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D&D 5E Death Save House Rule?

lingual

Adventurer
What do y'all think about this house rule?

If you make a death save, you get "half" an action. Anything you do you will be at disadvantage or you can move half your speed.

If you are brought back from 0 hit points (via healing, etc.), you gain a level of exhaustion.

The goal is to nerf yoyo healing while balancing it out a bit. Also to make death saves more meaningful and to balance out the auto-exhaustion.

Maybe also allow revivify to remove exhaustion. This could also add some mechanical possibility for performing something heroic while dying.
 

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Dragonsbane

Proud Grognard
We used almost this exact rule, and it worked AWESOMESAUCE. Yoyoism gone.

Dropping to zero hp = level of exhaustion
Death Saves failures don't go away until long rest

We even went to crits cause a level of exhaustion as well, which made combats more exciting and more dangerous. Us grognards cannot stand how much harder it is to die in current editions! My players love it!
 

jgsugden

Legend
Dropping to zero giving a level of exhaustion makes sense, although it is not a rule I would use personally. Another alternative option or two: When your HPs drop below zero, roll a d8 and subtract your con modifier. If the result is positive, you can't be awakened for that many rounds. For example, if you roll 7 and have a con modifier of 2, you can be healed, but you will not wake up until at least 5 rounds have passed since your injury. Alternatively, you can be awake, but stunned.

I do not think the other half of the rule is beneficial. The 'half action' is just confusing. You're likely prone, so half movement means you can either stand, or crawl one quarter your normal speed - one square, right? It hampers melee and ranged PCs a lot while doing less against spellcasters.
 

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
I like the idea of dying causing exhaustion as a way to bring lingering fatigue. An underused mechanic such as the exhaustion condition is a great candidate to introduce more grit in a game. I've been thinkering with some variant houserules on dying causing exhaustion being more taxing on PCs than others, depending on the number of combat in an adventuring day and the frequency of individual dying.

Dying's Exhaustion
Variant houserules

#01 - After a combat in which you have been dying at least once, you suffer 1 level of exhaustion.

#02 - Whenever you fail a death saving throw, you suffer 1 level of exhaustion.

#03 - Whenever you become dying in combat, you suffer 1 level of exhaustion.
 

I loathe exhaustion on a failed death save. It just pushes PCs into the 5MWD (as soon as they get levels of exhaustion, they'll look to long rest).

It also unfairly punishes martial types who are punished far more from exhaustion, and tend to get it more simply by doing their jobs.
 

lingual

Adventurer
All of these are good food for thought. How
I loathe exhaustion on a failed death save. It just pushes PCs into the 5MWD (as soon as they get levels of exhaustion, they'll look to long rest).

It also unfairly punishes martial types who are punished far more from exhaustion, and tend to get it more simply by doing their jobs.
That's a legitimate point and food for thought.

If there was an exhaustion rule, what would you do to counterbalance it?

Some ideas include make getting out of exhaustion easier.

I've thought of doubling healing damage also since the "cure spells" don't seem to scale that well..
 

All of these are good food for thought. How

That's a legitimate point and food for thought.

If there was an exhaustion rule, what would you do to counterbalance it?

Some ideas include make getting out of exhaustion easier.

I've thought of doubling healing damage also since the "cure spells" don't seem to scale that well..

You need to ask yourself ''what is the purpose of the rule'' and 'what would be the consequences if I established the rule''.

Exhaustion on 0 simply leads to the party being far more likely to fall back and long rest every time someone gets a level of exhaustion. It forces the 5MWD on them. It also unfairly punishes martial PCs seeing as (barring mutiple levels of exhaustion) a caster can function just fine with exhaustion (they can adventure without making attack rolls, ability checks, half movement etc).

If you want to simply increase the urgency of being at 0HP, roll those death saves for the PC in secret. That way they don't know how bad they are off or how close to death they are.
 

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