RAW, is there anything that explicitly states what happens to a creature (either PC or monster) when a weight that exceeds their carry capacity is suddenly dropped on them?

EDIT: The intent is to find out the mechanics, if any exist, of what would happen if a Goliath Barbearian PC unceremoniously dropped, say, a 1000 lb. iron ball on a wolf. How would damage and other things be handled? If existing mechanics can't fully describe this situation, how would you handle it at your table?


1 Answer 1


Rules As Written

I've not seen that (damage to something from falling onto that something) specifically.

The only firm reference is that falling damage is 1d6 per 10'.

How I Handle It.

I've used the falling damage modified by size. I don't judge it by Carrying, just by sizes and falling distance.

Noting the principle in physics of equal and opposite reactions, and applying it liberally...

I assume a Medium creature does the same damage to what it falls upon a medium creature. I use a Dex save to avoid; DC 10 for ragdoll falls, but if intentional, it's an opposed Attacking character's Dexterity (Acrobatics) vs the target's Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics).

  • \$\begingroup\$ My understanding of the normal falling damage rules is that they are written for the default scenario of landing on the ground. So when a Medium creature falls onto something softer, like a bush, hay bale, or another Medium creature, I would subtract 10 feet from the distance fallen when calculating damage. Extending this to your house rule for damage to the thing fallen on, I'd likewise reduce the damage that the unfortunate soul below takes if the thing falling is a creature or otherwise has some give (e.g., a very leafy tree branch, perhaps). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Possible exceptions to this reduced damage exception include particularly un-soft creatures, like a golem, mimic, or gargoyle; those that are extremely heavy for their size, like a rhinoceros; and those of different sizes (as you already mention). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 18:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanHenderson you're talking about damage to the falling; the OP is asking about damage to the critter landed upon. As am I. I don't reduce damage for falling onto critters; the extra from concentration of force makes up for the landing upon something. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 5:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I clearly am talking about the critter landed upon: "Extending this to your house rule for damage to the thing fallen on, I'd likewise reduce the damage that the unfortunate soul below takes..." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 7:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ The counterexample creatures I listed would be those which, if they landed on you, you would not get less damage. But if a human fell 20 feet to land on another human, the damage to either would certainly be less than the damage one human would suffer from falling 20 feet onto the hard ground, for the same reason seatbelts and airbags reduce injury - the deceleration is spread out over a slightly longer period of time (~1/2sec rather than ~1/50sec) because the person on the bottom collapses after the initial moment of impact. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 7:18

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