- A Vitality/Wound point system ala Star Wars SAGA
- Using attribute damage to represent lasting "wounds" and allowing hit points to heal faster
- Having armor do damage reduction as in Conan d20
- A "Wound" system leaning heavily on the Consequences mechanic in FATE
Has anyone considered a System Shock mechanic?
Granted this is a long post. But the system is relatively simple. And hits the following high points:Every character gets two more numbers added to their sheet: Massive Damage Threshold and System Shock.
Massive Damage Threshold
A character's MDT is equal to either 50% of the character's hit points (rounded up) or their Constitution/Stamina score whichever is highest. Whenever a character takes damage equal to or higher than their MDT, they roll on the Massive Damage Table. Note that if this damage reduces a character to zero hit points or below, then they would need to roll on the Dying Table instead (see below).
Massive Damage Table
Roll a d20 and apply the character's System Shock bonus. Each roll on the Massive Damage Table causes the character's System Shock rating to decrease by one point -- applied after the roll.
Roll => Result
Natural 1 => Instant Death
Zero or lower => Instant Death
"Modified 1"-10 => Unconscious.
11-19 => Conscious but stunned for 1d3 rounds.
20+ => Fine.
A character's System Shock rating is equal to their level modified by their Constitution/Stamina bonus. A System Shock score can start out as zero or a negative number.
One point is subtracted from System Shock every time it is used. System Shock is considered "used" in the following situations.
System Shock is recovered at one-point per day. It cannot be regained through magical means.
- The player rolls on the Dying table.
- The player rolls on the Massive Damage Table
- The player opts to add +2 to any skill, save or to-hit roll by lowering her character's System Shock by one point. The player may take any number of bonuses in this fashion on a "one point of SS" to "+2 bonus" ratio. So a player could get a +10 on a save by subtracting 5 points from his System Shock.
The Dying Table
The Dying table is rolled whenever a character is hit by an attack that drops him to zero hit points or less. Each roll on the Dying table subtracts one point from the character's System Shock rating -- applied after the roll.
Any attack that would drop a character below zero hit points only drops them to zero hit points. There are no negative hit points. System Shock handles that.
Roll => Result
Natural 1 => Instant Death
5 or less => Death
6-10 => Unconscious, Still Dying: Roll again next turn on this table
11-15 => Unconscious but Stable: No more rolls necessary.
16-20 => Conscious, Could Still Die: Character starts round prone, but can do stuff. Roll again next round if character is still at zero hit points.
20-25 => Conscious and Stable: Character is prone, conscious and has one hit point.
Natural 20 => "My Name is Inigo Montoya": Character is conscious, prone and rallies for 1d4 + Level hit points.
Quirk the Prestidigitator gets hit by a Dragon's breath weapon for a whopping 17 points of damage! Quirk is a 2nd-level Magic-user with a Constitution score of 9 and 3 hit points. He was undamaged -- up to this point -- and his System Shock is at +2. He's dropped to zero hit points and rolls on the Dying Table. He rolls a 4, which his System Shock bonus of +2 makes a 6! Whew! Quirk is unconscious, but alive. And must roll next turn again on the Dying table. This time with a System Shock bonus of +1. The next turn he rolls another 4. But this time, his System Shock bonus is only a +1. So he's got a five. Sadly, Quirk has left the building.
Example: Massive Damage
Cronk the Barbarian is a beefy 5th level Barbarian with 45 hit points and a CON of 16. That makes his Massive Damage Threshold equal to 23. Cronk falls into a pit trap and takes a whopping 32 points of damage. He must now roll on the Massive Damage Table. His System Shock is +8. Cronk rolls a 10. He's conscious but stunned for 1d3 rounds. His hit points are now at 22 and his System Shock is +7. Cronk might want to wait a bit before climbing up.
Cronk's had a swig of ale and is ready to climb up out of the pit. The climb is a DC 20 but his modified roll is a 19! Ugh. Cronk uses up one point of System Shock to avoid taking another fall and boosts his roll by two points to make it 21. Cronk's System Shock is now at +6.
Example: Avoiding Save or Die
Cronk is now facing off against the Dragon that killed his loyal little buddy, Quirk. The Dragon is wily, though, and hits Cronk with a Petrification spell. Cronk needs an 18 to save but only has a 14 after modifiers. Cronk uses up 2 points of System Shock to boost his roll by +4 -- to an 18. Cronk's System Shock is now at +4.
Example: Cronk Dies
Cronk is up to 38 hit points at the moment. But still only has a +4 left in his System Shock. Cronk gets hit by the same breath weapon that fried his buddy Quirk. Only this time the Dragon rolls well and does 27 points of damage! Cronk's Massive Damage Threshold is still at 23. So he has to roll on the Massive Damage Threshold table, adding his +4 System Shock to the roll. Cronk rolls a 1… Instant Death! Oops. Sorry, Cronk. We hardly knew ye.
Hit Point Recovery
Because hit points are now less indicative of whether someone is about to die, we can have them recover at a faster rate. At the end of each scene/encounter, the character recovers 50% of the hit points lost in the scene. So, when Cronk fell down the pit and lost 32 hit points, he got 16 of them back after he chilled for a while and had some ale.
Monsters and System Shock
Monsters die when they reach zero hit points. Don't worry about System Shock for them.
Monsters and Massive Damage
Whenever a Monster takes 15 points or one-half their hit points in damage (whichever is greater) in a single blow, roll a d20 and add their "level" or number of hit dice to the roll. If the total is 13 or higher, the monster is fine. If the total is 11 or 12, the monster alive but stunned for the next round. If the total is 10 or lower, the monster is dead. A natural 1 is always instant death.
Stabilizing the Dying
Anyone with a knack for healing can take a turn and stabilize their buddy. This takes one round but no roll is required. The stabilized compadre will no longer need to roll on the Dying table and can heal normally after the combat is over -- assuming there isn't a Cleric around to fill him with happy thoughts.
- Lasting damage is reflected by the System Shock rating -- yet offers no penalty. This allows adventurers to keep adventuring.
- Hit Point damage is now free to reflect luck, skill and all that other stuff. Freeing us up to let it recover more quickly. Again, allowing the adventure to continue.
- The System Shock mechanic (a decreasing bonus) is similar to the spellcasting bonus. So it's a sub-system most DCC players should be familiar with. Hopefully making it less obtrusive.
- Skillburn. Why should spellcasters have all the fun?
- Allowing System Shock to be "spent" on skill rolls, to-hit rolls and saves allows for cinematic play and mitigates the Save-or-Die issue. If your guy rolls a 5 on his save and wants to drop -8 System Shock to avoid dying from a DC 21 contact poison, so be it. I'd just hate to be that character on the next System Shock roll.
- Addition of Massive Damage allows for high-level characters to still experience death. No jumping off a cliff to avoid a fight! That fall could kill you. But the threat isn't so great as to hinder adventuring or to be constantly nagging at the players.
- Massive Damage and the Dying table allow for a character to "lose" a combat but be unconscious, instead of dead. A character could be dropped to 0 hit points and not die. A high-level character could take a 32 point backstab, pass out and be taken captive. Appendix N smiles!
- It's System Shock. Like from AD&D. Only better. OSR people would recognize the term and the concept would be familiar to them -- although the implementation is quite different.
I think the system runs into potential problems at the higher levels. But I'm not sure how much higher than 10th level DCC will go. And I think 9th-10th level is in the upper-range of the sweet spot for it, IMO. It's just at that point where it begins to strain in a swashbuckly sort of way. A grittier system could be devised with more difficult Dying and Massive Damage tables. Or lowering System Shock across the board to something like 1/2 Level + CON bonus. Or just CON bonus.
I'm under the impression that DCC characters don't need more help dying, though.