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I was looking at the Prismatic Beetle Swarm from Tome of Beasts. The description of its Glittering Carapace trait says, in part:

In bright light, a creature within 30 feet that looks at the prismatic beetle swarm must make a successful DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or be blinded until the end of its next turn. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target is also knocked unconscious.

If a creature in range falls unconscious from the dazzling light of the swarm, do their hit points automatically drop to 0?

The trait description doesn't specifically say the creature's HP drops to 0, like it does for drowning rules and other things, nor does it say so in the actual unconscious condition. And spells like catnap and sleep don't make HP drop to 0, although I feel like unconsciousness from falling asleep is different from falling unconscious in this manner.

If their HP does not drop to 0, how does the unconscious condition end? Does the unconscious creature still need healing?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What book or source is the prismatic swarm beetle from? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 24, 2020 at 3:48
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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
    Jul 24, 2020 at 3:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2: Googling led me to this monster listing from Tome of Beasts, a 3rd-party book by Kobold Press. (The disclaimer at the start of the book says that its monster names/descriptions/stats/abilities are "open content", hence it appearing on that site.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jul 24, 2020 at 4:17

1 Answer 1

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The target is most likely unconscious until the end of their next turn

The feature in question states:

[...] a creature within 30 feet that looks at the prismatic beetle swarm must make a successful DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or be blinded until the end of its next turn. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target is also knocked unconscious. [...]

The section on Conditions states:

[...] A condition lasts either until it is countered (the prone condition is countered by standing up, for example) or for a duration specified by the effect that imposed the condition. [...]

The problem is that this feature does not explicitly say when the unconscious condition ends, leaving us with two options:

  1. The duration of the unconsciousness is the same as the duration of the blinded effect; that is, until the end of the target's next turn. This can be inferred from the use of also and the fact that no alternative amount of time is given.

  2. The unconscious condition simply does not end until something that explicitly ends the unconscious condition happens (I don't know if anything explicitly does this but probably something does).

The second conclusion is, at least to me, infeasible and nonsensical. Thus I would conclude that the target remains unconscious until the end of their next turn.


Falling unconscious does not make you drop to zero hit points.

Nothing in the unconscious condition states that this occurs, and various monsters such as the Adult Brass Dragon can cause a creature to fall unconscious without their hit points lowering. Their Sleep Breath feature in particular states (emphasis mine):

[...] Each creature in that area must succeed on a DC 21 Constitution saving throw or fall unconscious for 10 minutes. [...]


Regaining hit points does not always make you conscious

The section on "Falling Unconscious" states (emphasis mine):

If damage reduces you to 0 hit points and fails to kill you, you fall unconscious. This unconsciousness ends if you regain any hit points.

The fact that gaining hit points makes you no longer unconscious is an effect unique to the unconsciousness that is specifically caused by dropping to zero hit points and does not apply to other forms of unconsciousness.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The easiest way for the book to have clarified the duration would be to say "the target is also knocked unconscious for the same duration." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jul 24, 2020 at 4:30

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