My cleric and wizard were both stuck in glue in recent combat, and a third PC was down. Instead of rolling to free themselves, they opted to fight from where they were. Once the combat was "over", i.e. all beasts were felled, did they need to still roll "in turn" to free themselves and heal the dying PC or could they have "rolled free" on their own and healed him? I am a new DM and my Husband is an old school D&D person - not that familiar with 5e but knows the old rules well. we disagreed on this, and I'm curious what you all think. Thanks!

In reading an answer to a similar question, the writer states combat continues until all things "combat related" are dealt with, which would mean turns continue in order, including saves from glue trap and death saves. If this is correct, then I suppose my question is answered, but I would like someone to clarify. I do not find anything in the PH discussion of combat that specifies when it ends.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: What happens to dying PCs when combat ends? \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz May 16 '18 at 14:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you clarify what effect do you mean by "stuck in glue"? Is this a monster ability? \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz May 16 '18 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @sdjz it was a "glue trap". Thanks \$\endgroup\$ – MysticSeas May 16 '18 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MysticSeas out of curiosity , would you mind telling us how you decided to rule it at the time? \$\endgroup\$ – ArtaSoral May 16 '18 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ErosRising Please don't answer in comments, even if the question's closed. Here's our policy. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 16 '18 at 19:05

Technically yes although if time is not of the essence you can have them automatically succeed at the task by spending 10x the normal amount of time needed (DMG p237)

With enough attempts and enough time, a character should eventually succeed at the task. To speed things up, assume that a character spending ten times the normal amount of time needed to complete a task automatically a succeeds at that task.

Since rounds in combat take 6 seconds that would mean that a full minute of trying to unstick himself would be sufficient to automatically succeed. If you wish to preserve the illusion of time being an issue (perhaps hinting at a random encounter or something) you can still insist they roll though.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Super! So had I used that in my ruling we could have done it that way: but since I didn't know any better, the ruling would have to stand. Thanks so much for your help! \$\endgroup\$ – MysticSeas May 16 '18 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MysticSeas my pleasure :) although truth be told i think Xirema's answer is more practically useful. \$\endgroup\$ – ArtaSoral May 16 '18 at 14:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have the DMG to hand, but surely this is not always applicable? Say you have a DC25 to break down a door, if your STR bonus is less than +5 you should not be able to break it? \$\endgroup\$ – ErosRising May 16 '18 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ErosRising correct, the very next line is "However, no amount of repeating the check allows a character to turn an impossible task into a successful one." I just left it out because i felt it wasn't applicable to OP's question. \$\endgroup\$ – ArtaSoral May 16 '18 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like this misses the important bit in the question about a third, dying, PC. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 16 '18 at 15:36

I think it's always good to refer to the Golden Rule of DMing:

If There are No Consequences for Failure, you shouldn't be Rolling Dice

In a combat situation, the consequences for failing to escape from a glue trap are

  • You remain trapped, possibly unable to contribute to combat
  • You're vulnerable (lower-case 'v') to damage because incapacitation makes it easier for enemy attacks to hurt you (and hurt you badly)

Out of combat, the consequences for failing to escape a glue trap are

  • You waste time.
  • ....

Obviously, it depends on the exact circumstances. If the situation/encounter is on a clock, then perhaps it's appropriate to keep rolling dice. Conversely, if the glue trap is particularly robust, then maybe the PC can't escape at all, and they need to find another solution. But if there's no imminent danger, then you don't need to bother continuing rolling dice; just let them succeed and as DM, just announce that "'x' minutes passed while PC Y freed themselves", and move on.

In your Situation, You'd keep Rolling Dice

Since there's a risk of a PC dying if they don't escape the trap fast enough, it's definitely appropriate to keep rolling dice. I probably wouldn't even exit the initiative order until characters are stabilized.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to emphasize your actual answer, since it is hidden in the last paragraph while all the rest of the text seems to be arguing the opposite. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage May 16 '18 at 15:36

Yes, I believe they should roll, the reason being that a dying PC is a time sensitive situation. If that situation did not apply (i.e. if the PC was down but stable), then given enough time (chances to succeed at the roll) they would probably be freed from the glue anyway, so the roll would in that case be redundant.

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