Taking Rules to Their Illogical Extremes

hawkeyefan

Explorer
This isn't an illogical extreme, it's the rules functioning as intended.

Ragnar would not "almost assuredly" die from falling off an 80 foot drop, because he has 132 hit points, or less succinctly because he's a name-level warrior whom you would expect to walk away unscathed from the first couple of times he falls off a cliff in a given day.

How is this different than being able to tank a Colossal dragon's breath weapon and then beat the same dragon to death with his bare hands?

Captain America thinks parachutes are for girls. It's a feature.
I get your point, and it certainly depends on your approach to the game, but I don’t know if I agree that this situation is the logical conclusion.

The rules are meant to portray a fictional world not govern it. So for me this is a tail wagging the dog kind of situation.

For me, I think that barring use of magic or some kind of special ability like the monk’s slow fall, a fall from that height is simply lethal.

Now, when this kind of stuff has come up in my game more recently, I’ve never had someone’s pc fall off a cliff and I just say “oh he’s dead...make a new guy.” I’m very open to the possibility of a hero surviving such a fall by whatever combination of skill, desperation, and fortune will work. I’d prefer to set it up as a series of saving throws or skill checks or something similar. And narrate the condition the character is in at the end based on the results of the rolls.

But to simply have falls from that height just do a few HP damage doesn’t make any sense. That kind of fall should be dangerous.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
But to simply have falls from that height just do a few HP damage doesn’t make any sense. That kind of fall should be dangerous.
So should a sword, arrow, or dragon breath. Either HP are a perfectly reliable measure of your capacity to withstand injurious force without dying, or they aren't. You can't have it both ways. The HP rules in D&D work pretty well for representing the sort of super-humans who can withstand a dozen arrows before succumbing, but they begin to fail as you move further away from that narrative.

If that isn't how you intend to use the rules, then the "illogical extreme" is simply that a high-level character can have so many HP in the first place. If nobody should be able to withstand ~70 damage from falling, then the real problem is that the rules allow you to have 100+ HP.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
So should a sword, arrow, or dragon breath. Either HP are a perfectly reliable measure of your capacity to withstand injurious force without dying, or they aren't. You can't have it both ways. The HP rules in D&D work pretty well for representing the sort of super-humans who can withstand a dozen arrows before succumbing, but they begin to fail as you move further away from that narrative.

If that isn't how you intend to use the rules, then the "illogical extreme" is simply that a high-level character can have so many HP in the first place. If nobody should be able to withstand ~70 damage from falling, then the real problem is that the rules allow you to have 100+ HP.
Sure, that’s kind of the point, I suppose. HP Are an inconsistent abstraction.

And yes, an arrow or a sword can of course be lethal. But they can also very often not prove lethal.However, falls from significant height are nearly always fatal. Sure, there are occasionally those crazy stories about someone falling eleven stories and surviving, or the skydiver whose chute didn’t open but he survived by crashing into some tree branches or whatever...but those seem to be incredibly rare.

What I’m talking about is a person who willingly jumps from an 80 foot cliff because of awareness of the game mechanics and the result. No one in the real world jumps off a cliff without an incredibly compelling reason.

In such a case, I don’t think the DM is out of line to say “the outcome is not in doubt, we don’t need to roll dice here” and that’s that.

Again, if it were my game, I’d likely make that point and then let the player decide if they’d like to do something else.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
What I’m talking about is a person who willingly jumps from an 80 foot cliff because of awareness of the game mechanics and the result. No one in the real world jumps off a cliff without an incredibly compelling reason.

In such a case, I don’t think the DM is out of line to say “the outcome is not in doubt, we don’t need to roll dice here” and that’s that.
The question arises of why you or your players would think that they're in the real world, as opposed to some sort of world that was actually consistent with their observations.

I mean, I'm all in favor of the DM saying that the outcome isn't in doubt, but there's literally zero reason to assume death is the logical outcome. Everything we know about their world says that this should be survivable. Why wouldn't the characters know that?
 

aramis erak

Explorer
Sure, that’s kind of the point, I suppose. HP Are an inconsistent abstraction.

And yes, an arrow or a sword can of course be lethal. But they can also very often not prove lethal.However, falls from significant height are nearly always fatal. Sure, there are occasionally those crazy stories about someone falling eleven stories and surviving, or the skydiver whose chute didn’t open but he survived by crashing into some tree branches or whatever...but those seem to be incredibly rare.
Any fall from over 500m but still in breathable air is no different than any other fall from over 500m. At that range, you've hit terminal velocity in ragdoll mode. (In dive mode, terminal velocity is hit right about 550m... but attitude of the body is more significant than the height past that range.)

It's all about how you land. and the speed is about 190 km/h... tho' clothing can reduce that to 100 kmh or so.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Guys, guys, you're missing the big picture.

It's night, the moon is full. You look up at the moon. What do you see? A cube.

In 5e, diagonals are the same distance as the side of a square. A circle is defined as a shape where every point is equidistant from the centre. If a diagonal has the same movement cost as moving in a "straight" line (following the lines of the grid on a square map), then a square is also a circle.

Thus, the moon is a cube.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Guys, guys, you're missing the big picture.

It's night, the moon is full. You look up at the moon. What do you see? A cube.

In 5e, diagonals are the same distance as the side of a square. A circle is defined as a shape where every point is equidistant from the centre. If a diagonal has the same movement cost as moving in a "straight" line (following the lines of the grid on a square map), then a square is also a circle.

Thus, the moon is a cube.
And Dragons are L7. aka Squares.
 

Fauchard1520

Explorer
Guys, guys, you're missing the big picture.

It's night, the moon is full. You look up at the moon. What do you see? A cube.

In 5e, diagonals are the same distance as the side of a square. A circle is defined as a shape where every point is equidistant from the centre. If a diagonal has the same movement cost as moving in a "straight" line (following the lines of the grid on a square map), then a square is also a circle.

Thus, the moon is a cube.
I'd like to see a mathematical proof on this one, lol.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Thus, the moon is a cube.
That certainly counts as an illogical extreme.

In general, the way to find these sorts of things is pretty straightforward:
  1. Look at any isolated portion of the rules.
  2. Identify the unstated assumptions by which the rules kinda make sense.
  3. Break those assumptions, and try to apply those rules to the resulting void.
Thus, an approximation of distance which is good enough for short ranges, fails to hold up at much longer ranges.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
The question arises of why you or your players would think that they're in the real world, as opposed to some sort of world that was actually consistent with their observations.

I mean, I'm all in favor of the DM saying that the outcome isn't in doubt, but there's literally zero reason to assume death is the logical outcome. Everything we know about their world says that this should be survivable. Why wouldn't the characters know that?
Not THE real world. But A real world. Or at least, as real as can be expected. As I said earlier, it depends on the approach you take to the game.

The way I look at it, what’s the expectation you’d have of a person falling off an 80 foot cliff? Not in a game or even in the real world. Let’s say you’re reading a novel and it happens.

My guess is that you have a good idea of what would happen, unless the story allowed for some kind of fantastic reason that a person could survive such a fall (like in the Captain America example mentioned earlier). Barring such elements, you’d likely expect this character to die from the fall.

So to me, the game should ideally have mechanics that reflect that expectation. I don’t expect the physics of the world, and by extension characters expectations and understanding of their world, to be shaped by the game mechanics.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
The way I look at it, what’s the expectation you’d have of a person falling off an 80 foot cliff? Not in a game or even in the real world. Let’s say you’re reading a novel and it happens.
According to narrative convention, falls are very rarely lethal, unless the story is almost over. If someone goes over a cliff, then it's a virtual guarantee that they'll show up again later on, especially considering the difficulty of going down to make sure they're actually dead. That's exactly what I'd expect to happen in one of those new-age story-telling games, like Dresden Files.

But D&D isn't a story-telling game. It's a traditional RPG. The rules of the game reflect the reality of the game world. Making an appeal to narrative convention would be tantamount to meta-gaming. We're supposed to believe that this could really happen.

So I would consider a fall from 80 feet to be very lethal, generally speaking. I wouldn't consider it to be more lethal than getting stabbed with a sword, or shot with an arrow, or being set on fire, though. All of those things are very deadly. While it makes perfect sense that some random person would probably die from that fall, the fact that I've observed this specific individual withstand superhuman levels of injury in the past means that they aren't some random person. Based on everything I know about this individual, it would be very unusual if they had survived so much, only to be laid low by a mundane fall; which is exactly what the rules of the game tell us.

We already know that the world in discussion differs from our own world in several ways. Even if you restrict yourself to human fighters, a level 3 human fighter is already capable of shrugging off multiple arrow hits without slowing down. It's kind of an unusual premise for a narrative, but that's the cost of admission if you want to play. That's the minimum level to which disbelief must be suspended, if we're going to use this rules. And once we've paid that cost, it doesn't cost anything more to accept surviving a fall from 80 feet.
 

Tom B1

Explorer
In Mutants and Masterminds that's the Bathroom Mentalist. It effectively lets your character participate while taking a shower, or using other facilities.
cough Professor X with his machine cough

Before they fixed it, I liked 'teleport, usable on others, at range* or desolidifcation, always on - talk about a great recce character.

In the space ship wargame Red Chicken Rising (the only wargame to start with a shower scene), they had ships with ranged weapons, defenses, mobility and boarding parties/torpedoes. That was fine if you played with pre-made designs. The costing scheme reasoned that shields and ranged weapons were high value and BPs and mobility less so (BPs not much because of the need to get really close).

Except... with no guns or shields (or minimal shields) and a fair bit of mobility and max count of BPs, you could actually go from out of range to on top of an enemy ship to deploy an overwhelming boarding action that the defender (who paid for expensive guns and shields) couldn't withstand. It was the paper-scissors-nuclear warhead contest.

In 3.5E, had a Xeph soul-knife with some feats that made him faster and I could 'run the walls' so I could usually go up and over the meat-shield line of our enemies to strike at the softer casters. I may have multi-classed into Monk for some of the speed.
 

Tom B1

Explorer
So I would consider a fall from 80 feet to be very lethal, generally speaking. I wouldn't consider it to be more lethal than getting stabbed with a sword, or shot with an arrow, or being set on fire, though. All of those things are very deadly. While it makes perfect sense that some random person would probably die from that fall, the fact that I've observed this specific individual withstand superhuman levels of injury in the past means that they aren't some random person. Based on everything I know about this individual, it would be very unusual if they had survived so much, only to be laid low by a mundane fall; which is exactly what the rules of the game tell us.
In some variants which had rules for broken bones, burns, etc. the side effects of traumatic damage were more scary to players than the possibility of actually dying.

Another rules-allowed but chaos inflicting:
Halfling fighter/thief riding a war dog wielding a Wand of Viscid Globs (Gorilla glue at range!)

We had a Champions character that would debark our VTOL as he turned on density increase. He'd punch several meters into the asphalt below... and the city started sending him bills. there's always a way to trim in ridiculousness.

Of course, he also bought "FTL, only works outside of atmosphere* but didn't fly and had no life support. When asked, his pro-athlete public persona came into play... "Why did you buy that?" "Lance fast!". FTL... yah, that counts!
 

DrunkonDuty

Explorer
cough Professor X with his machine cough

Before they fixed it, I liked 'teleport, usable on others, at range* or desolidifcation, always on - talk about a great recce character.
Prof X is broken.

Desol was always one of those powers that was open to stupid. There was a villain in the Mutant File who had Desolidification and Invisibility that she could keep going indefinitely. But no real attack powers, so she was more just infuriating than dangerous.

 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
In 3.5E, had a Xeph soul-knife with some feats that made him faster and I could 'run the walls' so I could usually go up and over the meat-shield line of our enemies to strike at the softer casters. I may have multi-classed into Monk for some of the speed.
M&M laughs at the Xeph and sees your movement rate with 4000 feet per move action. Completely doable at PL10, which is the default start. Normally don't need to be that fast, but they whatever works. It is only just over 900 miles per hour. With extra effort that can go to the next step up, 8000 fee per move or about 1800 miles per hour.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
In some variants which had rules for broken bones, burns, etc. the side effects of traumatic damage were more scary to players than the possibility of actually dying.
That's going to be the case in any setting where being stabbed (within six seconds of bleeding out) can be fixed by any old healer, and death can be reversed by someone with only slightly more experience, but a missing finger requires archmage-level magic. Sometimes it's easier to kill yourself and come back than it is to fix an ailment, in which case doing so is the logical and in-character response to that condition. (As compared to real life, where death is the worst thing that can happen to you, and losing a finger isn't nearly as bad as being stabbed nearly to death.)

There's also a meta-game issue, where it feels like the player is being punished by having to play a broken character, when they would be allowed to bring in a healthy new character if the first character had actually died. You can solve that by requiring any new character to enter the game at a lower level (or whatever) than the old character, but the disparity has to be pretty significant for the player to actually appreciate being broken rather than dying entirely, and that can feel like a no-win situation.
 

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