Episode 1 - Leap of Fate

This week we all discuss D&D 5e rules regarding terminal velocity, how Cloud Giants can ruin all sorts of things from the DMs perspective, and the trials and tribulations of building a summer home on the Ethereal Plane.

Spoiler Warning: We cover topics in Princes of the Apocalypse as well as some content from the beginning of Storm King's Thunder.

You can send your #feedback to us @rulesAsWritten with any corrections or insight if you think there's something we missed, as we'd always appreciate even more assistance with breaking the game.

Show Notes

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.
— Player's Handbook, Page 183

It is estimated that the human body will reach 99% of terminal velocity after falling 1,880 feet (573 meters) which takes anywhere from 10-14 seconds. - Yahoo Answers

A falling person at low altitude will reach terminal velocity after about 12 seconds, falling some 450 m (1,500 ft) in that time. They will then maintain this speed without falling any faster. - Wikipedia

Falling Damage Statistics - Original vs House-ruled 

Falling Damage Statistics - Original vs House-ruled 

Death Saving Throws
Whenever you start your turn with 0 hit points, you must make a special saving throw, called a death saving throw, to determine whether you creep closer to death or hang onto life. Unlike other saving throws, this one isn’t tied to any ability score. You are in the hands of fate now, aided only by spells and features that improve your chances of succeeding on a saving throw.
Roll a d20. If the roll is 10 or higher, you succeed. Otherwise, you fail. A success or failure has no effect by itself. On your third success, you become stable (see below). On your third failure, you die. The successes and failures don’t need to be consecutive; keep track of both until you collect three of a kind. The number of both is reset to zero when you regain any hit points or become stable.
Rolling 1 or 20. When you make a death saving throw and roll a 1 on the d20, it counts as two failures. If you roll a 20 on the d20, you regain 1 hit point.
Damage at 0 Hit Points. If you take any damage while you have 0 hit points, you suffer a death saving throw failure. If the damage is from a critical hit, you suffer two failures instead. If the damage equals or exceeds your hit point maximum, you suffer instant death.
— Player's Handbook, Page 197
Tough - Feat
Your hit point maximum increases by an amount equal to twice your level when you gain this feat. Whenever you gain a level thereafter, your hit point maximum increases by an additional 2 hit points.
— Player's Handbook, Page 170
A portal is a general term for a stationary interplanar connection that links a specific location on one plane to a specific location on another. Some portals are like doorways, a clear window, or a fogshrouded passage, and simply stepping through it effects the interplanar travel. Others are locations—circles of standing stones, soaring towers, sailing ships, or even whole towns—that exist in multiple planes at once or flicker from one plane to another in turn. Some are vortices, typically joining an Elemental Plane with a very similar location on the Material Plane, such as the heart of a volcano (leading to the Plane of Fire) or the depths of the ocean (to the Plane of Water).
— Player's Handbook, Page 301
Container Capacity
Backpack* - 1 cubic foot/30 pounds of gear
Barrel - 40 gallons liquid, 4 cubic feet solid
Basket - 2 cubic feet/40 pounds of gear
Bottle - 1 1/2 pints liquid
Bucket - 3 gallons liquid, 1/2 cubic foot solid
Chest - 12 cubic feet/300 pounds of gear
Flask or tankard - 1 pint liquid
Jug or pitcher - 1 gallon liquid
Pot, iron - 1 gallon liquid
Pouch - 1/5 cubic foot/6 pounds of gear
Sack - 1 cubic foot/30 pounds of gear
Vial - 4 ounces liquid
Waterskin - 4 pints liquid
* You can also strap items, such as a bedroll or a coil of rope, to the outside of a backpack.
— Player's Handbook, Page 153
Bag of Holding - Wondrous item, uncommon
This bag has an interior space considerably larger than its outside dimensions, roughly 2 feet in diameter at the mouth and 4 feet deep. The bag can hold up to 500 pounds, not exceeding a volume of 64 cubic feet. The bag weighs 15 pounds, regardless of its contents. Retrieving an item from the bag requires an action.
If the bag is overloaded, pierced, or torn, it ruptures and is destroyed, and its contents are scattered in the Astral Plane. If the bag is turned inside out, its contents spill forth, unharmed, but the bag must be put right before it can be used again. Breathing creatures inside the bag can survive up to a number of minutes equal to 10 divided by the number of creatures (minimum 1 minute), after which time they begin to suffocate.
Placing a bag of holding inside an extradimensional space created by a Heward’s handy haversack, portable hole, or similar item instantly destroys both items and opens a gate to the Astral Plane. The gate originates where the one item was placed inside the other. Any creature within 10 feet of the gate is sucked through it to a random location on the Astral Plane. The gate then closes. The gate is one-way only and can’t be reopened.
— Dungeon Master's Guide, Page 153
Portable Hole - Wondrous item, rare
This fine black cloth, soft as silk, is folded up to the dimensions of a handkerchief. It unfolds into a circular sheet 6 feet in diameter.
You can use an action to unfold a portable hole and place it on or against a solid surface, whereupon the portable hole creates an extradimensional hole 10 feet deep. The cylindrical space within the hole exists on a different plane, so it can’t be used to create open passages. Any creature inside an open portable hole can exit the hole by climbing out of it.
You can use an action to close a portable hole by taking hold of the edges of the cloth and folding it up. Folding the cloth closes the hole, and any creatures or Objects within remain in the extradimensional space. No matter what’s in it, the hole weighs next to nothing.
If the hole is folded up, a creature within the hole’s extradimensional space can use an action to make a DC 10 Strength check. On a successful check, the creature forces its way out and appears within 5 feet of the portable hole or the creature carrying it. A breathing creature within a closed portable hole can survive for up to 10 minutes, after which time it begins to suffocate.
Placing a portable hole inside an extradimensional space created by a Bag of Holding, Handy Haversack, or similar item instantly destroys both items and opens a gate to the Astral Plane. The gate originates where the one item was placed inside the other. Any creature within 10 feet of the gate is sucked through it and deposited in a random location on the Astral Plane. The gate then closes. The gate is one-way only and can’t be reopened.
— Dungeon Master's Guide, Page 185
Astral Plane
The Astral Plane is the realm of thought and dream, where visitors travel as disembodied souls to reach the Outer Planes. It is a great silvery sea, the same above and below, with swirling wisps of white and grey streaking among motes of light like distant starts. Most of the Astral Sea is a vast, empty expanse. Visitors occasionally stumble upon the petrified corpse of a dead god or other chunks of rock drifting forever in the silvery void. Much more commonplace are color pools – magical pools of colored light that flicker like radiant, spinning coins.
Creatures on the Astral Plane don’t age or suffer from hunger or thirst. For this reason, humanoids that live on the Astral Plane (such as the githyanki) establish outposts on other planes, often the Material Plane, so their children can grow to maturity.
A traveler in the Astral Plane can move by simply thinking about moving, but distance has little meaning. In combat, though, a creature’s walking speed (in feet) is equal to 3 x its Intelligence score. The smarter a creature is, the easier it can control its movement by act of will.
— Dungeon Master's Guide, Page 46
Ethereal Plane
The Ethereal Plane is a misty, fog-bound dimension. Its “shores,” called the Border Ethereal, overlap the Material Plane and the Inner Planes, so that every location on those planes has a corresponding location on the Ethereal Plane. Visibility in the Border Ethereal is limited to 60 feet The plane’s depths comprise a region of swirling mist and fog called the Deep Ethereal where visibility is limited to 30 feet.
Characters can use the etherealness spell to enter the Border Ethereal The plane shift spell allows transport to the Border Ethereal or the Deep Ethereal, but unless the intended destination is a specific location or a teleportation circle, the point of arrival could be anywhere on the plane.

Ether Cyclones
An ether cyclone is a serpentine column that spins through the plane. The cyclone appears abruptly, distorting and uprooting ethereal forms in its path and carrying the debris for leagues. Travelers with a passive Wisdom (Perception) score of 15 or more receive 1d4 rounds of warning: a deep hum in the ethereal matter. Travelers who can’t reach a curtain or portal leading elsewhere suffer the cyclone’s effect. Roll a d20 and consult the Ether Cyclone table to determine the effect on all creatures in the vicinity.

d20 Effect:
1-12: Extended journey
13-19: Blown to the Border Ethereal of a random plane (roll on the Ethereal Curtains table)
20: Hurled into the Astral Plane

The most common effect of an ether cyclone is to extend the duration of a journey. Each character in a group traveling together must make a DC 15 Charisma saving throw. If at least half the group succeeds, travel is delayed by 1d10 hours. Otherwise, the journey’s travel time is doubled. Less often, a group is blown into the Border Ethereal of a random plane. Rarely, the cyclone rears a hole in the fabric of the plane and hurls the party into the Astral Plane.
— Dungeon Master's Guide, Page 48


Cloud Giant

Cloud Giant

Characters can spend their downtime engaged in a variety of hedonistic activities such as attending parties, binge drinking, gambling, or anything else that helps them cope with the perils they face on their adventures.
A carousing character spends money as though maintaining a wealthy lifestyle (see chapter 5, “Equipment,” of the Player’s Handbook). At the end of the period spent carousing, the player rolls percentile dice and adds the character’s level, then compares the total to the Carousing table to determine what happens to the character, or you choose.
— Dungeon Master's Guide, Page 128
In the Realms, a drug is something–usually liquid, taken orally–whose making is complicated and unknown to whoever is using the word. In other words, the liquid made by boiling harlthorn and hoof-leaf together, as described earlier in “Herbal Lore,” would be a drug if its manufacture wasn’t so widely known. Most drugs are secret-recipe mixtures of herbal distillations, plant saps, and animal secretions, all of which have no real-world inspirations or counterparts.
Local laws often restrict making and importing of drugs, because bad things have happened in the past. Since alchemy, doctoring, and the like all approve of using herbal and created substances to help the sick or injured, and most clergy use mind-altering or pain-numbing herbs and drugs as part of their rituals, drugs are seen as bad only when they are clearly intended to be used to incapacitate someone so that person can be killed, robbed, kidnapped, made to sign or say things he or she otherwise wouldn’t, or in some other way taken advantage of. Poisons are always seen as bad except when used with state sanction in war, or by physicians as part of medical treatment–and this latter use is usually very closely watched by local law keepers and guilds.
Waterdeep provides a model to use for tolerant trading cities where local rulers or dominant temples aren’t trying to control drug use.
The drug trade in Waterdeep is largely confined to Skullport and Downshadow, in terms of dealing and in the storage of large amounts. “Topside” (in the city proper) there is no drug production, only runner-to-client selling. Selling is done face to face, but some nobles send their stewards, bodyguards, or trade agents to buy drugs. These so-called “runners” tend to be lone individuals or gangs of no more than three, a runner and two “watcheyes” (lookouts) who are often young children, preferably girls, who serve the runner as eyes and as places to stash drugs if the Watch approaches-because Watch officers are far more reluctant to search a young girl’s body than that of a hard-bitten, known-to-them Dock Ward tough.
A Lords’ Edict was long ago issued banning the making and selling of drugs in Waterdeep so the relevant crime is Willful Disobedience of Any Edict, which results in exile for five years or a 1,000 gp fine. The former is enacted on all outlanders and those who do not own property, and the latter against all Waterdhavian landowning citizens- who will find themselves very closely watched for a month, then again in the third month thereafter, because the Watch wants to catch and fine them again. It’s not a crime to use drugs, nor is it a crime, strictly speaking, to possess them. In practice, nobles and wealthy merchants receive nothing but a stern “We’re watching you” warning if caught with either small or large amounts of drugs, but a commoner merchant or laborer is assumed to have the drugs to sell, and will be sentenced accordingly, unless the individual is a member of the Guild of Apothecaries & Physicians or can prove he or she is working directly for a guild member.
Aside from those exceptions, drugs that can readily be used to kill-even if only through overdoses-can, if the Watch or the magisters involved desire it, be treated as poisons, and arrested beings are _charged with murder even though no killing has yet occurred. Waterdhavian justice has no attempted or intended murder charges, so what occurs is a murder trial, usually ending in a sentencing for “Murder with Justification,” which brings a five-year exile or three years of enforced hard labor.
Drug making is secretive and a matter of constant experimentation, so there are thousands of drugs that go by even more names, enough to fill shelves full of books as big as this one. Here follow just a notorious, popular handful.
— Ed Greenwood Presents Eleminster's Forgotten Realms, Page 41
Some special abilities and environmental hazards, such as starvation and the long-term effects of freezing or scorching temperatures, can lead to a special condition called exhaustion. Exhaustion is measured in six levels. An effect can give a creature one or more levels of exhaustion, as specified in the effect’s description.

Level Effect
1 - Disadvantage on ability checks
2 - Speed halved
3 - Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
4 - Hit point maximum halved
5 - Speed reduced to 0
6 – Death

If an already exhausted creature suffers another effect that causes exhaustion, its current level of exhaustion increases by the amount specified in the effect’s description.
A creature suffers the effect of its current level of exhaustion as well as all lower levels. For example, a creature suffering level 2 exhaustion has its speed halved and has disadvantage on ability checks.
An effect that removes exhaustion reduces its level as specified in the effect’s description, with all exhaustion effects ending if a creature’s exhaustion level is reduced below 1.
Finishing a long rest reduces a creature’s exhaustion level by 1, provided that the creature has also ingested some food and drink.
— Player's Handbook, Page 291