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I don't know if my group is particularly incompetent in combat or if its our own feckless dice at fault, but we frequently find ourselves locked in desperate combat, with multiple members of the party staring down the barrel of the Death Save while the survivors struggle mightily to survive. This results in a very uneven experience, as at the end of the combat, the survivors are feeling stoked/pumped/exhilarated with their victory over such disparate odds and clear danger, while the unfortunate victims are bored out of their minds at having nothing to do but roll death saves, fishing for 20s, for what can sometimes be a long time.

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions for optional rules or things we're overlooking to make the "Death Save" stage of the game more fun/interactive/reliable/exciting for the unfortunate ones? This question is not focused on avoiding the Death Save in the first place; we're not looking for a lower danger level, just less boring consequences for failure.

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Its worth mentioning that other acceptable things would be allow the character to die normally, but find some other role for them in the combat somehow? Dunno. –  GWLlosa Jan 14 '11 at 20:42
I upvoted some options below, but if this happens very frequently your DM should adjust, or you should learn to avoid certain battles. –  Peter Seckler Jan 16 '11 at 16:30
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Make Heal DDI checks.

Even if a character has no healing surges left, any other character can try a Heal check (DC15) to Stabilize him. If successful, no further death saves need to be made.

If they do have a healing surge left, it is a mere DC10 to allow them to use their Second Wind DDI.

Both of these checks are very makeable for even 1st level characters and should be attempted whenever there isn't immediate danger to the conscious character in my opinion.

Spread Healing Responsibilities Around

If this is occurring during combat, your group may want to ensure that most characters are able to heal others. I feel that nearly all non-striker characters should have some form of healing available. It is better to restore a dying comrade to fighting strength than to inflict damage upon the enemy.

  • Potions: very cheap at the low end.
  • Multiclass: every character should be able to find a suitable leader class to multiclass into
  • Healing skill: Being trained in Healing can turn a difficult check into an easy one at low levels. By mid-levels you should be able to retrain out of this.
  • Specific powers: A lot of classes can heal other with at least one power
  • Magic items: Some allow you to heal nearby characters
    • Lifeforce Amulet DDI
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The enemies are usually pretty good about limiting our "touch" access to dying characters in combat, as its obviously critical. Multiclassing leader, though, sounds promising. –  GWLlosa Jan 14 '11 at 19:54
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Any feat that improves saving throws improves death saving throws. Use

Disciple of Death:

Disciple of Death

Prerequisite: Wisdom 13

Benefit: You gain a +5 feat bonus to death saving throws.

Or Resilient Focus:

Benefit: You gain a +2 feat bonus to saving throws.

Also, look at Revenants for very hardy characters.

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+1 for Revenants - These guys are very hardy, with a feature that gives them a Standard Action (Second Wind, anyone?) before their first Death Save, and feats available that will even let them continue fighting (or chugging healing potions) past 0 HP until they hit negative bloodied. –  Iszi Jan 17 '11 at 5:32
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