26 March 2013

Wounds Happen

I like hit points as a way to vaguely track your health, but is it too much to ask for a system that keeps track of your injuries?

It doesn't even have to be something deep, but there should be something. Ignoring effects other than immediate hit point damage is like ignoring the effects of having dragons around. You can, but why would you when it's not even that hard to add?

Currently, I'm favoring a system where you just reduce your maximum hit points when you get smacked around and you heal up to your new maximum when you take a quick breather. You recover your max hit points at 1/night, and holy healing magic only heals up your current health. Net effect: You are exactly as frail as before, but now your hit points mean something. Holy magic isn't necessary. You can get in more than one fight every couple of days.

I kind of want a system where you roll on a Injury chart when you're hit, and then there's a couple of other charts attached to the chart, so you'd be like "ah shit I got bonked in the face, time to check out the Head Injury chart" and it turns out you've got a concussion and your reflexes are slower. Or something.

Just something to reflect the fact that, like football players and boxers, it is not possible to throw yourself into harm's way constantly and then come out with your hip still intact.

But I wonder if that's not more appropriate for a roguelike, where you kind of expect your character not to make it. Maybe it ties into what I was talking about yesterday? Hmm...


  1. I know that white wolf games have tiered health levels where you start getting negatives to rolls after so many hits. You could work something like that based on percentage of HP lost and combine it with specific injuries that affect specific abilities.

    1. I was toying around with the idea that you'd calculate 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4 of your health and have those numbers trigger a roll for penalties or something, but honestly, that was a lot of math, and the net effect wasn't enough for me. Especially given that, in stock D&D, you've got maybe 10-20 hit points for most of your character's career.

      I do like the way WW does wounds though.

      Maybe just something as easy as stealing an injury track...

  2. Well, you could always have them check for a wound when they take damage greater than their CON score. I'd apply it to players and NPCs, of course.

    I wouldn't penalize with wounds, I'd allow enemies bonuses vs. a wounded character. It's easy for someone to 'forget' things like that. Allowing enemies advantages vs. wounded characters is akin to saying, "Bob just lost three toes, so you get +1 to hit (or whatever.)" Also, it doesn't 'directly' penalize the character who was wounded either (not exactly.)

    1. I dunno about the "greater than their CON score," since a sword does 1-6 damage and I am reasonably sure that a sword can inflict a fairly serious injury. You could always tie the Swords and Wizardry CON bonus into a sort of "injury save," but then you're kind of double dipping by both giving bonus health and giving resistance to injury. I dunno. Its something to think about though.

      And I really, really dig the idea of giving your enemies bonuses instead of giving you penalties. It's mechanically the same as having -1 to your defenses, except in this case it's more that they're taking advantage of your wooziness or broken foot to try and out-maneuver you.

    2. You're right about that I suppose CON would be out for both reasons.- there should be a way to kinda streamline the whole wound process - make it into a single roll where 'bam' - you get a wound (or don't.)

  3. That's why I have really come to like the "Death and Dismemberment" rule: hit points become a buffer against taking injury at all, and rolling on the Death & Dismemberment chart is actual injury. I can see all sorts of ways to extend the idea, too, such as rolling on the chart automatically when a critical hit is rolled (though perhaps this should be given a saving throw, to cover the skill of the target in avoiding crits), using hit points as a fund of mana points for casting spells, and so on.

  4. In "Into the Odd" I cap hp quite low (5d6 maximum), but they fully recover with a quick rest. When you take damage at 0hp you start to lose points off your STR, which weakens you and requires a full week's rest to recover.

    It's my attempt to distinguish between the abstract loss of hp in combat and the nasty hits that leave a lasting injury.

  5. My answer has been to not treat wounds as numerical values at all, but as stuff you add temporarily (or permanently) to the character sheet. I have three levels: Wounded, Badly Wounded (picked because you can just add that adjective in front of an existing wound that worsens,) and Lost/Crippled.

    Wounds cause a flat penalty for the rest of the combat, or until first aid is applied. Wounded arms only apply the penalty to attacks or actions using that arm, wounded legs halve Move, vital wounds apply the penalty to both.

    Bad Wounds cause the same penalty, but longer. Like, until the wound is healed.

    Lost/Crippled limbs are permanent without extreme magical aid.

    I change my opinion on how to apply wounds, but I think I've settled on: damage roll 5+ = wound, 7+ = bad wound, 9+ = loss. Con modifier modifies target number. Other situational modifiers may apply, like edged weapons are +2 to chance to wound except vs. metal armor.

  6. Okay, here's another one -

    X = the exact number to hit target
    R = Actual die roll

    Based on the difference between the target number and the actual roll, wound type (if any) can be determined:

    X to X + 3 : Normal hit point damage
    X + 4 to X + 5 : Minor Wound
    X + 6 : Major Wound
    > X + 6 : Critical Wound

    (These are just working numbers, nothing solid)

    Wounds by Type (abstraction)

    Minor Wound - Enemies receive +1 to hit target
    Major Wound - Enemies receive +1 to hit, +1 damage,
    target speed reduced to 25%
    Critical Wound - Enemies receive +2 to hit, +2 damage,
    target speed reduced to 50%

    ( I wouldn't make wound effects stackable, but they would bump up to the next wound type. )

    So, if A needs 12 to hit B:


    12 - 15 = Normal Hit Point loss
    16 - 17 = Minor Wound
    18 = Major Wound
    19+ = Critical Wound

    This is a rough idea...

    Whaddya Think?

    1. Oops, didn't need the R, sorry

    2. I know this is a really late reply (it got caught in the spam filter, for some reason), but I kind of dig it.

      The die is a d20, I assume?