Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Death and Dismemberment: Redux

The Death and Dismemberment rules in my game are probably my favourite subsystem. They're gnarly, they break bones, they claim limbs, and they let people survive with horrible injuries.

But all my house rules are meant to be a grab bag of pick-and-choosable bits and pieces, and this whole thing seems like it's too big and complicated to slot easily into someone else's game.

So let's break it down into chunks so you can chop off the bits you want. Dismember my dismemberment rules I say!
I'll start with the core mechanic (the Chassis) and give a bunch of +1 Add-ons so you can flavour to taste.

Some overarching stuff as we begin:
- Grab Courtney's sicknasty Table for Avoiding Death. It's crucial.
- You may need this additional table for Bleed damage I made.
- Pretend HP isn't in the game for now. All attacks hit your actual meat.
- Read "Internal Bleed" as "Trauma" because I renamed it.
- Ignore any 3e-style status conditions in italics liked Dazed or Nauseated. Use these for flavour, not mechanics.
- Design notes are in Courier.





The Chassis

Mechanics:
- When an attack hits you, gain a DEATH TOKEN.
- Then roll 1d6 for each DEATH TOKEN you have (including the new one)
- Add the damage you took to the result and look it up on the death table.

Ignore the mechanical stuff at the end.
Just read out the main description and make up some mechanics if it seems brutal enough, like losing an eye or limb. Nice and easy.

Notes:
Say you have 2 Death Tokens and are hit for 2 damage. You get another Death Token (bringing you to 3 total) then roll 3d6+2 on the death table. Simple!
The first hit probably won't kill you unless it did a ton of damage, but the next one will probably start chopping off limbs and stuff.
If you get hit a bunch of times in one round they'll really fuck you up.




These glass craft bead things are perfect for Death Tokens. Use different colours if you use some variant rules!

+1: The First Aid

Additional Mechanic:
- The First Aid skill can be used to remove Death Tokens.
- On a successful First Aid roll, you can remove a number of Death Tokens equal to the number rolled. So if you've got 4 in 6 First Aid and roll a 3, you can remove 3 Tokens.
- If you roll a 6, you deal 1 damage to your patient. This will very probably trigger a roll on the death table! If it does, use the additional entry for Bleeding damage.

Notes:
The key advantage First Aid has over a generic Cure Light Wounds is that it takes only a single action, while CLW takes a whole round to cast.
The key disadvantage is that you could kill your patient... it's happened.





+1: The Death Spiral

Additional Mechanic:
- Every time a death table result says you gain PainBleed, or Trauma, gain that many additional Death Tokens.

Notes:
These will convert into Pain Tokens, Bleed Tokens and Trauma Tokens if you use specific variant rules.
This means that the gnarlier results make further rolls on the death table more brutal.
Remember to read Internal Bleed as Trauma! I'm sticking with this!





+1: The Pain

Additional Mechanic:
- Whenever you would receive a generic Death Token you instead receive a Pain Token.
- A Pain Token counts as a Death Token but has special mechanics tied to it.
- Each Pain Token you have gives you a -1 to AC and -1 to all your rolls.

Notes:
Each Pain Token makes it harder to fight since you're on your last legs.
They're renamed Pain Tokens here because the next add-on rules can give you Trauma Tokens and Bleed Tokens too.
Barbarians reverse this Pain Token effect while raging!


HHNNNNGGG


+1: The Knockout

Additional Mechanic:
- At the end of your turn, count how many Pain Tokens you have accrued. Roll your class Hit Die. If you roll equal or below your number of Pain Tokens, you have been Knocked Out and are now unconscious.

Notes:
This is intended to stop a Black Knight situation from happening where a character's arm or leg is chopped off and they can just hop around with no consequences as long as they don't get hit.
Meatier classes like Fighters (and especially Dwarfs) are likely to keep standing due to their hefty hit die. Wimpy Magic Users with their 1d4 Hit Die go down quick.




+1: The Trauma

Additional Mechanic:
- If you get a result on the death table that says Trauma, instead of gaining that many generic Death Tokens, gain that many Trauma Tokens instead.
- A Trauma Token counts as a Death Token but has special mechanics tied to it.
- At the end of your turn, count how many Trauma Tokens you have accrued. Roll your class Hit Die. If you roll equal or below your number of Trauma Tokens you have been Killed by shock/internal bleeding/catastrophic organ failure.

Notes:
Read Internal Bleed on the death table as Trauma etc etc.
When paired with Pain Tokens from The Knockout, you can have a chance to get Knocked Out and a smaller chance to die from Trauma.
This is one of those big game changing rolls where everyones' eyes are LOCKED on that die as it bounces across the table.




+1: The So Much Blood

Bleeding damage table here.

Additional Mechanic:
- If you get a result on the table that says Bleed, instead of gaining that many generic Death Tokens, gain that many Bleed Tokens instead.
- A Bleed Token counts as a Death Token but has special mechanics tied to it.
- At the end of your turn, count how many Bleed Tokens you have accrued. You take that total as damage.
- This can (and often will) trigger a roll on the death table. Use this additional entry for Bleeding damage!

Notes:
I feel like the perils of blood loss are heavily downplayed in fiction for whatever reason. Blood is important, yo!
The biggest peril with Bleed Tokens is that you pass out and bleed out while you're unconscious. You need help before you bleed to death!




+1: The Stay Down

Additional Mechanic:
- If you have accrued Death Tokens, you can decide to Stay Down.
- If you Stay Down:
  - You lose your turn.
  - You count as Surprised against all attacks.
  - You don't roll for Knockout from Pain Tokens, you don't roll for death from Trauma Tokens, and you don't take damage from Bleed Tokens.

Notes:
This turns Death Tokens from an "oh shit" race against time into a choice. Can I risk Staying Down?
Do I go out of the fight? Or Stay Down until an opportune moment?
Spellcasters face a tough choice - Stay Down? Or risk casting a spell? Bear in mind spells go off at the end of the round in my game, so it's very possible to pass out mid-cast.
Bear in mind you can't use this ability if you're actually unconscious, so if you pass out with Bleed Tokens you're fucked and will probably bleed out.

Obviously don't use this one if you're not using at least one of The Knockout, The Trauma, or The So Much Blood.



"Yea I reckon I'm gonna Stay Down mate"

+1: The Hit Points

Additional Mechanic:
- You have a pool of HP! This is a shield of luck and skill between you and Death Tokens.
- While you have HP, instead of receiving Death Tokens when damaged, you reduce your HP by the damage of the attack.
- When an attack reduces you to 0 HP, you receive your first Death Token and add any excess damage to your roll on the death table.
- Any effect that states it heals HP (Cure Light Wounds etc) heals Death Tokens first on a 1:1 basis, then rolls over onto HP. So if you have 3 Death Tokens and get healed for 5 HP, you will remove 3 Death Tokens first and then roll over the excess 2HP into your HP pool.

Notes:
Ha ha I'm pretending that HP is an add-on! It's probably easier to think of it that way.
It should hopefully be fairly obvious, but HP is like your shields in Halo, or like Grit in Last Gasp
When you run out, they start hitting meat.


This system is literally to stop this from happening


Putting it all together

Hopefully this gives you some idea of how you can mix and match the different bits!
The only real change from my initial conception is calling them "Death Tokens" instead of "Death Dice", which I think makes it easier to explain.
It also means I'm not relying on people having a bunch of different coloured d6's! You can just tell someone to write down "Pain 1" on their sheet if you don't have extra props!

There's a lot you could mess with because there are a lot of moving parts. I mainly like it because it takes character death out of my hands. It's the dice that kill you, not me! It also adds an extra level of unpredictability to proceedings and a lot of high-pressure decision making when you go down.

I've updated the Poison rules because it turns out that was way easier to understand if I use "Death Tokens" instead of "Death Dice" too!

I'll update the house rule doc soon, mostly to just find-and-replace "Death Dice" with "Death Tokens".

Enjoy! Feedback appreciated because I know I've struggled to explain this in the past.




Example of Play if you're using the whole lot

I'm going to assume you just stand there and never choose to Stay Down for this. You're fighting an enemy who does alarmingly consistent damage - 6 per round.
I'm trying to explain each step in depth, in case it helps!

Round 1:
You are a Fighter. You have 10 HP.
An enemy hits you with a sword. They roll 6 for damage.
It's soaked by your HP. You now have 4 HP.
How frightfully original.

Round 2:
You are a Fighter. You have 4 HP.
An enemy hits you with a sword. They roll 6 for damage.
4 points of damage are soaked by your HP. You now have 0 HP, and 2 points of damage going through.

Immediately - resolve Death Table:
You gain a Pain Token, a special type of Death Token. You now roll 1d6 for every Death Token you have and add the damage that got through your HP.
You roll 1d6+2, since you only have 1 Death Token and have 2 points of damage going through.
You get a 4.
Result: "You are struck by the flat of the blade and see stars. You are Dazed for 1 round."
We ignore the Dazed condition because I'm not using that stuff, so you're ok! Just a Pain Token to worry about.

At the end of your turn - resolve Death Token effects:
Roll your class Hit Die (1d8 for Fighters). If you get equal or less than your total Pain Tokens (1), you fall unconscious.
You get a 3.
No worries!

Round 3:
You are a Fighter. You have 0HP.
An enemy hits you with a sword. They roll 6 for damage.
You have no HP left to soak. You have 6 points of damage going through.

Immediately - resolve Death Table:
You gain a Pain Token again. Two Pain Tokens total. You now roll 1d6 for every Death Token you have and add the damage that got through.
You roll 2d6+6, since you have 2 Death Tokens and 6 points of damage going through.
You get a 13.
Result: "A cut rips open your forehead. Blood gushes down into your eyes. First Aid: Shaken and Blind. Bleed 2."
We ignore the Shaken condition because that sounds 3e-ish, but I can guess what blindness is! You're blinded by blood until you work out a fix or someone successfully First Aids you.
"Bleed 2" means you also gain 2 Bleed Tokens. Nasty!

At the end of your turn - resolve Death Token effects:
Roll your class Hit Die (1d8 for Fighters). If you get equal or less than your total Pain Tokens (2), you fall unconscious.
You get a 3.
No worries!
You also take 1 damage per Bleed Token you have accrued (2).
You take 2 damage.

Immediately - resolve Death Table
You gain a Pain Token. Yea it's fucked up. Three Pain Tokens, 2 Bleed Tokens, for a grand total of 5 Death Tokens.
You now roll 1d6 for every Death Token you have and add the damage that got through.
You roll 5d6+2, since you have 5 Death Tokens and 2 points of damage going through.
You get a 16.
"You black out, smacking your head badly. Pain 2. Bleed 1d4. Prone. Barely conscious until recovery."
Pain 2 means you gain 2 more Pain Tokens.
Bleed 1d4
 means you gain 1d4 Bleed Tokens. You roll a 3, gaining 3 more Bleed Tokens.
You're on the floor and barely conscious until you can recover from the blood loss.
You're fucked.


Round 4:
You are a Fighter. You have 0 HP.
An enemy coup de grace's you with a sword. They deal 6 damage.

Immediately - resolve Death Table:
You gain another Pain Token. That's 6 Pain and 5 Bleed, for a grand total of 11 Death Tokens.
You now roll 1d6 for every Death Token you have and add the damage that got through.
You roll 11d6+6 on the Death Table, since you have 11 Death Tokens and 6 damage going through.
You roll a 32.
Result: "Your jaw is separated from your face. The pain is overwhelming and you thrash about making a horrible tongueless screaming noise as you die over the next 1d6 rounds, spraying blood on everyone adjacent".
Vicious!

Take 3d6 and a new character sheet. Better luck next time!



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