D&D 5E Power Word Kill Houserule: Any <100 hp within 1 minute

I'm not sure exactly how I'd redo the spell, but I think the phrasing "...creature's current and maximum hit points are reduced by..." has a lot of merit. It does damage "legally" in 5e-ese while getting around all the ways to actually resist taking damage.

I'd keep it Instantaneous and just make a note at the end on how the reduction to maximum hit points can be fixed if the creature happens to survive (using precedent of other such effects).

I might look up how many hit points some benchmark monsters and high level characters had back in 1e, and inflate the number for the current spell to match the inflation of those benchmarks.
 

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I might look up how many hit points some benchmark monsters and high level characters had back in 1e, and inflate the number for the current spell to match the inflation of those benchmarks.
This to calculate x.
Along with no save for creature's under x hit points, creature's over x need to make a saving throw.
Success = 1/2 x necrotic damage
Failure = x necrotic damage

It is that simple to make it scary again and worthy of its spell level.

Note: They even altered Fireball's damage to account for the inflated hit points in 5e.
 

Brainwatch

Explorer
So that max hp reduction does seem like a very good model for this mechanic, and might be superior to my original idea. Lets put it on paper to get a feel.

Power Word Kill
Action: Bonus Action
Target: 1 creature
Duration: Instantaneous

The target's maximum HP is lowered by 100. If the target drops to 1 or fewer hp while suffering this effect, the target dies. At the end of each of its turns, the target can make a constitution saving throw to remove the effect.
I think you need to have some damage caused specified in the spell description. Something like

The targeted creature takes 100 HP of damage instantly, no save or resistance apply. In addition the target's maximum HP is lowered by 100. If the target drops to 1 or fewer hp while suffering this effect, the target dies. At the end of each of its turns, the target can make a constitution saving throw to remove the effect.

Otherwise, you can run into situations where the spell doesn't do anything. For example, if Bob the big bad guy had a maximum of 250 HP, but is currently at 140 HP. As written this spell will lower his maximum to 150 HP but doesn't otherwise affect him.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I think you need to have some damage caused specified in the spell description. Something like

The targeted creature takes 100 HP of damage instantly, no save or resistance apply. In addition the target's maximum HP is lowered by 100. If the target drops to 1 or fewer hp while suffering this effect, the target dies. At the end of each of its turns, the target can make a constitution saving throw to remove the effect.

Otherwise, you can run into situations where the spell doesn't do anything. For example, if Bob the big bad guy had a maximum of 250 HP, but is currently at 140 HP. As written this spell will lower his maximum to 150 HP but doesn't otherwise affect him.
fair point, we can add in this clause, and then maybe seperate a bit of the effects to give it a biiiit more oomph.

Power Word Kill
Action: Bonus Action
Target: 1 creature
Duration: Instantaneous

The target takes 100 damage that cannot be reduced in anyway.

The target's maximum hp is lowered by 100. If the target drops to 1 or fewer hp while suffering this effect, the target dies. At the end of each of its turns, the target can make a constitution saving throw to remove the effect.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I'm not sure exactly how I'd redo the spell, but I think the phrasing "...creature's current and maximum hit points are reduced by..." has a lot of merit. It does damage "legally" in 5e-ese while getting around all the ways to actually resist taking damage.

I'd keep it Instantaneous and just make a note at the end on how the reduction to maximum hit points can be fixed if the creature happens to survive (using precedent of other such effects).

I might look up how many hit points some benchmark monsters and high level characters had back in 1e, and inflate the number for the current spell to match the inflation of those benchmarks.
Except 5e doesn't try to mimic 1e's power curve.

Anyhow here is the original spells:


Power Word: Kill

Debuted in Supplement 1: Greyhawk, for the magic-user.

  • Spell Level 9
  • Range 12"
A creature of 100 or less hit points is instantly killed. Creatures with more than 100 hp are immune.

In OD&D fighting men had 1d6+1 HP per level.


Those are HP from Greyhawk and earlier era.

I don't know if Greyhawk had any con-bonus-to-HP system at all, or how flat L 11-20 was HP wise.
 

fair point, we can add in this clause, and then maybe seperate a bit of the effects to give it a biiiit more oomph.

Power Word Kill
Action: Bonus Action
Target: 1 creature
Duration: Instantaneous

The target takes 100 damage that cannot be reduced in anyway.

The target's maximum hp is lowered by 100. If the target drops to 1 or fewer hp while suffering this effect, the target dies. At the end of each of its turns, the target can make a constitution saving throw to remove the effect.
Which effect?
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
How about:

Power Word Kill
Bonus Action
Duration 1 minute
Range: 60 feet
Target: Self

For the next minute you are aware which creatures you can detect that have fewer than 100 HP within range. As part of casting this spell, or as a bonus action, you can kill a single creature of your choice within 60 feet with fewer than 100 HP, then the spell ends.
I'd make it a reaction at that point. That way you can react to a creature dropping under and not risk it being healed before your turn.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Power Word Kill
Action: Bonus Action
Target: 1 creature
Duration: Instantaneous

If the target has fewer than 100 HP they are killed.

If the target has more than 100 HP, roll 1d20 and reduce both the caster's and target's current and maximum HP by ten times this value. If this lowers your current or maximum HP to 0, you are killed.

If the caster is not killed by this effect, repeat it with the same target until either the caster or target dies.

Max HP reduction caused by from this spell on the caster cannot be cured by any magic short of a wish or direct divine intervention.

---

This is guaranteed to kill someone. And it has the "you tried to power word kill someone more powerful than you and got screwed".

Note that each loop there is an extra "if the target has 100 or less HP" check, then both lose 1d20*10 cur/max HP, then if the caster survives you repeat the "if the target has 100 or less HP".

Still, using it on a being more powerful than you is very risky.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Ok so trying a different angle. Instead of trying to create a bunch of language to protect the caster from wasting the spell....what if we just prevented the caster from wasting the spell?

Power Word Kill
Range: 60 feet
Casting Time: Bonus Action
Target: One creature you can see within range
Duration: Instantaneous

You utter a word of power that can compel one creature you can see within range to die instantly. If the creature you choose has 100 hit points or fewer, it dies. Otherwise, the spell has no effect, but the spell slot is not expended.


So in this version, you waste the bonus action from the casted spell (and couldn't cast another non-cantrip this round as normal) but otherwise can use the spell worry free about wasting the slot. The spell with either work, or you "get your money back"
 

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