[RPG] What mechanic is there to disable a threat instead of killing it


Is there a built-in mechanic in D&D5e for when the players choose to disable or neutralize a threat as opposed to kill outright?

Best Answer

You can knock a creature out with a melee attack

Knocking a Creature Out

Sometimes an attacker wants to incapacitate a foe, rather than deal a killing blow. When an attacker reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack, the attacker can knock the creature out. The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt. The creature falls unconscious and is stable. (basic rules)

Note that this only works with melee attacks. So ranged attacks will still kill. Though it is good to note that melee spell attacks do still count under the rule (see another of my answers for a bit more discussion here).

This is the only rule that provides a mechanic for knocking out an opponent with an attack instead of doing lethal damage.