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crimson77
2007-09-09, 01:41 AM
Here is a question.

A player gets paralyzed in a swamp and they fall into the water. At what point do they start drowning?

Here is my though, see if you agree or disagree.
I do not believe that you can hold your breath. Breathing is a nonvoluntary action, whereas holding one's breath is a voluntary action. A paralyzed creature can take nonvoluntary actions (breathing), but not voluntary actions (flapping of ones wings). So you would breath in water.

Any thoughts?



Paralyzed

A paralyzed character is frozen in place and unable to move or act. A paralyzed character has effective Dexterity and Strength scores of 0 and is helpless, but can take purely mental actions. A winged creature flying in the air at the time that it becomes paralyzed cannot flap its wings and falls. A paralyzed swimmer canít swim and may drown. A creature can move through a space occupied by a paralyzed creatureóally or not. Each square occupied by a paralyzed creature, however, counts as 2 squares.



Drowning

Any character can hold her breath for a number of rounds equal to twice her Constitution score. After this period of time, the character must make a DC 10 Constitution check every round in order to continue holding her breath. Each round, the DC increases by 1. See also: Swim skill description.

When the character finally fails her Constitution check, she begins to drown. In the first round, she falls unconscious (0 hp). In the following round, she drops to -1 hit points and is dying. In the third round, she drowns.

It is possible to drown in substances other than water, such as sand, quicksand, fine dust, and silos full of grain.

JackMage666
2007-09-09, 01:56 AM
Actively holding your breath is a voluntary action. You won't naturally hold your breath. Actually, it'd be easier to drown while paralyzed, as you'd breath in the water involuntarily.

Leshan
2007-09-09, 02:16 AM
I'd say you can hold your breath.

One: in the quoted part on paralyzed, it says you can still take purely mental actions. I'd say your brain sending the command "breathe" is purely mental.

Second: I've recently begun running the Age of Worms Adventure Path. In the first dungeon there is a part completly submerged in water with a ghoul residing in it. The Adventure Path specifically says that characters paralyzed by the ghoul's claw attack do not immediatly drown. So at the least if it isn't official, someone else views it that way.

So it can be ruled either way, but there is an argumant for holding your breath.

Kantolin
2007-09-09, 02:51 AM
It does feel to me like deciding not to breathe is a voluntary action.

If someone is underwater, it's panic or shock which causes them to inhale it. Someone with a cool head will simply stop breathing as long as possible.

As being paralyzed permits you to think, and there isn't anything in D&D which supports being paralyzed in water causing you to panic, keeping a cool head and stopping breathing seems easy enough.

Kurald Galain
2007-09-09, 03:38 AM
I'd say that while you can still think and so forth, you cannot actually control your body. Holding your breath is just as much voluntary as moving your arm, and if you're paralyzed you can do neither.

Serpentine
2007-09-09, 04:28 AM
One: in the quoted part on paralyzed, it says you can still take purely mental actions. I'd say your brain sending the command "breathe" is purely mental.
How is that any different to your brain sending the command "clench fist" and "punch dude"? And the question isn't so much about "breathe" as "take one breath, and then hold it."


Second: I've recently begun running the Age of Worms Adventure Path. In the first dungeon there is a part completly submerged in water with a ghoul residing in it. The Adventure Path specifically says that characters paralyzed by the ghoul's claw attack do not immediatly drown. So at the least if it isn't official, someone else views it that way.
Just how deep is the water? Can you give the exact wording of it? It seems a little odd to me.
I'm inclined to think you automatically breathe in no matter what, and thus begin to drown straight away.

Kel_Arath
2007-09-09, 04:41 AM
I'm sure that while paralyzed you can cause less muscle use. Seeing as holding your breath consists of not moving your diaphragm it makes perfect sense, just you wouldn't get a big breath before falling into the water so maybe raise the DC to hold your breath by 5 or something.

Icewalker
2007-09-09, 05:06 AM
Yeah, actually the act of breathing, while passive because we always do it I guess, is just as muscle intensive as punching someone (I think. At least, both require use of muscles).


To me, I think the holding breath works like so:

The 2x con rounds = holding breath casually. Like holding your breath until it's uncomfortable, like anybody might do to see how long they can.

The fort saves = no longer holding breath willingly, being forced to as the result would threaten your life.

the drowning damage part = drowning once you aren't holding in air any more. So, if the guy is still passively breathing, I think he would skip straight to this step.

Leshan
2007-09-10, 01:06 AM
Serpintine: You asked about the depth of the water? The area is completly submerged. You start to walk down a staircase to the area, encounter water, and by about halfway down you're completly underwater. To get a breath of air you have to swim back to the stairs and head up. I'll quote the small part that talks about the paralysis.


The bump in EL accounts for the fact that the party is underwater, making the ghoul's paralysis effect much more powerful. It is not, however, as powerful as it might seem. Ulavant's paralysis attack freezes its victim in place, but paralyzed characters can continue to hold their breath for the duration of the paralysis.

Now, something that doesn't appear to be in the SRD version of parlysis but mentioned in the back of the PHB (pg. 311) is that a character is "Frozen in place and unable to move or act, such as by the Hold Person spell." Looking up the Hold Person spell it says: "The subject becomes paralyzed and freezes in place. It is aware and breathes normally but cannot take any actions, even speech." Link (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/holdPerson.htm) to the spell. So if someone can breathe normally, I'd rule that they could choose to hold their breath.

KillianHawkeye
2007-09-10, 01:22 AM
As far as the encounter with the ghoul goes, it seems that they are already underwater when it attacks. Ergo, they are already holding their breath at the time when they might be paralyzed. It is therefore not an example of a paralyzed character being able to choose to begin holding their breath, but of a paralyzed character not being able to choose to stop holding their breath.

As for hold person, I'd say they are able to breathe normally because they were already breathing normally when they were held.

Leshan
2007-09-10, 01:46 AM
It's not that I completly disagree, but I just don't see how if they can breathe normally or hold their breath above ground, how that changes as soon as they fall in the water. Now, I might rule in the original example (the being paralysed in a swamp from crimson777) they lose a few rounds from the max they'd normally be able to hold it from being surprised, but other then that they can hold their breath.

I think it depends on how much you rule that paralysation actually paralysizes a character. I'd rule that it's only the limbs; everything else you can still control to a degree.

Serpentine
2007-09-10, 02:01 AM
The bump in EL accounts for the fact that the party is underwater, making the ghoul's paralysis effect much more powerful. It is not, however, as powerful as it might seem. Ulavant's paralysis attack freezes its victim in place, but paralyzed characters can continue to hold their breath for the duration of the paralysis.
From this it seems to me that the specific reference to them being able to continue to hold their breath suggests that that's not normally the case - that is, in this case "paralyzed characters can continue to hold their breath", but normally they would not.
As for the reference to "breathe normally", I'd probably rule that holding one's breath is not normal breathing, and therefore would not be possible. On the other hand, I would be open to the argument that it means the muscles required for breathing are not affected by the paralysis and therefore holding a breath should be possible. Even then, I'd say it only lasts half the time - ever taken a deep breath? Notice how your whole upper body moves with it? I'd say it involves more than just the diaphragm, and therefore would be harder to hold using only that muscle.

Kurald Galain
2007-09-10, 03:55 AM
I'd suggest that the kind of paralysis that makes you freeze in place also makes you keep holding your breath if you were already doing that; whereas the kind of paralysis that makes you limp and drops you to the floor makes you stop holding your breath.

AtomicKitKat
2007-09-10, 04:37 AM
Holding breath =/= Breathing normally. It requires conscious effort, and to some extent, training yourself to recognise the muscles involved. Hence why toddlers drown so easily. When you've spent the first 9 months of your existence in liquid, not breathing when you get wet requires a whole lot of new learning.

Overlard
2007-09-10, 05:11 AM
Holding one's breath underwater is an innate human reflex. That's why babies don't breathe in when you dunk 'em in water. Or ketchup. I believe it's part of the mammalian diving reflex.

In order to try to breathe in water, you actually have to counter that reflex. That's more of an action, so you would automatically hold your breath until you reach crisis (the last round before you die).

squishycube
2007-09-10, 05:58 AM
Holding breath =/= Breathing normally. It requires conscious effort, and to some extent, training yourself to recognise the muscles involved. Hence why toddlers drown so easily. When you've spent the first 9 months of your existence in liquid, not breathing when you get wet requires a whole lot of new learning.


Holding one's breath underwater is an innate human reflex. That's why babies don't breathe in when you dunk 'em in water. Or ketchup. I believe it's part of the mammalian diving reflex.

In order to try to breathe in water, you actually have to counter that reflex. That's more of an action, so you would automatically hold your breath until you reach crisis (the last round before you die).

Funny, these two totally opposite posts after each other. I think Overlard is right though.
- Holding your breath while your face is submerged does not take conscious effort. It goes automatically as part of the Mammalian diving reflex (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammalian_diving_reflex).
- Toddlers don't drown more easily, at least not because they can't hold their breath. Children are actually more likely to survive oxygen deprivation for longer period than adults are. The reason that more children drown than adults is because of other reasons, for example for a baby because it is unable to get up in a bath after falling, or for a toddler in a pool because it can't swim, or for a child under ice because it doesn't know to go to the dark spot in the ice. These are cases of ability and experience, not holding one's breath.
- The Mammalian diving reflex becomes less and less pronounced as the water temperature increases (at least in humans). Also, the fluids in the womb are obviously not the same as water. I don't think the situation in the womb is comparable to going under water.

Physiology 'from the cold ground' (Dutch expression, meaning just using common sense and no actual knowledge in the field at hand.) can sometimes yield the correct results, but not in this case!

Note: Being paralyzed can obviously make it all different. I suppose it would depend on whether you'd say how paralyzed paralyzed really is. (Whether or not it includes loss of feeling and in what areas of the body.)

AtomicKitKat
2007-09-10, 06:13 AM
Well, Curare specifically prevents your lungs from working(diaphragm?) normally, such that you would need an iron lung till the effects wear off. Ditto Fugu liver. Those are full paralysis though, where even involuntary muscle action fails. I would say holding one's breath is 100% voluntary(as opposed to say, gasping in shock, and sucking in water), and as such, you automatically drown, if you're paralysed and fall into water covering your respiratory organs(apart from gills, obviously). Same reason as the toddler in the tub. You can't push yourself out. Except worse, since you can't even control your organs enough to hold your breath(unless you already did before paralysis set in).

Anxe
2007-09-10, 09:54 AM
I would rule they can hold their breath as I don't want to kill off my players...

Indon
2007-09-10, 10:04 AM
Holding one's breath is a voluntary action, as it involves a deep inhalation beforehand... but simply stopping breathing, regardless of the air in your lungs, is a purely mental action.

I'd cut the number of rounds they could not breathe down to just CON, rather than CONx2, and put penalties on their saves to continue not breathing.

Karsh
2007-09-10, 10:10 AM
'course, if we're being realistic (and killing catgirls, or whatever it would be when you discuss biology in a D&D thread), the diaphragm would probably be paralyzed as well for the purposes of this argument.

It seems like possibly the best solution is to either halve the free number of rounds as Indon said, or just require Fort saves immediately, but I do not think that it is fair to say "You're paralyzed, and now you're drowning."

Wolf_Shade
2007-09-10, 10:22 AM
Here is a question.

A player gets paralyzed in a swamp and they fall into the water. At what point do they start drowning?
Depends. How deep is the water? What was their facing when they fell in? How bouyant are they?

If they fell in but were facing up and are bouyant, they never drown, they just float there. If they feel in but are facing up and aren't bouyant enough to stay surfaced, how long does it take them to sink so their face is below the water?

I'd also like to highlight this part of the quote:

A paralyzed swimmer canít swim and may drown.
While it is my personal interpretation, it does say "can't swim" and "may drown". This to me seems different then "can't swim and will drown".
I further posit that holding your breath is a purely mental action, as you are mentaly telling the part of your brain that involuntarily breaths to stop. Else all paralysed characters immediately asphyxiate.

Shhalahr Windrider
2007-09-10, 11:17 AM
Facts:
Paralysis in D&D causes loss of control of voluntary physical action.
Paralysis in D&D has no effect on involuntary physical action.
Note that involuntary action could still be supressed if the action is in a group that is typically voluntary, such as removing your hand from a hot surface at you.
Breathing is a largely involuntary physical action, but can be subject to voluntary control.
From Wikipedia's description, the mamilan diving reflex has more to do with changes in the way the body deals with oxygen than with holding one's breath.
The D&D rules are identical for both Drowning and Suffocation while on dry land, indicating they do not take the mamillian diving reflex into account. One should be careful in applying the mamillian diving reflex in D&D to begin with, as not all characters are mammals.
There is no indication as to wether or not the Suffocation/Drowning rules assume that one begins holding his or her breath with full lungs. The rules appear to apply equally in situations where one has prepared themselves and taken a deep breath before a dive or something similar as well as situations where one is quite unexpectedly submerged or strangled with no chance to prepare. This may be meant to represent the large number of semi-random variables in one's oxygen consumption. Even a prepared person might go through available oxygen more quickly than he or she hoped. Likewise a person unexpectedly strangled could find themselves reacting more calmly, and thus consuming oxygen at a slower rate, than they would otherwise. Real life features a lot of complex, apparently random variables when it comes to asyphixiation.
The D&D rules seem to significantly shortchange the amount of time one can be unconcious without oxygen.
I have limited knowledge in the area biology of respiration. I have not actively studied anything in that field since ninth grade. (And perhaps too much of my information in this came from Wikipedia.)
These are all the things I considered before reaching the following conclusion:

The D&D rules on suffocation and drowning are totally screwed up when it comes to modeling reality. There is very little verisimilitude in the way the rules are written. There is probably little you can do in the way you apply them that can really screw them up even further.

However, it seems to me that even a person that doesn't have much voluntary control in holding their breath can usually survive without oxygen for a surprisingly long time. This often requires extraordinary circumstances, but then D&D is a game of fantasy heroism, where the heroes are extraordinary individuals in extraordinary situations. To that end, I would personally apply the drowning rules in their entirety—from the free 2xCon rounds all the way through the standard Constitution checks and dropping unconcious.

In other words: "Screw it. This keeps things simple and gives my characters—PCs and NPCs alike—the benefit of a doubt."

crimson77
2007-09-10, 11:22 AM
This is the decision that I am going to go with in my campaign.

After making a thread about the topic of being paralyzed in water and reviewing Mammalian Diving Reflex, I have come to the following decision. You can hold your breath underwater for the number of round equal to your Con (not double) and after that many rounds you start making Con checks DC 10, but the DC increases by two each round. My thought is that the body is not responding how it usually responds and therefore, it will be harder to hold one's breath.

Thank you for your input.

....
2007-09-10, 11:50 AM
I'd say you can hold your breath.

One: in the quoted part on paralyzed, it says you can still take purely mental actions. I'd say your brain sending the command "breathe" is purely mental.

Second: I've recently begun running the Age of Worms Adventure Path. In the first dungeon there is a part completly submerged in water with a ghoul residing in it. The Adventure Path specifically says that characters paralyzed by the ghoul's claw attack do not immediatly drown. So at the least if it isn't official, someone else views it that way.

So it can be ruled either way, but there is an argumant for holding your breath.

I don't remember there being a ghoul underwater in the Cairn...

I thought it was a water elemental?

Fixer
2007-09-10, 01:13 PM
Which option will result in bettering the role-playing experience?

If you need the character to drown, there you go.
If you need the character to be threatened with drowning, you still have your answer.
If the character drowning would create a negative role-playing experience, say they can hold their breath. If it later comes up that you need them to not hold their breath, tell them the spell/effect is different and affects them in a slightly different way the second time.

Leshan
2007-09-10, 02:01 PM
I don't remember there being a ghoul underwater in the Cairn...

I thought it was a water elemental?

Spoiler for those playing the first adventure in the Age of Worms.

There are both really. In area 19 (Submerged Showers) is the water elemental. After dealing with that if the characters swim east into area 21 (Other Locker Rooms with Benches) there's a ghoul there that is the undead remains of one of the Seekers (the failed tomb robbers). I didn't mention the water elemental because it really didn't add anything to the current discussion.

Gungnir
2007-09-10, 02:02 PM
If the paralyzed person can breathe in the first place, then obviously their diaphragm is still responding to signals from the brain, thus they can hold their breath. If they can't breathe at all, then they can't actually suck in water in the first place, and they'll suffocate, but not drown.

tainsouvra
2007-09-10, 02:23 PM
Any thoughts? Going from a physiological perspective....
Breathing is non-voluntary action under most circumstances, and is driven by an involuntary process.
If you are not submerged, deciding to hold your breath is a voluntary mental action that modifies the rhythm of a non-voluntary physical action.
If you are submerged, deciding to hold your breath is a voluntary mental action that confirms the rhythm of a non-voluntary physical action.
Under both of those circumstances, once your body hits a certain point, the involuntary part will overcome both the non-voluntary and voluntary portions and force you to take a breath, which is how you drown.

I mention all this primarily to point out that "voluntary" is not quite an either/or proposition, it's actually voluntary/non-voluntary/involuntary. From a purely physiological point of view, an inability to take voluntary muscle actions would not impact your ability to hold your breath in any meaningful way, assuming you could breathe normally before you needed to hold it.

To relate it back to D&D, if the rules intended for paralysis to modify your ability to breathe, they wouldn't have gone out of their way to mention that its version of paralysis only affected voluntary physical actions. The very idea that one's breathing would be changed while paralyzed sounds like a direct contradiction of the published rules.

daggaz
2007-09-10, 04:15 PM
Full body paralysis is what we are talking about in the DnD world, you cannot move nor talk, its a pretty serious condition. You can, however, continue to breathe, and your heart still beats. So total involuntary actions go on.

In the real world, people with severe damage to the C1 vertebrae cannot talk, and cannot even use their lungs (the diaphragm becomes paralysed), and so must be put on resperators. The heart still beats however. This is more paralysed than the kind in DnD, as you do not automatically start suffocating in DnD.

Damage to a lower vertebrae, especially if it is not as severe, on the C3 for example, often leaves the patient able to talk, tho with difficulty. They may still need some help from a resperator due to muscle fatigue if there is partial paralysis of the diaphragm. These patients can also hold their breath, but this is a lesser form of paralysis than in DnD, as they can still talk.

DnD paralysis is somewhere in between. The tough DM in me wants to lean towards the 'you can't talk, you can't hold your breath either' side, especially as controlling the air flow in and out of your lungs is an important part of talking (tho those muscles are lower down the spine than the throat muscles used to power your vocal cords). The player in me would think it pretty harsh and would want to live. In this case, I would side with, 'whatever is good for the plot.' At any rate, DnD paralysis is magical and not related whatsoever to the real world, and with the lack of defining rules, we will always have to fall back on rule 0.

Hawriel
2007-09-11, 05:29 PM
I have no idea how some think holding your breath is involuntary. the reflex action for a person who gets water (or other object or liquid) in their throught is to cough. Whether unconsiouse or not. Peaple have drowned in less than one inch of water, or vomit. Think of being magicly paralized similar to being passed out drunk. Many peaple have died by drowning wile drunk. Whether its from passing out in a pudle of water or there own vomit. The person did not hold their breath unconsiously. honestly the reflex/thought action/prosses of the brain for a blocked wind pipe is not "cant breath, I'll just hold my breath untill I can". Its "cant breath quick clear blockege... COUGH"

If the person who is drowning is not removed from water and have their lungs cleared they will die. Brain damage do to lack of oxygen starts in 4 minuts, in a Healthy adult. Thats how long it would take for the body to use any oxygen still in the blood stream and lungs.

Now magicly paralyzed

Spells like hold person prevents any and all voluntary action. that includes voluntary manipulation of the diaphragm. Sence breathing is an involuntary action its not effected. Holding your breath is voluntary. So if your character it paralyzed then for what ever reason is prevented from breathing they are SOL dead. Unless they are helped in time. Bad D&D drowning rules not with standing.

Machete
2007-09-11, 06:13 PM
How often does this come up?

I'd say you couldn't take a deep breath and hold it but you could prevent water from entering your lungs. Just ad hoc I'd give you your Constitution bonus +1 rounds of breath before the air in your lungs is useless and you start to suffer from not having air.

....
2007-09-11, 07:40 PM
Spoiler for those playing the first adventure in the Age of Worms.

There are both really. In area 19 (Submerged Showers) is the water elemental. After dealing with that if the characters swim east into area 21 (Other Locker Rooms with Benches) there's a ghoul there that is the undead remains of one of the Seekers (the failed tomb robbers). I didn't mention the water elemental because it really didn't add anything to the current discussion.

Ahhh, we never went that far into the sunken part. The water elemental kicked our rears and my character (cowards Rincewind-type abjurer) refused to go that way.

Shhalahr Windrider
2007-09-11, 08:02 PM
Peaple have drowned in less than one inch of water, or vomit.
Of course, that has little to do with whether or not you are capable of holding your breath. When you hold your breath, voluntarily or otherwise, you will eventually run out of oxygen and drown anyway.

tainsouvra
2007-09-11, 08:27 PM
I have no idea how some think holding your breath is involuntary. Non-voluntary, not involuntary. They are not the same thing. Holding your breath while underwater does not require a voluntary effort, it is an ingrained response, but it is not strictly involuntary either.