Thursday, September 17, 2020

Death & dismemberment

Yeah, I know, this isn't breaking any new ground here but I felt like our game has become very, very deadly. I thought perhaps death is becoming boring and I should do something about that. So, this is my attempt to cobble something lite, flexible and easy to use in-game. This is also hobbled together based on lots of other sites such as Robert Fisher, Trollsmyth, Blood and Guts.


When one of the following occur, the player will use the table below to determine the result. If the damage would drop a character lower than 0 hit points, those additional points of damage are added to this roll. Example: Bob takes 7 points of damage while only having 3hp, leaving 4 points extra. Bob's player rolls 2d6 on the table below but adds 4 to the total of the roll to determine the result.

Note that most NPCs, mooks, or low level monsters will NOT use this table.

When to roll:
  • When an attack reduces a character to zero or less hit points
  • When a character suffers additional damage after already being reduced to zero hit points
  • When a character falls more feet than their level times ten, example: Bob is 2nd level and he falls 30 feet, he would take 2d6 damage, then roll on the table below even if he were not reduced to 0hp
Roll 2d6 (add a number equal to any additional damage after the character is reduced to 0hp):

  2-3   no additional effect
   4     stunned (no furthers actions this round)
   5     knocked down & stunned for d6 rounds
   6     bleeding badly, will bleed out in d6 rounds unless treated
   7     broken ribs, d6 weeks to heal
   8     1-5: broken limb bone, 2d6 weeks to heal naturally
          6: eye removed
   9     1-4: crushed limb bone, 3d6 weeks to heal, will not fully heal naturally
          5-6: eye removed
  10    severed limb, will die in 3d6 rounds unless treated
  11    mortal wound, will die in 2d6 rounds unless treated
  12+  instant death

Any roll of 6+ has a 50% of permanent scarring, which can reduce Charisma. Additional side effects may be caused by wounds such as a leg never fully healing and having their movement reduced; a crushed arm may not be able to wield a weapon but could hold a shield. DMs will determine any additional side effects based on the severity of the attack.

As to be expected my players frowned upon, I guess I will just keep killing their PCs instead of giving them a second chance at life....  ;-) 


  1. Based on my experience, maiming is pretty good with the right party. While rare, I tend to do it due to things that clearly would destroy flesh along with a clear failure to escape (i.e., a roll was made). The insta-death situations that were almost avoided or magic/curses.

    We have a character that is now half a man: missing an arm, a leg, and -- after being possessed by a cursed helm, with the party's Magic User tangled around his legs while punching his nuts to give the other party members a bonus to removing the helm -- only one testicle.

    It is one of the more fun characters in the party, despite having a peg leg that cuts movement/encumbrance down one level and obvious issues with weapons and certain actions. Also, one of the longer lived, which adds to the excitement of how long he can keep going.

    I've had other PCs in similar situations due to various curses and wounds. Sometimes it is playing around the limitation that is fun, sometimes it is enjoying the quest to find some kind of magic that can restore the missing body part.

    My ruling is that at zero HP down to "negative your positive CON mod" you are dying -- bleeding out or otherwise mortally wounded unless there is prompt medical attention in the next round by an adventurer. It is assumed that all PCs in a fantasy setting can do basic staunching of a wound or other "preserve life" actions. Until they are 1 HP or higher, a PC can't move or be moved in any significant way; I allow carrying them to an adjacent room to rest and recover for a day (8 hours) and limp out. It thus turns into a "defend against the dungeon until he can be moved" game.

    1. That is an awesome story! I was thinking the same thing while I was writing this. I thought that it would add character and uniqueness to the characters and end up being a great story. "Remember that time Dargon lost an arm fighting that ogre! ha!"

      OMG I love the "defend against the dungeon until he can be moved" idea! Fantastic! I wonder though, a few of my players will say "Eh, let him bleed out, treasure awaits! Let's go!" and leave the poor guy behind.

  2. I love it. Your players just don't appreciate the finer things in life. This sort of thing is EXACTLY what I plan to implement in my cyberpunk game. Gotta give them an opportunity to pony up the cash for that cyberware.