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

Clint_L

Hero
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.
Yes, I understand. I'm not an idiot. I was giving examples of the kinds of things that might be happening when a character is fighting for their life.

Though if you want to insist on literalism, bleeding out and struggling for breath often go hand in hand, which is why a first aid course tells you which to prioritize. For example, what if you were stabbed in the chest?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Clint_L

Hero
I meant, in terms of the spell's mechanics. You know, the thing the thread's about.
A player using mechanics to describe what they want to have happen is pretty routine, but if they needed to frame it in game terms, their character sets contingency to go off when they are unconscious and starting to fade. When they see the light. When their spirit takes another step towards the edge of the mortal coil. When they begin pining for the fjords.
 

MarkB

Legend
Yes, I understand. I'm not an idiot. I was giving examples of the kinds of things that might be happening when a character is fighting for their life.

Though if you want to insist on literalism, bleeding out and struggling for breath often go hand in hand, which is why a first aid course tells you which to prioritize. For example, what if you were stabbed in the chest?
The context of this thread is finding something that would be valid for a contingency spell. If you weren't participating in that conversation that's fine, but if you were, pointing out that you can't specify a whole range of specific symptoms and have the spell respond to any or all of them is a valid response.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
But would you allow the circumstance to be "when the DM goes to the bathroom?"
Who am I to allow or disallow? The player is expending a sixth-level slot. They get to do what the spell says they do. As long as the group is alright with it, where’s the harm?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
Sure, but it doesn't lurch towards death 33% at a time. The save happens every third, but death begins as soon as you go to 0 and dying. So if you can set dying as a condition, but not the save as the save isn't an in-fiction event.
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.
There are no trials that happen unless you homebrew them into the game. Dying doesn't suddenly lurch from 0% to 33%. It goes 0, 1, 2, 3, 4...33....100. The saves are just out of fiction milestones for the player and don't represent anything in the game at all except for stable and dead.

If you're going to homebrew death saves as an in-fiction event, then sure a contingency could use it as a trigger.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
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.
These are materially different, in my view. I am doing the least fictional invention necessary to explain what a given mechanic represents, which helps keep the game more grounded in a comprehensible fictional reality. If there is a real-world thing or a fantasy story trope which it closely corresponds to, in using that I help maintain verisimilitude and make it easier for me and the players to share collective understanding of what is happening in the game.

Certainly, if you like, you can create from whole cloth a fluff justification for what death saves could conceivably represent other than the physical reality combined with fictional tropes which I described in my last comment, but I think the game will be materially less engaging and grounded as a result.

Your mileage may vary, of course.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Dropping to zero HP is a mechanical representation of being knocked unconscious by violence, right?

What's the discrete in-world event the character could describe which is represented by a failed death save?

Struggling for breath. Bleeding out.
Neither of those is a discrete event; they are ongoing processes. You could phrase it "when I start to struggle for breath" or "when I start to bleed out", but in that case the trigger would be pretty much materially identical to "when I am knocked unconscious and bleeding".
 

Stalker0

Legend
These are materially different, in my view. I am doing the least fictional invention necessary to explain what a given mechanic represents, which helps keep the game more grounded in a comprehensible fictional reality. If there is a real-world thing or a fantasy story trope which it closely corresponds to, in using that I help maintain verisimilitude and make it easier for me and the players to share collective understanding of what is happening in the game.

Certainly, if you like, you can create from whole cloth a fluff justification for what death saves could conceivably represent other than the physical reality combined with fictional tropes which I described in my last comment, but I think the game will be materially less engaging and grounded as a result.

Your mileage may vary, of course.
My rationalization is that characters will often use game terms of place of fictional description. While a character might fully describe the intricate details of an attack, other times they might just say “I make an attack”

While a player could gives me a full description of what a shape changer is to set it as a criteria for a symbol spell, often times they will use the basic game term “shape changer”, and move on.

Likewise if some one is setting their contingency to a death save trigger, they could come up with a detailed flavored explanation, but like the others I don’t considered that necessary. We assume the character is doing that, but the player can simply say “death save”, and the game term is sufficient
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
My rationalization is that characters will often use game terms of place of fictional description. While a character might fully describe the intricate details of an attack, other times they might just say “I make an attack”

While a player could gives me a full description of what a shape changer is to set it as a criteria for a symbol spell, often times they will use the basic game term “shape changer”, and move on.

Likewise if some one is setting their contingency to a death save trigger, they could come up with a detailed flavored explanation, but like the others I don’t considered that necessary. We assume the character is doing that, but the player can simply say “death save”, and the game term is sufficient
I understand what you're saying.

I'm saying that it makes more sense to me (and is a more coherent and intuitive way of reading the spell description) that the caster in the fictional world needs to specify an observable discrete event which happens in the fictional world. And that I am disinclined to invent new chunks of fictional cosmology to put more of the mechanics into the fiction than are necessary. For my tastes I think it harms immersion and verisimilitude.

This contrasts meaningfully, in my mind, with the use of "shapechanger" as a shorthand, which is a term a character in-game could plausibly use.

Of course plausibility is a matter of opinion.
 
Last edited:

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
My rationalization is that characters will often use game terms of place of fictional description. While a character might fully describe the intricate details of an attack, other times they might just say “I make an attack”

While a player could gives me a full description of what a shape changer is to set it as a criteria for a symbol spell, often times they will use the basic game term “shape changer”, and move on.
That's because unlike death saves, shape changers and attacking are things that are happening in the fiction. Shape changers are a group that includes vampires, werewolves, changelings, dopplegangers and more. Attacking is what you do regardless of how you describe your sword attack.

Death saves on the other hand don't exist in the fiction. The PC is down and dying. He's going from 1% dead to 2% dead all the way towards 100% dead. The death saves that happen only determine whether the PC ends up at 100% dead or whether he stabilizes before he gets to 100% dead. They do not determine how dead the PC is. The PC isn't 0% dead and then with a missed save is suddenly 33% dead. Making the second death save doesn't prevent him from being 42% dead, but rather just helps towards him stabilizing prior to 100%.

And yes I know that the death save section says that it is to determine whether you creep towards death or hang onto life, but lurching 33% isn't "creeping." Missing the death save just means that the PC is creeping towards death as I say above. Making the death save just means that he has that much greater chance of not getting to death and hasn't yet died(is hanging on).
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top