log in or register to remove this ad

 

5E Why is there a limit to falling damage?


log in or register to remove this ad

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I could see that working for me. There's a certain bravado to it that many characters posses.
I could see a couple characters I've played looking off the peak, breathing deep of the mountain air, and saying, "I will not pass into the Night today." and then confidently leaping off.

I don't care if you can fight a giant, someone's going to be scraping you up off the ground unless you can cast feather fall if you fall much over a 100 ft in my campaign.
This is a confusing statement. A realistic human could not fight a giant. At least not the bigger ones. They could maybe hurt the giant, but killing it is...preposterous.

So...in your campaign, the thing that is totally preposterous in any rational world is fine, but the thing that actually happens IRL is off the table...because physics?
 

I could see a couple characters I've played looking off the peak, breathing deep of the mountain air, and saying, "I will not pass into the Night today." and then confidently leaping off.


This is a confusing statement. A realistic human could not fight a giant. At least not the bigger ones. They could maybe hurt the giant, but killing it is...preposterous.

So...in your campaign, the thing that is totally preposterous in any rational world is fine, but the thing that actually happens IRL is off the table...because physics?
Not because physics. Because relatable.

I never fought a giant. I have fallen 20 feet. It didn’t end well. So a casual 100’ leap? Suspension of disbelief is harder when it’s something you’ve experienced. Dodging the club of a giant, in comparison, seems a lot more believable.

At least it is for me.
 

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.

Maybe @iserith has already chimed in, but this approach to DMing is unlikely to persuade players to play a different way. Instead, they'll learn to pretend they have other reasons for doing things, in order to get around rules against 'exploiting player knowledge'.

For example, the player of the barbarian might say he's going to try to climb down. The DM says, "No way, there are no handholds." "I'll try anyway." "I'm telling you you're gonna fall." "S'Ok, I feel lucky."

While all the time the player is thinking, "Of course I'm going to fall. I know I can take 20d6 damage, but I've learned not to say that at this table."

And maybe the DM is even thinking, "That little cheater. He's planning to fall because he knows he can take 20d6."

And maybe, for some, as long as they speaketh not their metagaming aloud it's fine. Me, I'd rather everybody just be up front about what they're doing, so players don't have to lie, and DMs don't have to be suspicious.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I could see a couple characters I've played looking off the peak, breathing deep of the mountain air, and saying, "I will not pass into the Night today." and then confidently leaping off.

And, since you are just so darned epic (and hit points include luck and such)... there's an updraft. Or a pool of water to land in. Or you tuck and roll just so.... Whatever it is, it is there.

I have, more than once considered... maybe a paladin... who has been given a vision of his own death. So, he can throw himself into virtually anything with Quixotic verve... And the thing is, we don't actually have to determine the reality - if the character doesn't die, he was obviously correct that it wasn't his day to die. If he dies, well, trying to dodge it would not have helped.
 

smetzger

Explorer
I have always used d20 for every 10 ft then divide that by the result of a d6.
Average ends up being a little less than the d6 per 10 ft method for lower falls. But the maximum is much higher.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Maybe @iserith has already chimed in, but this approach to DMing is unlikely to persuade players to play a different way. Instead, they'll learn to pretend they have other reasons for doing things, in order to get around rules against 'exploiting player knowledge'.

For example, the player of the barbarian might say he's going to try to climb down. The DM says, "No way, there are no handholds." "I'll try anyway." "I'm telling you you're gonna fall." "S'Ok, I feel lucky."

While all the time the player is thinking, "Of course I'm going to fall. I know I can take 20d6 damage, but I've learned not to say that at this table."

And maybe the DM is even thinking, "That little cheater. He's planning to fall because he knows he can take 20d6."

And maybe, for some, as long as they speaketh not their metagaming aloud it's fine. Me, I'd rather everybody just be up front about what they're doing, so players don't have to lie, and DMs don't have to be suspicious.

The solution is very simple.

The DM just says a drop from this cliff, tower, airship, floating island, etc. means you die, no roll. As long as that's made clear to the players, they can plan accordingly.

The rules serve the DM, not the other way around.
 

Hriston

Hero
Not a bad idea most of the time, but with this particular player it might be something like, "I'm half-Bumble."
I'm not sure what a bumble is in this context. Is it some kind of bird?
The way Bugs Bunny does in when crashing in an elevator, he just steps out at the last moment.
This type of answer and, I think, the one above, depending on the expectations at the table, could be considered disruptive and in bad faith. If the player's description of how they intend to survive the fall doesn't fit with the genre conventions agreed upon by the table, then it may very well be non-permissible.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
And, since you are just so darned epic (and hit points include luck and such)... there's an updraft. Or a pool of water to land in. Or you tuck and roll just so.... Whatever it is, it is there.

I have, more than once considered... maybe a paladin... who has been given a vision of his own death. So, he can throw himself into virtually anything with Quixotic verve... And the thing is, we don't actually have to determine the reality - if the character doesn't die, he was obviously correct that it wasn't his day to die. If he dies, well, trying to dodge it would not have helped.
Exactly!

I really want to play that sort of Paladin, honestly. Haven’t yet.
 

Falling damage doesn't make sense, overall. Force from falling would not be linear at d6 per 10'. Also, smaller and larger creatures should take different amounts of damage for falling, generally. Force = mass * Acceleration, and the acceleration due to gravity is exponential.
I think you mix up a few things...

The accelleration is not exponential as you think. The acceleration due to gravity is actually (nearly) constant at 9.81m/s^2. If you take air resistance into account, the effective acceleration decreases.
The velocity however increases, but not exponential, it is a linear increase (again if you neglect air resistance). The only exponential part is when you are reaching terminal velocity when accounting for air resistance (because that is the reason for terminal velocity).
Probably you speak of thr accelaration that occurs when you hit the ground. Assuming that the time to stop is constant, the force is also only growing linearly, which is no miracle, because the forumar for the potential energy is linear with the height.
 

Raduin711

Adventurer
I think someone had mentioned that falling damage should do a percentage of a player's total HP. While I like that idea, the math seems rather fiddly.

One thing I was considering is lowering the falling damage to 1d2, but falling damage is multiplied by the falling character's hit dice.
 

I'm actually a fan of the cap. I don't like something as mundane as falling off a cliff being more powerful than the attacks of gods and archfiends.

It's also worth noting that there aren't very many characters who can actually be assured of surviving such a fall. With a Con of 16 a barbarian would need to be 12th level to be able to be guaranteed to survive the fall (assuming he is at full hit points and there isn't anything sharp or otherwise painfully unexpected at the bottom).

12th level characters are not a dime a dozen. Just about every one of them is probably a celebrity superstar in their world. And that's just the barbarian. Every other class would have to be higher level to be guaranteed not to die by the fall alone.

The DMG has an improvising damage table (it uses d10s), and this is the entry for the largest value:
24d10 Tumbling into a vortex of fire on the Elemental Plane of Fire, being crushed in the jaws of a godlike creature or a moon-sized monster

I really don't think it's advantageous to make falling from a height add up to more damage than being eaten by a moon. If you really don't want anyone to become immune to death by falling when at full hp (no one is immune if they've already taken enough damage), you might go with the Massive Damage rules in the DMG. I'd recommend just using them for situations where you're tempted to fiat character death instead of using them all the time.
 

pogre

Legend
I'm not sure what a bumble is in this context. Is it some kind of bird?
bumble.jpg
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
While the power of gods, etc. is immense, few have anything that does an average of 70 points of damage per attack (in fact, other than powerful spells and some dragon breaths, I can't think of anything). So, in terms of raw damage, that is pretty lethal IMO.

Now, as others have said the issue with the damage is each later editions continues to bloat HP without adjusting damage accordingly in this case. My solution would be to change d6 falling damage to d20, capped at 20d20, but add a save or check mechanic (DEX maybe? or maybe Acrobatics?) with a DC equal to 5 plus the number of dice to take half damage.

This way, for a 200' fall or greater, your average is 210 (killing most PCs, even in tier 4, unless they make a DC 25 save or check for only 105), but a fall of 50 feet would be 5d20 (still lethal for most people, but there is a chance they could survive at either higher levels or making a DC 10 save/check). Now, what about a simple 10 ft fall? Only 1d20 (average 10.5, DC 6 save/check for 5 damage), which even commons are likely to survive, albeit perhaps with severe injury and/or falling unconscious.

In summary:
Damage is d20 per 10 feet fallen, to a max of 20d20.
DC 5 + one per 10 feet fallen for half damage. Use a DEX save or maybe DEX (Acrobatics) or something else, maybe even a Death Save for half damage?

EDIT: after doing a little research online on falling heights survivability, maybe d12s would be better than d20s...?
 
Last edited:

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I could see a couple characters I've played looking off the peak, breathing deep of the mountain air, and saying, "I will not pass into the Night today." and then confidently leaping off.


This is a confusing statement. A realistic human could not fight a giant. At least not the bigger ones. They could maybe hurt the giant, but killing it is...preposterous.

So...in your campaign, the thing that is totally preposterous in any rational world is fine, but the thing that actually happens IRL is off the table...because physics?

High level PCs in my view are Captain America or an 80s action hero. Stronger, more capable, able to survive things normal people could not. But when fighting giants they're dodging or deflecting blows while trying to cut Achilles tendons or aiming for the major artery that runs down the leg. They're really good at their job.

But they aren't superman. They're still relatable, they can still die.
 

Shroompunk Warlord

Aberrant Druid
Supporter
1st level Wizards have an (optional) class ability that would allow them to survive that fall some X number of times per day, depending on how they prepared for the day. By the time a Barbarian can survive it once, a Wizard could theoretically prepare to survive it dozens of times... without depending on another character for magical healing.

Your player is 100% in the right calling BS on your "ruling".
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.


Huh. Does that mean that the Balor in LOTR was really a Bumble? Or did Gandalf just know he would only take 20d6 damage?

Let me clarify. In the book (not the movies) Gandalf is a politician. He organizes, pushes people into doing things they wouldn't normally do. Then when things go to hell in a hand basket because Bilbo retrieved a ring that had been perfectly well hidden for centuries he bumbles around sending people hither and yon. Yes, he has a fast horse. He talks people into doing stupid things and had access to some cool resources, like a good fireworks manufacturer.

But the Balor. Gandalf does one big magic thing, breaking the bridge. Which, cool. But he can only do it by breaking his staff which as far as we know was the most magical thing about him.

But he's a fakir. His really cool stuff (fighting the balor is a good example) takes place off screen. As far as we know the balor was really a bumble and he just bounced. He also took credit for other people's achievements. For example when Merry and Pip convince the ents to help, he takes credit. Because he somehow knew they'd be captured and then escape? Right.

But on screen? When people can see what he actually does? He doesn't ever really do much magic. He uses a flash bang to scare off some goblins. In Minas Tirith he keeps mumbling about opening up that can of wupp-ass that never really materializes. He has allies like the giant eagles, but that's it.

So my whole point of this overly long post is that Gandalf is a politician and a fakir. Wait ... no that wasn't it. It's that in the fiction everybody thought Gandalf should die falling that far. Because he should, there's no logical reason why even the most powerful wizard (and not even a human one) should be able to fall that far and survive.

It would break the tenuous backdrop of a world that works like our own except with magic. It would change it from something we can relate to to something that is obviously a Bugs Bunny cartoon. That's why I wouldn't stop falling at 20d6 and the barbarian would die.
 

jmartkdr2

Adventurer
High level PCs in my view are Captain America or an 80s action hero. Stronger, more capable, able to survive things normal people could not. But when fighting giants they're dodging or deflecting blows while trying to cut Achilles tendons or aiming for the major artery that runs down the leg. They're really good at their job.

But they aren't superman. They're still relatable, they can still die.
Point of Order: the Winter Soldier (high-level fighter) fell off a flying aircraft carrier (well over 200 feet up) while already unconscious and survived. (at the end of that movie)

Which is a genre convention point, really. In a fantasy-superhero game, falling to your death doesn't happen to named characters. But in high fantasy (ie LotR) game, falling more than 100 feet probably needs magic/divine intervention to be survivable. And DnD has always been built to support both genres.
 


COMING SOON! Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top