[RPG] Catching falling characters


In my experience, whenever a character falls because of a pit trap or a botched climb check there is always at least one player that that tries to catch them. I can't seem to find any specific rulings to this.

I'm not the sort of GM that likes to say, 'no, you can't do that' so I at least let an adjacent player make a reflex save if they ask (using the same DC as the trap save seems like a good idea).

Then perhaps a Strength check to pull them up (or avoid being pulled in themselves).

Does anyone have an official rule to this, or at least a solid house rule that can be used consistently?

I've done a bit of snooping around and found SRD rules for catching character whilst climbing, which covers part of my question.

Catching a Falling Character While Climbing

If someone climbing above you or adjacent to you falls, you can attempt to catch the falling character if he or she is within your reach. Doing so requires a successful melee touch attack against the falling character (though he or she can voluntarily forego any Dexterity bonus to AC if desired). If you hit, you must immediately attempt a Climb check (DC=wall’s DC + 10). Success indicates that you catch the falling character, but his or her total weight, including equipment, cannot exceed your heavy load limit or you automatically fall. If you fail your Climb check by 4 or less, you fail to stop the character’s fall but don’t lose your grip on the wall. If you fail by 5 or more, you fail to stop the character’s fall and begin falling as well.

It would make sense that catching a character who is falling into a pit would use a similar mechanic, though probably replacing the climb check with something else.

Best Answer

There's no official rule for this, but it's a common enough house rule. In D&D 3e (and AD&D) I allow them to make whatever check is situationally sensible to try to catch them, and then require a Strength check for them to not be pulled over as well. Some DMs seem to feel like it is being "too soft" on the players to give them a second chance, but in my experience, giving them a chance to catch their comrade with a house rule is not unbalancing at all. Because it's not unbalancing to give them a chance, the actual DCs and checks you use don't really matter for balance purposes either.

The implications of this house rule are actually rather interesting. It feels like giving the PCs a break, but it actually just ups the ante on the trap. Instead of having one character fall in on a bad roll, that bad roll triggers a double-or-nothing gamble: neither PC falls in, or both fall in. It's actually rougher on the PCs because the stakes are higher, and it makes it more likely that there won't be anyone at the top who can help them out of the pit.

Hilarity ensues when a third PC tries to stop the second one from being pulled in, and so on. I've had an entire party rope themselves together, forget to tie the rope to anything other than a PC, and all of them fall down a chute to a nastier level of the dungeon due to bad rolls.