Life Drain

An attack that does damage and also heals you.

Life Drain attacks generally come in three flavors:

  • HP restored equals the full damage dealt. Sometimes the reverse is also true, causing the maximum strength of the attack to vary inversely by the user's HP, and in particular fail to have any effect if their HP is already full. If so, it also has elements of a Desperation Attack.
  • HP restored equals a reasonable portion of the damage dealt, frequently 50%.
  • HP restored is a small fraction (such as 1%, 10%) of the damage dealt, to the point where the HP restoration is more of an added effect than the primary purpose for the attack. May also manifest as a status buff.

Oftentimes, Life Drain will be ineffective against undead (since they don't have any Life Energy to drain), or worse, it'll end up healing them and hurting the user, for much the same reason that Revive Kills Zombie.

Subtrope of Liquid Assets. Related to Mana Drain. For the non video game mechanic version, see Vampiric Draining.


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     Collectible Card Games  

  • A staple effect of black spells in Magic: The Gathering, as well as white spells such as Spirit Link (which tend to emphasize the healing portion of the effect; Spirit Link takes something that automatically does damage—creature combat—and makes it heal you too) and the mechanic lifelink. The most notable spells in this category are Consume Spirit, Drain Life, and Tendrils of Agony.
    • Defiant Bloodlord is an inversion (in contrast to most of the Vampire creature type, which plays it straight): Instead of giving you life when your opponent loses life, it takes life from your opponent when you gain life).

  • Destroy the Godmodder: A few different entities have gotten this. The Virus was given the ability to use this on two specific enemies at one point.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd Edition.
    • A half-succubus (alu-fiend) can drain 1d8 Hit Points by touch and be healed for half the amount drained.
    • A Vampiric Regeneration Ring heals its wearer for half the Hit Points the wearer inflicts on other creatures in melee combat.

     Video Games  

  • Pokémon has Absorb (as well as its upgrades, Mega Drain and Giga Drain), Dream Eater, Drain Punch, Horn Leech, Leech Life, Leech Seed, Draining Kiss, Parabolic Charge, and Oblivion Wing.
    • Pokémon, for its worth, has two different types. "Absorb" and family restore half of the damage dealt (Oblivion Wing and Draining Kiss restore 75%), while the "Shell Bell" hold item (activates whenever an attack successfully connects with the foe) restores 1/8.
    • The Big Root item can increase the amount of damage restoration when held.
    • The ability 'Liquid Ooze' (possessed by Tentacool, Gulpin, and their evolutions) causes any HP-draining attacksnote  used against the wielder to instead cause damage to the drainer (though the damage itself is not negated).
  • Underdark spells in FunOrb's "Arcanists" specialize in draining life.
  • Team Fortress 2 has several variations:
    • The Medic's Blutsauger and Soldier's Black Box heal set amounts of health whenever they do damage (for the latter giving it several times if the Splash Damage hits multiple enemies).
    • With a kill, the Pyro's Powerjack restores a set amount of HP, the Demoman's Eyelander boosts max HP a set amount, the Half-Zatoichi restores all health, the Spy's Conniver's Kunai absorbs all the HP of whoever he backstabs with it (though it maxes out at 180), and a Scout with a Candy Cane on him drops a health pack (even if he doesn't get the kill with the Candy Cane).
    • All attacks against enemies covered in the Scout's Mad Milk or by people under the effects of a nearby Soldier's Concheror restore a percentage of the damage they deal.
    • Mann vs. Machine mode allows classes to purchase upgrades for any of their weapons that cause them to regain a set amount of health upon killing a robot with it, ranging from +25 to +100 health.
  • Diablo. One possible weapon special ability is healing your character when you damage opponents.
  • This attribute on weapons, along with skills that do the same, are very common in Diablo 3. It's easy to rely too much on the ability to steal life faster than the enemy can hurt you, making your character Untouchable Until Tagged by something like an ice blast which temporarily takes away your ability to attack.
  • Sonny 2. A number of attack abilities (such as Terrify) damage an enemy and heal your character.
  • Dragon Age also features a Drain Life spell. If you cast a Vulnerability Hex on the target first, you can actually perform an Improved Drain. Later games give the Reaver specialization the Devour ability, which goes a long way toward mitigating their Glass Cannon tendencies.
  • Knights of the Old Republic has a dark-side ability with the same name. The area-effect version of this ability is called "death field".
  • Most Final Fantasy games have the spell "Drain," which drains HP and usually restores one-to-one. It varies substantially in power from game to game, or even between remakes, but is usually pretty lame compared to spells that just heal or just hurt. It's also common to have one or more weapons that do the same—usually a Blood Sword—which may or may not be game breaking if used in certain ways. Also, when used against undead enemies, it is common for drain effects to reverse; they will instead heal the undead enemy and hurt the attacker.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, the Blood Word effect can be achieved by junctioning the Drain spell to a weapon's Status Attack, with the percentage of damage added to the character's HP based on the number of Drain spells stocked (up to 100 for 100%). As with most spells in the game, this is usually better than actually casting it.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics has this spell always take a percentage of the target's maximum hit points. On enemies that have very high defenses and a large stash of hit points (like all of the Lucavi and the Final Boss), they effectively became the most powerful attack abilities available, taking them from Not Completely Useless and turning them into a Game Breaker.
    • Kimahri Ronso's Lancet ability combines this with Mana Drain, but it's not all that strong, and is really put to better use for learning his Overdrives.
  • Necromancers in Guild Wars have a large selection of spells that do this.
  • Mega Man
    • Shade Man of Mega Man 7 will drain your health if he grabs you.
    • Mega Man 5 has the Grab Buster weapon, which steals health if it hits an enemy.
    • Mega Man X has Launch Octopus's E-Drain move, should you get caught by his Combat Tentacles. Mega Man X8 has Dark Mantis's grab move that also drains your health.
    • One of the special abilities of the Chain-Rod weapon in Mega Man Zero 2.
  • Edge from Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm can use Soul Eater when equipped with Jiptus Mana. Iris can summon the Faustus Mana to do the same, but since many of the enemies are immune to Faustus' trait...
  • RuneScape has quite a few: Onyx-tipped crossbow bolts, the Saradomin Godsword and Saradomin/Guthix Bow, Guthan's armor set, blood spells, and the Soul Split curse.
  • The Drain Rune from Suikoden series will heal its bearer's HP by 10% of the physical damage done to a single enemy.
  • One of Beat's guns in Eternal Sonata restores his health as a percentage of damage dealt to the target.
  • The 7th Saga featured two spells, HPCatcher and MPCatcher, which transferred some of the targets HP or MP to the caster.
  • Reave (Samara's bonus power) against organic enemies in Mass Effect 2. Related is Energy Drain (Tali's bonus power), which does the same thing to synthetic enemies, though it restores shields instead of health. Both return as bonus powers in Mass Effect 3 (Energy Drain again as one of Tali's powers; Reave as one of Kaidan's bonus powers), but Reave has been nerfed so that it reduces damage taken instead of restoring health, making it no longer an example of this trope.
  • City of Heroes has various life drain powers in its Dark themed sets. They range from Siphon Life, which heals a small amount of its damage dealt, to Dark Regeneration, which deals very minor damage in return for the strongest healing in the game.
  • Heretic granted life draining ability when the Tome of Power was used with the gauntlets.
  • Dark Rangers in Warcraft III can learn a Life Drain spell, which steals HP as long as it's continually channeled. Dreadlords can learn Vampiric Aura, which gives a draining effect to friendly melee units' attacks.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Warlocks have this spell outright; several of their other spells, such as Corruption or Unholy Affliction, will grant a smaller percentage of health back per damage inflicted.
    • Death Knights have Death Strike, an Unholy ability which heals them as it damages the enemy. Warriors have Bloodthirst, which has a similar effect, but without the Dark Magic lore explanation.
    • Several new such abilities have been introduced in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. Death Knights can obtain Death Siphon(100% healing to damage dealt), Rogues can get Leeching Poison(10% of damage dealt), and Warlocks can get an Area of Effect version of their original Drain Life, called Harvest Life(restores a set percentage of the Warlock's own health, regardless of the damage it causes).
  • Vampires in the Heroes of Might and Magic games gain 50% of the damage they deal on an attack back as HP.
    • Certain spells and artifacts throughout the series give players the ability to grant all of their units this power.
  • Champions Online has "Lifedrain" as a rather potent such power for the Darkness power set. And when used by NPC's, it's backed up by the Badass Boast , "Your soul shall be mine!"
  • The later Castlevania games give you access to HP-draining abilities. The Succubus soul in Aria claims to let you drain HP from enemies with your attacks, but what actually happens is that every time your weapon hits any enemy or object (including all those destructible candles and things), you regain 5 HP. In Dawn the Succubus soul is a subweapon, with which Soma steps forward to bite enemies, drinking their blood to restore a healthy amount of his HP. The close range required to use this makes it hard to top yourself off without bumping into the enemies you're trying to drain.
    • Before that, Alucard had Soul Steal in Symphony of the Night. This was probably the easiest way to kill Beelzebub.
    • Symphony of the Night also had the Mourneblade which restored 8 HP every time it hit an enemy. It's almost as useful as the Game Breaking Crissaegrim (But a lot easier to find).
  • Warhammer Online has a large selection for a variety of classes - mostly healers, who get spells and tactics that heal when dealing damage such as a tactic granting a straight 25% of damage dealt returned as healing to your defensive target; specific abilities that deal damage and give back healing at 50%, 100%, 150% or 350% of the value of the damage dealt; or other, more esoteric methods (a removed ability for a Zealot was to place a debuff on an enemy that would last 60 seconds, and transfer life every 5 seconds). However, melée classes also have abilities to steal life and either bolster themselves or, in the case of tanks, the person they're guarding.
  • Present in a few ways in Dissidia: Final Fantasy: The special ability granted to Firion and The Emperor in their EX Modes is Blood Weapon/Blood Magic respectively, functionally identical—when they deal HP damage, they are both healed to an amount equivalent to their Bravery stat when performing the attack. Kain's EX Mode in the prequel gives him access to a move named Lancet, which will heal Kain equivalent to the damage dealt.
    • It should be noted that the Blood Sword equip in the original Final Fantasy II didn't actually function this way; back then, it caused damage proportional to the maximum HP of the target, and did NOT restore any of the wielder's health. It was only from Final Fantasy III that the 'drain HP' effect was attributed to Blood weaponry that appeared in subsequent games.
    • The summons Barbariccia and Kraken work kind of like this, as well—their effect is to swap the Bravery of the caster and the opponent, ideally crippling the opponent while giving the caster a hefty total of Bravery. However, considering that Barbariccia's effect activates upon the opponent using their own summon and Kraken has a countdown of significant length before taking effect, they also have the potential to backfire in a spectacular manner.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The recurring spell Nosferatu drains an amount of HP from the enemy to give to the user, as well as the Sol ability, which adds this quality to regular attacks. The first hit of the special skill Aether also does this, as Aether is simply Sol and Luna put together.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening adds the Lifetaker skill, which gives a character a large HP boost, but only from killing an enemy.
    • In Fire Emblem Jugdral, Raquesis and later her daughter Nanna's personal weapon is the Earth Sword, which allows either of them to drain the HP of a selected enemy unit in order to restore their own. A similar weapon named Runesword appears in the GBA games and in Path of Radiance.
  • Speaking of Fire Emblem, Super Smash Bros. features Robin from Awakening, and one of his moves is Nosferatu, which traps opponents and deals damage at the same time that Robin is being healed.
  • Appears in just about every Shin Megami Tensei game, in the form of spells such as "HP Drain", "MP Drain" and "Leech" ("Meditation" in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne) (which simultaneously drains HP and MP). "Drain" in Devil Survivor games works by draining both HP and MP, and "Life Drain" only leeches HP, but it gets more powerful as the user Turns Red.
  • In Scarface: The World is Yours, Tony regains health when he kills enemies in Blind Rage.
  • In Sword of the Stars the System Killer will regain health if it survives or wins a tactical encounter in a system.
    • In the sequel the Suul'ka feed on the Life Force of other beings in order to heal themselves. Consuming fleets or entire planets of their enemies or followers.
  • 'The extractor' from Project Eden drains life energy to recharge your energy reserves, extra energy creates batteries for your team to use.
  • Shuma-Gorath has a throw that does this in his appearances in Marvel vs. Capcom; it started out being able to take all life but eventually was downgraded to only restore Shuma's 'red' life. Thanos also has a super that can drain life in his two appearances. Omega Red could do this with his Tentacle Throw special attack after grabbing an opponent.
  • League of Legends has lifesteal and spell vampirism, which regenerate health based on attacks and magic damage respectively. These characteristics are mostly given through items, but Nasus has lifesteal and Morgana has spell vampirism as passive abilities. Beyond this a number of champions have spells that do this in various ways.
    • Fiddlesticks Life Drain spell is a damage beam that restores a significant portion of the damage dealt as he channels it.
    • Vladimir has two spells that drain health; Transfusion is a single target attack, Sanguine Pool involves sinking into a pool of blood and draining the health of those he passes underneath.
    • Nunu's Consume deals a huge amount of damage to a non-champion target, and heals him.
    • Skarner's Fracture deals damage and places a mark on those it hits. If he hits them before the marks wear off, he gets healed.
    • Sion's Cannibalism temporarily gives him an extremely high life drain that heals all nearby allies instead of just him.
    • Trundle's Agony steals health, temporarily increasing his maximum and decreasing the target's.
    • Warwick's normal attacks heal him, the amount increasing as he hits the same target. His Hungering Strike also heals him for part of the damage done.
  • In Dark Souls, the curved greatsword Server and the Butcher Knife both grant a little health with every hit, and the Ring of the Evil Eye grants a little health with every kill.
  • In Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Barkley can learn Vampire Dunk which hits an enemy and heals Barkley for the amount of Hit Points damaged. Later there's a Bonus Boss' skill Soul Consume, which combines this with a One-Hit Kill.
  • In Wizard101, this is one of the Death School's specialties - healing the caster for half the damage dealt to the opponent(s). They can also do this in reverse to heal themselves or allies, speed up the preparation for stronger spells, or even boost the attack power of spells.
  • Skylanders has Chop Chop, who gains the ability Vampire Blade upon leveling up. It allows his sword to steal health from enemies.
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, the Soviet faction is likely the only non-magical military faction to utilize this attack. Their Main Battle Tank, the Hammer, utilizes it as part of a secondary ability, and a faction-wide upgrade called "Grinder Treads" lets the Hammer, Apocalypse and other tracked vehicles recover health by running over enemy infantry (or tanks for the Apocalypse).
  • Pamela Ibis of Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis accomplishes this with her living teddy bear's "kisses". At its highest level, the skill can drain life from the entire enemy party and transfer it to the player's active party members.
  • The Drain Dive command in Kingdom Hearts 3D restores a fraction of the damage you deal with it as HP. It's no substitute to a proper heal, however. There's also the Drain buff some dream eaters can bestow, which recovers a miniscule amount of HP per regular attack you land (Which can be fairly helpful when coupled with Once More and Second Chance).
  • Dungeon Crawl has weapons with Vampiric branding, which can heal you based upon the Negative Energy damage it does, and also "feeds" you with nutrition occasionally when you successfully drain something. Of course, this weapon also requires your character to be well-fed before they can actually wield it, and the Good gods Elyvilon, Zin and the Shining One forbid the use of such unholy weapons. There is a spell called Vampiric Draining that also does this.
  • In Brütal Legend, Eddie can purchase a treatment for The Seperator that returns a small portion of damage done by the weapon to Eddie as health.
  • The Elder Scrolls: You can stick the Absorb Health enchantment onto a weapon to give it a leeching effect.
    • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you can learn the Drain Vitality shout (which saps stamina, magicka, and health from your opponent) once you install Dawnguard.
  • It's a Dark Side force power in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy When leveled up to its max, you can make a roomful of stormtroopers drop dead while pushing your health beyond the normal maxes. Of course, the dark Force cult members known as Reborn don't hesitate to use it on you. Also, stolen health is harder to hold onto than less What the Hell, Hero?-inducing manners: you'll take a bit more damage than you would otherwise, and the above-100 health slips away even if you don't take any damage.
  • In Borderlands 2, all Moxxi weapons (which are generally earned as unique quest rewards) have the ability to heal you for a percentage of the damage dealt when you wield them. While for most of them it's generally roughly 2-5%, the Rubi has a 12% healing rate while the Grog Nozzle has a 65%. A slag variation of the weapon can result in some very potent healing and is somewhat necessary in higher difficulties. The "health gating" mechanic, which makes it impossible for enemies to deplete your entire health bar in one hit as long as you are over 50% health, has made the slag Rubi and Grog Nozzle examples of Complacent Gaming Syndrome, because they can make you literally unkillable with the right build. If you don't use either of these weapons then be prepared to have many people tell you that you're playing the game wrong.
  • Path of Exile uses the third type, returning some small percentage of physical damage as healing. There are also item properties that return a fixed amount of health on hitting an enemy. All claw-type weapons have an inherent life drain property and several claw-specific passive skills increase the amount drained.
  • The Disciples franchise makes use of this ability on some of the Undead units (heals 50% of damage), and an Artifact (heals 25% of damage dealt). Some units in the sequel have an upgraded version of this ability that shares "excess" healing with the other units in the group.
  • In God Eater Burst each of Shio's attacks will restore a tiny amount of health, since she's a humanoid Aragami and is technically eating bits of her enemies. One of the control units you can equip grants health regeneration during burst mode, which counts since you enter burst mode when your Living Weapon bites a chunk out of the monsters, damaging them to give you power.
  • Terraria:
    • There's a magic weapon that's actually called the Life Drain. It's a partial subversion, however, because it doesn't give you back life according to the damage dealt, but increases your the rate of your Regenerating Health when draining from enemies instead.
    • The Vampire Knives from give you back a small portion of damage dealt as health. Thing is, they're thrown in huge spreads quite rapidly, and being a melee weapon, costs no mana or ammo.
    • The Spectre Armor (with hood) set causes your magic attacks to drain a portion of life from enemies.
  • An in-game cheat in The Matrix: Path of Neo enables a type 1, possibly depending on how full the health is also a type 2, mode called Vampiric Draining which restores Neo's lost health as enemies are killed.
  • The Broken Lords in Endless Legend maintain their bodies by draining Dust - from the environment or from sentient beings. Their infantry unit, the Stalwarts, automatically heal if their target is killed within the same turn they are attacked, and their support unit, the Dust Bishops, can drain life from afar and use it to heal nearby allies.
  • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Ethereals are able to do this to their underlings. This also includes your mind controlled soldiers.
  • Ragna the Bloodedge's Azure Grimoire requires living souls in order to function. In a case of Gameplay and Story Integration, his drive's name is called "Soul Eater" and any time he strikes an opponent with his drive attacks, he drains their health and adds it to his own.
  • In Fragile Hearts 2: Shattered Dreams, Bazur gains an HP Steal skill, but it's the worst of both worlds, dealing signficantly lower damage than his regular attack and not healing enough to be worth it.
  • In Apotheon, Nikandreos can equip the Mantis Sword, which heals him with every successful attack it makes.
  • In Majin And The Forsaken Kingdom, Ghosts will attack Majin by getting close, then sucking onto him and not letting go until Tepeu shakes them off. It is possible for several of them to do that at once.
  • In Arx Fatalis, there's an area-of-effect spell literally called Life Drain, but it's of questionable usefulness. It will deplete your mana meter in seconds and works only in very small radius (roughly ONE step). You surely do not want to get that close to stronger enemies as they deal more damage than the spell heals, and weaker ones are pretty well killed without it.
  • Anna Zirski from Phantasy Star II has the Fanbi technique, which drains some life from a foe to replenish hers.
  • Evolve has an unusual version with Slim's leech gun, which charges his heal burst with every successful hit.
  • In Akatsuki Blitzkampf, the Knowledge Broker Sai possesses a Deadly Gaze that lets him inflict several stat-changing afflictions on his foes. His Super tops it by not only giving all these "curses" to the target at the same time, but also draining him/her of life energy and adding it to Sai's own life bar. It turns out to be a plot point, since this specific power has helped Sai to keep himself young and at top notch fighting form through at least five or six decades, letting him become a major player in the story.
  • In EarthBound, Jeff's HP-sucker machine does this to a single enemy, though it has a chance of failure each time it's used. Its souped-up version, the Hungry HP-sucker, does this to all enemies in a battle, though like the previous model it also has a chance of failure.

Alternative Title(s): Life Draining