D&D 5E Creative Surgery


Mod Squad
Staff member
Just out of curiosity, if your players said their characters were trying this procedure, would you:

1. Just flat-out say, "No, your characters are not doing that."

2. Say, "Your characters can do that only if you the players can give me an in-game, in-fiction reason your characters would do it - and only if I judge that reason to be acceptable to me."

3. Actively help them come up with an in-game, in-fiction reason.

Not quite any of the above.

I'm not going to let them go through a whole bunch of discussion and come up with this scheme without speaking up. So, I'd be explaining the issue with that well before it is declared as the plan.

And, as GMforPowergamers says, since we have a Session Zero in which we set ground rules around metagming, that'd be enough for them to rethink, and either give me a in-game reason, or take some other action.

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Magic Wordsmith
It would certainly change the parameters around what their viable options might be.

For example, if it's an escape scenario and they're all dead if they don't get out within the allotted time that's quite different than if going overtime causes them to merely lose out on a small monetary reward.
I don't think that would change my view of whether this was something they (1) could try to attempt and (2) had a chance of success. The rules of the game suggest it's perfectly legal and, to my mind, throwing a description of fantasy magic surgery on top is sufficient fictional justification to give it a shot. Then it's up to the dice to decide.

As has been established, there is risk built into this situation - they potentially turn a stable PC into a dead one. But for being a halfling or otherwise having some means of rerolling (which mitigates but does not eliminate risk), they have as much of a chance of instantly dying as being revived at 1 hit point. So it's not like this is some kind of exploit with no cost or risk.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I did not mean death at first critical fail. Having 3 out of 3 rolls fail is critical enough. Maybe one even has to fail by 5 points.
Okay that makes sense
For me and my table... narratively it makes no sense, so rather than try and exploit a loophole in the board game mechanics to achieve the narrative result they want... the party would be told to just try and change the narrative.

I mean the very first narrative result would be that the Ranger is out of commission for the remainder of this 4 hour excursion. Yeah, it sucks to be the player of the Ranger, but that's the consequence of the actions the party took.

If the players don't want the Ranger to be sidelined for the rest of the excursion... then we will work together to create a narrative result that doesn't necessarily come out of the game mechanics. Probably something along the lines of the Ranger being able to get up and work with the party to finish this adventure, but then suffering an even graver event after its done.
Stuff like this is why in my own system, you can push back the worst consequences of something, or spend a resource (anything from calling upon a contact, calling in a favor, trading a literal tangible in-game asset, etc, all of which have specific rules governing them) to keep things moving in a way that doesn't sideline anyone but does respect the consequences of player choices.

In this case, you'd simply treat the ranger's trauma, bringing them back into things, but they'd still have lingering trauma which means that if they get hurt again, the trauma track skips the first step straight to the second step of severity. Lingering trauma can't be gotten rid of outside of an extended rest or healing undertaken in a safe haven (which usually involves an extended rest, but doesn't always have to). If it is serious enough, or if they accept greater consequence in exchange for pushing through the immediate consequence, they will have a compllication when they reach their next downtime phase, which cuts into what they can accomplish during what would otherwise be fairly free phase, because they have to take a Recovery Endeavor before they can do anything else, and downtime phases only have so much time in them.

Calling in a favor or trading an asset has the cost of that favor or asset being gone now, calling upon a contact means that the contact can't be used for something more proactive later in this job without straining the relationship (which invokes a Manage a Relationship Endeavor during downtime), so there is always a cost, it's just more in the players hands what cost they are willing to pay, and the GM's job to make sure that choice matters, and is fair.

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