Emmy Allen just put up a great post over at Cavegirl’s Game Stuff about wounds/not automatically dying at 0HP, you should read it.
On a tangent, last year I found time to start thinking about D&D again, and I found that after such a long time without playing at all it really changes/solidifies what you want to actually get out of playing. And for me that’s FAST, RECKLESS FUN.
In looking at things I’ve written in the past, there’s a lot of doom you guys. So much doom.
I think previously I got a bit carried away because doom is fucking fun and interesting to write, but after having time away from it I read some of it and think “fuuuuuuck how would I even make than fun or even work in a game?”
I love horror, I love GROT, and I want to bend things back around to that kind of comedic gore and debauchery rather than the pockets of everything’s-fucked-forever that I had accidentally stumbled in to.
That said, I really don’t mind terrible things happening to players: My brother’s wizard having his 3 remaining good limbs torn off by thin air the first time he tried to cast a spell was fucking hilarious, and lead to him hiring a little mercenary girl who the dice told me thought he was the most amazing thing in existence and carried him around like a backpack. IT WAS THE BEST.
I also don’t mind cataclysmic game-changing things happening to the world – it’s part of why I built Corpathium to be something I could just re-generate over and over again.
I just want those things to be FUNNY (even if just in the extremity of their terribleness), and USABLE.
If I’d struggle to know what to do next if it came up in a game I don’t want it anymore.
And one of the most important things I’m keeping in mind is something Rose once said to me after a game, which to paraphrase: the players need something good to happen to them, otherwise it’s just all doom and terror and pain forever.
Which might be fun to dream up and write, but isn’t so fun to play through if that’s all there is.
So don’t expect to see my stuff suddenly become less gory and demented and psychosexual, I just want to make sure that it’s actually all usable, funny, and allows space to breathe, rather than just turning into a macabre writing experiment.
More Return of the Living Dead less Day of the Dead.
Corpathium is being re-written, my magic tables and system are being revised, I don’t know where I’ll get the time but I want to make some really great things.
And if my rules thought they were safe they were so fucking wrong.
For starters I stopped pretending I was playing Lamentations of the Flame Princess with house rules – bitch your game has been pure house rules for a long time.
Then I started looking really hard at things to decide what was important and what wasn’t, ditched what wasn’t, and pushed and poked what was to make it as simple and quick as possible (e.g. my original Weapon Breakage/Notches rules: it used to be that every weapon had a quality rating 1-5 and you checked it for breakage using the weapon’s damage dice whenever an attack roll came up as the quality rating or less. That makes perfect sense as an exercise in simulation! But not in fucking play! Now it uses a simple Shitty/Basic/Quality rating that the player actively chooses to test to do cool shit which I’ll explain some other time), with bonus points for using the same mechanics as other rules. Because I really can’t be bothered tracking 50 subsystems anymore.
It’s not all finished, and I don’t know when I’ll share things, but when I started revising everything I decided to type it up like an actual ruleset which is now tentatively titled GROT.
Long freaking story short here’s an excerpt straight from it explaining MY new way of doing HP/wounds/dying covered in filth:
DEATH & DISMEMBERMENT
You’re a fragile thing of flesh and blood, and there are two main factors involved in knowing just how mangled you are/healing/dying:
Hit Points (HP), which are reduced when you get hurt or attacked.
Hit Dice (HD), which determine your maximum HP at each level, and are used to regain lost HP.
Hit Points aren’t necessarily a measure of actual physical damage. Sometimes losing HP can just mean you’re being worn down by exhaustion and glancing blows, and unless you’ve been seriously hurt, regaining HP can be as simple as taking a rest to eat a good sandwich.
HD are rolled when a character is created to determine their maximum HP, and when they gain a level to see if their maximum HP increases.
Every time a character gains a level they gain another HD – you then roll the current number of HD and replace your maximum HP if the result is higher.
When creating a character that is higher than level 1 (like an enemy NPC), they have HD equal to their level.
If you’re dropped to 0HP or less, make a CON save or die.
Attacks that roll maximum damage cause a Wound – roll on Blood & Guts table. (Rolling multiple damage dice causes a Wound if any of the dice roll their highest number.)
If you’re still above 0HP most Wounds will heal when you reach max HP again.
If you’re at 0HP or less the Wound is always permanent.
While living on 0HP or less:
- Any time you exert yourself, make another CON save. If you fail roll a d6:
1. You fucking DIE.
2-3. Any unhealed Wounds you have become permanent if they weren’t already – hacked elbows tear apart as you swing your sword, your bruised spleen ruptures.
4-6. You pass out.
- If you lose any more HP make a Doomed CON save or die.
- While unconscious any melee attacks against you automatically hit and result in murder.
- While unconscious, roll your base HD every Turn until you roll a number higher than your negative HP, waking you up at 1HP. If someone heals you above 0HP before then, you wake up.
Some Wounds (mainly dismemberments) require you to start using your base HD (e.g. if your HD are 2d8 your base HD is d8) as a DEATHCLOCK until you’ve received some kind of healing.
- Any Round that you exert yourself (this includes things like running away or attacking – dragging yourself away trying to hold your intestines in is fine) try to roll under your current HP – reduce your current HP to the result if it’s lower, or drop straight to 0HP if it’s higher.
HP can’t be regained naturally while Infected, Poisoned, or Diseased.
If you’re not suffering any unhealed Wounds, HP can be regained by resting for a Turn and consuming something – drink a bottle of wine, take some drugs, or roll your Ration Dice.
- Roll your HD, add/subtract your CON mod, and replace your current HP if the result is higher.
While suffering from an unhealed Wound, HP can be regained after sleeping for at least 6 hours.
- Roll your HD, add/subtract your CON mod, and replace your current HP if the result is higher.
- Wounds are healed once you reach max HP again – if the Wound isn’t permanent you no longer suffer any of its effects.
If you’re not suffering any unhealed Wounds, sleeping for at least 6 hours restores you back to max HP.
While Infected or Poisoned make a Doomed CON check to recover after sleeping for at least 6 hours.
Diseases require actual treatment.
The following conditions apply to healing/recovery rolls made after sleeping, depending on your situation:
- Access to medicines/carers/really nice pillows: +2 to rolls.
- If you haven’t eaten today: ignore your highest dice result.
- Camping in unsafe conditions / living in squalor: Doomed.
- If sleep is disturbed: Doomed (Double Doomed if already unsafe/in squalor).
Dreams always disturb sleep.
Recurring dreams continue until you make a WIS check after sleeping.
Infection & Disease
If you roll a 1 while regaining HP you’ve contracted an Infection, if you roll multiple 1’s you’ve gone and caught yourself a Disease.
The condition manifests overnight.
Blood & Guts
All Wounds received at 0HP or less are permanent.
Wounds 15-20, Critical Hits, and Deathblows are permanent regardless of HP.
If you receive a permanent Wound from 11-20 but you’re still above 0HP start the DEATHCLOCK:
Any Round that you exert yourself (this includes things like running away or attacking – dragging yourself away trying to hold your intestines in is fine) try to roll under your current HP using your base HD – reduce your current HP to the result if it’s lower, or drop straight to 0HP if it’s higher.
|d20||Blood & Guts|
[now and whenever your roll for a physical task matches the damage you just took]
Nerve damage causes you to drop what you're holding/fall/otherwise fail.
[now and whenever any roll matches the damage you just took]
Make a Doomed CON check each Round or remain helpless while you violently void your bowels.
|3||Spill Your Guts
The force of the impact causes you to gush projectile vomit all over everywhere.
All your rolls are Doomed for the next 2 Rounds.
Permanent: As above but the blood you're throwing up really isn't a good sign.
Decrease max HP by d4 to a minimum of 1.
A facial gash constantly floods your eyes with blood.
Treat as being Surprised until you stop the blood.
Permanent: As above but one of your eyes is popped/crushed/destroyed.
Decrease DEX by d4 - if this lowers your DEX mod decrease FAST AB and AC/DB accordingly.
|5||Hello Darkness My Old Friend
You are knocked the FUCK out until you make a Doomed CON check or someone wakes you up with a successful Leechcraft check.
Permanent: As above but when you wake up part of your skull feels mushy.
Decrease INT by d4.
|6||Below the Belt
Something terrible just happened to your genitals.
All your rolls are Doomed until you win Initiative.
STR/DEX checks are Doomed until it heals.
Permanent: As above but things have been severed, bissected, prolapsed, or otherwise traumatised beyond the reach of normal medicine.
If you don't care nothing changes.
If you're mad about it immediately decrease CHA by d4 but increase WIS by the same number, and increase a skill of your choice when you gain a level.
Something spurts out of your ear canal as you lose your balance and all you hear is muffled shouts and an incredibly annoying buzz.
Defence rolls and Surprise checks are Doomed until it heals.
Permanent: As above but your hearing is never the same again. Surprise checks are always Doomed.
Roll d4 to figure out which hand:
You drop whatever you're holding and take a -2 penalty to any rolls involving that hand until it heals.
Permanent: As above but the damage is a fair bit worse than it seemed at first; d4+1 digits of your choice are hanging by a thread or mangled so badly that they turn black and rot off.
If you lose 3 or more fingers from the one hand Fingerwork and Leechcraft first-aid checks are always Doomed.
[now and whenever any natural roll for a physical action matches the damage you just took]
Trauma to your spine sends agonising spasms through your body and you collapse in pain unless/until you make a CON check.
Permanent: As above but your Dead Weight is always a level higher than normal, you can't carry any more than 20 pack items, and STR/DEX checks are always Doomed.
Your jaw is dislocated/your mouth and tongue are traumatised so badly that it's impossible to speak intelligably or cast spells until it heals.
Permanent: As above but your mouth is ALL messed up split tongue, shattered teeth, a cleft palate you didn't have before...
CHA checks are always Doomed unless you do something to fix the damage.
Crippling pain renders your arm completely useless.
Roll d4 to figure out which arm:
Fingerwork and Leechcraft first-aid checks are Doomed until it heals.
Permanent: Part of your arm is severed or mangled so badly that the straining tendons and arteries have to be cut away.
Roll d6 to figure out how much of your arm is gone and decrease STR & DEX by the same number (down to a minimum of 3):
3-4. Elbow down
5-6. Whole arm
If this lowers your STR or DEX mods decrease HARD AB, FAST AB, and AC/DB accordingly.
Fingerwork and Leechcraft first-aid checks are always Doomed.
Crippling pain renders your leg completely useless.
Roll d4 to figure out which leg:
Until it heals, attack/defence rolls and Stealth checks that require movement are Doomed, and your Movement Dice is a size smaller than normal.
Permanent: Part of your leg is severed or mangled so badly that the straining tendons and arteries have to be cut away.
Roll d6 to figure out how much of your leg is gone and decrease DEX by the same number (down to a minimum of 3):
3-4. Knee down
5-6. Whole leg
If this lowers your DEX mod decrease FAST AB and AC/DB accordingly.
Until you get a prosthetic to make up for it, Stealth checks that require movement are always Doomed, and your Movement Dice is a size smaller than normal.
A not-insignificant portion of your skin is ripped away from your body.
-2 AC/DB until it heals.
Permanent: Is that meant to be weeping pink pus? Contract an Infection if you're above 0HP or a Disease if you're at 0HP or less.
|14||Riddled With It
The wound splits open a pocket of infection/infestation in your flesh that you didn't even know you had.
Take another d6 damage.
Permanent: It's actually really bad. You can't regain HP naturally until you receive treatment.
You take a savage blow to the head and for the rest of the FIGHT! you need to make an INT check each Round or your eyes roll back into your skull and you're unable to do anything but drool all over your chest.
Do you have any Skills higher than d4?
Make a skill check for each of them, and lose a level from any that fail.
|16||Total Eclipse of the Heart
Right in the feels/the organ that pumps lifeblood around your body.
Lose a HD (down to a minimum of 1).
Re-roll your new HD and replace your current max HP if the result is lower.
You're not sure what just got ripped out of you but it looked important.
Lose 1 HP/max HP every Round until you receive some kind of healing.
Your insides splatter out in a steaming stinking pile.
Decrease your CON by half the damage taken.
You're unable to do anything for the next Round while you reel from a staggering blow to the freaking face.
Roll 3d6. That's your new CHA score.
It's up to you what happened with your face.
|20||Fountain of Blood and Gore
Your head is severed from your neck or crushed into a mess of skull fragments and gurgling tongue leaving your body gushing blood from your neck stump, you're cut clean down the centre of your body so that it splits apart to either side leaving a steaming pile of organs at your feet, your legs are cut out from beneath you and you get gutterstomped... It could be anything but point is you're dead.
Time to roll a new character.
Prologue: Rambling Rules Theory Shit You Probably Don’t Need To Read
So I got rid of Flesh/Grit because I realised I could make it do what I want with less work. The whole reason I wrote it in the first place was because I wanted a differentiation between getting worn out and actually being hurt that took into account your experience as you level up, with a chance of none of that mattering if you take a crit that completely bypasses Grit.
But, if I just make it so that you can regain HP by resting and eating a great snack/getting drunk as long as you haven’t been Wounded, and Wounds happen when you take max damage/get critted – DONE.
That does everything I want it to so now I can get rid of Flesh/Grit and have one less thing to explain to players because everyone knows HP.
Plus now that we’re rolling to regain HP more often I can roll Infection & Disease straight into it and just say it happens when you roll a 1 while regaining HP instead of calling for a CON check when you take Flesh damage.
YES, DO MORE FOR ME WITH LESS WORK, NICE.
As for my Wound table I wanted something universal/interpretive that not only spews gore everywhere the way that I love but impacts on what’s happening in a fun way on both sides.
(I REALLY LOVE wound tables differentiated by the attack type like Emmy’s though, they’re so much fun.)
Going back to weapons being Shitty/Basic/Quality, when you roll a crit you straight-up get to roll double damage, and since Wounds happen when you roll maximum on ANY damage dice, that’s double the opportunity to mess them up real bad.
But what if they’re huge? What if they have ALL THE HP? When you roll a crit you can actively choose to swing your frigging hardest and check your weapon for breakage (roll 4+ like all my usage checks – Shitty is d4 Basic is d8 Quality is d12 – broken weapons deal half damage, if you roll a 1 or have to check breakage on an already broken weapon it’s destroyed) in exchange for a guaranteed Wound in addition to any you roll.
So your sword might shatter into a thousand pieces but now they’re missing a piece/are quickly bleeding out depending on the Wound.
Which is interesting, which is a FUN risk/reward element that makes weapon breakage a worthwhile mechanic to include rather than just another thing to try to keep track of/maintain just because it “makes realistic sense”.
Which I’ve also aimed for with the rules around hitting 0HP and the DEATHCLOCK – I personally like having a chance that you just flat-out die when you hit 0HP, but if you’ve survived hitting 0HP or you’re on the DEATHCLOCK, WHAT HAPPENS NOW IS UP TO YOU.
You can play it safe and hide and you’ll be absolutely fine! Nothing bad will happen! I’m not going to have you make repeated checks to stabilise and stop the bleeding and blah blah blah because that’s just not fun to me – but if you’re struggling to hold your stomach wound closed and you’re watching your best friend get gutter-stomped by an amalgamated goblin warlord stuffed into boiler plate armour and you can’t stand it anymore and you drag yourself to your feet and run screaming and hurl yourself through the air to cave in their back with a warhammer… let’s see if your stomach splits open and spills your intestines everywhere in the process. That’s fun.
I just want to have fun.