Hey, basically I am... quite unsatisfied how criticals work currently, mostly with a punch potentially blowing up a head. While, yes, as a GM I have the obligation to modify the hits in a way they make sense, but it still always kind of annoyed me.
What I have now come up with is a small mechanic to allow a player to avoid burning a fate point and still potentially survive a normally deadly hit. Purpose of this system is that players won't have to burn a fate point every time they fall down a meter and die due to having one wound less then needed to survive it. Anyway, here we go:
1. Should a character receive a deadly critical hit, he can choose to "bleed out" instead of burning a Fate Point.
Example: Guardsmen Bill is hit by a shot into the chest for 11 Damage - a painful hit. After subtracting his Toughness-bonus of 4 (Toughness 43, he can take a beating), he still takes 7 Damage. However, he is already critically injured at a level of 4 after another firefight before, leaving him at a theoretical Critical 11.
2. Now, the GM secretly rolls 1D5, adds Toughness-Bonus and Willpower-Bonus. This is then reduced by the amount of excess damage over the "least deadly" critical injury level, 8 in most cases. The resulting number is the number of turns another character has to stabilize the character.
Bill now decides to bleed out, confident his high toughness (43) and willpower (31) will save him. The GM rolls - 4. 4 (roll) + 4 (TB) + 3 (WpB) - 3 (8 would be deadly, he is now critical 11, leaving him at 3 points of excess damage) = 8. Bill falls down incapacitated, his life slowly draining away, his last thoughts being "I should've worn my vest...". Hopefully for him, one of his friends can save him...
3. The incapacitated Character can now be stabilized. In order to do this, the medic needs to amass twice the amount of excess damage in Degrees of Success on an extended Medicae-Test. Each test takes 10 Rounds, during which the Bleedout-Time keeps running, but the character won't die when it runs out as long as he is still being treated. The treating character can't do anything else during stabilizing another character. The body can be moved, but the carried must pass a Hard (-20) Toughness-Test or the Bleedout-TImer is halved (this can only occur once). Moving a Body is a full action allows a character to move him at his movement speed for a half move. Should the test to stabilize a character fail by five or more degrees, the patient dies.
4. Please note that, while choosing to bleed out, a character is NOT safe until the end of the encounter. Should he take any damage during this time, it reduces the Bleed-Out Timer by the amount of damage (after reduction from armor and toughness). Also note, the Character CAN NOT burn a fate point to avoid any death as long as he is incapacitated, even if he still has some left - instead of relying on the Emperor to safe him, he counts on his own stubbornness and tenacity.
5. Stabilizing a character DOES NOT ensure he gains his consciousness back. The character will still be out for the amount of Excess Damage he took in hours, although this time can be shorter or longer as the GM deems necessary. When the character wakes up, he counts as having 8 Levels of Critical Damage for the purposes of taking further damage as well as any modifications on tests for first aid and/or extended care and natural healing. Meaning next time he takes damage, he probably won't be so lucky.
Anyway, this is another take on critical hits. As stated before, you won't be able to suddenly survive hits you wouldn't have before, but it will make you burn less fate points for those annoying "barely one-hit kills". Of course, it can also work for NPCs if desired.
Also, while I'm confident it is worded in a way everyone understands it, there might be a few inconsistencies I've overlooked, so any sort of criticism is welcome