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Massive Damage Rules, Yes or No?


D&D 3.5/d20/OGL

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Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Okay, here's a question I haven't seen come up on the boards before... what are everyone's thoughts on the death by massive damage rules? You know... the ones that state that any Medium creature suffering more than 50 points of damage from a single attack must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or die (damage scales up with size categories)?

Personally, I think these rules are stupid. At low levels, *IF* something manages to dish out 50 damage in a single hit, the character is probably dead anyway. If they aren't, they're certainly hurt badly enough to make the loss of 50 hp a big enough problem without having to make a Fort save vs. death. At higher levels, things are hitting for 50+ damage pretty often. The fighter classes likely have more than enough hit points to soak up 50 damage and move on (and making them roll a DC 15 Fortitude save is laughable) while the mages and rogues taking 50 damage should be hurt badly enough as it is without the ADDITIONAL threat of needing to make a save or die.

Plus, we all know how anti-climatic one-shot kills are. When your player's PC paladin rushes in to confront the BBEG and gets nailed with a lucky crit from the BBEG's Large Greatsword for 62 damage and then rolls a 1 on the Fort save in the first round, no one is having any fun, not even the DM (and I'll be the first to say that I usually derive some sick pleasure from killing PCs).

Usually, I implement my version of the clobbered rules over the massive damage rules. Suffering more than half your maximum (not current) hp in a single blow causes you to be clobbered for the round. While clobbered, you can take only a single standard action and you suffer a -4 to your next initiative. Deaths from massive damage are silly, especially because of the nebulous idea of the hit point system. 50 damage to a fighter and 50 damage to a mage are very, VERY different. Why should 50 damage be the threshold for all medium creatures? Please, discuss.

Cheliax Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

I use the massive damage rules, but I don't love them.

I agree that save or die effects generally suck. My impression as to the massive damage rules is that they are a nod to realism for those people that argue a 20th level fighter shouldn't be able to fall from low earth orbit, take 20d6 damage, and live.

That being said, it may exist to give a little more juice to fighter types that specialize in doing a large amount of damage in a single hit. But come to think of it, I find that it comes into play the most in the case of a spellcaster dealing double damage to a creature with an elemental trait. So, I could be completely wrong.

I think the deeper issue underlying the rule is death itself. If death weren't simultaneously permanent and easily fixed, I don't think it would be a bad rule. I'd probably use a stunned variant rather than clobbered if I were to tweak the rule, but that's not a strong preference.


Unfortunately, I'd go for it. Yes.
I had a character fall a stupid distance, take the massive damage but still be left with a single hit point. He stood up, felt a bit dazed but walked off.
He survived but the manner felt cheap. Appologize to your players for me but narrow escapes should be heroic.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Vinyl wrote:

Unfortunately, I'd go for it. Yes.

I had a character fall a stupid distance, take the massive damage but still be left with a single hit point. He stood up, felt a bit dazed but walked off.
He survived but the manner felt cheap. Appologize to your players for me but narrow escapes should be heroic.

Incorporating massive damage rules doesn't FIX the problem though! If you fall from a mountain and take 114 damage, leaving you with 6 hit points, even WITH the massive damage rules, all you need to do is make a DC 15 Fort save!!!! Most fighters can make that save reliably with no magical equipment whatsoever! If the save DC were scaled with damage, it might make me happier.

Personally, in my experience as a DM, if you fall from 1200 ft. up and hit the ground, I don't roll 20d6 damage. You just die. Period.

Osirion

I don't ever use the massive damage rules. I hate instant kills and I don't want the PCs to have any method of taking out my bad guys like that on a regular basis.

(Also, it's one more rule that I don't want to keep track of.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The 3.0 DMG had a sidebar on critical hits, massive damage, and randomness in combat. Basically, the more predictable the combat (less criticals/massive damage saves), the more it favors the PCs; the less predictable the combat (more criticals/massive damage saves), the less it favors the PCs. Since the PCs face many more combats than any one group of monsters, eventually the monsters land several critical threats or a character rolls a natural 1 on a massive damage save.

Do you want combat more predictable and favoring the PCs a little bit more? Do away with the death from massive damage rules or use the Clobbered variant. Do you want combat to be less predictable and favoring the PCs a little bit less? Get rid of the confirmation rolls on critical hits. It all depends on the mood you want to have in your game.


Fatespinner wrote:

Incorporating massive damage rules doesn't FIX the problem though! If you fall from a mountain and take 114 damage, leaving you with 6 hit points, even WITH the massive damage rules, all you need to do is make a DC 15 Fort save!!!! Most fighters can make that save reliably with no magical equipment whatsoever! If the save DC were scaled with damage, it might make me happier.

Yes; but we've house-ruled it.

Medium creatures make their saves at 50 points, Small creatures make them at 40, and Large at 60. This increment increases/decreases by ten points of damage per size category difference from Medium; it takes more massive damage to kill a troll than a human.

Further, all damage beyond your threshold is divided by ten, and added to your DC. For example, Human PC with 110 hit points suffers an attack dealing 100 damage. Thats 50 points more than 50, divided by ten is five. Five plus the base 15 is a DC 20 Fort save.

It works for us, and it keeps the Frenzied Berserker in line.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

I’ve Got Reach wrote:
Medium creatures make their saves at 50 points, Small creatures make them at 40, and Large at 60. This increment increases/decreases by ten points of damage per size category difference from Medium; it takes more massive damage to kill a troll than a human.

This is actually in the RAW.

I’ve Got Reach wrote:
Further, all damage beyond your threshold is divided by ten, and added to your DC. For example, Human PC with 110 hit points suffers an attack dealing 100 damage. Thats 50 points more than 50, divided by ten is five. Five plus the base 15 is a DC 20 Fort save.

I like this rule, but I'm still not quite sure its enough. I might give this a try in my games and see how it goes. Thanks for the input!


I don't use the rules for the same reasons Fatespiner originally posted. I don't care whether a PC takes 60 damage from a single crit from a barbarians axe or from 25 kolbold sling stones the damage is handled the same. Hp represent the punishment the character can take before their wounds can effect their usefulness in combat. A fighter at 1 hp fights just as effectively (if maybe more cautiously) as when he has a full 130. Hp damage causes no additional ill effects until it reaches zero in my campaign. Anything else, especially something based on size, seems to contradict the logic of the system.

1000 ft drops straight out of the sky onto the ground, dead.

1000 ft drops from a cliff 20d6 damage. A tough character may pull some amazing feat to slow himself at the last instant using the environment. Grabbing a branch, stabbing his weapon into the clifface, rolling acrobatically reducing injury in the tumble. Or for that matter any other theatrical and completely unrealistic reason to survive.

1000 ft drops into water (of a reasonable depth) 20d6 damage.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

In principle, I like the Massive Damage rules. However, as you said, there's a problem with the implementation in that almost anything that can survive 50 hit points of damage will almost certainly make that DC 15 Fort save.

However, the really good thing about those rules is that the numbers are really easy to adjust, and provide a clean and easy way to adjust the lethality level of the campaign:

Call of Cthulhu d20 uses a damage threshold of 10, and a DC 15 save. This is very lethal.

d20 Modern uses a threshold of the character's Con score, and a DC 15 save. This is generally a bit less lethal, but moreso that D&D. It has the slightly nasty side-effect of rewarding a high Con twice, since it affects the threshold AND the save bonus used.

Personally, I use the rules as written, but largely ignore the save as an unnecessary formality. However, I would recommend changing those numbers as one of the best ways of adjusting campaign lethality to a DM who wishes to do so.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've Got Reach: I also like your modifications. But you could also try the following, in addition:
For each size category the attacking creature is above Medium the base save DC rises by +4 (so DC 19 for Large, DC 23 for Huge, DC 27 for Gargantuan, DC 31 for Colossal), and creatures bigger than Medium also gain a bonus on massive damage saves equal to the DC modification (+4 for Large, +8 for Huge, +12 for Gargantuan, +16 for Colossal)
For each size category the attacking creature is below Medium the base save DC lowers by -2 (so DC 13 for Small, DC 11 for Tiny, DC 9 for Diminutive, DC 7 for Fine), and creatures bigger than Medium also gain a penalty on massive damage saves equal to the DC modification (-2 for Small, -4 for Tiny, -6 for Diminutive, -8 for Fine).
This addition means that it’s harder for a Medium size creature to resist the massive damage of a creature that’s a 1,000 times larger in mass, and that creatures of a similar size are less likely to be bothered by a same-size creature’s massive damage.
Just a thought.

Cheliax Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

On the topic of the fall that kills, I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this rule isn't designed to bend reality for the benefit of the players (though, to be honest, I have a hard time differentiating between falling 190' (i.e. 19 stories) onto poisoned spikes and living and falling from low earth orbit on the ground and living) but to protect creatures without flying.

If the rule is "any fall of greater than 200 feet" or "greater than 1000 feet" or what have you, then you've just given each of your players an engraved invitation. It reads:

Dear Player,

If you have access to telekintic or flying magic, and your opponent does not, boy do I have a treat for you! Just lift your foe X feet into the air (where X is the arbitrary limit I have set on the distance you can fall before dying) and drop the creature! Said creature will be dead.

P.S. I'm open to the argument that larger creatures should die when dropped from an even shorter distance because realism compels me to admit that a creature with greater mass suffers more damage from a fall than a creature with less mass.


We don't use them; adding more "save or die" effects is not the direction our group wants to go. High level combat is random enough with just spell casting.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Sebastian, your point has merit, as e=mcsquared, but there are weight limits for telekinesis (25 pounds per caster level) and fly (the caster’s maximum load, but you can bet the creature would struggle; and fly also needs concentration). Reverse gravity, however, has no such limit, and if there’s nothing to grab onto, there’s no saving throw, so if the target’s are outside and there’s no trees to grab onto, yes, the targets are in trouble. Of course, if the targets are intelligent and have allies, said allies might attempt to bull rush or throw a PC into the ongoing reverse gravity field…

Cheliax Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

ericthecleric wrote:
Sebastian, your point has merit, as e=mcsquared, but there are weight limits for telekinesis (25 pounds per caster level) and fly (the caster’s maximum load, but you can bet the creature would struggle; and fly also needs concentration). Reverse gravity, however, has no such limit, and if there’s nothing to grab onto, there’s no saving throw, so if the target’s are outside and there’s no trees to grab onto, yes, the targets are in trouble. Of course, if the targets are intelligent and have allies, said allies might attempt to bull rush or throw a PC into the ongoing reverse gravity field…

Any no-save death effect should be carefully considered for possible abuse. If reverse gravity is the only spell that will let you achieve this effect, it's probably not going to break the game.

Also, I'm no physics major, but isn't E=MC^2 only applicable if we are converting the creature's mass into energy? This should be a case of Netwonian physics, not Einsteinian physics. One of those momentum formulas or such.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

> Any no-save death effect should be carefully considered for possible abuse. If reverse gravity is the only spell that will let you achieve this effect, it's probably not going to break the game.
I agree with you there.
> Also, I'm no physics major, but isn't E=MC^2 only applicable if we are converting the creature's mass into energy? This should be a case of Netwonian physics, not Einsteinian physics. One of those momentum formulas or such.
The last time I studied any physics was in high school, which was… er… a while ago, so I don’t know. I’m sure there’s plenty of Paizonians who can answer.


Sebastian wrote:
Also, I'm no physics major, but isn't E=MC^2 only applicable if we are converting the creature's mass into energy? This should be a case of Netwonian physics, not Einsteinian physics. One of those momentum formulas or such.

i am a physics major, and youre right, sebastian. the correct equation is u=mgh (potential energy is mass times gravitational constant times height). potential energy gets converted to kinetic energy as things fall. the sudden stop is what does all the damage.

tog


We don't use them, for many of the reasons already mentioned.
60 HP damage against a character with 120 HP is the same proportion as 6 HP against a character with 12.
There is no reason for them to suddenly suffer some massive trauma because they became more adept at whatever profession they chose.


Sparrow wrote:

60 HP damage against a character with 120 HP is the same proportion as 6 HP against a character with 12.

There is no reason for them to suddenly suffer some massive trauma because they became more adept at whatever profession they chose.

Exactly right. Death by massive damage is incompatible with the hit point model, so I don't use it.


And to point out further silliness with the Massive Damage rules, I bring you: Harm.

Cast Harm on a level 4 fighter with a 14 constitution and no hit point increasing feats-- at most he takes 47 points of damage. Next round, cast it on his trainer, a level 8 dwarven fighter with a constitution of 16 -- he takes something more along the lines of 67 (minimum 55 on a successful save), and is subject to death by massive damage because he's higher level.

I've made it a point to carefully forget about Massive Damage rules when I'm DMing unless somebody points it out, in which case I either rule that the NPC makes the save regardless of what my d20 says, or use it as an excuse to get rid of a monster that I'd been trying to get rid of anyway. Save or Die effects irritate me.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
The White Toymaker wrote:
And to point out further silliness with the Massive Damage rules, I bring you: Harm.

Yet another good point against. Even when I've used the rule, I will shake the d%$m table if I have to in order to ensure a successful save.

"Earthquake."
Everone looks up at me.
"Quick one."


D&D is so black and white it's not funny:
-Halflings eat heaps
-Dwarfs drink all the time
-Drow are evil
-Bards suck
-Fighters wear full plate and smash stuff
-Rogues steal
-you get a job, go to a dungeon, kill monster, get loot.
-trust me, i could go on and on and on.......Bard's suck!

And if you fall 1200ft you just roll 20d6 because for one, thats what the rules say and 2, we play characters that are not like regular people thats why we have hit points.
There are spells that do more damage than that, so what happens then!!??
This game isn't supose to be realistic guys, it's like a video game and as soon as people come to get that the sooner we can stop wasting our time replying to stupid threds about another DM that wants to change another rule because he/she has problems with it.
STOP PLAYING D&D THEN!!
They made the rules VERY simple, eg: You take 50+ damage from one target you make a massive damage check, NOT you only make the check if it from a sword at this angle while your standing on one foot at the same time as........
If you want a realistic game try Warhammer Roleplay or maybe Star Wars because i know thats what we did when we got sick of massive AC's and hits of 100+ damage.


SteveO wrote:
-Bards suck...Bard's suck!

Only if played poorly. With a high enough charisma score and enough ranks in the right skills, I can get all the brute strength I need. That's another topic, though.

SteveO wrote:

This game isn't supose to be realistic mate, it's like a video game and as soon as people come to get that the sooner we can stop wasting our time replying to stupid threds about another DM that wants to change another rule because he/she has problems with it.

STOP PLAYING D&D THEN!!

Or you could, you know, take this game that works pretty well and just some things you don't like about it and ask around to see whether changing them has negative effects on the game, rather than throwing out the bathwater with the baby.


What I tell my players at the beginning of a campaign is:

"Rather than the possibility of being killed outright from massive damage (taking 50 hp from one blow, see PHB page 145) I’ll kindly waver the death and instead inflict some form of maiming or dismemberment to befall the PC, at my discretion."

So it's ad-hoc and at my whim but generally leaving battle-scars from such a large amount of damage can have more of an impact on players (and PCs) then the possibility of instant death. I still have a player that occasionally comments on the loss of the tip of his ear and a missing toe/finger from when he was petrified and shot at (whilst being carried on the back of the barbarian comerade), even though they have had no in-game effect.


I like that dismemberment rule!

I, for one, agree with the principal of Massive Damage- it represents death by biological shock. Taking a long, long series of relatively minor cuts and bruises over time is not the same as one's arm being ripped from one's body in one instant. This is Massive Damage. It also allows for such legendary feats as killing a dragon in one shot. That type of stuff is the material of myths and fantasy and heroes, but would be hard for even an Epic character to do.

However, I think the implementation is poor, and it should be relative to the character's total HP. I really don't have a system for this, but I like the idea of adding a fraction of the damage beyond the cap to the save DC.

Of greater concern to me is falling damage. As has been stated many times before, a fall from such insane hieghts as 1000+ feet should not result in a mere 20d6 damage. Although, realistically speaking, there should be a cap somewhere to represent terminal velocity, no? But it should be much higher than 20d6.

SteveO- I'd say the majority of the population on this board is extremely opposed to your analysis of the situation, myself included.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
Sebastian wrote:

(...)

P.S. I'm open to the argument that larger creatures should die when dropped from an even shorter distance because realism compels me to admit that a creature with greater mass suffers more damage from a fall than a creature with less mass.

... but this is where things start to get complicated. If I recall my physics lessons at Gymnasium correctly, then weight doesn't have any importance e.g. in vacuum (-> a feather falls in vacuum as fast as a hammer). D&D rules are supposed to work in all environments, though (unless otherwise stated of course...;-) ). Imagine the average plane hopping adventurer and you'd have to do a lot of book keeping (if you want to keep rules "realistic")... ;-)

I agree with most people of this thread that the massive damage rules can cause quite some headaches.

Some possible adjustments:


  • Increase the DC of the saving role according to e.g. the PC's BAB
  • Increase the massive damage threshold according to the above mentioned proposals (ignoring minor inplausibilities) or
  • make the damage threshold dependant on a PC's hit dice.

This would lead to another discussion, though: Why do a PC's hit points increase with each level? Does his ability to shrug off falling damage increase with each level? ;-)

Better stopping before definitely turning into the thread dumb ass, :p
Günther


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
SteveO wrote:

D&D is so black and white it's not funny:

-Halflings eat heaps
-Dwarfs drink all the time
-Drow are evil
-Bards suck
-Fighters wear full plate and smash stuff
-Rogues steal
-you get a job, go to a dungeon, kill monster, get loot.
-trust me, i could go on and on and on.......Bard's suck!

And if you fall 1200ft you just roll 20d6 because for one, thats what the rules say and 2, we play characters that are not like regular people thats why we have hit points.
There are spells that do more damage than that, so what happens then!!??
This game isn't supose to be realistic guys, it's like a video game and as soon as people come to get that the sooner we can stop wasting our time replying to stupid threds about another DM that wants to change another rule because he/she has problems with it.
STOP PLAYING D&D THEN!!
They made the rules VERY simple, eg: You take 50+ damage from one target you make a massive damage check, NOT you only make the check if it from a sword at this angle while your standing on one foot at the same time as........
If you want a realistic game try Warhammer Roleplay or maybe Star Wars because i know thats what we did when we got sick of massive AC's and hits of 100+ damage.

"LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT! LOVE IT... OR LEAVE IT!!"

The RAW states that the RAW can be customized to the user's preference. So flexibility is built into D&D's fabric and rules nazi type intolerance is what I'd call a stupid thread, not people openly discussing the rules they're not fans of.

Why do people think that they can go around telling other people what they are allowed to talk about?

"Doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills! -- Mugatu

The black and white archetypes you mentioned don't encase the modern rule structure in some sort of immutable cocoon. This is an ever changing game and the RAW have changed many times because people did what we're doing here.

Although your use of all caps and doubling up on the exclamation points is certainly persuasive I'm afraid I won't stop playing D&D, because I don't care for the massive damage rule because that would be... completely irrational.

On a different note: Organs are supposed to separate from a 50 fall onto something hard but people have fallen out of planes and gotten up with less than critical injury. And oh, if you hit lofty tree branches on the way down... who knows? I'd say the save matters less than location of the hit. If a Roc attempts to dash you against a mountain of sawdust I'd allow for a comic moment. On the other hand, if said Roc pilots your lawn dart type plummet into a stone temple 1000 below? You dead. You so dead.

"I'm one 32nd of the man I used to be..."


SteveO wrote:

D&D is so black and white it's not funny:

-Halflings eat heaps
-Dwarfs drink all the time
-Drow are evil
-Bards suck
-Fighters wear full plate and smash stuff
-Rogues steal
-you get a job, go to a dungeon, kill monster, get loot.
-trust me, i could go on and on and on.......Bard's suck!

HAHAHA...I like people who speak their mind, SteveO. You forgot to say that gnomes are creatives and good with tools though, but that's ok. Yeah, try star wars mayb be a good option, but can become a problem when all your players decide to be jedi and turn to the dark side when reaching lvl 7..well..let's just say that it's waste of thread arguing about the rules, there are always gonna be flaws, especially to the HP and AC systems; but who cares!?!?...just play the game !!!


The White Toymaker wrote:
SteveO wrote:
-Bards suck...Bard's suck!

Only if played poorly. With a high enough charisma score and enough ranks in the right skills, I can get all the brute strength I need. That's another topic, though.

[.

Yeah, sure..aham...ONLY if played poorly bards will suck....let's just say bard is the class apropriate to the 5th member of a party that, when asks the group it's composition and they say they already have a fighter, a rogue, and a healer, the DM consoles the guy to play a bard "Come one dude, hi CHA, you can at least get chicks"..sigh

I can say that in 6 years of DMing, NEVER I had a pc wanting to play a bard....


HELLFINGER wrote:

let's just say bard is the class apropriate to the 5th member of a party that, when asks the group it's composition and they say they already have a fighter, a rogue, and a healer, the DM consoles the guy to play a bard "Come one dude, hi CHA, you can at least get chicks"..sigh

I can say that in 6 years of DMing, NEVER I had a pc wanting to play a bard....

Funny, I've only been DMing for a couple of years, and have had people volunteer for the role in an undermanned party. My first character was a Bard, and I was one of the most useful characters in the party -- Combine Wave of Grief with the Hexblade's Curse and the poor bastard who fails his saves is at -5 on d20 rolls for the encounter. Pick up Glibness later on, and you can convince the shopkeeper that there's a giant turnip falling from the sky in the direction of his shop. If you have access to Races of Destiny and are a half elf willing to sacrifice Countersong (a useless ability if ever there was one) you gain the ability to end any combat in which everyone speaks common (most combats with intelligent creatures) in one round.

The only things, from my experience, that can stop a Bard from being an effective character are low ability scores, poor skill and feat selection, ineffective playing, or bad luck, any of which can doom even the Frenzied Berserker to death by hit point damage.


Guys enough with the bard love/hate. It isn't the purpose of this thread and the gulf between opinions is way too wide to breach.

Just let it go, this particular discussion has yet to end well.

Also Steve O please place your argument in a new thread. It's got more holes in it than a swiss cheese model of Osama Bin Laden at a Texas gun show but I don't want to hijack this thread any further with my rebuttle.

Cheliax Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Guennarr wrote:
Sebastian wrote:

(...)

P.S. I'm open to the argument that larger creatures should die when dropped from an even shorter distance because realism compels me to admit that a creature with greater mass suffers more damage from a fall than a creature with less mass.
... but this is where things start to get complicated. If I recall my physics lessons at Gymnasium correctly, then weight doesn't have any importance e.g. in vacuum (-> a feather falls in vacuum as fast as a hammer). D&D rules are supposed to work in all environments, though (unless otherwise stated of course...;-) ). Imagine the average plane hopping adventurer and you'd have to do a lot of book keeping (if you want to keep rules "realistic")... ;-)

You are confusing the speed with which something falls with the force with which it hits. All objects fall at the same speed regardless of weight, but that doesn't mean they all hit with the same force.

Which would you rather have land on you - a pea sized bit of lead or a bowling ball both of which are dropped from the same height. Similarly, if you were to drop a real car and a 1/20 size minature of the same car from the same height, the real car is going to suffer substantially more damage.


HELLFINGER wrote:
The White Toymaker wrote:
SteveO wrote:
-Bards suck...Bard's suck!

Only if played poorly. With a high enough charisma score and enough ranks in the right skills, I can get all the brute strength I need. That's another topic, though.

[.

Yeah, sure..aham...ONLY if played poorly bards will suck....let's just say bard is the class apropriate to the 5th member of a party that, when asks the group it's composition and they say they already have a fighter, a rogue, and a healer, the DM consoles the guy to play a bard "Come one dude, hi CHA, you can at least get chicks"..sigh

I can say that in 6 years of DMing, NEVER I had a pc wanting to play a bard....

Finaly someone with some sense=)

And cheers for the 'speaking my mind' part, you may have noticed as i have that if you don't follow the "cool posters" on this site you get pushed to the back of the class with the nerds and that dude that eats glue.....

Guys just leave the rules alone, someone somewhere out there put alot of time and work in this game and for what?
So a bunch of players can get together to have a wee b&$#$ about how they want the easy way out, and there is already enough ways to avoid death in this game without making another.

Hero's die
Chick's dig scares
Gloy last forever............man that was corny=)


SteveO wrote:


Guys just leave the rules alone, someone somewhere out there put alot of time and work in this game and for what?
So a bunch of players can get together to have a wee b%~@* about how they want the easy way out, and there is already enough ways to avoid death in this game without making another.

Hero's die
Chick's dig scares
Gloy last forever............man that was corny=)

Seriously steve whatever point you are trying to make sounds like fun to discuss. Please make a new thread containing your thoughts.


I dont like MDR at all as it defeats the whole idea of a hit point system. I dont use it, but some of the GMs in our group do, but modifiy it in various ways. As a concession, I just say that various massive damage can only be healed by certain spells of such and such magnitude. Such as a cure light wounds can only cure a light would which I define as a single attack of less than X damage.

After reading many of the WOC adventure novels; I always wondered why a character would die when there were pleanty of healing options available; this was my solution; if you get hit by an attack of cure serious wounds value and you only have cure light wounds; you cannot heal this type of damage and the character might slip into a coma and die. While imperfect; I think it keeps the intent of the rule.

Kudo's to the Jade; the GM chooses what rule to use and abandon and is the ultimate arbitrator of the rules; that is one of the big reasons that makes everyones world so different and this game so great.


I don't use the massive damage rule in my D&D game, but I think it makes sense in the D20 modern game, which defines massive damage as anything greater then your constitution score (!) - if you want to make fights with guns more "realistic". In other words, a single gunshot will kill most people. But this makes combat totally different: Instead of charging into a room and heroically attacking everything, you sneak around, look for cover, look for things to hide behind, etc.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
SteveO wrote:

Finaly someone with some sense=)

And cheers for the 'speaking my mind' part, you may have noticed as i have that if you don't follow the "cool posters" on this site you get pushed to the back of the class with the nerds and that dude that eats glue.....

That seems a bit mystified, Steve. My own reasons for speaking up had nothing to do with disagreeing with your point about leaving the rules alone, thinking that the MD rules were fine as written, or that you didn't think bard's were worth the effort. I am all for everyone speaking their mind. But I found what you said about those of us who were actually speaking our mind before you showed up to be offensively worded. Speaking one's mind, to me, doesn't mean slamming other people's preferences in open forum and telling them they shouldn't be playing D&D. It was an OVERSTATEMENT!!!! Sorry, couldn't resist.

You aren't uncool and no one was picking on you for not wearing a cool enough jacket. Please don't confuse the issue. Just sit next to me in class so I can copy off your paper.

BTW, we brought you to the back of the class because that's where the cool kids sit. We can get away with anything back here.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Valegrim wrote:
the GM chooses what rule to use and abandon and is the ultimate arbitrator of the rules; that is one of the big reasons that makes everyones world so different and this game so great.

I couldn't agree with you more.


Fatespinner wrote:
Personally, in my experience as a DM, if you fall from 1200 ft. up and hit the ground, I don't roll 20d6 damage. You just die. Period.

Quoting wikipedia: "It is estimated that a person free falling in the "box" position reaches a terminal velocity of around 120 mph (200 km/h) after a fall of just 1,000 ft..."

So anything higher than that is no worse than falling 1000ft. As people have survived falling from 20k feet (albiet by falling into deep snow) I would argue that, our PCs being _heroes_, they at least deserve a save versus death.


Sexi Golem 01 wrote:
Also Steve O please place your argument in a new thread. It's got more holes in it than a swiss cheese model of Osama Bin Laden at a Texas gun show but I don't want to hijack this thread any further with my rebuttle.

THAT was funny!

SteveO- If no one ever questioned the rules, how do you think we arrived at 3.5 D&D, exactly? I know you feel we are dismissing you, but you seem to be dismissing us equally. Your comments really didn't foster the conversation very much at all, and were somewhat offensive, which is counter to the entire point of an online messageboard. This doesn't inspire a great deal of interest in other readers to try and interface with you. But, in truth, we are acknowledging you by even bothering to reply and try to get something useful out of this vein of the conversation. I do remember many of your other posts and threads here, and I typically enjoy reading what you have to say, so don't jump to conclusions so hastily about other's attitudes and thoughts. You know what they say about assumptions.

Now, back to massive damage. I'd recommend a more dynamic system for damage from falling. I personally don't feel that a 10 foot fall merits 1d6 damage. I'd say 1d4 is more appropriate. Now, it could either switch back to 1d6 after a certain hieght, or simply remain 1d4 per 10 feet fallen. However, after a certain distance, say, 100 feet, it simply becomes a Fortitude save that increases by maybe 1 for every additional 50 feet fallen, maxing out at 1,000 feet for so. Just some thoughts.


Sebastian wrote:


Dear Player,

If you have access to telekintic or flying magic, and your opponent does not, boy do I have a treat for you! Just lift your foe X feet into the air (where X is the arbitrary limit I have set on the distance you can fall before dying) and drop the creature! Said creature will be dead.

I have run a game that this tactic featured in but was not D&D.


In short: It adds nothing to our game, so my group doesn't use it. Sure, it might add some element of realism to the game, but there are better ways to do that, like the vitality and wounds system. With it, critical hits are something to be feared all the way through the game. And falling damage can be tweaked to take advantage of the vitality and wounds system too (I've a vague idea in my head, but it's just that: vague).


Ok ok after reading back through my own posts i to have come to realise....that even i don't know what im saying.
My first post was ment to be a reply to someone eles but it didn't work and i got sick of deleteing and re-typing so i just went press 'submit', trust me, it made a lot more sense when i was writing it in my head=)

The MDR's are just the tip of the sword of what makes dnd great.
What your thinking, MDR's suck ass thats what this thred is about right.... DnD is great because it's simple.
If you take 50 damage you make a fort save or die, if you fall 1200ft you take 20d6 damage, you come across a drow you kill it before it kills you(unless it's drizzt, then let him go)Fighters only get 2 skill points because lets face it....day not to smart...you see where im coming from here?

One poster said that if someone fall's 1200ft they just die in his game - thats not dnd mate.
This game isn't supose to be realistic, it's ment to be fun, just the other week my dwarf got cracked for something like 69 damage and when our dm said massive damage time we all stood up laughing etc and i rolled the dice in the middle - and rolled a one.
This is my bloody Half Dragon/Dwarf rogue with some crazy fort save out his ass but hay - s&$& happens.
They got me rez with in like an hour and we moved on, it's not like we get hit for 50 damage all the time.


SteveO wrote:
They got me rez with in like an hour and we moved on, it's not like we get hit for 50 damage all the time.

Wait a few levels.


SteveO wrote:

The MDR's are just the tip of the sword of what makes dnd great.
What your thinking, MDR's suck ass thats what this thred is about right.... DnD is great because it's simple.
If you take 50 damage you make a fort save or die, if you fall 1200ft you take 20d6 damage, you come across a drow you kill it before it kills you(unless it's drizzt, then let him go)Fighters only get 2 skill points because lets face it....day not to smart...you see where im coming from here?

SteveO I see where you are comming from but it just isn't how a lot of gamers feel. D&D is great because it is fantasy, filled with impossible magic and improbable heroes and unbelieveable coincidences in the parties favor. But on the other side of the coin D&D is great because it is more interactive and life like than any videogame will ever be. NPC's have personaltites, lives and goals. The world responds to the players actions no matter what they are. The more life and realism a DM can add to the world the more fun both the DM and PC's will have. Thats why we have our little b*&^h fests about the rules. Because eventually some mid level fighter is going to fall a mile out of the sky onto a rock and just get up and dust himself off. While any commoner has around a 50/50 shot of dying every time he falls 10ft. One of us finds it and throws it up on the boards to see if we can find something we like more. As others have said if people never tinkered around with the rules we never would have made it to third edition.

Cheliax Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Saern wrote:
Now, back to massive damage. I'd recommend a more dynamic system for damage from falling. I personally don't feel that a 10 foot fall merits 1d6 damage. I'd say 1d4 is more appropriate. Now, it could either switch back to 1d6 after a certain hieght, or simply remain 1d4 per 10 feet fallen. However, after a certain distance, say, 100 feet, it simply becomes a Fortitude save that increases by maybe 1 for every additional 50 feet fallen, maxing out at 1,000 feet for so. Just some thoughts.

Switching damage dice is an interesting idea, even if you don't start at d4. Maybe once you breach the cap of 200', you increase to a d8, then to a d10, etc. So, a fall from 800' would do 20d20 damage.

I think the real comedy here is that the falling rule is caught between two different horns of reality. The first horn is terminal velocity, which is setting the cap on damage. The second horn is the improability of surviving a fall from a ridiculous height. Maybe it's just me, but if push comes to shove and I want "realism," I'd probably bail on terminal velocity and let falling damage scale to an infinite level. That way you're at least employing the game mechanics and not just using arbitrary DM fiat to resolve encounters. Not many high level fighters will live through 100d6 damage.

I still think the "you just die if you fall from a sufficient height" argument is absurd in the context of D&D, but there is definitely room for change in the falling/MDR rule. If your going to rule that a character just dies from a fall without employing any game mechanics because it's "realistic" you might as well just plan on not doing any high level play. High level characters can be immerssed in lava (also 20d6 damage), be sprayed with concentrated acid at point blank range, take 50-60 arrows, and generally survive a whole lot of punishment. Why is falling damage different from these other forms of damage, any of which should kill a person outright without resort to the dice?

I guess you could always go the other extreme. "Oh, your PC got pushed into the lava without any protection from fire? Ok, he's dead." "You just got hit with 14 arrows in a single 6 second round - your character is dead due to the trauma." "That acid got you right in the face, you lived, but you're blind, deaf, and you're Charisma is now 3." "What? You want a save or some other dice roll? No way, that's unrealistic."

Fun fun fun.


Sebastian, I think I'm still mostly with you on this (amazing how threads can wander back to where they started). I'm still all for some variant on the massive damage rules despite their arbitrary nature.
Players know they exist - use the rules then. Up the ante, build the tension, let them know it's roll or die. I play without a DM's screen - all rolls are in the open but I'd like to think I can judge the mood and fudge a DC a little bit when it matters. And this is from someone who described survival as cheap.


Massive Damage YES - as written NO

Here are the house rules that we use in our game

Massive Damage: a character taking 50% of your natural total hit points in one attack has suffered massive damage. This does not kill a character but does leave a lasting impact on the character, such as a loss of an arm, eye disfigurement etc, depending on the nature of the attack. Healing spell will not undo this level of damage. Some other powerful magic may be able to heal this damage, but it depends on the nature of the wound.

This is how I explained war torn heroes, One eye mercinaries, hook wearnign pirates and the like in a world where people can rasie the dead


I agree with Pholtus' interpretation and implementaion, but I would modifiy it for my games to only occur on a critical hit, and allow for a save based on the damage taken. I think criticals should represent something more than just an opportunity to deal a ton of abstract damage.


SteveO wrote:
DnD is great because it's simple.

The sheer volume of posts, arguments, debates, flame wars and cool-headed discussions (strike the last one, that don't happen), along with the umpteen million books, and the FAQ, and everything, would contradict that.

3.5 is elegant, and well organized, but hardly "simple."

Now I don't think we need to go out and add tons of rules, like this one, but you cannto argue down a rule because D&d is simple. You can argue against it for simplicity's sake; but the game is rarely simple. Simple is a game like Fudge. Kind of.

To the rule in question: I again advocate a middle way. I don't use massive damage, because, as the esteemed Mr.Rimmer said, it gets NPCs taken out too often. And it causes issues.

HOWEVER, I like to apply it in selective situations- massive damage from falling 300 feet, or a Titan stepping on you, or some such thing might implement these rules. For regular combat, crits are fine.

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