Friday, January 30, 2015

The Death & Dismemberment Table

The inestimable Harley Stroh asked that I post my Death & Dismemberment table. Not that he was implying that it was, but I wanted to clarify that while I call it mine, I do not consider it anything less than a complete rip-off. So before I post what I started to test for a game a few years back, I wanted to give a shout out to the folks who gave it to me.

Back in 2010, fresh from GaryCon II, I was searching for ways to think differently about damage - I wanted a setting with little-to-no clerical healing and I wasn't sure how to pull that off. In stepped Aos of Metal Earth. This sent me down the path of seeing "Hit" Points as everything but significant physical damage. That path, it turns out, led back through an older Trollsmyth blog post (2008) to a post by one Robert Fisher (which might be even earlier - there's no date on that post). It might lead even further back, but that's as far as I investigated.

So those are my sources. On to the explanation...

There are a few fundamental pieces to the puzzle:

  • "Hit" Points represent Stamina, Skill, and Luck.
  • "Damage" from attacks reduces "hit" points as normal.
  • When an attack reduces a character's "hit" points to 0, and for every successful attack while the character's "hit" points are at 0, the player makes a saving throw. If the saving throw is unsuccessful, the character rolls on the Death & Dismemberment table.
  • Because "hit" points do not represent physical damage they are replenished very quickly after combat - roll the hit die type for the class of the character each turn after combat.
  • Miraculous Healing, if it takes place, addresses injuries received on the Death & Dismemberment table.
The Death & Dismemberment table:

This was under development, hence the percentages and such. It is also missing the long term effects of letting some of the wounds heal naturally.

In my eyes, the benefits are:
  • Avoidance of confusion with respect to the link between "hit" points and physical damage.
  • Healing is more miraculous.
  • Interesting lasting effects (we had characters with limps who moved more slowly, one blind in one eye, etc.)
  • Deadly.
  • Clerics, if even used, are not simply medics.
While the drawbacks might be:
  • Complexity.
  • Deadly.
  • Reduces Role of Cleric.
What I'm not sure about it if this addresses Harley's original query. I think from the perspective of regaining "hit" points it does because after a battle you regain them so quickly. However, you are faced with the same issue only someone gets a wound and an attempt to miraculously repair it fails...I think...

As I'm writing this and reviewing things I did almost 5 years ago, I'm already thinking of clarifications, additions, changes, etc. For example, this table doesn't clarify how long the effects of the injury last. I think I assumed it was until healed. Also, I'd adjust the fourth column - the effects of multiples - to have more of a pattern. For example, 2 Fatal Wounds moves to Instant Death; 3 Major Wounds moves to a Fatal Wound, and so on up the line. I'd change from Fatal Wounds to Mortal Wounds.

Finally, you might have noticed Deadly shows up on both the pro and con lists. This is because for some folks it might be too deadly, others not deadly enough. When we started using this approach, we used 2d6 and a result of 12 was Instant Death. It ended up at 3d6 after some discussion about how deadly we wanted the campaign to be.. But even while remembering this, I thought about how the dice chain might be applied and how you could use that to shift the deadliness within the campaign. For example, some folks might feel that it's more devastating to lose a high level character - after all, a lot of time has gone into getting that character to achieve a high level, especially in a game like DCC. So perhaps the dice used could change and/or allow different tables for classes and levels making Mortal Wounds/Instant Death less likely.

Either way...there it is...lifted from a bunch of sources and it is to this day a work in progress...