The core question
What is a way for a 16th level character to avoid potentially fatal falling damage - but are not Feather Fall, Levitate, magic items that grant the properties of these spells, or the Monk's and Barbarian's class features (Slow Fall and Rage)?
I am planning a short campaign in D&D 5e that starts out with my players imprisoned upon an airship. The airship gets attacked, and all passengers are hurled towards the ground from a substantial height (more than 3000 feet).
- These are 16th-level characters (because we want to do a high-level adventure). I won't tell my players that they "should" or "might take" magical starting equipment or spells that give them flying speed, etc.
- They are stripped of their equipment (because they were imprisoned, by even stronger characters).
- The fall should be lethal, if they do not intervene. I'm considering moving the damage cap for falling up for this very reason (I plan to use the "a creature falls 500 ft at the start of a round" rule). I want to avoid the "raging barbarian just fell out of the sky and just tanks the impact" scenario, if possible.
- I've modified the fall damage as follows: terminal velocity is about 150 ft/s IRL, about 80 in 5e under the "500ft per round or 6 seconds" rule, so I was thinking maybe 40d6 (a quarter of the max velocity in feet). Enough to potentially kill/make high-level players unconscious.
My current ideas are as follows:
- The cargo from the ship - that contains their equipment, which they can recover later in the campaign - also includes Scrolls of Feather Fall. The scrolls are scattered in the air around them and can be grabbed and used. This has the caveat that Feather Fall is only on the Bard's, Sorcerer's, and Wizard's spell list, so if we don't have one player with this class, RAW they cannot read this scroll.
- A player could grab a sail from the airship and use it as a improvised parachute - this is probably far out of the rules, but I might rule this as a DC 20 Acrobatics or Athletics check?
- The players can attempt to fall into water, a lake or something similar. This will reduce their damage, but might still kill them.
I am looking for a solution that
- works for (almost) all classes or
- lets one player save the whole party or
- somehow negates the fall damage otherwise