[RPG] How to implement more moderate long-term consequences after numerous PCs are knocked out?


I ran a session a while back in which the players were fighting a griffon boss. The griffon had KO'd 6 of the 7 pcs, when the last PC finished off the monster. The PC helped up everyone and all was dandy.

This doesn't seem appropriate for players to be able to get up and rest without any consequence, as if nothing had happened. This goes especially as 6 of 7 players were KO'd. The only way that the players wouldn't be able to simply "rest off" damage is if there was a TPK.

How do I apply consequences of more moderate severity which affect players in the the long term, without resorting to harsh extremes such as killing off the character(s)?

Best Answer

Injuries, Massive Damage, Adventuring Options, and player happiness.

Chapter 9 of the DMG contains some rule variants and guidelines for introducing ongoing after-battle effects and different adventuring options for a grittier game.

The following are some of the effects that will trigger a roll on these tables, but as a DM you can always tweak them.


Damage normally leaves no lingering effects. This option introduces the potential for long-term injuries.

It’s up to you to decide when to check for a lingering injury. A creature might sustain a lingering injury under the following circumstances:

  • When it takes a critical hit
  • When it drops to 0 hit points but isn’t killed outright
  • When it fails a death saving throw by 5 or more


Massive Damage

This optional rule makes it easier for a creature to be felled by massive damage.

When a creature takes damage from a single source equal to or greater than half its hit point maximum, it must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or suffer a random effect determined by a roll on the System Shock table. For example, a creature that has a hit point maximum of 30 must make that Constitution save if it takes 15 damage or more from a single source.

Adventuring Options (also found in Chapter 9 of the DMG)

These introduce some different mechanics for non-combat and how PCs recover. You can see the sections on Healing, and Rest Variants.

Slow Natural Healing

Characters don’t regain hit points at the end of a long rest. Instead, a character can spend Hit Dice to heal at the end of a long rest, just as with a short rest.

This optional rule prolongs the amount of time that characters need to recover from their wounds without the benefits of magical healing and works well for grittier, more realistic campaigns.


Gritty Realism

This variant uses a short rest of 8 hours and a long rest of 7 days. This puts the brakes on the campaign, requiring the players to carefully judge the benefits and drawbacks of combat. Characters can’t afford to engage in too many battles in a row, and all adventuring requires careful planning.


Table Acceptance

These tables and effects represent a drastic change from how your table has run and you should absolutely talk with your players to see if this is the kind of game they are looking for. Are they wanting gritty? Are they wanting more dangerous/deadly? If so, then this is a may be what everyone is looking for.