What happens to a PC that gains ongoing damage at the start of their turn?

For example, Lolths Brutal Swarm has an aura that means any character starting its turn in the aura is attacked. The attack deals damage and ongoing 10 damage.

Now, as it's the start of their turn, do we apply the ongoing damage or is their turn considered started and thus we apply on their next turn? As a side question to this, if they gain the ongoing damage on their turn, do they get to save against it at the end of their turn?

If they do it almost renders the ongoing damage pointless unless they fail the save.


The answer to your question actually has nothing to do with the order of start-of-turn events, but in a bizarrely convenient twist of fate also exists on Page 197 of the Rules Compendium under the header Other Triggered Effects.

Because the triggered attack lists no action type, we are directed to treat it as a reaction, in which case it occurs after the player has finished going through the entire start-of-turn checklist.

Therefore the ongoing damage is applied too-late to damage the player on their current turn, and they absolutely get a saving throw to end it at the end of their turn, before it can damage them.

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I am playing through an adventure where that exact monster appears, so I've already documented myself.

Page 197 of the Rules Compendium states teh different things that happen at the beginning of a turn. Despite Ongoing Damage and No Actions being two separate bullet points that the turn player can order however they want, it is not entirely clear if the Any Order rule applies to single events or to whole bullet points.

In the former case, the ongoing damage only starts existing after the "at the beginning of your turn" effect, thus the damage happens during the same Beginning of the turn.

In the latter, one could go through the Ongoing Damage bullet point while it's still empty. This feels a bit cheesy, but D&D 4e rules are not famous for valuing realism. (I wouldn't do this.)

If the ongoing damage happens later during the round, yes, the character gets a save before having to take the damage, not even once.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So, are you suggesting you wouldn't apply the damage during the turn the creature attacks (the beginning of the PC's turn) but, assuming the PC is hit, grant the PC a save vs the effect at the end of this same turn? \$\endgroup\$ – nixxrite Mar 4 '17 at 18:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm suggesting to apply the damage if the creature is it during the beginning of its turn, not if it's hit later. Then the save happens regardless, since it's Save Ends \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Mar 4 '17 at 18:52

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