View Full Version : Alternate Falling Rules

2008-03-26, 09:12 AM
I have always felt that the current falling rules in D&D are too lenient. I understand that the idea behind the rules is to be fast and easy and not to distract from the game, but still, the rules have never sat well with me. So I decided to try and come up with my own alternate rules for falling to make it a little more scary a prospect. Please understand that I still want to keep falling somewhat of an abstract and do not want to delve too far into the realm of realism. I've seen plenty of threads discussing how falling should work physically and am not interested in being that precise. I only wish to make falling more dangerous, not real. So here it is:

First off, the damage from a fall is still 1d6 per 10 ft. fallen. Now with the changes/additions:

One: The damage cap for falling is increased to 50d6. I figure that after 500 ft. one has probably reached terminal velocity, and even if they haven't, I didn't want to stray too far away from the abstract.The reason I changed the damage cap is because I have always been dissatisfied with the 20d6 cap. It seems so small when compared to the kind of HP higher level characters will possess. The current system caps out a maximum of 120 damage. Now, while that certainly is nothing to scoff at, it really isn't very scary after, say, Level 10. While even very high level characters will eventually be able to shrug off this damage, it is likely still high enough to provoke concern.

Two: Institute death by massive damage ruling. I'm not sure if death by massive damage applies to falling or not per actual rules, I decided to enforce it here as follows:

If character takes 50 points of damage or more, they must make a Fort Save DC 15 + 1 for every additional 10 damage taken or die from system shock of the fall. I figure that with the risk of real death, falling becomes a lot more scarier.

I do recognize that this scaling of the Fort save may be a bit too much, especially if I'm also allowing a higher damage cap from falling, and am thus open to the possibly of being more lenient here. Perhaps DC 10 + 1 for every additional 10 damage? Or perhaps DC 15 + 1 for every 20 damage? Or even increase the threshold from 50 to, say, 60? 70?

Three: Falling from great heights is traumatizing to the body, no matter who you are, and so I added the following to simulate the shock:

If a character falls 200 ft. or more, they must make a Fort save DC 20 + 1 per every additional 10 feet fallen (DC 21 at 210 ft, DC 22 at 220 ft. etc).

On failure, character is nauseated for a number of rounds equal to the DC minus 19 (1 round at DC 20, 2 rounds at DC 21, etc) and then sickened for twice that length.

On success, character is only sickened for a number rounds equal to the Fort DC minus 19 (like above).

Why nausea and sicken? I believe that these conditions can adequately simulate the shock one's body takes from falling so far without delving too deep into realism. I wanted to remain somewhat abstract concerning falling and I feel these conditions do a decent job of representing that without going into things like ability damage (something I was trying to avoid). After all, if you really fell from such a distance, chances are you would be in shock for a lot longer than just a minute or two, so I'm still being somewhat lenient here.


So there it is, part and parcel. Tell me what you think of it or tell me to go home, I'll appreciate either. :)

2008-03-26, 09:40 AM
As with a lot of homebrewed rules I've seen, it makes sense, but it's just too complicated to do in the middle of a game.

I would suggest having the person make a DC 10 tumblecheck. If they roll a 1, they land on their head, and take critical (double) damage from the fall. If they go below a 10, they land prone, and take all lethal damage. If they beat a 10, they land on their feet, and take standard falling damage. On top of that, they can make the tumble roll to act as if they'd fallen 10 fewer feet, and make jump checks for further reductions.

In real life, people die all the time falling just 10 feet and landing on their head. So at least having the possibility of taking 2d6 lethal damage on a 10-foot fall seems reasonable, which would kill a peasant with 1d8hp pretty often.

Although, again, this system is also needlessly complicated in most situations.

2008-03-26, 09:49 AM
In real life, people die all the time falling just 10 feet and landing on their head.They also occasionally fall thousands of feet and live ;)

2008-03-26, 09:54 AM
Just make falling damage be CON damage with a Fort save equal to damage taken +10 to avoid problematic injuries like broken bones and the like. Have this affect objects too so that Undead and Constructs would still have to save (although they would still be immune to the CON damage). That Clay Golem is looking alot less menacing with a flattened arm, but more humorous.

And having the damage scale at more than 1D6 per 10 feet, make it cumulative. So 1D6 at 10', 3D6 at 20', 6D6 at 30', 10D6 at 40', etcetera.

2008-03-26, 10:47 AM
Just want to put a shout out to a spell: Undulant innards.

Yes feather fall is a level one spell. But this one is more fun.

Standing on top of the mighty sky castle and need a quick escape? 2000ft drop?

No problem! Just run off the edge. Cast Undulant Innards. Hit the Ground. Take 20 damage. Just 20. (It makes you automatically take minimum for falls.) Doable even at level 3. Just for fun. I mean, what's funnier the a Wizard who waits for the entire party to make it down all the stairs, then jumps off the top of a tower, lands right next to them, and the vibrates like a sack of jello, but stands up just fine.

2008-03-26, 11:15 AM
Jello Wizard would be funny. maybe he could be a archetype based on Bill Cosby and have jello pudding pops. At any rate I think the idea of the current falling rules is that it really is not dramatic or fulfilling if your hero dies from a fall.

2008-03-26, 12:29 PM
You only need part One to accurately reflect reality. (The Sage actually covered this in the FAQ. You reach terminal velocity at approximately the end of 1 round of falling, which takes a little over 500'. 50d6 is a decent approximation. You fall about 1200' each subsequent round, but don't speed up after that first 6 seconds.) Massive damage normally applies whenever you take 50+ points of damage, so that's not a house rule. Part Three is just a time-waster; skip it.