"What is running water?" in respect to D&D vampires?

Rivers are considered to be running water, as they are used as an example in others editions. But how about rain (no answers are accepted on the related question)? How about a bottle? How about peeing on a vampire? How about puddles?

Related question:

Is rain considered Running Water for a Vampire's weakness?

Can the Tidal Wave spell trigger a vampire's weakness to running water?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Can the Tidal Wave spell trigger a vampire's weakness to running water? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2020 at 16:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that completely asides from what the rules say, this is also very varying in fiction, with some vampires fearing water to the extent that they can’t enter even a boat (despite the most famous one entering england via boat), in other stories they just can’t cross running water (so it acts more like a defensive barrier) and in yet others all forms of water are highly damaging to lethal on contact (so no going out in the rain for those vampires). \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Jan 28, 2020 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


The specific scenarios you list are up to a DM

Running water isn't actually defined as a game term, so we have to go by general definitions. While that can be defined, the specific scenarios you ask about are really only answerable by your DM.

If you are the DM, then you need to make a reasonable ruling on them.

How I'd rule

For me, running water is either a naturally or magically occurring event. I'd try and keep an open mind for cleverness, but to answer your specific scenarios:

  • Rain is not running water. It's falling water. I'm also not familiar with vampires not being able to be in the rain. Dark and stormy nights and so on.

  • A bottle is not running water. You're pouring water out.

  • Urination is probably not. Clever, but it's likely to create more problems then it'll solve.

  • Puddles are not running water. They're literally standing water.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Rain isn't running water. It's "falling with style". \$\endgroup\$
    – Tsugihagi
    Jan 28, 2020 at 19:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't most rivers start as rain? Do the little rivulets flowing around on the ground in a rainstorm count as running water? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ryan_L
    Jan 29, 2020 at 2:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ryan_L I can recommend the book Carpe Jugulum for a good system as to how to treat these things. the tl;dr is that it is more a deep-rooted cultural aversion on the part of the vampire than a law of physics. \$\endgroup\$
    – Borgh
    Jan 29, 2020 at 9:26

According to Lexico, an online dictionary for phrases, running water is defined as

Water taken from a flowing stream or river.

So, by this definition, simply things like streams and rivers are considered running water.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Water taken from" is a curious phrasing. That implies that I could bottle up water from a [flowing] river or stream and that water would continue to be "Running Water" even after it's been removed from the river. Not sure if that justifies ruling that a PC could bottle some river water and scatter it around their camp to keep vampires out, but this definition has some quite significant implications. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xirema
    Jan 28, 2020 at 18:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ The vampire restriction is for water that is running, not the atomic object of 'running water'. You can get running water (noun) from a source of running (verb) water. The former is just water that came from a flowing stream or river which a vampire wouldn't care about, while the latter is actively running water. \$\endgroup\$
    – Drunut
    Jan 28, 2020 at 22:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Xirema after a while the water will become stale, in which case it's no longer running water, it's just stale water. I'd rule this as "up to 48 hours" which seems fair to me. Another implication is that a sewer system with constant water running in it (as a stream) will trigger the vampire's weakness just as well as a river. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 29, 2020 at 6:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Xirema, Re ""Water taken from" is a curious phrasing", Indeed. I think both definitions in Lexico refer to water available for consumption (as in "this cottage has running water"). In some place, the water comes from the city; in others, it comes from a river (or lake!) Neither definition is relevant here. \$\endgroup\$
    – ikegami
    Jan 29, 2020 at 7:54

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