# 5EWhy is there a limit to falling damage?

#### TaranTheWanderer

For falling, you could use lingering injuries instead. Or the exhaustion table. If hit points isn't 'meat damage' but, instead, your ability to dodge, it seems difficult to dodge the ground.

DC rolls based on athletics or acrobatics based on how high the fall is, failure by each 5 points (throwing out random value) is a level of exhaustion. Can still kill them and affects most characters right across the board.

Edit: I have an acquaintance who survived a 10,000 foot drop skydiving. He was hospitalized for a year. The person tethered to him wasn't so fortunate.

#### Zio_the_dark

##### The dark one :)
I love @jgsugden formula just take fallen distance/10 and apply n(n+1)/2 dice this way damage increase is non-linear and still fast to calculate number of dice to roll...

##### Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The answer is not terminal velocity. That happens a considerable distance after this.

This came up in game when a player whose PC was a barbarian came to gorge 1,500' deep and said, "Yeah, I'll just step off."

I asked if they were committing suicide, because this was going to kill the PC. "Nope," the player replied, "The barbarian will survive the fall."

I stated unequivocally the PC would die - yes, I was aware of the rule - yes, I guess this is a ruling outside the rules, and therefore, a house rule that was unannounced. However, I countered, the player was exploiting player knowledge of the rules to benefit his PC.

So, that's where this question comes from - what purpose does the limit on falling damage serve? What am I missing?

I do remember the falling damage rules debates from the early Dragons and the subsequent ban on articles and letters on falling damage. Just reviving an old D&D tradition: Let's debate falling damage!
Of course there is a limit, you literally can only fall so fast. As for why the limit is where it is, it's simpler, and it allows for epic heroes to survive any fall, which is cool and heroic, and very easy to rule out of if you don't like it.

But yeah, there should always be some chance of coming out of a fall with literally no injury, because that does seem to be the case in real life, and IMO, if it's possible in real life the game shouldn't be more restrictive than real life, unless it's required for the game just work and be playable.

#### dave2008

##### Legend
I love @jgsugden formula just take fallen distance/10 and apply n(n+1)/2 dice this way damage increase is non-linear and still fast to calculate number of dice to roll...
I do too; however, there should still be a cap IMO (terminal velocity and all). 20d6 is just to low for that cap.

#### dave2008

##### Legend
Ok, so using @jgsugden damage formula and accepting terminal velocity for a sky diver (who is intentionally trying to slow the process down) is reached at 1,500ft. I will assume humanoids generally get there in about 1,000 ft or so. This brings the cap on falling damage to roughly 17,657 (5050d6).

Hmm. That is a lot of dice and gives non chance for survival. Maybe the d6/ 10 feet rule is better, but with a higher cap of 100 or even 200d6. Mostly likely death, but small chance of survival.

#### Yardiff

I'm not seeing any "survive without injury" in real life. All survivors I've found have had some kind of broken bones at the minimum.

#### dave2008

##### Legend
I'm not seeing any "survive without injury" in real life. All survivors I've found have had some kind of broken bones at the minimum.
They weren't heroes though You would have to use the optional lingering injury / wounds rules in the DMG for that.

#### Oofta

##### Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Ok, so using @jgsugden damage formula and accepting terminal velocity for a sky diver (who is intentionally trying to slow the process down) is reached at 1,500ft. I will assume humanoids generally get there in about 1,000 ft or so. This brings the cap on falling damage to roughly 17,657 (5050d6).

Hmm. That is a lot of dice and gives non chance for survival. Maybe the d6/ 10 feet rule is better, but with a higher cap of 100 or even 200d6. Mostly likely death, but small chance of survival.

I agree but I don't have that many dice so I'll start using averages. AKA "Splat goes the barbarian".

#### neogod22

##### Explorer
1st rule of D&D: the DM has final say on everything and can supersede any rule.

#### neogod22

##### Explorer
I guess the 20d6 max is for creatures that would actually survive a fall for that magnitude, not for something that the PCs should be able to exploit.

#### LordEntrails

##### Hero
So @pogre what did the barbarian do? What happened?

#### NotAYakk

##### Legend
My (for games that ask for realism) falling rules: Die size based upon creature size: d2 Tiny, d4 Small, d6 Medium, d8 Large, d10 Huge, d12 Gargantuan(+)
No, the effects of size on falling are far far far far far far less linear than that.

If you take a creature and scale it up by a factor of X, it has X^3 the weight and X^2 the cross section. This means it falls X times faster.

A Large creature is 2x the size of a medium in each dimension; it should take 2x the damage.

By the time you hit tiny, falling distances become infinite; a squirrel can fall from any height and not be hurt. A mouse can fall down a 1000' mine shaft and not even be stunned.

There is some mitigation for this from the design of the creature in question; elephant legs are much larger than human legs for the creature's scale.

And smaller creatures develop adaptations that reduce falling damage (cats, squirrels) before the scale law would say they don't get hurt.

#### pogre

##### Legend
So @pogre what did the barbarian do? What happened?
The player did not make a big deal about it. He just backed off and the group got down the cliff a different way. My group is great and there was no real conflict - the rest of the players were like, "c'mon man," to the player. I make mistakes on rules from time-to-time - I make a ruling and we move on. The players correct me when necessary by email later usually.

The player did mention post-game that I should add my house rule to our miniscule house rules document - less than half a page. He actually agreed with the call after the game.

#### TheDelphian

##### Explorer
I like many people agree with your ruling.

here are some other arguments.

How badly injured are survivors who do fall that far ?
What are the percentages of survivors. Yeah one person survived a 33K ft fall but how many have not. If it is one in a million get some d10 and roll for it. 6d10 (I Think) roll in order. You have to get all zeroes and the last roll is a 1. Then you survive.

Counter meta argument. HPts represent, morale, exhaustion (in a different sense) luck, dodging etc.

So when you just step off you

can't dodge the ground (as previously stated)
Only so much rolling with the blow you can do
Depend on luck in a way luck doesn't like. You never roll exactly what you want when you want to
Morale is out the door cause you are suicidal.
and hitting the ground doesn't make you tired it makes ya dead.

Just a few thoughts.

#### Elfcrusher

##### Legend
Up the dice type to d8 or d10?

Actually, an interesting variant would be to make the die size based on size, using HD equivalents.

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

#### Umbran

Staff member

Honestly, a 10' drop on your head can kill you. And that's great... if you fall on your head. Meanwhile, folks have survived falls from thousands of feet, by way of not falling on their heads....

I am really sorry to tell you all this, folks, but falling damage is a NARRATIVE element, not a realistic physics simulation or something. Arguments based on physics or realistic modeling do not apply. But then, your hit points aren't just meat and physics, either so...

That cap means that, in terms of narrative... if you are badass enough, that cliff just isn't an important enough piece of the universe to kill you.

#### NotAYakk

##### Legend
At level 20 you are a being who can stand toe to toe with a 50' tall god power being, have that being breath enough fire to crack a stone wall, and laugh.

High level D&D characters are not "physically fit soldiers", and we shouldn't measure what they can do based on what we imagine a human being could do. What a specialized, lucky, trained and ridiculously fit human being can do is a floor on the competence of a high level D&D character, even going back to the first edition of D&D.

Back then, a level 4 Fighter hero was a match for 40 trained soldiers. Complete incompetents can beat Olympic-level fencing masters with restricted rules of engagement at that ratio in the real world.

A T3 barbarian should be able to jump off a 10,000 foot cliff and break the ground when he lands.

If you want to play in the realm of "physically fit soldiers", restrict D&D to level 1, maybe 2 or 3. At level 3, a 14 con fighter has 28 HP, which can survive a 20d6 fall one time in a bajillion (roughly).

#### Fanaelialae

##### Legend
At level 20 you are a being who can stand toe to toe with a 50' tall god power being, have that being breath enough fire to crack a stone wall, and laugh.

High level D&D characters are not "physically fit soldiers", and we shouldn't measure what they can do based on what we imagine a human being could do. What a specialized, lucky, trained and ridiculously fit human being can do is a floor on the competence of a high level D&D character, even going back to the first edition of D&D.

Back then, a level 4 Fighter hero was a match for 40 trained soldiers. Complete incompetents can beat Olympic-level fencing masters with restricted rules of engagement at that ratio in the real world.

A T3 barbarian should be able to jump off a 10,000 foot cliff and break the ground when he lands.

If you want to play in the realm of "physically fit soldiers", restrict D&D to level 1, maybe 2 or 3. At level 3, a 14 con fighter has 28 HP, which can survive a 20d6 fall one time in a bajillion (roughly).
That's fine if that's the kind of campaign you want to run. I would assume that in that style of campaign a T3 barbarian can stab themselves through the heart and walk away fine.

That's not how I run my campaigns. High hp are less about "meat", and more about luck and skill. IMC a level 20 barbarian who chooses to stab themselves in the heart would die (barring immediate medical intervention or the like).

I think both are valid, as long as you're consistent. Although in this case it's more about the player trying to game the system. I mean, I think we can reasonably assume that had he been down to 20 hp, he wouldn't have proposed what he did. He only suggested it because he knew the rules and that the fall couldn't kill him (according to those rules).

Frankly, I think a major part of the GM's role is ruling on unconventional situations like the above.

#### jmartkdr2

Although in this case it's more about the player trying to game the system.
I'mma snip this out, because I feel it bears highlighting -

the issue here isn't a rule (about falling damage or anything else). It's not how many d6's we need to gather for this. It's complete;ly unrelated to high school physics. It's not even whether a 20th level barbarian (who's literally tougher than a human can possibly be, despite being a human...) can tank being hit by a planet -

it's the this player, in this case, broke the tone of the game, and the dm called them out on it. Call it "The Rule of Uncool." If what you're doing is too silly to be allowed, it won't be allowed even if RAW would let it be.

#### Laurefindel

##### Hero
Honestly, a 10' drop on your head can kill you. And that's great... if you fall on your head. Meanwhile, folks have survived falls from thousands of feet, by way of not falling on their heads....

I am really sorry to tell you all this, folks, but falling damage is a NARRATIVE element, not a realistic physics simulation or something. Arguments based on physics or realistic modeling do not apply. But then, your hit points aren't just meat and physics, either so...

That cap means that, in terms of narrative... if you are badass enough, that cliff just isn't an important enough piece of the universe to kill you.
This

For the better or for the worse, height is not a very frightful opponent in D&D.

For a gritty-scary game, a relatively simple variant is damage = distance fallen in feet, save for half on landing (allow Athletics or Acrobatics in lieu of Dex save if player wishes). Use 10 feet increments to avoid arguments about whether the fall was 12 feet or 14 feet.

In theory, 1 damage per meter square would allow the simplest quadratic equation, but the default distance increment of 2.5 meters makes it awkward for quick metal calculation. A bit easier if you drop fraction, or if you use metric for that matter...