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5E Why is there a limit to falling damage?

Hriston

Hero
I mean sure, it's my opinion, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what you're doing here.

Assuming the character is quiet while sliding a blade into someone, they aren't waking up until the attack has already hit and damaged them. It's the damage from the attack that causes them to wake up. If you run it so that they wake up before the attack and damage has resolved, they are in a whole different boat, and can theoretically prevent damage from happening (assuming surprise isn't involved and preventing that, which I think we agree normally is), which would mean that they wake up and prevent the very thing that woke them up!

That's what I'd be having a problem with. If the player starts combat by bellowing a war cry--yes, I'd have the foes all wake up. If they started combat by charging in full clanking plate, I might wake up the foes. And maybe that's what's happening. But the image I have is that they have their sleeping foes surrounded, ready to kill them in their sleep, and right as the first person quietly stabs/slashes, the creatures all wake up.

As far as initiative, I'm not sure I run it much differently than you described it, other than that I don't count that any action has actually happened until it has fully resolved, because 5e is chock full of "take back" mechanics where an attack hits and you use a reaction to make it so that you blocked it and it didn't really hit, etc.
You're making a lot of assumptions here. They don't prevent the thing that woke them up because the thing that woke them up was being attacked, which they were. The resolution of the attack is what the combat rules are for.

How do you quietly stab someone? How do you declare an action to kill someone in their sleep? These are things you can try to do, but then those actions are resolved using the combat mechanics. (At least, they are in my game.) Other editions of D&D (maybe just one edition) have rules for insta-killing a creature you've gotten the drop on. It's an assassin class feature. The closest thing 5E has is Assassinate which is a bonus to attack and damage rolls conditioned on winning initiative. If you roll well enough, and your target doesn't have too many hit points, your attempt to quietly insta-kill them may indeed prove successful, but just declaring that's what you do doesn't really fly in my game because it's the DM's job to determine if your attempt is successful or not.

I think how you're describing initiative is a big difference. The attack roll and "take back" mechanics are part of the resolution of an action that has already been declared and committed to by the player.The fact of the attack happening in the fiction isn't generally dependent on the resolution of the attack unless we're talking about an ability to actually alter events that have already happened which the shield spell, for example, is not.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You're making a lot of assumptions here. They don't prevent the thing that woke them up because the thing that woke them up was being attacked, which they were. The resolution of the attack is what the combat rules are for.

The point is, if I sneak up on a PC and put my sword into that PC's body, THAT should be what wakes him up. If he can wake up before I do that, win initiative and attack me first, that's kinda hokey.

How do you quietly stab someone?

You sneak up and thrust the sword in. The stab was quiet. The result might not be.

How do you declare an action to kill someone in their sleep?

Me: Hey DM. I sneak up and put my sword through the sleeping orc's chest.

If you're high level, there is no chance of failure and the DM should just narrate a success. If low level, then you can roll initiative, but the orc shouldn't wake up until after my surprise swing enters its chest.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
If I were to do the attack in the sleep it would be stealth vs passive perception with disadvantage. Assuming the target is surprised, the attacker gets advantage on their attacks the first turn and automatically gets a critical hit. Continue as normal.

If the target is low level they're probably dead. If the target is higher level, they have a chance to wake up at the last possible second because they have plot armor and manage to avoid the worst of the blow.

What works for PCs also works for NPCs in my games, and I don't think it would ever be fun for the DM to say "Oh, by the way your PC is dead."
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, in reply to the thread at large and the assassin example being argued, I'd like to just say, the dagger starts hurting before it gets to your heart, and your twitch response is very fast.

So, while I'd certainly have the sleeper take some damage, I wouldn't allow an insta-kill unless they were magically restrained in addition to being asleep, or under a sleep effect that damage doesn't automatically end.

But anyway, to your point, does the Paladin never Stealth? Does the Barbarian never learn from others around him when they discuss Arcana information? So, although these things might not be "practiced", they are used and exposed to enough that using a half-proficiency bonus would work fine IMO.
See, these things sound like a good argument for the ability to train new skill and save proficiencies as you level. I can't see how it's a good argument for those things increasing automatically, for everyone, however.
This is where narration has to trump mechanics. The DM just tells the player, "Ok, your character is dead. Happy?"
WOuldn't it more reasonably be "Your character is dying."?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If I were to do the attack in the sleep it would be stealth vs passive perception with disadvantage.

Sleep = unconscious. The unconscious condition specifies that they are unaware of their surroundings. Unless the person was not taking care to be stealthy and made some sort of noise that might wake up someone who was asleep.

What works for PCs also works for NPCs in my games, and I don't think it would ever be fun for the DM to say "Oh, by the way your PC is dead."
Well, I wouldn't send someone who was so much more powerful than the PCs that they could one shot a sleeping PC, even with a crit.
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
I'm not too big on the idea that the world belongs to the DM. Like I said, when I DM, I hold myself to not having a "preferred scenario" that I'm bringing about, but rather letting the players guide the fiction through their PCs. My problem with the type of expectation you're talking about here is that it short-circuits the basic play-loop of the game. It's the DM's job to narrate the result of the players' actions. If that result relies on the application of a rule, that's the DM's call, so I wouldn't say the world belongs to the DM, but I would say the rules do.
I think we're getting pretty deep into difference of opinion territory, which is fine but where I doubt there is going up be any kind of conclusion.

That said, my take on it is that the ability to develop those expectations enables players to confidently develop plans and declare actions. They are key enablers to the play loop.

Regular significant deviations from this turn the world into a slot machine where one action is as good as another.
 

They do die.

Player (20th level Barbarian): I stab myself in the heart with a dagger to show the other guy how tough I am!
DM: OK, you die.
On the other hand: The barbarbarian may not know where exactly the heart is and might just hit a rib and miss. I think a medicine check might be in order to actually do the trick... Also there might be a will save involved... And something like an INT check...
;)
 

What works for PCs also works for NPCs in my games, and I don't think it would ever be fun for the DM to say "Oh, by the way your PC is dead."
(TL;DR: many types of fiction, only one set of rules.)

As a general philosophy, I tend to agree. But to be fair, 5e is, and more so than any other edition, an asymmetrical system. What goes for the PCs doesn’t always work for NPC, and vice versa. In the narrative, PCs have a certain amount of plot armour that NPCs don’t, at least not by the rules and without a ruling from the DM (death saves for example). Which is fine, the story is about them, not the NPCs. The fiction serves the PCs, if only to make it “a good story”.

But that is where I think people disagree and begin to argue: there is only one set of rules, and many types and genres of fiction. Verisimilitude is not a yes/no question. Realism is not a yes/no question. Heroism and (super heroism) is not a yes/no question. They are rather subtle scales. And what one finds fitting in their fiction isn’t for someone else.

D&D doesn’t work well with situations where PCs are hapless, because D&D philosophy is that being hapless isn’t fun. I agree, at least to a certain extent.

But there are situations where if you put your head in the guillotine and pull the rope, I don’t care if the blade does 2d10, or 4d10, or whatever; doing that yourself thinking « I’m ok, I’ve got enough hp to soak this twice over » breaks my fiction.

Jumping down 1500ft goes about the same for me. Yet it is different from being dropped by the dragon from the same height, but my first reflex would be to play it as a fade-to-black scene, like in the movies where the ship sinks and the next scene starts with the character waking up on the beach.

If I’m the only one around the table having an issue with an action, I’ll align my fiction and allow all kinds of crazy ass shit, but otherwise I’d trust my players to play along the fiction I introduced in good faith. If they don’t like it, they can tell me. I won’t bite...
 
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Hriston

Hero
The point is, if I sneak up on a PC and put my sword into that PC's body, THAT should be what wakes him up.

But this is D&D. You can't just put your sword in somebody. To do that, first you roll initiative. Then, on your turn, you make an attack roll. If the attack hits, you roll damage, and even then, you don't really know if your sword has entered the target's body unless it kills them. Also, I have no idea why you've specified a PC here. Why should that make a difference (if you think it should)? Also, why should that be what wakes him up? Haven't you ever seen a movie or read a story in which the hero wakes up before being murdered in his sleep?

If he can wake up before I do that, win initiative and attack me first, that's kinda hokey.

Good thing that doesn't happen in my game. Because you were careful to be sneaky, he's surprised, so even if he wins initiative, he can't attack you before you attack him. It's almost as if the combat mechanics were meant to handle such situations!

You sneak up and thrust the sword in. The stab was quiet. The result might not be.

I meant in the game of D&D. Whether your stab was quiet or not remains to be seen by applying the combat resolution mechanics. If the outcome is consistent with a quiet stab, then sure it could have been quiet. If not, then it wasn't.

Me: Hey DM. I sneak up and put my sword through the sleeping orc's chest.

That's a nice action declaration, but it doesn't make it so. Whether or not your sword gets anywhere near the orc's chest depends on the dice. Does your attack hit? Does it do enough damage to kill the orc? These questions can't be answered by your action declaration.

If you're high level, there is no chance of failure and the DM should just narrate a success. If low level, then you can roll initiative, but the orc shouldn't wake up until after my surprise swing enters its chest.
So if your swing misses, you get to keep trying until it hits? No, thank you.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But this is D&D. You can't just put your sword in somebody. To do that, first you roll initiative. Then, on your turn, you make an attack roll. If the attack hits, you roll damage, and even then, you don't really know if your sword has entered the target's body unless it kills them. Also, I have no idea why you've specified a PC here. Why should that make a difference (if you think it should)?

I don't think it should make a difference. I thought someone else was talking about PCs and I just continued that way.

Also, why should that be what wakes him up? Haven't you ever seen a movie or read a story in which the hero wakes up before being murdered in his sleep?

Sure. Some sound wakes him up. In 5e, though, if someone is sneaking and per RAW an unconscious character is unaware of his surroundings, why would he just wake up?

Good thing that doesn't happen in my game. Because you were careful to be sneaky, he's surprised, so even if he wins initiative, he can't attack you before you attack him. It's almost as if the combat mechanics were meant to handle such situations!

Okay, but if it's an assassin, you've just negated his assassinate ability. Winning initiative still gives you a turn in the surprise round. There just are things you cannot do on your turn. So this unaware by RAW PC/NPC just wakes up even though the assassin was moving stealthily.

That's a nice action declaration, but it doesn't make it so. Whether or not your sword gets anywhere near the orc's chest depends on the dice. Does your attack hit? Does it do enough damage to kill the orc? These questions can't be answered by your action declaration.

Sure it can. The DM is well within his rights by RAW to just narrate the outcome of your action declaration. He is not obligated to go to combat if combat would be a waste of time or simply uncalled for under the circumstances.
 


dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
So, in reply to the thread at large and the assassin example being argued, I'd like to just say, the dagger starts hurting before it gets to your heart, and your twitch response is very fast.

So, while I'd certainly have the sleeper take some damage, I wouldn't allow an insta-kill unless they were magically restrained in addition to being asleep, or under a sleep effect that damage doesn't automatically end.


See, these things sound like a good argument for the ability to train new skill and save proficiencies as you level. I can't see how it's a good argument for those things increasing automatically, for everyone, however.

WOuldn't it more reasonably be "Your character is dying."?
Since the dagger attack is already underway, I doubt your twitch response will be fast enough to stop the person who is in the act of stabbing you.

Now, people do get stabbed in the heart and live. So, no, while the damage would rather be extreme, if the target has sufficient HP, it doesn't have to be an insta-killl.

To the other issue, you use a lot of skills and proficiencies and 5E has no mechanic for training them all that get used.

And finally, not if the player made the call because their character had enough HP to know they would survive, then it would be "Ok, your character is dead. Happy?"

Case in point. In our session yesterday our PCs used Dimension Door to land on top of an adult red dragon that was flying over 60 ft above during the battle. After failing checks, or being knocked unconscious, some PCs fell from the dragon's back, taking 20d6 damage when they landed. Now, since most of the PCs have over 100 hp, the fall resulted in being knocked out (if not unconscious already) or a failed death save. These were not PCs taking the risks because the players metagamed. Since each time you go to 0 hp, you gain a level of exhaustion at our table, the battle ended with most of characters having 2-4 levels of exhaustion each. For the player whose PC had 4 levels, he was REALLY starting to sweat! We ended up using half-a-dozen Mass Cure Wounds spells, just to keep everyone from taking auto-failed death saves.

Anyway, the point is when players metagame, throw the mechanics out the window and narrate as you see fit. I see fit to say, "Ok, your character is dead. Happy?"
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Since the dagger attack is already underway, I doubt your twitch response will be fast enough to stop the person who is in the act of stabbing you.

Now, people do get stabbed in the heart and live. So, no, while the damage would rather be extreme, if the target has sufficient HP, it doesn't have to be an insta-killl.

To the other issue, you use a lot of skills and proficiencies and 5E has no mechanic for training them all that get used.

And finally, not if the player made the call because their character had enough HP to know they would survive, then it would be "Ok, your character is dead. Happy?"

Case in point. In our session yesterday our PCs used Dimension Door to land on top of an adult red dragon that was flying over 60 ft above during the battle. After failing checks, or being knocked unconscious, some PCs fell from the dragon's back, taking 20d6 damage when they landed. Now, since most of the PCs have over 100 hp, the fall resulted in being knocked out (if not unconscious already) or a failed death save. These were not PCs taking the risks because the players metagamed. Since each time you go to 0 hp, you gain a level of exhaustion at our table, the battle ended with most of characters having 2-4 levels of exhaustion each. For the player whose PC had 4 levels, he was REALLY starting to sweat! We ended up using half-a-dozen Mass Cure Wounds spells, just to keep everyone from taking auto-failed death saves.

Anyway, the point is when players metagame, throw the mechanics out the window and narrate as you see fit. I see fit to say, "Ok, your character is dead. Happy?"
We have little common ground, because I don't share the perspective that metagaming is bad.

That said, stabbing a moving target in the heart is actually very hard. The ribs don't exactly have a wide gap. A character with Alert, for instance, I'd simply roll initiative, and if the the sleeper wins they feel a pressence above them before the dagger even touches them. A character without Alert would take some damage even if they win initiative, but would still get to react to feeling a prick in their skin, rather than reacting to the intense and terrible pain of a blade sliding into their ribcage.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
To the other issue, you use a lot of skills and proficiencies and 5E has no mechanic for training them all that get used.
Right, and I'm saying you've made a good argument for expanding the training rules. Possibly including to add automatic training at certain levels. eg, a very quick rough draft, "At level 11, all characters can choose to gain proficiency in one saving throw, or add half thier proficiency modifier to two saving throws in which they aren't proficient. Characters can also do the same for 1 skill or tool, or two weapons or armor, and gain proficiency in them as well. You can choose new [name of feature]s at level 15, and again at level 19."
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But this is D&D. You can't just put your sword in somebody. To do that, first you roll initiative. Then, on your turn, you make an attack roll. If the attack hits, you roll damage, and even then, you don't really know if your sword has entered the target's body unless it kills them. Also, I have no idea why you've specified a PC here. Why should that make a difference (if you think it should)? Also, why should that be what wakes him up? Haven't you ever seen a movie or read a story in which the hero wakes up before being murdered in his sleep?
Rulings not rules, old chap. :)

Here, a DM could (and IMO should) give the sleeping target a longshot roll (say, 20 on a d20) to just by chance happen to wake up as the attacker approaches (the odds here could be improved, perhaps greatly, if the attacker fails to be sneaky in approaching the target). If this roll succeeds then it's initiative as normal and away you go. But if this roll fails then I'd say the attacker gets a free attack before ever entering initiative, and that this free attack has at least some chance (maybe, say, by rolling 10 higher than needed to hit) of bypassing hit points and going straight to kill.

And people can't really sleep in any armour heavier than leather, thus the target is almost certainly lightly armoured if at all.

Good thing that doesn't happen in my game. Because you were careful to be sneaky, he's surprised, so even if he wins initiative, he can't attack you before you attack him.
Silly question, but if the target can't attack first even if it wins initiative then why bother rolling at all at that point? The attacker's first attack is a freebie, and then init comes in.

So if your swing misses, you get to keep trying until it hits? No, thank you.
No, of course not. All the special stuff only applies to the attacker's first swing, with a very unlikely (but also very possible!) exception where the attacker misses so badly that the target sleeps right through it.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
We have little common ground, because I don't share the perspective that metagaming is bad.

That said, stabbing a moving target in the heart is actually very hard. The ribs don't exactly have a wide gap. A character with Alert, for instance, I'd simply roll initiative, and if the the sleeper wins they feel a pressence above them before the dagger even touches them. A character without Alert would take some damage even if they win initiative, but would still get to react to feeling a prick in their skin, rather than reacting to the intense and terrible pain of a blade sliding into their ribcage.
LOL @doctorbadwolf I know we have little common ground (it has been that way between us for a while now :) ) but that is cool with me. I respect your input and style, despite our "creative" differences.

Maybe I missed something, but I thought the stabbing-the-heart-thing was about a sleeping target? I completely agree and awake and aware target would roll initiative, etc. as normal, and at this point the "stab in the heart" would only (possibly) come when the target was reduced to 0 hit points.

Right, and I'm saying you've made a good argument for expanding the training rules. Possibly including to add automatic training at certain levels. eg, a very quick rough draft, "At level 11, all characters can choose to gain proficiency in one saving throw, or add half thier proficiency modifier to two saving throws in which they aren't proficient. Characters can also do the same for 1 skill or tool, or two weapons or armor, and gain proficiency in them as well. You can choose new [name of feature]s at level 15, and again at level 19."
Thanks, I appreciate that. Because of the logic behind my points, over a year ago we added:

1594597007297.png


Which pretty closely mirrors some of your suggestions. What are your thoughts?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
LOL @doctorbadwolf I know we have little common ground (it has been that way between us for a while now :) ) but that is cool with me. I respect your input and style, despite our "creative" differences.

Maybe I missed something, but I thought the stabbing-the-heart-thing was about a sleeping target? I completely agree and awake and aware target would roll initiative, etc. as normal, and at this point the "stab in the heart" would only (possibly) come when the target was reduced to 0 hit points.


Thanks, I appreciate that. Because of the logic behind my points, over a year ago we added:

View attachment 123687

Which pretty closely mirrors some of your suggestions. What are your thoughts?
Right back at ya.

A sleeping target, yes, but I know I snap awake and am moving well before I’m actually awake if I feel pain while asleep. And I’m not accustomed (anymore) to expecting danger while asleep.

I’d use that, more or less. We give a +1 any time you pick a feat rather than an ASI, so I’d probably drop the stat bump, but other than that it’s pretty close to my initial thought.

I like it better than either 4e’s automatic everything bumps, or 5e’s “no gaining new skills or saves ever, unless you take a feat”.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Right back at ya.

A sleeping target, yes, but I know I snap awake and am moving well before I’m actually awake if I feel pain while asleep. And I’m not accustomed (anymore) to expecting danger while asleep.

I’d use that, more or less. We give a +1 any time you pick a feat rather than an ASI, so I’d probably drop the stat bump, but other than that it’s pretty close to my initial thought.

I like it better than either 4e’s automatic everything bumps, or 5e’s “no gaining new skills or saves ever, unless you take a feat”.
The problem with running 5E "simulation-style" is just things like this. People do die instantly from the shock of sudden, intense pain. Either way, 5E has no way to represent this at higher levels, hence part of the original point of this thread: the player knew it was mechanically impossible to die as max damage would be 120 points, which for any PC with max hp of 61 or better will never be fatal. Sure, it can knock you to 0 hp, and you might fail your death saves, but you are more likely than not to make them (about 60% IIRC). If the PC has 121 HP or more, they can actually "walk away from such a fall".

IMO, 5E would be a better game if death from such falls or being stabbed in the heart while sleeping were possible, even if the chances were 1 in 1000 or worse, but the fact is RAW metagaming players know at a certain point, they are immortal in such situations.

Anyway, as for the tier advancement stuff, we imagined it like a "3/4-feat" or so. Better than a simple ASI +1, but not as good as an ASI +2. For groups that roll stats, I would also remove the ASI bump, but make the first options maybe two skills, languages, etc.? If you use point-buy or the standard array, I found the ASI +1 really helps because players want to take feats, but you need some ASI bump to keep up with the threats IMO.
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
But this is D&D. You can't just put your sword in somebody. To do that, first you roll initiative. Then, on your turn, you make an attack roll. If the attack hits, you roll damage, and even then, you don't really know if your sword has entered the target's body unless it kills them. Also, I have no idea why you've specified a PC here. Why should that make a difference (if you think it should)? Also, why should that be what wakes him up? Haven't you ever seen a movie or read a story in which the hero wakes up before being murdered in his sleep?



Good thing that doesn't happen in my game. Because you were careful to be sneaky, he's surprised, so even if he wins initiative, he can't attack you before you attack him. It's almost as if the combat mechanics were meant to handle such situations!



I meant in the game of D&D. Whether your stab was quiet or not remains to be seen by applying the combat resolution mechanics. If the outcome is consistent with a quiet stab, then sure it could have been quiet. If not, then it wasn't.



That's a nice action declaration, but it doesn't make it so. Whether or not your sword gets anywhere near the orc's chest depends on the dice. Does your attack hit? Does it do enough damage to kill the orc? These questions can't be answered by your action declaration.


So if your swing misses, you get to keep trying until it hits? No, thank you.
So I think there is a relevant litmus test here. What is the mechanical difference between sneaking up and surprise attacking a conscious NPC and sneaking up and surprising an unconscious NPC?

If the answer is 'none', I think it's reasonable to ask if that makes sense.
 

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