D&D 5E Is rolling a death save a valid trigger for contingency?

ECMO3

Hero
I'm playing a Bladesinger with a Death Cleric dip. I'm thinking of putting Cure Wounds at 5th level on a Contingency and have it trigger if I roll a death save.

This would give me something like 25hps at the start of my turn if I am down at the start of my turn.

Usually with a Bladesinger I use a 5th level False life (or if I have it Armor of Agathys) with contingency and have it go off if I get to 25% of max hit points, but this would seem to be more efficient.

I am debating whether or not this is viable
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'm playing a Bladesinger with a Death Cleric dip. I'm thinking of putting Cure Wounds at 5th level on a Contingency and have it trigger if I roll a death save.

This would give me something like 25hps at the start of my turn if I am down at the start of my turn.

Usually with a Bladesinger I use a 5th level False life (or if I have it Armor of Agathys) with contingency and have it go off if I get to 25% of max hit points, but this would seem to be more efficient.

I am debating whether or not this is a viable
No it's not a valid trigger. Saves are not really a thing in the fiction. Spells either affect you, don't affect you or partially affect you. The trigger has to be a specific in-fiction circumstance.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I would not allow a contingency on a death save. I would allow a contingency on getting knocked unconscious. One is an event in the game. The other is an event in the game world.
I agree, that would be my ruling as well.

I might allow a trigger such as "Six seconds have passed since I was knocked unconscious by injuries, during which I have not received any magical healing or medical treatment." I'd have to think about whether "X time has passed since event Y" should count as an event of its own; but if so, this would be quite close to triggering contingency on a death save*.

To the OP: Why do you want to trigger on a death save rather than on being knocked unconscious? The most likely reason I can think of would be if you expect to receive magical healing from another PC right away most of the time, and contingency is a backup measure. In that case I'd look at something like the above. Otherwise it seems like triggering on unconsciousness is just all-around better; not only does it skip all these debates, but it means you don't lose a turn to unconsciousness.

*With the exception that if someone tried and failed to stabilize you, contingency would see the medical treatment and fail to trigger.
 

I'd say you could have a contingency on a failed death save. While it is a mechanical constuct, in the fiction that represents slipping one step closer to death.

But... I agree with @billd91... why wait until then? Have it trigger when you are knocked unconscious at 0.

More importantly, share with us the story of how your character obtained "a statuette of yourself carved from ivory and decorated with gems worth at least 1,500 gp"!
 

ECMO3

Hero
To the OP: Why do you want to trigger on a death save rather than on being knocked unconscious?
The most likely reason I can think of would be if you expect to receive magical healing from another PC right away most of the time, and contingency is a backup measure. In that case I'd look at something like the above. Otherwise it seems like triggering on unconsciousness is just all-around better; not only does it skip all these debates, but it means you don't lose a turn to unconsciousness.

I don't lose a turn. You roll death saves at the start of your turn. If I am dying and my turn comes around, I roll a death save, which triggers the heal and then I can take actions and bonus actions as normal. It is just like if I rolled a natural 20 (except with more hps). I am giving up on reactions to do it this way and I am risking death if I take damage 3 times between getting unconscious and my turn, but I am trading that for hit points on the other end.

The reason to do it this way is 0hps is a floor. You never go less than 0 so if I go to 0 and then suffer more damage it is a failed death save, as long as I do not fail 3 before the start of my turn I will be healed and then can immediately take actions.

If I use knocked unconscious as the trigger I could get knocked unconscious, heal 25 hps immediately and then take more damage before my turn (potentially enough to knock me unconscious again).

Also 25ish hps is a lot for this character because she has a 10 con.

My experience playing an Undying Warlock who healed herself if she passed a death save (6th level feature) is the reason I am trying this. That proved to be very effective in play, because in terms of action economy it comes right before your actions and virtually assures you get to take them as opposed to earlier healing that is hit or miss unless it is a lot. It is generally more effective than getting healed earlier by an ally before your turn.

*With the exception that if someone tried and failed to stabilize you, contingency would see the medical treatment and fail to trigger.

True, but if I stayed regained consciousness before my turn, the contingency would still be on me for next time I go down.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
More importantly, share with us the story of how your character obtained "a statuette of yourself carved from ivory and decorated with gems worth at least 1,500 gp"!

I actually don't have it yet (or the spell for that matter), but I will be paying a sculptor to craft it. I do have the funds for it.

I am a Halfling so it is a small statue, but the sculptor apparently won't even give me a discount ..... maybe I will have to charm him.

Now if you really want a story - I cut the hands off of 4 Orogs who attacked us and I am about halfway through making a set of Gauntlets of Ogre Power out of them. I am grinding up the bone to put into the tanning agent I am going to use on the skin. The Gauntlets are going to be made out of the actual hand skin, so they will be like leather gloves. Since they came from Orogs and not full-blooded Ogres there is a chance it is not going to work and a chance it will work but will not be as powerful. All I know is I need something because the party has no magic finesse weapons and having to choose between either a finesse non-magic silver Scimitar or a magic Javelin and 8 strength is seriously reducing my combat effectiveness.
 
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jgsugden

Legend
My general rule is to pretent there is someone there watching the target. The hypothetical observer needs to be able to tell that the trigger took place. In cases where the trigger was not obvious, I had the spellcaster roll a perception check to see if the trigger was detected by the spellcaster's contingency spell.

To that end, I would not allow a death save to be the trigger, but I would allow something like (if I am unconcious and wounded for more than 6 seconds) - although you have to think about whether the trigger might be tripped by sleeping, etc...
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I actually don't have it yet (or the spell for that matter), but I will be paying a sculptor to craft it. I do have the funds for it.

I am a Halfling so it is a small statue, but the sculptor apparently won't even give me a discount ..... maybe I will have to charm him.
Of course you’re not going to get a discount. If it’s discounted, it’s no longer an ivory statue with gems worth 1500 gp.
 

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