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jospanther

Incapacitated vs. Dead Question

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Hi everyone,

This may be a dumb question, but some clarification from those who aren't new to the system would be great! I'm beginning to run an adventure where a bounty fulfilled on a target is worth more alive than dead (as is normal).

My question is does it have to be stun damage that takes the target out? Or when wounds exceed the threshold is the enemy npc just incapacitated, not necessarily killed? I know how it works with PCs but just would like that clarified since I don't seem to follow.

Thanks everyone!

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It is absolutely possible to exceed an opponents Wound Threshold and just incapacitate him.  This is a narrative game after all.  For instance, if a players says "I want to shoot him in the leg".  I would give a Setback die for the targeted aim.  If the shot hits and exceeds the targets Wound Threshold, I would simply say he passed out from the pain.  Now if the player just shot the enemy without guidance, I would inform the player the damage is clearly lethal, and allow the player the option to say "I spend a Destiny Point, and notice I shot him in the leg".  Same affect as the first example.  There's usually no harm in giving the players a bit of leeway to accomplish their goals.

 

Side question though, is there a reason your players don't want to use Stun damage?  Most blasters have a Stun setting, or a good "whack" across the head is always a good way to incapacitate your opponent.

Edited by TalosX

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It's GMs discretion in regards to whether an opponent is just rendered unconscious or killed.  If PCs use lethal levels of force but are trying to exercise some caution and say they perform 1st aid on the target when they secure them, no reason you can't let them bag their target alive.

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My personal rule for adjudicating death as a GM is 

 

#1 a Crit result of death 

or

#2 Wounds exceeding x2 wound threshold. That is they receive wound damage that puts them negative equal to or below their Wound threshold. 

So if a character has a Wound threshold of 12, and they received wounds that put them at -12 (12 points below zero) then they are dead. 

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Just to avoid new players confusion SnowDragon is counting Wounds down when received. This is the opposite to the suggested method in the books and induces extra thinking to interpret things like Stim packs or "a PC is incapacitated when they exceed their wound threshold". The books assume a perfectly healthy PC is suffering 0 wounds.

It's not an issue to do it that way but a conversion method is required in ones mind. So for the new players, jospanther, Here is SnowDragons method converted back to match the wording in the books:

#1 a Crit result of death 

or

#2 Wounds exceeding x2 wound threshold. That is they receive wound damage that puts them greater than double their Wound Threshold. 

So if a character has a Wound threshold of 12, and they received wounds that put them at 13 then they are unconscious, if they take more wounds and reach 25 or more then they are dead.

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If an NPC living or dying is relevent (and the PCs don't specify non-lethal), then I roll a force die. Double black is killed outright, single black is die quickly without medical attention, single white is will die slowly without medical attention (for if first responders get there on an urban world, the enemy backup arrives and helps, etc), and double white is simply passed out from pain and will be up on their own after a few (but still super injured, obv).

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Thanks for your thoughts everyone!

To answer why not stun, it's not so much they're opposed...I was just trying to understand how it works mechanically when an npc is brought to 0. I know in many cases with bounties, the target living is important. I was just struggling to find information in mechanics on how to shoot to incapacitate, not kill. My assumption was it had to be stun, but I know some targets have no strain, so what you're all saying makes sense.

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It's a narrative game and there's no strict rule that says an enemy has to be either alive or dead when incapacitated. I've always handled it based on the context of what the weapons characters were using, what their intent was, and what actions they took.

 

For example, one time the characters shoot some enemies with their blasters (not on stun) and incapacitate them. However, they specifically state they are going to provide first aid and try to keep them alive, so I let them make a medicine check to keep the targets from dying. On the other hand, another time a PC fires a bowcaster at point blank range, massively exceeds the enemy's wound threshold, scores a crit, then asks if the guy is still alive. I told him no. Of course the story was also going to be more interesting with the target being dead, although the players did not realize it at the time.

 

Naturally, using the stun setting is safer as they don't have to worry about rendering first aid or failing a medicine check.

 

If the party doesn't specify an intent, I just go with what works for the story. If it is a nemesis and they don't check to make sure he's dead, he might get medical attention after they leave and return sometime down the line. If it's a minion it probably doesn't matter because it's not a recurring character and the PCs don't typically hang around a given location long enough for it to make a difference.

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If an NPC living or dying is relevent (and the PCs don't specify non-lethal), then I roll a force die. Double black is killed outright, single black is die quickly without medical attention, single white is will die slowly without medical attention (for if first responders get there on an urban world, the enemy backup arrives and helps, etc), and double white is simply passed out from pain and will be up on their own after a few (but still super injured, obv).

Brilliant

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It is absolutely possible to exceed an opponents Wound Threshold and just incapacitate him.  This is a narrative game after all.  For instance, if a players says "I want to shoot him in the leg".  I would give a Setback die for the targeted aim.  If the shot hits and exceeds the targets Wound Threshold, I would simply say he passed out from the pain.  Now if the player just shot the enemy without guidance, I would inform the player the damage is clearly lethal, and allow the player the option to say "I spend a Destiny Point, and notice I shot him in the leg".  Same affect as the first example.  There's usually no harm in giving the players a bit of leeway to accomplish their goals.

 

Side question though, is there a reason your players don't want to use Stun damage?  Most blasters have a Stun setting, or a good "whack" across the head is always a good way to incapacitate your opponent.

"Wasn't the bounty posting specific about the acquisition being alive?"

"Quite specific. It was, however, a little fuzzy on the subject of kneecaps."

I've also had players ask about shooting in the leg, etc. In general, if there's a specific reason to make such a "called shot" I will probably fall back on the rules for shooting a carried item: the character must Aim, and the shot incurs 2 setback. Taking two consecutive Aim maneuvers reduces the penalty to one setback.(p.201).

 

As to why they shy away from stun damage, it might be the range limitation. 

 

As a general rule, minions are just dead. 

For Rivals, I might take into consideration the type of damage that exceeded the wound threshold. An opening volley with blasters might inflict some wounds on an opponent, and then, at short range, the player could switch to Stun damage and knock the Rival out.

This gets tricky with Nemeses, because a Nemesis takes Strain on a separate Threshold. I forgot this in one fight, when a player switched to Stun after inflicting a critical. Of course, injured and with wounds only 1 point below threshold, it was more of a narrative change than a mechanical one, so it worked. 

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