D&D 5E Knocked unconscious in water

delphonso

Explorer
Aye. I'm overall very happy with 5e design, but this does feel like a pretty likely situation that wasn't addressed. Even a sentence chucked on to the holding breath rule would have been enough.
 

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Oofta

Legend
Aye. I'm overall very happy with 5e design, but this does feel like a pretty likely situation that wasn't addressed. Even a sentence chucked on to the holding breath rule would have been enough.

The problem is that it's a never-ending rabbit hole if you try to cover every scenario. It's done with the best of intentions, but you can't cover every scenario. Then books and official rulings come along that try to clarify it but that just leads to endless flipping of pages.

I understand the frustration but there really is no "best" solution to this issue, just different "okay" solutions. I like 5E's approach, YMMV.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
A few things:

First, if you drop to 0, you’re making death saves, which circumvents the suffocation rules except for the addition that you can’t be stabilized or healed until you are pulled up out of the water.

Second, if you’re affected by sleep , you begin choking and have from a minimum of 1 to CON modifier rounds for someone to wake you up, or you’ll drop to 0 (see above).

Lastly, I think sleep is thematic for a dust mephitic because of the sandman association. I think for a water weird you might want to swap out the spell. Blur or fog cloud seem like appropriate choices.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I think given all the editions D&D has gone through, 99% of every scenario could have been covered. Was that much needed? No, of course not, but a lot more could have been done.

For example, rules for mounted combat is very sparse IMO, and left up to the table to come up with homebrew rules which might or might not be balanced since most tables don't want to devote hours of precious playing time to play-testing.

As I said, I understand the intent was to not have an edition bogged down by rules which would slow down game play. Personally, I just think they went too far in swinging back the other way. I feel like the rules are only 70% complete, instead of 90-95%.

But enough of that... back to topic. :)
 

Oofta

Legend
A few things:

First, if you drop to 0, you’re making death saves, which circumvents the suffocation rules except for the addition that you can’t be stabilized or healed until you are pulled up out of the water.

Second, if you’re affected by sleep , you begin choking and have from a minimum of 1 to CON modifier rounds for someone to wake you up, or you’ll drop to 0 (see above).

Is dying, especially with no save, fun? No. Is it realistic that you die immediately if you are unconscious in water? Again, no. Even unconscious there's an automatic response that stops you from breathing in water. People can even "dry drown" with no water in their lungs.

It's one thing to challenge players, it's another to roll a bunch of d6s and say "Gee, you fall unconscious in water, guess you're dead."
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Yeah, I definitely don't want to kill anyone - but I want that threat to be on the table.

Look at that sentence again.

If you put legitimate threat of death on the table... then someone may die. If you don't want that, don't put the legitimate threat in play.

If you have a scenario that has a 25% chance of killing each character, then in a party of four, the chance that they all survive is under one-in-three. If the chance of killing each character is only 10%, the chance that everyone survives is still only about 65%.

If any encounter has a notable chance of killing them... it is very likely someone's going to kick the bucket. This is why D&D has moved away from save-or-die stuff, and instead works with ablation of resources - it allows players to manage their own risk levels better. If you don't want to kill characters, no single encounter should have much of a chance of doing so. You manage the risk by giving the PCs the chance to cut their losses or heal up from time to time.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Is dying, especially with no save, fun? No. Is it realistic that you die immediately if you are unconscious in water? Again, no. Even unconscious there's an automatic response that stops you from breathing in water. People can even "dry drown" with no water in their lungs.

It's one thing to challenge players, it's another to roll a bunch of d6s and say "Gee, you fall unconscious in water, guess you're dead."
1 to 5 rounds isn’t immediate.

Also, death saves ARE saving throws!
 


Oofta

Legend
1 to 5 rounds isn’t immediate.

Also, death saves ARE saving throws!
So what if the PCs get death saves? Even if they make it they're still unconscious in the water.

This is a first level party. What happens if the DM rolls well and the entire party falls asleep? It's a TPK.

Even with average rolls, at least a couple of PCs drop. What then? The party might have a healing spell or two, it's highly unlikely that they'll have any potions. What options do the PCs that didn't fall asleep have? You can't wake them up. They may or may not be able to drag one or two to safety, but water that deep should be difficult terrain. They will also probably be provoking opportunity attacks. I see no way PCs won't die.

It's a DM gotcha scenario. No thanks.
 

Brainwatch

Explorer
One way to lessen, the chance, but still have death on the table, is to allow a save every round to wake up. The number of rounds being equal to Con modifier +1. After that they start making death saves, if they make the save they wake up, but at 0 or some other reduced hp.

You didn't mention the type of body of water. One added complication could be a current. any PC that falls asleep is swept (30 ft?) away each round they are asleep. Although those in heavy Armour would just sink to the bottom.
 

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