Large and Larger Falling Objects Question - Or How to Avoid Being Crushed


Rules Questions


Falling Objects wrote:

Just as characters take damage when they fall more than 10 feet, so too do they take damage when they are hit by falling objects.

Objects that fall upon characters deal damage based on their size and the distance they have fallen. Table: Damage from Falling Objects determines the amount of damage dealt by an object based on its size. Note that this assumes that the object is made of dense, heavy material, such as stone. Objects made of lighter materials might deal as little as half the listed damage, subject to GM discretion. For example, a Huge boulder that hits a character deals 6d6 points of damage, whereas a Huge wooden wagon might deal only 3d6 damage. In addition, if an object falls less than 30 feet, it deals half the listed damage. If an object falls more than 150 feet, it deals double the listed damage. Note that a falling object takes the same amount of damage as it deals.

Dropping an object on a creature requires a ranged touch attack. Such attacks generally have a range increment of 20 feet. If an object falls on a creature (instead of being thrown), that creature can make a DC 15 Reflex save to halve the damage if he is aware of the object. Falling objects that are part of a trap use the trap rules instead of these general guidelines.

Let's say a large object is dropped on you. As an example, let's say this object is a large sandstone boulder. On average a sandstone boulder weighs about 150 lbs. per cubic foot. That's 18,750 lbs. for a medium size boulder (5x5x5) and 150,000 lbs. for a large size boulder (10x10x10).

Disregarding the ludicrously small amount of damage a large one would deal to you (4d6, half for less than 30ft, double for more than 150ft) what happens to your character if one were to fall on you while you were standing smack dab in the middle of one?

Assuming that your character passes the reflex saving throw initially for half damage do they:

A.) Get tagged and pushed/jump out of the way?
B.) Get "tagged" but get a limb caught/pinned underneath for crushing time?
C.) Get paradoxically "tagged" but are then crushed underneath the boulder?
D.) Other?

(Same questions for a failed initial saving throw except you know what that generally implies)

How does this work exactly?

If this appears like an easy question for you, what do you say when the object in question becomes larger (Huge, Gargantuan, colossal, and further)? I think it becomes harder to answer as the object becomes larger because the distance to the "escape" point around the outer edge of the object becomes farther away from your dodging character.

There isn't any hard rules I can find for this and crushing is also obscure (only thing I can find is cave collapse and monster attacks). I assume after some point a large enough falling object is impossible to escape and survive except through magical means.

The reason I present this question is both for players and gms because of some thoughts I've had lately and some games that I've had some experience with in the past. If there isn't any hard rules on this, how would you do it?


A 5 x 5 x 5 animal would weigh around 3.5 tons, which is a tad above medium size, so your boulder weights should come down a little.


Java Man wrote:
A 5 x 5 x 5 animal would weigh around 3.5 tons, which is a tad above medium size, so your boulder weights should come down a little.

I don't get what you mean? What animal are you talking about? Also, my weights are based on the average for sandstone and aren't based on exact measurements.

Regardless, the focus isn't the sandstone itself, but what would happen if an exceedingly large/heavy object fell on you? In combat, you can only move if you move your character or if something else moves it for you. Out of turn, it becomes less likely that you move your character unless you held your turn or your action (however, this is only done in response to something you state specifically).

Also, as far as I'm aware, rules for crushing are almost nonexistent and the rules for falling objects seem to ignore this entirely (imagine getting bonked on the head comically by this oversized boulder and it bounces off to the side, leaving you with a bruised noggin, instead of flattening you).

My question entails what happens to the character and what happens to the object? If there are rules for this I am stumped and if there isn't how would you handle it?


I really don't think the designers put an awful lot of thought into falling objects, leaping onto people etc. Perhaps you could use trample as a similar model. Find a similar sized or mass creature as the boulder and apply the trample damage that creature would cause.


Arcanic Drake wrote:
Java Man wrote:
A 5 x 5 x 5 animal would weigh around 3.5 tons, which is a tad above medium size, so your boulder weights should come down a little.

I don't get what you mean? What animal are you talking about? Also, my weights are based on the average for sandstone and aren't based on exact measurements.

Regardless, the focus isn't the sandstone itself, but what would happen if an exceedingly large/heavy object fell on you? In combat, you can only move if you move your character or if something else moves it for you. Out of turn, it becomes less likely that you move your character unless you held your turn or your action (however, this is only done in response to something you state specifically).

Also, as far as I'm aware, rules for crushing are almost nonexistent and the rules for falling objects seem to ignore this entirely (imagine getting bonked on the head comically by this oversized boulder and it bounces off to the side, leaving you with a bruised noggin, instead of flattening you).

My question entails what happens to the character and what happens to the object? If there are rules for this I am stumped and if there isn't how would you handle it?

What I mean is if a creature filled an entire 5 foot cube it would weigh over 3 tons, which medium creature's do not. So a medium rock does not fill a 5 foot cube.


Java Man wrote:
What I mean is if a creature filled an entire 5 foot cube it would weigh over 3 tons, which medium creature's do not. So a medium rock does not fill a 5 foot cube.

... I don't follow. I'm not trying to disagree with you I simply don't understand what you are getting at.

If a creature filled a 5 foot cube it could weigh 3 tons, but it could also be less or more depending on what the creauture is and how dense it is. I also fail to understand how this has any bearing on how large the boulder is if its medium. Your logic written follows: If a creature fills a 5ft cube > it would weigh over 3 tons; because medium creatures don't weigh three tons > a medium rock doesn't fill a 5ft cube. It's not making logical sense to me.


I am justifying why a medium creature or object does not fill a 5' cube. (As an aside my weight calculation for the cubic creature used the density of water, which any earthnormal animal is close to.)

My assumption is "medium" means about the same thing for a rock as it does for an animal.


Relative size and density of creatures aside, the question is whether a character gets pinned or crushed under a falling object.

Common sense is the first consideration. I once dropped a 5' thick slab of ceiling into a room full of monsters with only two doors out. A few near the doors could have survived but the rest are dead, or at least out of the fight.

I would say that if they have an unobstructed path and enough movement(single move) to cover the distance then the reflex roll represents getting clear. The half damage is from getting tagged.

If they don't have enough move, check the damage to the falling object. If it breaks, or takes half damage, then it likely broke over the obstructing character which means they might be inside an arch or crack in the resulting rubble.

If reason or circumstances say the character remains under the boulder, and if it's flat enough or large enough that it's unlikely to roll off then the character is pinned. If they still have hit points left they start suffocating. Each round, all interested characters can try to move the weight.

That's how I'd handle it.


Entymal wrote:

Relative size and density of creatures aside, the question is whether a character gets pinned or crushed under a falling object.

Common sense is the first consideration. I once dropped a 5' thick slab of ceiling into a room full of monsters with only two doors out. A few near the doors could have survived but the rest are dead, or at least out of the fight.

I would say that if they have an unobstructed path and enough movement(single move) to cover the distance then the reflex roll represents getting clear. The half damage is from getting tagged.

If they don't have enough move, check the damage to the falling object. If it breaks, or takes half damage, then it likely broke over the obstructing character which means they might be inside an arch or crack in the resulting rubble.

If reason or circumstances say the character remains under the boulder, and if it's flat enough or large enough that it's unlikely to roll off then the character is pinned. If they still have hit points left they start suffocating. Each round, all interested characters can try to move the weight.

That's how I'd handle it.

Thank you, I think that is a very good way to handle it. So kinda similar to cave collapse, but on a smaller scale with reflex to hopefully get out.


You realize the section of the rules you are looking at is if the object is dropped, right? As in a flying creature drops something, or a guy on a cliff nudges a boulder over the edge kind of thing. Dropping stones off of battlements.

The weight of a dropped object is going to be limited by how much the creature can lift. Especially for flying creatures.

Most wall spells need to be anchored. Wall of Iron is one of the few exceptions and has its own rules.

Magical containers have restrictions. Bags of Holding have both weight restrictions, and objects placed within have to fit through the neck of the bag. You might be able to place a rather long and heavy log inside of a large bag of holding, but you couldn't put in a max weight stone slab. Portable Holes need a surface to be mounted on to open them.

For cases where the creature doing the dropping isn't physically lined up with the object (creating an object mid air, cutting a rope, teleporting stuff) there should be a circumstance penalty for not being able to actually aim. Honestly a 50% miss chance seems appropriate since you are aiming at something you can only vaguely estimate its location.


In your first example, they would simply take damage and nothing more. You can describe them as having to jump out of the way, maybe getting knocked over, as to how they took damage.

For your second example, size isn't really a factor if it's impossible or not to dodge out of the way or not. Though they maybe could've bumped the DCs higher to model that it's harder to avoid (like DC = 15 + 1 per size above small, for example). Just because you are "standing" in your square space when a colossal object tumbles down towards you doesn't make it impossible. This is simply a game mechanic and an abstraction, as it's assumed that you're generally always moving. The same reason why a Monk can evade a 20' radius fireball in their square without actually physically moving your character. It's also your prerogative as a GM to bury your player that fails a saving throw against a sizable object that falls on them.

I wouldn't worry too much about realism whether it makes sense to survive in such a circumstance. Most of the content in this game simply couldn't exist if this were a factor to be taken seriously. It helps when you describe it in a believable way, like a giant boulder simply tumbles down a hill rather than falling out of the sky, as an explanation for the survival of the lower level victim. It becomes less important when your mid level party is capable of fighting against building sized earth elementals while trading blows, to even a 20th level party fighting against monsters that can seemingly throw entire mountains (hekatonkhieries).

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