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Archlyte

Cinematic Character Damage

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Posted (edited)

Something I came up with about 5 or 6 months ago and it seems to be working well.

My Problem: Characters are blaster bolt pincushions and get shot and stabbed a lot while still running around thanks to chronic use of Stimpaks. Description makes the PCs sound like they are absorbing crazy amounts of damage, which outside of heavily armored characters doesn't feel very much like classic movie Star Wars to me. 

My Solution: I decided that all straight damage results that do not indicate a Critical Hit go to Strain first , and is described as near misses and other hair raising close calls. Wound Threshold describes only actual physical damage to the character, and such damage is only taken from an attack that is deemed a Critical Hit, or damage that spills over from Strain pool into Wound Threshold pool of points (Soak is only used once per hit). Stimpaks are used for actual wounds. 

Reaching 0 Strain or below does not Down a character, but instead it results in a check for the character to see if they have retreated, been pinned down, succumbed to fear, or otherwise decide that this tactic isn't working. This makes it so that the characters are often moving and not staying in static, D&D style chopping-trees fights. 

Checks to regain Strain can occur in times other than at the end of the scene/encounter. If the character hits 0 Strain, they must wait a round and then their next action must be spent to roll for more Strain. A Destiny Point can be spent to return a Character to Half of Normal full Strain. Stun Damage and Stun weapons do Wound Threshold Damage, but this heals up after every scene automatically.

As an ancillary benefit, Use of Strain as the primary damage also cuts down on Players constantly taking a second Maneuver every round just because.

 

In Play: The use of Strain in this way has somehow made combat feel more dangerous and urgent, while cutting down on the D&D feel of combat. A good hit will still do a Critical if it has enough Advantage or a Triumph behind it, and that feels right because it was a Good Hit and made combat feel hard to predict and exciting. 

Some talents are affected by this rule as Strain is a much more precious commodity,  but it hasn't been as big of an effect as I thought it might be before playtesting the rule. My groups do not tend to have a lot of Fore Users and the Force users that are around are generally Force Sensitive types anyway. So for heavy Lightsaber action this may have a bigger effect  on use. 

 

Edited by Archlyte

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I like this idea, I've also never been that comfortable with the wounds system considering how easy it is to get hit... plus I've found that until you're nearing 0 wounds there's not that much effect on what actions the PCs can perform.

Using strain here makes sense cinematically but also I know my players get a lot more wary once their strain starts to take a hit. 

One question though, you said:

All straight damage results that do not indicate a Critical Hit go to Strain first, and is described as near misses and other hair raising close calls. Wound Threshold describes only actual physical damage to the character.

So when do you decide that it's actually physical (wound) damage? Would this be when a character has suffered a critical hit & you would then apply any damage (from weapon plus successes) to their wound threshold as well applying the incapacitating results of the critical?

Cheers!

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7 hours ago, AceSolo5 said:

I like this idea, I've also never been that comfortable with the wounds system considering how easy it is to get hit... plus I've found that until you're nearing 0 wounds there's not that much effect on what actions the PCs can perform.

Using strain here makes sense cinematically but also I know my players get a lot more wary once their strain starts to take a hit. 

One question though, you said:

All straight damage results that do not indicate a Critical Hit go to Strain first, and is described as near misses and other hair raising close calls. Wound Threshold describes only actual physical damage to the character.

So when do you decide that it's actually physical (wound) damage? Would this be when a character has suffered a critical hit & you would then apply any damage (from weapon plus successes) to their wound threshold as well applying the incapacitating results of the critical?

Cheers!

Hey thanks Ace, 

Yeah I should have clarified that. I generally only have physical wounds come from hits that are Criticals, or if the hit would take the character into the negative in Strain then the remaining points go into Wounds. Soak is only invoked once per hit. 

 

Agree about the players' sense of wariness when Strain starts disappearing in gobs. In this game I find that defeat is the most common result instead of death, which I like because it allows the players to suffer a non-win without a lot of random character death. 

Yeah I was wondering for the characters who are low in Wound Threshold do you give them setbacks on checks to represent the effects of wounds?

 

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1 minute ago, Archlyte said:

or if the hit would take the character into the negative in Strain

I think we may have danced this tango before, but are you aware that you actually count up Strain and Wounds until you pass the threshold? You don't count down.

If you are aware, why do you do it in reverse?

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Just now, P-47 Thunderbolt said:

I think we may have danced this tango before, but are you aware that you actually count up Strain and Wounds until you pass the threshold? You don't count down.

If you are aware, why do you do it in reverse?

Hi P-47 🙂 

 I guess that is just long habit of those pools being subtractive rather than additive in most games. So I should have said that when Strain reaches the Threshold then X happens, and also the same thing for Wound Threshold.  I don't go into Strain above or beyond the Strain Threshold, and instead those points of damage (assuming its a physical attack) go into Wounds.

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1 minute ago, Archlyte said:

Hi P-47 🙂 

It's good to see you again! I was thinking about you just the other day. Think of the devil, I guess. :D

2 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

I guess that is just long habit of those pools being subtractive rather than additive in most games. So I should have said that when Strain reaches the Threshold then X happens, and also the same thing for Wound Threshold.  I don't go into Strain above or beyond the Strain Threshold, and instead those points of damage (assuming its a physical attack) go into Wounds.

That makes sense.

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Just now, Archlyte said:

Indeed! lol

I wasn't sure if this forum was still up, and I missed the source of information and the community. 

Well you managed to dodge some of the more contentious topics. <_<

:D

Back on topic though...
Since I'm here,* I'll just say that I like the system as-is. I try to interpret the stats through roleplay and narrative, and not every hit has to be a bad hit or do much past armor. If you're in heavy armor, perhaps it's a pretty square hit, but your Beskar'gam absorbs most of the damage and you just get some minor burns. If you have minimal protection, you're a bit more mobile so you mostly dodge the hit, but it grazes your shoulder and hurts quiet badly.

But... that's just my two cents. If you think it's better to direct it to entirely dodging, you do you. Part of my stance is probably related to the fact that most of the stuff I GM is combat heavy with a variety of combat-focused characters who have pretty good armor (Mandos for the win! :D). Strain is an extremely valuable commodity, and it often doesn't make a ton of sense to narrate a shot at point-blank range missing, and because they have good armor, it'll provide some decent protection from most hits, with relatively superficial wounds that can be taken care of with a stimpack.

*I wouldn't step in since I've thrown my two cents around on this topic, but since I was already involved, I figured I'd say it.

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Thanks for the clarification Archlyte... that makes perfect sense now!

I always have given players setback dice in the past whenever they've suffered Wound damage... However, my players have an uncanny knack of rolling blanks whenever I dish out the black dice so it never seems to make a lot of difference to them 😬 I definitely think I'll be trying this when we can get to play again. 

One thing I might do though is to change Stims so that they recover strain rather than wounds (always thought that was a bit odd... GM: "You take 5 wounds as the blaster bolt leaves a searing in your abdomen", PC: "Ok... I'll apply a Stim & recover 5 wounds", GM: "That nasty burn you just got suddenly disappears", GM groans inside).

So... I'll allow the Stim to recover 5 strain for the first application (which makes more sense to me as it always felt like some kind of adrenal booster). Players can continue to use further Stims to recover more strain (using the depreciating recovery as in the rules) however, any further use of a Stim after the first will incur a setback dice to all actions (so, 2nd stim... 1 setback, 3rd Stim... 2 setback) as the increased levels of adrenaline in their system starts to make them more & more edgy which will affect their decision making and physical actions. 

Any actual wound damage taken, from either critical hits or exceeding strain threshold will need proper medical attention.  

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1 hour ago, AceSolo5 said:

One thing I might do though is to change Stims so that they recover strain rather than wounds (always thought that was a bit odd... GM: "You take 5 wounds as the blaster bolt leaves a searing in your abdomen", PC: "Ok... I'll apply a Stim & recover 5 wounds", GM: "That nasty burn you just got suddenly disappears", GM groans inside).

It's not the wound that disappears, but the pain from the wound. The bacta cocktail does its work overtime unless it is a very small injury like a cut. I do find the Setback bit interesting, I can't remember where I was toying with this idea, so I can't pull up the original, but I considered at one point making it so any stimpacks past the second dealt strain, 1 for the third, 2 for the second, etc. Right now it's just a narrative thing of feeling awful.

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My idea is to track wounds as normal, also track wounds 'anesthetized' so if in combat a PC has say 12 wounds and takes 10, uses a stim 2 times to heal 9, they still have only 3 wounds left, I'm also thinking of a setback dice at half or more if not using a stimpack and 2 at three quarters or more.... I just feel that the wounds taken in combat need to feel dangerous to players.... 'I have 13 wounds I've taken 9, so I'll stim twice,,,, HURRAH!! I'm back up to 13... I've taken 6,,,I'll apply stim 3 times... HURRAH! I feel invincible....I've taken 1!!' Combat is over and I'M STILL STANDING, I FEEL LIKE I COULD TAKE ON THE EMPIRE BY MYSELF!

So in the above pedantic scenario a PC has taken enough initial damage to actually take him out... dunno,,, needs work 😁😁

Eventually. anesthetics wears off... maybe the total applications in a combat encounter only lasts a hour and the pain, therefore the Wound Threshold, kicks back in?

I remember combat in WHFRP being lethal, like it actually is. D&D has a lot to answer for with Potions of Healing and I just think that stimpacks are the sci-fi/space opera equivalent.

Also for me, some of my players now are capable of dishing out significant damage per hit.... maybe I'll ramp up the minion squads and start bringing in Rivals who can dish it back out... **maniacal laughter**

Wasn't there at least one sci-fi rpg where you couldn't heal in the field, was that Traveller or FFG Warhammer 40K? Maybe I dreamt it

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7 minutes ago, DidntFallAsleep66 said:

Eventually. anesthetics wears off... maybe the total applications in a combat encounter only lasts a hour and the pain, therefore the Wound Threshold, kicks back in?

I'd discussed in another stimpack thread having two item: Bacta Patches and Stimpacks. You apply a stimpack at the time, providing an initial kick that keeps you up, but doesn't actually heal anything, just kills the pain and keeps you moving.

The bacta patch heals 1 wound every hour for 5 hours, second heals 1 every hour for 4 hours, and so on. So if you applied 5 bacta patches at once, you'd heal 5 the first hour, 4 the second, and so on. The effects of this would be permanent.

Stims still heal wounds as per usual, but the effects wear off over time, the first one used dropping 1 wound every hour for 5 hours, the second dropping 1 wound every hour for 4 hours, and so on. So if you applied 5 stims, you'd drop 5 wounds the first hour, 4 the second, and so on.

You can use bacta patches by themselves, they don't have to be "primed" with a stim.

This isn't something I would use as I'm fine with stims as-is, but it's an idea I had.

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20 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Yeah I was wondering for the characters who are low in Wound Threshold do you give them setbacks on checks to represent the effects of wounds?

 

That's something I've been toying with (as an idea so far). Using the same scale as the medicine check, characters unscathed are unhindered. Below half the threshold 1 setback, above half the wound/strain threshold they get 2 setbacks representing the minor wounds and scratches adding up.

36 minutes ago, DidntFallAsleep66 said:

My idea is to track wounds as normal, also track wounds 'anesthetized' so if in combat a PC has say 12 wounds and takes 10, uses a stim 2 times to heal 9, they still have only 3 wounds left, 

You can say that the Stimpack increases the wound threshhold temporarily until the end of the encounter. We have seen many cases in media when characters are fighting until the last minute, then collapse after victory.

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1 minute ago, Rimsen said:

That's something I've been toying with (as an idea so far). Using the same scale as the medicine check, characters unscathed are unhindered. Below half the threshold 1 setback, above half the wound/strain threshold they get 2 setbacks representing the minor wounds and scratches adding up.

When I made "my own system" (heavily based off of this RPG) as a thought experiment trying to make a narrative dice system with regular dice, I toyed with a second part of the Wound/Strain Threshold: Wound/Strain Tolerance which is determined through a combination of characteristics: The D+ from Strength/Willpower, the D+ from Health (a secondary Characteristic) and Stamina (a tertiary characteristic).

Long-and-short of it, you might end up with something like this: Wound Threshold 12, Strain Tolerance 9, Strain Threshold 11, Tolerance 8. For each point of Strain or Wound you are over your tolerance, you add -1 to your rolls. So with 10 Wounds and 10 Strain, that's -3 to your rolls (done with a d20).

There's a bit more behind all of these stats, but I won't bore you with the details. I made CharGen very complicated in order to include the various mechanics I like, but it gets simpler from there on and was pretty much just a thought experiment anyway.

 

Because of my use of secondary and tertiary characteristics, you can't really translate it into this game directly. Best you could do is set it to a fraction of Threshold.

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