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5E Why is there a limit to falling damage?

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.
An 80s action hero can die?!
 

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Fanaelialae

Legend
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.
This is like saying that a high level barbarian should be able to perform open heart surgery on himself because a cleric can potentially cast Cure Wounds dozens of times a day. If that's how you want to run your game that's your prerogative, but I don't think it's unreasonable for a GM to rule that your character can't perform open heart surgery on themself regardless of how high level they are.
 



Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'm an old WFB player 20d6 is just getting warmed up!

I laughed at your post, because the player pointed out the same thing! ;)
Heh. I would have been like, "Okay. Let's go with that. Let's figure out the chances of his survival were and give you the same random chance to live."
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I would put falling damage at 20% of max HP per 10 ft.
a 50ft drop on your head WILL kill you.

if you jump down intentionally, reduce the fall by 10ft and another 10ft with DC15 athletics or acrobatics check, 20ft less with DC30 check.
If this is 5th edition, it would still take 100 feet. You have to go negative maximum hit points in one hit to die outright. 50 feet would just put you at 0 and have you start making death saves.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
I've been playing the game since 1e and unless 4e was different, there has been no edition where a level 4 fighter could take on 40 trained soldiers and win. Not without the gods of luck cursing the DM and bless the players dice.

A T3 barbarian should be able to jump off a 10,000 foot cliff and break the ground when he lands.
And the OP agrees with you! It's just that there would be red barbarian smear leaking into that broken ground ;)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
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.
Cpt America would have a chance of surviving falling from an airplane. In fact, in the comics he simply can be assumed to be able to survive such a fall.
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.
Gandalf doesn’t die from the fall. He dies from fighting the balrog.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Cpt America would have a chance of surviving falling from an airplane. In fact, in the comics he simply can be assumed to be able to survive such a fall.

Gandalf doesn’t die from the fall. He dies from fighting the balrog.
According to Gandalf. But if you assume he might be an unreasonable narrator, who knows? ;)
 


Laurefindel

Adventurer
No, we know that he died fighting the balrog.
Yes, but for the company, and the whole world really, the fall alone was enough to declare him dead.

The difference between Gandalf and Captain America is that one survived against the (apparent) odds, the other knows well ahead of time that the fall is easily survivable.

If captain America had been captured by Saruman, he wouldn’t need the eagles to save his ass. Gandalf on the other hand never even contemplated jumping down. And neither did Saruman though of this as an easy way out.

The difference is mostly narrative, but it is an important one for the desired playing style the DM and players go after.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Cpt America would have a chance of surviving falling from an airplane. In fact, in the comics he simply can be assumed to be able to survive such a fall.
His vibranium shield which absorbs kinetic energy is typically how he survives. It's essentially a feather fall magic item. I'd let the barbarian survive with a feather fall item, too.

Gandalf doesn’t die from the fall. He dies from fighting the balrog.
Gandalf is not mortal and neither is the Balrog. Aragorn, a very high level Dunedain, would have died from such a fall.
 



Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If captain America had been captured by Saruman, he wouldn’t need the eagles to save his ass. Gandalf on the other hand never even contemplated jumping down. And neither did Saruman though of this as an easy way out.
Assuming that 1, he had access to his magic, and 2, that he could survive such a fall without magic. We don't know how he survived the fall with the Balrog. He may very well have cast feather fall on the way down in order to survive and as head of his order, Saruman could negate Gandalf's magic in the way that Gandalf did to Saruman after his return.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yes, but for the company, and the whole world really, the fall alone was enough to declare him dead.

The difference between Gandalf and Captain America is that one survived against the (apparent) odds, the other knows well ahead of time that the fall is easily survivable.

If captain America had been captured by Saruman, he wouldn’t need the eagles to save his ass. Gandalf on the other hand never even contemplated jumping down. And neither did Saruman though of this as an easy way out.

The difference is mostly narrative, but it is an important one for the desired playing style the DM and players go after.
There is still the entirety of Isengard to escape from, once you’ve jumped off the tower.

And frankly, nothing in D&D has Ever actually translated to Gandalf, and probably never will.
 



pogre

Hero
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".
Strange logic here. Of course there are different niches. Surely we could come up with dozens of scenarios a 1st level Barbarian would breeze through that a high level wizard would struggle with - fairly pointless exercises.

My ruling revolved around the intent of the player.

If they were trying to do something heroic - my ruling would have been different - as I explained up-thread.

I am increasingly confident I made the right call, and I agree with what others have stated - this is not appropriate for a house rule - it falls under the framework of a DM judgment. I stick religiously to the rules in AL and cons, but I am very comfortable with this ruling for my home game. It helps that the player later agreed I made the right call.
 

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