Dead: If you are reduced to -1 Body Points and you are not given either First Aid or some sort of curing spell before your “bleeding out” count reaches 60 seconds, or if you have been given a Killing Blow, you are dead and need a Life spell.
All of your active spells, alchemical substances, and other effects will immediately disappear once you are dead. The only effects that survive death are Amnesia, Enslavement, Euphoria, and sometimes a Curse of Transformation or an Infection. Note as well that a dead body is still subject to magical and non-magical barriers such as a Ward or Circle of Power.
After your character dies, you must immediately begin a 5 minute Death Countdown. During this period, your character can still be saved by a Life spell (or effect). Even if a Life spell is administered, all your active spells, alchemical substances and other effects (except those listed above) are lost. If the five minutes pass without a Life spell, then you must immediately become a spirit and can only be brought back by a resurrection.
Example: Terin takes 20 points of damage and, falling to -1 Body Points, begins the death countdown. One minute goes by and no one gets to him with First Aid or any healing. He now begins a five minute countdown in hopes that someone casts a Life spell on him. If no Life spell arrives within the five minutes, he becomes a spirit and must be resurrected.
It should be noted that a Life spell will only work on the physical representation of the body needing the spell—namely, you. If your character is in need of a Life spell, another PC cannot cut your character’s hand off and go running off pretending to hold a severed hand and get the Life spell cast on the hand. The spell must be cast upon you, and if they want to drag your sorry body all over the place to get a Life spell cast on it, they will have to abide by the rules for carrying another body (no running except for a few seconds with an Endow spell, etc.).
It is generally impossible to burn or otherwise completely destroy the body before the five-minute Life spell requirement is used up.