|By which I don't mean autumn.|
These rules are partially based on information from this fantastic blog, though they are modified for my own use.
Falling and fall damage is loosely defined in the Player's Handbook, but in a 3-D environment, players are going to want to jump around and leap off of things for dramatic effect. Plus, including these things encourages unique solutions to problems, such as skydiving into a fortress or dropping a monster out of the sky to damage it.
|We've got all the time in the world|
The PHB (pg 183) says that the max falling damage you can take is 20d6, or 200 feet worth of damage. That means a potentially lethal fall takes less than one round! I think if a caster had Dimension Door, I'd give them a chance to use it before they hit the ground.
However, this speed also implies that pretty much any fall within a combat scenario hardly takes any time at all. Because of this, I'd rule that falling or jumping straight down doesn't cost a PC any movement. That doesn't mean they won't take damage or end up prone, however.
However, there's another issue here. See, I assumed that 200 feet was enough to reach terminal velocity, since that was when damage stopped increasing. But it looks like the actual distance is about a mile. So technically, damage should continue to increase up to 550d6.
But that's a little intense, and I personally don't know anyone outside of a hobby store who has 550 dice on hand. So let's keep the 20d6 but add a rule: after you fall a mile, you have to make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw or be reduced to 0 HP. That should cover the cases where a PC falls out of the sky and just brushes off the damage. Looking at you, high-level fighters.
To make this rule better (and more generic, you'll see why later) let's say: if you fall a distance 275 times the point where you would take maximum damage, you have to make that check.
For reference, space is considered 50 miles up on earth, so there's plenty of room to fall.
Falling With Style
|AKA dunk on em|
The skill we should use here is Acrobatics. Passive Acrobatics would be calculated the same as passive perception: 10 + your dexterity modifier + your proficiency bonus if it applies.
If you are in an uncontrolled fall, you take damage as normal. However, if you are jumping down onto something, you can fall a distance equal to your passive Acrobatics score without taking damage. However, any distance beyond that deals damage as normal.
If the ground is soft (mud, sand, feathers), you can fall an additional 5 feet without harm. This is the passive equivalent of having advantage on the check. However, we can make this a rule that applies to uncontrolled falls as well: if you land on something soft, your "fall distance" is reduced by 5 feet.
For falls into water, the same rules for uncontrolled falls apply, with one caveat: if the water is more than 20 feet deep, it counts as a soft surface.
As for diving, I don't think that necessitates any additional rules. Olympic high dives are 33 feet. If we were to make a PC with maximum dexterity and Expertise in Acrobatics with a high proficiency bonus, counting water as a soft surface, their maximum dive distance would be 32 feet. (10 passive + 5 dex mod + 12 expertise proficiency + 5 soft landing)
|My character doesn't do adventuring|
It's important to note that the damage and distance is all for medium creatures. That makes sense, since the PCs are mostly medium creatures. That's not on accident - PCs are never large, even the unearthed arcana minotaur race (minotaurs in the Monster Manual are Large).
There's other design reasons for that choice, but it impacts falling damage pretty heavily.
See, mass matters when you're figuring out fall damage. If you dropped an ant, a human, and a horse down a mine shaft, the ant would walk away, the human would break, and the horse would splash.
So let's use the implications in the fall damage system to expand on it.
Medium creatures use a d8 for their hit dice (DMG pg. 276) and a d6 for their fall damage. Therefore, all creatures use a die one category smaller than their hit die to calculate fall damage.
Counting tiny creatures as "0", medium creatures take max fall damage at a distance equal to their size category number (2) times 100. Therefore, we can figure out the maximum damage for each category of each monster.
Tiny creatures normally don't suffer fall damage at all. However, they can still suffer effects at terminal velocity. When a tiny creature falls 275 feet or more, the creature makes a DC 15 Constitution saving throw upon landing. On a failure, the creature is reduced to 0 hit points.
Small creatures take 1d4 damage per 10 feet fallen, to a maximum of 10d4. On a full fall, a small creature will take an average of 25 damage. They reach terminal velocity after falling half a mile.
Medium creatures take 1d6 damage per 10 feet fallen, to a maximum of 20d6. That sounds familiar. On a full fall, a medium creature will take an average of 70 damage. They reach terminal velocity after falling a mile.
Large creatures take 1d8 damage per 10 feet fallen, to a maximum of 30d8. On a full fall, a large creature will take an average of 135 damage. They reach terminal velocity after falling a mile and a half.
|I regret nothing!|
Gargantuan creatures take 1d12 damage per 10 feet fallen, to a maximum of 50d12. On a full fall, a gargantuan creature will take an average of 325 damage. They reach terminal velocity after falling two and a half miles.
So, now falling damage becomes a legitimate way to deal with monsters! Pinning a dragon's wings in the sky could legitimately kill the dragon. You can drop Ogres to their doom, and Giants actually become scared of falling from great distances.
And isn't that what D&D is really about?
So, with that, here are my own version of the house rules on falling!
- Falling is usually instant and doesn't cost movement.
- If you fall a distance equal to 275 times the point where you would take maximum fall damage (1 mile for medium creatures), upon landing you must make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw or be reduced to 0 hit points.
- During a controlled fall (jump/dive), you can fall a distance equal to your passive acrobatics score without taking damage. However, any distance beyond that deals damage as normal.
- A soft landing effectively reduces fall distance by 5 feet. This also applies to deep water (20 feet deep or more).
- Any monster uses a fall damage die equal to one dice category lower than their hit die.
- A monster's maximum fall damage varies by size category.
- Tiny: none
- Small: 10d4
- Medium: 20d6
- Large: 30d8
- Huge: 40d10
- Gargantuan: 50d12
|Or just handwave everything|
Side note: apparently nobody has 550d6, but 50d12 is more reasonable. Sometimes I question my own logic.