Reading the description of the Deck of Many Things for the Jack of Hearts card, Knight, it says:

the fighter ... serves you loyally until death.... (DMG5e, p.164)

Usually, descriptions say something like when the monster / character reaches 0 hit points. But here, it is just death. Would that mean that this knight is going to survive as long as it can be healed like a player character? So if the knight reaches 0HP and a cleric casts a healing spell on him, he comes back to something like 1d8 hit points and continues to serve fervently?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note: there is no concept of negative Hit Points in 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Dec 7 '15 at 12:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is true that they do not talk about negative hit points. However, there is the Instant Death description which says that if your max. hp is, say, 30, then you die if you receive damage that get you to -30. You may not do the math that way, but I find it way easier than doing it the way they describe. Maybe I'm a bit too much in math... 8-) \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Dec 7 '15 at 12:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ The instant death rule applies to one single amount of damage taken at one time. I.E. if your max HP is 30 but your current HP is 1, and you take 31 damage from a single attack you instantly die. If your max HP is 30 but your current is 2 and you take 31 damage, you're still on 0 not -29 HP. It's completely fine if you do play your games with negative HP, but I'm just saying, the rules don't account for negative HP. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Dec 7 '15 at 12:59

It means exactly what it says; "until death".

Death can be achieved by the knight in the same way as any other character, in a number of different ways. I.E. dropping to 0 Hit Points (and failing 3 death saves or taking Massive Damage and dying outright*), or being completely Disintegrated, to name a few.

*The knight card specifically calls for a "4th level fighter [...] of the same race as you". Personally I read that as a fighter created "as a PC" from the PHB so a DM could rule that they get the benefits of death saves. Otherwise they might decide to save themselves a bit of bookkeeping and just say that the fighter dies if dropped to 0 HP.

If the DM rules that the knight does get Deaths Saves, then yes, they can be healed from 0 HP and will continue to serve because they haven't died.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Monsters get the benefit of death saves too; the DMG just advises that they can usually be skipped because successful death saves don't really help you when your "party" (of monsters) suffers a TPK. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 7 '15 at 16:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to add, not actually skipping the death saves and having one or more monsters stabilise (only to come back later as a bigger and badder version of themselves) can and has been used as a plot device by DM's. \$\endgroup\$ – Cronax Dec 7 '15 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie, this answer + the TPK for monsters makes a lot of sense. \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Dec 8 '15 at 3:43

Death means death. Dropping to zero hp and failing 3 death saves, massive damage, being disintegrated, being turned into green slime etc.

What is open is whose death, yours or the fighters.

If you are dead and the fighter is still alive, do they continue to serve you? That is will they attempt to rescue your body and seek out some means of returning you to life or is the bond broken?

Similarly, if the fighter is dead; while they obviously can't serve you in that condition, if you were to have them raised would the continue to serve you as part of the magic or would the bond be broken? If the bond is broken, would they serve you because you are a really good bloke and had them raised from the dead; that is, would they be loyal but for prosaic rather than magical reasons?

Given that death is not necessarily permanent in D&D these are things that are worth thinking about. There are no right answers and however you choose to interpret this is fine but it is better to think about it before it becomes an issue.

Incidentally, as a long term D&D group our practiced response to finding a Deck of Many Things is to put our hands in our pockets and walk briskly away. We invest too much in our characters to chance everything on the flip of a card.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Why is the Deck of Many Things called the Eater of Campaigns? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 7 '15 at 23:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ These are all good points. They already saved Rieta, an NPC assassin who will thus help them again later. As for not using the Deck of Many Things, the other players also think he's crazy. He already had to fight the avatar and died and then lost a ring of regeneration... (A rather weak one that also included a curse, but still!) \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Dec 8 '15 at 3:46

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