Friday, February 6, 2015

Lingering Injuries, part 2

Got a great response from Chris Scaturo's post on Lingering Injuries last week, so here is part 2.

n. the opportunity or power of selecting

My daughter is seven, she likes plain pizza.  My boy, he’s five, firmly believes that sausage improves every meal, particularly ones with dough, cheese, and sauce.  My wife, she’s <this line has been redacted>, of course, is lactose intolerant and a vegetarian.  Choosing who’s going to like me on Friday nights is always fun.

Me: <Rolls a 20>The Ogre’s huge club crushes you, the protruding metal spike pierces your chain mail and drives deeply into your body.  Wanna you want to do?

When I run games I try to let the players have some say in the storytelling process.  Whenever something REALLY BAD (or sometimes just kinda bad) I allow them to invoke the shrug it off rule.

Shrug it Off

Once per combat (or twice if you’re nuts) you may choose to take no damage from any one attack.  At the end of the combat, you make a CON save equal to the damage you should have taken.  Failure of this save indicates the player has “earned” a lingering injury.

Abby: Well, okay, the spike pierces me but it doesn’t stop me.  My faith in all that is holy in the world powers me to plug on.  Truzz seems to not even notice the gaping whole in his body.  He will prevail.  The village will be saved. Truzz SHRUGS IT OFF.
Shrug it off.

It is a fun mechanic we use to both spice up combat, enhance the combat narrative and sometime spare the party from some awful die rolling (or maybe a poorly designed encounter).

As a general rule, we try to limit the “shrug it off”s to:

  • Critical hits
  • Blows that would drop the character down to zero
  • Failed saving throws

It’s the players choice to make, one can use it at any time but it works best when the combat is tense and the stakes are high. Our lingering injuries are pretty brutal so it isn’t a choice that is easy to make.  Much like the addition of black olives on an otherwise awesome pizza.

Me: Truzz brings his mace down on the last of the minotaur skeletons and the battle is now over.  The villagers emerge from their homes and give you all, and Truzz especially, a round of applause.  It’s at this point the rest of you notice the 7” whole in Truzz’s left side.  Oh yeah, he then collapses from the pain.

What makes the choice so difficult is the effect and the duration of the injuries.  A brilliant piece on the duration and curing of lingering injuries can be  found here.  (Who wrote that? Right, me.) But the effects of the injury need to be severe as well, otherwise it’s an easy choice.  Easy choices are stupid. I mean,everyone likes plain.

Below is a sample list of injuries I use.  If something is organically created in the moment of combat, then run with it.  Once we used shrug it off to stop a disintegrate spell,  we then ruled that the bones in the characters left arm disintegrated.  I have found that my group usually comes up with  better injuries than  I can.

Lingering Injuries

Hand/Arm - Cannot use one hand or arm at all. Spells with a somatic component have disadvantage on attack rolls or the enemy has Advantage on their save.
Foot/Leg - Speed is halved, cannot take the Dash Action, and has Disadvantage on all dex checks and attack rolls.
Torso - A massive internal wound.  They move to level 4 on the Exhaustion chart (Page 291 in the PHB).
Jaw - The character cannot speak or cast spells with verbal components.
Eye - The character has lost vision in one eye. Disadvantage on all Perception, Investigation and ranged attack rolls.
Deep Wound - Physical stats (STR, DEX, CON) all drop to 10.
Concussion - Mental stats (WIS,INT, CHR) all drop to 10.
Damaged Soul - Your connection with divine beings is severed.  She cannot receive benefits of any divine spells that directly affect her.

These are all game changing but the choice is yours.

I should note, this rule isn’t for everyone.  I have one player who,er, doesn’t think fondly of this.  He chooses to never use it. Just like you should never choose pineapple and ham pizza!

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