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5E Why is there a limit to falling damage?


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Hriston

Hero
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.
I honestly think you're asking the rules to do too much work here. I like players to know the rules, I do! But I think having a table-consensus regarding genre convention is a far more effective means of giving the players a solid grounding in the fiction and keeping the game from feeling like playing a slot machine. I think a player knowing the falling damage rules and forming an expectation that his/her character can simply drop off a 1,500 foot cliff and survive without any narrative justification whatsoever is dysfunctional at best. I also think the fact that the player in my game thought it was his job to apply the Unconscious condition to the target of his own attack runs in the same vein. It's the sort of thing that disrupts the basic pattern of gameplay because the player is narrating the result of his/her own action.
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
I honestly think you're asking the rules to do too much work here. I like players to know the rules, I do! But I think having a table-consensus regarding genre convention is a far more effective means of giving the players a solid grounding in the fiction and keeping the game from feeling like playing a slot machine. I think a player knowing the falling damage rules and forming an expectation that his/her character can simply drop off a 1,500 foot cliff and survive without any narrative justification whatsoever is dysfunctional at best. I also think the fact that the player in my game thought it was his job to apply the Unconscious condition to the target of his own attack runs in the same vein. It's the sort of thing that disrupts the basic pattern of gameplay because the player is narrating the result of his/her own action.
I just find the whole idea of a 'narrative justification' for a character to be able to do the things they mechanically can do kind of trollish, since in practice it seems to only be applied to the mundane classes. (Not saying this is true of you personally, but it has been my experience)

No one asks the caster what makes them think they should be able to cast a spell to outrageous effect. They do it because they can, and the game moves on.

Yet the mundane class who can just do things because they're tough enough or skillful enough, or whatever gets to play the 'give the DM the right answer' puzzle game, and if they win, their class gets to function at full capacity, and if they lose, they have to go talk to the caster.

But then perhaps I'm just yelling at clouds.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I just find the whole idea of a 'narrative justification' for a character to be able to do the things they mechanically can do kind of trollish, since in practice it seems to only be applied to the mundane classes. (Not saying this is true of you personally, but it has been my experience)

No one asks the caster what makes them think they should be able to cast a spell to outrageous effect. They do it because they can, and the game moves on.

Yet the mundane class who can just do things because they're tough enough or skillful enough, or whatever gets to play the 'give the DM the right answer' puzzle game, and if they win, their class gets to function at full capacity, and if they lose, they have to go talk to the caster.

But then perhaps I'm just yelling at clouds.
Pretty much this.

The Barbarian is a legend, by the time jumping off a mountain won't kill them. The wizard can change reality. The Cleric can raise the dead. The Druid can reincarnate people and animate half the countryside. The monk can run up waterfalls or especially solid sheets of rain. The Paladin can (ancients) shrug off powerful spells passively.

But the Barbarian can't be similarly legendary, because mah realism? Really? nah.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
I had similar annoyances, so I wrote up some alternate falling damage rules a while back. They are loosely based on falling velocity over distance for a 6-foot-tall person. The damage is a fixed number based on distance. A falling creature can use its reaction to reduce the damage by the value of a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. Creatures that fall on purpose have advantage on the check. Creatures take more damage the larger they are, cats and winged creatures take damage based on one size class lower than their size.

The end result is that falling is more deadly, but there is a decent chance of taking little to no damage over short falls. A commoner has a 50% of taking no damage from a fall, or it could kill them. Only the fighters or Barbarians with highest Constitution who are high level (or high-level monks) will survive a 1500-foot drop at 174 damage.

The system is not perfect, but I have used it for several years successfully. The house rule integrates well with things like monk slow-fall, raging barbarians, and becoming prone from taking falling damage. It has instilled a sense of danger in elevated scenarios and has inspired heroics to rescue allies that have fallen as well as trying to get flying creatures knocked prone to get them to fall. I do need to update it to eliminate the extraneous lines though. My updated version fits on a single sheet or two of paper.

I just had to use this house rule last night. One of my players is an 18th-level tiefling Cirqueliste Bard in our War of the Burning Sky game. He uses dimension door along with his Abduct feature to turn an enemy into a willing participant in the teleportation. He casts the spell and makes a melee spell attack. On a hit, the target must succeed on a Charisma saving throw or be taken along for the ride. They teleport 500 feet straight up, taking 5d6 fire damage (campaign rules for teleportation, which the tiefling resists), and then he pushes off and uses feather fall to return safely while the other creature craters. So a hefty bit of damage that most creatures struggle to stop for the cost of a 1st- and 4th-level spell and a bardic inspiration for the Abduct.

Last night, the party was fighting a group of humanoid-appearing enemies that had resistance to all damage (outside of a special situation) but only an AC of 11. There was also a leader who was a different creature with high AC, flight, and excellent use of a long bow that they could fire 3 times with multiattack. The bard decides to abduct one of the highly resistant creatures that had been stunned by a monk. They teleported up and he started falling with feather fall. Then things started to not go to plan.

What he did not know was that the creatures could fly (hover). So the creature floated when he let go. Then the leader on the ground started shooting him at disadvantage. The first shot hit, and he made his Concentration saving throw, but his health was starting to get low. When the second shot hit, I gently suggested to the player that he might want to fail the saving throw on purpose. The leader had one more shot, and the floating creature would soon stop being stunned. One of the other player's realized that if the bard stayed up in the air until his hit points reached 0, the falling damage would exceed his max hit points and instantly kill him. So he fell and took 134 falling damage. He narrowly avoided an instant death but was pretty shattered on the ground.

One of the other PCs applied a quick cure wounds, and the bard crawled over to some cover and cast regenerate on himself. The rest of the party mopped things up, and the bard was able to walk home after a couple of minutes.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I just find the whole idea of a 'narrative justification' for a character to be able to do the things they mechanically can do kind of trollish, since in practice it seems to only be applied to the mundane classes. (Not saying this is true of you personally, but it has been my experience)

No one asks the caster what makes them think they should be able to cast a spell to outrageous effect. They do it because they can, and the game moves on.

Yet the mundane class who can just do things because they're tough enough or skillful enough, or whatever gets to play the 'give the DM the right answer' puzzle game, and if they win, their class gets to function at full capacity, and if they lose, they have to go talk to the caster.

But then perhaps I'm just yelling at clouds.
I think that's a false comparison. Both the wizard and the cleric can attain sufficient HP to survive jumping off the cliff. However, I'm fairly certain that everyone here would not apply different consequences to them. They'd go splat right alongside the barbarian. As I said before, this is not a caster vs martial argument.

If the barbarian has a parachute, or got special training from an ancient warrior-sage and learned Meteor Fall (which allows him to ignore falling damage when intentionally falling) then the barbarian would be fine jumping off the cliff.

As I see it, this is an HP thing, and a genre convention thing, and a don't metagame thing.

HP (IMO) are not a force field. If they are a force field in your campaign, then I see no issue with barbarians jumping off cliffs. In my games, they are skill and luck. Skill isn't going to save you from free fall. Luck has limits.

Conan falls from many high places under many circumstances, but never because he simply thinks he's tough enough to take it. It reeks of bad fanfiction, and that's not the kind of tone I want in my game. It isn't something my players want to see either. It wrecks everyone's suspension of disbelief.

Lastly, I don't think characters should have a sufficient awareness of their HP, much less the falling rules, to be able to game the system this way. If they do have such an awareness, then they ought to be aware of plenty of other meta information as well. Level 1 characters should just go out and hunt 30 x CR 0 critters each. That's a much safer way to level up than actual adventuring, and the hop from level 1 to 2 is one of the biggest jumps in capability that characters ever get.

As far as I'm concerned, characters don't even know that HP exist, much less how many they have. A character with many HP would likely be confident, recognizing their own achievements, skills, and luck. They'd be aware as their own hp diminish that they're coming ever closer to losing. However, I disagree that they'd look at a 1500 ft fall and think, "I can take that". IMO, that's unabashed metagaming.

I'm not sure I 100% agree with @Hriston 's scenario. However, I do agree with the idea of narrative justification. The player doesn't have all of the information. Just because they think the NPC is asleep doesn't mean they are. The NPC could be pretending. Or the PC might not roll well enough on their Stealth check and the NPC might wake up. The player doesn't know whether the NPC is unconscious and shouldn't simply assume that they get those benefits.

This impacts casters as well. Magic won't function in a dead magic zone, and it's unreliable in a wild magic zone, just to give two obvious examples.

To reiterate, I strongly disagree that this is a caster vs martial argument, as you seem to want to paint it.
 

Bagpuss

Adventurer
Force = mass * Acceleration, and the acceleration due to gravity is exponential.
No it isn't. It's 9.8 m/s/s and often gets rounded to 10 m/s/s for simple estimates, acceleration is a constant.

But the falling damage the acceleration involved isn't directly related to gravity anyway. It's the deceleration you are suffering from impacting the surface and how much it gives, the more it gives the longer it takes to reduce your speed to zero. Hence the damage you take from falling onto a stunt air bag is considerably less than what you take falling onto concrete.
 

Zio_the_dark

The dark one :)
Acceleration is a constant but energy from the fall is square velocity if I'm right (kinetic energy) so acceleration is constant but energy is exponential with speed of falling object isn't it?

Edit: I'm probably wrong as speed will depend on height so will be linear... it's a long time since I worked my physics :LOL:
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
Ok. Lot here to unpack and we're certainly closing in on going in circles.

I think that's a false comparison. Both the wizard and the cleric can attain sufficient HP to survive jumping off the cliff. However, I'm fairly certain that everyone here would not apply different consequences to them. They'd go splat right alongside the barbarian. As I said before, this is not a caster vs martial argument.
Sure... Eventually the caster's hp at a later level will equal the martial's lower level hp. But time has value. Higher hp is a class feature, more ASIs (to max out CON with or baked in damage mitigation (rage) abilities are class features. Playing the 'ignore hp' game ignores those class features. I've yet to experience a table where caster's class features are ignored at any time as a matter of 'genre convention'.

If the barbarian has a parachute, or got special training from an ancient warrior-sage and learned Meteor Fall (which allows him to ignore falling damage when intentionally falling) then the barbarian would be fine jumping off the cliff.
Wow.. just... wow.

Do you even realize how preposterous and even more immersion breaking option 2 is? Like in the world there should exist some wise old soldier who had an epiphany. He started to remove the banana peels, grease and ball bearings that protected him from intentionally falling from the cliffsides of his mountain home, and began practicing this new 'art of purposeful falling'..and now takes on students to train in this mystic practice......???.. just...woooww.

This is one of the genre-appropriate alternatives to just letting the dude fall, take a bunch of damage and get up??

As I see it, this is an HP thing, and a genre convention thing, and a don't metagame thing.

HP (IMO) are not a force field. If they are a force field in your campaign, then I see no issue with barbarians jumping off cliffs. In my games, they are skill and luck. Skill isn't going to save you from free fall. Luck has limits.

Conan falls from many high places under many circumstances, but never because he simply thinks he's tough enough to take it. It reeks of bad fanfiction, and that's not the kind of tone I want in my game. It isn't something my players want to see either. It wrecks everyone's suspension of disbelief.
I absolutely get that you have a preference.. and an opinion. I am honestly curious about the exact amount of damage we're actually doing to suspension of disbelief though.

There is an awful lot of unbelievable stuff that happens in an average, by the numbers D&D game. This is the thing that wrecks it? When the barbarian, fighter, or monk rises to their feet, after the stunt, heavily wounded, but alive, the other players pack up their dice and go home rather than doing something equally unbelievable like flying or teleporting down to join the crazy wounded bastard?

Lastly, I don't think characters should have a sufficient awareness of their HP, much less the falling rules, to be able to game the system this way. If they do have such an awareness, then they ought to be aware of plenty of other meta information as well. Level 1 characters should just go out and hunt 30 x CR 0 critters each. That's a much safer way to level up than actual adventuring, and the hop from level 1 to 2 is one of the biggest jumps in capability that characters ever get.

As far as I'm concerned, characters don't even know that HP exist, much less how many they have. A character with many HP would likely be confident, recognizing their own achievements, skills, and luck. They'd be aware as their own hp diminish that they're coming ever closer to losing. However, I disagree that they'd look at a 1500 ft fall and think, "I can take that". IMO, that's unabashed metagaming.
The last two sentences here do not follow based on the content of the rest of the paragraph. It's just your opinion and that's fine. That said, I disagree, and neither one of us is right, these being fictional legendary heroes and all.

I do think that the 'punish the non believer" attitude towards this kind of metagaming is pretty silly. There's no 'exploit'. The player is gaining no advantage (in fact they are taking a significant amount of damage). It's just some dumb fun thing to do (with characters who also tend to be dumb canonically), and it's just not significantly dumber than deliberately seeking out and fighting dragons.

I'm not sure I 100% agree with @Hriston 's scenario. However, I do agree with the idea of narrative justification. The player doesn't have all of the information. Just because they think the NPC is asleep doesn't mean they are. The NPC could be pretending. Or the PC might not roll well enough on their Stealth check and the NPC might wake up. The player doesn't know whether the NPC is unconscious and shouldn't simply assume that they get those benefits.
So the whole example is kind of beside the point and doesn't actually address the mechanics of 'narrative justification' as it applies to players actions.

That said, @Hristron, has had plenty opportunity to state that any of the conditions you've mentioned were present, and hasn't done so. As such, looking at the description of the scenario, the creatures were unconscious and remained so until the precise moment when the PC could take advantage of the mechanics of the 'unconscious' condition. The player may have misstepped by saying anything out loud about it and then by overreacting, but the expectation itself seems 100% appropriate to me.


This impacts casters as well. Magic won't function in a dead magic zone, and it's unreliable in a wild magic zone, just to give two obvious examples.
These are descriptions of setting-specific mechanical limitations. This is not 'because genre convention', or 'that's not what Merlin would do' versions of limitations.

To reiterate, I strongly disagree that this is a caster vs martial argument, as you seem to want to paint it.
Ok. That's fine. I think otherwise.
 

Hriston

Hero
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?
Well, since we're talking about my game here, I'm quite comfortable saying his spidey sense goes off.

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.
I haven't negated the assassin's ability. Assassinate depends on gaining surprise and winning initiative. The target wakes up surprised, so the assassin only has to win initiative, just like s/he normally would. I'd say the assassin has a good chance of winning too, considering the class's synergy with having a high Dexterity. If the assassin happens to lose initiative, that isn't a negation. That's the feature working as intended.

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.
That's the DM making it so, and I agree, the DM can narrate that the outcome of your action declaration is that your sword runs the sleeping orc through, just like the DM can narrate that the outcome of jumping off a 1,500 foot cliff is that you die, or that the outcome of attacking a naturally sleeping creature is that it wakes up. My point is that, in my game, the outcome of a declaration to sneak up on a sleeping orc and put your sword through its chest is more than likely going to be that the orc is surprised and prone (but not unconscious) and that you both roll initiative and begin taking turns.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I haven't negated the assassin's ability. Assassinate depends on gaining surprise and winning initiative. The target wakes up surprised, so the assassin only has to win initiative, just like s/he normally would. I'd say the assassin has a good chance of winning too, considering the class's synergy with having a high Dexterity. If the assassin happens to lose initiative, that isn't a negation. That's the feature working as intended.
RAW = Unaware. Your house rule = spidey sense wakes him up. If he wakes up and beats the Assassin's initiative, you have negated the ability. The feature was intended to work with RAW, not your house rule.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well, since we're talking about my game here, I'm quite comfortable saying his spidey sense goes off.

I haven't negated the assassin's ability. Assassinate depends on gaining surprise and winning initiative.
Ah, there's the difference in interpretation: in my view for an Assassin's ability to work properly it only has to gain surprise, on which it automatically wins initiative because its potentially-killing strike is the first indication the target has that a threat is near.

The 'spidey-sense' argument is perfect for explaining why the Assassin doesn't gain surprise in the first place (i.e. a good means of narrating a poor roll), but once surprise is gained the target's out of options unless the Assassin rolls badly on the strike.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Sure... Eventually the caster's hp at a later level will equal the martial's lower level hp. But time has value. Higher hp is a class feature, more ASIs (to max out CON with or baked in damage mitigation (rage) abilities are class features. Playing the 'ignore hp' game ignores those class features. I've yet to experience a table where caster's class features are ignored at any time as a matter of 'genre convention'.
The point is, it makes no sense to claim that such a ruling singles out martials when casters are also impacted, possibly a few levels later than martials (unless the martial rolls low and the caster rolls high for hp). Just because you don't like something doesn't make it pro-caster/anti-martial.

Wow.. just... wow.

Do you even realize how preposterous and even more immersion breaking option 2 is? Like in the world there should exist some wise old soldier who had an epiphany. He started to remove the banana peels, grease and ball bearings that protected him from intentionally falling from the cliffsides of his mountain home, and began practicing this new 'art of purposeful falling'..and now takes on students to train in this mystic practice......???.. just...woooww.

This is one of the genre-appropriate alternatives to just letting the dude fall, take a bunch of damage and get up??
No, it is not genre breaking. Ancient masters teach heroes special techniques in stories all the time. If there was a subclass or magic item that granted the Meteor Fall feature, would you really bat at eye at it? It was literally just an example of how one might obtain such a feature in an interesting way.

What I'm saying is, if you want characters to have the ability to jump from a plane like Captain America, actually give them that ability. Having high HP is NOT that ability. Then they can actually leap from tall places and stick an awesome three point landing, rather than leaping from tall places and landing prone with most of their hp gone. The former is cool, whereas the latter is comedic at best (stupid/suicidal at worst).

I absolutely get that you have a preference.. and an opinion. I am honestly curious about the exact amount of damage we're actually doing to suspension of disbelief though.

There is an awful lot of unbelievable stuff that happens in an average, by the numbers D&D game. This is the thing that wrecks it? When the barbarian, fighter, or monk rises to their feet, after the stunt, heavily wounded, but alive, the other players pack up their dice and go home rather than doing something equally unbelievable like flying or teleporting down to join the crazy wounded bastard?
Yup, this is the thing that wrecks it. Those characters have abilities that explicitly grant them the capability to fly or teleport. If they were to do those things without those abilities, that would also shatter disbelief.

You wouldn't let a barbarian fly or teleport by taking hit point damage, would you?

The last two sentences here do not follow based on the content of the rest of the paragraph. It's just your opinion and that's fine. That said, I disagree, and neither one of us is right, these being fictional legendary heroes and all.

I do think that the 'punish the non believer" attitude towards this kind of metagaming is pretty silly. There's no 'exploit'. The player is gaining no advantage (in fact they are taking a significant amount of damage). It's just some dumb fun thing to do (with characters who also tend to be dumb canonically), and it's just not significantly dumber than deliberately seeking out and fighting dragons.
It's metagaming regardless of whether there's a strict benefit to be gained. The player knows the hit point rules and the falling rules, the character doesn't. The decision is something that the player is choosing to do but the character would never do (because real people don't do that unless they're suicidal).

And yeah, if you are good with this metagaming, why not that metagaming (exploiting the experience point rules)?

Some, minimal amount of metagame thinking is impossible to avoid and overall harmless. However, that doesn't mean it's a good idea to swing that door open and encourage that kind of thinking. I certainly think that too much metagaming is harmful to the experience. It encourages the player to engage as with a board game, rather than immersing themselves in a role playing game.

So the whole example is kind of beside the point and doesn't actually address the mechanics of 'narrative justification' as it applies to players actions.

That said, @Hristron, has had plenty opportunity to state that any of the conditions you've mentioned were present, and hasn't done so. As such, looking at the description of the scenario, the creatures were unconscious and remained so until the precise moment when the PC could take advantage of the mechanics of the 'unconscious' condition. The player may have misstepped by saying anything out loud about it and then by overreacting, but the expectation itself seems 100% appropriate to me.
The assumption itself is what's problematic, since the NPC could have been faking being asleep. We might know that wasn't the case from the description of the scene, but the player had no way of knowing that.

FWIW, I wouldn't just decide that an NPC wakes up.

These are descriptions of setting-specific mechanical limitations. This is not 'because genre convention', or 'that's not what Merlin would do' versions of limitations.
They're two examples of when casters don't get to declare "I use my ability and it works". It was in response to your claim that casters can just do things, whereas martials need to play 'mother may I'.

There are plenty of circumstances where caster abilities don't just work. There have been numerous times in my games where a caster asked me "can I use this spell to do that" and I've responded, "no". Casters IMC don't get to use their abilities in ways they weren't intended to work, either. Although I still think considering hp an ability is a real stretch to begin with.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yup, this is the thing that wrecks it. Those characters have abilities that explicitly grant them the capability to fly or teleport. If they were to do those things without those abilities, that would also shatter disbelief.

You wouldn't let a barbarian fly or teleport by taking hit point damage, would you?
I've seen it happen. Usually just after the impact of a giant club. ;)
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
The point is, it makes no sense to claim that such a ruling singles out martials when casters are also impacted, possibly a few levels later than martials (unless the martial rolls low and the caster rolls high for hp). Just because you don't like something doesn't make it pro-caster/anti-martial.
Simple comparison. If I said spell slots can't ever be used to cast a spell greater than 4th level, would you disagree that this rule is slanted against full casters? I mean half casters would lose out on those 5th level spells a few levels later...

No, it is not genre breaking. Ancient masters teach heroes special techniques in stories all the time. If there was a subclass or magic item that granted the Meteor Fall feature, would you really bat at eye at it? It was literally just an example of how one might obtain such a feature in an interesting way.
The existence of such a master requires truly implausible fiction; as an item the ability is just as bad. Consider the options when you fall.

1. With ability, slip and fall, 20d6 damage. You survive!
2. With ability, jump, 0 damage. You survive!
3. Without ability, slip and fall, 20d6 damage. You survive!
4. Without ability, jump. You die...

So at a certain level, you are safer when you are clumsy.

To make it clear, if falls are going to be 100% deadly at a certain height(debatable), then they should just be deadly. Intent-based deadliness moves the DM's interventions into the foreground where they don't belong. At that point your character might as well die from impact with a spectral hand flipping the player the bird from beyond the fourth wall.

What I'm saying is, if you want characters to have the ability to jump from a plane like Captain America, actually give them that ability. Having high HP is NOT that ability. Then they can actually leap from tall places and stick an awesome three point landing, rather than leaping from tall places and landing prone with most of their hp gone. The former is cool, whereas the latter is comedic at best (stupid/suicidal at worst).
Here's the thing..Captain America has no such special ability.. He can do it because he's tough enough and skillful enough (probably has a lot of hp).

Besides which, players will decide what they think is cool for their characters. And there is plenty of precedent for the coolness of a hero who just keeps getting up no matter what (in fact, a certain Captain comes to mind..).

Yup, this is the thing that wrecks it. Those characters have abilities that explicitly grant them the capability to fly or teleport. If they were to do those things without those abilities, that would also shatter disbelief.
So abilities which have zero RL parallels are more believable than things that have actually happened in RL....ok? If that's how y'all roll..

(Also, If we need a 'special ability', we could just do this..

Legendary Toughness: when you gain a level, your max hp increases by 1d12+your constitution modifier, which allows you to survive when lesser creatures would perish....)

You wouldn't let a barbarian fly or teleport by taking hit point damage, would you?
Like for instance at the end of a giant club? ;)

That was a (stolen) joke, but high level barbarians without spell support often have to resort to dangerous and stupid plans to attack flying creatures (get thrown, loaded in catapults and cannons, strapping rockets to themselves, other methods involving explosives). Very frequently these result in hp damage. .which is both fun..and heroic..

So in answer to your question, sure I would, if they're gonna take the risks and live with the consequences.

It's metagaming regardless of whether there's a strict benefit to be gained. The player knows the hit point rules and the falling rules, the character doesn't. The decision is something that the player is choosing to do but the character would never do (because real people don't do that unless they're suicidal).
First, I've never contended that taking the leap is smart. But then, neither are barbarians.
Second, there are no 'real people' in D&D settings. All characters are fictional, unless I've badly misunderstood reality.
Third, even so far as there are 'common people' in a D&D setting, PCs are not that, especially by the time where max fall damage is survivable.

As such, I disagree with your opinion on what a fictional character with capabilities waaaayy beyond those of a common person would 'never do' in a D&D setting.

And yeah, if you are good with this metagaming, why not that metagaming (exploiting the experience point rules)?
Because in one circumstance, the player derives no benefit (i.e. no exploit), and in the other case they do (exploit).

Some, minimal amount of metagame thinking is impossible to avoid and overall harmless. However, that doesn't mean it's a good idea to swing that door open and encourage that kind of thinking. I certainly think that too much metagaming is harmful to the experience. It encourages the player to engage as with a board game, rather than immersing themselves in a role playing game.
I agree. I'm not advocating actual exploits like pre-reading adventures, or memorizing monster stat blocks, etc.. I'm suggesting that

1. The character sheet broadly reflects what characters know about themselves, at least in a, 'I'm pretty tough"/"I've got some skills"/"I'm about to die" kind of way. I think this is pretty fundamental to RPGs in general, but especially to D&D. Basically this is D&D functioning as intended.

2. The characters living in the setting have enough experience with the physics of that setting to have some frame of reference for how much potential damage could result from a fall. More controversial, but insofar as the damage rules represent physical reality for the setting, I don't think it's that radical an assertion.

3. There's no advantage gained. In the best case scenario, the character still takes a lot of damage, for a gain of some small amount of time alone at the base of a cliff. It's a dumb thing done by a dumb character that harms no one.

The assumption itself is what's problematic, since the NPC could have been faking being asleep. We might know that wasn't the case from the description of the scene, but the player had no way of knowing that.

FWIW, I wouldn't just decide that an NPC wakes up.
IIRC, the player asked about the unconscious condition and whether they should roll under the guidelines of that condition, which I think is a reasonable response when you're about to roll dice and all the information you have to that point suggests that you should roll a particular way but your DM hasn't confirmed that for you.

At some point, if the creatures were faking being asleep, or got rustled by a bad stealth roll or whatever, the DM should let the players know that was the case. Otherwise you get this justifiable mechanical confusion unsupported by the fiction.

They're two examples of when casters don't get to declare "I use my ability and it works". It was in response to your claim that casters can just do things, whereas martials need to play 'mother may I'.

There are plenty of circumstances where caster abilities don't just work. There have been numerous times in my games where a caster asked me "can I use this spell to do that" and I've responded, "no". Casters IMC don't get to use their abilities in ways they weren't intended to work, either. Although I still think considering hp an ability is a real stretch to begin with.
Hmmm.. ok that's fair. Perhaps i just haven't been at enough tables with 'creative' spellcasters. So the bias could just be my experience so far with my tables.
 

prosfilaes

Adventurer
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.
Rolemaster has open-ended criticals. I've heard horror stories, because in a battle that the GM meant to be minor with some low-level bandits, whose attacks did no real damage, one of those bandit attacks went supercritical, doing enough damage to kill a PC outright, leading to the end of the game.

In general, I'm hard-pressed to see any value in 0.1% odds; you plan for it, and then have it never happen, watching as the other guy doesn't worry about it and gets away with it, just to have it hit you the one time you're forced to make a wild jump. Low odds with big results tend to make things swingy and unpredictable in a way that's more game-breaking than fun.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Rolemaster has open-ended criticals. I've heard horror stories, because in a battle that the GM meant to be minor with some low-level bandits, whose attacks did no real damage, one of those bandit attacks went supercritical, doing enough damage to kill a PC outright, leading to the end of the game.

In general, I'm hard-pressed to see any value in 0.1% odds; you plan for it, and then have it never happen, watching as the other guy doesn't worry about it and gets away with it, just to have it hit you the one time you're forced to make a wild jump. Low odds with big results tend to make things swingy and unpredictable in a way that's more game-breaking than fun.
But those horror stories are part of the reason for having them. They don't happen often, but when they do happen they are totally memorable! :)

One the other end of things, when I ran an OA 3rd edition game, one of the player's ninja PC scored a critical hit. Then we rerolled the threat to confirm the crit, and he rolled SEVEN natural 20's in a row!!! His arrow killed the monster (I don't recall it's name--it was some OA thing), but I recall it had over 50 hp, with a single arrow! Pretty awesome stuff. :)
 

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