Falling distance per round?


Rules Questions


Has anyone worked out how far you fall in a round by round situation at all? I know falling is relative to size and weight, but talking about a medium sized character / creature.


500 feet per round it's on page something or other in the environmental dangers section.


Lael Treventhius wrote:
I know falling is relative to size and weight

Actually, size and weight have no bearing on falling.

R.

Scarab Sages

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3.5 FAQ answer below. In short... about 500 ft. the first round, and another 1,200 ft. per round every round after.

3.5 D&D FAQ wrote:


How far does a character fall in a single round? If my griffon-riding character falls off his mount 300 feet up, how long do other characters have to catch him?

This ends up being both a rules and a physics question. The short answer is, “In a single round, you fall far enough to hit the ground in the vast majority circumstances that come up in the game.”

Here’s the long answer: A falling character accelerates at a rate of 32 feet per second per second. What that means is that every second, a character’s “falling speed” increases by 32 feet. The distance he falls in that second is equal to the average of his falling speeds at the beginning of that second and at the end of that second. Thus, during the first second he falls 16 feet (the average of 0 feet and 32 feet, which are his speeds at the start and end of that second). During the next second he falls 48 feet (the average of 32 feet and 64 feet). He falls 80 feet during the third second, 112 feet the fourth second, 144 feet the fifth second, and 176 feet the sixth second. That’s a grand total of 576 feet fallen in the first round alone, hence the short answer given above—the number of falls occurring in any campaign longer than this is probably pretty small. For ease of play, you could simply use 500 feet as a nice round number—it’s easier to remember.

Of course, the character falls even farther the next round, although acceleration soon ends due to the resistance of air on the falling body (this is what’s called terminal velocity). If the Sage remembers his high-school physics, terminal velocity for a human body is roughly 120 mph (equivalent to a speed of 1,200 feet per round, or 200 feet per second); thus, the character’s falling speed hits its maximum in the first second of the second round. It’s safe to say that after 2 rounds the character will have fallen nearly 2,000 feet, and will fall another 1,200 feet per round thereafter.

In the example you give, other characters would clearly have no more than a round to react, and it’s possible they’d have even less time. Remember that despite the sequential nature of D&D combat actions, things are happening very quickly—virtually simultaneously, in many cases. As a DM, I’d probably allow every character a chance to react to a long fall (such as the one you describe), as long as their action occurs before 1 full round has passed from the start of the fall. (As a side note, that’s why feather fall allows its caster to cast it even when it isn’t her turn—otherwise, adjudicating its timing would be a nightmare.) The difference between “you watch the character fall all the way to the ground before you can react” and “the character starts to fall, what do you do?” is really just up to the DM’s sense of fun and fair play. Off the top of my head, I’d say that anything up to 50 or 60 feet is clearly too fast to react to (barring a readied action, of course), and anything that approaches 250 feet or more should probably allow characters some chance to react, but that’s purely a personal opinion.

Whatever decision you make, try to make the same decision every time, so that players know what to expect. If this situation comes up a lot in your game, it’s probably worth creating a house rule so you don’t have to try to remember what you did last time. (If your campaign routinely features 300-foot falls, your characters might want to invest in some rings of feather falling!)

Now, if you start altering certain assumptions—such as the force of gravity, or the density of air that’s resisting the falling character, or even the mass of the falling character—these calculations become less useful. Yet, unless your numbers are much different than the standard values, you can still use these as benchmarks.


Wow. I liked that bit of text, very informative. To sum things up, that's 500 feet the first round, 1200 feet each round thereafter.

For two coppers, here are my thoughts again:
1) In most cases, size and weight don't matter when you factor the terminal velocity for the falling creature. However, if a character was very large and very lightweight, he could hit the ground a couple seconds after the others. Still not enough to warrant complex rules.
2) You can also try other venues. If the progress level of your campaign is like the Renaissance, you can import Da Vinci's idea of mundane feather falling: a parachute. Or just holding onto a very large drape, which can lower the terminal velocity to something manageable. I'd use a rule of thumb here, like lower the end speed (and the damage from the fall) of 10% for each square meter of drape/parachute.
3) With or without a mean to slow your fall, falling from great heights imply that you have time to position your body. Have your characters try to orient themselves towards softer grounds (bales of hay and moving water come to the mind... I saw in a book that it was like removing a third of the falling person's speed). Or magically cushion the ground. That's another couple dozens percent, here.

Dark Archive

FWIW and for the sake of completeness...

The SRD writes (paraphrasing here) that flying creatures who fail to maintain minimum forward speed, "stall" and fall 150' in the first round and 300' each round after that. (Perhaps the Advanced Player's Guide will cover Tactical Aerial Movement in more detail.)

Of course, creatures capable of flight would probably fall at a slower rate than, say, your average heavily armored fighter, which would account for the 500'/1200' values. ;)

Here is a LINK to the relevant text.

Cheers


Nice, thanks all. That was exactly I was after.


Lord oKOyA wrote:

(...) flying creatures who fail to maintain minimum forward speed, "stall" and fall 150' in the first round and 300' each round after that. (Perhaps the Advanced Player's Guide will cover Tactical Aerial Movement in more detail.)

Of course, creatures capable of flight would probably fall at a slower rate than, say, your average heavily armored fighter, which would account for the 500'/1200' values. ;)

As you said (or implied), creatures already capable of flight have morphologies already adapted to being airborne (wings, lighter bones, etc). Thus, their mass/surface is different from the average human armored fighter. Thus, you can apply that rule with no problem :-)

You can call it "fall with style" or "instinctive minimal glide" or whatever.


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Make sure to seperate free fall from fall in atmosphere.
At high speeds, the viscosity of air becomes a great factor, limiting the acceleration. (if you have wings or some kind of parasol, the viscosity becomes strong quite early)


great calculations based on the phisics present in our reality, but seeing the pathfinder rules state the following:

"Creatures that fall take 1d6 points of damage per 10 feet fallen, to a maximum of 20d6."

would this not mean that at the mark of 20D6 (so a total of 210 feet) terminal velocity has been reached (so damage not increasing because of lack of acceleration) keeping that in mind to recalculate the scale of mass of golarion, density air, whatever, how far would one fall in that case in the 6 second span?


Tiadrin wrote:
would this not mean that at the mark of 20D6 (so a total of 210 feet) terminal velocity has been reached (so damage not increasing because of lack of acceleration) keeping that in mind to recalculate the scale of mass of golarion, density air, whatever, how far would one fall in that case in the 6 second span?

Probably not. It's likely just a number the developers pulled out of a hat.

Just like falling hundreds of feet doesn't result in broken legs or even a sprained ankle.

Grand Lodge

Tiadrin wrote:

great calculations based on the phisics present in our reality, but seeing the pathfinder rules state the following:

"Creatures that fall take 1d6 points of damage per 10 feet fallen, to a maximum of 20d6."

would this not mean that at the mark of 20D6 (so a total of 210 feet) terminal velocity has been reached (so damage not increasing because of lack of acceleration) keeping that in mind to recalculate the scale of mass of golarion, density air, whatever, how far would one fall in that case in the 6 second span?

Some models indicate that you can fall about 200 or so feet before air resistance begins to significantly affect your velocity, but about 1400 feet before you reach terminal velocity.

That being said, the falling velocity is not a direct function of the distance fallen. It is directly related to the time of falling which is most closely related to the square root of the falling distance.

Meaning in order to double the speed you multiply the fall distance by 4.

1d6 per 10 feet fallen is most closely related to potential energy due to gravity as a physics concept.

1d6/10 feet is a useful abstraction, not a great way to do physics.

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