D&D 5E Dramatic Rules for Dying

Frankie1969

Adventurer
I really like this, though I would drop the exhausted condition as the failed death save is a pretty high cost already and you've already halved their speed. I would also skip the disadvantage on death saves since presumably they would only do this if they want to take an action or reaction, so they are automatically failing the save anyway.
The exhaustion is to make sure this isn't a free pass if you know you won't die (or stay dead long).
The disadvantage on death saves is to make sure this isn't a free pass compared to Unconscious.
If your wounds haven't stabilized yet, you really shouldn't be moving around.
 

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Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Reynard, the goal is providing players with more agency at 0 HP, and incentivizing game play that follows the tropes of dramatic battle scenes.

Adding this might make it clearer:
  • At the start of a round, they can choose to be unconscious instead of grievously wounded for that round. (Do you just lie there, or take disadvantage on death saves to be involved?)
Also, make the disadvantage only on saving throws. The action penalty is enough.

Tall Tom, yes, Dying condition is overly-wordy rules for final words.

Yeah, this whole thing is way too cumbersome for most tables. And it would need further tweaks to avoid self-healing. But the idea got into my head and wanted to come out.
It just seems totally unnecessary. Or, at least, seems like an onerous subsystem for a game that is otherwise abstract and definitive. Layering in this sort of dramatic and loose state of play seems like asking for trouble. I get the idea, I just don't think that trying to define available action types while in a dramatic dying state are a good fit.
 


It just seems totally unnecessary. Or, at least, seems like an onerous subsystem for a game that is otherwise abstract and definitive. Layering in this sort of dramatic and loose state of play seems like asking for trouble. I get the idea, I just don't think that trying to define available action types while in a dramatic dying state are a good fit.
They may not be a good fit for you or in general; however, it only needs to work for those it works for! If like it - use it. If you don’t - don’t. But please don’t shut down ideas, ideas are good!
 


If a character is Dying while alone, the DM may optionally extend Dying until their final words can be spoken. (At higher levels, Revivify works for another minute of Dying per slot level above 3rd.)
I’d like to suggest an opening sentence for the dying condition:

“A dying Character owns their own death scene and may…” etc, etc…
 


Lazvon

Adventurer
<tongueInCheek>
Add a few new opening sentences to help those not understanding why you would do this:

“If your D&D sessions are usually more than 50% combat, this rule may not be for your table.

If your players cannot describe their fellow party members with a pretty high level of accuracy on what they look like, or what their fellow characters would say/react in a given situation, this rule may not be for you.

If you really don’t understand why so many people talk about roleplaying so much when discussing D&D and why there isn’t more talk about combat mechanics, this rule might not be for you and your table.”
</tongueInCheek>
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
This is what my group has been using since last summer (based on Think DM's "Death Saves Revived"). I moved the death save to the end of the turn, allowing for dramatic action before someone drops off to death or unconsciousness.

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When a you drop to zero hit points, you are dying. You fall prone and automatically drop concentration on any spells or abilities requiring it, but you are not unconscious.

  • A prone creature at zero hit points' only movement option is to crawl (half speed rounded down). You cannot stand.
  • You have disadvantage on Attack rolls, ability checks, and Strength and Dexterity saves.
  • Melee attack roll against you have advantage.

At the end of your turn, you make a DC 10 Death Save (unmodified d20 roll). As long as you have more successful death saves than failures you remain conscious, but your effectiveness diminishes with each failed save.

  • 0 Failed Death Saves: Prone (Cannot Stand)
  • 1 Failed Death Save: Incapacitated (you can’t take Actions or Reactions)
  • 3 Failed Death Saves: Dead
  • More Fails than Saves: Unconscious (you can’t move or speak, are unaware of your surroundings, drop whatever you are holding, automatically fail Strength and Dexterity Saving Throws, Attack rolls against you have advantage, any Attack that hits you is a critical hit if the attacker is within 5 feet. The blow counts as two death save failures).
 

aco175

Legend
I can see some sort of rules for a great death provided that they are not cheapened by a simple cure of revivify. You die and cannot come back, but you should be able to do something cool on your way out. "Tell them, my death was awesome."

I might allow a PC that chooses a dramatic death a chance to use a full action on their turn. Maybe they Hodor allowing the rest to survive, or diving into the flooding submarine hold to pull the lever. Something cool, but you do not come back.

1675533891041.png
 

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