Coup de Grace, Unconscious and Dying...


Playing the Game


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I see that there is no more this action. So a unconouscious person have a -4 conditional AC, -2 circunstance AC (for the flat-flooded) for a total of -6 AC from melee attacks and -5 AC from ranged attacks (since prone grants a +1 AC circunstance).

So you dont lose your Dexterity to AC?

An attacker can miss a lot of attacks in this circunstance... Like a normal person trying to attack someone unconcious but with more levels will miss and frequently critical miss...

Am I missing something?

Grand Lodge

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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber

The numbers look right, though I find it amusing that 'Asleep' you also automatically critically fail reflex saves, but not if you're unconscious... that may need to go on the 'overlooked' list.

On the other hand, hitting someone just lying there is going to be quite easy on the first swing (with that 6 pt penalty) and much more likely to crit, which will move their Dying condition 2 steps... so it won't take long to fix (the problem of them being still alive), likely faster than coup was in the previous edition actually.

Another comment for dealing with 0 hp folks - the rules call out that in most cases, they're already dead when they hit 0 unless they are higher challenges (bosses and the like) or there is regeneration or party healers involved.

The Exchange

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I reckon that something that addresses dealing a coup de grace (in the generic sense) to an asleep/unconscious/paralysed/otherwise helpless character should be added.

I am left with an image of the guillotine crews of Galt having to pull madame’s blade back up a few times to execute that pesky barbarian!

Scarab Sages

Dante Doom wrote:

I see that there is no more this action. So a unconouscious person have a -4 conditional AC, -2 circunstance AC (for the flat-flooded) for a total of -6 AC from melee attacks and -5 AC from ranged attacks (since prone grants a +1 AC circunstance).

So you dont lose your Dexterity to AC?

An attacker can miss a lot of attacks in this circunstance... Like a normal person trying to attack someone unconcious but with more levels will miss and frequently critical miss...

Am I missing something?

Yes get to dodge attacks when unconscious. You do have a penalty but you do get to dodge.


Dante Doom wrote:

So you dont lose your Dexterity to AC?

An attacker can miss a lot of attacks in this circunstance... Like a normal person trying to attack someone unconcious but with more levels will miss and frequently critical miss...

Am I missing something?

I agree, you should lose your Dex too.

Agree also on being unconscious should have the same effects as asleep, or more severe.

Page 295 says wrote:

Taking Damage while Unconscious

If you take damage while you’re already unconscious, apply the same effects as if you had been knocked out by that damage. If the recovery save DC for the new damage is higher than your current recovery save DC, start using the higher DC.

So basically, if the same (or a lesser) creature that knocked a PC out hits you again when you're down, instead of increasing your Dying condition by 1, it has no effect. That's lame and counter intuitive.


Jason S wrote:
Page 295 says wrote:

Taking Damage while Unconscious

If you take damage while you’re already unconscious, apply the same effects as if you had been knocked out by that damage. If the recovery save DC for the new damage is higher than your current recovery save DC, start using the higher DC.
So basically, if the same (or a lesser) creature that knocked a PC out hits you again when you're down, instead of increasing your Dying condition by 1, it has no effect. That's lame and counter intuitive.

No, you do increase your dying condition (unless the attack was nonlethal), because of the part I bolded above. Said effects being:

earlier on page 295 wrote:

Getting Knocked Out

When you’re reduced to 0 Hit Points, you get knocked out.
When this happens, you are subject to the following effects:

  • You fall unconscious (gaining the unconscious condition).
  • You immediately move your initiative position to directly before the creature or effect that reduced you to 0 HP.
  • If the attack was lethal, you gain the dying 1 condition. If you already had the dying condition, instead increase your dying condition by 1. If the attack was a critical hit, you gain the dying 2 condition (or increase your dying condition by 2).
  • If the attack was nonlethal, you do not gain the dying condition or increase your dying condition, and you return to 1 Hit Point (though you remain unconscious).

If your dying condition reaches 4 or greater, you die.


Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
No, you do increase your dying condition (unless the attack was nonlethal), because of the part I bolded above.

The section you just quoted was going from positive hp to 0. Yes, your dying increases. But if the person is already at 0, this isn't the case. I suppose it's the case when you're at 1 and still unconscious? This part of the rules is not very clear.

The section I quoted was directly from what happens when you get hit when you're unconscious. And in that case your recovery DC on increases if the new creature hitting you is tougher.

This shows the rules are not clear, it's better to be unconscious at 0 than it is to be unconscious and at 1 hp.

I also still don't like how they treat hitting an unconscious PC. It should at least increase your dying by 1. In PF1 you'd be dead.


Jason S wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
No, you do increase your dying condition (unless the attack was nonlethal), because of the part I bolded above.

The section you just quoted was going from positive hp to 0. Yes, your dying increases. But if the person is already at 0, this isn't the case. I suppose it's the case when you're at 1 and still unconscious? This part of the rules is not very clear.

The section I quoted was directly from what happens when you get hit when you're unconscious. And in that case your recovery DC on increases if the new creature hitting you is tougher.

This shows the rules are not clear, it's better to be unconscious at 0 than it is to be unconscious and at 1 hp.

I also still don't like how they treat hitting an unconscious PC. It should at least increase your dying by 1. In PF1 you'd be dead.

No, if you get hit while you're Unconcious you "[...]apply the same effects as if you has been knocked out by that damage"

You're a Fighter, at 5 HP. You get hit for 6 HP. You're now at 0. What does this do?

- You're Unconcious.
- Move Initiative.
- Gain Dying 1; or add 1 to the Dying condition if you already had the Dying Condition.
- If the attack was non-lethal, no Dying, but you go back to 1 Hit Point.

So our Fighter is now at 0 HP, Unconcious, has moved his Initiative, and has Dying 1.

He gets hit, again. Per the rules, we apply the same effects as what happened the first time, because we treat this attack as if it has knocked him out.

- He's Unconcious -> This doesn't change).
- He moves Initiative -> This does change and would move his Initiative again, before the creature that struck him while he was unconcious.
- He gains Dying 1; or +1 Dying -> This also changes, since the Fighter is already Dying 1, they'd be Dying 2.
- If non-lethal, they don't gain Dying and go back to one hit point -> Hilariously, this also applies. You can, per RAW, slap and adventurer with your nonlethal fist to heal them back to 1 Hit Point.

So, after the second strike, our Fighter is still Unconcious, his Initiative has moved again, and he's at Dying 2.


With the AC penalty (-6) for lying on the ground unconscious those successive hits are likely to crit and add +2 to your Dying condition. If you move and Strike twice, you only need one hit plus one crit to permanently kill someone who is at Dying 1.


TheFinish wrote:
No, if you get hit while you're Unconcious you "[...]apply the same effects as if you has been knocked out by that damage"

Yikes. Thanks for pointing that out again, sorry Fuzzy!

TheFinish wrote:
- If non-lethal, they don't gain Dying and go back to one hit point -> Hilariously, this also applies. You can, per RAW, slap and adventurer with your nonlethal fist to heal them back to 1 Hit Point.

I wonder if that was intended?


Jason S wrote:
TheFinish wrote:
No, if you get hit while you're Unconcious you "[...]apply the same effects as if you has been knocked out by that damage"

Yikes. Thanks for pointing that out again, sorry Fuzzy!

TheFinish wrote:
- If non-lethal, they don't gain Dying and go back to one hit point -> Hilariously, this also applies. You can, per RAW, slap and adventurer with your nonlethal fist to heal them back to 1 Hit Point.

I wonder if that was intended?

I'm pretty sure it isn't intended, but it is a pretty funny side effect of the rules as they are written now. Probably something that should be fixed before release, but it's not something major.

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