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Say you are playing a character, and they are downed (0 HP) and in that moment, they get turned into stone (petrified).

Does the character continue making death saving throws while petrified? Or do they resume making death saves only after they are turned back?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking as the DM trying to make a ruling on this situation? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Mar 6 at 2:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells yes. \$\endgroup\$ – Ender Look Mar 6 at 2:39
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Yes you continue to make death saves while petrified

The condition petrified states the following:

  • A petrified creature is transformed, along with any nonmagical object is is wearing of carrying, into a solid inanimate substance (usually stone). Its weight increases by a factor of ten, and it ceases aging.
  • The creature is incapacitated (see the condition), can't move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings.
  • Attacks rolls against the creature have advantage.
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity savings throws.
  • The creature is immune to poison and disease, although a poison or disease already in its system is suspend, not neutralized.

You are not immune to damage and can be killed while petrified. Therefore you must continue to make saving throws against death.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "and it ceases aging." + "although a poison or disease already in its system is suspend, not neutralized." Make me assume the very opposite. As death saving throws are kind of about if your biological system is gonna collapse or not. So neither being aging nor even poisons or disseases continue working inside you, would make me think that. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Mar 6 at 10:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zaibis. Sounds like you are trying to apply real-world physics/logic to an in-game magic rule system. This rarely works! By RAW, linksassin is correct (I believe) - petrification does only what it says it does. But if you want to apply some kind of logic, you could argue that taking enough damage while petrified means your physical form is so badly damaged that when petrification wears off, you are basically dead. \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Mar 6 at 10:20
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There's a solid case to be made that the rules don't handle this case very well (in a way that matches what you'd expect from logic). Being petrified should pause biological processes like dying (if no damage is done to the stone).

So I'd rule that death saving throws are suspended by petrification, but the counter doesn't reset upon unpetrification and you aren't stabilized.

As an answer on Can you be healed or stabilized (if downed) while petrified? points out, RAW you are still a creature (not an object) and only what it says in the Petrified condition applies, not anything more.

This technically means you can still heal from a short or long rest, which doesn't make sense to me if you aren't aging, and even your awareness of your surroundings is on pause (While petrified is the character aware? no).

You can be conscious and able to think without having any of your senses work, but my mental picture of petrified is not locked-in syndrome. Unless there's some reason to rule that petrified creatures are aware of the passage of time, it's easiest to consider them as "on pause".


So I'd propose this untested house rule:

  • Petrified: you don't have to make a death saving throws at the start of your turn. (But the counter doesn't reset).
  • You can't be stabilized by a medicine check while petrified (you're not biological anymore). Possibly allow some kind of engineering check instead, or allow getting bandages applied while petrified giving advantage when unpetrifying?
  • You can't benefit from a short or long rest while petrified (time is on pause for your mind and bodily-healing processes)

Perhaps also disallow administering a healing (or other) potion to a petrified creature, but I don't know if that would be fun or not.

Taking damage while at 0HP would as usual cause you to fail a death saving throw (or 2 on crit).

These differences from the implications of RAW are more consistent with what we think of as being petrified, and hopefully flesh in this gap in the rules. (Pun intended, sorry.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ One thing to note though is that nowhere in D&D rules does it say that death is a purely physical process or what death saving throws represent physically. In fact, HP itself is described as being partly based on mental effects such as will to live. All the is to say that the mechanical systems of D&D often don't follow real world logic and trying to force them to make sense often results in a much more complicated game. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mar 6 at 12:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose: I'd argue that petrification pauses your mental will-to-live process as well. The complexity argument is well-taken, though. This proposed rule is not necessary for most games, and I haven't ever tried it. But if the situation did come up where something important hinged on this, I think it's entirely reasonable, and could be used if everyone at the table agree it sounds good that being a statue overnight doesn't mean you depetrify fully recovered at full HP. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Mar 6 at 12:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see this as the only logical solution proposed across all 3 linked questions. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Mar 6 at 13:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri Logical? maybe. Correct? No. Also note 'untested'. This homebrew would seriously alter how this condition played at the table. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mar 6 at 22:44

protected by Community Mar 6 at 11:25

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