Fall damage in 5e: Rules and calculations

Does that ledge look a little high? Leap with confidence after you’ve read our in-depth guide to how fall damage in 5e works.

Barbarian falling


Have you lost your footing? Or maybe you seriously misjudged a jump? Either way, falling to your unfortunate and untimely death isn’t desirable for any adventurer.

Dread starts to sink in as you watch your Dungeon Master chuckle to themselves. Meanwhile, you’re desperately trying to remember the official fall damage rules in the Player’s Handbook. How far do you fall per turn? And how much damage do you take?

Whether you’re a new DnD player or a veteran with the battle scars to prove it, remembering the rules during these high-stress events is tough! Sometimes, though, understanding them can be just as confusing.

If you’re feeling a little lost while plummeting to what seems like certain death, we’ve got you covered! This guide will help to explain the ins and outs of falling in DnD 5e and all the intricate rules and dangers associated with the descent.

How does fall damage work in 5e?

Before we get into how fall damage works and the nuances of the rules, let’s see what the official Player’s Handbook has to say. Chapter 8 states:

“A fall from a great height is one of the most common hazards facing an adventurer. At the end of a fall, a creature takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet it fell, to a maximum of 20d6. The creature lands prone, unless it avoids taking damage from the fall.”

This rule should be simple to understand if you’ve played DnD for years. But when you’re starting out, it can take time to grasp this brand-new concept. To make it easier, we will dissect this rule and explain exactly what it means.

How is fall damage calculated in 5e?

If your party follows the rules as written (RAW), the formula for fall damage is relatively straightforward. The rules state that for every 10 feet your character falls, you’ll take 1d6 bludgeoning damage. The maximum damage your character can take from falling is 20d6 damage (200+ feet).

So, if your character falls 50 feet, you’ll need to roll five six-sided dice (5d6).

Don’t worry if your head is spinning! We’ve devised two simple formulae to make it easier to determine your fall damage and how many dice you need to roll.

Dice formula: First, you need to know how far you’ve fallen and then roll a six-sided die for every 10 feet fallen. Then, you’ll divide this number by ten to get your answer.

Example: Number of feet (50)/10 = how many dice to use (5)

How much damage do you get from falling in 5e?

The damage you receive from falling will depend on both your roll and modifiers. Here is a table of the possible roll outcomes by falling height:

Distance fallen Min damage Avg damage Max Damage
10 feet 1 3 6
20 feet 2 6 12
30 feet 3 9 18
40 feet 4 12 24
50 feet 5 15 30
60 feet 6 18 36
70 feet 7 21 42
80 feet 8 24 48
90 feet 9 27 54
100 feet 10 30 60
110 feet 11 33 66
120 feet 12 36 72
130 feet 13 39 78
140 feet 14 42 84
150 feet 15 45 90
160 feet 16 48 96
170 feet 17 51 102
180 feet 18 54 108
190 feet 19 57 114
200+ feet 20 60 120

It is possible with certain abilities and spells to mitigate some fall damage, which we’ll cover shortly.

Once you’ve calculated the damage, including modifiers, it will then be subtracted from your overall health (hit points) to determine how many you have left.

When your health reaches zero, you’ll be left unconscious – with your life in the hands of fate. You can either be healed by an ally in your party or try your luck with death-saving throws.

A death-saving throw is the ultimate test to decide whether you live or die.

Is there a cap on fall damage in 5e?

Lower-level players rejoice! For many of us, a 200-foot drop equals certain death! But according to the rules, you can only take a certain amount of damage before it’s capped. Technically, this means that a 500-foot fall can only do so much damage before the rules kick in. The fall damage in 5e is limited to 120 points of damage – equal to a 200-foot drop. So, no matter how far you fall, the maximum hit points you can lose is 120. Luckily, rolling 20 sixes on d6 is astronomically unlikely!

How far do you fall per turn in 5e?

Okay, so now you know how to calculate fall damage in 5e. But how do you know how far you’ve fallen in every round? Well, the method behind this may be different for every party. And plenty of players disagree on how it should be calculated. So let’s get into why it’s so tricky to understand.

Before 2017, players typically used real-life falling physics to determine how far they would fall during each six-second round. So if you fell from a height of 1,000 feet, you’d have to work out how many feet you would realistically fall in six seconds. But this method was complicated and messy and could cause friction among parties.

So, in 2017, a supplement to the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Player’s Handbook was released. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything states that when characters fall from a ‘great height’, they will instantly fall 500 feet during their turn. Then, during the next round, you fall up to another 500 feet, and the process would continue until your instantaneous deceleration.

But the rule itself brought up one simple issue: If the first fall is instant, they wouldn’t have a chance to cast a spell or take an action that could save them. An instantaneous fall isn’t very realistic, either. After all, you can’t teleport to the bottom of a fall in real life!

As a solution to this problem, Dungeon Masters and parties typically use a house rule during a campaign that either allows players to take life-saving actions or causes them to take the falling damage without a means of resisting it. However, this only happens in the second round after the first 500-foot drop.

What is the maximum speed you can fall in 5e?

With the release of Xanathar’s Guide, you can technically work out the rate at which you’re falling. But it’s important to remember that a Dungeon Master’s ruling is final. Ultimately, they decide whether you live or die by allowing you to cast spells or use items during your fall.

Don’t panic, though! Most Dungeon Masters have a vested interest in seeing parties complete their campaigns. So, your character will likely live to see another day regardless of how impactful the fall was.

If you’re a stickler for the rules, you can use Xanathar’s Guide to calculate the rate you’re falling. Your character will fall up to 500 feet per round, which lasts for 6 seconds. You can work out your falling speed by dividing the time by the distance of the drop.

So the maths is very simple:

500 feet / 6 seconds = 83 feet per second

Still, no matter which rules you use, the falling damage cap will only let you take 120 points worth of damage.

How do you calculate the damage of a falling object in 5e?

Falling damage in 5e is calculated the same way for any falling creature or object. For every 10 feet the object falls before hitting your character, that’s the amount of bludgeoning damage it will do.

However, Dungeon Masters can create their own chart to determine an object’s fall damage based on its weight. For example, a small boulder may not do as much damage (perhaps 1d10) as an enormous pile of rocks (around 8 or 10 d10).

A rogue making an escape by fallingIf you have a plan to mitigate the damage, a long fall can be a cunning escape.

Exceptions to the fall damage rules

If you’ve been playing DnD for any amount of time, you’ll know that nothing is ever as simple as it seems! Every rule has loopholes and exceptions, depending on how you use them. And it’s important to remember that the ‘official rules’ are often just guidelines. Rather, the deciding factor for every campaign largely depends on which DM house rules are in play.

One of the exceptions to the fall damage rule comes directly from Xanathar’s Guide on Flying Creatures and Falling:

“A flying creature in flight falls if it is knocked prone, if its speed is reduced to 0 feet, or if it otherwise loses the ability to move, unless it can hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as the fly spell.

If you’d like a flying creature to have a better chance of surviving a fall than a non-flying creature does, use this rule: subtract the creature’s current flying speed from the distance it fell before calculating falling damage.”

According to this rule, a flying (now falling) creature with a flying speed of 50 will only take half the damage from a 100-foot drop. That’s because they ‘landed’ 50 feet above the ground after being knocked prone and began to flap their wings or otherwise fight to stay in the air. Depending on your character’s abilities, your DM may also apply this to movement speed.

This rule is an additional (and optional) rule for players. However, they can still use the standard rules to calculate falling damage the same way they would for any other character.

Can you take fall damage from jumping in 5e?

Fall damage in 5e isn’t ‘one size fits all’. Rather, the rules surrounding falling damage after a jump are usually determined by the Dungeon Master or mutual agreement from the entire party.

If your character has a high jump score, they may be able to land without a scratch. But if your DM is feeling particularly feisty, they may consider the descent after the jump a ‘fall’, meaning you’ll have to roll to save your character’s life (or at least reduce their damage).

Do you take fall damage if you land on a bed?

There are no official rules for fall damage when you land on a soft object such as a bed or haystack. Instead, the DM will decide whether you take fall damage and how much you take.

In most cases, a drop from 100 feet will still do some pretty significant damage to your character, no matter where they land. But your DM may reduce the impact of the fall by reducing the damage by 1 or 2 d6 throws.

For example, players would determine a 100-foot fall by throwing 10d6. However, a DM can rule that when you land on something softer, like a bed, the damage is reduced by 2d6. So you’ll only roll 8d6 to calculate your fall damage.

Do you take fall damage if you land in water?

Unlike falling onto a softer object, falling into water can be just as hazardous as falling onto concrete. In this case, most players will roll or throw using the same falling rule (1d6 bludgeoning damage) to calculate fall damage.

But be careful! Falling into the icy depths of the water may also put you in danger of drowning and suffocation.

How can you reduce fall damage in 5e?

Many of the methods of reducing fall damage are considered house rules and will be explained by your Dungeon Master during or before your campaign. Still, one of the most popular ways of lessening the damage to your character is to implement a Dexterity check.

Does Dexterity decrease fall damage in 5e?

A Dexterity saving throw can potentially decrease the damage that befalls your character. That is, provided your DM takes pity on you!

To reduce the average fall damage using a dexterity saving throw, you’ll need to roll a 20-sided die (d20) and add your character’s constitution score or modifier to your throw. Dungeon Masters can choose the Difficulty Class based on how hazardous the fall is and their chances of survival.

Can fall damage be resisted in 5e?

Before you start mourning over your character’s untimely death, remember that there are ways to negate fall damage! Certain spells and charms may be your saving grace here if you have the chance (and ability) to use them correctly!

Does Slow Falling stop fall damage?

If you’re a Monk, Slow Fall is the best action to take when you’re hurtling towards impending doom. Slow Fall is determined by your character level, though, so it may not stop you from breaking a few bones!

Still, a Monk’s Slow Fall can negate fall damage up to five times their level. So, if you have a level 10 Monk, you can negate around 50 points of damage. In extreme scenarios, the damage cap (120) can be reduced by up to 100 points for a level 20 Monk.

Is fall damage reduced by Barbarian Rage?

The Barbarian’s Rage ability gives “resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage”. Therefore, if you’re Barbarian is in the throes of battle rage when they fall, your fall damage will be resisted and therefore halved. This means on average, a 100 ft fall is only going to inflict 15 points of damage to a Barbarian! Solid!

A raging barbarian about to resist some fall damageIf you’re already raging, falling hurts less.

Does Levitate negate fall damage?

If you’re falling, it’s a great time to use Levitate. Since Levitation technically stops you from falling, the normal rules of fall damage don’t apply. Another fantastic spell to completely negate fall damage is Feather Fall.

According to the rules of Feather Fall, “If the creature lands before the spell ends, it takes no falling damage and can land on its feet, and the spell ends for that creature.”

Look before you leap!

Hopefully, this guide has brought your dreams of an Assassin’s Creed-style leap from a building into a hay bail down to earth. Falling can be fatal, especially for lower-level players, but it also means it if you have a Plan B like Feather Fall, it can be a great way to escape an encounter. As they say, a plan without a plan b is called a bad plan!

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First introduced to D&D by the cRPG Baldur's Gate after borrowing it from a friend in 1998, Mark is currently experiencing repeated bouts of unconsciousness trying to take his melee Wizard through a 5e campaign.