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I have a player that wants to create a character that is a Half-Orc Shadow Sorcerer; specifically they want to use the combination of the Shadow Sorcerer's Strength of the Grave feature and the Half-Orc's Relentless Endurance to be very hard to kill.

If the character is reduced to 0 hp and decides to use Strength of the Grave, but fails the saving throw, can they then use Relentless Endurance to avoid being knocked out anyway?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 12 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it might be worth pointing out that such a Sorceror is likely to be underpowered, because Half-Orcs don't get a racial Charisma bonus, so he'll have a max bonus of +2 at level 1, and will lag behind until his third ASI (at level 12, IIRC) when he hits the ability score cap at Charisma 20. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Jun 13 at 5:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast It is the default ability score generation method, yes, along with the standard array, and the one used in official AL events. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Jun 13 at 7:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000: Point buy is technically a variant rule; the "defaults" are the standard array and the "roll 4 dice and drop the lowest, 6 times" methods. You're right that AL uses point buy, though. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 13 at 7:56
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Yes, you can use these two features together

Both Strength of the Grave and Relentless Endurance are features that you can use if damage drops you to 0 hp, and there isn't any language in either of the features which makes them mutually exclusive. It makes sense that you would try to use Strength of the Grave first, since that involves a check which might fail, but if you do fail that save, you're still in the state of having been just reduced to 0 hp, so you can choose to activate Relentless Endurance.

Don't forget that both Strength of the Grave and Relentless Endurance have circumstances where you can't use them - Strength of the Grave can't save you from a critical hit or from radiant damage, but it does work even if you're dealt so much damage in one hit that you would otherwise be instantly dead. Relentless Endurance can save you from any kind of damage, but only if it isn't enough to instantly kill you (dealing an amount of leftover damage which exceeds your normal maximum HP). In some circumstances the character might only be able to use one of their abilities, or neither, if they're dealt a critical hit which would instantly kill them, for instance.

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Yes, they do

The Shadow Magic sorcerer's Strength of the Grave feature (XGtE, p. 51) reads:

When damage reduces you to 0 hit points, you can make a Charisma saving throw (DC 5 + the damage taken). On a success, you instead drop to 1 hit point. You can’t use this feature if you are reduced to 0 hit points by radiant damage or by a critical hit.

After the saving throw succeeds, you can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.

The Half-Orc's Relentless Endurance trait reads:

When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.

Nothing about these abilities explicitly prohibits the use of the other. If you fail the save, you would still drop to 0 HP which satisfies the condition for Relentless Endurance's use. As a result, you can use both abilities if Strength of the Grave fails.

This matches the rules intent, as confirmed in an unofficial tweet by lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford:

are features like barbarian relentless rage and shadow sorcerer strength of the grave intended to stack (if you fail one saving throw, try the other) or is it a choose one in an instant scenario?

Things in the game don't shut each other off unless a rule explicitly says otherwise.

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