Warning: spoiler about P2: King of the Trollhaunt Warrens. The following explains why I want rules on killing yourself, but isn't critical to the question (with the edit), so don't read it if you will ever run this adventure!

In the last battle of the module, each time the Troll King dies, he reforms next to a cauldron in one corner of the room at the top of the next round. He then has to retrieve his magical eye from an alcove on the other side of the room. The party has to kill the King, grab the eye before he can get it, and drop it in the cauldron to finally kill him. Our party managed to get the eye near the cauldron while the king was locked down by another party member. The GM decided that the King would try to kill himself so he could reform near the cauldron and stop the player from dropping it in.

So, are there rules that govern how to kill yourself?

EDIT: If you didn't read the spoiler, I am looking for ways to kill yourself in the middle of combat. With other enemies that, assuming they know your motives, may want to prevent you from killing yourself.

A few options my group considered:

  • Can you attack yourself with a melee weapon and automatically Coup de Grace yourself, dealing critical damage?

  • Can you forgo your ability-score based defenses (basically like becoming flat-footed in 3.5), allowing your enemies to hit you more easily?

  • Can you voluntarily impose the Helpless condition on yourself by not defending against attacks?

EDIT2: I realize that Rule Zero is a perfectly valid answer to this question, but my group (and my GM) likes to stick to the rulebooks, or at least pull from them if we are inventing a houserule. So with that said, let me slightly rephrase the question:

What's the best way to kill yourself, within the normal rules for combat?

Note: I'm assuming melee attacks only here, no fancy spell-based stuff like walking into your own wall of fire.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry to disappoint, but this question is not about how to kill yourself by playing 4e. \$\endgroup\$ – dpatchery Jul 7 '11 at 20:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ I dissagree, your spoiler text is very important to the question. It's not just a matter of wanting to kill yourself, but also, other people around you don't want to let you kill yourself. You should edit your question to make that point clear. I'm really not sure how to handle the situation. I would probably make a skill challenge out of it. \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Jul 7 '11 at 20:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited the question because the answers aren't what I was really looking for. I'm looking for more rules based answers to this question. It doesn't necessarily have to be an official rule, but something that uses rules-based language (similar to the examples in the question - these aren't printed rules but they use defined conditions). @okeefe's answer is the best (to me) so far. \$\endgroup\$ – dpatchery Jul 11 '11 at 12:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ The only thing I would add to Okeef'es answer, is that I believe a melee attack is allowed in the square you occupy, such as against a swarm. Coup de Grace, helpless, and losing your dex/int modifier, plus granting combat advantage all seem to make sense. And there should be no restriction in "attacking" yourself. \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Jul 11 '11 at 12:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not meaning to invalidate your question, but I'm curious. Why couldn't the character move and then charge? Surely the battlefield wasn't too big for that? \$\endgroup\$ – jprete Jul 11 '11 at 13:41

I think that for this one you're going to have to step outside of the rules and say that the combatant in question stabs himself in the chest or other extremely vital area. 4e combat rules assume that you want to do damage and not take it; I don't think you are even a legal target for your own attacks. 4e may have tighter and more encompassing rules than earlier systems, but that's no reason to forget Rule 0 when it comes to things that are out of scope for the combat or skill systems.

EDIT: The OP changed the question to be more rules-based, so here's my effort. I'm using the Rules Compendium for this.

  • By the rules, a PC can attack themselves, since MBAs have a target of "creature" and an attack with a range can legally hit someone in your space.
  • It's not even clear that monsters can hit PCs, if you take the most pedantic reading; I cannot find a definition of the legal target set for monster basic attacks. I would assume "creature" here, but that's an assumption.
  • Even if you can blind yourself by shutting your eyes - this requires Rule 0, because shutting your eyes is not a defined action - the total concealment penalty is greater than the combat advantage bonus.
  • You cannot "declare" yourself helpless as such. However, if you could, you could attack yourself with combat advantage; helplessness only results in granting combat advantage and nothing else! A more normal, but Rule-Zeroed, approach would be to say that you cannot attack, in which case you can't attack yourself either.
  • You cannot coup de grace yourself; the rules specify an adjacent target, not one at Melee 1, and the definition of adjacency uses two squares. A Large creature would presumably be adjacent to itself, however, since it is in four squares.
  • None of the other status conditions causes bonuses to damage, and aside from coup de grace, I don't know of any of the normal combat actions that cause bonus damage.

I think the rules-based answer is that you (i.e. the troll) can keep MBAing yourself until you drop, but you can't really go faster than that without Rule 0.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Aside: There is no Rule Zero in 4e. At least, I can't find one. \$\endgroup\$ – okeefe Jul 7 '11 at 20:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ First page of DM guide for essentials book has something like a rule zero. Don't have it on me though to remember exactly what it is called. \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Jul 7 '11 at 20:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @okeefe: Haha, I just assumed it was there. PHB page 8 says that the DM is a "referee: when it's not clear what ought to happen next, the DM decides how to apply the rules and adjudicate the story." That's much weaker than Rule Zero, but it easily covers my answer's claim: the DM should figure out what happens if the rules cannot cover the situation, and the fact that the rules don't cover a legitimate definitely-possible action doesn't mean the DM has to rule it impossible to do. \$\endgroup\$ – jprete Jul 7 '11 at 20:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ The classic pre-4e Rule Zero allows for DM fiat. My favorite, alternate Rule Zero is for both players and GMs: "Don't be a dick". \$\endgroup\$ – okeefe Jul 7 '11 at 20:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @okeefe - I thought that was Weaton's law \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Jul 8 '11 at 5:10

This question really isn't about 4th Edition rules, it's about whether 4th Edition is in the business of simulation. If one of the conceits of the game is that your characters are real, albeit superhero type people, or at the very least characters who behave as realistically as characters in fantasy fiction, then it ought to be possible to kill yourself in 4th Edition.

The combat rules aren't the mechanism by which people in the D&D world hurt each other, they're the mechanism by which the heroes fight their significant enemies. In other words, if you're not fighting a dragon or something, the combat rules really don't have to apply. If your PC has the fantasy equivalent of a pistol and a discernible anatomy, he ought to be able to blow his brains out. Likewise he can slit his own throat, do a header off a castle wall, etc.

What makes this a tricky question to answer is that 4th Edition defines the various powers that the characters have primarily in terms of hit points of damage, conditions, etc, so it can be difficult to know whether said power is death-dealing or not. My rule of thumb would be that if it can kill a minion, it's doing real harm and can kill. Because what is a minion if not a non-hero?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Edited the question to make it clear that the attempted suicide is happening in combat, with your enemies trying to prevent you from killing yourself. This makes it so the combat rules could potentially apply. \$\endgroup\$ – dpatchery Jul 8 '11 at 12:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ They could, but my main point is that combat rules aren't really about intentionally damaging yourself. However, if you want to adjudicate a PC preventing another character from killing himself, I'd use readied actions to grapple & otherwise hinder the would-be suicide from using his powers. \$\endgroup\$ – cr0m Jul 9 '11 at 3:17

I don't think there are explicit rules for this, but the following makes sense to me:

  • You can make yourself helpless by no longer attempting to defend yourself.

  • Part of being helpless is that you grant combat advantage, making you easier to hit. I would keep the defenses the same (until you start removing armor, etc.).

  • Sure you can coup de grace yourself. For color, it might make sense to have some sort of test against Will to make sure you're capable of mortally injuring yourself. For this particular case, I might not bother since

    the Troll King knows he'll regenerate.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the Will test would still be in order. It doesn't matter what happens next—dying hurts. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 8 '11 at 0:20

I think a big part of the answer would be whether the character has an implement capable of dealing lethal damage.

It would be extremely difficult to kill yourself unarmed, without preparation. However, when equipped with a deadly weapon (blade, fireball-wand, etc), it would be much easier.

My method would be to roll damage dice and determine if enough damage is dealt to kill, or merely to knock unconscious. Also, the damage could count as a critical hit, because you are willingly targeting vulnerable areas.

If the character (not in this case, I suppose, but still relevant to the larger question) was hesitant about doing this, they may also have to pass a will test (I forget how this works in 4e, but in GURPs it would be a will check).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Good point, but I would add that it is difficult to kill yourself if you are not proficient with your unarmed attacks. A monster with claws or even a monk trained to deal lethal blows could probably pull it off pretty easily. \$\endgroup\$ – dpatchery Jul 8 '11 at 12:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Though seriously, how hard would it be to kill yourself? Maybe it would be a logical consideration for a child or an old lady, but a mob (a boss no doubt) that could inflict serious damage should, all things considered, be more than capable to kill himself. Apply combat damage to himself, assuming all hits are critical and no chance to miss ('cause he ain't dodging). \$\endgroup\$ – Neil Jul 8 '11 at 12:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Neil - I would expect an unarmed man in a full suit of armor could have trouble. Again, I think the damage is a could modifier. Unfortunately for the man, he may not be able to do enough damage at once kill himself, and instead knock himself out. \$\endgroup\$ – user1637 Jul 8 '11 at 13:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user1637: Good point. I was assuming he had some sort of lethal weapon. If he had a dagger, for instance, I doubt very much that he'd simply knock himself out. If anything, he'd slowly bleed to death and the question is how long that would take. \$\endgroup\$ – Neil Jul 11 '11 at 14:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ It also really depends on the weapon. A dagger would be handy; a short sword could probably get the job done with little fuss; attacking yourself with a flail is kind of problematic; a bohemian ear-spoon is going to be a challenge. \$\endgroup\$ – kodi Jul 15 '11 at 17:35

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