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


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Clint_L

Hero
More's the question - do you try to distinguish between them?
I totally do - death saves are exciting! If a player fails one, I describe a sudden spurt of blood, thrashing, whatever gets the players feeling like this is a crisis. If it's a critical failure, I really amp it up. Conversely, a success means a sigh of relief. The bleeding seems to be less severe than initially thought, the breath seems to be getting more even, and so on.
 

MarkB

Legend
Struggling for breath. Bleeding out.
That's two different events. If you're drowning you'd be struggling for breath, if you've been stabbed you'd be bleeding out. Other forms of mortal injury would have yet other manifestations. You only get to pick one.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Power word spells
All the caster knows is that sometimes they work and sometimes they don't, and the more beat up the other guy is the higher the odds. The caster doesn't get to know the hit points of the enemy.

In fiction mechanics work on out of fiction circumstances, but PCs don't get to know the specifics of those out of fiction circumstances. Hence why I said that the contingency can be wounded or unconscious(all the power word caster knows before casting), but not specific out of fiction mechanics like death saves or hit points.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
My first impression was "no, that's too metagamey". However, I would allow a wording of "if I start dying, trigger this spell", causing it to trigger on the first failed death saving throw.

I'm not sure I'd put the trigger on unconsciousness, that could conceivably also be triggered by falling asleep...
Dying happens the instant you hit 0 in 5e, except in the case of specific beats general like when you decide to knock out at 0 rather than kill.
 


ichabod

Legned
I think we are getting too caught up on particulars. There's a lot of person A saying "if they referred to [game mechanic] as [in-game phrase], I would be okay with it." Then person B says "but [in-game-phrase] doesn't mean [game mechanic], it means ..." As long as the DM thinks there is an in-game phrase for the game mechanic, and is clear on what the player wants to do, I would say it's okay. I don't think there is an objective way to map game mechanics to in-game phrasing, as the in-game phrasing is often particular to the table. At my table, I don't say anything when there is a failed death save, it's totally secret. That is obviously not the case for all tables. Hell, the way 5E is written, we often don't have an objective way of saying what a given game mechanic means.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Mm. Those are an interesting question. I think the in-character take on those would be "I know these automatically affect almost any ordinary person and most monsters automatically, but that they are ineffective against certain more massive monsters or heroic individuals with extraordinary willpower or vitality. However, those tougher targets can be made susceptible through wounding and exhaustion."
Which to me is PRECISELY the point. You have created a fictional explanation for a purely mechanical component of the game. And so....there is no reason this cannot be applied to other such game mechanics.

In other words, you can create a fictional explanation for what the death save "means" in game, and therefore use it as a trigger for contigency.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Hence why I said that the contingency can be wounded or unconscious(all the power word caster knows before casting), but not specific out of fiction mechanics like death saves or hit points.
As everyone well knows, when a person become unconscious through trauma, the soul goes through trials. In each the soul decides whether it shall shift towards the afterlife or stay ground in physical reality. It is also known that further trauma or injury during this process weakens the connection to the physical reality, and pushes the soul towards the afterlife. A particularly deep trauma during this time can even force the soul out of the body outright.

The number of trials vary from different experiences, but assuming a body remains undisturbed, has a very consistent pattern of no fewer than 3 trials, and no more than 6, regardless of race. It is in fact one of Baselopetes' treaties suggesting that there is a common creation framework to the mortal soul amongst the various races. It was Kelios the Wise who first analyzed the true timing of the trials, utilizing a benign symbol spell that was very accurately attuned to go off when such a soul trial happened in the area.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
I totally do - death saves are exciting! If a player fails one, I describe a sudden spurt of blood, thrashing, whatever gets the players feeling like this is a crisis. If it's a critical failure, I really amp it up. Conversely, a success means a sigh of relief. The bleeding seems to be less severe than initially thought, the breath seems to be getting more even, and so on.

I meant, in terms of the spell's mechanics. You know, the thing the thread's about.
 

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