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5E Help me build alternative injury/death rules

So these rules have several goals. First, I want to make a real injury that cannot be just shrugged of a possibility (if somewhat remote one) and secondly, I want to make death less likely. I also want to tie the likelihood of the death and injury to the power of the attack, but that is less important. This is a rough first draft to outline the general idea, and I decided to post it before I proceed further. I'd appreciate any feedback whether this seems like something that could be made to work.


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When reduced to zero hit points, roll a constitution save with the DC being equal to the amount of the damage the attack or effect that caused the hit point loss dealt. Natural one always fails, natural twenty always succeeds. (Is this too easy? Should it be 5 + damage for the DC?)

If the character succeeds, they fall unconscious but are otherwise fine.

If they fail, they have been injured. Roll at the following table

Injury table (D8)

1-2 Arm injury. Unconscious. One arm seriously wounded, disadvantage on any tasks involving use of the injured arm (including attack roll with two-handed weapons.)

3-4 Leg injury. Unconscious. One leg seriously wounded, halve movement.

5-6 Mortal wound. Unconscious. Use normal dying rules. If two death save fails are accrued, gain a level of exhaustion.

7-8 Mortal wound plus. You suffer a mortal wound, in addition roll again on this table using D4 and apply that result as well.
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Normal instant death rules apply. I'm not sure how the wounded limbs can be healed yet, but basically it is down time activity. Medicine skill might be involved. Greater restoration should fix them too. I also wanted to keep the table pretty generic, instead off having a great number of very specific results.

I'm not sure if I went overboard with the lessened lethality. I don't want to make the combat feel too safe either. I'm not also sure how this should interact with taking further damage whilst already in zero hit points.
 

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Making Con save DC = 10 or half damage , whichever if highest, has precedents and therefore easier to remember and implement.

greater restoration is a 4th [edit: 5th level] level spell; it will be long before wounded characters get access to it.

also, your consequences sound like exhaustion levels. Any idea why you wouldn’t use those instead? You could even get one level at random (dice roll), or empower the players and let them choose which one
 
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ardoughter

Adventurer
Supporter
If I were to introduce a wounds system in 5e, I would model it off the exhaustion rules. Drop to 0 level: 1 wounds, Fail a death save: level 2, fail 2 death saves: level 3
Set recovery rate to what you feel appropriate and can use medicine checks to speed up healing. Magical healing needs restoration level spells to help.
 

Making Con save DC = 10 or half damage , whichever if highest, has precedents and therefore easier to remember and implement.
That might indeed make it a bit more predictable. Where was that used?

greater restoration is a 4th level spell; it will be long before wounded characters get access to it.
It's fifth level. And yes, once they get that then this doesn't matter terribly much. But these are not meant to be some long term maladies, merely ones that cannot be easily healed 'on the field.' And this system assumes a playstyle where there will be downtime for the characters to get healed. The idea is not that they have to go limping for several adventures.

also, your consequences sound like exhaustion levels. Any idea why you wouldn’t use those instead? You could even get one level at random (dice roll), or empower the players and let them choose which one
I considered something like that. It might be more straightforward. Then again, I kinda like the idea of being a bit more specific. Furthermore the first step of exhaustion is already a disadvantage to ability checks which is a pretty damn debilitating.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Specifying the location seems odd to me. Giant hits me in the head with a rock. Then I get knocked to zero. Then I find out it was really my leg.

I've been mulling something myself, and was wondering about each character having some wound points (not a huge number, maybe 5 + con mod + size mod?) in addition to hitpoints. You take wound points after hitpoints are gone too. Maybe you also lose one wound point each time you're criticaled, each you're knocked to 0, and each time you take a huge hit (twice level or more in damage? some fixed amount in damage). Wounds are harder to heal and maybe you get a -1 or -2 on everything or exhaustion if you've had a certain number of them.
 

Specifying the location seems odd to me. Giant hits me in the head with a rock. Then I get knocked to zero. Then I find out it was really my leg.
As this happens at the moment you drop, you can just roll for the injury before describing it. I have seen some systems which assign injuries based on failed death saves, and I didn't like those as that indeed leads to the sort of weirdness you mention.

I've been mulling something myself, and was wondering about each character having some wound points (not a huge number, maybe 5 + con mod + size mod?) in addition to hitpoints. You take wound points after hitpoints are gone too. Maybe you also lose one wound point each time you're criticaled, each you're knocked to 0, and each time you take a huge hit (twice level or more in damage? some fixed amount in damage). Wounds are harder to heal and maybe you get a -1 or -2 on everything or exhaustion if you've had a certain number of them.
D20 Star Wars had something like that. But I definitely want to go with an condition based approach.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
As this happens at the moment you drop, you can just roll for the injury before describing it. I have seen some systems which assign injuries based on failed death saves, and I didn't like those as that indeed leads to the sort of weirdness you mention.

I'm picturing the case where what drops you is that last little hit at the end, where a big one set you up. Maybe just have the DM pick something appropriate if they've narrated already and roll if they need help.


D20 Star Wars had something like that. But I definitely want to go with an condition based approach.

Thanks, I'll check it out.
 

aco175

Legend
Con seems like the most used stat for surviving trauma, like dying. You could use Strength, but Con is important to all the classes.

I would also like to see a way to take away injuries. Say my led in maimed and I have 1/2 movement. Should the penalty be that I need 1 month rest to heal, or is there a spell that could take this away? If there is a time penalty, then a lot of games would run into problems with pacing, but if there is just a 5th level spell to heal me, then after a certain level most things like injury is moot.

What about your class? Do fighters tend to suffer from less injury over mages or such? It might just go back to the Constitution point and that over class is more important.

I would also want to have something about the amount of damage influence the injury. I would want something to not penalize low level PCs. A single hit for 20-25HP allows PCs to get a few levels before they are turning up lame all the time. May need to look at the massive hit rules for some ideas.
 



If it can be of any inspiration, here's my injury houserule. (Note that the point of this rule is the opposite of gritty; it's for a very pulp action "get down and get back up again" type of game set in eberron)

You fall prone when you are reduced to 0 hp, and your speed is 0.

If you start your turn with 0 hp, make a death saving throw.
20: gain 1 hp.
11-19: gain 1 hp and 1 exhaustion level
6-10: gain 1 exhaustion level
2-5: gain 1 exhaustion level and lose consciousness, but stabilize.
1: gain 1 exhaustion level and lose consciousness

DM narrates the hit, player chooses whichever exhaustion level they like (although so far they always take them in order) to reflect their injury. Injuries (and all exhaustion levels) heal as soon as player is back to full hp, either after long rest or by magical healing.

For quick reference, the character sheet is modified to include exhaustion level and death save results.
 

Hi. I have made a system that strove for the same things you asked for. My goal was to have rules that captured the feel of wounds in cinema and fiction, and to use an understanding of how injury and death actually happens in modern medicine to explain why a PC can get 'defeated' without being killed.

Here's what I came up with.

Critical Hits and Wounds
Critical hits do not do extra damage. Instead, the attacker inflicts a light wound. If the target has 0 hit points after the attack's damage, that creature makes a Constitution saving throw (DC 15). If successful, the creature suffers a serious wound. If failed, the creature suffers a critical wound.

A light wound lasts until the creature heals any damage (such as by magical healing or spending hit dice during a rest), or is treated by a DC 10 Medicine check as an action, or is affected by the lesser restoration spell. (Example: dislocated shoulder, swollen black eye, twisted ankle, large laceration.)

A serious wound can be cured by a 3rd level or higher cure wounds spell. Alternately, whenever the creature takes a long rest it can make a Constitution saving throw (DC 15) to recover from the wound. (Example: fractured wrist, gashed eye, sprained ankle, arterial bleeding on a limb.)

A critical wound never fully heals naturally, and can be cured only by a 7th level or higher cure wounds spell, or the regeneration spell. (Example: severed hand, removed eye, arrow to the knee, deep abdominal bleeding.)

Wound Location and Effect
Regardless of the wound severity, the attacker rolls 1d6 to determine the effect:

1. Leg (or other mobility). The creature falls prone and cannot stand on its next turn. Until healed, its speed is reduced by half and it has disadvantage on any checks related to mobility.
2. Secondary Limb. The creature drops anything held in its off-hand or equivalent limb and cannot use that limb on its next turn. Until healed, it has disadvantage on any checks or attacks using that limb.
3. Primary Limb. As above, but for its primary limb.
4. Mouth. The creature cannot speak or bite until the end of its next turn. Until healed, it has disadvantage on any checks or attacks using its mouth, and in order to speak (such as to perform verbal components for spellcasting) it must spend its bonus action to be able to speak clearly.
5. Senses. The creature is blinded until the end of its next turn. Until healed, it has disadvantage on Perception checks and on ranged attacks.
6. Bleeding. The creature takes 5 damage now. It takes 5 damage at the end of any turn that it takes an action or bonus action (unless doing so ends its bleeding condition). If it has 0 hit points, it takes 1 damage at the end of each of its turns (which prompts a death saving throw).

As you can see, each wound has one immediate major negative consequence that lasts a round, and then a lingering effect until the wound is healed.

Helpless, Defeated, and Dying
When you are reduced to 0 hit points, you are helpless (you fall prone and are stunned, and if you have no hit dice left, you're unconscious; otherwise you remain conscious and can speak falteringly). This condition ends if you regain hit points.

When you take damage while at 0 hit points (such as if you have the bleeding condition), you make a death saving throw, which is a flat DC 10 check. (There is no special effect for rolling a natural 1 or natural 20.) If you succeed three death saving throws, you stabilize. If you regain hit points, reset the number of failed death saving throws to 0.

When you fail your third death saving throw, normally this means you are defeated. You remain alive, but have four levels of exhaustion. Thereafter, you cannot heal naturally, and after each week of rest you can make a Constitution saving throw (DC 15) to remove one level of exhaustion. When you have no exhaustion levels, your defeated condition ends. Most defeated characters retire.

When you fail your third death saving throw, if you have no hit dice remaining or if you are suffering from critical bleeding, you are dying. You remain alive for a period of time, usually no more than a few minutes, long enough to say some final words. You remain helpless, and cannot heal. Unless you receive the 5th level spell miraculous recovery (see below), you will die.

Raising the Dead
In place of existing spells that can restore the dead, use the following.

Miraculous Recovery - 5th level, casting time one minute. No component cost. One creature that's defeated or dying, or that died in the past hour, loses that condition and is restored to 1 hit point. If it was dying or dead, it has four levels of exhaustion. (After four long rests, it should be back to normal.)

Raise Dead - 7th level, casting time one hour. Costs 500 gp in components. As miraculous recovery, except it can affect creatures that died in the past 10 days. If cast on a creature that died in the past hour, the casting time is one minute, and the creature only has one level of exhaustion.

Resurrection - 9th level, casting time one hour. Costs 1000 gp in components. As raise dead, except it can affect creatures that died in the past 100 years. If cast on a creature that died in the past minute, the casting time is one action, and the creature returns to life with full hit points, all wounds removed, and no exhaustion.

Second Wind
If you are at 0 hit points but not defeated or dying, you can spend a hit die to regain 1 hit point at the end of your turn. This happens before damage from bleeding or other ongoing damage effects.

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Okay, I think that's pretty thorough. What do you think?
 

Hi. I have made a system that strove for the same things you asked for. My goal was to have rules that captured the feel of wounds in cinema and fiction, and to use an understanding of how injury and death actually happens in modern medicine to explain why a PC can get 'defeated' without being killed.

Here's what I came up with.

Critical Hits and Wounds
Critical hits do not do extra damage. Instead, the attacker inflicts a light wound. If the target has 0 hit points after the attack's damage, that creature makes a Constitution saving throw (DC 15). If successful, the creature suffers a serious wound. If failed, the creature suffers a critical wound.

A light wound lasts until the creature heals any damage (such as by magical healing or spending hit dice during a rest), or is treated by a DC 10 Medicine check as an action, or is affected by the lesser restoration spell. (Example: dislocated shoulder, swollen black eye, twisted ankle, large laceration.)

A serious wound can be cured by a 3rd level or higher cure wounds spell. Alternately, whenever the creature takes a long rest it can make a Constitution saving throw (DC 15) to recover from the wound. (Example: fractured wrist, gashed eye, sprained ankle, arterial bleeding on a limb.)

A critical wound never fully heals naturally, and can be cured only by a 7th level or higher cure wounds spell, or the regeneration spell. (Example: severed hand, removed eye, arrow to the knee, deep abdominal bleeding.)

Wound Location and Effect
Regardless of the wound severity, the attacker rolls 1d6 to determine the effect:

1. Leg (or other mobility). The creature falls prone and cannot stand on its next turn. Until healed, its speed is reduced by half and it has disadvantage on any checks related to mobility.
2. Secondary Limb. The creature drops anything held in its off-hand or equivalent limb and cannot use that limb on its next turn. Until healed, it has disadvantage on any checks or attacks using that limb.
3. Primary Limb. As above, but for its primary limb.
4. Mouth. The creature cannot speak or bite until the end of its next turn. Until healed, it has disadvantage on any checks or attacks using its mouth, and in order to speak (such as to perform verbal components for spellcasting) it must spend its bonus action to be able to speak clearly.
5. Senses. The creature is blinded until the end of its next turn. Until healed, it has disadvantage on Perception checks and on ranged attacks.
6. Bleeding. The creature takes 5 damage now. It takes 5 damage at the end of any turn that it takes an action or bonus action (unless doing so ends its bleeding condition). If it has 0 hit points, it takes 1 damage at the end of each of its turns (which prompts a death saving throw).

As you can see, each wound has one immediate major negative consequence that lasts a round, and then a lingering effect until the wound is healed.

Helpless, Defeated, and Dying
When you are reduced to 0 hit points, you are helpless (you fall prone and are stunned, and if you have no hit dice left, you're unconscious; otherwise you remain conscious and can speak falteringly). This condition ends if you regain hit points.

When you take damage while at 0 hit points (such as if you have the bleeding condition), you make a death saving throw, which is a flat DC 10 check. (There is no special effect for rolling a natural 1 or natural 20.) If you succeed three death saving throws, you stabilize. If you regain hit points, reset the number of failed death saving throws to 0.

When you fail your third death saving throw, normally this means you are defeated. You remain alive, but have four levels of exhaustion. Thereafter, you cannot heal naturally, and after each week of rest you can make a Constitution saving throw (DC 15) to remove one level of exhaustion. When you have no exhaustion levels, your defeated condition ends. Most defeated characters retire.

When you fail your third death saving throw, if you have no hit dice remaining or if you are suffering from critical bleeding, you are dying. You remain alive for a period of time, usually no more than a few minutes, long enough to say some final words. You remain helpless, and cannot heal. Unless you receive the 5th level spell miraculous recovery (see below), you will die.

Raising the Dead
In place of existing spells that can restore the dead, use the following.

Miraculous Recovery - 5th level, casting time one minute. No component cost. One creature that's defeated or dying, or that died in the past hour, loses that condition and is restored to 1 hit point. If it was dying or dead, it has four levels of exhaustion. (After four long rests, it should be back to normal.)

Raise Dead - 7th level, casting time one hour. Costs 500 gp in components. As miraculous recovery, except it can affect creatures that died in the past 10 days. If cast on a creature that died in the past hour, the casting time is one minute, and the creature only has one level of exhaustion.

Resurrection - 9th level, casting time one hour. Costs 1000 gp in components. As raise dead, except it can affect creatures that died in the past 100 years. If cast on a creature that died in the past minute, the casting time is one action, and the creature returns to life with full hit points, all wounds removed, and no exhaustion.

Second Wind
If you are at 0 hit points but not defeated or dying, you can spend a hit die to regain 1 hit point at the end of your turn. This happens before damage from bleeding or other ongoing damage effects.

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Okay, I think that's pretty thorough. What do you think?
That's pretty impressive. Perhaps a tad more extensive remodelling than I was aiming for though. I need to see whether I can steal some bits of this.
 




77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
Have you looked at the Lingering Injuries optional rules in the DMG (p. 272)? I'm not saying you should use them, just that you may want to look at them.

I actually like your rules quite a lot; the part where you roll again but it's a d4 is particularly clever. I agree with other posters that using the Concentration DC (highest of 10 and 1/2 damage) seems fairer.

For healing, you could track the DC of each injury, and after each long rest the PC can make another Con save to shake off the wound. Maybe you need 3 successes. Or maybe, you only get to make the save if you started the long rest with all of your hit points and hit dice and no poisons, diseases, or exhaustion -- so it will heal quickly if you're just laying around all day, but slowly if you're out adventuring.

I think the d8 table could use more entries. Like, head wounds, gut wounds, nasty scars, etc. Check out that DMG option for inspiration.
 

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