There is a claim that Stabilizing a Creature is broken mainly due to range not being listed. The main argument is in this youtube video, but the core of the argument is that since Stabilizing a Creature does not list range, the range is then infinite. The wording of Stabilizing a Creature is below:

The best way to save a creature with 0 hit points is to heal it. If healing is unavailable, the creature can at least be stabilized so that it isn't killed by a failed death saving throw.

You can use your action to administer first aid to an unconscious creature and attempt to stabilize it, which requires a successful DC 10 Wisdom (Medicine) check.

Nowhere in this wording is the range written which is typical for actions in 5e. So is it possible that because the range is not stated in the action, there range is infinite as the video describes?

The video also points out the wording does not state you need to be able to see the creature meaning you could stabilize a creature anywhere.

Are these interpretations correct based on how Stabilizing a Creature is worded and are there any official ruling/sources that counter this?

Note: Stating this claim does not mean I agree with it.


3 Answers 3


It's not broken, careless reading is

D&D 5e does not have something called "flavour text". Everything written in the rules, in spell descriptions, feats and the like is rules as written. Now let's look at the description. The stabilizing a creature part states:

You can use your action to administer first aid to an unconscious creature and attempt to stabilize it, which requires a successful DC 10 Wisdom (Medicine) check.

So, it does not need to state a range, because it is assumed you must still be able to provide first aid. If you cannot do it from a range, and most likely you cannot, everything is as intended. You could argue you can stabilize a creature with mage hand (as in using only one hand to administer first aid), you could certainly do that with two mage hands (which is not possible for single character). But in no way the range is limitless, or that rule broken.


That Video Is "Clever"

Not actually clever, though. Just irony-quotes "clever".

The Initial Premise Fails

First, the fundamental premise that "every feature in the game has range of some sort when it comes to targeting anything," (verbatim from the video) is just not true. Animal handling, just two paragraphs above the medicine check, reads:

Animal Handling. When there is any question whether you can calm down a domesticated animal, keep a mount from getting spooked, or intuit an animal's intentions, the GM might call for a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check. You also make a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check to control your mount when you attempt a risky maneuver.

Only the last sentence deals with the PC's own mount during a maneuver. The first sentence applies to all domesticated animals, mounts, or just animals in general depending on the application. Does it mention a range? No. Does it mention being able to see the creatures? No.

In general, on skimming the entire section on skill checks, ranges are implied by the type of activity, not spelled out in exhausting detail. Just skimming that single page, activities requiring skill checks without specifying ranges or being able to see the target, which lead to the same sort of absurd situation, include:

  • Communicating with a creature without words
  • Winning a game of skill
  • Estimating the value of a precious item

So that premise just fails. Maybe the youtuber is thinking of spells. Maybe they haven't read the rest of the skill section. Maybe-- just maybe-- it's not actually a good faith argument or misunderstanding at all.

DMG Quotes On The Role Of The GM

Second, if you really need textual quotes from the 5e source books to shut this down (which in my opinion you do not), try these, separately or in conjunction:

DMG 5e, p 5:

The rules don't account for every possible situation that might arise during a typical D&D session.... Sometimes mediating the rules means setting limits.

Takeaway: The rules are not and cannot be "complete" in the way this youtuber implies. Part of the GM's job is to fill in (presumably with common sense) when such situations arise.

DMG 5e, p 237:

To speed things up, assume that a character spending ten times the normal amount of time needed to complete a task automatically succeeds at that task. However, no amount of repeating the check allows a character to turn an impossible task into a successful one.

Takeaway: Some ability checks are impossible.

DMG 5e, p 238:

It's your job to establish the Difficulty Class for an ability check or a saving throw when a rule or an adventure doesn't give you one. Sometimes you'll even want to change such established DCs.

Takeaway: The GM is not bound to honor established DCs when they don't make sense. The GM can change them based on the situation.


No, that argument is not correct. Just, no. A GM is well within their rights to rule long distance medicine checks as impossible.


The players describe what they want to do, the DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions.

In the introduction to the Player's Handbook, we are given the basic structure of play:

  1. The DM describes the environment.
  2. The players describe what they want to do.
  3. The DM narrates the results of the adventurers' actions.

Sure, the rules for stabilizing a creature do not explicitly list a range. Naturally, if an unconscious character is within my reach, there is no question here - I administer basic first aid and attempt to stabilize. When the creature is not within my immediate reach, then the conversation needs to look like the basic structure of play quoted above:

Player: I use my action to attempt to stabilize Reggie.

DM: Reggie is 30 feet away. How are you administering first aid?

Player: Uhhhh....

Then the player must describe what their character is doing to administer first aid, and the DM determines the outcome. Naturally, the player is probably not going to come up with something reasonable, but I won't say it's impossible.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Cyberpunk example: "I load my Tranquilier-Rifle with a syringe containing a stabilizing med and then fire the dart into Reggie's Character's right Thigh" \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Mar 21 at 14:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Trish Yeah, if I have you a rifle capable of shooting medicinal darts, I have to be prepared to let you use it. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 21 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ but seriously: absent such a device or playing a d20 Future campaign where you have some sort of medical drone, as a GM I would let such stuff fail. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Mar 21 at 14:41

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