View Full Version : Americana-punk trains - the leaping from thereof

2010-12-01, 08:22 AM
So I don't derail the main thread yet again, I'll post this here (you'll appreciate the pun in a minute).

I've been thinking a lot about the hobo and his jumping on and off trains. Trains are pretty big things, and these old steam trains could pick up a pretty fair lick of speed. That said, jumping off a train and having your character die from 1d6/10' of travel distance damage when the train is going at 15 mph (~130'/round) isn't fun. If anyone can point me towards how trains work mechanically in eberron that would be very helpful, otherwise this will do as a starter. So, in my first of many "how trains work" posts we will first need to define how much damage you take based on how fast you're going, or more specifically, how much damage you take when you stop going fast very suddenly. This is broadly based on your speed when falling and I've calculated it based on this equation:

v = SQRT(2ad) where v is velocity, a is 9.81m/s^2 and d is the distance you fall (10 feet, 20 feet etc). This has produced this table (with rounding producing some errors):

{table=head]feet fallen equiv.| Speed in feet/round|mph equivalent| d6 damage

This starts to get a bit shakey at the upper end because damage and distance fallen scales linearly wheras speed with distance fallen does not.

I will assume that your standard locomotive goes at about 30 mph, so when a hobo uses his ability to slow the train down to half speed (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9868267&postcount=249), he will not take falling damage. Doubling the speed of the train makes pushing a guy off nearly fatal (only the truly hardy can take 9d6 of damage in an E6 system) and quadrupling the speed will max out the falling damage. Given that no-one can really be expected to survive a 120mph collision, this does not seem too outrageous (though the ability to quadruple the speed of a train may be).

EDIT: NEW TABLE! For more fatal train jumping!
{table=head]Train speed (mph)| Train speed (ft/round)| Damage (# of d6s)
5|45|1d6-3 (minimum 1)

Feel free to discuss this one. Old one left for comparison and will eventually be removed. Differences in mph and ft/round are the result of rounding and a desire to keep numbers as round numbers. ft/round should only really be used in rare situations where some characters on a moving train are interacting with characters that are not. Otherwise mph should be estimated by the GM and used.

Also, we need to discuss how much damage being HIT by a train does. Coyote knows it will come up in a game...

2010-12-01, 08:28 AM
Hmm. Remember, at least for falls, a DC 15 jump check and a DC 15 tumble check can reduce falling damage by 1d6 each. So with your table, a trained Hobo (4 ranks in athletics, 4 ranks in acrobatics, 16 dex, for a total of +7 to each) can jump of a train going at 25 mph and have a fairly good chance of surviving, or even coming out unharmed.

2010-12-01, 08:35 AM
I'm still looking at the system, but I can give a little real-world reference as I actually have a friend who has done coast-to-coast freight-train hopping and told me a little about it.*

Typically, a train that's moving is safe to jump off of if it's moving about as fast as you can run when you land. So, probably between 3-6 mph for a hopping jump, depending on your level of fitness and the awkwardness of the jump. If you're on a car where you can get some takeoff speed, that would increase to whatever speed you're going when you make the jump, so long as you can come straight out of this into a run. But really, once you get past 10 miles an hour, you don't even try.

The greatest risks of hopping off a train are that you'll either (a) land incorrectly, with too much force or slip when you land, falling and hitting the ground with all the speed you and the train were moving at, or (b) land correctly, but with too much force or the weight poorly distributed, so that you absorb too much of the force in your legs and injure them.

Generally, the best places to hop off of a train are stations where they don't stop. They slow down as they pass through them.

*I know, what?

2010-12-01, 08:39 AM
So, 20 mph would already be pretty much too high to actually jump the train. I'm not good with mph or steam trains, how fast do they actually go?

I'd say that you should start with 1d6 falling damage at speeds of 1-5 mph, then 2d6 at 6-10, but let athletics and acrobatics checks reduce them, to represent correct landings. It would be pretty unlucky to break your neck then, but possible. From there, go up rapidly.

2010-12-01, 08:41 AM
Agreed. The most likely injuries are the kind that hit points represent well - if you slip and fall on your face from a doable jump, for example, you're going to get bloody and cut up, but it probably won't kill you.

2010-12-01, 08:47 AM
Hm. If a hobo has, say, a d8 Hit die and a constitution of 14 (not unlikely, if he's living outside and romanticized to a point where malnutrition isn't a problem), he'll have 10 HP at level 1. He also has 14 dex, and therefore a +6 in acrobatics an athletics.

He jumps of a train at 10mph.
He has a 55% chance of making either check.
If he fails one, he'll take 1d6 damage. Not lethal, but it hurts. These are vitality points, so he won't die.
If he fails both, there's a 83% chance of taking 9 or less damage, so he won't be seriously wounded.
The chance of actually being seriously wounded (11 damage or more, all HP and one wound point) is only about 2.7%. He literally can't die from this.

2010-12-01, 09:00 AM
Typically, a train that's moving is safe to jump off of if it's moving about as fast as you can run when you land. So, probably between 3-6 mph for a hopping jump, depending on your level of fitness and the awkwardness of the jump.

I will change it as that makes good sense (not right now, as I should be working really), but just to point out:

At 30' base land speed you can run at ~14 mph (~17 mph with the Run feat). You only start to take damage when the train hits 20 mph or so (actually, it was 18mph, but I rounded up), so within the limitations of the system the table above isn't entirely unrealistic. Given that your friend will only jump off a train if he can guaruntee no damage to himself (including broken bones, lascerations - all crudely modelled by the HP system), leaping off a train going at 15 mph and taking no HP damage isn't TOO bad a system. Bare in mind - bruises, minor cuts and grazes, pretty deep cut in something non-essential, probably doesn't constitute HP damage, and a level 1-2 commoner (which your friend PROBABLY counts as, maybe expert) would certainly risk death if he lept off a train going at 20 mph!

2010-12-01, 10:58 AM
New table added to first post for discussion/comparison. Call for people to help me work out how much damage a train does (unless it's essentially the same, unless you go under the wheel. Instant x3 critical hit with same damage rolls as above? Reflex save negates?)

2010-12-01, 04:58 PM
Don't forget we are modeling folklore, in American folklore people survive way crazier stuff then this all the time.

2010-12-01, 07:09 PM
Hmm. This (http://www.ridelust.com/just-in-case-heres-how-to-jump-out-of-a-moving-car/) website suggests that 20mph will "hurt, big time". These guys are tough, burley stuntmen with years of training and experience, so probably level 3 in a class with quite a lot of hit points. Most of them have some martial training, and can tumble well, so monk is a possiblity (or monk 2/bard 1). For the sake of this exercise, we will also assume that "hurt, big time" means that >50% of your HP will be blown out in 1 hit.

Assuming they have the standard array (elite array is for legends and heros only) and put their 13 into con, they'd have around 20 HP. They can tumble worth a damn, so they can reduce falling damage by 1d6. A "lucky" roll on 4d6 will kill them, but assuming average rolls they have a >50% chance of surviving 5d6. We'll assume that health and safety would not allow them to take more than 3d6 of damage from any one stunt (guaranteeing survival), so that would be a 4d6 fall, or a 25mph crash based on the 2nd table (35mph based on the first). That 25mph fall will deal, on average, 10.5 HP. This is greater than 50% of their HP, so I'd say it'll "hurt, big time". 20mph can deal up to 12 HP damage, but will most likely deal around 7; also pretty painful.

Based on these VERY LOOSE assumptions, I think table 2 is probably the more accurate of the two, at least at the low end. We need to find some folk who have survived a 60mph crash. Handily, I found this (http://bobandjoanne.com/files/dice%20prob.pdf) pdf, which lists all the possible outcomes for rolling 18d6 and their probabilities. The probability of our stuntman suriving an 18d6 blow (dice comes up 18-20) is about 0.000000000187%. Just need to find me a large enough sample size...

2010-12-01, 08:08 PM
Something hurting a lot isn't the same as it doing a lot of damage. Paper cuts are almost always painful, but they're not even worth modeling in HP damage. When my brother punches me in the face, it generally doesn't even hurt. Said brother has some MMA training (meaning he probably has Improved Unarmed Strike) and works out a lot.

2010-12-02, 03:20 AM
True, but we are using VP/WP after all: getting your breath taken away, stumbling and falling, painful bruises are all what's modeled in VP.

That said: remember that the stuntman with 20 vitality also has 13 wound points. So he'll take a massive wound if he loses all his HP, but unless he takes 33+ damage, he will survive with a few days in a hospital.