D&D 5E Creative Surgery


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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
If I were given a better explanation of exactly how it works (not just "dangerous wizard surgery," actually being told how this can revitalize the fallen), I could be persuaded to let something like this work. But it strikes me as (literally and figuratively) playing with fire. Fire is an incredibly useful tool. It can also very easily kill you. Toying with it is Risky. Toying with magic should be that much riskier....but sometimes the prize is worth the price.

In general, though, I would prefer that they look for a more direct means to achieve their end, rather than exploiting the death save mechanic. I can think of a few ways this could work (search for a rough-and-ready medicinal that can wake the Ranger early, but possibly cause lingering harm; seek divine aid; put another character's safety at risk in order to let both potentially act...but also potentially take out a second character; sacrifice something truly valuable to one of the other characters to empower their friend; etc.) but would want the players to be pushing the story along, not me. And if I can't trust my players to do that appropriately, I don't think I should be running a game for them. Trust is a two-way street.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
It’s like on TV when a grief stricken person hammers the chest of a recently deceased loved one out of anger and sadness and they inadvertently perform CPR.

“No, damn it whyyyyyy!” (Thump, thump)

(cough gasp cough) “I’m here… I’d never leave…”

And they get up and all is well.
 




Two wizards, a rogue, and a ranger delve into the dungeon, seeking to capture the wizard Bargle who lay somewhere within.

Exploring carefully, they find an ogre sleeping in an oversized, ramshackle bed, under which the PCs spy a bearskin bag full of something they presume is treasure. The halfling ranger attempts to sneak up to steal the treasure, but fails the Dexterity (Stealth) check. The ogre angrily awakens just as the ranger grabs his sack. Combat ensues and the ranger is dropped from a single blow of the ogre's greatclub! The rest of the party fights a running battle with the brute until it falls, at which point they return to their dying comrade. Lacking any healing spells or potions, they work to stabilize her, succeeding on the Wisdom (Medicine) check.

Now they have some tough decisions to make: They are about halfway through the time they have to delve the dungeon and the ranger might not wake up for 4 hours. And even if she woke up in 3 hours, she'd only be on 1 hit point and there'd be no time to short rest since they'd only have 1 hour left to explore. So there's basically a 50/50 chance that she wakes up in time to get in a short rest and still have time to press on.

Ultimately, they come up with a risky plan since they can't afford to waste time. One of the wizards stands by to stabilize the ranger with the rogue helping. The other wizard stands 10 feet away and drops a damaging spell on them (saving throw, not attack roll). This causes the ranger to accrue a death saving throw and start making death saves again in hopes of getting a natural 20. If the ranger gets a second failed death saving throw, she is stabilized by one of the wizards and the rogue, then the process starts over again. Once the ranger gets that nat 20, they can all short rest and press on, saving up to 3 hours in the process. They describe this as a hilariously dramatic wizardly surgery and ultimately prevail.

Have you ever seen something like this happen at your table? What do you think about this tactic?
Honestly, seems fine to me. Especially as the only reason it was necessary was a lack of healing spells/pots, and frankly, 5E going back to relying on that sort of nonsense is one of its worse features.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
For those who don't like this, what if instead of damaging spells, the conscious PCs tied a rope to the unconscious PC's feet, hoisted them up about 10 feet, then dropped them on their head for 1d6 damage? This way there's no chance of crit. Just keep dropping them on their noggin until they wake up. Good idea or great idea?
 

For those who don't like this, what if instead of damaging spells, the conscious PCs tied a rope to the unconscious PC's feet, hoisted them up about 10 feet, then dropped them on their head for 1d6 damage? This way there's no chance of crit. Just keep dropping them on their noggin until they wake up. Good idea or great idea?
I mean, it's a fantasy world. Why not?

The setup of the contraption and the commotion of the process is likely to speed up the next random encounter roll, of course. Imagine: as the Ranger is hoisted for the nth time, the ogre's bigger and meaner sibling suddenly shows up and has been looking for a piñata for months!
 

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