I have been DMing for my group for maybe a month or two, and we ruled that upon stabilizing your character with death saving rolls, you recover one HP and are unconscious.

Is this right? Should you just be able to get up right after falling to 0 HP? Do you suffer any other conditions, such as being knocked prone? The way we did it feels incorrect, and if anyone could point me to the answer that would be great. I'm starting a new group and want to clear up the rules for them.

What happens when you succeed on all of your death saving throws?

  • 1
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    – V2Blast
    Feb 18, 2020 at 22:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Just because you asked "Should you just be able to get up right after falling to 0 HP?", I wanted to clarify that you shouldn't roll all the death saving throws right away. You only roll one one death saving throw per turn that you start with 0 hp, which gives your allies time to heal you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chris
    Feb 19, 2020 at 16:16

3 Answers 3


If you succeed on a Death Saving Throws 3 times, you don't recover any hitpoints. Instead, you become stable:

A stable creature doesn’t make death saving throws, even though it has 0 hit points, but it does remain unconscious.

The creature stops being stable, and must start making death saving throws again, if it takes any damage.

A stable creature that isn’t healed regains 1 hit point after 1d4 hours

So it takes at least 1 hour before a stable character wakes up again. Only applying a healing effect can bring you back up while in combat. Also note that you only make 1 death save per turn, so it takes a while before you can even become stable (usually 4-5 turns).

The only way to recover without dedicated healing (such as a spell or special ability that recovers hitpoints) while in combat is if you roll a 20 on your saving throw:

Rolling 1 or 20. When you make a death saving throw and roll a 1 on the d20, it counts as two failures. If you roll a 20 on the d20, you regain 1 hit point.

This would cause you to stop being unconscious.

You can find this information in the PHB on page 197-198.

Also, if you are knocked unconscious, you do fall prone. See the Unconscious condition on page 292:


• The creature drops whatever it’s holding and falls prone.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So if you are stable but unconscious, do you still technically have 0 HP? \$\endgroup\$
    – Spikyfish
    Feb 20, 2020 at 19:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Spikyfish yeah, see this part: "A stable creature doesn’t make death saving throws, even though it has 0 hit points, but it does remain unconscious." \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Feb 20, 2020 at 19:53

Three death save successes and you're stable but still unconscious

On three successful death saves a PC becomes 'stable'. A companion can also stabilize an unconscious PC with a successful medicine check, or by casting the cantrip spare the dying.

Check the rules for 'Stabilizing a creature' again:

A stable creature doesn't make death saving throws, even though it has 0 hit points, but it does remain unconscious.

So you're not a risk of death but you're still unconscious, what next?

A stable creature that isn't healed regains 1 hit point after 1d4 hours.

Regarding your secondary question, any creature that is unconscious 'falls prone'.

Any creature that find themselves to be prone (whether by their choice or otherwise), must spend 'an amount of movement equal to half their speed' in order to stand up, assuming that they are able and willing to do so (i.e. not still unconscious).


On reaching 0 HP

Once a character reaches 0 HP, they are unconscious, and starts rolling death saving throws on their turn. (See page 197 of the Player's Handbook.)

When rolling Death Saving Throws

When making death saving throws, there are 4 categories of results that we care about: rolling a 1 on the d20, rolling a total between 2 and 9, rolling a total between 10 and 19, and rolling a natural 20 on the die.

  1. If you roll a 1 on the d20, you automatically mark 2 death save failures (when you reach 3, you die)
  2. If you roll a total between 2 and 9, you only mark a single failure
  3. If you roll a total between 10 and 19, you mark one success (once you have 3 successes, you become stable)
  4. If you roll a natural 20, you immediately regain 1 HP (causing you to regain consciousness)

Once Stable

Once a character becomes stable, they remain unconscious for 1d4 hours before regaining 1 HP.

If a character receives healing while unconscious (whether stable or not), they wake up immediately, though still prone.

Once a creature is stable or has received healing, they reset their number of death saving throw successes/failures.

Unconsciousness and combat

If an unconscious character is attacked, the attacker will have advantage on the attack (if 5 ft. away) from the prone condition; if it hits, it will be an automatic critical hit because of the unconscious condition which is 2 death save failures.

If a stable creature takes damage, it has to start making saving throws again.

  • \$\begingroup\$ To better this answer, I suggest answering the prone condition question, and maybe adding other ways of regaining health \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18, 2020 at 13:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your last sentence, is that true (automatically failing 2 immediately whilst stable), or is it that being hit while stable just puts them back into death saving throws again (after which, then being hit again would be 2 failures, as normal)? \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Feb 18, 2020 at 14:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS Making an edit that i hope clarify in regards to your question \$\endgroup\$
    – JeKaWo
    Feb 18, 2020 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not quite? But I think this probably ought to have it's own question rather than comments back and forth on this post. New question here: What happens when an unconscious but stabilised character is hit? \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Feb 18, 2020 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your section on "Unconsciousness and combat" is slightly incomplete, in that the unconscious and prone conditions both have certain effects, which may cancel out or not depending on how far away the attacker is (not on melee vs. ranged). If the attacker's more than 5 feet away, then the advantage from unconscious and disadvantage from prone cancel out; if the attacker's 5 feet away, then the multiple instances of advantage don't "stack" and instead simply cause the attack to be made at advantage. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Feb 18, 2020 at 22:39

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