• NOW LIVE! -- One-Page Adventures for D&D 5th Edition on Kickstarter! A booklet of colourful one-page adventures for D&D 5th Edition ranging from levels 1-9 and designed for a single session of play.
log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E "Combat exhaustion" at 0 hp?

NotAYakk

Legend
Level 1: Movement speed halved
Level 2: Hit Point Maximum halved
Level 3: Disadvantage on attack rolls, saving throws, and STR ability checks
Level 4: Disadvantage on all other ability checks
Level 5: Movement speed zero
Level 6: Death
I like this.

I might add in:

1) When reduced to 0 HP, you are knocked pone, suffer a level of exhaustion, and are down. While down you cannot maintain concentration, you cannot take reactions or bonus actions, and you have disadvantage on all attribute checks, attacks, and saves and cannot gain advantage on them.

(Downed foes are obviously a lesser threat; some enemies will finish you off, others will move onto bigger more immediate threats).

2) If you take damage while down or fail a death saving throw, you suffer a level of exhaustion. If you suffer a critical hit, you suffer 2 levels of exhaustion instead.

3) While down, at the end of your turn you must make a death saving throw. You can expend a HD to gain a bonus on this saving throw equal to the amount rolled, and may choose to expend the HD after you roll. On a 1-9 you become unconscious and take a level of exhaustion (and remain down), on a 20+ you regain 1 HP. If you roll 10+ 3 times, you stabilize and no longer have to make death saves.

Anything that raises your HP above 0 removes the down condition (and unconscious usually).

Next, use Gritty rests (so a long rest is overnight), and allow PCs to expend a HD to recover a level of exhaustion over a short rest.

I also tie expending HD to magical healing (whenever you are healed, you must also spend a HD and regain those additional HP. If you have no HD, magical healing can only stabilize you. This also applies to potions. (Cure Wounds has the bonus that you can replace the d8s with whatever HD you expended). Exceptions are: regeneration spell, ring of regeneration, heal and mass heal spells, power word heal). To balance this, at the end of a short rest roll all expended HD; on an even value 4 or higher, that HD is regained.

(This is based off of 4e's healing surges; magical healing enhances your own healing abilities, it doesn't replace them, unless extremely powerful.)

---

Note that someone reduced to 0 HP does not immediately become killed if someone attacks twice. Their AC is normal. Enemies have advantage on attacking you.

Tank types are better at getting up from being down, because of their larger HD.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I note that the people who've actually played with this house rule say it's fine, and everyone warning of problems appears to be white-room theorizing.
That's pretty self explanatory. If someone analyzed the rule and found it flawed, why would they implement it in their game?
 

2. What DC are you using for the CON save? We make it the same as a Concentration Check (DC 10 or half damage, whichever is higher).
That'd be it.
While "Wounded" (i.e. no HP) or "Staggered" (your term) I like the only action or bonus action--using Dash as a move simplifies things, too.
I know technically Dash doubles your current movement, so that's a special rule.
There are lots of ways to do all this so if it works as you have it and your table likes it, I'm glad for any help I was able to offer. I am currently compiling an extended house-rules document with whatever current version we settle on. I'll probably post a thread on it in the next week or so. Anyway, good work and I hope it works out for you! :)
Cool! My players (in two groups now since I moved states) love the idea of being able to contribute while on "death's door" and the extra thrill. Since we use a variable initiative, it gets tense when someone hits 0. However, I'm not sold on my current way of doing things (to discourage whack-a-mole, I've been imposing "death save failures" each time you hit 0; 3x and you're out.)
 


...ditching a dungeon after 5 minutes is definitely not a good idea....Players heal earlier rather than later and play more defensively overall.
That's part of it. Once players know the mechanic, they adjust gameplay around it. Incorporating exhaustion obtained in combat with a more forgiving mechanic is intended to lessen the lure of taking a long rest while promoting the short rest, which several classes rely upon.
 

1. A role in the party, tank/front line melee, is more likely to get attacked because they intentionally put themselves between foes and the other party members.... That is against the style of play I want to engender.
My gamers like grittier combats and like an alternative to death saves, which we're currently using. This has served, very well, to remove (1) whack a mole, (2) "corpse healing" (wherein it's more cost-effective to wait until someone is at 0 hp to heal them), and (3) distinguish hit points from the actual damage the body can take (which isn't much).

Even so, I'm always looking to fine tune what I have. Others might not prefer this style of play. I'm not looking to convince (though I guess I'm justifying how we play above!) but instead looking for design tweaks and flaws.

Otherwise, who enemies target is largely situational. Intelligent foes are likely to target the casters. Racial or religious enemies are likely to target their hated foe. Predator beasts likely target the most vulnerable.

3. ...So the penalty for getting dropped in combat is to suck mechanically at everything that is not combat. So the penalty is completely inappropriate for what happened....For example, making a new track besides exhaustion that has combat penalties, or reworking the penalties from exhausion so the first level or two primarily affects combat would resolve the third.
Valid point. Thoughts on @DEFCON 1 's proposal to re-order exhaustion?
 

It would be better, imho, if the condition progression for Exhaustion were modified in some way to make the earlier levels more even while having Lesser Restoration remove a level. This would allow the mechanic to be used more often and in more ways.
That's the intent for "combat exhaustion" (maybe call it "lesser" exhaustion?) versus normal exhaustion. I suppose it might create a market demand for more gear/items that remove this "lesser" version.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Unless they think that they are infallible, they should know that the analysis could be wrong.

I've tried many things I didn't like or did not think would work. Experimentation yields some fantastic results.
You thesis is that unless you believe you are infallible, you will try every house rule that may be a positive change for something you don't like regardless if you find it flawed or find other solutions you like better? Sounds kinda absurd. Like you're trying to make a point to win an argument on the internet and not actually thinking about the ramifications of what you are saying level of absurd.

I think the line is at a lot saner place. We get a limited amount of time to play. We'll make changes we think are net positive. If we have a potential solution we think is going to cause more hassle then then problem, most probably won't try it.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
My gamers like grittier combats and like an alternative to death saves, which we're currently using. This has served, very well, to remove (1) whack a mole, (2) "corpse healing" (wherein it's more cost-effective to wait until someone is at 0 hp to heal them), and (3) distinguish hit points from the actual damage the body can take (which isn't much).
I can understand how gritty doesn't want that - we had a problem with it back in the 80s with Champions where heroes would just get back up. They had a different solution which was that at a certain amount of negative you were down until the end of combat. In D&D, that would help address the whack-a-mole while giving a greater buffer against someone getting screwed by bad luck like a mighty crit. Perhaps reinstate negative HPs, so small amount of healing will not stand characters back up - if they have been hit hard, it takes substantial healing and they will still only have a few HPs positive and be vulnerable to getting knocked back down.

Otherwise, who enemies target is largely situational. Intelligent foes are likely to target the casters. Racial or religious enemies are likely to target their hated foe. Predator beasts likely target the most vulnerable.
I do the same, plus tactical foes will do focus fire. Though I often have predators often go for the target that they are engaged with that hurt them the most recently, with a preference for continuing on whomever they are attacking. Oh, and ravagers like ghouls will continue to go after fallen PCs which makes them very nasty.

Valid point. Thoughts on @DEFCON 1 's proposal to re-order exhaustion?
Thumbs up there. That addresses my third point. At times it feels like this keeps coming up in this exact style because Exhaustion is there and it seems like a great thing to hook into. But never have I seen one of these start with "I have chosen the Exhaustion mechanic because I have looked at the penalties and they are what I feel is appropriate for getting reduced to zero HPs".

Though as one other user has pointed out, the penalties seem to be focused primarily on physical and mental and casting. I can tell you that when very tired or when in a lot of pain, I can't concentrate or focus very well, Since it mimics both real life and balance between classes, I would absolutely add in more caster and mental effects. That is literally all benefit and no downside.
 

Honestly, I don't think the penalty needs to be that severe to discourage whack-a-mole.

I would start with, "When an unconscious creature regains consciousness, such as due to magical healing, they are disoriented. They have disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks and cannot benefit from advantage on attack rolls or ability checks until the end of their next turn."

I would not include any penalty to movement. It's already pretty difficult to retreat.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Cool! My players (in two groups now since I moved states) love the idea of being able to contribute while on "death's door" and the extra thrill. Since we use a variable initiative, it gets tense when someone hits 0. However, I'm not sold on my current way of doing things (to discourage whack-a-mole, I've been imposing "death save failures" each time you hit 0; 3x and you're out.)
Like your system, when you reach 0 HP you make a Concentration check based on the damage that took you to 0 hp. If you fail, you fall unconscious. If you succeed, you can either move, take an action, or take a bonus action. You cannot take reactions.

Personally, I go back and forth on a lot of this sort of stuff. I want "more", but a balance with keep it simple still and not introducing a bunch of new things to the game. It is a difficult balance to achieve.
 

Democratus

Explorer
You thesis is that unless you believe you are infallible, you will try every house rule that may be a positive change for something you don't like regardless if you find it flawed or find other solutions you like better? Sounds kinda absurd. Like you're trying to make a point to win an argument on the internet and not actually thinking about the ramifications of what you are saying level of absurd.
Not at all. I've been proven wrong on a number of occasions by trying out house rules that I absolutely thought would not work. Enough so that I know better than to think my white-room analysis gives me an airtight conclusion on what the effect will be.

The rule at my table is that we will try any proposed rule change for at least one session. Any proposal at all.

Recent examples would be:
  • Tracing a line behind a target when a missile attack misses, and checking to see if it hits anyone else
  • Dice-rolling mini game to be played between casters whenever Counterspell is cast (inspired by Big Trouble in Little China)
  • Moving all healing spells into the Necromancy school
  • Interruption of spellcasting via melee/missile as a reaction (inspired by 2nd edition and segments)
Sometimes it ends up being as bad as I feared. Sometimes it makes the game better.

I game at a table with reasonable humans who don't abuse the social compact. So nobody has proposed that all paladins are immune to magic or that bards become deities at 5th level.

Exhaustion when reaching 0 hp was suggested by one of my players. I worried that it may be too much "death spiral". But we always give proposals a try. So we gave it a shot. And it greatly improved our game.

I think the line is at a lot saner place. We get a limited amount of time to play. We'll make changes we think are net positive. If we have a potential solution we think is going to cause more hassle then then problem, most probably won't try it.

You're usually at a sane place when you play with sane people. I've run for hundreds, if not thousands, of players. And the number of irrational problem players (who were adults) I have encountered could be counted on one hand. So I'm not afraid to hand over some creative control to the people at my table.
 


Dausuul

Legend
That's pretty self explanatory. If someone analyzed the rule and found it flawed, why would they implement it in their game?
If this rule is so flawed, you would expect that people who did implement it would encounter problems in play. So far, however, no one has mentioned this.

That doesn't mean the rule has no flaws. Maybe the people who tried it are just ignoring the problems, or maybe their specific playstyle prevents issues that would pop up at other tables. But in the absence of a formal playtest, I think it's important to listen to the experience of folks who've actually tried it.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
If this rule is so flawed, you would expect that people who did implement it would encounter problems in play. So far, however, no one has mentioned this.

That doesn't mean the rule has no flaws. Maybe the people who tried it are just ignoring the problems, or maybe their specific playstyle prevents issues that would pop up at other tables. But in the absence of a formal playtest, I think it's important to listen to the experience of folks who've actually tried it.
Agree with you. My point was that it was reasonable simple to explain why people who saw it as flawed didn't implement it, and that you can't just set the bar at "only listen to those who have implemented it". That way leads to selection bias.

Taking theoretical points say and addressing them with practical points is a much stronger way to put them to rest.

Though saying "I didn't see problems" without addressing specific concerns leads to what you mention where it may just be playstyle/table differences, or even just something they aren't looking for.

For example I play with one DM who regularly does 1-3 encounters a day with no short rests between them because he likes to "preserve tension". He'll tell you it works just fine - because it does at his table. Everyone is having fun. But if you specifically asked him if it changed the player choice towards more casters and hybrids like paladins and barbarians, and away from short-rest classes like fighter, monk and warlock, he's look at the last few campaigns and also agree that it has.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
FWIW, using exhaustion in such a manner is definitely not for everyone! It is harsh and can make things difficult at times, causing players to force a rest (rarely) or use valuable spells (Greater Restoration) to remove them.

I can certainly understand to decrease the burden, allowing Lesser Restoration to remove one level, and Greater to remove all, or allowing a CON check after a short rest, etc. to remove a level works as a buffer. We don't use extra safety rules like that, but I can certainly understand if others do.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
Personally, if were to implement this rule, I would forgo the whole "combat exhaustion" and just use regular exhaustion. Then just house rule that Lesser Restoration can remove one level of exhaustion (maybe Greater Restoration can completely remove it, or two levels at least). This is what I was alluding to in my earlier post. Maybe other tables are different from my experience, but regular exhaustion just doesn't come up that much anyway (outside a certain Barbarian subclass at least, and that seems overly harsh).
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top