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If a creature is in the area of a cloud of spores ejected by Yellow Mold (DMG, p. 105) when it is touched, and the creature fails a DC 15 Con saving throw, it becomes poisoned. In addition:

While poisoned in this way, the creature takes 5 (1d10) poison damage at the start of each of its turns.

What happens if this creature drops to 0 hit points? Does it still take the poison damage each round, and therefore dies after 3 rounds?

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Yes, the creature continues taking the damage while at 0 HP

Being at 0 hit points does not cleanse a creature of any conditions unless the text of that condition says otherwise. Furthermore, a creature at 0 hit points is still a creature; therefore, they will still take damage at the start of their turns, thereby suffering a failed death saving throw.

They will not necessarily die after three rounds, however.

Affected creatures can reroll the saving throw for the poison at the end of each of their turns, ending the poisoned condition on a success. A creature at 0 hit points still has turns, so they are still eligible to end the effect in this way.

Alternatively, if they roll a natural 20 on a death save, they will regain 1 hit point and become conscious again, causing their death saves to reset. A creature could feasibly survive until the end of the poisoned condition on this way.

They can also die in as little as one round, as a creature might roll a 1 on their first death saving throw, suffering two failed saves and then taking the damage from the mold for the final failed save.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov: I assume you mean they fail a death save from the initial poison damage that occurs when they fail the initial Con save? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Nov 14 '20 at 10:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ That said, the answer should also note that the sentence after the one quoted in the question says: "The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a successful save." It may very well end the poisoned condition and associated poison damage at the end of the very first turn after it becomes poisoned. Of course, if it has already been reduced to 0 HP by that point, it will still continue making death saves unless healed or stabilized (or until it dies, of course). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Nov 14 '20 at 10:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that most creatures simply die when they reach 0 HP. Typically only player characters and important NPCs use the death save rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marq
    Nov 14 '20 at 11:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ That’s not how death saves work in 5e. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Nov 15 '20 at 0:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah it seems you misinterpreted my meaning. You can reroll the save for the poison, not the death saving throws. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrendire
    Nov 15 '20 at 0:53
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Yes, they will die in a maximum of three rounds.

Unless something happens to heal them of the effect, they will continue to take the damage, yes, and because they’re at below 0 hp, each instance of damage will count as a failed death save.

Because you die after three failed death saves, the character will die after a maximum of three rounds. I say “maximum”, since they still make their regular death saving throws and even a single failure on one of those will cause them to die even faster.

Their only hope is someone else casting healing magic on them (restoring them to positive HP and resetting their death saves), or them rolling a natural 20 on their first death save (and being restored to 1hp as a result, resetting their death saves), or rolling a success on their first death save and a 20 on their second. They won’t make a third death save since the damage will kill them by then, and if they fail their first death save, the damage will kill them before they make their second death save.

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