At the end of our last gaming session my character was fighting a Gorgon in a pool of chest height water.

I had the terrible misfortune of being knocked down and then petrified (turned to stone)

Can I drown now even though I've been turned to stone?


3 Answers 3


No, you can't drown

The first of the rules for the petrified condition states:

A petrified creature is transformed, along with any nonmagical object it is wearing or carrying, into a solid inanimate substance (usually stone). Its weight increases by a factor of ten, and it ceases aging.

Since the petrified creature is an inanimate substance, they don't have to breathe and couldn't even if they wanted to. If you don't have to breathe, you can't drown or suffocate.

As mentioned by Willem Renzema in the comments, the basic rules do have an entry for objects:

When characters need to saw through ropes, shatter a window, or smash a vampire's coffin, the only hard and fast rule is this: given enough time and the right tools, characters can destroy any destructible object.

Use common sense when determining a character's success at damaging an object. Can a fighter cut through a section of a stone wall with a sword? No, the sword is likely to break before the wall does.

For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects.

The last sentence would cover a petrified adventurer.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Downvoted : While I totally agree with this and I would rule the same, this interpretation doesn't really track with the rest of the RAW condition. "Petrified" never say the creature become an object and with how it describes how the creature ceases aging + it becomes immune to diseases, it would be reasonable to expect the need to breath/eat to be listed but it's not. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 15:30
  • 42
    \$\begingroup\$ @Nahyn-supportMonicaCellio , inanimate means not possessing the qualities of life, which means no eating, drinking, breathing, voluntary movement, etc. As quoted, the condition explicitly states the creature becomes "a solid inanimate substance". Thus, not needing to breath is implied by word choice. \$\endgroup\$
    – Journer
    Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 15:50

Not while you are petrified but you might when you revert

The petrified condition states that the creature is "transformed... into a solid inanimate substance (usually stone)". Since inanimate objects don't breathe, your PC cannot drown whilst inanimate. However, your PC may still fill with water whilst inanimate since nothing indicates you become solid stone your PC's lungs are presumably still open and thus can fill (or partially fill) with water. When transformed back to flesh, the lungs will still be full of water and thus the PC will begin drowning the moment they revert.

Still, this would be up to the DM to interpret, and I would consider it a bit of dick move to kill a character in this way.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ This answer could be improved by discussing the (balance) implications of going by this rather creative ruling. Apart from that: A DM pulling this on a character without prior warning seems like a good reason to leave the table without further discussions. It really is an extreme dick move. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 12:04
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ If we're going down this road understand that your lungs can't fill with water in this state any more or less than they could if you held your breath. Why? Because your nose is a snorkel. You don't need to hold it closed unless you're turning upside down. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 16:08
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Can they fill with water if the character has their mouth open? \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandra
    Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 20:16

The rules for the Petrified condition are as follows (source):

  • A petrified creature is transformed, along with any nonmagical object it is wearing or carrying, into a solid inanimate substance (usually stone). Its weight increases by a factor of ten, and it ceases aging.
  • The creature is incapacitated (see the condition), can't move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws.
  • The creature has resistance to all damage.
  • The creature is immune to poison and disease, although a poison or disease already in its system is suspended, not neutralized.

The rules for drowning are as follows (source)

A creature can hold its breath for a number of minutes equal to 1 + its Constitution modifier (minimum of 30 seconds).

When a creature runs out of breath or is choking, it can survive for a number of rounds equal to its Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 round). At the start of its next turn, it drops to 0 hit points and is dying, and it can't regain hit points or be stabilized until it can breathe again.

For example, a creature with a Constitution of 14 can hold its breath for 3 minutes. If it starts suffocating, it has 2 rounds to reach air before it drops to 0 hit points.

RAW, I see no indication that anything in the petrified condition does anything to the rules for drowning. Thus, RAW, I would argue that a character can drown while petrified, and die from it. However, this does not seem to be RAI (given that you cease aging and become immune to poison and disease), and this is also not how I would personally rule it at my table (especially if a player became petrified, which ime is more common than an enemy).

Note also that Greater Restoration requires that the target be a creature, which, RAW, a corpse is an object, not a creature, so it would be impossible to cure the petrified condition of a creature who has drowned with this spell (RAW, you would need to use True Resurrection or Wish to cure the petrified condition from someone who drowned while petrified). Again, this isn't how I would personally rule it at my table, but that's what RAW says.


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