My Death and Dying rules

A bleeding man suddenly walks through the doors of the tavern.. holding his side as he extends his hand trying to perch on to a table, but slips and tumbles to the ground. The Rogue then hurries up to see what has happened to the poor sod, but it’s too late…

The above scene is something that happens in countless books, and movies, but in D&D this sort of situation doesn’t make sense and players will be forced to suspend disbelief. Because it obviously cannot happen if we follow the death and dying rules in the Players Handbook.

I prefer, and believe others do too, the possibility of a smoother transition between dying and dead. But hopefully one that doesn’t change the overall balance of the game. So I present here my current working solution:


Hitting 0 hp

When you hit 0 hp, you can roll a Constitution saving throw DC 10. On a success you remain conscious, but incapacitated and prone. If you fail the check you are unconscious. In either case you are dying and must roll death saving throw at the end of each of your turns.

Recovering from unconscious at 0 hp

When a character recovers from being unconscious at 0 hp, or being dead, they are prone, and stunned until the start of their next turn.

(The recovering character losing their immediate turn because they are stunned has an immediate, and serious, tactical consideration. Without the typical and troublesome book keeping of applying exhaustion levels to people that have fallen)

Condition: Prone + Stunned

  • A stunned creature is incapacitated, can’t move, and can speak only falteringly.
  • Incapacitated means: An incapacitated creature can’t take actions or reactions.
  • An attack roll against the creature has advantage if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature. Otherwise, the attack roll has disadvantage.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage. (This advantage and prone range counters prone ranged disadvantage)
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws.
  • A prone creature’s only movement option is to crawl, unless it stands up and thereby ends the condition.