I'm new to the game and while playing, I forced a dazed direwolf into the water, where the DM said it drowned. Now, I was wondering if there is a specific rule for this, or this was the DM making a home rule.

I appreciate the DM letting me kill it. I mean, it was 5 levels higher than me, and I was just trying to get it away from me and let my partners kill it. But I'd like to know if this is a one time thing or not.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I get around this rule set entirely by playing a Shardmind - constructs don't need to breathe. Used it to bypass a game of Frogger one DM had set up, by just sinking and walking across the river bed. Be careful doing stunts like this though, it tends to aggravate the DM. Mine was able to gradually wear me down enough via underwater combat so that I was pretty much dead once I reached shore. \$\endgroup\$
    – Iszi
    Dec 19, 2013 at 7:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Iszi A good DM should hopefully be prepared for intelligent out-of-the-box thinking, but if it gets too meta, exploitative, or intentionally trolly... then yes, prepare for rocks to fall on your character and kill him. \$\endgroup\$
    – Corion
    Dec 19, 2013 at 17:15

1 Answer 1


There are specific rules covering drowning in the Dungeon Master's Guide at least for players (but it isn't a far stretch to apply them to monsters), but your DM has called it on the spot that the creature has just perished in the water.

If it were a player/NPC/monster that was in some way critical to the story/encounter, then it may have been preferable to allow it time to drown and thus time to save itself or to be saved by someone else, but in any other case it is perfectly valid both for the flow of the narrative and the entertainment-factor to just rule that your smart or lucky playing has ended in a result that benefits the party without looking up rules and thus slowing things down.

The actual rule (for player characters) is that during strenuous situations they must succeed a DC20 Endurance check every turn on which they take damage to prevent the loss of a healing surge. Once the character has no healing surges remaining they take their level in damage instead. I (personally) would also say that monsters follow these rules, although they may not have healing surges so will take damage from drowning sooner.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth mentioning that in 4e (as opposed to most other D&D editions) player characters and monsters follow different rules for many aspects of play. I don't think drowning is explicitly different for the two groups, but there is precedent for applying different (usually simpler) mechanics to non-player characters. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Dec 19, 2013 at 7:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Very good point, monsters are generally covered by a simplified rule-set for most things. In the case of drowning I personally have not seen a monster-specific rule in the original core books, although there may be one in Essentials. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 19, 2013 at 7:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, quick point, monsters have 1 healing surge per tier. So level 1-10 monsters have 1 surge, 11-20 monsters have 2 surges, and 30+ monsters have 3 surges. \$\endgroup\$
    – Soulrift
    Dec 19, 2013 at 12:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it was a great way to rule the death of the creature, it hearkens back a little to 3.E rules although a dazed creature can still hold it's breath, but for 4E it perfectly fits the style of play. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2013 at 0:20

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