Player characters have a marvelous (and, to the DM, vastly amusing) tendency to fall off things, generally from great heights and almost always onto hard surfaces. While the falling is harmless, the abrupt stop at the end tends to cause damage.

When a character falls, he suffers 1d6 points of damage for every 10 feet fallen, to a maximum of 20d6, which for game purposes can be considered terminal velocity. This method is simple and it provides all the realism necessary in the game. It is not a scientific calculation of the rate of acceleration, exact terminal velocity, mass, impact energy, etc., of the falling body.

The fact of the matter is that physical laws can describe the exact motion of a body as it falls through space, but relatively little is known about the effects of impact. The distance fallen is not the only determining factor in how badly a person is hurt. Other factors might include elasticity of the falling body and the ground, angle of impact, shock waves through the falling body, dumb luck, and more.

People have actually fallen from great heights and survived, albeit very rarely. The current record-holder, Vesna Vulovic, survived a fall from a height of 33,330 feet in 1972, although she was severely injured. Flight-Sergeant Nicholas S. Alkemade actually fell 18,000 feet--almost 3.5 miles--without a parachute and landed uninjured!

The point of all this is roll the dice, as described above, and don't worry too much about science.

Table of Contents