Health and Damage

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Accepted mechanic.png This article covers an accepted game mechanic.

Accepted game mechanics have been reviewed by key developers of the mechanics department and have been accepted as ready for implementation. Once these accepted mechanics have found their way into the game, they become implemented game mechanics.

This mechanic defines the "heath" gauges (similar to hit points) for PCs and NPCs. In addition to "gross" damage to these health gauges, individual "Wounds" can be suffered which will reduce the character's effectiveness until the wound is healed. Diseases are treated as "Wounds" that may effect parts of the body or the overall gauges. For example, if you have an illness, it may give you a "Minimum" fatigue of 20 or even 50 indicating partial dehabilitation.

Original planning document can be found here: Zenbitz:Thoughts_on_wounding



  • Create a chart of different wounds and match them to wound classed defined below.
  • Create a list of diseases and their effects (and cures?)

Status (Health) of a Character

A character has three numerical gauges (Damage, Fatigue, and Stress - DFS) that measure how fit and capable he is in a general sense. In addition, body parts have a "damage status" representing specific wound or disease states. The numerical gauges start at 0 (perfectly healthy) and if any one goes to 100, the character is incapacitated (temporarily). There is no effect until a given hits the following thresholds: 50, 75, 90, 0. The effect is a global penalty to all skills of (roughly 10%, 30%, 50%, and 100% when a gauge hits 100). At 100 the character is helpless, unconscious, or a quivering ball of nerves and can take no actions other than rest and recovery. If "hits" are taken on more than one Gauge, the penalties are applied in series (i.e, if Damage, Fatigue, and Stress are all "90", then all skills are multiplied by 0.125 (.5 x .5 x .5).

Individual wounds (delivered by lethal weapons or other similar effects are described here: #Specific_wounds_and_hit_locations.

"Wounds" do not have to be physical injuries, they can be diseases, exposure to hazardous materials, drug addiction, or even psychologically damaging events. Basically, any injury that is not simply a flat "damage" to one of the DFS tracks is treated using the wound template

Wound Template

The specific wound states are characterized by specific penalties to skills, stats or tasks and defined by the following parameters

  • Magnitude of penalty
  • Class of tasks affected
  • effect on DFS (disease/injury might make your fatigue level never go below X)
  • Recovery rate
  • Recovery conditions (special)

In addition to some metadata like "type of wound", "Class of Wound", "Short description", "Long description", "Diagnosis" (where Diagnosis is a description in detailed that can only be accessed by a successful skill roll by the PC or NPC.

For example if you had a wound state of "sprained right knee" (or minor leg damage class 2, if you prefer generics), you might have a -40% to running and jumping tasks, and a -20% to Melee combat, which recovers at 5%/day, with no special conditions. If the leg was fractured (or major leg damage class 4), the penalties might be slightly higher, but the recovery rate would be slower (and may require a "significant" first aid or medical success to be performed before any recovery can occur).


This gauge measures "subdual" or non-lethal damage that accumulates during the course of adventures. This is mostly bumps, bruises, scrapes and mild muscle strains. Most attacks and falls will cause some Damage in addition to having some chance of causing a specific wound. First Aid treatment (outside of combat) will cause some Damage to be restored immediatly, but the majority recovers in time. Damage recovery is faster when Fatigue and Stress gauges are low, as well as if the character is resting. Different characters have different resistances to damage (perhaps by types), and possibly different recovery rates (based secondary stats of Pain Tolerance and Wound Healing)


This gauge simply acts as a brake on characters engaging in a high level of (stressful) or high exertion activity for long periods of time. Actions undertaken (running or other physical exertion, fighting, even mental exertion) by a character increase fatigue level. During high activity fatigue level rises rapidly, but recovers quickly with a bit of rest (Programming note: resting should take zero actual "play time"). A Characters secondary stats (Endurance and Exhaustion recovery rate) determine how he will respond to Fatigue inducing actions. Fatigue is generally accumulated quickly in the short term, and then recovers fast.


This gauge measures the mental stress level of the character. Various unpleasant experiences a character encounters (including combat!), or is force to undertake to survive increases his mental stress level. At 100, the character is no longer in control of his actions, often collapsing into a babbling idiot. Stress does not recover very quickly by simply resting or avoiding further stressful situations. However, alcohol, other recreational drugs, sex, or even an uninterrupted sleep will help recover your sanity. Some characters have a high resistance to mental stress. Aside: Some roleplayers may want a character that actually works opposite to this... they thrive on chaos, combat, and other anti-social behaviors. Effectively, the person is insane. I am unsure how to implement this for player characters in the game. "Full vulnurability" to mental stress assumes a character is "civilized"; i.e, was either born before WWIII or raised by folks with a strong connection to the "before time". Other backgrounds might not have the same kind of social stigmas. "Resistances" to various forms of mental stress can be bought as "Traits" when characters are created. Maybe an easy way to handle insane player characters would be to have a "Sociopath" trait which essentially inverts the stress scale... in essence forcing the insane player to seek out stressful situations. Stress generally accumulates on a longer time scale than Fatigue (days), and recovers slower.

A short list of stress inducing events:

  • combat (perhaps not all characters)
    • could this affect the character less and less as they see more 'action' ? - Gaspard
      • This (and psychology in a cRPG in general) is a very tricky area. It could go either way. I think we just have to consider game balance as the primary guideline here, since we can find a psych theory or character type to go either way. I am hesitant to allow "combat stress resistance" as a character trait, because it might make too big a gulf between fighters and other types of characters. - zenbitz
  • 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)

General Recovery Rate

Each gauge (DF or S) has a secondary stat associated with it. This is the base rate of recovery -- i.e,., how far the gauge drops per day.

Rate of Damage Recovery (points per minute) = K (secondary stat) - F (fatigue level) * Kfd (fatigue factor on damage) - S(stress level)*Ksd (stress factor on damage). And likewise for Fatigue level (with a much faster K) Ks would have to be set as adjustable parameters for game balance. Note that given a 0-100 scale with different characters essentially having different "point size", there may not be a good reason to have individual characters vary specifically in their recovery rates, although they should still vary by situation/environment.

Disease and Environmental Effects

Diseases, poisons, starvation, and extreme cold (and in principle, but unlikely to occur in the current game world, thirst and extreme heat) will effect all three "damage gauges" to different degrees. In addition, they might have "special" ways of restoring damage. For example, starvation may cause 5 points of damage to EACH gauge (Damage, Fatigue, and Stress) per day for 10 days, then 10 points per day until one (or more) gauge hits zero, and unconsciousness results. But, if food is given, it will heal 25 points of "starvation damage" per day (as long as you have full rations). Diseases and poisons may have specific "cures", or a series of "health rolls" might allow the body to clear the poison or disease "naturally"

These are simply treated by special templates, with a "continuous" or "cumulative in time" effect

Drugs and temporary "health boosts"

Various types of drugs - for example pain killers (for subdual damage), or methamphetamine ("recovers" both subdual damage and fatigue) temporarily counter the effects of Damage and Fatigue, and even drastically reduce additional damage. However, there is always a "hangover" effect in that once the drugs wear off, the original damage returns, and in addition all the "resisted" damage will hit the character, with doubled effect (Play note: we could 1.5x if this is too nasty). So taking speed will keep you going for a while, but eventually you will crash hard and have to rest (for much longer than you would have to "clean). Note that some drugs will "heal" mental stress damage permanently (for game balance, these are drugs that have no "positive" effects) while others will stop accumulation temporarily, but incur a similar hangover effect. Finally, as a give drug (or class of drugs) is used repeated, the character can become resistant or even addicted to various drugs. Resistance and sensitivity to various drugs can be "bought" as Traits during character creation.

Specific wounds and hit locations

Lethal damage (typically that delivered by weapons and similar) is not measured globally via "hit points" (although weapons and other such damage do cause "subdual" damage on the Damage gauge), but rather in individual wounds suffered. An attack (including "environmental" attacks like falling rocks, traps, or industrial accidents) targets a particular location (or rarely, locations). There are 35 hit locations see Hit Locations, but wounds only effect them in groups. The groups are:

  • Head/Brain - location 1
  • Head/Face - location 2
  • Torso (non vital) - locations 4-13, no penetration
  • Vital organs - locations 3,6-13 (penetration), 22.
  • Arm (Left and Right) - 14-20 (even right arm, odd left arm)
  • Leg (Left and Right) - 23-34 (even right leg, odd left leg)

"Groin" and "Neck" are both sub locations of "Vital Organs", but wounds affecting them are just discriminated by color text or description in the individual wounds. Similarly there might be "internal bleeding", "ruptured spleen" as vital organ injuries, while "broken rib" or "torn pectoral muscle" would be a Torso injury.

Each location has a few different "states" (usually 3-4) representing how much it can be used, check the following chart:

Head/Brain Minor wound Stunned Unconscious Shock Dead
Head/Face Minor wound Stunned Blinded
Torso Minor wound Sprained Crippled Shattered
Vital Organs Minor wound Stunned Unconscious Shock Dead
Arms Minor wound Sprained Crippled Severed
Legs Minor wound Sprained Crippled Severed

In all cases, minor wounds *may* carry additional penalties to task resolution IF they said tasks require the wounded body part (i.e, you need two arms to fire a rifle, and two legs to run). Generally, the more vital areas do not have such penalties at the minor wound area (something of a game balance effect, as well as not worth the trouble to try to figure out which tasks your liver can effect). Minor wounds are measured in "distractions" (5% penalties) and are cumulative until they result in a major wound.

Stunning is an extra effect that occurs at vital areas - the effects are short lived (1-2 turns/seconds).

At the next level are different types of major wounds (Sprain, Unconscious). A major wound will take out that "part" until medical attention is received. Some majors can possibly be downgraded to "minors" with First Aid, but other times a lingering wound will occur that takes several days to "downgrade" to a minor. Unconscious folks obviously can't do anything until revived, and will often have lingering effects (concussion). Crippling and Shock are very serious wounds. Only "emergency" actions can be undertaken with a crippled limb (or "torso" - which would represent a broken ribs/collar bone or bad muscle tear). If you are in "Shock" you must receive 'immediate medical attention or you will die in 20 minutes. A Severed or Shattered result in a limb/torso has essentially the same effect as "shock". Severed limb in this case might mean "throughly crushed" or "fried to a crisp".

Note that Shock/Severed/Shattered results are probably "reloading" events for a player. Crippling might "only" be a broken limb that takes weeks to fully heal...

It's clear from writing this proposal that we made need sub classes of Wounds (Minor-1, Minor-2, Crippled-1, Crippled-2) with slightly modified effects. These generic descriptions can be given colorful names like "Sprained right Knee" (Class 2 Sprain (R Leg)) - see TODO list at the top.

The specific wound states are characterized by specific penalties to skills, stats or tasks and defined by the following parameters

  • Magnitude of penalty
  • Class of tasks affected
  • Recovery rate
  • Recovery conditions (special)
  • descriptive metadata (i.e, Sprained Right Knee)

The "Sprained Right Knee" example above might have a -40% to running and jumping tasks, and a -20% to Melee combat, which recovers at 5%/day, with no special conditions. If the leg was fractured (or crippled-2 Right Leg), the penalties might be slightly higher, but the recovery rate would be slower (and may require a "significant" first aid or medical success to be performed before any recovery can occur). A special recovery condition might be appropriate for a slash wound to the torso that requires stiches (advanced First Aid success)

Bleeding Out

Many wounds will have a "bleeding" special effect. If they are above "minor" level, and the character is not given first aid (presumably because he is unconscious) then his wound will progress to higher levels in the chart (eventually reaching death).

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