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DMG p.252

During the chase, a participant can freely use the Dash action a number of times equal to 3 + its Constitution modifier. Each additional Dash action it takes during the chase requires the creature to succeed on a DC 10 Constitution check at the end of its turn or gain one level of exhaustion.

Suppose a creature was in a chase and already at Level 4 of exhaustion. It chose to continue dashing and at the end of its turn failed its constitution check.

DMG p. 252

A participant drops out of the chase if its exhaustion reaches level 5, since its speed becomes 0.

Now suppose a creature that was allowed to Dash twice on its turn started its turn at exhaustion level 4 and chose to Dash twice. At the end of its turn, it would be required to make two Con checks. If it failed the first check and got to Exhaustion Level 5 would this immediately remove it from the chase and thus remove the need to check again, or would a second check still be required with the possibility of death if it failed?

Note that exhaustion from chases has a different recovery mechanic than other exhaustion, in that (DMG p. 252)

A creature can remove the levels of exhaustion it gained during the chase by finishing a short or long rest.

whereas exhaustion gained by other means requires a long rest, food, and drink. Thus there is some evidence that while chases are temporarily exhausting, the exhaustion gained from them is not as serious or as long-lasting. Might this include the chase-induced 'death' as well?

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It would appear so.

The Con checks, and levels of exhaustion gained, are applied at the end of the turn, for each Dash action taken during the turn. If you somehow take multiple Dash actions, you can gain multiple levels of exhaustion at once and run yourself to death. If you're at 4 levels, and gain a level from the first check, this drops your speed to zero and will take you out of the chase, but it doesn't undo the second Dash action you already performed.

And no, you can't fix death by "resting", even if it would relieve the condition that caused your death. Resting can restore hit points, too, but if you're dead from being at zero hit points, you don't come back to life the next day.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ A small thing, only long resting restores hitpoint, short rests do not (unless you spend Hit Dice, which you don't always have anyway) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 11 '20 at 16:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is actually somewhat realistic too, many animals will actually die of exhaustion (or heat stroke) if forced to run for prolonged periods. It was actually a known problem with horses. \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Jul 19 '20 at 4:21
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RAW Yes, RAI No

RAW, the Con checks come at the end of your turn, and they are not explicitly prevented by ending the chase. So if you choose to Dash twice while at 4 levels of exhaustion, it is possible that you can kill yourself if you fail both checks, as your turn is largely over and you have no opportunity to take back your decision or otherwise influence the result. At 4 levels of exhaustion, you are at disadvantage on these saves, meaning death is a real possibility.

RAI, you will "drop out" of the chase when you hit exhaustion level five after failing the first check. The "Chases" rules set up chases as a special situation with special rules (like combat) and imply that chases end when you stop moving. The consequences of chases largely go away at the end of the chase.

The chase ends when one side drops out or the quarry escapes. (Beginning a Chase)

A participant drops out of the chase if its exhaustion reaches level 5, since its speed becomes 0. (Running the Chase)

A chase ends when one side or the other stops, when the quarry escapes, or when the pursuers are close enough to their quarry to catch it. (Ending a Chase)

These quotes make it clear that the intent is for the special condition of chases to end the moment the pursued or pursuers stop.

Note also; there is a limit to the number of times one can Dash during a chase, but it is easy to reset that limit.

During the chase, a participant can freely use the Dash action a number of times equal to 3 + its Constitution modifier. Each additional Dash action it takes during the chase requires the creature to succeed on a DC 10 Constitution check at the end of its turn or gain one level of exhaustion.

Consider this - a PC is being chased and they have used their allotment of free dashes. They duck into a building and successfully hide, ending the chase. A round later, they are discovered by the building occupants, and a new chase begins. Since this is a different chase, and since the Dash limit is set per chase rather than per day or per rest or other time unit, they begin with a fresh Dash allotment.

If they do acquire exhaustion during a chase, ALL of the levels of exhaustion may be removed by a single short rest, as opposed to normal exhaustion which requires a long rest, food, and drink to remove just one level.

Thus it appears that chase consequences are intended to be "softer" than normal, and are meant to largely apply during the chase itself. Given this, I believe RAI is that when someone who has Dashed twice at exhaustion 4 fails their first save, they are immobile and the chase ends, meaning the second save is never rolled.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I question the idea of resetting the Dash limit by "starting a new chase". How long do I have to not run away in order to "end" the chase? Can I just not use all of my movement, and specify that I stand still for a few seconds? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Jul 19 '20 at 3:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells no, you cannot - at least not while you remain in sight. If you don't move, you are either giving up the chase (in which case you lose - you are caught) or, if you are far enough ahead so that you can stop without immediately being caught, you are still in the chase, just not moving this round. But if you can move out of sight and win a Stealth vs. Perception contest, then just one round of not moving means you have escaped and are out of the chase. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jul 19 '20 at 7:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain why that is? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Jul 19 '20 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mark Wells. Because of the chase rules themselves. "A chase ENDS when one side or the other stops [voluntarily losing the chase], when the quarry escapes [contested Stealth check], or when the pursuers are close enough to their quarry to catch it [return to combat]." \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jul 19 '20 at 19:30
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By RAW it is possible to die merely from chase-induced exhaustion

Your hypothesis is that a creature starting their turn at level 4 exhaustion and already above the "exhaustion penalty threshold" (relative to their Constitution) and who could Dash twice on their turn, might therefore reach exhaustion level 6 upon the end of their turn, and thus die.

The deciding factor is whether the first Dash of their turn, if it brings them to exhaustion level 5, does so at the end of their turn, or immediately on completion of the Dash action. As you quoted, the RAW (rules as written) says the check for exhaustion comes at the end of the turn. So your doom-scenario is feasible in RAW.

But what if you had to make Con checks mid-turn? Even then, it is a subtle matter.

It is conceivable that a GM might house-rule that a multi-Dash-capable creature should roll the Constitution check upon completion of each Dash, even if its turn is not over yet. In such a case, in your scenario, on a failed check right after the first Dash, the second Dash would not be possible, though it takes a close reading of "Dash" to see why:

When you take the Dash action, you gain extra movement for the current turn. The increase equals your speed, after applying any modifiers. With a speed of 30 feet, for example, you can move up to 60 feet on your turn if you dash.

Because this description does not explicitly say you cannot Dash when your speed is zero, one might think a creature in your scenario can still Dash a second time even at level 5 exhaustion -- just that the attempt would be fruitless, adding 0 movement. But because their speed is 0, and therefore the "increase" in movement is 0, it means there cannot possibly be "extra movement for the current turn", which is what the Dash action is by definition. Thus, the definition of Dash cannot be satisfied in this scenario, meaning the creature cannot Dash the second time on their turn, and thus cannot reach level 6 Exhaustion. But again, this is only if the GM makes a house-rule as mentioned above.

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