# D&D GeneralHow Do You Handle Falling Damage?

#### UngeheuerLich

##### Legend
It isn't really a mix up though. You can do everything as a function of the time fallen or in terms of the height fallen.

However, either way, I see your point about the energy at impact, which is linear due to height. In short:

Joules = mass (kg) * 9.8 * height (m).

So, if you double the height, you double the energy (joules). Ten times the height, ten times the energy. And so on.
Of course you can do everything as a function of time. It is not relevant here though, as due to enhanced speed after each time interval, the timeinterval to fall for each 10ft becomes shorter. (of course there are no intervals in real life).

It is a common fallacy to only look at the speed formular of the free fall v=a*t and think: "oh, the speed increases while you fall and thus the damage must increase cumulatively for each 10ft fallen."

This as elaborated neglects the fact, that the time t to fall is t=sqrt(2*s/g), because the formular for the way s is s =1/2*g*t^2

Of course, as you and I have now elaborated, you don't need formulas for the free fall at all if you just look at the potential energy for elevation in a homogenous (gravitational) field:
E = m * g * h.

ezo

#### Lanefan

##### Victoria Rules
You are not "rolling out of the way, stepping under, or using your shield" to block a 90-FOOT CONE of FIRE! when you're near its center.
If the fire is directional, as a dragon's breath or flamethrower would be, holding a shield up and ducking behind it would be enough to explain a made saving throw.

Harder to explain is when the fire is everywhere all at once, such as a fireball.
Wading doesn't necessarily mean "waist-deep". I mean, given lava is molten ROCK and thus incredibly heavy, it would be like trying to walk through thick concrete! Good luck with that! So, I have to imagine we are talking something ankle to maybe knee deep at most.
Even then you'd be getting rapidly shorter as your footwear, lower legs, and feet melted; soon followed by the rest of you as you sank.
Resistance to fire would be sufficient if you can get it, like a Tiefling doing it. Immunity would, well, make you immune, so let's not move the goalposts that far, ok?
Complete immunity would work. Simple resistance would just mean you melt and die more slowly.
As others have stated, fumes alone and radiant heat would kill long ahead of time, however, in a scenario where the lava stream is 20-feet wide (for example), too far to jump for most PCs, and some must wade through or risk being trapped and die anyway, I could see it happening. Wearing thick leather boots, possibly leg armor, etc. would provide protection, but it won't last long and would be like heat metal---you better remove it quickly even if you manage to get through the lava.
If there's a hard surface or crust, or a piece of such on the surface that you could use as a stepping stone, then OK.

#### Zubatcarteira

##### Now you're infected by the Musical Doodle
Not sure what that is from to be honest, never heard of it before
It's a Legendary item in Rime of the Frostmaiden.

#### ezo

##### Where is that Singe?
No. I have not.
Pity.

Sure, maybe. Seen real-life people get tossed around by a bull. Broke bones. Some people have even died. Which, again, if a Minotaur, which is a relatively low-level threat is going to be consistently shattering bones and causing months long recovery times... the game would fundamentally stop functioning as intended.
Not really, just the time for healing would be extended. AD&D was 1 hp per day + a bonus for a full week IIRC. Four weeks was complete recovery.

Sure, which is why I uncap falling damage. Falling 6,000 feet onto shards of frozen bones from ancient beasts... that has an impact that feels right to be deadly. Falling fifty feet off a building.. less so.
50-foot falls have 50% survival IRL, so heroic PCs and action heroes, yeah... less so.

Lava is always a big deal. The start of the scale is "wiping out villages and restructruring the ecosystem"
Well, buildings can't "fall thousands of feet", nor can ecosystems, but the closest equivalent would be an earthquake, or an avalanche ("bring the falling ground to the village" idea), which can also wipe out villages and restructure an ecosystem.

If the party successfully infiltrated, alerted no one, and had a bunch of helpless targets... I wouldn't even have them roll. They killed them. I don't need special rules for that.
Well, you don't need special rules. We have our critical damage houserule, but RAW with critical hits would have worked, too. But you still need those rolls for attacks and damage. There's always a chance a PC will miss (albeit small considering advantage) or damage will be low from a "non-lethal strike".

If you want to be more generous and not bother with rolls, that's your choice obviously. But would you do the same to a sleeping PC? Gobilns successfully stealth by the PC sentry and get up to the PCs who are sleeping, thinking they are safe. The goblins (don't roll) and auto-kill the PCs before ganging up on the sentry PC (now they are rolling) resulting in a TPK? Nice.

This also, again, doesn't have anything to do with what you claimed was the problem, which was the party and the PCs metagaming how much damage they could take from a source, and therefore not finding that force threatening. That is an entirely different scenario from coup de grace'ing completely helpless foes who are completely unaware of them.
Sorry, I thought that was already dealt with... players metagame hit points as resources, always. They go into a fight at full hp with confidence unless it is an obviously dangerous foe. It is basically the threat level of the encounters. An easy fight doesn't require max hp to feel confident of success, but a hard encounter without full hp will result in more caution -- do they have enough resources (hit points), to deal with this threatening force?

For a sleeping PC... I wouldn't kill them. I might use the normal weapon rules and get a free attack, but again as I mentioned earlier in the thread, the goal is not to kill the PCs. I don't care how "realistic" it would be for the PCs to wake up one day and three of their party members had their throats slit and those characters are now dead, it would be horrific of me to do that to the party. There is no challenge in "and now you are dead from a threat you had no idea was coming". And the goal is to challenge the Players. Not to kill their characters.
Oh, well, there you go. I don't favor the PCs. The same rules for all, and no handwaving away encounters when they favor the PCs and not against them.

But I WAS talking about your house rule of how hitting negative Con score is instant death. Which I find to be a bad rule, because there are enemies that deal all their damage a turn in a single blow, and it is far too trivial for them to drop someone to -14 hp. You are mixing my example of "your issue with metagaming fall damage is the same as metagaming if the PCs were taken hostage" with the discussion of your houserule for instant death.
Oh, fine. Well, you would feel it was a bad idea, given your favoritism for the players. If a PC has decent hit points, few creatures will drop them that far negative in a single hit. If the PC has been injured and is very low on hit points, great! Now be cautious!!! Don't keep fighting at 5 hp like you did at 50! A critical hit for 20 hit points while at 50 is hard, but at 5 becomes instant death.

Since creatures don't make death saves and often are just considered "dead at 0", this gives the PC an extra buffer without letting them just rely on the death saves and knowing at 5 hp, they can't suddenly go to -50 (their normal hit point maximum).

1) He doesn't want to do that
2) How do you know? He is the DM, not you.
1) That's his choice. Deal with it.
2) Obviously, that was simply my advice on how to avoid it. Instead of disappointment in a cake-walk scenario, they learn about opportunities missed.

Changing a rule to make death even easier won't freak out people who are already hyper cautious with even dropping to zero hp, let alone allowing a single death save...

Do you people? Of course that would change things. They are cautious now, making it deadlier will make them more cautious. That's how people respond to threats.
Again, your group is already cautious (overly so comparitively IME), great. Then you don't need to worry about it, do you?

And yeah, a PC might look at a 50 ft drop and say "I can survive that". I'm fine with that. I've seen people do that in movies, and by the time that is a viable strategy for the player, we have already gotten into a very niche scenario.
Great. I'm fine with more of a mindset, "I have to risk it in order to blah blah blah and save the day."

Niche or not, it wasn't my suggested scenario. In fact, I can't ever recall it coming up in a game I've run or been in. Involuntarily falling, yes. Voluntarily without magic/precautions? No.

Why did I not let them long rest? Because it was unneeded and would have made us lose. Because me and the DM both did not want the group to take an 8 hour nap when we just needed to spend some Hit Die and still had most of our spells.
Yeah, once you got to the scenario as a time crunch I understood that. I said not knowing the scenario in that response, and later acknowledged the time crunch part.

This again goes back to "why I would not want to have it even easier to kill players in combat" because people like this are already treating the game like being below max resources requires a rest. I don't want a 5-minute work day. And making it so you don't even want to hit having 30 hp left towards the end of a high level fight, and therefore will want to plan to be as close to max as possible, would just make those things worse.
Again, you don't have to, given how your group already acts. I hope that is finally clear.

#### MuhVerisimilitude

##### Hero
If said wizard happened to have Featherfall prepared and then was able/had time to cast it, sure.

Otherwise, I'm not sure how a level-1 wizard can survive a fall of more than about 40 feet in greymist's system.
I meant that some of these house rules presented in here make a level 1 wizard more capable of surviving long falls than a level 20 fighter. Which was my point.

Sure, even a level 20 wizard might not have prepared Featherfall, but he probably has prepared Fly, so he can just fly down.

I think this whole thing is such a niche issue. I can't comprehend why someone would even bother with changing the falling damage rules in the first place.

#### jmartkdr2

##### Hero
I meant that some of these house rules presented in here make a level 1 wizard more capable of surviving long falls than a level 20 fighter. Which was my point.

Sure, even a level 20 wizard might not have prepared Featherfall, but he probably has prepared Fly, so he can just fly down.

I think this whole thing is such a niche issue. I can't comprehend why someone would even bother with changing the falling damage rules in the first place.
If I was going to run an airship-based campaign, I might make a houserule that falling off an airship = death unless you can start flying before you hit the ground, as a way to simplify how we handle falling off the ship.

On the other hand, I ight not. If you're tough enough to survive a 20d6 smack from a planet, then maybe you should be recue-able - it's probably not gonna happen at low levels so it's a more interesting option than just casting raise dead if the rest of the party has to brave The Surface to get you.

But other than that - this is why I handle it RAW. It's not worth the effort of houseruling.

#### Chaosmancer

##### Legend
Not really, just the time for healing would be extended. AD&D was 1 hp per day + a bonus for a full week IIRC. Four weeks was complete recovery.

1) You have noticed that 5e doesn't do that, right? The game we are talking about.
2) I have played games where an injury takes a moth to recover from. The most common "solution" found when that happened was... making a new character. Because the game in question was taking place on a day by day schedule, there were things for the PCs to do every day, and being forced into a hospital where you could do nothing for a month... essentially meant your character had to be written out of the story, because you could no participate.
3) A minotaur can be the first encounter of a mid-level area. SO, you can start the adventure, get in one fight, then be hospitalized for a month while the rest of the party... stares longingly at the adventure site they were about to get to experience?

So, I stand by my assessment. That would fundamentally change the game we are playing.

50-foot falls have 50% survival IRL, so heroic PCs and action heroes, yeah... less so.

Okay, so? That is aggregate data. Every time an adventurer falls off a building and survives, three monsters are shoved off a cliff and die. Now that fall height has a 25% survival rate.

Just because the IRL rate of people who accidentally fall a great height means that half of them die and the majority are heavily injured does not mean that any given PC needs to die, or even think they would die.

Well, buildings can't "fall thousands of feet", nor can ecosystems, but the closest equivalent would be an earthquake, or an avalanche ("bring the falling ground to the village" idea), which can also wipe out villages and restructure an ecosystem.

Right, again, this is why to me, Lava is a different category of event. Falling is something that just happens whenever a living being is near an edge. Lava, whirlwinds, Avalanches, Earthquakes as devastating natural events that cannot be stopped by human engineering. Unlike a handrail on the edge of a surface.

That is why I am fine with uncapped damage for falling (eventually, it is deadly to everything) but for Lava... if you move into a 5ft square with Lava you are just going to die.

Well, you don't need special rules. We have our critical damage houserule, but RAW with critical hits would have worked, too. But you still need those rolls for attacks and damage. There's always a chance a PC will miss (albeit small considering advantage) or damage will be low from a "non-lethal strike".

If you want to be more generous and not bother with rolls, that's your choice obviously. But would you do the same to a sleeping PC? Gobilns successfully stealth by the PC sentry and get up to the PCs who are sleeping, thinking they are safe. The goblins (don't roll) and auto-kill the PCs before ganging up on the sentry PC (now they are rolling) resulting in a TPK? Nice.

Oh, well, there you go. I don't favor the PCs. The same rules for all, and no handwaving away encounters when they favor the PCs and not against them.

Of course I favor the PCs. I have infinite resources, infinite time, infinite health and can deal infinite damage... why wouldn't I favor them? The entire game exists for them and has no purpose without them.

The PCs who sneak into the bandit camp have learned of a threat, came up with a good plan for that threat, and succeeded in an approach to that threat that avoided direct combat. To then put them in a situation where they need to roll twice more, and have a high chance of turning all of that work into a direct combat... All I would be doing is telling them that next time, they should just charge in weapons drawn, because it will have the same outcome.

Meanwhile, as the DM, I could justify a squad of invisible stalkers sent by a villain who had a divination the PCS would be trouble, who suffocates and murders them... basically whenever I feel like it. The PCs would have no idea the threat existed, no plan to deal with the threat that they don't know of, and just one day die for no discernible reason. And if you want to try and find a way to explain how your group could deal with that, I could do any number of other things.

But, the goal of the game is not to kill the PCs. So I wouldn't even care to try and kill them in their sleep most of the time. It isn't interesting or challenging to do so.

Sorry, I thought that was already dealt with... players metagame hit points as resources, always. They go into a fight at full hp with confidence unless it is an obviously dangerous foe. It is basically the threat level of the encounters. An easy fight doesn't require max hp to feel confident of success, but a hard encounter without full hp will result in more caution -- do they have enough resources (hit points), to deal with this threatening force?

But this is exactly the thing you called out as the problem with fall damage RAW. That the Players would metagame that they could survive the fall.

So what is the difference?

Oh, fine. Well, you would feel it was a bad idea, given your favoritism for the players. If a PC has decent hit points, few creatures will drop them that far negative in a single hit. If the PC has been injured and is very low on hit points, great! Now be cautious!!! Don't keep fighting at 5 hp like you did at 50! A critical hit for 20 hit points while at 50 is hard, but at 5 becomes instant death.

Since creatures don't make death saves and often are just considered "dead at 0", this gives the PC an extra buffer without letting them just rely on the death saves and knowing at 5 hp, they can't suddenly go to -50 (their normal hit point maximum).

Right, but this isn't about fighting at 5 hp.

Storm Giants are CR 13. They deal ~30 damage per swing, and swing twice per turn. IF you can only hit -15, then fighting a Storm Giant with less than 90 hp could be a death sentence. Or, to put into perspective Any properly leveled wizard or sorcerer is at risk of instant death even at full health, and any class with a d8 HD who has taken more than 5 damage (as they would average 94 hp) would be in the same boat.

And sure, "maybe don't fight the same way you would always fight", or "monsters should be scary" but you are setting up a situation where a level 13 party vs a CR 13 storm giant is courting death in a way that feels against the spirit of the game. Because once the monsters start averaging twenty or more damage on a single hit, and they get mulitple attacks, suddenly, you are in a situation where you cannot risk having less than 40 hp during any point of the fight, because a stray crit will be instant death.

1) That's his choice. Deal with it.
2) Obviously, that was simply my advice on how to avoid it. Instead of disappointment in a cake-walk scenario, they learn about opportunities missed.

You didn't really get the point of the example at all. The point was to highlight that players are cautious. Hyper cautious. Cautious in ways that aren't always logical. Which is why I feel like a rule like this would be detrimental to those groups.

Great. I'm fine with more of a mindset, "I have to risk it in order to blah blah blah and save the day."

Niche or not, it wasn't my suggested scenario. In fact, I can't ever recall it coming up in a game I've run or been in. Involuntarily falling, yes. Voluntarily without magic/precautions? No.

Then why were you worried about the metagaming earlier? If it doesn't happen, why is it something you see as a problem?

#### Laurefindel

##### Legend
50-foot falls have 50% survival IRL, so heroic PCs and action heroes, yeah... less so.
I think what bugs me is that of those 50% who survived the 50-foot fall IRL, I bet that not many were fully capable of functioning unimpeded immediately after. I'm sure there's a bunch of cases where the person got up and walked home with nothing but a bruise, but these are probably statistically just as numerous as those who killed themselves falling from a 6-inch sidewalk. I suspect that many who survived a 50-foor fall were basically the IRL equivalent of being at 0hp but succeeding all three death saves.

But that has a lot to do with the binary condition of D&D health: 100% functional or 100% incapacitated, which isn't an issue for me except in some situations, mainly falls and other "environmental attacks".

ezo

#### Lanefan

##### Victoria Rules
I think this whole thing is such a niche issue. I can't comprehend why someone would even bother with changing the falling damage rules in the first place.
Sure, falling is a niche issue; but it's one of those issues that while it doesn't come up often, when it does come up it matters. A lot.

And so, probably best to get it sorted before it comes up in play, so people a) know what to expect and b) can draw inferences as to how other aspects of the setting physics are likely going to work.

#### Lanefan

##### Victoria Rules
If I was going to run an airship-based campaign, I might make a houserule that falling off an airship = death unless you can start flying before you hit the ground, as a way to simplify how we handle falling off the ship.

On the other hand, I ight not. If you're tough enough to survive a 20d6 smack from a planet, then maybe you should be recue-able - it's probably not gonna happen at low levels so it's a more interesting option than just casting raise dead if the rest of the party has to brave The Surface to get you.
As raise dead requires the corpse, wouldn't they still have to brave The Surface to get it?

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