Negative Levels

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What is a Negative Level?

How do you get them?

Some spells and a number of undead creatures have the ability to bestow negative levels. These levels cause a character to take a number of penalties, but they never result in actual level loss.

How do you remove them?

A creature with negative levels receives a new saving throw to remove the negative level each day. The DC of this save is the same as the effect that caused the negative levels.

Some abilities and spells (such as raise dead) bestow permanent level drain on a creature. These are treated just like negative levels, but they do not allow a new save each day to remove them.

Level drain can be removed through spells like restoration. These permanent negative levels remain after a dead creature is restored to life. A creature whose permanent negative levels equals its Hit Dice cannot be brought back to life through spells like raise dead and resurrection without also receiving a restoration spell, cast the round after it is restored to life.

What do they do?

For each negative level a creature has, it takes a cumulative –1 penalty on:

  • all ability checks,
  • attack rolls,
  • combat maneuver checks,
  • saving throws,
  • and skill checks

In addition:

  • Reduce current and total hp by -5 for each negative level
  • Treat the creature as 1 level lower for the purpose of level-dependent variables (such as spellcasting) for each negative level

Spellcasters do not lose any prepared spells or slots as a result of negative levels. (However, due to decreased caster level, they may be unable to cast higher level spells until the negative level is removed.)

If a creature’s negative levels equals or exceeds its total Hit Dice, it dies.