Binding Ties (Su): As a standard action, you can touch an ally and remove one condition affecting the ally by transferring it to yourself. This transfer lasts a number of rounds equal to your cleric level, but you can end it as a free action on your turn. At the end of this effect, the condition reverts to the original creature, unless it has ended or is removed by another effect. While this power is in use, the target is immune to the transferred condition. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.

Can this ability temporarily remove the Death Condition? If it only talked about removing the condition on a target I'd say no because they'd still be at negative hit points greater than 10, but the ability also makes the target immune to said condition for the duration. How would this work?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I wonder... while I don't think it can transfer death (though I don't have rules to back that up atm), I wonder if it can transfer Dying. Say the cleric was too confident to memorize stabilize that day, and their teammate is dying... the cleric, being overconfident, never took Heal, but the downed teammate has it. The cleric draws the Dying condition off the teammate, buying them time to use Heal to stabilize the cleric ^_^ Staggered at 0 hp is another interesting one - does the cleric lose hp for taking standard actions while "borrowing" the 0 hp staggered condition? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 24, 2014 at 1:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think you should really treat dead as a condition that can be swapped with this power, even though it doesn't specifically mention it, primarily because it simply doesn't make sense, just like how it would make no sense to touch your friend who is being grappled by a ten foot tall bear and suddenly leaving you grappled by the bear while they are free to move around, but only until the effect ends at which point they somehow become grappled again? \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Sep 24, 2014 at 8:22
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Some other conditions will have even stranger interactions with this domain power - Consider taking the "grappled" (or "pinned"!) condition from an ally grabbed by a lion - do you "swap places" so now the lion holds the cleric? or does the cleric lies grappled alone on the floor while the lion is still on top the now un-grappled ally?! "Entangeled" and "prone" raise similar issues, and of course there's the mischievous possibility of borrowing "incorporeal" or "invisible" - and worse, what happens when you take the "stable" condition from someone? \$\endgroup\$
    – G0BLiN
    Sep 24, 2014 at 8:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I get that it seems odd but as G0BLiN said this could cause problems with other conditions. Where do you draw the line? Does this ability apply only to conditions that "Make Sense" or does it apply to all of them equally? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mr Tumnus
    Sep 24, 2014 at 10:19

2 Answers 2


First of all, magic! - so you don't have to explain how it happens and it doesn't have to abide by any physics or rules other than those in the spell text. The spell does not say it only works on some or doesn't work on other conditions.

Conditions have effects brought on by a cause. This spell removes the condition and makes you immune to it so the cause cannot put you back into that condition. For instance, to gain Grappled: "A grappled creature is restrained by a creature, trap, or effect." (Something that causes the grappled condition) The effects of the grapple: Grappled creatures cannot move and take a –4 penalty to Dexterity. A grappled creature takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks, except those made to grapple or escape a grapple. In addition, grappled creatures can take no action that requires two hands to perform. A grappled character who attempts to cast a spell or use a spell-like ability must make a concentration check (DC 10 + grappler's CMB + spell level), or lose the spell. Grappled creatures cannot make attacks of opportunity. It would seem by magic the target of the spell is still where it is (in the trap/bear arms/etc.) but can act normally. Perhaps the target is able to move through the restraints as if they didn't exist and teh caster is now restrained by what seems to be nothing at all. Of course this does not make sense, but there is a lot of about magic that does not make sense (if it made sense it would be science).

Dead does technically have a definition of what happens when you have the "Dead" condition. So while you still have the criteria that make you dead: "The character's hit points are reduced to a negative amount equal to his Constitution score, his Constitution drops to 0, or he is killed outright by a spell or effect." The target is not under the affects of the condition: "The character's soul leaves his body." However, the target still meets the requirements for dying since the reason for death is not removed just the condition. So now that the character is dying, they can be healed to be brought back to consciousnesses. This spell returns the dead characters soul and the caster loses his (temporarily). Similarly, if this were used on a Dying target the target would not be unconscious and could continue on as if it had hit points until it meets the requirements for the Dead condition or the spell ends.

I guess this brings into question what happens to an ongoing supernatural ability if the caster dies. I don't think it ends because it does not say it requires concentration, but I could be wrong. If it ends then the target loses his soul again and gains the condition while the caster loses the condition.

The only references I have for this are the spell text that does not name any specific conditions and the condition definitions that say this spell cannot remove the condition. But do keep in mind that conditions stack and a single event (-25 hit points for example) can cause multiple conditions (Dead, Dying [if not stabilized], Disabled [if stabilized]).


An ally can be brought back from the dead with binding ties, but the ally still might not be able to do anything

Omitting irrelevant bits, the condition dead says that

[t]he character's soul leaves his body. Dead characters cannot benefit from normal or magical healing, but they can be restored to life via magic.

and the effect of community domain's family subdomain's special ability binding ties is that

you can touch an ally and remove one condition affecting the ally by transferring it to yourself. This transfer lasts a number of rounds equal to your cleric level, but you can end it as a free action on your turn. At the end of this effect, the condition reverts to the original creature, unless it has ended or is removed by another effect. While this power is in use, the target is immune to the transferred condition. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.

Thus a creature that employs the special ability binding ties on an ally with the condition dead, while the duration of the special ability binding ties persists, the ally is affected as follows:

  • The ally loses the condition dead.
    • If the ally has less than 0 hp the typical ally is dying.
    • If the ally has exactly 0 hp, the typical ally is disabled.
    • If the creature's nonlethal damage exceeds its current hp, the typical ally is unconscious. A GM may rule that a creature that's been dealt no nonlethal damage has, in fact, been dealt zero nonlethal damage, hence rendering the typical ally possessing 0 hp or less unconscious and either disabled or dying (see above).
    • If the ally's both suffering from no other conditions or effects that would impair his ability to do so and possesses a positive hp total that's in excess of any nonlethal damage the ally's been dealt, the ally can take actions normally.
  • The ally gains immunity the condition dead.

That means—for as long as 2 minutes if used by a high-enough-level creature—the binding ties ability can render a formerly dead ally unable to gain the condition dead… but the ally can still gain the conditions disabled, dying, and unconscious. In the meantime, the creature who used the ability binding ties gains the dead condition and—theoretically—isn't doing anything because that creature's… well… dead.1

A very weird rules quirk permits the creature who used the ability binding ties to take a free action to end the ability binding ties… despite the creature possessing the condition dead. I don't know of another way to take actions from beyond the grave, but the specific rules of the ability binding ties trumps the general rule of the condition dead.2

When the binding ties effect's duration expires, the ally regains the dead condition—which can be acquired despite a positive hp total—and the creature loses the dead condition. It's possible that this leaves the creature who used the ability binding ties disabled, dying, or dead if he otherwise meets the requirements for any of those conditions.

The dead condition, strangely, isn't the most problematic condition the ability binding ties can swap. If the creature is willing to fall over, the creature for several rounds can render an ally immune to the condition prone ("Why won't you fall?!"). And, from a ship affected by the spell animate objects, a creature can take the condition sinking.

I totally see what the ability is trying to do, but to use conditions so broadly rather than writing a more conservative inclusive list leads to absurdity, but, at least, it's interesting absurdity.

1 This theory hinges upon the soul's inability to control the body after having departed the body, a likely and unfortunate side effect of the dead condition. However, the soul's exit has no stated effect on the soulless creature. Ask the DM. This does, however, remind me of my favorite bit from the Monster Manual (1978):

The mind flayer's physical attack is by striking a victim with its four tentacles. If a tentacle hits it will reach the opponent's brain in 1-4 melee rounds and draw it forth, immediately killing the creature. (70)

Emphasis mine. I always imagined one of Gygax's players indignantly proclaiming, "So it has my brain. Big deal. I'm a fighter. What do I need a brain for?" and Gygax making a note to include that emphasized part… just in case.
2 However, effects can and often do continue after one's death.

  • \$\begingroup\$ One of the more important stated effects of the dead condition is that you can't be healed via regular magic. Removing it would let you stabilize, enable, and make conscious characters affected by those conditions purely due to low hp. This isn't really feasible in a combat situation (certainly not at the cost of the cleric lying on the floor dead), but presents an issue if, for example, the GM doesn't want to deal with the players systematically interrogating every skeleton they come across regardless of age. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2018 at 3:51

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