How can I modify Meat Grinder Death Saves to have less Coup de Grace?

This question was closed as too broad. Why?

It very specifically asks for a mechanical solution for a very specific problem: namely, that a successful attack on a downed creature automatically uses up 2/3 of available death saves.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This may be premature to ask about here. It's still in Review, and already has 3/5 reopen votes. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2018 at 16:50

2 Answers 2


The question almost contradicts itself.

I'm DMing a Tomb of Annihilation-based campaign and we're using Meat Grinder Mode (DC for Death saves is 15).

ToA is designed as a more lethal module in the first place, and the meat grinder option is deliberately built to be more lethal than normal 5e.

You then ask how to make it less lethal, based on your problem with death saves, and your desire to attack characters who are at 0 HP since that does indeed fit the situation that your characters were in. (Quite frankly, your ruling on that makes perfect sense to me, in terms of the beasts involved and the situation the characters were in during that fight).

It's kind of like "how do I go whitewater rafting but instead go canoeing" as a question.

Now that you have edited the question, and I have offered an answer, I still perceive a modest "XY problem" in the question. Since the question is open again this meta appears to have been overcome by events.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The basic problem is not really related to ToA and Meat Grinder in itself. Even with default rules a successful attack gives two failed saves. Maybe I should include less colour and background into my questions the next time. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mala
    Apr 4, 2018 at 17:56
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Mala Indeed they do. I guess my point is that if you don't like that level of lethality, you are always within your remit as DM to not have monsters attack already downed characters. based on your comments under the question, that answer isn't what you are looking for. (But maybe I am reading something into that which you do not intend). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2018 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with Korvin, based on the discussion Mala and I had in the comments of the actual question. There's no reason to create a new exception to how death saves work, because your problem is with instantly killing a character before they have had a chance to fix their mistake. The solution is... don't decide to instantly kill the character. There's literally always a way to avoid it, even in your example. You're the DM. You control the narrative. It's not a good idea to change the mechanics so that they no longer fit the narrative. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2018 at 19:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Whilst I'm concerned about the apparent contradiction as well, there's possible avenues around it like changing how dying works, or (spitballing here) allowing last moment saving grace actions. I'd recommend people with tried and tested approaches that navigate the contending desires answer & that we leave ground for people to do that, and that if people who can provide these solutions experience that something's gotta give and the conflict really is an unworkable contradiction based on experience, they can speak about that and advise the author what choices they have to make. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2018 at 23:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I have an idea, that I am pondering, but I will point out that anyone familiar with ToA will probably share my view on the internal contradiction involved with that module. Maybe that connection needs to be removed from the question? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 5, 2018 at 1:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener and for Mala. I really hate to say this, but the question just struck me as a case of DM "my guy syndrome." \$\endgroup\$ Apr 5, 2018 at 1:29

It very specifically asks for a mechanical solution for a very specific problem

The problem is - there are an infinite number of mechanical solutions to any given problem.

To narrow the scope of the question it needs to be focused more tightly on the type of mechanical solution you are looking for.


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