Interactions between unarmed strikes, negative strength and an unconscious target

Consider this improbable yet possible scenario (which nonetheless came up at our table last night):

A PC is unconscious and currently making Death Saving Throws. A weak (8 Strength) and hostile NPC tries to punch the PC to kill it for good.

Attack rolls against an Unconscious character have advantage and any attack that hits the character is a Critical Hit if the attacker is within 5 feet of the character

The NPC rolls with advantage and beats the PC’s AC. It is therefore a critical hit.

If an Unconscious character takes damage while at 0 HP, they automatically fail one death saving throw, or 2 death saves if the damage is from a critical hit. Massive Damage can still outright kill the character so damage should still be rolled and if it equals or exceeds their max HP then they die

Ok, so that’s 2 failed Death Saving Throws for the PC! Let’s calculate the damage, just in case…

Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head–butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons). On a hit, an unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1 + your Strength modifier. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes.

Here, 1 + STR = 0. The hit deals 0 damage. Does that even count as damage then?

Does the attack actually provoke failed Death Saving Throws? If so, how many? Can an unarmed strike even crit if there are no dice being thrown?

Is the Oath of the Ancients Paladin’s Elder Champion feature intended to still work while unconscious?

The Paladin’s Oath of the Ancients Level 20 Elder Champion feature states:

Using your action, you undergo a transformation. For 1 minute, you gain the following benefits:

  • At the start of each of your turns, you regain 10 hit points.

  • Whenever you cast a paladin spell that has a casting time of 1 action, you can cast it using a bonus action instead.

  • Enemy creatures within 10 feet of you have disadvantage on saving throws against your paladin spells and Channel Divinity options.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

What it does not state is that the transformation ends or you lose the benefits of the transformation when you are unconscious or incapacitated.

If the Paladin is knocked unconscious while it is transformed, does that mean the Paladin will be able to regain consciousness at the start of next turn?

To contrast, the Oath of the Crown’s Exalted Champion includes this statement:

This effect ends early if you are incapacitated or die. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

Emphasis mine.

The Paladin’s Auras of Protection specifically state that:

Starting at 6th level, whenever you or a friendly creature within 10 feet of you must make a saving throw, the creature gains a bonus to the saving throw equal to your Charisma modifier (with a minimum bonus of +1). You must be conscious to grant this bonus.

Emphasis mine.

Aura of Courage states:

Starting at 10th level, you and friendly creatures within 10 feet of you can’t be frightened while you are conscious.

Emphasis mine.

This seems to imply most of the Paladin’s Level 20 features continue working even while unconscious. The Oath of Ancients Paladin would be able to regain consciousness at the start of the turn. Similarly, the Oath of Vengeance Paladin would still frighten their enemies despite being unconscious on the ground. The Oath of Devotion Paladin would still give off sunlight and damage enemies despite being unconscious.

Is this Rules as Written and/or Intended?

What happens when an unconscious but stabilised character is hit?

At the end of this answer to a different question, the answer states that:

If an unconscious character is attacked, the attacker will have advantage (if melee) from the Prone condition, and it will be an automatic critical hit because of the unconscious condition which is 2 death save failures.

I just wanted to clarify exactly what happens in this scenario; let’s say the scenario in this case is a creature is attacking a downed but stable PC. In both cases below, assume that the PC just made their third successful death saving throw and is now stable but still unconscious, and it’s now the monster’s turn.

Is it:

    • PC is unconscious and monster attacks and hits;
    • PC takes damage and is now back to making death saving throws;
    • since the PC just took damage (and a critical hit, no less, as per Unconscious condition rules), they immediately suffer two death saving throw failures;
    • on this PC’s next turn (assuming there is no intervention by allies), when they roll a death saving throw, they may die if they roll below 10.


    • PC is unconscious and monster attacks and hits;
    • PC takes damage and is now back to making death saving throws;
    • the damage taken is what put them back on death saving throws, so they do not immediately take two failed saves;
    • on this PC’s next turn (assuming there is no intervention by allies), when they roll a death saving throw, they are currently on no fails and no successes, so they have no chance of dying this turn.

Do magic objects carried by a character keep working when unconscious?

We have lost a character in a battle in a strange way. He was wearing the:

Slippers of Spider Climbing
Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)

While you wear these light shoes, you can move up, down and across vertical surfaces and upside down along ceilings, while leaving your hands free. You have a climbing speed equal to your walking speed. However, the slippers donĀ“t allow you to move this way on a slippery surfaces such as one covered by ice or oil.

and he was struck down to 0 HP while standing on a wall, over a well.

Would he fall into the well and drown? Or would he remain unconscious hanging by his boots?

Is there any difference between objects that require attunement and those that don’t?

How do the stunned and unconscious conditions interact?

Suppose a character was knocked unconscious by an illithid’s mind blast, and then got healed less than a minute later. What is the correct way of handling whether or not they’re stunned?

  1. The stunned condition ends when they’re knocked unconscious, and reviving them means they’re not stunned.

  2. The stunned condition continues, in addition to rolling death saves they should be rolling Int saves to shake off the stun.

  3. The stunned condition continues, but an unconscious character can’t make an Int save, so they should roll an Int save upon being revived to see if they shake it off.

Do PCs roll saves for pre-existing effects while Unconscious?

Inspired by this question about Frightened.

According to Appendix A: Conditions (SRD p. 192),

A condition lasts either until it is countered (the prone condition is countered by standing up, for example) or for a duration specified by the effect that imposed the condition.

While a character is Unconscious (SRD p. 193) it

  • Can’t move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings
  • Automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws

If a PC under the effect of a persistent effect (such as the Sea Hag’s Horrific Appearance) that allows for a save to be made each turn and then becomes unconscious, does the character continue to save against the effect?

Related: A similar question, but in Pathfinder