I have a drow in my party that doesn't have a lot of HP. When she's unconscious and bleeding out, I am having trouble stabilizing her—her spell resistance is still active, and I only have a +6 to heal checks so non-magical stabilizing is failure-prone. What's the best way to handle this as a druid with no other healers in the party?

Some options I've thought about:

  • spend a feat in spell penetration—this might not be the worst idea ever, but it would only reduce my failure rate to 40% assuming even levels
  • put a bunch more skill points in Heal—seems wasteful, since this seems like the only place I would be using it, and I don't really have skill points to spare
  • cram potions down her throat—spell resistance still applies, right?
  • just let the foul drow die

Note that we are still level 1*, so I am looking for low-level options that I can work towards over the next couple of levels.

* To forestall objections, the +2 LA for the drow has been houseruled away since it's an above-ground campaign. So hopefully once she gains some HP she will be more of an asset to the party...


I recommend a few Blessed Bandages (Magic Item Compendium, page 152). Applying one immediately stabilizes a dying target.

As for your proposed solutions:

  • Don't spend a feat on Spell Penetration. While Druids are usually not particularly feat-starved, Spell Penetration is a feat that benefits relatively few Druid spells and isn't all that powerful to begin with.
  • Spending skill points on Heal is also a waste, you have more powerful skills. An exception might be if you expect to get a lot of utility out of the Healing Lorecall spell (Spell Compendium, page 110)
  • Don't use potions. Save up for a wand instead. But yes, spells from items would still bounce off the Drow's SR, particularly if the Drow gains levels (improving their SR).
  • Compared to other situations in which you might be willfully letting your friend's character die, this is a rather good one. The +2 Level Adjustment the character is carrying around means they are likely to be a liability (even with LA buyoff, it's going to stick around for a while). And yes, Drow are nasty creatures who are likely planning your demise already.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hah, both of us putting the lessons sambo. learned to use! \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 8 '14 at 18:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think making the drow buy me some Blessed Bandages makes the most sense, all things considered. \$\endgroup\$ – shaydwyrm May 8 '14 at 21:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Mmmm, that's the character that came to mind. Not that he was useless or particularly treacherous, but damn. \$\endgroup\$ – Ernir May 8 '14 at 22:22

This is a major problem with drow, yes.

Drow kind of... suck as player characters. Particularly at low levels. Their special racial qualities aren’t exactly amazing, and the LA +2 is extremely burdensome. Their stats are all-around low, particularly HP, skills, and saves, and the most fancy thing about them, the Spell Resistance, is a hindrance more often than not. Unfortunately, particularly early on, Wizards of the Coast greatly over-valued Spell Resistance.

The best solution, therefore, is to use the lesser drow from Player’s Guide to Faerûn or Wizards’ website instead of the “full” drow from Monster Manual. They lose some benefits (−2 Con, +2 Dex rather than +2 Dex, +2 Int, for example), but they’re also LA +0, and hey look: no Spell Resistance. Good news all around. Strongly recommended.

The only real major loss is that they don’t have darkness as a spell-like ability, which strikes me as kind of odd. Yeah, it’s pretty good for an LA +0 race, but it’s iconic and it’s really not too much. Particularly with the elves’ typical −2 Con, which kind of ruins a lot of elven races. So I recommend giving that back to them, 1/day. If the DM really thinks it’s necessary, making it an altered form of darkness that doesn’t block darkvision eliminates any significant balance issue even relative to the weaker LA +0 races.

Failing that, remember that Spell Resistance can be lowered. It takes a Standard Action to do so, which sucks, but if your drow is down, but not out, and you’re healing after combat, it will cover a lot of situations.

For the rest of the time, Spell Penetration isn’t a terrible feat (and one you might get use out of anyway), but if you have Spell Compendium, you could instead use the assay spell resistance spell, for a whopping +10 vs. Spell Resistance. It’s a 4th-level spell, so it sucks to use it just to heal up the drow, but considering how annoying SR can be for your other spells, it’s not a bad idea to prepare it for them, and if it ends being “wasted” healing the drow, oh well.

Stabilizing with the Heal skill is about all its good for, and the odds of a character falling between −1 and −9 get extremely low as creatures deal more and more damage, so I would not recommend any significant investment for that circumstance (this is also why Diehard is a weak feat). But if you end up in that situation, Heal is usable untrained: feel free to make Wisdom checks against DC 15; the odds are a far cry better than the 10% chance the drow has of stabilizing on her own (and she still gets to try that, too).

In general, healing is a primarily out-of-combat activity until you get the heal spell, because the healing spells (particularly the cure spells) are too inefficient to use in combat (you will prevent more damage by killing an enemy faster than you will ever manage to heal). Even if the drow is bleeding out, which will become more and more rare as you gain levels, you’ll probably have multiple checks with your +6, or you’ll be able to dig out your wand of cure light wounds and zap the drow a few times until you get past the SR. It’ll suck, taking a long time and probably wasting a lot of money, but unfortunately that’s a drow’s lot in 3.5. You might want the drow to be buying a replacement wand for the party if she’s wasting too many charges.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't look like I get assay spell resistance as a druid :( \$\endgroup\$ – shaydwyrm May 8 '14 at 21:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @shaydwyrm Ah, whoops. Was thinking cleric. Yeah, unfortunately, this is not a good situation. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 8 '14 at 21:37

Ignore That Rule

No, really. It's not a wacky funny subplot, it's just annoying. Eventually, the drow is going die due to not being able to be healed, and it will just be terrible all around.

Go to your DM, ignore that rule. Harmless spells get accepted unless specifically resisted. Really.

It is absolutely fine.

If it isn't, go Dweomerkeeper, and create dozens of XP-less SR:No Supernatural simulacrums to bodyguard the drow and solve the problem that way.


Another option is getting the Drow to take the Reactive Resistance feat from Drow of the Underdark. This would allow them to lower their spell resistance as an immediate action rather than a standard action. Whether this is worth it or not depends on how many friendly spells are getting thrown around in combat.


Wouldn't it make sense for a Drow's natural Spell Resistance to automatically lower when they fall unconscious? Unless it's a deep subconscious ability that functions much in the same way as breathing or swallowing, it should, in most cases, simply deactivate when the Drow is KOed and bleeding out/stabilized. That would save a lot of these issues restricting healing or stabilizing of unconscious Drow party members... maybe even balance things out a little by adding that slight layer of increased vulnerability.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this an answer or a question? (Note that posts must be one or the other—this site isn't a discussion site. See the tour for more.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 18 '17 at 20:53

It seems that there is some space for a house rule to treat SR (harmless) the same way saving throws are treated.

Read Spell Resistance description here (Special Abilities):

A creature can voluntarily lower its spell resistance.

"Harmless" is not mentioned there.

And here (Spell Descriptions - Spell Resistance)

A creature with spell resistance must voluntarily lower the resistance (a standard action) in order to be affected by a spell noted as harmless.

It specifically mentions "harmless", making it a special case. Doesn't make too much sense, as a character can already lower SR (standard action). Why bother with "harmless" descriptor?

So although comments are correct, this is contrary to RAW, I'd suggest a house rule to allow for SR (harmless) to be treated the same as saving throws.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As a houserule suggestion, though, it's not bad. I think this is a decent answer if you just modify it slightly to acknowledge that, yes, the rules require the Standard Action, but that's kind of dumb. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 8 '14 at 19:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems like a good house rule, and would make a lot of sense for a +2 LA drow. However, since the LA has already been houseruled away, I don't think it makes sense in this particular campaign to take away the main downside of spell resistance - after all, SR being double-edged is part of the justification for dropping the level adjustment. \$\endgroup\$ – shaydwyrm May 8 '14 at 21:02

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