[RPG] How might the weight of a falling object affect the damage it causes


Fall damage is 1d6 per 10 feet. What adjustments if any should I make for objects falling on a player character? (e.g. a bear)

Assuming the objects are meaningful threats but not instant character death, should the weight of an object change the calculation, e.g. more then 1d6 per 10 feet.

Or is this more in the spirit of improvising damage chart? i.e. the setback (cat to face) dangerous (orc fell on me), and deadly (the large bear).

If this is house-rule territory does any one have any experience or advice beyond the wiki page relevant to 5e.

Best Answer

Think of falling objects as traps and use the damage severity levels in the DMG as guidance

Using the same rules for falling damage and damage from a falling object breaks down when you start to consider different types of objects. A vase knocked down from a shelf and hitting a character is likely to destroy the vase but, depending what the vase is made of, only slightly set back the character. From the same height a dropped stone statue may knock a character unconscious.

Luckily the DMG gives some guidance on this. DMG p.121 introduces the idea of setting trap damage by combining character level and the severity of the trap. This is a very useful concept as it makes it easy to go from a thematic description (An armored bear falling from the roof) to the rules effect (A deadly trap but perhaps easily dodged).

Lastly DMG p.122 provides an example, "collapsing roof", trap that I think is valuable to consider. The damage from the roof is 4d10, a dangerous trap, however to end up taking that damage a character would have to first miss an easy check to spot the trip wire and a moderate check to take half damage. Handling falling objects as traps to be avoided rather than attacks being made helps to keep falling objects from becoming too powerful as well as encouraging players to think about them as something special.