Fall Damage in D&D 5e: Rules and Calculations

Published on March 20, 2023, Last modified on December 27th, 2023

Learn everything about fall damage in D&D 5e – how it’s calculated, mitigated, and what spells and abilities can help you survive.

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Falling in D&D

Falling is a common occurrence in Dungeons & Dragons, whether it’s from a rickety bridge, a flying creature’s back, or you’ve been pushed from a ledge by an enemy. However common it may be, falling can be a dangerous and deadly, even for your epic hero. In this article, we will explore the rules and calculations behind fall damage in D&D 5e, including how to determine the amount of damage, factors that can affect it, and ways to mitigate its effects.

The Basics of Fall Damage

According to the Basic Rules, falling damage works as follows in D&D:


A fall from a great height is one of the most common hazards facing an adventurer. At the end of a fall, a creature takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet it fell, to a maximum of 20d6. The creature lands prone, unless it avoids taking damage from the fall.

Chapter 8: Adventuring – Basic Rules

When a character falls in D&D, the damage inflicted depends solely on the height from which a character falls. The basic rule for fall damage in D&D 5e is that a character takes 1d6 points of damage for every 10 feet fallen, up to a maximum of 20d6.

Some creatures or characters may have abilities, spells, or items that allow them to reduce or avoid fall damage. For example, a monk can use their Slow Fall ability to reduce the damage taken from a fall by a certain amount, depending on their level. Similarly, a feather fall spell can slow down a character’s descent and allow them to land safely.

Calculating Fall Damage

To calculate the amount of damage a character takes from a fall, you need to determine the height fallen and divide it by 10. For each 10 feet fallen (rounded downwards), the character takes 1d6 points of damage. For example, if a character falls 25 feet, they take 2d6 points of damage (25 divided by 10 equals 2.5, rounded down to 2). If a character falls 60 feet, they take 6d6 points of damage (60 divided by 10 equals 6).

It’s important to remember that the maximum amount of damage a character can take from a fall is 20d6, even if they fall from a higher height. For example, if a character falls 1,000 feet, they still only take 20d6 points of damage, not 100d6.

If a creature falls less than 10 feet, they take no damage from their short trip downwards.

Expanded Fall Damage Rules from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

There are two rulings provided in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything that expand upon the Basic Rules’ falling guidelines:

Falling In Initiative

The rules for falling in D&D provided in the Basic Rules assume that a creature drops the entire distance at once. However, if a creature falls from a high altitude, such as from the back of a griffon or an airship, it can take longer than a turn to reach the ground. To simulate this, an optional rule can be used where the creature instantly descends up to 500 feet when it falls. After that, they fall an additional 500 feet at the end of each of their turns until they hit the ground or otherwise halt their fall.

Flying Creatures

When a flying creature in D&D 5e is knocked prone, has its speed reduced to 0, or loses the ability to move, it falls unless it can hover or is being held aloft by magic. To increase a flying creature’s chance of surviving a fall, subtract its current flying speed from the distance fallen before calculating falling damage. This simulates the creature slowing the velocity of its fall by flapping its wings or taking similar measures. So, if a roc was attacking a group of adventurers but was knocked prone while 200 feet in the air, it would only take 8d6 damage upon impact (200 – 120 feet = 80. 80/10 = 8.)

The Best Ways to Mitigate Fall Damage

When you can perform extraordinary feats of martial prowess and magical might like the adventurers in D&D, you can certainly find some ways to overcome an unexpected plummet to your death:

Flying Speed

Having a flying speed is the best way to mitigate fall damage. If you’re pushed off a cliff, you can simply use your movement to fly back up. The major downside of flying speed is that you can be knocked prone from flying, which causes you to drop. If this happens, you’ll be wishing you had one of these other abilities.

Another downside regarding flying speed is if you have a spell or ability that grants you a flying speed, it usually can’t be used as a reaction. It doesn’t matter if you have the fly spell stocked. If you get pushed off a 100-foot cliff, you’ll hit the ground before you have a chance to cast the spell.

Feather Fall

The best spell for breaking your fall is the feather fall spell. This 1st level transmutation spell can be used as a reaction and targets up to five creatures. You then descend at the pleasant rate of 60 feet per round, until the spell ends or until you hit the ground. When you hit the ground, you take no fall damage. It doesn’t even take concentration! Great! Right?

Well yes, unless you’re more than 600 feet in the air. The spell only lasts for one minute and descending at a rate of 60 feet per round equals 60 feet every 6 seconds. So, if you’re especially high up, you may want to wait until you’re closer to the ground to pop this spell.

Monk’s Slow Fall

The monk’s Slow Fall ability allows you to reduce your damage from falling by 5 x your monk level. This means by 14th level, you’re unlikely to take any damage, even from falling over 200 feet! (20d6 averages out to 20 x 3.5 = 70. 14 x 5 is 70).

Barbarian’s Rage

Have you ever been so angry about falling you didn’t even feel it when you hit the ground? Me neither. But, barbarians gain resistance to bludgeoning damage when they Rage, thereby making it a lot easier to survive falls from on high. One thing to keep in mind is that Rage ends if you don’t take damage for a round. So, if you’re falling from higher than 500 feet, you’ll need to find a way to maintain your Rage, so you don’t hit the ground for full damage.

Other Ways

Aside from class abilities and spells, there are other ways to mitigate fall damage in D&D 5e. One of the most effective is to use a magic item that can slow a character’s descent. For example, the Winged Boots item allows a character to fly for a limited time, which can be used to slow their descent and mitigate fall damage.

Another way to mitigate fall damage is to use the environment to your advantage. If a character is falling near a wall or cliff, they can try to grab onto it to slow their descent. Of course, this requires some planning and luck, so it’s not always a reliable method.

Finally, characters can take precautions before engaging in activities that may involve falling. For example, they can cast spells like spider climb or levitate to move around without touching the ground. They can also use ropes, grappling hooks, or other equipment to secure themselves while climbing or jumping.

See You Next Fall

Falling damage is a common hazard in Dungeons & Dragons 5e, and it can work both in favor of DMs and players that use it to their advantage. Whether it’s being used by DMs to raise the stakes of an encounter or by players to powerbomb a boss off a 100-foot cliff, this interesting mechanic can certainly make for an exciting time.

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. He is a Adamantine best-selling author of Strixhaven: A Syllabus of Sorcery on DMs Guild and is a contributing author at D&D Beyond. Follow Mike on Twitter.

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