dnd 5e – Can massive damage kill you while at 0 HP?

Damage at 0 Hit Points. If you take any damage while you have 0 hit points, you suffer a death saving throw failure. If the damage is from a critical hit, you suffer two failures instead. If the damage equals or exceeds your hit point maximum, you suffer instant death.

Death Saving Throws, Player’s Handbook, pg. 197

Mathematically, this is equivalent to the normal rule that occurs when a character is above 0 hit points, so it makes perfect sense that they would reimplement the rule here in precisely this manner.

dnd 5e – What part of a multi-type damage roll is reduced by a non-type-specific effect?

Consider the text of Cutting Words:

When a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a damage roll, you can use your reaction to expend one of your uses of Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and subtracting the number rolled from the creature’s roll. You can choose to use this feature after the creature makes its roll, but before the DM determines whether the attack roll or ability check succeeds or fails, or before the creature deals its damage.

The term subtract is incredibly rare in DnD5e. It is used 9 times in the entire basic rules. It is only ever used when referring to the mathematical operation;

  • “For disadvantage, subtract 5 (from a passive skill check)”
  • “To determine an ability modifier without consulting the table,
    subtract 10 from the ability score and then divide the result by 2
    (round down)”
  • “Whenever a creature takes damage, that damage is
    subtracted from its hit points.”, etc.

The term “subtract” should not be understood as the gameplay mechanic reduce damage.

With all other uses of the feature the subtraction happens “before the DM determines whether the (roll) succeeds or fails”. This is after all modifications and other effects have been applied, right before the DM resolves the roll.

I will argue that this same intent–“before the DM resolves the roll”–also applies to damage rolls which is why they chose the unique term “subtracting” to distance it from existing mechanics and prevent confusion. The timing of the skill, “before the creature deals its damage”, is explicitly mentioned. This is unusual because if this was a normal ‘damage reduction’ then the timing is already defined in the Combat rules, and this is not where it would happen. Normal ‘damage reduction’ happens “before resistance and weakness is applied”.

What exactly does “deals its damage” mean? This isn’t a normal choice of words. This phrase is used in a lot of contexts but it’s not really clear to me. “Swords deal slashing damage”, “an attack deals 5 damage”.

The rules for Object Armor Class provides a hint:

An object’s Armor Class is a measure of how difficult it is to deal damage to the object when striking it (because the object has no chance of dodging out of the way).

This suggests “dealing damage” does not mean rolling AC, which is a start.

Knocking A Creature Out says:

When an attacker reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack, the attacker can knock the creature out. The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt.

This seems to say that “damage is dealt” is when the damage is applied. That is to say, after rolling damage you can choose to knock the creature out, you don’t do it before rolling damage.

In most circumstances resistances are the last thing to be resolved. However, the specific overrules the general, and the text “before the creature deals its damage” can be interpreted as “directly before the creature deals (ie reduces the hp of the target) its damage”. As opposed to if the text read “after damage is rolled”.

In the rules for Making An Attack:

  1. Choose a target. Pick a target within your attack’s range: a creature, an object, or a location.

  2. Determine modifiers. The DM determines whether the target has cover and whether you have advantage or disadvantage against the target. In addition, spells, special abilities, and other effects can apply penalties or bonuses to your attack roll.

  3. Resolve the attack. You make the attack roll. On a hit, you roll damage, unless the particular attack has rules that specify otherwise. Some attacks cause special effects in addition to or instead of damage.

The DM deals the damage at the end of step 3, after all resistance and reduction is applied. Cutting Words is a special case subtraction that does not follow the normal rules, which is why it has special, unique wording. It is intended to modify the damage roll directly before Step 3.

This is just one reading, but it would resolve the question of “can I pick what type of damage to reduce”. It also resolves associated questions like “does the troll regenerate”, and a host of other small problems with picking or not picking what damage type you want to reduce.

Some caveats:

  • While this answer is RAW, there is an assumption that the designers decided to use the word “subtraction” for a specific reason, and that they chose to explain the mechanics because they are abnormal. It is possible that the designers simply chose the word “subtraction” offhand. However I find it more useful to assume the designers are intentional with their language.
  • Sometimes skills do repeat core mechanics, and it’s possible the designer intended the description to be a general overview not actual mechanics, or they accidentally included mechanics from an older test version and it just slipped through the cracks and made it to publishing. I don’t think this is a good argument as it brings all rules into question.
  • Spirit Shield doesn’t use this language, and so it is another issue entirely.
  • There is apparently some debate as to whether “taking damage” and “being dealt damage” are the same thing. I think they are, and I have included arguments in support of this above.

In the comments Medix2 asked: “if an attack does, say, fire and cold damage, which ones are reduced by Cutting Words?”
The answer is that Cutting Words subtracts from the damage roll, not from any specific type. Follow the steps as above;

  1. Roll the die
  2. Apply all modifiers
  3. Apply all resistances or weaknesses
    You can now subtract the number rolled from the creature’s attack. At this point the rules run out, all damage is assumed to be amalgamated and subtracted from the creature’s health. Cutting Words is a special case that is not clearly covered by the rules.

This is important in the case of a Troll, it can only regenerate if not dealt fire/acid damage.

Your choices are:
– Let the DM decide what damage has/has not been dealt (rule in favor of the monster)
– Let the Bard decide what damage has/has not been subtracted (rule in favor of the players)
– Ignore the question and have all damage types that get to this stage be ‘dealt’ but accept that it is possible they are 0 damage (unless the total damage is reduced to 0, then it would be reasonable to say that the creature takes no damage of any type).
– Some other option, again this is not covered by the rules so pick whatever you think makes sense or makes the narrative interesting.

dnd 5e – Hexblade’s Curse + Booming Blade’s secondary damage

While trying to minmax a build for a Bladesinger by way of the new TCoE book I happened upon a curious problem with which I need assistance.
The bonus damage from Hexblade’s Curse reads

[…] You gain a bonus to damage rolls against the cursed target. The bonus equals your proficiency bonus.

So my question can be summed up as ‘What constitutes a separate damage roll?’ Are damage rolls separated by source? Perhaps by damage type? Are they separated by when the damage is dealt?

For example…

A creature is struck by a Bladesinger/Hexblade using the special Extra Attack feature in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything; once using a 7th level Shadow Blade, and once using Booming Blade. The creature is under the effects of Hexblade’s Curse.

How is the damage calculated? Is the Hexblade’s curse damage applied to the initial strike, the second strike, and the damage the creature takes when it moves? Or is the curse damage ignored when the creature moves since the source of that damage has already dealt the curse damage?

dnd 5e – Can a Kensei monk spend a bonus action to use the Kensei’s Shot feature after they make an attack roll, and still do the extra damage on that attack?

The Way of the Kensei monk’s Path of the Kensei feature grants several benefits, including Kensei’s Shot. The wording of Kensei’s Shot is as follows (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, p. 34):

You can use a bonus action on your turn to make your ranged attacks with a kensei weapon more deadly. When you do so, any target you hit with a ranged attack using a kensei weapon takes an extra 1d4 damage of the weapon’s type. You retain this benefit until the end of the current turn.

Can you choose to spend the bonus action to use Kensei’s Shot after rolling to hit, and still gain the extra damage on the attack you just made? Or do you have to declare that you’re using Kensei’s Shot before you make the attack roll?

dnd 5e – Do you add your ability mod to damage for the Soulknife’s second attack?

In D&D 5E, normal Two-Weapon Fighting lets you use your bonus action when you’ve used your action to Attack. It says:

You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative.

The new Tasha’s Cauldron subclass Soulknife has a feature where you can create a blade of energy and attack with it, and that says:

After you attack with the blade, you can make a melee or ranged weapon attack with a second psychic blade as a bonus action on the same turn, provided your other hand is free to create it. The damage die of this bonus attack is 1d4, instead of 1d6.

It looks to me that while this is similar to Two-Weapon Fighting, it is not that same, and the normal bonus to damage would apply. Am I right?

dnd 5e – How much damage does an Enlarged Huge Gray Ooze deal with their pseudopod?

The stat block for the Huge Gray Ooze indicates that on a hit its pseudopod deals:

6d6 acid damage plus 2d6 acid damage, or 12d6 acid damage while the ooze is enlarged.

Looking at the smaller gray ooze’s stat block, it seems that the additional 2d6 damage is possibly an error. Furthermore, the source material for the creature seems to indicate that the additional 2d6 is not intended either.

How much damage is the Huge Gray Ooze supposed to deal when it hits with their pseudopod? Is it effectively 8d6 acid or 6d6? What about when it uses the Enlarge feature on itself, which doubles the damage dice for the pseudopod?

dnd 5e – Does the damage roll for an attack made by the effects of booming blade count as a damage roll made for booming blade?

Elemental Adept applies to the damage roll of the weapon if it is of the appropriate damage type.

As written, the attack made with booming blade is a part of the spell’s effect, so its damage roll counts as damage for the spell. The rules for casting a spell say:

Each spell description in Chapter 11 begins with a block of information, including the spell’s name, level, school of magic, casting time, range, components, and duration. The rest of a spell entry describes the spell’s effect.

Since the spell’s description includes making a melee attack, the melee attack is part of the spell’s effect.

But most weapons don’t do acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage.

If your weapon dealt one of the damage types on a hit, such as a flame tongue’s fire damage, then the damage of that type would be eligible for the Elemental Adept feat.

equipment damage – Is it safe to test a (possibly) salt-water damaged lens (Tokina 11-16mm) on a new camera body?

My experience with saltwater damage is from my family business in an electronics repair shop where we handled board-level repairs for major manufacturers (including Sony & Panasonic.) The consensus always was from us, the manufacturers, and independent insurers that once we confirm a device has had saltwater in it then it is immediately “beyond repair”.

There are a few reasons… as a repairer you simply cannot guarantee that the device will work once it’s had saltwater in it. The way salt affects corrosion means that if a device passes testing in the morning you does not guarantee that it still might in the afternoon. Repairers simply won’t take the risk when the device might be back in their hands the vey next day.

Typically though you can wash it off, the true saltwater damage is rarely visible to the naked eye. Circuits are very fine so any corrosion issues don’t need to be especially large (or even visible to the naked eye) to cause either a broken or short circuit may occur and there’s no way for a repairer to spot it.

When you look at the potential damage that might come from the failure-mode of the lens it is the kind of damage that could take out your replacement body. If you can afford the risk that you have a ticking time-bomb on your hands that means you may have to replace the body (again) and the lens the very next time you use them (or it may be fine for years) then by all means go for it, but personally I’d chalk it up to experience and replace it now.

dnd 5e – Peace Domain Cleric’s Protecting Bond feature: Can you reduce/negate the damage?

I was reading up this new subclass’s feature which reads:

The bond you forge between people helps them protect each other. When a creature affected by your Emboldening Bond feature is about to take damage, a second bonded creature within 30 feet of the first can use its reaction to teleport to an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the first creature. The second creature then takes all the damage instead.

(emphasis mine)

Now I know that usually when damage can’t be reduced or bypasses resistances, it is explicitly stated. However I’m uncertain if it has ever been stated in this way. Is this just a verbose way of saying the second creature takes the damage, or does it really take all the damage?

If it bypasses resistances and immunities, what about temporary hit points? could it be reduced or negated by magic (something like Resilient Sphere)?

exalted 3e – How to handle damage in decisive attack when one party is unaware?

How do you handle decisive damage in cases where one party is totally unaware that they are being attacked and the other person has time to prepare?

The problem is that a prepared ambusher will not have had any withering attacks to increase their initiative prior to the ambush decisive attack. And it does not make a lot of sense to ambush someone with only your join battle initiative.

I’m looking for a reference to the rules explaining this situation, or a solution you have tried. personally all I could find in the book is that if you ambush someone they have a lower defence depending on whether or not they are in combat or totally unaware that they are in danger.

Just to make it clear what I’m trying to solve I’ll give two cases that came up in a game:

  1. Someone (a mortal) is sneaking up on a exalted that is sleeping and trying to kill that person. This is very unlikely (or maybe I don’t want it to) to outright kill the exalted, but how much damage does the mortal actually do?
  2. In a form of duel one party say, I’ll stand still and give you a first free shot. Do your best to hurt me. This is assuming there is only ever going to be one strike. This came up when someone wanted to test an armor.