D&D 5E Slowed instead of Unconscious at 0 HP House Rule - Play Report

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
A friend of mine who is starting up a new campaign is planning to use this variant by ThinkDM: Death Saves Revived


And I like it so much I plan to suggest to my current group that we use it.



I plan to have concentrating characters who fall to 0 hps have to make concentration check at disadvantage and will move the death save to the end of your turn, instead of the beginning.
Very nice. I might see if our group wants to try it.

I would do death saves at DC 15, but make them CON checks so the modifier would apply and going to 0 hp is a level of exhaustion regardless of what happens with the death saves. ;)
 

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DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
So, this is the draft based on the ideas suggested above. The idea of gaining exhaustion with a failed death save is still up for debate. If anything is unclear, please let me know and thanks.

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OB1

Jedi Master
Update: Just had our 7th session with the house rule I outlined in the OP and the results have been a rousing success at the table. This last weekend, we had a combat where all 5 PCs were dropped to 0 HP at some point (they are level 4), and had three players on 2 failed death saves at one point (with one who rolled successfully on what would have been their 3rd). The slowed effect is proving to be just the right amount of challenge, and with PCs still up and drawing enemy fire, they have to quickly change tactics when they start getting low on HP or fall to 0. I've also found that disadvantage on Concentration checks while at 0HP strikes a good balance.

The players are enjoying being able to do something while at 0HP, and I like that dropping someone to 0 doesn't lead to an immediate death spiral for the party, but that it does have lasting consequences through the encounter. I am curious as to how much bigger an effect the Slow will be as PCs reach 5th level, but I think that will be balanced by then having access to resurrection magic should a party member actually die.

Will keep reporting in as the party progresses, but so far, it's working as I intended and everyone is having a great time with the rule.
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
@OB1 I was thinking about this, and I was wondering about the possibility of a party death spiral.

Basically, this grants less "full turns" than standard death saves. While characters do not have a chance to lose an a turn due to being unconscious, with normal death save that's often just the chance for a single lost turn. With the 1 minute duration of the slow, it seems like there are up to ten (but likely very much fewer) chances for losing an action because of needing a bonux action or because half speed isn't sufficient, and definitely losing all reactions for the rest of the combat.

With this increased loss of action economy (without sacrificing actions for Restoration spells, which in itself is a loss of actions for doing other things), and the duration, have you had issues where half or more of the party are in this soft denial state and crafty foes could kite or otherwise take advantage of it?

But it's entirely possible I'm overthinking this without seeing actual play, that this isn't really an issue. Do you have issues where a good chunk of the party is Slowed? Does it seem to accelerate once two or more are Slowed?
 

OB1

Jedi Master
@Blue so far in Tier I, it hasn't really been an issue (even with the entire party being slowed in the last encounter) though it does require a major change in tactics from the party. I'll also say that the party made some smart choices with their known spells at level 4 to help counteract the slow effects (such as the Ranger taking Zephyr Strike and using it once he was bloodied).

Tier II it could get interesting, and an encounter against a highly mobile enemy like a Dragon might get extremely difficult if one ore more of the party hits 0 HP during the fight, but that said, they'll also start gaining ways to overcome the slow effect during the encounter.

One of the behaviors I'm trying to encourage with this rule is for the party to seriously consider retreat when several party members reach the bloodied stage. I'm running an open world sandbox type game, and retreating from an encounter or even a mission from time to time should happen if they try and tackle something (knowingly or not) that is beyond their current capability. At the same time, if something is important to them and they want to press, this rule gives them a chance to pull a victory out of near disaster. The encounter last weekend, where they were defending their place of employment from a rival gang, was a perfect example of that. They didn't want to run from a superior opponent, and were able to fight them off in the end, while almost losing 2 party members.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Cool, I'm glad it has been working out well. Like I said, I was likely overthinking it - looking for any flaw as opposed to what normally happens.

One of the behaviors I'm trying to encourage with this rule is for the party to seriously consider retreat when several party members reach the bloodied stage. I'm running an open world sandbox type game, and retreating from an encounter or even a mission from time to time should happen if they try and tackle something (knowingly or not) that is beyond their current capability.
It seems though that a single bad hit which reduces someone to 0 and therefore half speed takes retreat completely off the table unless they are willing to abandon a party member, and that rarely happens from my perspective.
 

Quartz

Hero
When a character drops to 0 HP, they are Slowed, as per the spell, but remain conscious. All other effects of being at 0 HP remain the same (death saves at start of turn, failed death saves for taking damage)

This is pretty much what the Borderlands games do and it works really well. I dislike applying levels of Exhaustion as they result in a death spiral.

I dislike your idea of being Slowed afterwards, however, as that too looks like it could result in a death spiral. To prevent whack-a-mole healing how about reducing the 3 rounds of death saves to 2 rounds until after a Short or Long Rest? Again, this channels the Borderlands idea of being in danger of dying more quickly after you get back up.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
Thinking about making a slight change to the rule, by giving PCs a chance to save from the Slow effect at the end of their turns. Goal is to slightly lessen the impact of this rule on front line fighters. Debating on where between 15 and 20 I want to set the DC at...
  • When a character regains HP, the period of Slow continues for 1 minute, or until a spell such as Lesser Restoration is cast to end the effect. Characters also can make a DC15 Con Save at the end of each of their turns to end this effect early.
or to simplify even more
  • When a character regains HP, players make a DC19 Con save at the end of each of their turns to end the Slow effect. A spell such as Lesser Restoration can also end the effect.
 

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