“JUMP!” The Barbarian shouted to the Wizard.
The Bone Demon was almost on them. It tore up the ground leaving a path of destruction in its wake. It would be seconds before it was on the pair of adventurers.
The Barbarian had already jumped, a scream of rage echoed across the cliffside where he stood seconds ago.
“Idiot…” The Wizard mumbled as he completed his incantation and stepped off the ledge. The Wizard slowly began to float down moments before the Demon appeared at the cliff’s edge. It howled in frustration.
“You could have waited a second.” the Wizard said.
Table of Contents
What is Fall Damage in DnD 5e?
Fall Damage 5e is the damage a DnD character takes when it falls at least 10ft.
If the character takes the fall damage, when they hit the ground they are knocked prone. This could occur when a character is knocked off a high ledge, a bridge collapses, or a Fly spell cuts out mid-flight. Any reason that a character falls at least 10ft will typically incur fall damage.
For rules purposes, Fall Damage is considered Bludgeoning damage according to the Player’s Handbook on page 196.
“Bludgeoning. Blunt force attacks-hammers, falling, constriction. and the like-deal bludgeoning damage.”
Calculate Fall Damage 5e
The rules are pretty simple when it comes to calculating fall damage.
Every 10ft of freefall deals 1d6 damage (10ft : 1d6) with a maximum damage of 20d6.
So to get the maximum amount of damage from falling you would have to fall from 200ft or more.
These rules can be found in the Player’s Handbook on page 183.
“A fall from a great height is one of the most common hazards facing an adventurer.
At the end of a fall, a creature takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet it fell, to a maximum of 20d6. The creature lands prone unless it avoids taking damage from the fall.”
Rate of Falling
It basically states that in one single turn, 6 seconds of in-game time, a player falls 500ft.
So if a player is on an airship or on the back of a dragon and falls, if they are 500ft or lower, they hit the ground immediately.
If you fall from 1000ft, they immediately fall 500ft and end their turn. On their next turn, they’ll have the option to attempt to stop falling, usually by casting Feather Fall or some other spell. If they can’t stop falling, they hit the ground.
Before this addition to the rules, people had to basically guess at the rate of fall and there were quite a few engineers and math whizzes online that mathed it out according to the rate of fall from Feather Fall, but now there are official rules.
Bludgeoning Resistance & Fall Damage
Since Fall damage is considered Bludgeoning damage, you’ll inevitably hear the question,
“If I have Bludgeoning resistance do I have resistance to Fall Damage?”
As with most things in DnD, the answer is, “It depends.”
It depends on what is actually giving you Bludgeoning resistance. Each ability typically gives limitations on what sources can benefit from Bludgeoning Resistance.
It’s a blanket statement with no restrictions or limitations. Therefore, if a Barbarian is falling while using their Rage ability, they will have Resistance to falling damage.
Now let’s take a look at the Heavy Armor Master Feat on page 167. It states:
“While you are wearing heavy armor, bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage that you take from nonmagical weapons is reduced by 3.”
It specifically states that the bonus only applies to weapons. Falling damage is not considered a weapon, and therefore the player would not get any reduction in damage.
So as you can see, whether a character gets their damage reduction or Resistance all depends upon the wording of the source.
Falling while Flying
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything also included new rules for creatures that have a flying speed and start to fall. They are also found on page 77, or you can refer below.
A flying creature in flight falls if it is knocked prone, if its speed is reduced to 0 feet, or if it otherwise loses the ability to move, unless it can hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as the fly spell.
If you’d like a flying creature to have a better chance of surviving a fall than a non-flying creature does, use this rule: subtract the creature’s current flying speed from the distance it fell before calculating falling damage. This rule is helpful to a flier that is knocked prone but is still conscious and has a current flying speed that is greater than 0 feet. The rule is designed to simulate the creature flapping its wings furiously or taking similar measures to slow the velocity of its fall.
If you use the rule for rate of falling in the previous section, a flying creature descends 500 feet on the turn when it falls, just as other creatures do. But if that creature starts any of its later turns still falling and is prone, it can halt the fall on its turn by spending half its flying speed to counter the prone condition (as if it were standing up in midair).
It’s a huge block of text, but it can be simplified down to 3 rules.
- If you are knocked prone while flying, you fall.
- If you are still in the air while falling (500ft or higher) you can use your next turn, spending 1/2 your flying speed, to regain control.
- (Optional Rule) If you have movement left while falling and you hit the ground, you can subtract what’s left of your flying speed from the distance you fell before calculating damage.
Falling into Water
There are now official rules for falling into water. They were first introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
Before Tasha’s Cauldron, players had to house rules their own falling into water and diving rules. There were 3 main ways to do it, and we’ll talk about the official version first. Depending upon the DM, the house rules still might seem fairer.
Typically there are three ways to deal with falling into water.
Take Half Damage
First up is the official method. Characters falling into water can make a DC 15 Strength check to attempt to land head first or feet first, depending upon how they want to land.
If they succeed they take no damage, but if they fail they take 1/2 damage.
Before the official ruling in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, the closest thing we had to an official rule is a tweet from Jeremy Crawford, lead rules designer for DnD 5e, “There’s no official rule for falling into water. As DM, halving the falling damage is what I typically do.”
It seems he’s since advocated for an official rule.
Ignore the first 20 feet
One of the most common ways to deal with falling into water is to simply ignore it… the first 20ft anyway.
In most professional pools there are high dives that are 20-30ft and anyone can jump off of them into water without too much difficulty. If you wiggle around or don’t know how to hit the water, though, you still might hurt yourself and need a lifeguard.
That’s why the community has stuck with 20ft being the standard that anyone can fall from without hurting themselves.
After 20ft, however, damage is calculated normally. So if a character falls from 30ft, they’ll take 1d6 falling damage; at 40ft, they’ll take 2d6 damage, etc.
If they fall from 20ft, they simply end up in the water.
Roll an Athletics Check
What does a DM do when a situation occurs and they have no idea how to deal with it?
Roll a d20.
It’s entirely up to the DM what kind of check it is, but most agree that it’s a Strength (Athletics) check. Typically, swim checks fall under this category, but when I DM, I let my players choose Dexterity (Acrobatics) for falling into water.
Swimming is undeniably a Strength check, but you could argue that diving has more to do with acrobatics and dexterity than strength.
When using this method, the player rolls whatever skill check the DM sets out for them, and then that number with any applicable modifiers is subtracted from the fall distance.
For example, a character with a +2 Strength modifier jumps from a 30 ft cliff. They roll an 18 for their skill check.
It would look something like this:
Fall Distance – (STR MOD + D20) = Fall Damage Height OR 30 – (2 + 18) = 10 ft
This would mean that a 30ft drop into water caused the same damage as falling from 10ft on solid ground… meaning they’d only take 1d6 worth of damage.
It’s another way that fairly simulates falling onto hard concrete vs. a jump from a high dive into the water.
If you’re high enough, you’re still going to take some damage, just like in the real world.
The problem with this method is that you’ll have to make checks for each individual person and that could slow down the flow of the game.
Falling onto a Creature
Another new rule added to Falling Damage lays out rules for falling onto another creature. Whether it’s on purpose or accidental, the results are the same.
The creature being landed on must make a DC 15 Dexterity save. On a failure, the damage is split between both creatures.
There are some size restrictions as well. The creature that is landed on is knocked prone unless it is at least 2 sizes larger than the falling creature.
The next rule about size is a little vague, “If the creature falls into the space of a second creature and neither of them is Tiny…”
It doesn’t actually specify what happens if it is a Tiny creature either falling or being landed on. You’ll have to house rules that decision. Personally, I think if a Tiny creature is falling, the DC check should be easier and if the Tiny creature is being landed on, they have no DC save.
Falling Objects Damage
Sometimes your players may get into a situation where they can throw objects down at their enemies or cause a landslide to rain rocks down on their enemies.
As with many odd situations, there are no official rules to deal with boulders falling onto characters.
The closest thing to an official ruling is the improvised damage table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide on page 249.
|1d10||Burned by coals, hit by a falling bookcase, pricked by a poison needle.|
|2d10||Being struck by lightning, stumbling into a fire pit.|
|4d10||Hit by falling rubble in a collapsing tunnel, stumbling into a vat of acid.|
|10d10||Crushed by compacting walls, hit by whirling steel blades, wading through a lava stream.|
|18d10||Being submerged in lava, being hit by a crashing flying fortress.|
|24d10||Tumbling into a vortex of fire on the Elemental Plane of Fire, being crushed in the jaws of a godlike creature or a moon-sized monster.|
DMs are supposed to simply check the chart and find the most accurate to make a decision. You could also invert the falling rules to figure out your damage.
A rock about the size of a fist would deal 1d4 per 10ft and anything larger could potentially deal the same 1d6.
|Distance||Small Stones||Large Stones|
That’s my personal chart I use when improvising damage or when rocks fall down onto creatures.
How to Prevent Fall Damage 5e
So, you’re plummetting to your death.
Somewhere between the ground rushing up at you and the pit in your stomach threatening to cause a full anxiety panic attack, you may ask yourself, “How do I prevent falling damage?”
Cast Feather Fall
This will be your go-to move whenever you come across a situation where you need to safely fall from great heights.
Feather Fall is a 1st level spell that most spellcasting classes can pick up at level 1.
The best part about Feather Fall is that it can be cast as a reaction and it can affect up to 5 allies. It’s the easiest way to deal with any fall damage, and one character can basically cover an entire party with the spell.
Catch onto something
There’s no actual rule for this, but most DM’s will allow you to force a reaction skill check to grab on anything nearby. You could even manage to grab hold of someone who already has Feather Fall cast on them.
So at level 4, you can reduce your fall damage by 20 points. This means you can fall from 30 ft without taking any damage and fall from 40 or 50 ft with minimal to no damage.
Of course, making a Monk character specifically for the fall damage is a little silly, so only pick a Monk if you’re interested in the class.
Natural Fly Speed
Some characters have a natural flying speed. If you can recover from the fall and regain your flying movement you can simply choose to stop falling and begin flying.
Creatures like Owlin, or class features like the Ranger’s Swarmkeeper’s Writhing Tide ability grant flying speed which the falling character can use to stop their fall.
Regardless of your flying speed, you’ll still need to abide by the Falling while flying rules. It’s easier to do while your falling at heights greater than 500ft.
Enhance Ability & Cat’s Grace
One of the best spells for short falls is Enhance Ability. It grants the Cat’s Grace feature that allows players to ignore 20ft of damage and grants temporary hitpoints.
When cast at higher levels, it also can affect more than one character at a time.
With the extra 2d6 hit points, you basically can ignore 40ft of falling if your luck is good.
Dealing with Fall Damage as the DM
There’s a lot of leeway for a DM when it comes to fall damage and players can try to metagame to deal some crazy amounts of damage to their enemies.
The best thing to do as a DM is to be consistent and clear with what the rules are.
The new rules added in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything clear up a lot of the more uncommon falling situations, but it’s always up to the DM on what official rules they want to use.
Falling Damage FAQs
How much damage do you get from Falling 5e?
Characters take 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10ft of falling up to a maximum of 20d6.
How does Fall Damage work?
When a character falls, for every 10ft they fall they receive 1d6 bludgeoning damage.
0-9ft = no damage
10-19ft = 1d6 damage
20-29 = 2d6 damage
Why is there a Fall Damage cap in 5e?
There is no official reason for the Fall Damage cap. Some suggest that it gives the opportunity for high-level characters to survive otherwise fatal falls for thematic purposes.
What happens if you Fall on someone in DnD 5e?
The character that is being hit or catching the falling character must make a DC 15 (Dexterity) save. On a success, there is no damage. On a failure, the damage is split evenly between both creatures.
Do Falling Objects do damage in 5e?
Falling objects do deal damage, but it is up to the DM how much damage they deal. An improvised damage chart can be found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide on page 249.
Can you die from Falling in DnD?
Yes, if players fall from high enough they can die from falling.
What happens when you Fall in water in DnD?
When falling into water, players can make a DC 15 Strength check to attempt to safely land in the water. If they fail they take the normal amount of fall damage cut in half.
How far can you fall in 6 seconds 5e?
In 6 seconds (1 turn), players fall 500ft.
Before starting GameCows with his wife Kendra, he used to teach English Language Arts in the US. He combined his love of gaming with education to create fun game-based learning lessons until he eventually decided to run GameCows with Kendra full-time. He’s known for pouring over rulebooks in his spare time, being the rule master during game night, and as the perma DM in his DnD group. Bryan loves board games, writing, traveling, and above all his wife and partner in crime, Kendra.