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By the rules as I understand them, the maximum damage for falling is 20d6. Does this mean that characters with enough hit points (above 70 on average) can simply leap off airships or cliffs (no matter how high), impact the ground, and simply walk away?

Even if the damage is enough to knock a character unconscious, it seems as if it is unlikely to cause "instant death" if the character has more than 35 hit points or so. Which means someone could come along and simply do a quick heal spell or first aid to get them back on their feet.

Are there any other consequences to falling a great distance (like 2 miles)?

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Are there any other consequences to falling a great distance (like 2 miles)?

No

Why not?

Because there aren't and there never have been - the 20d6 limit has existed since at least AD&D and is supposed to represent terminal velocity.

Much ink was spilled in Dragon Magazine arguing the merits of the system. In my youth as a student physicist and engineer I was keenly interested in such issues: now I agree with the Grognardia blogger:

The very idea of having to understand acceleration, terminal velocity, and the like to arrive at a "realistic" representation of falling damage is bizarre

The hit point system in D&D has nothing to do with the way real people get and recover from injury - the rules explicitly tell you this (PHB p.196)

Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck.

A guy with lots of hit points can survive a really high fall because he is physically and mentally tough, has a strong will to survive but mostly because he was a lucky bastard.

If you insist ...

However, for those who have not yet reached the enlightened uplands of "Who cares, let's just play the game" - terminal velocity for a human is "around 53 m/s (195 km/h or 122 mph)." To simulate this you can stand on a car on a German Autobahn in the fast lane while it runs into a bridge.

"A typical skydiver in a spread-eagle position will reach terminal velocity after about 12 seconds, during which time he will have fallen around 450 m (1,500 ft)." That's well less than a third of a mile - if you are higher than that it makes no difference. D&D has decided that you reach terminal velocity after 200 feet so they are off by an order of magnitude.

There have been people who have survived such falls, however, they usually have catastrophic injuries. Indeed, my wife works in spinal cord injuries and parachute accidents are in the top 10 causes of para/tetraplegia - usually these impact at less than maximum terminal velocity as survivors generally have a partial 'chute rather than a total 'chute failure.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For reference : How big a fall can a person survive? -- In 1972, Vesna Vulovic, a cabin attendant, survived a 10,160m fall when the DC-9 she was in exploded over what is now the Czech Republic. ... "A free-falling 120lb [54kg] woman would have a terminal velocity of about 38m per second," says Howie Weiss, a maths professor at Penn State University. "And she would achieve 95% of this speed in about seven seconds." That equates to a fall of around 167m, which is nearer 55 storeys high.. Lucky roll... \$\endgroup\$ – J... Oct 18 '17 at 12:00
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By the rules, yes they can. Keep in mind that "having 65 hit points on average" implies that the character in question is either very high level, or reasonably high level and known for being incredibly tough.

Remember, these same characters can shrug off the icy breath of an Ancient White Dragon, even if they take the brunt of it. It would seem strange that someone powerful enough to stand up to such an ancient, mythical threat would be killed by a patch of dirt.

Of course, if you feel this breaks your suspension of disbelief, you can always rule a fall of that height is instantly deadly. Just make sure you do it before it comes up, so the 1st level Wizard can save the day by casting Feather Fall, a 1st level spell that completely eliminates falling damage for the entire party. (Which just further emphasizes that falling is not considered to be a deadly threat in this game.)

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Yes, he can survive, sure.

Are there any other consequences to falling a great distance (like 2 miles)?

You can use the optional rules for Massive Damage present in the Dungeon Master's Guide:

This optional rule makes it easier for a creature to be felled by massive damage.

When a creature takes damage from a single source equal to or greater than half its hit point maximum, it must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or suffer a random effect determined by a roll on the System Shock table. For example, a creature that has a hit point maximum of 30 must make that Constitution save if it takes 15 damage or more from a single source.

ahhh the System Shock... countless characters died because of this on Second Edition!

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Are there any other consequences to falling a great distance (like 2 miles)?

NO there aren't (except for being prone, but that is a minor issue in terms of what you are asking).

Falling (PHB p. 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.

There are no consequences, RAW, from falling other than the damage and landing prone. Clearly in a D&D world the way falling works means that the damage caps out at 20D6 and any discrepancy between this and the real world (terminal velocity, air resistance, viscosity etc.) misses the point that it is not the real world, it is a fantasy world which works in the way described by the game.

Just as an afterthought, a Monk of 4th level or higher can reduce the damage they take from a fall (Slow Fall PHB p.78) by 5 times their monk level. The average damage is 70 (20 x 3.5 average per roll), so a 14th level Monk has a 50/50 chance of taking no damage at all from a fall of this magnitude.

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