My friend asked me the other day. How long can I leave this goblin tied before it dies. The only answer i can think of is as long as you want as long as its fed properly...

Is there any limitations to how long something can be tied up? Or in another way incapacitated? I know it could potentially break out. He was talking about using more than one rope to COMPLETELY incapacitate it. Basically something to the effect of total incapacitation or envelopment (mummy style), with the mouth free to take in nutrition and air. He plays a CN lvl. 6 Minotaur barbarian.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So I fixed that. Apparently when you post a link to a picture on google search it comes up with things not intented. My apologies, I honestly did not know. \$\endgroup\$
    – Thatguy
    Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 4:50
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Okay, awkward image aside, I'm a little confused: besides "as long as it is fed properly" (and well, given water, and being able to rest), what kind of "problem" can you imagine? (well, Goblins might have basics necessities, but anyway) - or, more directly: what exactly are you asking? \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 4:55
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, as a note, "any ideas" is a very, very bad wording here. Idea generation is better handled in RPG forums. Right now it's a mix of Opinion Based and Unclear for me. Maybe solving one solves the other. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 4:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Like for instance. If he were to tie up a bandit we found. Mummy style with the legs tied together and hands tied together behind the back, and then that whole thing wrapped up to the body, not too tight, but for sure not loose enough to get out without a significant str check. How long if fed and watered and rested properly would we be able to carry this bandit in the cart before he died? Complete incapacitation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Thatguy
    Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 4:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for a rules answer or a realistic answer based on an extrapolation of the strain such bindings would have on human anatomy? If the latter, you may be better off trying (though I don't know if these sites will support a question of this sort) the Health stack or the Biology stack \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 5:04

1 Answer 1


There are no rules covering this type of situation

As such, the answer is most directly indefinitely, but you can extrapolate from other rules to get an idea of how to handle this situation more appropriately.


This type of binding is highly similar to the squeezing mechanic which allows a creature to squeeze into a tighter space (see the Combat section in the Player's Handbook). Squeezing in such a way could be considered strenuous activity and as such, the goblin would be unable to rest.


Being unable to take long rests (sleep) will result in the accumulation of Exhaustion. If the rope was loose enough to rest, you could still suggest it wasn't a "good rest" and have the goblin gain Exhaustion anyway (just at a slower rate).

There are no rules to cover the lack of sleep in the Player's Handbook, but Xanathar's Guide to Everything does make a suggestion that is outline in this answer to a question about lack of sleep. You could say that the creature has advantage on the saving throws since he is able to rest a little, but just not as well as if he wasn't bound.

How long?

Using rulings based on the above applications, the average survival time is 6.9 Days. If you choose to give the goblin advantage since he at least gets some rest, the average survival time goes to 7.405 Days. The math can all be found below.


  1. The goblin starts with no Exhaustion.
  2. The goblin has 10 Constitution (a +0 modifier).
  3. The goblin is unable to rest due to the bindings. (If you give advantage on checks due to some rest, see footnote1)


  1. The goblin will die as soon as day 6 since six levels of Exhaustion results in death.
  2. The goblin will always die by day 9 since the DC to avoid Exhaustion after day 4 is greater than 20 (the maximum Constitution save possible from the goblin).

The Probabilities

Day 6 Death

  • He must fail all saves
  • P = 0.45 * 0.7 * 0.95 * 1 *... = 0.299

Day 7 Death

  • He must succeed one of the saves on day 1-3 and fail the rest
  • Succeeding Day 1
    • P = 0.55* 0.7 * 0.95 * 1 *... = 0.366
  • Succeeding Day 2
    • P = 0.45 * 0.3 * 0.95 * 1 *... = 0.128
  • Succeeding Day 3
    • P = 0.45 * 0.7 * 0.05 * 1 *... = 0.015
  • Overall Probability (SUM) is 0.510

Day 8 Death

  • He must fail only one of the saves on day 1-3 and succeed on the other two
  • Failing only Day 1 (and day 4+)
    • P = 0.45 * 0.3 * 0.05 * 1 *... = 0.007
  • Failing only Day 2 (and day 4+)
    • P = 0.55 * 0.7 * 0.05 * 1 *... = 0.019
  • Failing only Day 3 (and day 4+)
    • P = 0.55 * 0.3 * 0.95 * 1 *... = 0.157
  • Overall Probability (SUM) is 0.183

Day 9 Death

  • He must succeed on the saves for day 1-3 (and fail the rest)
    • P = 0.55 * 0.3 * 0.05 * 1 *... = 0.008

Then take the weighted sum of the probabilities

  • 6 days * 0.299 + 7 days * 0.510 + 8 days * 0.183 + 9 days * 0.008 = 6.9 days

1For the math with advantage, change all instances as below

  • 0.45 to 0.2025
  • 0.55 to 0.7975
  • 0.7 to 0.49
  • 0.3 to 0.51
  • 0.95 to 0.9025
  • 0.05 to 0.0975

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