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5E Why is there a limit to falling damage?

Fanaelialae

Legend
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...
I see what you're trying to say, but that's a strawman argument and isn't really applicable here.

Full casters gain access to 5th level spells at 9th level, whereas half casters have to wait til 17th. Obviously, full casters are more impacted than half casters by such a change, insofar as that goes.

If you take average HP, a fighter gains 1 more per level than a bard, cleric, or warlock. Even the widest disparity, that between the barbarian and a sorcerer or wizard, is only 3 hp per level. Constitution is valuable to all classes, so there's no guarantee that the martial will have a better score than a caster.

At 1 hp per level, it will take a long time for the fighter to reach a point where he can definitely survive the fall, and even when he does the warlock is not far behind. The warlock isn't guaranteed to survive the fall, but odds are that his 101 hp will keep him safe.

Moreover, at many tables HP are still rolled. Meaning that with luck, a wizard can have more HP than a barbarian.

No feature functions in such an arbitrary manner. Actual features are things you have or don't, like rage or uncanny dodge or having three 1st level spell slots.

This would be like a fighter rolling a 1d6 at 5th level. On a 1 he doesn't gain extra attack, on a 2-5 he gains extra attack, and on a 6 he gains extra attack 2.

HP are often rolled, and therefore subject to the vagaries of chance, unlike features. Hence, I disagree that they are even a feature to begin with.

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.
It's not the DM's intent that is the issue. It is the player's. IMO, metagaming is not something to be encouraged.

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..).
Yeah, having your barbarian face plant and take a ton of damage is way cooler than them striking the ground as they land, cracking the ground around them, and standing up without a scratch.

I'm frankly surprised that you're disagreeing with me so vehemently on this point. You seem like you are arguing for martials to have nice things. I'm saying that if you want them to have nice things then give them nice things rather than utilizing half measures.

HP soaking jumping off a cliff is a half measure (even if you make hp a force field or equivalent). The character lands prone and takes a ton of damage. That's not cool.

If you want martials to be able to jump off of cliffs, actually give them the capability to do so rather than forcing them to land on their faces. You don't have to use an ancient master or magic item either. Just say that all martials get this as a new class feature.

As for why it works when you jump but not when you trip, it involves the character making a focused strike at the ground as they land, directing all of their energy into the ground (in flagrant disregard to the laws of physics). Because it requires a focused strike on impact, you can't do it while tumbling through the air (falling).

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....)
As I explained above, hit points are not a special feature. What kind of special feature gives the barbarian's feature to the wizard if the barbarian consistently rolls low on level up and the wizard consistently rolls high?

Also, it sounds like you're suggesting HP as a force field equivalent, which I've already stated isn't my cup of tea but does make jumping off a cliff plausible. If you want to go with HP making you nigh indestructible, don't let me stop you.

As I've stated numerous times, I'm approaching this based on the idea that HP primarily represent skill and luck. Meaning that high HP doesn't give you unbreakable bones or a force field or whatever.

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.
"Flying" by catapult was not the question. In other words, you wouldn't just let them spend HP to fly or teleport. You might allow movement if there is sufficient narrative justification for it (the aforementioned catapult), but they can't just spend HP and fly into the air.

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.


Because in one circumstance, the player derives no benefit (i.e. no exploit), and in the other case they do (exploit).


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.
IMO, the dumb thing is almost inevitably just an excuse to metagame. People don't jump off of high cliffs, without safety gear, expecting to survive.

1. Some awareness is reasonable yes. The PC knowing their HP total is not reasonable.

2. No, I do not think that this is reasonable at all. The rules are a gamist abstraction, not the physics of the game. Even if they were, to figure out the 20d6 cap would require a ludicrous amount of experimentation. 20d6 can deal 20 to 120 damage. Just because the dice rolled low and you survived this time is no guarantee of next time.

How does that "dumb" barbarian even figure all this out? Is he only dumb when it's a convenient excuse to metagame, and Isaac Newton the rest of the time?

3. It doesn't matter that there's no advantage gained. Metagaming is harmful even when there is no advantage. If a character dives headfirst off a 19 ft roof repeatedly for no reason (because it's only 1d6 damage and they have plenty of HP to spare) that harms everyone's experience at the table, despite not giving that player any advantage.

It's essentially in-person trolling. I've had a few players like this at my tables over the years and they never last long. One's fun should not come at the expense of others.

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.
IIRC, the player grabbed two d20s (assuming they would roll with advantage). If I were that player, I would have asked, "Do I get advantage because he's asleep?"
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
Why on earth would the death of one PC end the game - unless there was only one PC in the party?

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.
I disagree, in that those same 1-in-1000 longshot odds work for the PCs now and then as well as against them; and pulling off one of those longshots is one of the greatest thrills the game can give even though you might go through 25 PCs trying in different situations before you succeed.

But it has to be just that: a longshot. If it happened all the time then it wouldn't be special at all; and it has to be an unusual situation to being with.

Falling or jumping off a 1500' cliff and surviving is a longshot, but still pretty boring. Being the last standing character, at 1 hit point, against a vastly superior foe who is guaranteed going to kill you on his next swing and rocking out a supercritical hit to finish that foe off* - it just don't get any better than that!

* - this one happened during my current campaign. Supposed to be a party of 8-10 facing this guy, but intervening events (most notably, half the party teleporting off somewhere else and not coming back) had them down to a party of 3 by the time they finally met him, yet somehow they knocked him off.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
"Flying" by catapult was not the question. In other words, you wouldn't just let them spend HP to fly or teleport. You might allow movement if there is sufficient narrative justification for it (the aforementioned catapult), but they can't just spend HP and fly into the air.
I think the hit point expenditure for any uncontrolled attempt to fly comes at the other end of the journey. :)

What goes up must come down.......
 


Gammadoodler

Explorer
I see what you're trying to say, but that's a strawman argument and isn't really applicable here.

Full casters gain access to 5th level spells at 9th level, whereas half casters have to wait til 17th. Obviously, full casters are more impacted than half casters by such a change, insofar as that goes.
So it's a resource shared by multiple classes, that some classes get more of, where when it's usefulness is reduced, it impacts those classes more. Hmmm... Sounds pretty applicable..
If it's the level difference that makes you think otherwise, could amend the comparison to multiclass casters rather than half casters.

If you take average HP, a fighter gains 1 more per level than a bard, cleric, or warlock. Even the widest disparity, that between the barbarian and a sorcerer or wizard, is only 3 hp per level. Constitution is valuable to all classes, so there's no guarantee that the martial will have a better score than a caster.
Soo.. Between around 10% and like 40% more on average (assuming both have maxed Con scores; quite a bit more if Con scores are not maxed). These aren't exactly trivial differences.

At 1 hp per level, it will take a long time for the fighter to reach a point where he can definitely survive the fall, and even when he does the warlock is not far behind. The warlock isn't guaranteed to survive the fall, but odds are that his 101 hp will keep him safe.

Moreover, at many tables HP are still rolled. Meaning that with luck, a wizard can have more HP than a barbarian.

No feature functions in such an arbitrary manner. Actual features are things you have or don't, like rage or uncanny dodge or having three 1st level spell slots.

This would be like a fighter rolling a 1d6 at 5th level. On a 1 he doesn't gain extra attack, on a 2-5 he gains extra attack, and on a 6 he gains extra attack 2.

HP are often rolled, and therefore subject to the vagaries of chance, unlike features. Hence, I disagree that they are even a feature to begin with.
So would you say martial weapons proficiency is not a feature? All it really let's you do is use weapons with larger damage dice. If a wizard rolls well enough on their dagger damage dice, and the barbarian rolls poorly enough, the wizard could outdo the barbarian in melee damage (with stats held constant).

It's not the DM's intent that is the issue. It is the player's. IMO, metagaming is not something to be encouraged.
It is the DMs judgement of the player's intent, which is a problem. If it's worthy your character lives. If not, they die. That's dumb.

Yeah, having your barbarian face plant and take a ton of damage is way cooler than them striking the ground as they land, cracking the ground around them, and standing up without a scratch.
Rising from the cracked ground, bloody but unbowed is also cool, and thematic for a barbarian.

I'm frankly surprised that you're disagreeing with me so vehemently on this point. You seem like you are arguing for martials to have nice things. I'm saying that if you want them to have nice things then give them nice things rather than utilizing half measures.
You are proposing a world where can someone can survive slipping on a banana peel over the cliff's edge, but when they gaze over the edge, summon their courage and take the leap they die 100% of the time. And I'm proposing half measures?

HP soaking jumping off a cliff is a half measure (even if you make hp a force field or equivalent). The character lands prone and takes a ton of damage. That's not cool.
HP soaking (or dying) as a result of falling, whether you leap, are thrown, or trip is a full measure where the world behaves consistently, as if it is governed by physical laws rather than the whims of a capricious DM.

Separately, your version of cool isn't the only version of cool.

If you want martials to be able to jump off of cliffs, actually give them the capability to do so rather than forcing them to land on their faces. You don't have to use an ancient master or magic item either. Just say that all martials get this as a new class feature.
So we give them something extra, to solve a problem we created? Yes, we could do that. But it seems simpler just to not create the problem in the first place.

And to be clear, I don't want martials to jump off cliffs. I want them to be able to benefit from the features that allow them to survive every other peril without having to play "guess the satisfactory genre convention".

As for why it works when you jump but not when you trip, it involves the character making a focused strike at the ground as they land, directing all of their energy into the ground (in flagrant disregard to the laws of physics). Because it requires a focused strike on impact, you can't do it while tumbling through the air (falling).
This is a lot of justification for something pretty nonsensical.

Also, the jumper could tuck and roll rather than doing a literal swan dive into the earth. It's probably easier too when it's a controlled fall. See, we don't have to flagrantly ignore (imaginary) physics to come up with a more plausible scenario for survival.

As I explained above, hit points are not a special feature. What kind of special feature gives the barbarian's feature to the wizard if the barbarian consistently rolls low on level up and the wizard consistently rolls high?
The kind that gives the barbarian access to a higher hp ceiling and expected higher average than it does the wizard. See simple vs. martial weapons example above.

Also, it sounds like you're suggesting HP as a force field equivalent, which I've already stated isn't my cup of tea but does make jumping off a cliff plausible. If you want to go with HP making you nigh indestructible, don't let me stop you.

As I've stated numerous times, I'm approaching this based on the idea that HP primarily represent skill and luck. Meaning that high HP doesn't give you unbreakable bones or a force field or whatever.
It sounds like I'm suggesting that hp reflect a creature's ability to survive perils.. Because I am suggesting that. This is consistent with how they are described in the PHB.

"Flying" by catapult was not the question. In other words, you wouldn't just let them spend HP to fly or teleport. You might allow movement if there is sufficient narrative justification for it (the aforementioned catapult), but they can't just spend HP and fly into the air.
Sure. That said, literally every character is able to fall without narrative justification. It was false equivalence in the first place.
IMO, the dumb thing is almost inevitably just an excuse to metagame. People don't jump off of high cliffs, without safety gear, expecting to survive.
On Earth..no they do not. They also do not cast fireballs or battle dragons.

Incidentally, most D&D games are not set on Earth, so it's not really that big an issue.
1. Some awareness is reasonable yes. The PC knowing their HP total is not reasonable.
Sure, but it kinda doesn't matter. Unless you as the DM plan to step in every time the character does something you judge would require that more detailed knowledge and force the character to act otherwise (removing player agency)... Which in most every instance would be overstepping in colossal fashion.
2. No, I do not think that this is reasonable at all. The rules are a gamist abstraction, not the physics of the game. Even if they were, to figure out the 20d6 cap would require a ludicrous amount of experimentation. 20d6 can deal 20 to 120 damage. Just because the dice rolled low and you survived this time is no guarantee of next time.
Gamist abstraction...of the physics of the world. Falling and hitting something is a physical act. The falling rules are the rules for that act.
How does that "dumb" barbarian even figure all this out? Is he only dumb when it's a convenient excuse to metagame, and Isaac Newton the rest of the time?
The bard told him he could do it. ;)

But seriously, these worlds have culture, history, legends, myths, folklore, science, and people, books, scrolls, pottery, tapestries, etc., etc. in the world to communicate these things, not to mention in many D&D settings characters will have rivals, peers, antagonists, teachers, and leaders many of whom can also perform extraordinary feats There are plenty of ways for a character to come to the conclusion since they've lived their lives in that world.

Besides, there's nothing that says characters must die from falling a certain height in these fictional worlds. That's baggage we bring in from our world and our experiences. It's player knowledge not character knowledge.

3. It doesn't matter that there's no advantage gained. Metagaming is harmful even when there is no advantage. If a character dives headfirst off a 19 ft roof repeatedly for no reason (because it's only 1d6 damage and they have plenty of HP to spare) that harms everyone's experience at the table, despite not giving that player any advantage.

It's essentially in-person trolling. I've had a few players like this at my tables over the years and they never last long. One's fun should not come at the expense of others.
I'd argue that trolling is harmful regardless of whether the player is metagaming. I disagree that metagaming equals trolling in every instance, though I'd agree that it certainly could in some instances.

In your example, the behavior is disruptive no matter what the player knows and is so primarily as a result of it's repetition especially outside the context of adventuring rather than the act itself.

IIRC, the player grabbed two d20s (assuming they would roll with advantage). If I were that player, I would have asked, "Do I get advantage because he's asleep?"
And you would have asked because you expected they would be and you expected a particular benefit because of it. It's a po-tay-to/po-tah-to difference.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
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.
I generally like the use of random determination in your approach. The chance to wake up reminds me of the 1E MM sleeping dragon's chance to awaken on a roll of 6 on a d6. In 5E, I think I would dispense with that (unless it was a dragon, in which case I'd use the d6). I also wouldn't want to test an attempt to be stealthy against a sleeper because I think Wisdom regarding one's surroundings is turned off when unconscious. I require the attempt to gain surprise though. An un-stealthy approach still wouldn't wake up the sleeper (in my game), but any loud noise would without fail, again no roll. Your chance to kill outright reminds me that attacks against normally sleeping targets in 1E are resolved on the Assassins' Table For Assassinations (not so for the dragon, which wakes up when attacked). This in turn reminded me that I'm essentially running sleeping creatures as dragons, having never played with an assassin character or used the assassination table. Of course in 5E, Assassination isn't an insta-kill ability, but it does quite closely mirror the effects of the Unconscious condition, so I think going forward I'll resolve attacks against a sleeping creature by treating the attacker as having the Assassinate feature for the attack and by having the sleeper wake up (losing Unconscious) at the end of its turn.

And people can't really sleep in any armour heavier than leather, thus the target is almost certainly lightly armoured if at all.
I've heard it can be quite comfortable if the armor fits well, actually.

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.
Because in 5E, there's no surprise round. Surprised creatures can't move or act on their first turn in combat, but they still have a turn, which has ramifications for certain parts of the game, like Assassinate. For an assassin to gain the benefits of that feature, s/he has to beat his/her target's initiative.

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.
What @Maxperson said was that the orc shouldn't wake up until it has a sword sticking out of its chest, which implies to me that until that happens there's no change to the game-state and you can just try again.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
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?
Well (and we're just talking about my game here), assuming the conscious NPC is alert to danger, it's easier to sneak up on the unconscious NPC because it automatically doesn't notice hidden threats and is automatically surprised as long as the other side tries to be stealthy. Then when it comes to the attack, assuming the conscious NPC is not lying prone to begin with, the unconscious NPC will at least be prone granting advantage on melee attacks. As I said in the post above this, I also think I've come around to having the Unconscious condition last until the end of the sleeper's first turn, negating disadvantage for ranged attacks and granting critical damage on a hit.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
So it's a resource shared by multiple classes, that some classes get more of, where when it's usefulness is reduced, it impacts those classes more. Hmmm... Sounds pretty applicable..
If it's the level difference that makes you think otherwise, could amend the comparison to multiclass casters rather than half casters.


Soo.. Between around 10% and like 40% more on average (assuming both have maxed Con scores; quite a bit more if Con scores are not maxed). These aren't exactly trivial differences.


So would you say martial weapons proficiency is not a feature? All it really let's you do is use weapons with larger damage dice. If a wizard rolls well enough on their dagger damage dice, and the barbarian rolls poorly enough, the wizard could outdo the barbarian in melee damage (with stats held constant).
No, that's a false equivalence.

Hit points are rolled once (on level up), and are then locked in. Your prior rolls continue to impact your HP total, typically until that character is no more.

Damage rolls normally do not impact each other, and are usually rolled quite frequently.

If I have a string of bad HP rolls, my character ends up underpowered compared to the average. This continues to impact that character so long as it is played. If I have a string of bad damage rolls, I just underperformed in terms of damage for a single encounter or session. There's no reason to assume that just because my damage rolls were low this session, that they won't be better next session.

It is the DMs judgement of the player's intent, which is a problem. If it's worthy your character lives. If not, they die. That's dumb.


Rising from the cracked ground, bloody but unbowed is also cool, and thematic for a barbarian.


You are proposing a world where can someone can survive slipping on a banana peel over the cliff's edge, but when they gaze over the edge, summon their courage and take the leap they die 100% of the time. And I'm proposing half measures?


HP soaking (or dying) as a result of falling, whether you leap, are thrown, or trip is a full measure where the world behaves consistently, as if it is governed by physical laws rather than the whims of a capricious DM.

Separately, your version of cool isn't the only version of cool.


So we give them something extra, to solve a problem we created? Yes, we could do that. But it seems simpler just to not create the problem in the first place.

And to be clear, I don't want martials to jump off cliffs. I want them to be able to benefit from the features that allow them to survive every other peril without having to play "guess the satisfactory genre convention".


This is a lot of justification for something pretty nonsensical.

Also, the jumper could tuck and roll rather than doing a literal swan dive into the earth. It's probably easier too when it's a controlled fall. See, we don't have to flagrantly ignore (imaginary) physics to come up with a more plausible scenario for survival.


The kind that gives the barbarian access to a higher hp ceiling and expected higher average than it does the wizard. See simple vs. martial weapons example above.


It sounds like I'm suggesting that hp reflect a creature's ability to survive perils.. Because I am suggesting that. This is consistent with how they are described in the PHB.
It sounds like you want HP to be a force field equivalent. Maybe because their flesh and bones are tougher than that of an ordinary human. Again, as I've said, I'd be fine with a character jumping off a cliff under those conditions. I just don't use that definition of HP.

Sure. That said, literally every character is able to fall without narrative justification. It was false equivalence in the first place.
They do require narrative justification. They need something to fall off of (unless you mean trip and fall, which isn't really the same thing as falling off a cliff).

On Earth..no they do not. They also do not cast fireballs or battle dragons.

Incidentally, most D&D games are not set on Earth, so it's not really that big an issue.

Sure, but it kinda doesn't matter. Unless you as the DM plan to step in every time the character does something you judge would require that more detailed knowledge and force the character to act otherwise (removing player agency)... Which in most every instance would be overstepping in colossal fashion.

Gamist abstraction...of the physics of the world. Falling and hitting something is a physical act. The falling rules are the rules for that act.
A number of folks in this thread have proposed more realistic damage models for falling. What's more reasonable?

That gravity functions completely differently on all D&D worlds but that this fact has never been explained in any of the many books that have been released for over five editions (it can only be inferred from the falling rules)?

Or that gravity is intended to function pretty close to how it does on our earth and that the rules are a simplified gamist abstraction for handling that?

IMO, the clear logical choice is the latter.

The bard told him he could do it. ;)

But seriously, these worlds have culture, history, legends, myths, folklore, science, and people, books, scrolls, pottery, tapestries, etc., etc. in the world to communicate these things, not to mention in many D&D settings characters will have rivals, peers, antagonists, teachers, and leaders many of whom can also perform extraordinary feats There are plenty of ways for a character to come to the conclusion since they've lived their lives in that world.

Besides, there's nothing that says characters must die from falling a certain height in these fictional worlds. That's baggage we bring in from our world and our experiences. It's player knowledge not character knowledge.
Sure, the dumb barbarian-philosopher has studied the works of his world's equivalent of Isaac Newton. What if my D&D world's Newton hasn't been born yet?

I'd argue that trolling is harmful regardless of whether the player is metagaming. I disagree that metagaming equals trolling in every instance, though I'd agree that it certainly could in some instances.

In your example, the behavior is disruptive no matter what the player knows and is so primarily as a result of it's repetition especially outside the context of adventuring rather than the act itself.
The player is highly unlikely to engage in that disruptive behavior if it is black boxed.

Say that I created my own fantasy heartbreaker. In this hypothetical game, the player does not know how damage works. The DM tracks it for them and simply informs the player of how their character is feeling. The player also doesn't know how the falling rules work, as most of the rules are also not player facing. If a character falls, the DM adjudicates it and informs the player of the result. (In fact, in the early days of D&D, this is how the game was sometimes played.)

The player is highly unlikely to try to metagame nonsense under that circumstance, because it's a lot less fun when your character dies as a result. It's only when you are certain of the outcome (because you're metagaming) that it becomes likely.

As I said, some modicum of metagaming is perfectly acceptable and normal. I don't think that willingly walking your character off a cliff falls within those bounds.

Though, again, if you want to cast hit points as some kind off oddly functioning super toughness, then it isn't metagaming. However, it is metagaming if you use my definition of HP (primarily skill and luck).

And you would have asked because you expected they would be and you expected a particular benefit because of it. It's a po-tay-to/po-tah-to difference.
I would ask because I don't want to assume.
 

Nine Hands

Explorer
To me, the size of the creature should determine the dice size. So:

Tiny: no damage
Small d4
Medium d6
Large d8
Huge d10
Gargantuan d12 (or d20 depending on the type of creature perhaps)

That would at least partially account for momentum.
I use the base Hit Dice for creatures based on size from the Monster Manual.

Tiny - d4
Small - d6
Medium - d8
Large - d10
Huge - d12
Gargantuan - d20

While this does not "fix" the issue of realism with falling damage, it does make it scale better for larger creatures.

In the end, for me, falling damage is a minor issue since D&D is game about super heroes (especially at higher levels).
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
No, that's a false equivalence.

Hit points are rolled once (on level up), and are then locked in. Your prior rolls continue to impact your HP total, typically until that character is no more.

Damage rolls normally do not impact each other, and are usually rolled quite frequently.

If I have a string of bad HP rolls, my character ends up underpowered compared to the average. This continues to impact that character so long as it is played. If I have a string of bad damage rolls, I just underperformed in terms of damage for a single encounter or session. There's no reason to assume that just because my damage rolls were low this session, that they won't be better next session.
We can simplify..

Is it advantageous to roll a larger hit die to determine max hp?
Yes.
Is the size for your hit die determined by the class you select?
Also yes.

An advantage you get because you choose a class.. is a class feature. Are we really arguing this?

It sounds like you want HP to be a force field equivalent. Maybe because their flesh and bones are tougher than that of an ordinary human. Again, as I've said, I'd be fine with a character jumping off a cliff under those conditions. I just don't use that definition of HP.
From the basic rules for 5e..
"Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck. Creatures with more hit points are more difficult to kill. Those with fewer hit points are more fragile."

Literally all I've suggested is that hp represent precisely what the game says they represent. You are welcome to adjudicate them however you want in your game.. go nuts.. But where you choose to ignore them, you are factually nerfing classes that get more of them, and, at that point, it is a problem caused by the DM, not the player.
They do require narrative justification. They need something to fall off of (unless you mean trip and fall, which isn't really the same thing as falling off a cliff).
You got me there. They do require some narrative justification... And there is no difference in the nature of the justification they require.. the point remains the same.
A number of folks in this thread have proposed more realistic damage models for falling. What's more reasonable?

That gravity functions completely differently on all D&D worlds but that this fact has never been explained in any of the many books that have been released for over five editions (it can only be inferred from the falling rules)?

Or that gravity is intended to function pretty close to how it does on our earth and that the rules are a simplified gamist abstraction for handling that?
Oh boy..
I don't often get asked to opine on the likeliest version of imaginary physics, in imaginary worlds and how they might act on imaginary fantasy heroes..

Let's consider.
1. Across all these editions, they haven't started that gravity does operate the same as on Earth.

2. There is a gamist abstraction for falling in every edition of dnd as far as I'm aware, that serves as literal proxy for the effects of gravity. If we're arguing how it's intended to function, it's a bit hard to get around the explicit intended function outlined by the game designers. Have we just always dispensed with these in the name of 'realism'

3. The mechanics of gravity as an attractive force between two objects based on relative mass and distance. Assuming we're good with PCs having roughly equivalent mass as creatures on Earth, are all D&D settings are located on equivalent sized or massed landscapes? Pretty damned doubtful, especially when you start including all that 'planes' nonsense. As such, similar to Earth gravity is verrry unlikely even from a 'realism' perspective.

4. Existence of contrary evidence. There are plenty of creatures that could not function the way they do in D&D under the normal effects of Earth gravity.

5. All the other D&D bulshittery. Deities you can shake hands with, hells you could vacation in, rising from the dead, surviving fireballs, and poison, and lightning, etc, teleportation, mind reading, etc. etc. etc. These worlds are filled with stuff that would suggest that maybe, they just don't work the same as our world does. That gravity should be the one place where it is the same requires quite a leap ;) IMO.

IMO, the clear logical choice is the latter.
IMO, the clear, logical choice is to defer to the stated gamist abstraction in the absence of supporting evidence to the contrary.

Sure, the dumb barbarian-philosopher has studied the works of his world's equivalent of Isaac Newton. What if my D&D world's Newton hasn't been born yet?
Or, he heard the tale of Dirk Dragonsbane, who, after earning their surname, leapt from the beast's back to rejoin their comrades in the battle below... Or some other way people might hear or learn something in a world of legends, myths, etc, where music and tales represent a significant portion of the available entertainment.

The point is, I don't know how or why the barbarian might come to that conclusion. But there are plenty of ways to get there just by being around in the world. They don't need to buy a lab coat and pocket protector.

The player is highly unlikely to engage in that disruptive behavior if it is black boxed.

Say that I created my own fantasy heartbreaker. In this hypothetical game, the player does not know how damage works. The DM tracks it for them and simply informs the player of how their character is feeling. The player also doesn't know how the falling rules work, as most of the rules are also not player facing. If a character falls, the DM adjudicates it and informs the player of the result. (In fact, in the early days of D&D, this is how the game was sometimes played.)

The player is highly unlikely to try to metagame nonsense under that circumstance, because it's a lot less fun when your character dies as a result. It's only when you are certain of the outcome (because you're metagaming) that it becomes likely.
Interesting, I proposed this method of tracking damage upthread, to combat metagaming.

I am curious how these games actually played. It seems to me that it would very easily lead to paralysis by caution and or recklessness out of ignorance. Or.. That the DM has to give increasingly precise descriptions of the party's health state to allow them to make rational decisions such that they might as well just hand over the character sheet. Are there options preferred over metagaming?


As I said, some modicum of metagaming is perfectly acceptable and normal. I don't think that willingly walking your character off a cliff falls within those bounds.
Sure, based on your, IMO, flawed underlying assumptions, I can see why you wouldn't.

Though, again, if you want to cast hit points as some kind off oddly functioning super toughness, then it isn't metagaming. However, it is metagaming if you use my definition of HP (primarily skill and luck).
Fair enough, I'll continue to use the assumptions explicitly stated in the materials for D&D. You are free to use whatever you wish.. Though, again, DM problem, not player problem.

I would ask because I don't want to assume.
If you hadn't already assumed, you wouldn't feel the need to ask.

Edit: taking this last bit back. I suppose here would be the opportunity for the DM to spring the surprise and you giving them the chance to do so. Point made.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't often get asked to opine on the likeliest version of imaginary physics, in imaginary worlds and how they might act on imaginary fantasy heroes..

Let's consider.
1. Across all these editions, they haven't started that gravity does operate the same as on Earth.
In an indirect way they have, at least for on or very near the ground, when giving ranges for character weight.

2. There is a gamist abstraction for falling in every edition of dnd as far as I'm aware, that serves as literal proxy for the effects of gravity. If we're arguing how it's intended to function, it's a bit hard to get around the explicit intended function outlined by the game designers. Have we just always dispensed with these in the name of 'realism'
Where something can be governed by real-world physics, i.e. there's nothing fantastic involved, there's no good reason not to use them.

Falling is one such instance.

3. The mechanics of gravity as an attractive force between two objects based on relative mass and distance. Assuming we're good with PCs having roughly equivalent mass as creatures on Earth, are all D&D settings are located on equivalent sized or massed landscapes? Pretty damned doubtful, especially when you start including all that 'planes' nonsense. As such, similar to Earth gravity is verrry unlikely even from a 'realism' perspective.
Here I agree. In my own case I use Earth-like numbers simply for convenience, and because I'm not physicist enough to be able to figure out how all the numbers would differ were I to use a world of significantly greater or lesser mass.

That said, one of my setting was on a world that was considerably larger than Earth, but it was less dense and thus gravity at the surface was about the same as ours. That world did have a deeper atmosphere - air remained breathable to higher altitudes than on Earth - and the faster surface speed required to give a day-long rotation added significantly to the Coriolis force that drives a lot of weather patterns (thus, wild and unpredictable weather was common almost everywhere), so I was able to think that far through it. :)

4. Existence of contrary evidence. There are plenty of creatures that could not function the way they do in D&D under the normal effects of Earth gravity.
If game-world magic didn't exist I'd agree with you 100%. But it does, and thus introduces a whole realm of physics we don't get to experience in reality.

For the benefit of our little Human brains, however, it's just easier to default to Earth-based physics when and where we can. :)

That, and there's at least one creature on Earth than in theory can't function the way it does yet in practice does so without problem: the common bumblebee.

Interesting, I proposed this method of tracking damage upthread, to combat metagaming.

I am curious how these games actually played. It seems to me that it would very easily lead to paralysis by caution and or recklessness out of ignorance. Or.. That the DM has to give increasingly precise descriptions of the party's health state to allow them to make rational decisions such that they might as well just hand over the character sheet. Are there options preferred over metagaming?
There's a big difference between being told "you're at about half" and "you're at 18 of 35". The latter introduces much more precise thinking than the former. and from what I've heard most DMs who ran this way tended to speak in fractions e.g. you're at about 3/4, you're at about 1/4, you're in really bad shape, etc.

But it's how I narrate monster hit points sometimes, particularly when those hit points are mostly meat (which is the case with most really big monsters) and thus the wounds are rather obvious. And there's other monsters, such as most jellies and all incorporeal undead, where there's no visible difference between full hit points and having only 1 h.p. left.
 

Crimson Longinus

Adventurer
I can't say I'm a fan of the standard falling rules. I am fine with even non-magical high level D&D characters being mythic heroes that can do stuff normal people never could. However, I think with falling rules as they stand we get to bizarro superhero land far too quickly. Most fifth level characters can fall from a top of a five storey building without any risk of death. This simply seems wrong to me. I'd be fine with if a level fifteen character could do that. Another thing that bugs me is the lack of 'tumble.' Characters skilled in acrobatics should be able to fall from greater heights than ones without it. And of course the size not affecting the falling damage is another weirdness.

I've been trying to brainstorm rules that would increase the default falling damage but would allow acrobatics to reduce it. But it is really hard to get anything that would match my intuitions.
 
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dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I can't say I'm fan of the standard falling rules. I am fine with even non-magical high level D&D characters being mythic heroes that can do stuff normal people never could. However, I think with falling rules as they stand we get to bizarro superhero land far too quickly. Most fifth level characters can fall from a top of a five storey building without any risk of death. This simply seems wrong to me. I'd be fine with if a level fifteen character could do that. Another thing that bugs me is the lack of 'tumble.' Characters skilled in acrobatics should be able to fall from greater heights than ones without it. And of course the size not affecting the falling damage is another weirdness.

I've been trying to brainstorm rules that would increase the default falling damage but would allow acrobatics to reduce it. But it is really hard to get anything that would match my intuitions.
Ok, here is something I worked on yesterday. It involved some math (of course) and doing some research online. It certainly isn't an exact model but I think works fairly well.

1595092690383.png
 

Crimson Longinus

Adventurer
Ok, here is something I worked on yesterday. It involved some math (of course) and doing some research online. It certainly isn't an exact model but I think works fairly well.

View attachment 123925
I like how acrobatics and size affect things, though it is a bit weird that DCs are not in five point increments. However, this makes falling even less dangerous than it normally is and even low level characters can easily survive crazy falls.

My current hack is that falling causes d10 damage per 10 feet fallen (max 24d10.) And if you're trained in acrobatics you can roll DC 10 check to reduce the damage by one die, and an extra die for every five points you pass the DC by. (So effectively DC15 to reduce it by two dice, DC 20 by three etc.) I still feel that it might not be dangerous enough though.
 
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dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I like how acrobatics and size affect things, though it is a bit weird that DCs are not in five point increments. However, this makes falling even less dangerous than it normally is and even low level characters can easily survive crazy falls.

My current hack is that falling causes d10 damage per 10 feet fallen (max 24d10.) And if you're trained in acrobatics you can roll DC 10 check to reduce the damage by one die, and an extra die for every five points you pass the DC by. (So effectively DC15 to reduce it by two dice, DC 20 by three etc.) I still feel that it might not be dangerous enough though.
I had the DCs in 5-point increments and it is easy enough to do if you want to (anything from 5-9 is treated as 5, 10-14 is just 10, etc.)

Yeah, but falls really shouldn't kill most PCs IMO. And frankly, if 50% of people IRL survive 48-foot falls, PCs should certainly be able to do it! :)

FWIW, when this thread first started I thought about making falling damage d20s. Insane luck can make even a commoner survive a pretty good fall, especially with the DEX/acrobatics option thrown in. Since most PCs won't have more than 200 hp, using d20s and 20d20 cap would average 210 damage, more than enough to reliably kill PCs. :devilish:
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Another thing you can do is if the surface is hard, such as rock or metal, and not "softer" dirt/grass ground, double the damage. :D
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
In an indirect way they have, at least for on or very near the ground, when giving ranges for character weight.
This is an interesting perspective. I believe it assumes that PC mass is comparable, which is reasonable, but not explicit.
Where something can be governed by real-world physics, i.e. there's nothing fantastic involved, there's no good reason not to use them.

Falling is one such instance.


Here I agree. In my own case I use Earth-like numbers simply for convenience, and because I'm not physicist enough to be able to figure out how all the numbers would differ were I to use a world of significantly greater or lesser mass.
That's basically my point. I don't have any issue with using real-world gravity as a practical expedient to avoid trying to calculate and then teach your players 'real' fantasy physics. But it does mean your world is less realistic (from a character perspective).
That said, one of my setting was on a world that was considerably larger than Earth, but it was less dense and thus gravity at the surface was about the same as ours. That world did have a deeper atmosphere - air remained breathable to higher altitudes than on Earth - and the faster surface speed required to give a day-long rotation added significantly to the Coriolis force that drives a lot of weather patterns (thus, wild and unpredictable weather was common almost everywhere), so I was able to think that far through it. :)
Appreciate the thought process that went into it. I'm curious, did your players start to make connections for what was causing the differing weather?
If game-world magic didn't exist I'd agree with you 100%. But it does, and thus introduces a whole realm of physics we don't get to experience in reality.
Sure, but this doesn't make Earth gravity any more likely to be the case, so much as it introduces another potential set of rules different from our own. And if we're saying that magic in the world can impact the physiology and capabilities of the creatures in the world, why not the PCs?
For the benefit of our little Human brains, however, it's just easier to default to Earth-based physics when and where we can. :)
And I have no issue with doing so. But it's a narrative shortcut. And it seems to me that narrative shortcuts are a perfect use case for gamist abstractions.

Basically, if we concede that we're only using Earth based gravity because we don't know how to figure out and use a more appropriate system, there's no merit for using a system that is nearer or farther from the behavior of Earth gravity from the falling damage rules in the PHB. Making falls more or less deadly isn't making them any more or less realistic in relation to the fiction, just to the players' frame of reference (so it's sort of like forced metagaming).

And that's not even addressing the differences between high level D&D PCs and us puny Earth humans...

There's a big difference between being told "you're at about half" and "you're at 18 of 35". The latter introduces much more precise thinking than the former. and from what I've heard most DMs who ran this way tended to speak in fractions e.g. you're at about 3/4, you're at about 1/4, you're in really bad shape, etc.
That makes sense. How does the player behavior change under that system? How often would players encounter things that could one-shot them?
Or how often would they encounter things that were trivially easy?

Basically what was the calibration process for how players calculated risks?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
This is an interesting perspective. I believe it assumes that PC mass is comparable, which is reasonable, but not explicit.
If we're going to suggest that Humans in the game world are significantly different physically than Humans in our world, I'll pass. :)

Appreciate the thought process that went into it. I'm curious, did your players start to make connections for what was causing the differing weather?
They didn't need to, as it was written up in the intro to the setting.

And I have no issue with doing so. But it's a narrative shortcut. And it seems to me that narrative shortcuts are a perfect use case for gamist abstractions.
Perhaps. My point remain,s, though, that where it's possible and relatively easy to use reality as opposed to abstraction then why not use it?

Basically, if we concede that we're only using Earth based gravity because we don't know how to figure out and use a more appropriate system, there's no merit for using a system that is nearer or farther from the behavior of Earth gravity from the falling damage rules in the PHB. Making falls more or less deadly isn't making them any more or less realistic in relation to the fiction, just to the players' frame of reference (so it's sort of like forced metagaming).
It's one or the other. Saying "we're using Earth's gravity except when it's convenient that we don't" is a recipe for disaster. Players don't know what to expect.

That makes sense. How does the player behavior change under that system? How often would players encounter things that could one-shot them?
Or how often would they encounter things that were trivially easy?

Basically what was the calibration process for how players calculated risks?
No real change IME, for the most part. Cautious would still be cautious, gonzo would still be gonzo, which meant there was nothing really lost by having players track their own hit points.
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
If we're going to suggest that Humans in the game world are significantly different physically than Humans in our world, I'll pass. :)
Nah. Just idle observation.
They didn't need to, as it was written up in the intro to the setting.
Guess that makes it easier to act and have a better idea of what to expect. Seems like it could have been an opportunity for mystery.
Perhaps. My point remains, though, that where it's possible and relatively easy to use reality as opposed to abstraction then why not use it?

It's one or the other. Saying "we're using Earth's gravity except when it's convenient that we don't" is a recipe for disaster. Players don't know what to expect.
Not really. It's one thing to use Earth gravity in a what goes up must come down kind of way. It's another to short circuit the game system for the sake of a narrative shortcut.

And the reason to use the abstraction instead of the Earth version realism, is that it's dissonant when you do otherwise. There's no modeling of actual weapon or elemental damage, no secondary infections or septic shock. Psychic damage isn't even a real thing, but it still follows the hp damage mechanics. But just for falling damage, Jim Orckrusher might as well be Jake from State Farm??

It's complication for complication's sake, which, IMO, is best avoided.

No real change IME, for the most part. Cautious would still be cautious, gonzo would still be gonzo, which meant there was nothing really lost by having players track their own hit points.
Interesting. Would be curious to try it.
 

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