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The 0.1 basic rules (p76) say:

A stable creature doesn't make death saving throws [...]. The creature stops being stable, and must start making death saving throws again, if it takes any damage.

What's not clear to me is whether the hit that takes you from stable to non-stable counts as a failed death saving throw. I assume it won't, like the first hit that brings you to 0 hit points, but the rules aren't clear.

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2 Answers 2

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If you take any damage while you are 0 hit points it counts as a failed death saving throw. See the previous section on that page (p76):

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.

So yeah, even if you're stable (still 0 HP), any damage you take counts as a death saving throw (or 2 on a crit), and if you take your max HP in damage at once, you're dead.

Note that becoming stable wipes out any previous failures, so unless the damage is enough to kill you outright, this will not kill you by itself like it would if you'd already failed a saving throw or two, but it would put you very close to death.

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Short Answer

Yes, at least until an official source clarifies otherwise.

Long Answer

To me, the wording suggests that, no, you do not count hits to a stable character as a death saving throw failure, but technically, that may be the rule.

Evidence Against Failure

A stable creature doesn't make death saving throws, even though it has 0 hit points... A creature stops being stable, and must start making death saving throws again, if it takes any damage.

-p. 76

This wording seems to suggest that, if hit, a stable creature stops being stable, and takes failures for any subsequent hits.

Evidence For Failure

When a character is stable, it is still considered to have 0 hit points.

A stable creature doesn't make death saving throws, even though it has 0 hit points.

Therefore, it seems that, technically, the rules for damage at 0 hit points might apply.

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.

-p. 76

Furthermore, the description of stable only states that characters don't make death saving throws, not that they can't take failures or successes from external conditions while stable.

Verdict

These rules have been out for less than 24 hours at this point. Hopefully, we'll see a few clarifications, and even some wording changes in the PDF itself as it's expanded for upcoming content additions. However, for now, I would suggest that, yes, by RAW, characters suffer death saving throw failures when taken out of the stable state by damage.

Honestly, though, as a DM, I would say that damage simply takes you out of the stable state. Do what's best for your group.

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