer -4 to saves until I can get her to stop laughing!

What happens if I get raise dead after I have been dead for 6 months when I have a permanencied arcane sight?

Sorry for the multiple questions, I just don't think I'd REALLY understand what happens to you when you got the great beyond and then come back unless I see the results from multiple angles. Thanks again in advance!

  • \$\begingroup\$ There is a similar discussion here: paizo.com/threads/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim B
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 13:21

4 Answers 4


Death doesn't always end ongoing effects

In fact, death rarely ends any ongoing effects. Usually, neither the death of an effect's creator nor the death of the effect's subject end an effect unless the effect specifies that death ends the effect. Otherwise, any effect lasts until its duration expires. Spells that have a duration that includes concentration will usually see that concentration lapse shortly upon the effect's controller's death, but even then the spell might not immediately end (e.g. the spell major image).


  • A dead wizard sees his corpse benefit from his mage armor spell while the spell's duration continues. Further, if the wizard is brought back from the dead—like with the spell breath of life—, the wizard will still be affected by the mage armor spell if the mage armor spell's duration didn't expire during the wizard's death.
  • Depending on the nature of the curse, it's possible for a curse to affect a creature while it's alive, while i'ts dead, and still when the creature is brought back from the dead.
  • The spell polymorph lasts until its duration expires; the general description of transmutation spells with the polymorph descriptor doesn't mention that death causes the creature to assume its original form but specific spells may.
  • As long as the dead creature hasn't been successfully targeted by an effect like the spell dispel magic, any spells on a dead creature that were made permanent by the spell permanency remain in place while the creature's dead and continue upon the creature being brought back from the dead.

If it's helpful, consider most effects working like fire. Once the fire's lit, killing the arsonist doesn't extinguish the flame.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you all for the quick answers! We were arguing what happened to our buffs when we died in combat, as for some reason we've been running that when you died you buffs went away. Now we know! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 22:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @twicetested Just because I found it, the same and more succinct answer from the Ask Wizards column from the Web site of Pathfinder's antecedent Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 is here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 1:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Some of those effects might drop due to target mismatch. If the spell can target a living person but not a dead person, it would drop off on death, yes? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden That is a point of some contention. So far as I'm aware, the idea of a spell constantly checking a that it's affecting a legal target (like a Magic: The Gathering aura, for example) and being, like, automatically dispelled if it's not is absent from the rules, so, by default (and — like I said, so far as I'm aware — only by default), if there's a target mismatch after a spell's been cast, the ongoing spell's effect doesn't care and keeps on affecting the target. I'm certain there's a question that addresses this directly around here somewhere though; I'll try to hunt it down. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden (The really complicated part of constant targeting is the GM must rule what happens to the ongoing spell: Is the effect simply dispelled? If the effect isn't dispelled, does the time the creature spends as an invalid target count toward the spell's duration? Does a spell suppressed in this way radiate a magic aura or because it's an invalid target the spell ceases to exist? That kind of thing.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 18:32

Under the Duration heading in the D20PFSRD:

A spell's duration entry tells you how long the magical energy of the spell lasts.

To cover your more specific situations,

Mage armour has a duration of 1 hour/level. There is no concentration component, meaning that you must actively dismiss it. Therefore, Mage Armour will still be cast on you when you're raised, assuming you're raised within the duration of the spell.

Polymorph is the same as Mage Armour, but with a duration of 1 min/level.

Under the Cures heading in the D20PFSRD entry on Afflictions:

Afflictions without a cure entry can only be cured through powerful spells, such as neutralize poison and remove curse. No matter how many saving throws are made, these afflictions continue to affect the target.

From this, death doesn't remove any curses (unless death IS the cure listed in the curse's details).

I can't find the Hex you're describing, but the Hexes I've seen appear to have cure conditions listed. Again, if death is listed as the cure for a Hex, then the Hex would removed on death.

Permanency means the spell is permanent; unless you are targeted by dispel magic to remove the spell (such as a permanent Arcane Sight) the spell will stay on the dead character.


Looking at the rules for spell duration on PF SRD, the only time it appears that the duration of a spell is affected by a lack of caster consciousness is any spell that has a duration linked to Concentration or if the spell is triggered by discharging it (although your question already assumes a spell is already discharged and the actual duration in effect).

However, the following text is most relevant:

If the duration line ends with “(D),” you can dismiss the spell at will. You must be within range of the spell's effect and must speak words of dismissal, which are usually a modified form of the spell's verbal component. If the spell has no verbal component, you can dismiss the effect with a gesture. Dismissing a spell is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

A spell that depends on concentration is dismissible by its very nature, and dismissing it does not take an action, since all you have to do to end the spell is to stop concentrating on your turn.

Therefore, a spell will always run its course unless it requires concentration because it takes the character actively spending an action to cease it (where possible) rather than to sustain it.

  • With Polymorph, the spell continues for [caster level] minutes or until a standard action is spent by the caster to Dismiss it.
  • A Curse has a Permanent duration until broken by the prescribed means listed in the spell, requiring the witch (or anyone, really) to use one of those methods to break it. What your example's sort of "curse" sounds most like for instant removal would be a Geas/Quest.
  • Raise Dead wouldn't work six months later unless you have a friendly 180th level caster on hand, but if it were cast within the allotted time it shouldn't end the effect if going strictly from the duration which is now "permanent". Since the spell is already cast, it's not a 'prepared' spell which has a chance of being lost.

Hmm I think there could be another angle to this..

According to this post https://rpg.stackexchange.com/a/13289/11486

When you die your soul gets disconnected from your body (according to the specific religion of the character). So there are effectively two "creatures". So which of those 2 creatures would "keep" the spell effects?

You could also argue, that the spell doesn't have a target anymore, since neither is the same creature the spell targeted in the first place.

I do realize that this is mixing up rules and lore to some degree, but since I can't find any specific rules arguing for or against this and gods and the afterlife do exist in the context of the game I think this is at least a grey area.


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