View Full Version : Damage, Wounds and Healing - Does this work?

2013-02-07, 07:59 PM
Hello and welcome to Part Five of my ongoing series, "Game Mechanics for a System I'm Never Going to Finish Building." Today's subject is Body Parts, Wounds and Damage.

I'm classifying a Humanoid body as having six regions - Head, Torso, and two Arms and Legs.

To cut back on die-rolling, I'm not having any rolls to determine where a wound lands; all shots are treated as called shots. If not otherwise specified, attacks are made against the torso.

I want character death in this setting to be meaningful; resurrection is almost impossible, but actual death is rare. Severe wounds, however, are difficult and expensive to heal, and may have lingering effects.

Damage Reduction
Damage reduction is very common in this setting, and almost any character will have at least some. Armor takes effect not as a miss chance, but as a direct reduction in damage dealt; as damage scales with more successful hits, the result is similar, with higher attack rolls needed to damage heavily armored targets.

Damage Reduction takes one of three forms - "Armor," "Resistance" and "Resilience." Armor almost always comes from actual armor, although certain creatures with bony plates covering vulnerable flesh may also use the term. "Resistance" applies to specific elements- "Fire Resistance," etc.

Resilience is the most useful of the three, but also the hardest to get. "Resilience" applies after the other resistances, and effects all forms of damage, including armor-piercing and precision damage. Resilience describes toughness of the body itself- denser muscle tissue, thick bones, etc.

Damage can come in a number of forms - Fire, Lighting, Frost, Entropic, Normal, Precision and Armor-Piercing. The first four describe damage types that come almost exclusively from spells or magic items (Entropic is something between "Acid" and "Negative Energy"). Armor-Piercing damage primarily describes damage from blunt or heavy weapons, where the force of the impact is intended to bypass armor. Precision Damage, meanwhile, bypasses armor entirely, by aiming for an undefended spot. Armor-Piercing damage is generally done with heavy attacks; Precision Damage is generally done from a superior tactical position, such as sneak attack or flanking.

The difference between Armor-Piercing and Precision damage is subtle, and relates to how they stack with Normal damage. The short answer is that Armor-Piercing damage applies before Normal damage, while Precision damage applies afterwards - making Armor-Piercing damage better, as it not only bypasses armor, but can help Normal damage get through as well.

Consider two examples - in both, damage is being done to a target with 2 armor. In the first example, 2 points of Normal damage and one point of Precision damage are done. The armor counters the 2 points of normal damage, and the single point of precision damage goes through - no benefit over the attack having been 3 normal damage.

In the second example, two normal and one armor-piercing damage are done to the same target. First, the armor piercing damage applies, negating one rank of armor, but the damage goes through anyway, leaving a single rank of armor facing 2 points of normal damage, so a total of two damage is dealt, rather than one.

If that sounds complicated... it sort of is, but it's very easy to explain with pictures. Think of stacking two piles of blocks - one of damage, and one of armor. Both Precision and Armor-Piercing damage blocks go through whether or not they are countered- but Armor Piercing blocks are on the bottom, so they have the chance to "Lift" normal-damage blocks up above the armor threshold.

Wound Effects

By default, Player characters will be seven wounds deep - meaning that a player can take seven wounds to any given body part, after which further damage will just be grinding said body part into a finer and finer red paste. Other enemies may be different- mooks, in particular, are likely to be only two or three wounds deep, if that, while boss enemies and large creatures may be able to take ten or more wounds to the same body part and keep fighting.

Right now, I'm saying that the first three wounds to any body part are considered "Light", and do not slow you down in any meaningful way. After three, you start to take penalties from further wounds, and at seven, the relevant body part is considered severed or destroyed - if it's your head or torso, this means instant death.

Wounds to the head are the most serious; severe head wounds may cause a character to become randomly stunned (50% chance of losing their actions), or even carry a risk of death before reaching the seven-wound mark. Head wounds also grant penalties to Intelligence and Thought Action Points. Heads, however, are also more durable than most body parts; by default, a player's head has a single point of resilience. At six head wounds, a character is rendered unconscious; at seven, they are decapitated.

Like heads, arms enjoy a single point of natural resilience. This can be compounded by use of a shield or other armor, to increase DR specifically to the arm. Characters have the option to "Block" melee attacks; if they do, the attack automatically succeeds, but the damage is done to the arm, rather than more vulnerable body parts. Severe arm wounds inflict penalties to attack and defense rolls; Six wounds leaves an arm useless and unable to wield weapons (Although they may still hold magic items. At seven wounds, an arm is either severed or so mangled that it is impossible to heal.

Legs are generally one of the less targeted body parts, although certain attacks may only be made against them. Wounds to the leg damage Agility and cost Movement Action Points. Six wounds to the leg reduces movement speed; wounds to both legs reduce characters to a crawl. At seven wounds, legs are either severed, or so horribly mangled as to be beyond repair.

The Torso is the most commonly targeted body part. Wounds to the torso cause Strength and Physical Action Point penalties. Furthermore, sufficiently severe limb wounds cause additional damage to the torso, in the form of blood loss. At 6 wounds, a torso is considered so mangled that the character is broken, until they receive healing. 7 torso wounds means instant death.

Healing in this system works differently than in D&D; any single source of healing heals "Up to" a given wound level, but not above.

So, a Cure Light Wounds spell marked as healing up to two wound levels will instantly restore a limb from a level 2 wound. It would not, however, reduce a level 3 wound to a level 1 wound; in fact, it would have no influence on a level 3 wound, and a thusly wounded character would need to seek more potent medical assistance.

Deep wound levels are harder and more expensive to fix. In combat, spells are available to heal level 1 or 2 wounds as they occur; level 3 or 4 wounds can only be healed with a period of rest, and sometimes an expenditure of money. (The currency in this universe is magical power crystals, so money may be spent directly as a material component in some spells.) Level 5 wounds require a greater expenditure of crystal, and the attentions of more powerful mages. It's highly unlikely that anyone in a given party can heal a level 6 wound, and most hospitals or temples cannot heal them completely- characters will suffer a semi-permanent light wound to that body part, even after healing.

Healing level 7 wounds - or the permanent light wounds described above- requires rare and expensive magic, and may involve side quests to achieve.

Several enemies have natural regeneration, and it's possible for the players to acquire such as well. Regeneration works in much the same way as healing, but will usually only heal wounds at a set rate, rather than instantly. So, a weak regeneration effect might heal 1 wound level per round, up to level 3; beyond level 3 wounds, the body part is too mangled for regeneration to have any effect.

Regeneration and Healing effects may depend on the nature of the wound; almost nothing can regenerate from Entropic damage.

So, as always: What does everyone think? Has anyone seen similar systems used before? Are there any pitfalls I should be aware of?