D&D 5E Making Combat Mean Something [+]

It might be better if you have the character roll for those injuries (even mental trauma) once they've reached below their level in hit points,
i mean this leads to the oddities of 1) level 1 characters being immune to injury/mental trauma and 2) characters getting worse at avoiding injuries and mental trauma as they get more experienced. i guess number 2 is technically realistic from a statistical perspective but man is it strange
 

log in or register to remove this ad

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
The thing with Rolemaster is that along with the hundreds of critical charts it had, it also had a gazillion healing herbs.

So at the end of every combat, you'd guzzle down some Akbutege and heal those broken bones/ sprains/ regrow limbs/ bleeding/ nerve damage etc.

The penalties were largely limited to inside the combat itself, and it was only ever an economic issue to resolve (those herbs were expensive, and securing supply was equally important).

You didnt have to struggle through suckage for the rest of the session after getting walloped.

I believe the system in 10 Million Ways to Die is specifically an exception to this (i.e. it's not the standard Rolemaster Arms Law/Claw Law system and includes rules for more lethal and longer-lasting injuries).
 

TheSword

Legend
I think there could be room for some herbalism but I think it would need to be sparingly. Potentially a fresh herbal preparation that allowed you to reduce the quantity of exhaustion or better yet improve the speed of recovery could be good. I think it works best when you have a character using their skills to do it, rather than something you can buy.

Or a doctor that with care could significantly reduce the impact. That could be very in keeping with the character of the campaign - and could even lead to further adventures.

Or have drugs that allowed the victim to function more or less as normal. (I’m getting John Wick 3 vibes here)
 
Last edited:


Ok, so lets work on a different solution.

What are your goals. Tell me what you want to see at the table.
I think a more constructive approach might be to look at the actual issues that the goals are intended to address.

For example, TheSword talks about their players behaving like murderhoboes, and also this:

At the moment 5e combat has negligible risk… particularly in an investigation/mystery style campaign. That’s not tenable.

That is telling: If we can work out why this group find 5e combat of negligible risk, that will hopefully lead to potential ways of addressing this.
This could be that the party aren't getting enough encounters to drain their resources, so they are almost always have lots of resources to throw at the combat.

The investigation/mystery aspect does lead to other trains of thought: Risk isn't just expressed in "losing characters/TPKing and having to restart the campaign". It can also be expressed in other failure states: The party doesn't find the clue, they don't keep the witness alive, the opponent's get to destroy evidence etc.

Hang on, I may have missed something: Do you mean they can choose the injury, and then a severity is applied to that injury?

The exhaustion penalty is applied to almost everything that character does that requires a roll.
It isn't a specific injury (such as Leg injury) that is determined then only activities using that leg take the penalty.

Of note, OneD&D's exhaustion only applies where the character actually needs to make a roll/set a DC. So Battlemaster's Know your Enemy, or many utility spells won't be affected.
 

TheSword

Legend
That is telling: If we can work out why this group find 5e combat of negligible risk, that will hopefully lead to potential ways of addressing this.
This could be that the party aren't getting enough encounters to drain their resources, so they are almost always have lots of resources to throw at the combat.

The investigation/mystery aspect does lead to other trains of thought: Risk isn't just expressed in "losing characters/TPKing and having to restart the campaign". It can also be expressed in other failure states: The party doesn't find the clue, they don't keep the witness alive, the opponent's get to destroy evidence etc.
I agree. They’re not so much murder hobos - otherwise I wouldn’t do an investigation campaign. They’re very good role players. However they are very experienced with the game, with 5e using the system: not even in a broken way - just a very competent one. Each character will generally have a good mix of action, reactions and bonus actions which makes them very competent. They understand divide and conquer - they now how to target spells and attacks effectively. They build competent characters.

I definitely will have other elements to the game and opportunities to fail - but combat is still a big part of 5e and I’m not prepared to write off 50% of the game as a fait ‘acompli.
 

Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
So it will be no secret that I have long been looking for a way to make combat more meaningful - instead of the whack-a-mole - sacks of hit points that opponents turn into in 5e. I want their to be a real risk of dying and not just because the GM targeted a fallen PC. I want PCs to view combat as a risk and think about ways to improve their odds or avoid it all together.

I’d like to recreate the danger of combat with three simple rules which I hope in combination will make combat far more meaningful - and interesting to me as a DM.

- Firstly dropping to 0 hp doesn’t mean unconscious. It means a serious wound - a real medical emergency but not completely out. They still take death saves as normal but when on 0 hp characters can’t rise from prone but can take a single bonus action, a single action, or move (but not stand up). Taking any action or move forces them to make an additional death save.

- Secondly, I’ll be using the slow healing rules. Spending HD is the only way to regain wounds, which represent bandaging and rest. No spending 8 hours to wake fresh as a daisy.

- Thirdly, and this is the doozy, I want dropping to 0 hp to cause the Pc to gain 1d6 levels of exhaustion. Yes the PC has a 1/6 chance of dying instantly when dropped to 0 hp. When their head gets lopped off. The exhaustion represents their wound - which they are free to describe as they like. When their exhaustion is gone (through the normal means) their wound is gone.

This campaign won’t be the typical dungeon crawl hack and slash. Combats will be rarer - one to three per day. With most adventures to have 1-3 combats potentially. It will also mostly be operating at a low-ish level 3-7. What are peoples though, could it work cohesively.
I like it! If you try it out, report back.

I want more tens room and grit too—-
 

I ran that rule myself for a while.

''Once per short rest, when dropped to 0 HP and not killed outright, you may choose to remain on 1 HP and roll on the Lingering Injuries chart for a specific injury. Unless permanent (missing limb) the injury remains until you take a Long rest''

It's an optional buy in from the players. They can choose if they get crippled, in exchange for a benefit (remaining up at 0 HP).

It was cool, but I just found it led to the players wanting to take more Long rests more often, and that was a consequence that wasnt worth the benefits to the game.
Best way to fix that would be to introduce timeline penalties. Maybe taking one long rest is fine, but take three and the villain manages to get away with the gold/misc, or the dungeon repopulates a few reinforcements and they have to reclear an area, essentially the characters get behind with their mission. Encourage the spellcasters to prepare "Message" spells, and then let the injured party keep lookout, which would still warrant an XP reward if they manage to scare off otherwise distract a lesser threat while in that position.
 

i mean this leads to the oddities of 1) level 1 characters being immune to injury/mental trauma and 2) characters getting worse at avoiding injuries and mental trauma as they get more experienced. i guess number 2 is technically realistic from a statistical perspective but man is it strange
Damn, you have a point there...
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think there could be room for some herbalism
There is.

Building on a Dragon magazine article from the early-mid 80s, we've had magical herbs in our game for ages. They're mostly found and used by Rangers, they generally are not bought or sold as commodities, finding them is difficult, and to restrict their curative abiities a bit we have it that a curative herb doesn't work if any other type of cure (e.g. spell, potion, lay-on-hands, etc.) has been applied to a set of wounds.
but I think it would need to be sparingly. Potentially a fresh herbal preparation that allowed you to reduce the quantity of exhaustion or better yet improve the speed of recovery could be good. I think it works best when you have a character using their skills to do it, rather than something you can buy.
Yes. We also have it (admittedly quite artificially) that magical herbs are resistant to intentional cultivation - you can't grow a herb garden out behind the temple, you have to find them in the wild - to prevent over-proliferation. If I really wanted to lean into herbs I'd allow them to be cultivated, but then everyone would grow them and they'd just become another common commodity.

Worth noting our system has a variety of herbs that can each have effects other than simple healing; e.g. haste, strength (a la Popeye's spinach!), antidote, magic detection, hallucinations, etc.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top