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According to the DMG, page 303:

For each 200 pounds of an object’s weight, the object deals 1d6 points of damage, provided it falls at least 10 feet. Distance also comes into play, adding an additional 1d6 points of damage for every 10-foot increment it falls beyond the first (to a maximum of 20d6 points of damage).

I read this to mean that the damage added by the distance of the fall caps at 20d6, but the damage based on the weight of the object doesn't have a cap.

A friend of mine says that remembers a lot of discussion on the topic years ago, and remembers a ruling that the damage that a falling object deals has a hard cap of 20d6, regardless of additional weight.

Unfortunately, he can't find where the stuff he remembers was said, and so all we have to go on is the text in the book. Does anyone know what the proper right answer is? Preferably with a source?

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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 Aug 3 at 6:53
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Your friend seems right in all his claims — 20d6 total

Your friend is right that there used to be a lot of discussions on that matter. Even now you can easily find them using your favourite internet search engine. And before Rules Compendium, these discussions were nonconclusive. The wording is just bad, both interpretations could be valid.

Then, after the Rules Compendium, discussions went like this:

The Rules Compendium pg 52 has the max 20d6 damage as a separate, distinct sentence "A falling object can deal a maximum of 20d6 points of damage"

I don't have an access to the Rules Compendium anymore, but as far as I remember the quote is accurate.


Caveats:

  • there was a lot of discussions if Rules Compendium can change rules from other books. That said, here it only clarifies them.
  • Attack roll / save for falling objects is a discussion I never seen resolved.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Awesome, thank you. Funny enough the attack roll and save is something I did find, in the Heroes of Battle book on page 68. Basically it's AC 5 for a creature to hit a target square (with a bunch of things that increase the ac), and a DC 15 Reflex save to dodge the object. \$\endgroup\$ – DarkArchangel Aug 3 at 14:23
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The 3.5e Rules Compendium has a section for adjudicating falling objects on page 52, which states that:

A falling object can deal a maximum of 20d6 points of damage.

This is immediately after it explains how to determine additional damage dealt by distance, as in the DMG, but is split into a separate, unambiguous statement - falling objects never deal more than 20d6 points of damage.

The exact status of the Rules Compendium itself is sometimes contentious - see the question "Does the Rules Compendium overrule the core books?" for an exploration of that subject - but nonetheless this is probably the published rule that your friend remembers.

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