[RPG] sues may arise if the Lingering Injuries rule still apply to creatures that are killed outright

dnd-5einjuryoptional-rules

The optional rule on p. 272 of the DMG lists one of the triggers for Lingering Injuries as:

When [a creature] drops to 0 hit points but isn’t killed outright.

Because "but isn't killed outright" was included in the description, it suggests that a creature that is killed outright and then raised with Raise Dead, for instance, won't have to worry about the possibility of missing limbs, whereas one who didn't die straight away and later died from failed death saves won't be so lucky.

If I alter the optional rule to include creatures killed outright, what implications may that have with regard to those creatures being brought back with lingering injuries?

Best Answer

1. RAW clarification: Doubly optional.

While the whole Lingering Injuries section describes an optional rule, the list of situations which inflict them is also just a suggestion (emphasis mine):

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: (DMG 272, emphasis mine)

So the RAW here is a resounding "I d'unno". If you, as a DM, feel that a situation warrants a roll on the table, you are entitled to ask for one. What you propose is not strictly an alteration to the rules presented.

2. Gameplay issues: Mostly harmless.

This rule will only impact groups who can only access cheap resurrection methods. Obviously, those who have no access to, even, revivify will see no difference. Those with access to casters capable of casting 7th level clerical spells also need not worry, as resurrection restores missing body parts, and if you classify it as "healing magic", it will eliminate all lingering injuries. Even without that, chances are they also have access to regenerate or heal from the same caster, making curing the injuries an option.

Thus this will most likely come up between 5th and 8th or 10th level, depending on the availability of NPC casters. In most cases, the difference will be in the amount of money necessary to get the character back in fighting shape.

Dropping to 0 HP from minor injuries is way more frequent than being downed from massive damage or instakill effects, especially in this level range. I would not expect this issue to come up more often than once in two levels or so (i.e. 2 or 3 times per campaign) unless you regularly put in traps that drop 16-ton weights on the PC-s. Add to this that many effects they can roll on the table are not that much of a bother to live with, and you are looking at a mostly negligible change in playing experience.

Also, you have to keep in mind that some effects that "kill outright" also specify the method by which that happens, like the spell disintegrate. There isn't much point in rolling for a missing leg when you practically have a missing body. In other cases, you have to decide whether a lingering injury is a logical outcome of the effect, like with power word kill. Would it be reasonable to lose an arm from being hit by this spell? You have to decide in advance, which brings me to my next point:

3. Social issues: Be upfront.

Calling for a roll during all forays to the wrong side of 1 HP sounds reasonable to me, but be sure your players also think so. What you need to keep in mind is to be transparent and consistent. Tell your players what your plans are regarding Lasting Injuries and discuss it with them. After that, stick to those rules, for PC-s and NPC-s alike.