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I have a player whose character has been using Death Ward constantly. This on it's own is not a problem, but every time he takes a large chunk of damage while at low health, he tries to argue that he's only taking the amount of damage that reduces him to 1, thereby reducing his concentration save on whatever spell he is currently concentrating on.

For example, if he has 11hp, and takes 50 damage, he believes all the damage beyond the first 10 is negated when it stops at 1hp, giving him a concentration DC of 10. Is that right? Or should he still have a concentration DC of 25?

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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 Dec 18 '19 at 10:53
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No, DC 25 is correct!

The key is in reading the text of Death Ward carefully. It states:

The first time the target would drop to 0 Hit Points as a result of taking damage, the target instead drops to 1 hit point, and the spell ends.

Nowhere does it say anything about reducing the amount of damage. Instead, when a creature takes damage, instead of dropping to 0 hp, it drops to 1 hp. The damage itself is not reduced or negated, so the DC should be set accordingly. In your example, DC 25 is correct.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That has always been my assumption, but in the middle of a session you try not to get bogged down with arguments. \$\endgroup\$ – Spidermack Dec 17 '19 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Spidermack Of course. Good practice is to make a ruling in the session, usually in favour of the players to avoid argument, then to start the next session with a brief explanation of your new policy if you change your mind. \$\endgroup\$ – Ladifas Dec 17 '19 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the first time it came up I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but not fully, and split the difference between the two DCs (instead of 10 or 25, I said 17). Now I have more backing to be able to argue the correct point. The problem always comes that he usually arrives well after the session has started, and is in the verge of passing out by the end. \$\endgroup\$ – Spidermack Dec 17 '19 at 19:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could improve this answer by looking at the PHB rules for what happens when at 0 HP to confirm that those rules also don't reduce the damage. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Dec 18 '19 at 6:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruse As far as I am aware, there are no additional rules which reduce damage taken when you drop to 0 hp, so there's really nothing of interest to quote. \$\endgroup\$ – Ladifas Dec 19 '19 at 21:38
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The full damage is "Taken"

Death Ward says:

The first time the target would drop to 0 hit points as a result of taking damage, the target instead drops to 1 hit point, and the spell ends.

So the PC has absolutely taken the damage (otherwise the spell effect wouldn't kick in), and there is no mention of that damage being modified or reduced. The concentration DC is still 25

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