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5E Why is there a limit to falling damage?

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
That would depend upon what hps represent to you. In my world, they represent a combination of your toughness (which is more than just your ability to withstand injury), and the touch of the Gods. A loss of hps is not an injury, it is something that taxes this supernatural capability to survive danger, through force of will, divine intervention, and other forces. Sound nebulous? That is intentional. However, it works for falling damage survival.
Well, sure. If the gods reach down and save you from dying, that would justify surviving a long fall like that. For me, though, such an act would need to be a bit more overt than just hit point loss.
 

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Hey, lets punish martials some more!
  • Fumble rules
  • Insta death from lava/ falling
  • Insta death from being stabbed while sleeping
Its man in the gym everywhere!

People, we cant fall from such a height because we are Commoners with 5 HP.

Achillies, Hercules, CuCulain, Odysseus, James T Kirk and so forth can fall from mountains, from orbit, into volcanoes and survive, protected by plot armor, luck (which is what hit points expressly represent), and sheer awesomeoness.

We cant; they can. So can high level PCs, particularly the ones with an insane amount of luck (HP) that is afforded to martials as a class feature.

Wizards can featherfall (cast spells as a class feature). Fighters can survive because they're experienced, lucky, resolute and awesome (have more HP as a class feature).
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Hey, lets punish martials some more!
  • Fumble rules
  • Insta death from lava/ falling
  • Insta death from being stabbed while sleeping
Its man in the gym everywhere!

People, we cant fall from such a height because we are Commoners with 5 HP.

Achillies, Hercules, CuCulain, Odysseus, James T Kirk and so forth can fall from mountains, from orbit, into volcanoes and survive, protected by plot armor, luck (which is what hit points expressly represent), and sheer awesomeoness.

We cant; they can. So can high level PCs, particularly the ones with an insane amount of luck (HP) that is afforded to martials as a class feature.

Wizards can featherfall (cast spells as a class feature). Fighters can survive because they're experienced, lucky, resolute and awesome (have more HP as a class feature).
Nobody is punishing "martials." There are many other kinds of casters than Wizards and Bards, and they get to die as well. Hell, even Wizards and Bards die if they haven't wasted a spell spot on Feather Fall.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
There's a big difference between "a hero can survive a fall from an extreme height because they're a hero" and "the barbarian jumps off a 1500 ft cliff because he read the PHB and he knows he'll survive."

In the former case they hit tree branches on the way down then a steep incline and finally land in water or a bog. In the latter it's too much meta-gaming for me. If he insists there will be a Sarlac waiting for him* at the bottom.

*Kidding. Probably. More likely to be a pit with barbed spikes that fills with water because how awesome would that be? Bwa-ha-ha.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
Maybe they fall into a giant funnel that dumps into a bag of holding, that then detaches and falls into a portable hole?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
There's a big difference between "a hero can survive a fall from an extreme height because they're a hero" and "the barbarian jumps off a 1500 ft cliff because he read the PHB and he knows he'll survive."

In the former case they hit tree branches on the way down then a steep incline and finally land in water or a bog. In the latter it's too much meta-gaming for me. If he insists there will be a Sarlac waiting for him* at the bottom.

*Kidding. Probably. More likely to be a pit with barbed spikes that fills with water because how awesome would that be? Bwa-ha-ha.
When such discussion come up I always wonder why no one has an issue with barbarians going toe to toe with huge high CR monsters without being killed in a single blow. The same kind of logic should cause pause there as well but it doesn't.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
There's a big difference between "a hero can survive a fall from an extreme height because they're a hero" and "the barbarian jumps off a 1500 ft cliff because he read the PHB and he knows he'll survive."

In the former case they hit tree branches on the way down then a steep incline and finally land in water or a bog. In the latter it's too much meta-gaming for me. If he insists there will be a Sarlac waiting for him* at the bottom.

*Kidding. Probably. More likely to be a pit with barbed spikes that fills with water because how awesome would that be? Bwa-ha-ha.
Just to clarify, if the Barbarian was climbing a 1500ft cliff fell to the bottom after he was nearly to the top you would be okay with him surviving?
 

There's a big difference between "a hero can survive a fall from an extreme height because they're a hero" and "the barbarian jumps off a 1500 ft cliff because he read the PHB and he knows he'll survive."

In the former case they hit tree branches on the way down then a steep incline and finally land in water or a bog. In the latter it's too much meta-gaming for me. If he insists there will be a Sarlac waiting for him* at the bottom.

*Kidding. Probably. More likely to be a pit with barbed spikes that fills with water because how awesome would that be? Bwa-ha-ha.
This I actually agree with.

The Barbarian player was metagaming. As DM I would have given him a look that ensured he never tried to do so again.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
When such discussion come up I always wonder why no one has an issue with barbarians going toe to toe with huge high CR monsters without being killed in a single blow. The same kind of logic should cause pause there as well but it doesn't.
Skill and luck. The reason the character isn't killed in a single blow is because the attack is more or less evaded. It would have killed the character (or at least left them dying) had it been a solid hit, but the loss of HP represents the character utilizing skill/luck to avoid those killing blows.

At least that's how I run it.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Skill and luck. The reason the character isn't killed in a single blow is because the attack is more or less evaded. It would have killed the character (or at least left them dying) had it been a solid hit, but the loss of HP represents the character utilizing skill/luck to avoid those killing blows.

At least that's how I run it.
Then introduce some skill and luck toward turning the solid blow of the ground into a not so solid blow.
 

Skill and luck. The reason the character isn't killed in a single blow is because the attack is more or less evaded. It would have killed the character (or at least left them dying) had it been a solid hit, but the loss of HP represents the character utilizing skill/luck to avoid those killing blows.

At least that's how I run it.
That's how its supposed to be run. Hit Points are defined in the game as 'Health, resolve, the will to live, and luck'

You get more of them as you level up in experience, moreso if you belong to a martial class that fights a lot, so they also represent skill and experience, and parrying/ dodging/ fighting ability.

When a 20th level fighter gets 'hit' by a Fire giants sword on an attack roll, the blow actually luckily misses him, thundering into the ground next to him, as he twists out of the way, and readies for a devastating counter attack.

When the same blow 'hits' a 1st level Fighter, the poor schmuck is cloven in half.

Its the redshirt/ Kirk effect.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Just to clarify, if the Barbarian was climbing a 1500ft cliff fell to the bottom after he was nearly to the top you would be okay with him surviving?
Potentially. This has never come up so it depends on the specifics of the scenario. Climbing a mountain? Maybe do some subset of damage (i.e. 20d6) and then give them an acrobatics/athletics check to see if they can grab something to stop their fall. Rinse and repeat until dead or holding on to that tree growing out the side of the cliff. What's going to be the most fun and cinematic?

But after a certain point it's not realistic to survive a fall so maybe I'd rely on percentile dice? Give them a 5% chance of survival? I want the game to be fun, but I also don't want to rely on deus-ex-DM to save PCs from death.

I want my games to be reality-adjacent so I don't want to rely on a rule I disagree with. If it came up I'd average dice after 200 feet and not limit to 20d6.

It's never come up in a game but I'd let my players know how I run it before any action was taken. If they were fighting on an airship I'd probably give them the equivalent of a magic parachute or tether.

On a related note, every mod (in all editions) I've ever played where the group is fighting and you can fall thousands of feet the bad guys have some way of surviving if they get pushed off. The PCs, of course, do not.
 


Potentially. This has never come up so it depends on the specifics of the scenario. Climbing a mountain? Maybe do some subset of damage (i.e. 20d6) and then give them an acrobatics/athletics check to see if they can grab something to stop their fall.
A PC falls 100' into an active erupting volcano. He takes 100 points of damage from the magma and the fall (luckily he has 120 HP):


If Spock was a Redshirt with 20 hit points, he would have landed directly in the lava, or snapped his neck on the fall. He's not a redshirt, he's a high level hero, with experience, resolve, skill and LUCK (120 points of luck in fact) to survive the fall, luckily landing on an outcropping of rock inside the volcano.

Here is another example, this time Kirk base-jumping from orbit:


Sadly the Redshirt he jumped with didnt have enough HP (resolve, luck, and skill) to survive the fall.

Kirk did. He had a ton more HP. That's why he made it.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Then introduce some skill and luck toward turning the solid blow of the ground into a not so solid blow.
In most cases I would (although it would be mostly luck, not skill, in that case).

However, leaving aside the meta-gaming which has already been discussed, there is a big difference between a character who falls off a cliff versus one who leaps off for heroic reasons versus one who just casually walks off because they're too lazy to climb down.

The third case is problematic in my view because it doesn't respect the tone of the game as I run it. It would be like a high level character using a stick of dynamite as a cigar and the player expecting them to survive it. Maybe some people would be okay with that. Not me, unless I were running Toon.

In game, it would mirror the theme in many stories where 'pride comes before the fall'. In this case quite literally. A character walking off a cliff and demanding that fate/luck save them from the 1500' fall is the height of arrogance. Such characters are frequently abandoned by fate/luck when they behave so, and so it would be IMC.

Of course, much like the OP, the player would be given clear warning regarding the suicidal nature of the act they were considering.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Which is to say that it's not the unrealistic 1500ft fall and survival of it that you have a problem with - but rather the unrealistic action the PC took.
Yep.

I once had a PC jump off a cliff in pursuit of a bad guy. Thing is, before he jumped he asked the NPC wizard if he could cast feather fall. Then proceeded to grab the wizard and leap ... the PC was quite pragmatic and didn't really trust the guy to save him unless the wizard had to.

If I had just jumped I wouldn't have had any reasonable expectation of survival.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Yep.

I once had a PC jump off a cliff in pursuit of a bad guy. Thing is, before he jumped he asked the NPC wizard if he could cast feather fall. Then proceeded to grab the wizard and leap ... the PC was quite pragmatic and didn't really trust the guy to save him unless the wizard had to.

If I had just jumped I wouldn't have had any reasonable expectation of survival.
Thanks, that definitely makes talking about the issue alot easier.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
A PC falls 100' into an active erupting volcano. He takes 100 points of damage from the magma and the fall (luckily he has 120 HP):


If Spock was a Redshirt with 20 hit points, he would have landed directly in the lava, or snapped his neck on the fall. He's not a redshirt, he's a high level hero, with experience, resolve, skill and LUCK (120 points of luck in fact) to survive the fall, luckily landing on an outcropping of rock inside the volcano.

Here is another example, this time Kirk base-jumping from orbit:


Sadly the Redshirt he jumped with didnt have enough HP (resolve, luck, and skill) to survive the fall.

Kirk did. He had a ton more HP. That's why he made it.
Kirk has plot armor, but he also had a parachute. Spock fell, what, 20 feet and had protective gear.

So sure with feather fall and immunity to fire damage the PC would survive as well.

There's a reason why people make fun of the refrigerator scene from the last Raiders of the Lost Arc movie. It crossed the line from heroic frequently over the top action to Bugs Bunny cartoon.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
For most PCs to survive a 20d6 fall would be 8-9+ level typically to average over 70 hp. When we talk about the extremely rare occurrences IRL of people who have fallen incredible distances and survived, how common are they? Then ask yourself, how common are PCs or whoever with 70+ hp? In my games, not common at all. So, for them to be one of those rare lucky individuals to survive such a fall is not a big deal really.

I agree with the others of course about the player metagaming it to a point, but if the barbarian has a history of making leaps and falling for any reason, maybe in character he just thought "I think I can make it." Smart? No. Possible? Sure.
 

Kirk has plot armor, but he also had a parachute. Spock fell, what 20 feet and had protective gear.
He falls a lot further than 20' (6 metres) and Kirks Redshirt had a parachute as well.

Plot armor is Hit points. Hit points are [among other things) Luck, with high level PCs having tons of it. Absurd levels of it in fact.

So much luck that high level PCs can fall into active volcanoes, or off mountains, and survive on account of some lucky contrivance.

The trick is in the narration of that lucky contrivance. Did they land on a rocky outcrop and avoid the magma (taking 100 points of 'luck damage' from the magma as they do so) or did they land on the back of a friendly Giant Eagle as they lept off a giant tower (taking 100 points of damage from the fall) as they did so.
 

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