Kryx RPGThemesMonsters

Combat

The clatter of a sword striking against a shield. The terrible rending sound as monstrous claws tear through armor. A brilliant flash of light as a ball of flame blossoms from a mage’s spell. The sharp tang of blood in the air, cutting through the stench of vile monsters. Roars of fury, shouts of triumph, cries of pain. Combat in D&D can be chaotic, deadly, and thrilling.

This section provides the rules you need for your characters and monsters to engage in combat, whether it is a brief skirmish or an extended conflict in a dungeon or on a field of battle. Throughout this section, the rules address you, the player or Game Master (GM). The Game Master (GM) controls all the monsters and nonplayer characters involved in combat, and each other player controls an adventurer. “You” can also mean the character or monster that you control.

The Order of Combat

A typical combat encounter is a clash between two sides, a flurry of weapon swings, feints, parries, footwork, and spellcasting. The game organizes the chaos of combat into a cycle of rounds and turns. A round represents about 6 seconds in the game world. During a round, each participant in a battle takes a turn. The order of turns is determined at the beginning of a combat encounter, when everyone rolls initiative. Once everyone has taken a turn, the fight continues to the next round if neither side has defeated the other.

Combat Step by Step

  1. Determine surprise. The GM determines whether anyone involved in the combat encounter is surprised.
  2. Establish positions. The GM decides where all the characters and monsters are localed. Given the adventurers’ marching order or their stated positions in the room or other location, the GM figures out where the adversaries are—how far away and in what direction.
  3. Roll initiative. Everyone involved in the combat encounter rolls initiative, determining the order of combatants’ turns.
  4. Take turns. Each participant in the battle takes a turn in initiative order.
  5. Begin the next round. When everyone involved in the combat has had a turn, the round ends. Repeat step 4 until the fighting stops.

Surprise

A band of adventurers sneaks up on a bandit camp, springing from the trees to attack them. A gelatinous cube glides down a dungeon passage, unnoticed by the adventurers until the cube engulfs one of them. In these situations, one side of the battle gains surprise over the other.

The GM determines who might be surprised. If neither side tries to be stealthy, they automatically notice each other. Otherwise, the GM compares the Stealth checks of anyone hiding with the passive Perception of each creature on the opposing side. Any character or monster that doesn’t notice a threat is surprised at the start of the encounter.

If you’re surprised, you can’t move or take an action on your first turn of the combat, and you can’t take a reaction until that turn ends. A member of a group can be surprised even if the other members aren’t.

Initiative

Initiative determines the order of turns during combat. When combat starts, every participant makes a Dexterity check to determine their place in the initiative order. The GM makes one roll for an entire group of identical creatures, so each member of the group acts at the same time.

The GM ranks the combatants in order from the one with the highest Dexterity check total to the one with the lowest. This is the order (called the initiative order) in which they act during each round. The initiative order remains the same from round to round.

If a tie occurs, the GM decides the order among tied GM-controlled creatures, and the players decide the order among their tied characters. The GM can decide the order if the tie is between a monster and a player character. Optionally, the GM can have the tied characters and monsters each roll a d20 to determine the order, highest roll going first.

Your Turn

On your turn, you can move a distance up to your speed and take one action. You decide whether to move first or take your action first. Your speed—sometimes called your walking speed—is noted on your character sheet.

The most common actions you can take are described in the “Actions in Combat” section later in this section. Many class features and other abilities provide additional options for your action.

The “Movement and Position” section later in this section gives the rules for your move.

You can forgo moving, taking an action, or doing anything at all on your turn. If you can’t decide what to do on your turn, consider taking the Dodge or Ready action, as described in “Actions in Combat.”

Bonus Actions

Various class features, spells, and other abilities let you take an additional action on your turn called a bonus action. You can take a bonus action only when a special ability, spell, or other feature of the game states that you can do something as a bonus action. You otherwise don’t have a bonus action to take.

You can take only one bonus action on your turn, so you must choose which bonus action to use when you have more than one available.

You choose when to take a bonus action during your turn, unless the bonus action’s timing is specified, and anything that deprives you of your ability to take actions also prevents you from taking a bonus action.

Other Activity on Your Turn

Interacting with Objects Around You

Here are a few examples of the sorts of thing you can do in tandem with your movement and action:

  • draw or sheathe a sword or two light weapons
  • open or close a door
  • withdraw a potion from your backpack
  • pick up a dropped axe
  • take a bauble from a table
  • remove a ring from your finger
  • stuff some food into your mouth
  • plant a banner in the ground
  • fish a few coins from your belt pouch
  • drink all the ale in a flagon
  • throw a lever or a switch
  • pull a torch from a sconce
  • take a book from a shelf you can reach
  • extinguish a small flame
  • don a mask
  • pull the hood of your cloak up and over your head
  • put your ear to a door
  • kick a small stone
  • turn a key in a lock
  • tap the floor with a 3-meter pole
  • hand an item to another character

Your turn can include a variety of flourishes that require neither your action nor your move.

You can communicate however you are able, through brief utterances and gestures, as you take your turn.

You can also interact with one object or feature of the environment for free, during either your move or your action. For example, you could open a door during your move as you stride toward a foe, or you could draw your weapon as part of the same action you use to attack.

If you want to interact with a second object, you need to use your action. Some magic items and other special objects always require an action to use, as stated in their descriptions.

The GM might require you to use an action for any of these activities when it needs special care or when it presents an unusual obstacle. For instance, the GM could reasonably expect you to use an action to open a stuck door or turn a crank to lower a drawbridge.

When a creature tries to interact with an object in a space occupied by a hostile creature it chooses to make an Acrobatics or Brawn check contested by the hostile creature’s Acrobatics or Brawn check. If the creature attempting to interact with the object wins the contest, it can interact with the object.

Reactions

Certain special abilities, spells, and situations allow you to take a special action called a reaction. A reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some kind, which can occur on your turn or on someone else’s. The opportunity attack, described later in this section, is the most common type of reaction.

When you take a reaction, you can’t take another one until the start of your next turn. If the reaction interrupts another creature’s turn, that creature can continue its turn right after the reaction.

Movement and Position

In combat, characters and monsters are in constant motion, often using movement and position to gain the upper hand.

On your turn, you can move a distance up to your speed. You can use as much or as little of your speed as you like on your turn, following the rules here.

Your movement can include jumping, climbing, and swimming. These different modes of movement can be combined with walking, or they can constitute your entire move. However you’re moving, you deduct the distance of each part of your move from your speed until it is used up or until you are done moving.

The “Special Types of Movement” section in the Adventuring section gives the particulars for jumping, climbing, and swimming.

Breaking Up Your Move

You can break up your movement on your turn, using some of your speed before and after your action. For example, if you have a speed of 9 meters, you can move 3 meters, take your action, and then move 6 meters.

Moving Between Attacks

If you take an action that includes more than one weapon attack, you can break up your movement even further by moving between those attacks. For example, a warrior who can make two attacks with the Extra Attack feature and who has a speed of 9 meters could move 3 meters, make an attack, move 6 meters, and then attack again.

Using Different Speeds

If you have more than one speed, such as your walking speed and a flying speed, you can switch back and forth between your speeds during your move. Whenever you switch, subtract the distance you’ve already moved from the new speed. The result determines how much farther you can move. If the result is 0 or less, you can’t use the new speed during the current move.

For example, if you have a speed of 9 and a flying speed of 18 because a mage cast the levitate spell augmented to fly on you, you could fly 6 meters, then walk 3 meters, and then leap into the air to fly 9 meters more.

Difficult Terrain

Combat rarely takes place in bare rooms or on featureless plains. Boulder-strewn caverns, briar-choked forests, treacherous staircases—the setting of a typical fight contains difficult terrain.

Every meter of movement in difficult terrain costs 1 extra meter. This rule is true even if multiple things in a space count as difficult terrain.

Low furniture, rubble, undergrowth, steep stairs, snow, and shallow bogs are examples of difficult terrain. The space of another creature, whether hostile or not, also counts as difficult terrain.

Being Prone

Combatants often fnd themselves lying on the ground, either because they are knocked down or because they throw themselves down. In the game, they are prone.

You can drop prone without using any of your speed. Standing up takes more effort; doing so costs an amount of movement equal to half your speed. For example, if your speed is 9 meters, you must spend 4.5 meters of movement to stand up. You can’t stand up if you don’t have enough movement left or if your speed is 0.

To move while prone, you must crawl or use magic such as teleportation. Every meter of movement while crawling costs 1 extrameter. Crawling 1 meter in difficult terrain, therefore, costs 3 meters of movement.

Movement Around Other Creatures

You can move through a nonhostile creature’s space. In contrast, you can move through a hostile creature’s space only if the creature is at least two sizes larger or smaller than you. Remember that another creature’s space is difficult terrain for you.

Whether a creature is a friend or an enemy, you can’t willingly end your move in its space.

If you leave a hostile creature’s reach during your move, you provoke an opportunity attack, as explained later in the section.

Flying Movement

Flying creatures enjoy many benefits of mobility, but they must also deal with the danger of falling. If a flying creature is knocked prone, has its speed reduced to 0, or is otherwise deprived of the ability to move, the creature falls, unless it has the ability to hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as by the levitate spell.

Falling

When a conscious flying creature falls, subtract the creature’s current flying speed from the distance it fell before calculating falling damage.

Creature Size

Each creature takes up a different amount of space. The Size Categories table shows how much space a creature of a particular size controls in combat. Objects sometimes use the same size categories.

Size Categories
SizeSpaceExample Monsters
Tiny2½ by 2½ ft.Imp, Sprite
Small5 by 5 ft.Giant Rat, Goblin
Medium5 by 5 ft.Human, Orc, Werewolf
Large10 by 10 ft.Hippogriff, Ogre
Huge15 by 15 ft.Fire Giant, Treant
Gargantuan20 by 20 ft. or largerKraken, Purple Worm

Space

A creature’s space is the area in meters that it effectively controls in combat, not an expression of its physical dimensions. A typical Medium creature isn’t 1.5 meters wide, for example, but it does control a space that wide. If a Medium hobgoblin stands in a 1.5-meters-wide doorway, other creatures can’t get through unless the hobgoblin lets them.

A creature’s space also reflects the area it needs to fight effectively. For that reason, there’s a limit to the number of creatures that can surround another creature in combat. Assuming Medium combatants, eight creatures can ft in a 1.5-meters radius around another one.

Because larger creatures take up more space, fewer of them can surround a creature. If four Large creatures crowd around a Medium or smaller one, there’s little room for anyone else. In contrast, as many as twenty Medium creatures can surround a Gargantuan one.

Squeezing into a Smaller Space

A creature can squeeze through a space that is large enough for a creature one size smaller than it. Thus, a Large creature can squeeze through a passage that’s only 1.5 meters wide. While squeezing through a space, a creature must spend 1 extrameter for every meter it moves there, and it has disadvantage on attack rolls and Reflex saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage while it’s in the smaller space.

Actions in Combat

When you take your action on your turn, you can take one of the actions presented here, an action you gained from your class or a special feature, or an action that you improvise. Many monsters have action options of their own in their stat blocks.

When you describe an action not detailed elsewhere in the rules, the GM tells you whether that action is possible and what kind of roll you need to make, if any, to determine success or failure.

Attack

The most common action to take in combat is the Attack action, whether you are swinging a sword, firing an arrow from a bow, or brawling with your fists.

With this action, you make one melee or ranged attack. See the “Making an Attack” section for the rules that govern attacks.

Certain features, such as the Extra Attack feature of the warrior, allow you to make more than one attack with this action.

Cast a Spell

Spellcasters such as mages and acolytes, as well as many monsters, have access to spells and can use them to great effect in combat. Each spell has a casting time, which specifies whether the caster must use an action, a reaction, minutes, or even hours to cast the spell. Casting a spell is, therefore, not necessarily an action. Most spells do have a casting time of 1 action, so a spellcaster often uses their action in combat to cast such a spell. See the Spellcasting rules section for the rules on spellcasting.

Dash

When you take the Dash action, you gain extra movement for the current turn. The increase equals your speed, after applying any modifiers. With a speed of 9 meters, for example, you can move up to 18 meters on your turn if you dash.

Any increase or decrease to your speed changes this additional movement by the same amount. If your speed of 9 meters is reduced to 4.5 meters, for instance, you can move up to 9 meters this turn if you dash.

When a monster with the Multiattack trait uses its action to Dash, it can use a bonus action to make one melee weapon attack or shove a creature.

Delay

By choosing to delay, you take no action and then act normally on whatever initiative count you decide to act. When you delay, you voluntarily reduce your own initiative result for the rest of the combat. When your new, lower initiative count comes up later in the same round, you can act normally. You can specify this new initiative result or just wait until some time later in the round and act then, thus fixing your new initiative count at that point. You cannot delay if you have any conditions that are turn based.

Disengage

If you take the Disengage action, your movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of the turn.

Dodge

When you take the Dodge action, you focus entirely on avoiding attacks. Until the start of your next turn, any attack roll made against you has disadvantage if you can see the attacker, and you make Reflex saving throws with advantage. You lose this benefit if you are incapacitated (as explained in appendix PH-A) or if your speed drops to 0.

Help

You can lend your aid to another creature in the completion of a task. When you take the Help action, the creature you aid gains advantage on the next ability check it makes to perform the task you are helping with, provided that it makes the check before the start of your next turn.

Alternatively, you can aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature within 1.5 meters of you. You feint, distract the target, or in some other way team up to make your ally’s attack more effective. If your ally attacks the target before your next turn, the first attack roll is made with advantage.

Hide

When you take the Hide action, you make a Stealth check in an attempt to hide, following the rules for hiding. If you succeed, you gain certain benefits, as described in the “Unseen Attackers and Targets” section.

Ready

Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. To do so, you can take the Ready action on your turn, which lets you act using your reaction before the start of your next turn.

First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction. Then, you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to it. Examples include “If the cultist steps on the trapdoor, I’ll pull the lever that opens it,” and “If the goblin steps next to me, I move away.”

When the trigger occurs, you can either take your reaction right after the trigger finishes or ignore the trigger. Remember that you can take only one reaction per round.

When you ready a spell, you cast it as normal but hold its energy, which you release with your reaction when the trigger occurs. To be readied, a spell must have a casting time of 1 action, and holding onto the spell’s magic requires concentration. If your concentration is broken, the spell dissipates without taking effect. For example, if you are concentrating on the web spell and ready magic missiles, your web spell ends, and if you take damage before you release magic missiles with your reaction, your concentration might be broken.

Search

When you take the Search action, you devote your attention to finding something.

Use an Object

You normally interact with an object while doing something else, such as when you draw a sword as part of an attack. When an object requires your action for its use, you take the Use an Object action. This action is also useful when you want to interact with more than one object on your turn.

Making an Attack

Whether you’re striking with a melee weapon, firing a weapon at range, or making an attack roll as part of a spell, an attack has a simple structure.

  1. Choose a target. Pick a target within your attack’s range: a creature, an object, or a location.
  2. Determine modifiers. The GM 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. If you miss by 4 or less, the target takes half as much damage, but no additional effects apply. Some attacks cause special effects in addition to or instead of damage.

If there’s ever any question whether something you’re doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you’re making an attack roll, you’re making an attack.

Attack Rolls

When you make an attack, your attack roll determines whether the attack hits or misses. To make an attack roll, roll a d20 and add the appropriate modifiers. If the total of the roll plus modifiers equals or exceeds the target’s Defense, the attack hits. The Defense of a character is determined at character creation, whereas the Defense of a monster is in its stat block.

Modifiers to the Roll

When a character makes an attack roll, the two most common modifiers to the roll are an ability and the character’s proficiency bonus. When a monster makes an attack roll, it uses whatever modifier is provided in its stat block.

Abilities. The ability used for a melee weapon attack is Strength, and the ability used for a ranged weapon attack is Dexterity. Weapons that have the finesse or thrown property break this rule. Some spells also require an attack roll. The ability used for a spell attack depends on the spellcasting ability of the spellcaster, as explained in the Spellcasting rules section.

Proficiency Bonus. You add your proficiency bonus to your attack roll when you attack using a weapon with which you have proficiency, as well as when you attack with a spell.

Rolling a 1 or 20

Sometimes fate blesses or curses a combatant, causing the novice to hit and the veteran to miss.

If the d20 roll for an attack is a 20, the attack hits regardless of any modifiers or the target’s Defense. This is called a critical hit, which is explained later in this section.

If the d20 roll for an attack is a 1, the attack misses regardless of any modifiers or the target’s Defense.

Unseen Attackers and Targets

Combatants often try to escape their foes’ notice by hiding, casting the invisibility spell, or lurking in darkness. See the hidden and invisible conditions in the conditions section.

Ranged Attacks

When you make a ranged attack, you fire a bow or a crossbow, hurl a hatchet, or otherwise send projectiles to strike a foe at a distance. A monster might shoot spines from its tail. Many spells also involve making a ranged attack.

Range

You can make ranged attacks only against targets within a specified range.

If a ranged attack, such as one made with a spell, has a single range, you can’t attack a target beyond this range.

Some ranged attacks, such as those made with a longbow or a shortbow, have two ranges. The smaller number is the normal range, and the larger number is the long range. Your attack roll has disadvantage when your target is beyond normal range, and you can’t attack a target beyond the long range.

Ranged Attacks in Close Combat

Aiming a ranged attack is more difficult when a foe is next to you. When you make a ranged attack with a weapon, a spell, or some other means, you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 1.5 meters of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn’t incapacitated.

Melee Attacks

Used in hand-to-hand combat, a melee attack allows you to attack a foe within your reach. A melee attack typically uses a handheld weapon such as a sword, a warhammer, or an axe. A typical monster makes a melee attack when it strikes with its claws, horns, teeth, tentacles, or other body part. A few spells also involve making a melee attack.

Most creatures have a 1.5-meter reach and can thus attack targets within 1.5 meters of them when making a melee attack. Certain creatures (typically those larger than Medium) have melee attacks with a greater reach than 1.5 meters, as noted in their descriptions.

Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons). On a hit, an unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1 + your Strength. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes.

Flanking

When a creature and at least one of its allies are adjacent or within their reach of an enemy and on opposite sides or corners of the enemy’s space, they flank that enemy, and each of them has +1 on melee attack rolls against that enemy. thread

Opportunity Attacks

In a fight, everyone is constantly watching for enemies to drop their guard. You can rarely move heedlessly past your foes without putting yourself in danger; doing so provokes an opportunity attack.

You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach. To make the opportunity attack, you use your reaction to make one melee attack against the provoking creature. The attack occurs right before the creature leaves your reach.

You can avoid provoking an opportunity attack by taking the Disengage action. You also don’t provoke an opportunity attack when you teleport or when someone or something moves you without using your movement, action, or reaction. For example, you don’t provoke an opportunity attack if an explosion hurls you out of a foe’s reach or if gravity causes you to fall past an enemy.

Two-Weapon Fighting

Once on your turn, when you take the Attack action and attack with a light weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can attack with a different light weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability to the damage of the weapon that you’re holding in the other hand, unless that ability is negative.

Grappling

When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them. The rules for initiating and escaping a grapple are in the skills section

Moving a Grappled Creature. When you move, you can drag or carry the grappled creature with you, but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two or more sizes smaller than you.

Shoving a Creature

The rules for shoving a creature are in the skills section

Cover

Walls, trees, creatures, and other obstacles can provide cover during combat, making a target more difficult to harm. A target can benefit from cover only when an attack or other effect originates on the opposite side of the cover.

There are three degrees of cover. If a target is behind multiple sources of cover, only the most protective degree of cover applies; the degrees aren’t added together. For example, if a target is behind a creature that gives half cover and a tree trunk that gives three-quarters cover, the target has three-quarters cover.

A target with half cover has a +2 bonus to Defense and Reflex saving throws. A target has half cover if an obstacle blocks at least half of its body. The obstacle might be a low wall, a large piece of furniture, a narrow tree trunk, or a creature, whether that creature is an enemy or a friend.

A target with three-quarters cover has a +5 bonus to Defense and Reflex saving throws. A target has three-quarters cover if about three-quarters of it is covered by an obstacle. The obstacle might be a portcullis, an arrow slit, or a thick tree trunk.

A target with total cover can’t be targeted directly by an attack or a spell, although some spells can reach such a target by including it in an area of effect. A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle.

Damage and Healing

Injury and the risk of death are constant companions of those who explore the worlds of D&D. The thrust of a sword, a well-placed arrow, or a blast of flame from a fireball spell all have the potential to damage, or even kill, the hardiest of creatures.

Health

Health represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck. Creatures with more health are more difficult to kill. Those with fewer health are more fragile.

A creature’s health can be any number from the creature’s maximum health down to 0. This number changes frequently as a creature takes damage or receives healing.

Whenever a creature takes damage, that damage is subtracted from its health. The loss of health has no effect on a creature’s capabilities until the creature drops to 0 health.

Damage Rolls

Each weapon, spell, and harmful monster ability specifies the damage it deals. You roll the damage die or dice, add any modifiers, and apply the damage to your target. Magic weapons, special abilities, and other factors can grant a bonus to damage.

When attacking with a weapon, you add your ability—the same ability used for the attack roll—to the damage. A spell tells you which dice to roll for damage and whether to add any modifiers.

If a spell or other effect deals damage to more than one target at the same time, roll the damage once for all of them. For example, when a mage casts fireballor an acolyte casts flame strike, the spell’s damage is rolled once for all creatures caught in the blast.

Critical Hits

When you score a critical hit, you get to roll extra dice for the attack’s damage against the target. Roll all of the attack’s damage dice twice and add them together. Then add any relevant modifiers as normal. To speed up play, you can roll all the damage dice at once.

For example, if you score a critical hit with a dagger, roll 2d4 for the damage, rather than 1d4, and then add your relevant ability. If the attack involves other damage dice, such as from the rogue’s Sneak Attack feature, you roll those dice twice as well.

Damage Types

Describing the Effects of Damage

Game Masters describe health loss in different ways. When your health is half or more of your maximum health, you typically show no signs of injury. When you drop below half your maximum health, you show signs of wear, such as cuts and bruises. An attack that reduces you to 0 health strikes you directly, leaving a bleeding injury or other trauma, or it simply knocks you unconscious.

Different attacks, damaging spells, and other harmful effects deal different types of damage. Damage types have no rules of their own, but other rules, such as damage resistance, rely on the types.

The damage types follow, with examples to help a GM assign a damage type to a new effect.

Acid. The corrosive spray of a black dragon’s breath and the dissolving enzymes secreted by a black pudding deal acid damage.

Bludgeoning. Blunt force attacks—hammers, falling, constriction, and the like—deal bludgeoning damage.

Cold. The infernal chill radiating from an ice devil’s spear and the frigid blast of a white dragon’s breath deal cold damage.

Concussion. A concussive burst, such as the effect of the *thunderwave* spell, deals concussion damage.

Fire. Red dragons breathe fire, and many spells conjure flames to deal fire damage.

Force. Force is pure magical energy focused into a damaging form. Most effects that deal force damage are spells, including *magic missiles*.

Lightning. A lightning bolt spell and a blue dragon’s breath deal lightning damage.

Necrotic. Necrotic damage, dealt by certain undead and some spells, withers matter and even the soul.

Piercing. Puncturing and impaling attacks, including spears and monsters’ bites, deal piercing damage.

Poison. Venomous stings and the toxic gas of a green dragon’s breath deal poison damage.

Psychic. Mental abilities such as a mind flayer’s psionic blast deal psychic damage.

Radiant. Radiant damage, dealt by a flame strike spell or an angel’s smiting weapon, sears the flesh like fire and overloads the spirit with power.

Slashing. Swords, axes, and monsters’ claws deal slashing damage.

Damage Resistance and Vulnerability

Some creatures and objects are exceedingly difficult or unusually easy to hurt with certain types of damage.

If a creature or an object has resistance to a damage type, damage of that type is halved against it. If a creature or an object has vulnerability to a damage type, damage of that type is doubled against it.

Resistance and then vulnerability are applied after all other modifiers to damage. For example, a creature has resistance to bludgeoning damage and is hit by an attack that deals 25 bludgeoning damage. The creature is also within a magical aura that reduces all damage by 5. The 25 damage is first reduced by 5 and then halved, so the creature takes 10 damage.

Multiple instances of resistance or vulnerability that affect the same damage type count as only one instance. For example, if a creature has resistance to fire damage as well as resistance to all nonmagical damage, the damage of a nonmagical fire is reduced by half against the creature, not reduced by three-quarters.

Healing

Unless it results in death, damage isn’t permanent. Even death is reversible through powerful magic. Rest can restore a creature’s health (as explained in the Adventuring section), and magical methods such as a heal spell or a potion of healing can remove damage in an instant.

When a creature receives healing of any kind, health regained is added to its health. A creature’s health can’t exceed its maximum health, so any health regained in excess of this number are lost. For example, a naturalist grants a warrior 8 health of healing. If the warrior has 14 health and has a maximum health of 20, the warrior regains 6 health from the naturalist, not 8.

A creature that has died can’t regain health until magic such as the revivify spell has restored it to life.

Dropping to 0 health

When you drop to 0 health, you either die outright or start dying, as explained in the following sections.

Instant Death

Massive damage can kill you instantly. When damage reduces you to 0 healths and there is damage remaining, you die if the remaining damage equals or exceeds your maximum health.

For example, a character with a maximum of 12 health currently has 6 health. If they take 18 damage from an attack, they are reduced to 0 health, but 12 damage remains. Because the remaining damage equals their maximum health, the character dies.

Dying

If damage reduces you to 0 health and fails to kill you, you gain the dying 1 condition.

Monsters and Death

Most DMs have a monster die the instant it drops to 0 health, rather than having it fall unconscious and make death saving throws.

Mighty villains and special nonplayer characters are common exceptions; the GM might have them fall unconscious and follow the same rules as player characters.

Knocking a Creature Out

Sometimes an attacker wants to incapacitate a foe, rather than deal a killing blow. When an attacker reduces a creature to 0 health with a melee attack, the attacker can knock the creature out. The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt. The creature falls unconscious and is stable.

Temporary health

Some spells and special abilities confer temporary health to a creature. Temporary health isn’t actual health; it is a buffer against damage, a pool of health that protect you from injury.

When you have temporary health and take damage, the temporary health is lost first, and any leftover damage carries over to your normal health. For example, if you have 5 temporary health and take 7 damage, you lose the temporary health and then take 2 damage.

Because temporary health is separate from your actual health, it can exceed your maximum health. A character can, therefore, be at full health and receive temporary health.

Healing can’t restore temporary health, and it can’t be added together. If you have temporary health and receive more, you decide whether to keep the temporary health you have or to gain the new temporary health. For example, if a spell grants you 12 temporary health when you already have 10, you can have 12 or 10, not 22.

If you have 0 health, receiving temporary health doesn’t restore you to consciousness or stabilize you. It can still absorb damage directed at you while you’re in that state, but only true healing can save you.

Unless a feature that grants you temporary health has a duration, it lasts until it is depleted or you finish a long rest.

Mounted Combat

A knight charging into battle on a warhorse, a mage casting spells from the back of a griffon, or an acolyte soaring through the sky on a pegasus all enjoy the benefits of speed and mobility that a mount can provide.

A willing creature that is at least one size larger than you and that has an appropriate anatomy can serve as a mount, using the following rules.

Mounting and Dismounting

Once during your move, you can mount a creature that is within 1.5 metersof you or dismount. Doing so costs an amount of movement equal to half your speed. For example, if your speed is 9 meters, you must spend 4.5 meters of movement to mount a horse. Therefore, you can’t mount it if you don’t have 4.5 meters of movement left or if your speed is 0.

If an effect moves your mount against its will while you’re on it, you must succeed on a DC 10 Reflex saving throw or fall off the mount, landing prone in a space within 1.5 meters of it. If you’re knocked prone while mounted, you must make the same saving throw.

If your mount is knocked prone, you can use your reaction to dismount it as it falls and land on your feet. Otherwise, you are dismounted and fall prone in a space within 1.5 meters it.

Controlling a Mount

While you’re mounted, you have two options. You can either control the mount or allow it to act independently. Intelligent creatures, such as dragons, act independently.

You can control a mount only if it has been trained to accept a rider. Domesticated horses, donkeys, and similar creatures are assumed to have such training. The initiative of a controlled mount changes to match yours when you mount it. It moves as you direct it, and takes actions as normal. A controlled mount can move and act even on the turn that you mount it.

An independent mount retains its place in the initiative order. It moves and acts as it wishes. It might flee from combat, rush to attack and devour a badly injured foe, or otherwise act against your wishes.

In either case, if the mount provokes an opportunity attack while you’re on it, the attacker can target you or the mount.

Underwater Combat

When adventurers pursue sahuagin back to their undersea homes, fight off sharks in an ancient shipwreck, or fnd themselves in a flooded dungeon room, they must fight in a challenging environment. Underwater the following rules apply.

Melee Attacks Underwater

When making a melee weapon attack, a creature that doesn’t have a swimming speed (either natural or granted by magic) has disadvantage on the attack roll unless the weapon is a dagger, javelin, shortsword, spear, or trident.

Ranged Attacks Underwater

A ranged weapon attack has its range reduced to 1/4 the weapon’s normal range. A thrown weapon has its range reduced by half. Even against a target within normal range, the attack roll has disadvantage unless the weapon is a crossbow, a net, or a weapon that is thrown like a javelin (including a spear, trident, or dart).

Attacks from Land

Characters swimming, floating, or treading water on the surface, or wading in water at least chest deep, have three-quarters cover (+5 bonus to Defense and Reflex saving throws) from opponents on land. A completely submerged creature has total cover against opponents on land.

Fire

Nonmagical fire (including alchemist’s fire) does not burn underwater. Spells or spell-like effects with the fire descriptor create a bubble of steam instead of its usual fiery effect, and creatures and objects that are fully immersed in water have resistance to fire damage.

Spellcasting Underwater

Some spells that require you to speak may not function underwater, subject to GM discretion.

Weather

Strong Wind

A strong wind (rare) imposes disadvantage on ranged weapon attack rolls and Perception checks that rely on hearing. A strong wind also extinguishes open flames, disperses fog, and makes flying by nonmagical means nearly impossible. A flying creature in a strong wind must land at the end of its turn or fall.

A strong wind in a desert can create a sandstorm that imposes disadvantage on Perception checks that rely on sight.

Clarification: Spells will also have disadvantage if their effect would be altered by weather (most likely not).

Heavy Precipitation

Everything within an area of heavy rain or heavy snowfall is lightly obscured, and creatures in the area have disadvantage on Perception checks that rely on sight. Heavy rain also extinguishes open flames and imposes disadvantage on Perception checks that rely on hearing.