Can a spell like Vampiric Touch drain life from a creature that is already at 0 HP?

I can't really be sure if the "no negative HP" rule means that the damage taken when in 0 HP does not "count" for Vampiric Touch if it's not "Massive Damage".

Example: A character uses Vampiric Touch on another character at 0 HP (with advantage and it's a critical). They roll for damage, which by chance, is not enough to be "Massive Damage" (the Max HP of the fallen creature). Does the caster heal himself, or is the effect wasted due to the "no negative HP" rule?


1 Answer 1


The spell heals the caster for half the amount of damage dealt, not half the amount by which the target's hit points are reduced. This means that in this case, the caster would receive the full healing benefits of the spell (based on the damage rolled) and the target would have two additional death save failures.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your answer would benefit from an example \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Oct 19, 2015 at 22:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ In this case, does that mean resistances don't affect the health received by the caster? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 19, 2015 at 22:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ By the same logic, yes, but I think that resistance and vulnerability is enough different to deserve its own question. I'm much less sure of that answer than this one. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 19, 2015 at 23:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dale M made a question about this conversation: How does Vampiric Touch interact with Resistance/Vulnerability?. Thanks @DaleM \$\endgroup\$ Oct 20, 2015 at 14:03

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