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Is there a difference between taking a negative level and losing a level? They seem to be mathematically the same - the player character will be reduced by one level from their current level.

In my campaign one of my players is wearing a Ring of Negative Protection (MiC, p126). If they happen to die and then be resurrected or raised from the dead, will they still lose a level?

I feel that there must be a difference since in certain situations players 'take a negative level' and other times they 'lose a level'. Hence I believe that the Ring of Negative Protection would not prevent the character from losing a level.

Is this correct?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I've re-written your question to make it a bit clearer. If I've misunderstood you then feel free to revert the changes! \$\endgroup\$ – Phlyk Dec 20 '16 at 13:50
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The Ring of Negative Protection does not prevent Level Loss.

See this link for more info, but Negative Levels and Level Loss are different effects and an item that protect against one won't necessarily protect against the other.

Level Loss

A character who loses a level instantly loses one Hit Die. The character’s base attack bonus, base saving throw bonuses, and special class abilities are now reduced to the new, lower level. Likewise, the character loses any ability score gain, skill ranks, and any feat associated with the level (if applicable). If the exact ability score or skill ranks increased from a level now lost is unknown (or the player has forgotten), lose 1 point from the highest ability score or ranks from the highest-ranked skills. If a familiar or companion creature has abilities tied to a character who has lost a level, the creature’s abilities are adjusted to fit the character’s new level.

With Level Loss you are literally going back one level. You lose ability score gains, feats and skill ranks. Your Base Attack Bonus, saving throws and class abilities are set to whatever your new level is. Your experience total also goes down to account for the change.

For all intents and purposes you no longer have a level X character but a level X-1 character and you have to recalculate accordingly.

Level Loss is permanent and the only way to 'undo' it is to gain more experience.

Negative Levels

An affected opponent takes a –1 penalty on all skill checks and ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws, and loses 5 hit points and one effective level or Hit Die (whenever level is used in a die roll or calculation) for each negative level. A spellcaster loses one spell slot of the highest level of spells she can cast and (if applicable) one prepared spell of that level. If she has more than one spell at her highest level, she chooses which she loses. A psionic character loses access to one power per negative level from the highest level of power he can manifest; he also loses a number of power points equal to the cost of that power.

Negative Levels on the other hand have a very specific effect. Whilst you do lose an effective Hit Die you only take fixed penalties which aren't based on your Class.

Negative Levels can be healed and there is a chance that they will dissipate harmlessly after 24 hours with a successful Fortitude check. However if this check fails then the afflicted creature will permanently lose a level instead!

The Ring of Negative Protection will prevent the user from ever gaining negative levels.

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