Wounds - when would you give them?

jgsugden

Adventurer
Per the PHB, etc...; HPs represent the toughness of a PC. They do not really represent wounds as we think about them (broken bones, lost eyes, etc...). When a PC loses HPs, the PC's toughness is being taxed, and they might be getting nicked up a bit - but they are not really suffering a lingering wound such as a sprain, break, etc...

Yes - I do know that there are spells that call a loss or gain of HPs wounds - the terminology is fuzzy - I'm focused on wounds as limiting mechanics reflecting injury. In that perspective, and per what the books say - HP reflect toughness, and there are no wounds.

Incorporating a wound is generally not fun for the game. A broken arm on a PC would make things a lot less fun for the player. However, if players want a more gritty game, there may be a place for it.

Assuming that the group really wants it: What triggers would you use to decide to give a player or enemy a wound, such as a break, sprain, etc...? Failed death saves? Critical Hits (maybe after a saving throw)? Taking damage that brings them below a certain threshold?
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
We generally reserve injuries for the rare crit cards that carry a lingering effect (we use a crit deck).

One of my friends also had a risk of serious injuries from things like falling, as well as riding on top of a dune buggy when it hits a giant tortoise, propelling you face first into a cactus.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I've played with ideas of wounds and psychological damage, using alternative rules in the DMG and alternative sources, but it tends to slow things down and my players didn't really like it. For psychological reactions, I leave that to players to role play, with the rare exception of madness.

For wounds, instead of any mechanic, I use crit cards. Both my players and I like the critical-hit deck from Nord Games.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I kind of like the option to "accept a wound" which then creates some immediate benefit (one benefit might be reduced hit point loss or a big bonus on their attack and so on) . The value of this being that if players then like the complexity it gets used if they end up not liking it then it doesnt. There is a trope of the badass hero taking a wound in order to deliver an even nastier one that this plays to.
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
I used the "fail death save by 5 or more" mechanic when applying Lingering Injuries, which sounds like what you're talking about. That's a 25% chance per d20 roll, so we had lingering injuries pop up often enough. Most were non-impactful because the ones with penalty were cured by any magical healing. Only once did we have a player roll a "loss of limb" (he lost an arm and was specialized in two-handed weaponry).

In summary, they can be interesting, but except for scars and lost limbs, all are inconsequential because they go away with the next Cure spell or Potion of Healing used.

If using Lingering Injuries, I wouldn't have them apply more often. Death Saves occur often enough. Hitting 0 or being critically hit will result in enough rolls that eventually someone will lose limbs on a routine basis in a campaign.

If you're talking about the abstract nature of Hit Points, I'm still tinkering with the UA Vitality rules by adopting AD&D and 3rd edition mechanics where your true health, the ability to sustain actual damage to your body, is represented not by Hit Points, which are an abstract representation of ability to avoid lethal damage, exhaustion, and luck, but rather by a small number after reaching 0 hit points. This pool is slow to heal, even with magic, making it riskier when you take actual damage to keep adventuring. The next time you hit 0hp, you might not get back up.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
We use Injuries (from the DMG) if the target is
  • When it takes a critical hit AND
  • it drops to 0 hit points but isn’t killed outright.
This makes them rarer but still nasty if they happen. Also, the target's player gets to CHOOSE the Injury if the roll is a 1, 2, or 3. We really don't like the lopping off of limbs or poking out eyes.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
If I used them, I’d probably have them occur when a player takes two death save failures at once (meaning, when they roll a natural 1 on a death save, and when they get hit by a melee attack while unconscious and dying.)
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I use Lingering on some nasty crits and also if you fail a death save by 5 or more.

There is no quarter given on the table though, you could lose something (if it makes sense for the attack that dropped you).
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
I use an expanded wounding list and the "when you fall to 0 hp" rule.

On crits tends to hurt player effectiveness a lot more than it should.

I also use these rules to help players out when they do manage to suffer a wound.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
I've tried using the lingering wounds, and found it to be an absolute disaster. If you plan to use them, expect high PC turnover rate, since it takes either a lot of downtime or powerful magic to recover. Even in a gritty game, I'd probably only have them happen on a rare occasion, such as @Doc_Klueless suggested with a Critical Hit that reduces you to 0 HP. I don't like adding them from a failed death save, because to me that's adding the injury retroactively (the narrative has already determined your fall).

If I was going to use it again, I'd have a check happen every time you drop to 0 HP. Perhaps a 1 in 20 or 1 in 100 each time (depending on how vicious you want it to be), then a roll on the lingering injuries table. This would also completely eliminate the problem some have with a character going down each round, only to get back up each turn, before getting knocked back down. Using this, anyone dropped to 0 HP and healed is likely to play dead or withdraw from combat until healed more.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
I see woundedness as part of the description of a character so leave it up to the players to describe their PCs as wounded or getting wounded. Such wounds have no mechanical effect. Likewise, I sometimes describe an NPC being wounded when defeated if the player’s goal was to wound the NPC.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Easiest way I can think of would be to track negative h.p. and have wounds trigger based on hitting a certain threshold somewhere below 0.

Then, each DM could raise or lower this threshold point to suit that particular campaign: a DM who wants wounds to be really common could set the threshold at -1; a DM who wants wounds to be rare might set the threshold at -30. A default might be -10 if you want it to be equal for everyone; -[half starting con score] for gritty; -[con score] for not-so-gritty.

However, note that it's all wasted effort unless wounds are made difficult to cure quickly and impossible to cure during combat.
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
Ive thought about using a consequences mechanic and HP 0, Death Saves and Critical Hits makes sense as when conquences (minor/major/severe) - then let the Player decide what the consequence actually looks like
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
I would set the threshold at 20 damage. If you take 20 damage from a single attack, then you can make a Con save against half the damage taken, with failure resulting in injury.
 

Ashrym

Hero
Massive damage of half the max hp causes a DC 15 system shock check in the DM optional rules. System shock includes dropping to 0hp as an option on the table would automatically carry over into the lingering issues options following that line.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Easiest way I can think of would be to track negative h.p. and have wounds trigger based on hitting a certain threshold somewhere below 0.

Then, each DM could raise or lower this threshold point to suit that particular campaign: a DM who wants wounds to be really common could set the threshold at -1; a DM who wants wounds to be rare might set the threshold at -30. A default might be -10 if you want it to be equal for everyone; -[half starting con score] for gritty; -[con score] for not-so-gritty.

However, note that it's all wasted effort unless wounds are made difficult to cure quickly and impossible to cure during combat.
This isn’t a bad idea. Alternatively, you could do it without tracking negative HP by saying that if you take damage while at 0 HP, you take a lingering injury if the damage equals or exceeds the threshold.
 
In my campaign when a character reaches 0 hit points and then fails their first death save (and only the first) they then roll on the table in the DMG. This has meant that when a character goes down the others try to get to them before a death save is rolled - adds to the drama.

So far had a few minor scars - one character has lost 5ft of movement and has a limp. The only bad one was a character having his foot cut - he didn't come into play as on his next death save he rolled a 1 - which sort of fit with the wound. The player was ok with this as he didn't want to play a one legged character (they were 3rd level at the time).
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
I would set the threshold at 20 damage. If you take 20 damage from a single attack, then you can make a Con save against half the damage taken, with failure resulting in injury.
A fixed threshold is not a good option, IMO. Any such approach needs to scale.

Low level characters rarely take 20 damage from a hit (at level 1, this would be instant death for many characters). On the other hand, at higher levels it isn't unusual for many attacks to deal that kind of damage. If the wet-behind-the-ears squire never breaks his arm, while the legendary Herakles is perpetually walking around with both arms in slings, the system is producing weird and likely undesirable results.

Additionally, if a high level character with 200 HP takes 20 damage, rolls a Nat 1, and loses an arm, I would say that result is downright absurd. He still has 90% of HP remaining. Based on the PHB description of injuries, there should barely be a scratch on him. It would be reminiscent of the black knight from Monty Python. Humorous, but definitely not something I want to see in a serious campaign.
 

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