Pkunk ships seem to have the ability to regenerate/resurrect if killed in battle.

However, it seems pretty random when they do or don't regenerate.

Are there specific known rules for when regeneration does/doesn't happen?

  • BTW, reseaching this I run into all sorts of contradictory claims. From "always 50% chance, no factors" to "factors involving whether you are firing, what evergy level, planet collisions".
    – DVK
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 3:00
  • As an FYI - since SC2 code is now open source, the question is 100% canonically answerable.
    – DVK
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 3:00

1 Answer 1


After some digging through the available source code (or at least the git repository debian uses to maintain this package) I tracked the effect down to the following code snippet in ships/pkunk/pkunk.c, in the function pkunk_preprocess():

        if (((BYTE)TFB_Random () & 1)
                        && (hPhoenix = AllocElement ()))

                LockElement (hPhoenix, &PhoenixPtr);
                PhoenixPtr->state_flags =
                                FINITE_LIFE | NONSOLID | IGNORE_SIMILAR
                                | (ElementPtr->state_flags & (GOOD_GUY | BAD_GUY));
                PhoenixPtr->life_span = 1;

                PhoenixPtr->death_func = intercept_pkunk_death;

                SetElementStarShip (PhoenixPtr, StarShipPtr);

                UnlockElement (hPhoenix);
                InsertElement (hPhoenix, GetHeadElement ());

If I've interpreted this right, what happens is that the resurrection is predetermined when the ship is spawned -- if TFB_Random() returns an odd value, the death_func() call is replaced with intercept_pkunk_death() which is defined a little further down in the code and triggers the "HAAAAAllelujah!" reincarnation before spawning a new Pkunk ship -- which itself calls pkunk_preprocess() and continues the cycle.

TL;DR: According to at least the source code as it exists in Debian, the odds of a respawn are as close to 50% as a software random generator can get.

(No, I don't think other versions behave wildly differently, but this is the only version I can be absolutely certain about; if you want to know for sure whether your version is the same, check the source code for the function described above)

EDIT Whoops, spoke slightly too soon.

In the function intercept_pkunk_death():

        if (GRAVITY_MASS (ShipPtr->mass_points + 1))
                ElementPtr->state_flags |= DISAPPEARING;
                ElementPtr->life_span = 0;
                ShipPtr->mass_points = MAX_SHIP_MASS + 1;
                StarShipPtr->RaceDescPtr->preprocess_func = ShipPtr->preprocess_func;
                StarShipPtr->RaceDescPtr->postprocess_func = ShipPtr->postprocess_func;
                StarShipPtr->RaceDescPtr->init_weapon_func =
                                (COUNT (*) (PELEMENT ElementPtr,
                                                HELEMENT Weapon[]))

                ElementPtr->death_func = new_pkunk;

GRAVITY_MASS() is a defined function that tests whether a value's mass is higher than MAX_SHIP_MASS * 10 (which in turn is a defined value of 10).

So there is another nondeterministic factor that can determine whether the reincarnation is called off, involving the ship's mass_points. It's a little harder to figure out how those are calculated, but Pkunk ships start off at a mass of '1' and this check doesn't trip unless mass_points are higher than 100...

  • 1
    Line 230 sets mass_points to 1, and line 302 sets mass_points to 11, so those won't result in GRAVITY_MASS(...) returning true. But line 413 sets mass_points to "(BYTE)angle", which in theory could be greater than 100, but I don't know if it's possible based on the program logic. Someone else looked at the mass_points and said it is irrelevant to the regeneration, but I'm not sure if he's correct. Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 4:09
  • 1
    I also found a version of the source with someone's comments added, and one comment says "GRAVITY_MASS() indicates a warp-out here. If Pkunk dies while warping out, there is no reincarnation." If that is true, then mass_points are irrelevant, although that version of the source does have a few modifications from the original source (not sure if gameplay was affected at all), so there's a chance the comment isn't valid for the original source. Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 4:11

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