Zenbitz:Thoughts on wounding

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Deprecated mechanic.png This article covers a deprecated game mechanic.

There are two main reasons why game mechanics become deprecated. They either have been fleshed out in more detail and became a full fledged proposal this way. Or they have been rejected in favour of other proposals and have been abandoned. Either way: deprecated game mechanics are no longer utilized by the mechanics department at this point.

Let's pretend for a moment that our PC is not a slayer of the wasteland, or cinematic action hero, but a normal person - perhaps a skilled normal person, but not an ubermench. "PC" in the following obviously refers to any "human sized" normal person or animal. Cinematic effects can always be added back to the system by making the victim, luckier, tougher, or harder to hit. Here is my interpretation of the lethality of various weapons and accidents (by no means complete). Roughly speaking, we can divide damage or wounds into "subdual" or non-permanent damage and "lethal" damage. Many PnP RPGs do this (Champions, Aftermath! - and to a small extend AD&D and GURPS).

Current Health and damage proposal


Damage States

A character suffering from combat damage, illness, poisoning, or other generic negative effect can be considered to be in 1 and only 1 of the following states:

  • Normal - this is the default state of health, all stats/skills/metrics are at full value
  • Wounded/Ill - this is the state a character is in after receiving a (minor) "lethal-type" wound that has not been treated with first aid. Penalties range in number of "distractions" which have ~linear penalties to effectiveness on (most) skills and stats. "Wounding" as a result of illness or poisoning is treated the same way (in number of distractions). So a state of "Wounded -3" is the same as "Ill -3" and means the character suffers 3 "distractions".
  • Stunned - this is an "acute" state after a severe blow is received. The character is considered "unaware" for 1 turn, and cannot act.
  • Crippled - this is a state that may be short or long term, the character is aware and can defend himself, but cannot effectively attack. It might occur when a severe blow is received to a limb.
  • Unconscious - this is a long term (will not recover in combat without assistance) situation usually as a result from a blow to the head, blood loss, or other wound. Character cannot act, and is helpless to defend himself.
  • In Shock - This is effectively the same as "Unconscious" (although the character might actually be technically aware), but it's worse as the character will mark inexorably towards death without medical intervention.
  • Dead - The big one. Eternal Rest. No rules exist for "near death" or recovery from brain death... however, the designer feels that "Deux Ex Machina" survivals can be coded in to the story if necessary.

Other States

The equivalent of "Wounding", "Stunning" and even "Crippled" or "Unconscious" can occur via other means than injury, sickness, or poisoning. These occur due to energy expenditure ("Exhaustion"), lack of food ("Starvation"), or other mechanisms as devised by story writers. In general, these will just be "Distractions" which penalize skill tasks and/or stats. It's up to the programmers how they want to track them (as separate states, or as "damage" states with slightly different properties). For example, exhaustion distractions can only be removed by "resting" for 2 minutes (120 turns!) per distraction level.

Subdual Damage

Otherwise known as owies. Subdual damage is tracked like most games track hit points. Damage is absorbed in a linear fashion. At certain thresholds character performance might degrade (penalties to physical stats, skills at 1/2 capacity and further at 3/4). At "0" character falls unconscious. Most "lethal" attacks also do some subdual damage, such that increasing numbers of cuts and punctures will cause a character to surrender/pass out/collapse. This generally covers "pain" damage as well. In addition to hard thresholds, "soft" thresholds could exist where a "will saving throw" (or equivalent) must be passed to avoid ill effects or to even continue fighting.

Lethal-type Damage

Currently I am thinking of eschewing "lethal-type" hit points. A lethal-type attack (see below) has some chance of instantly ending the fight (by shock or death). These types of injuries tend to be binary - either you are done, or you are not. They don't really pile up. However, the subdual (pain and temporary injury) damage from potentially lethal attacks does pile up.

Classes of Lethal-type wounds

Hit location modifies "shock" table effects.

  1. It's only a scratch (1/2 subdual damage, no further effects)
  2. Merely a flesh wound (full subdual damage, no further effects)
  3. Muscle damage (full subdual damage, check vs. shock (doubled)
  4. Nasty wound (partial organ or bone damage) - check vs. shock.
  5. Severe injury (long term effects - broken bones, concussion, internal injuries)
    • Limb: Affected limb useless until treated
    • Head or torso: auto Stunned, check for shock (1/2 chance)
  6. Sever - automatically out of fight, limb REMOVED, check for death.

Blood loss

Breaking the skin causes bleeding. Too much bleeding is bad, causing unconsciousness (and eventual death). If a certain level of "lethal type" injury is suffered, the character will pass out and begin bleeding to death, unless medical attention is received (first aid at least... depending on injury). In addition, several minor cuts or stabs can cause a serious loss of blood. To model this, if a character passes out via subdual damage from a lethal attack (see above), he will also be considered to be "bleeding to death" and will die "in a while" if not helped.

After effects

If the character survives all his wounds and remains conscious, a small amount of time + (first aid skill roll?) must be taken to clean and bind wounds to continue without sustaining further injury and blood loss. A moving character untreated may leave blood trails.

Wound, Injury and accident classifications

This is just a groupings of different types of "bad things" that happen to a character's body. It is by no means complete, but should serve as a rough guideline to damage potential for events. There is a correspondence to the lethal-wound classes that has not (yet) been fully developed (i.e., extremely lethal = automatic sever)

Always Lethal "No saving throw" Events

  • Center of Large explosion (gas station as an example, but this is not the minimum)
  • Fall of 5 stories on to hard ground
  • Complete burial under 1 ton of debris, earth, or snow
  • Hit with a large, very fast object (like a missile, or possibly something falling off a building or launched by explosion)
  • Immersion in highly toxic or corrosive materials (including extreme cold like liquid nitrogen)
  • 8000 Rads -neutron bomb level (700-1000 is also lethal, but slow)

Extremely Lethal Events

If PC is critically lucky (or causal agent critically fails), he is only crippled. There is virtually no chance of avoiding incapacitation. In many cases, death is avoided only because "only a limb" was caught. Not that this is assuming "full effect" of the danger, not any sort of "miss". A "partial" hit to a limb will typically vaporize or sever that limb. In a RPG - most of these outcomes are "death equivalents" in that the character is no longer "playable" (even if alive)

  • Hit by train, bus, or truck
  • Run over by bulldozer, crushed by big rolling thing
  • Hand grenade in your square / Claymore mine / Landmine / Mortar or artillery shell / Rocket launcher
  • Full burst from heavy machine gun
  • Shot from a recoilless rile or other heavy anti-vehicle weapon
  • Any high power rifle or pistol round to the head or neck (including "large" shotgun at close range)
  • Multiple bullets to torso (not counting sporting rounds like .22LR or birdshot)
  • Doused in flaming napalm - not immediately extinguished.
  • Any "sharp" weapon blow directly to the eye
  • Icepick in the ear

Likely Lethal Events

These events have a more variable set of outcomes than the "more lethal" ones. They range in effect from "incapacitating" to "grave" (lethal but not necessarily instantaneously so. Incapacitation typically refers to an injury that would require (in the modern, normal world) hospitalization or at least emergency room care. That is not to say that (some of) these types of injuries cannot be recovered from without medical attention. Some of these "attacks" may have a large "subdual" component - i.e., some of the incapacitating effect will recover in ~hours-few days. "Vital" locations here are a subset of "torso" - major artery severed or nerve damage. To be clear - after suffering one of these events, the victim is "out of the fight" 100% of the time.

  • Hit by car, thrown from moving vehicle.
  • Run over by small vehicle - motorcycle, snowmobile
  • Hit by multiple shrapnel (explosion fragments)
  • Hit by high power rifle or pistol bullet in the torso/major limb. Shotgut blast to the gut.
  • Hit by several bullets (medium/low calibre) in various locations
  • Severe burn over large area(3rd degree, or chemical "spash")
  • Hard crushing blow to the head ("automatic" concussion - likely skull fracture) - for example by melee weapon, "perfectly" thrown rock, or other flying debris
  • Very effective edged weapon (sword, axe, etc.) blow to a vital, unarmored location, or "probable" limb severing event.
  • Fully penetrating thrust with a large weapon (sword, spear) or object to vital location or head ("through" or nearly through the target)
  • High power crossbow or bow shot to a vital location or head.
  • Severing major artery (femoral, carotid) with a small blade (knife)

Potentially Lethal Events

These are event for which an instant (or at least inevitable) death is possible, but not highly probable if trained medical attention (or other intervention is received). As the severity of these events decreases, the victim has an increasingly greater chance of "staying in the fight" and remaining "capacitated".

  • Automobile accident, high speeds
  • Motorcycle accident
  • Hit by single shell fragment (shrapnel)
  • Any bullet wound (non sporting round)
  • Sporting round to the head or heart
  • Average strike with edged weapon by trained foe
  • Average thrust with large pointed weapon by trained foe
  • Any crossbow or bow shot from less than extreme range
  • A well placed knife thrust (head, neck, vitals)
  • Any blow to the head that does some significant subdual damage - enough to concuss or stun.
  • Struck by lightning
  • Severe burn
  • Taser
  • Fall of > 3m on to hard surface.

Barely Lethal events

Most other forms of injury will eventually cause death if inflicted repeatedly use a fractional modifier to convert subdual damage into lethal damage. For example:

  • Punches and kicks
  • Falling < 3m, or soft surface
  • bludgeoning with not particularly heavy item - flat of sword or bamboo.
  • overexertion, muscle sprains and pulls
  • many types of drugs

Absolutely Non-lethal events

Even generally non-lethal methods such as an open handed slap will eventually do real physical damage, and if you keep it up long enough could concievably cripple and or incapacitate. With the following exceptions:

  • Pain by nerve induction (gom jabbar)
  • Psychological torture (?)
  • Sci-Fi stuff (neural stunner)
  • knockout or pepper gasses (although obv. you could suffocate someone with anything)
  • "entanglement" attacks, although this is obv. a special case

Mental Heath and Stress

We were kicking around the idea of a "mental stress" or "psychic damage" meter. The idea would be that the harsh world of the post-apocalypse might mentally damage your character, and we could use this to "force" them to undertake everyday "stress release" actions.

Possibly some characters should be able "buy" resistance to certain types of stress, but we should still restrict total psychopathic behavior. In general, the Willpower stat would effect your resistance to stress.

Actions that (may) increase stress

  • combat (perhaps not all characters)
  • starvation / exposure / escape from danger (after the fact?)
  • murder (hard to distinguish, perhaps)
  • atrocity
  • cannibalism
  • witnessing some kind of atrocity (corpse dismemberment?)
  • finding evidence of some major atrocity (concentration camp, pile of baby skeletons with the marrow sucked out)

Actions that (may) reduce stress

  • sleep
  • sex
  • drugs and alcohol (in addition to negative physical effects; possible addiction)
  • selfless acts
  • the feeling of accomplishment after successfully finishing a (difficult ?) task or quest ? - Gaspard

(Possible) effect of high stress levels

  • General negative effects on skils and tasks, including combat.
  • Reduced or altered dialog options (you are now cranky)
  • Lowered resistance to disease, other 'harm'.
  • Loss of players control of character (hard to implement? - maybe reduced options in combat, or random "errors"; like the "Jinxed" trait in Fallout ?)
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