What are the RAW rules for cold weather exposure?

The rules for cold weather in the DMG (p110) indicate that someone with winter gear could basically travel in extremely cold temperatures (anything below 0 degrees Fahrenheit) for weeks, or even months without adverse effects. According to these rules, someone could even sleep right outside in the snow, and, as long as they have food and water, suffer no adverse effects.

Am I missing something?

RAW rulings only, no RAI or DM adjucations please. There are already posts with many opinions on this subject. I am looking for RAW interpretations here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Question isn't a duplicate so I won't close as such but this should answer your question: The DMG has rules for Extreme Cold, but what about less extreme cold effects? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2020 at 1:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ This post only lists things and proposes RAI answers. I have seen it, so people playing RAW could actually stay months outside at -15F and as long as they have winter gear, food and water, they will suffer no adverse effect. If there is only that RAI post it means there are no RAW rules this could be your asnwer actually because a lot of us play RAW only. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2020 at 1:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your previous question asks "Are there any rules governing extended exposure to such temperatures?" How is this particularly different from "What are the rules for cold exposure?" \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2020 at 3:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Someone Edited and removed RAW rules indications. not sure why I will edit and add it back as I am only interested in RAW ruling \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2020 at 3:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I still don't get how your previous question, which states "Are there any rules governing extended exposure to such temperatures?" is particularly different. My answer there covers the available rules on the matter and also suggests other methods. At the end of the day, dnd-5e is not a physics simulator. Though I admit I may just be missing some detail here, which is why I haven't voted to close this question \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2020 at 4:05

2 Answers 2


I think you are missing that you are playing a game and not actually modeling human exposure to sub-zero temperatures

The DMG has rules for Extreme Cold, but what about less extreme cold effects? contains answers that actually spell out what the rules say about cold exposure.

Is it realistic? Not at all.

Is a game about elves, magic, and dragons realistic? Not at all.

  • \$\begingroup\$ if that is what RAW ruling makes in 5E about long term exposure to freezing temperatures so be it. We want to play a RAW game and will not bother with freezing temperature and only carry winter gear to cope with any type of cold whether magical or other wise unless specifics are stated in the spell (aka control weather is totally a useless spell in that effect IMHO) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2020 at 3:27

What are the rules?

The rules are given in the DMG (page 110) as follows:

EXTREME COLD Whenever the temperature is at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, a creature exposed to the cold must succeed on a DC 10 constitution saving throw at the end of each hour or gain one level of exhaustion. Creatures with resistance or immunity to cold damage automatically succeed on the saving throw, as do creatures wearing cold weather gear (thick coats, gloves, and the like) and creatures naturally adapted to cold climates.

Am I missing something?

Technically, you are not missing anything. Per rules as written, if the characters are wearing cold weather gear in freezing climates, they will be fully protected.

Overall in 5e rules that deal with logistics and resource management have been de-emphasized compared to early versions of the game. For example, the default rule for carrying capacity is a very generous 15 pounds of weight per point of strength without any adverse effects on mobility, and the PHB says on page 178 "which is high enough that most characters don’t usually have to worry about it." Even a commoner could move without impediment carrying 150 pounds. That same commoner would only need to eat every four days to stay healthy.

Neither of these rules is realistic. As is often stated, D&D is a game, not a physics simulation. From a gameplay perspective, what rules about carrying capacity, water, food, torches and weather protection often amount to in practice is bookkeeping. Some people enjoy that aspect of the game, others do so less. The rules of 5e make it relatively easy to largely ignore that aspect of the game, if you are not interested in it. (They provide a few tools, such as Variant: Encumberance rules on page 176 of the PHB, if you are).


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