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Given the ruling about Weapon Focus working with ranged spells and melee touch spells, I, as a DM, would definitely allow a coup de grace with a spell, provided the player explains how his or her spell qualifies.

The term is 'weaponlike spell', and a full discussion of how it works starts on page 85 of Complete Arcane. Essentially, spells requiring attack rolls are treated pretty much like weapons, and can do most of the things normal weapons can, and attacks from them are treated similarly to weapons in most respects... save only that damage from weaponlike spells do not qualify for bonus damage from effects that add bonus damage to weapon attacks.

Coup de grace is not specifically mentioned, but precision damage is... so given that it's fairly specific about saying 'you can consider a weaponlike spell as a normal weapon for basically any purpose relevant (except those specifically mentioned here ie: magic that boosts weapon damage only)', it's not even a stretch to allow a coup de grace with a touch spell; technically, it qualifies as a melee weapon. Given the unfortunate 'bow or crossbow' wording, a ranged weaponlike spell is less applicable. Personally, I'd allow that too, anyways; but that's purely in houserule territory.

Rule 0 is the bestest rule of them all!

Besides, if you take the "bow or crossbow" wording to exclude all other ranged weaponry, that means that if I include the early firearms in the DMG, I can't coup de grace someone with an arquebus by putting it to their head and firing?

Sometimes, it's a Good Thing to go by RAI rather than sticking to RAW.

Thanks, I agree with the weaponlike-spell interpetation. Especially since the coup-de-grace entry on regeneration makes no sense otherwise (even with a flaming sword, the coup de grace comes from the sword,. So unless the sword is made of pure flame, there would be no way to actually coup de grace an regenerating enemy, making the entry pointless.)

2 questions regarding exp rewards in D&D 3.5 when characters die mid-combat.

Exp thieves!
NPCs are helping out in a major combat encounter. Ordinarily, if the NPC's are the same level as the PC's, they get an equal share of the xp. However, if one dies mid-encounter, do the PC's get his share, or do the PC's still get a reduced share from NPC involvement? By the same token, if a PC dies mid-encounter and is not rezzed, do the survivors get more than they would have gotten if he survived?

2) A party of higher level characters get involved in a difficult combat. Towards the end of the fight, one of the characters dies. A few rounds later the party is triumphant, and being high level, get a true ressurection for their fallen comrade before the day is out. Should the killed character receive exp for their involvement?

I was thinking that perhaps they could be awarded a portion of the full exp reward based on the portion of rounds that they participated in. Is there anything official, or any general advice out there?

I generally rule that if a PC dies during combat, he or she does not get any experience points, regardless of whether they are resurrected later. After all, experience points are awarded for success, and dying is not generally considered success.

Though I believe there is mention in the Book of Exalted deeds on some options for appropriately rewarding martyrdom if the situation warrants (for instance, if the success of the other characters was possible only by virtue of whatever events inevitably lead to the death of the deceased, for instance)

Ok, no exp set aside for those who die mid-encounter. Can do.

A related question: many modules and circumstances involve creatures attempting to flee if reduced below 1/2 hp. Would you give exp for that - driving off attackers so that they turn and run away?

Personally I'd give 50% EXP for driving something off, maybe to 75% if it was a particularly tough encounter. Asmodeus springs to mind.

XP isn't given for killing things, and it isn't given for 'driving them off'.
XP is given for SUCCESS.

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