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Does a vampire that's using a headband of ferocity (S&F, p. 77) get to not automatically turn gaseous when reduced to 0hp, so they can then do something else like quaff an inflict potion, rather than poof-and-run?

What then would an attack that would normally reduce you to less than 0 do to the vampire? Does it still just hit 0 and stop there?

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Typical Undead when reduced to 0 hit points or less, they are immediately destroyed.

Vampires are not typical undead, however; reducing a vampire’s hit points to 0 or lower incapacitates it but doesn’t always destroy it1. If reduced to 0 hit points in combat, it automatically assumes gaseous form and attempts to escape.

The magic item2 should allow you to act normally at 0 HP, meaning, you don't automatically assume gaseous form. However, the rule regarding all undead at 0 hit points, mean being destroyed. Undead don't have a negative hit point threshold. So acting normally in this regard, would simply mean destruction - that is what would normally happen if there was no automatic gaseous form taking place.

Undead3 are not subject to non-lethal damage so there is no benefit for them regarding not being staggered.

That headband is intended to mimic the effects of Ferocity, the ability of a boar.


1Fast Healing (Ex): A vampire heals 5 points of damage each round so long as it has at least 1 hit point. If reduced to 0 hit points in combat, it automatically assumes gaseous form and attempts to escape. It must reach its coffin home within 2 hours or be utterly destroyed. (It can travel up to nine miles in 2 hours.) Any additional damage dealt to a vampire forced into gaseous form has no effect. Once at rest in its coffin, a vampire is helpless. It regains 1 hit point after 1 hour, then is no longer helpless and resumes healing at the rate of 5 hit points per round.

2Headband of Ferocity: Wearer act normally at 0 to -9 hp, and is not staggered by nonlethal dmg and falls unconscious when nonlethal dmg exceeds hp by 10

3Not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain. Immune to damage to its physical ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution), as well as to fatigue and exhaustion effects.Not at risk of death from massive damage, but when reduced to 0 hit points or less, it is immediately destroyed.

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Your question is tagged "dnd-3.5e" but I want to point out that the Headband of Ferocity is from Sword And Fist which is a 3.0e book. So I might rephrase your question: "When porting the Headband of Ferocity to 3.5e, what effect should it have on a vampire?" When porting rules, the most important concern is to make sure the result is balanced.

Let's talk about balance issues. The Headband of Ferocity is a very cheap item which lets you stay active for 10 extra hit points (good!) but at the end of that your character is dead (bad!). So, when thinking about balance issues, we need to remember that the Headband is balanced by this horrible drawback.

(Compare: the vest of false life, from the same book as the Headband of Ferocity, grants +10 hit points without the drawback and costs 12000gp rather than 2000gp.)

It might be tempting to say: "Oh, well, a headband of ferocity lets a vampire stay active until -10hp, at which point the vampire turns to mist like normal". But this would break the balance of the item by giving the benefit without any drawback.

We could try to correct this by saying: "A headband of ferocity lets a vampire stay active until -10hp, at which point the vampire can't turn to mist and is destroyed." But this would be a really severe drawback and would make the headband a bad item. (Arguably the headband is a pretty bad item anyway, but let's handwave that for now.)

I think the sanest thing to do is to rule that ferocity just doesn't work for undead (perhaps because it's tied to the Constitution score). If a vampire wants 10 more hp (and if the DM is prepared to houserule 3e items into 3.5e), they can get the vest of false life instead.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure porting is the correct term; it's not like the headband is from another game or something. "This [that is, 3.5] is an upgrade of the d20 System, not a new edition of the game," says the 3.5 DMG. "This revision is compatible with existing products, and these products can be used with the revision with only minor adjustments" (4). The headband of ferocity was never revised for 3.5, so the DM need only make minor adjustments if he feels like it. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 16, 2015 at 5:24

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