Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Death And Dismemberment Revisited

Ha ha! You are disarmed!
I haven't been blogging much lately, as you can probably tell. Still, I am busy enough, so maybe I can just update something here.

One of the things that I've done for the Middle Sea setting that I wanted to note is to incorporate some of the ideas that I had originally intended for the Black Blood of the Earth setting. It turns out that they won't be easily incorporated using D&D rules, but I've also been thinking about how to approach the setting as general fiction worldbuilding. So, I'll probably skip the Black Blood of the Earth stuff for the game, but the idea of a limited resource related to magic that is starting to run out is one that keeps drumming at the back of my skull, as it were. Whatever, this blog is mainly for gaming, at least for now. I might talk about it some other time, though, as I'm starting to play with the idea of using GURPS to play out some of the fiction and to give it a coherent "physics" of a sort. I am resisting the temptation to start a project of developing a dedicated game system for it, however. You don't know how hard that temptation is to resist.

A while back, I included a list of possible house rules for the Middle Sea or Terra Ultima settings. After thinking about those, I worked out some clarifications of some of them, some simplifications, and so on. I want to present here my current thinking on Death & Dismemberment.

In D&D, and explicitly so in AD&D, hit points are not meant to refer (at least exclusively) to physical damage. They represent a range of things, from fatigue, to physical toughness (so, in part to physical damage), skill, divine favor, and so on - or, put more simply, to the general staying power of a character. The thing is, though, that the rules as written don't support that concept well. Particularly, healing and the effects of damage are poor representatives of that philosophy of hit points.

As a result, some people decided a few years ago to experiment with ways of approaching what happens to a character when it runs out of hit points. What would happen, they asked, if instead of just running out of hit points and "going negative" (reducing hit points to negative numbers and starting a clock that runs out with the character dying by losing hit points every round while in negative numbers, sometimes with the ability to stop the clock by giving first aid treatment), hit points were a buffer against actual wounds? That is, hits that did "damage" points after the character had no more hit points would be rolled on a chart of wounds that would then affect the character. Among other things, this makes a character more survivable even with low amounts of hit points, since not every wound would kill the character. A number of such charts were quickly created, and a couple of published games used the idea for their versions of D&D-like games (ACKS is notable in this regard). You can find links to many of these tables here, here, and here.

I thought about the idea, and finally decided that I wanted my AD&D Death & Dismemberment table to interface with the Clerics' healing spells. That meant that there should be results of "Light", "Serious", and "Critical" to go along with the appropriate healing spells. The early version is in the house rules post I linked above, but here is my current version (conveniently behind a cut):



When a character takes a damaging hit that would reduce the character below 0 hit points, reduce the character to 0 and roll 3d6 on the following chart:

Die roll (3d6)
Result
3-6
Second Wind! Immediately regain one hit die worth of hit points, plus 1 hit point per two full levels or hit dice.
7-9
Knocked down.
10-12
Light Wound.
13-15
Serious Wound.
16-18
Critical Wound.
1d6
Hit Location
1
R. Leg.
2
L. Leg.
3
Body.
4
R. Arm.
5
L. Arm.
6
Head.




Effects:

Leg
Light Wound: each injury will heal in 1d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 1 day).
Cutting weapon: an injury to the leg which reduces movement rate by 1”. After every three such wounds, reduce personal initiative by 1. Check for infection.
Puncturing weapon: after every three such wounds, reduce movement rate by 1”. When movement rate is reduced by 3”, reduce personal initiative by 1. Check for infection.
Crushing weapon: as cutting weapon.
Burn/Frost/etc: as cutting weapon, but do not check for infection.
Serious Wound: each injury will heal in 3d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 2 days).
Cutting weapon: bleeding wound. Character will die in 1d10 turns unless treated. Cannot use leg. Crawl at 3” or stagger at half movement if supported. Check for infection.
Puncturing weapon: as Cutting weapon.
Crushing weapon: broken bone. Cannot use leg. Crawl at 3” or stagger at half movement if supported. Takes 2d4+9 weeks to heal instead of the above.
Burn/Frost/etc: skin damaged. Check for infection.
Critical Wound: each injury will heal in 6d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 3 days).
Cutting weapon: severe bleeding. Character will die in 1d10 rounds unless treated. Roll 1d20 + hit dice + constitution hit point bonus; if result less than 12, leg is severed. Otherwise as Serious Wound.
Puncturing weapon: severe bleeding. Character will die in 1d10 rounds unless treated. Otherwise as Serious Wound.
Crushing weapon: crushed bone. Leg must be amputated. Check for infection. Otherwise as Serious Wound.
Burn/Frost/etc: flesh damaged. Effects as for Puncturing weapon.
Body
Light Wound: each injury will heal in 1d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 1 day).
Cutting weapon: each wound reduces personal initiative by 1. Check for infection.
Puncturing weapon: as Cutting weapon.
Crushing weapon: as Cutting weapon, but do not check for infection.
Burn/Frost/etc: as Cutting weapon, but do not check for infection.
Serious Wound: each injury will heal in 3d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 2 days).
Cutting weapon: bleeding wound. Character will die in 1d10 turns unless treated. Broken rib. Takes 2d4+9 weeks to heal instead of the above. Otherwise as Light Wound.
Puncturing weapon: as Cutting weapon.
Crushing weapon: internal bleeding. As Cutting weapon, but do not check for infection.
Burn/Frost/etc: skin damaged. Check for infection. Otherwise as Light Wound.
Critical Wound: each injury will heal in 6d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 3 days).
Cutting weapon: deep cut. Save vs. instant death, otherwise character will die in 1d10 rounds unless treated. Character incapacitated. Crawl at 3” or stagger at half movement if supported. May not attack, use shield, or use Dex bonus to AC. Otherwise as Serious Wound.
Puncturing weapon: deep stab. As Cutting weapon, but no broken bones.
Crushing weapon: shattered ribcage. As Cutting weapon.
Burn/Frost/etc: flesh damaged. Effects as for Puncturing weapon.
Arm
Light Wound: each injury will heal in 1d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 1 day).
Cutting weapon: roll 1d20 + dexterity or drop whatever is in that hand (except strapped items). Check for infection. No other effect.
Puncturing weapon: as Cutting weapon.
Crushing weapon: as Cutting weapon, but do not check for infection.
Burn/Frost/etc: as Cutting weapon, but do not check for infection.
Serious Wound: each injury will heal in 3d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 2 days).
Cutting weapon: bleeding wound. Character will die in 1d10 turns unless treated. Injury reduces personal initiative by 1. Save vs. paralyzation or broken bone, taking 2d4+9 weeks to heal instead of the above and automatically dropping whatever is in that hand (except strapped items). Otherwise as Light Wound.
Puncturing weapon: bleeding wound. Character will die in 1d10 turns unless treated. Injury reduces personal initiative by 1. Otherwise as Light Wound.
Crushing weapon: broken bone. Drop whatever is in that hand (except strapped items). Cannot use arm. Takes 2d4+9 weeks to heal instead of the above.
Burn/Frost/etc: skin damaged. Check for infection.
Critical Wound: each injury will heal in 6d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 3 days).
Cutting weapon: severe bleeding. Character will die in 1d10 rounds unless treated. Roll 1d20 + hit dice + constitution hit point bonus; if result less than 17, arm is severed. Otherwise as Serious Wound.
Puncturing weapon: severe bleeding. Character will die in 1d10 rounds unless treated. Otherwise as Serious Wound.
Crushing weapon: as Serious Wound, plus check for infection.
Burn/Frost/etc: flesh damaged. Effects as per Puncturing weapon.
Head
Light Wound: each injury will heal in 1d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 1 day).
Cutting weapon: stunned for one round unless wearing helmet. Check for infection unless wearing helmet.
Puncturing weapon: Check for infection unless wearing helmet. No other effect.
Crushing weapon: stunned for one round unless wearing helmet.
Burn/Frost/etc: Check for infection. Helmet has no effect.
Serious Wound: each injury will heal in 3d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 2 days).
Cutting weapon: knocked unconscious for 3d6 rounds unless wearing helmet. If wearing helmet, stunned for one round. Check for infection unless wearing helmet.
Puncturing weapon: Stunned for one round unless wearing helmet. Check for infection unless wearing helmet.
Crushing weapon: knocked unconscious for 3d6 rounds unless wearing helmet. If wearing helmet, stunned for one round.
Burn/Frost/etc: as Light Wound. Save vs. paralyzation or blinded 1d6 rounds.
Critical Wound: each injury will heal in 6d6 days minus constitution hit point adjustment (min. 3 days).
Cutting weapon: bleeding wound. Character will die in 1d10 turns unless treated. Roll 1d20 + hit dice + constitution hit point bonus; if result less than 9, head is severed. Otherwise as Serious Wound.
Puncturing weapon: bleeding wound. Character will die in 1d10 turns unless treated. Otherwise as Serious Wound.
Crushing weapon: broken skull. Save vs. death. Otherwise as Serious Wound.
Burn/Frost/etc: as Light Wound. Save vs. paralyzation or permanently blinded.

To check for infection, roll a save vs. poison. If failed, the character contracts an acute blood disease. Check severity as per DMG p. 14.

For every Light Wound, 1HP will not recover until the wound heals.
For every Serious Wound, 5HP will not recover until the wound heals.
For every Critical Wound, 10HP will not recover until the wound heals.

A Cure Light Wounds spell can heal either the listed HP or one Light Wound, or reduce the healing time of one Serious Wound by half, or of one Critical Wound by one-fourth (thus taking three-fourths of the normal amount of time to heal).
A Cure Serious Wounds spell can heal either the listed HP, one Serious Wound, or two Light Wounds, or reduce the healing time of one Critical Wound by half.
A Cure Critical Wounds spell can heal either the listed HP, one Critical Wound, two Serious Wounds, or four Light Wounds.

When a wound “heals”, it is reduced one grade (Critical becomes Serious, Serious becomes Light, Light is fully healed), and has all the long-term effects of that grade of wound.

Note that most NPCs are simply rendered out of the fight at zero hit points. This and the ability of fighters, Paladins, and Rangers to gain extra attacks against <1HD creatures constitute my “mook” rules.


Recovery of Hit Points – replace the system on p. 82 of the DMG with the following: At the end of any combat in which a character took damage to its hit points, the player should roll one die of the character's hit die type and recover that many hit points (up to the amount that the character entered the combat with). Repeat this recovery every hour of rest (but see the limits due to wounds in Death and Dismemberment). If engaging in activity (walking, searching, etc) during the hour, recover only one hit point instead of rolling hit dice.

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