Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules

  • 12 Replies
Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« on: May 29, 2011, 04:20:44 AM »
One of the things I've noticed about the harm rules is that, while they're functional and do what they're designed to do, they're quite different from the rest of the game's rules, in that they're quite abstract and "mechanics first" rather than being specific and "fiction first".

One of the effects of this is that even when a character has taken a bunch of harm, it's quite easy to forget about that in practice, and have them walking around chatting and fighting and chilling out like they're just fine.

There's also the whole thing with the harm move where I always forget about it.

So I made some different rules. They need some work though! Please help me! I originally made them for my dungeon exploration/alien sex game "Dungeonfuckers", so I know they work more or less, but I'm not sure the effect they'll have in Apocalypse World.

Here's the pdf:

The basic idea is that when you get injured, the MC chooses an injury for you from a list. The injury changes our expectations of what the character is capable of, and what may require an "Acting Under Fire" roll. The injury also acts as a Threat, with a set of moves the MC can make for the move.

Let me know what you think!

Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2011, 01:49:14 PM »
I like it a lot. Now make moves and stuff for psi-harm and s-harm! :)



  • 25
Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2011, 06:45:00 PM »
Here's the thing: I really dig some of the stuff in there, and the flavour is pretty cool! However, just knowing how I operate, I'm probably never going to pull any of the 4-harm ones (and some of the 2/3-harm ones) because I'm not sure I could really, without compromising my authority or ability to be a fan of the characters, just straight out tell a dude that he's decapitated. Or that he's lost a leg, or an arm. Like, I could understand narrative circumstance allowing such a thing, but it feels like it'd be a pretty huge thing to do, and wouldn't win you any friends in your group. Unless they're amputee fetishists?

Still, it's pretty neat! I'm more likely to pull some of these out for flavour when the PCs go wild on NPCs, though, than on the PCs themselves.

Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2011, 07:16:12 PM »
Oh yeah, for sure it requires trust and a strong shared vision. Also maybe access to healing which makes such things not so irrevocable.

Remember though, that taking 4-harm in one hit is very rare. If that happens to a person, it's probably because something serious is going down. I can't imagine that someone would be in a situation where they're taking 4-harm without expecting it.

The way the system is designed to work though, is that if some guy is swinging his gigantic 4-harm sword at your dude's neck, and you say "I block with my teaspoon" and fuck up the roll, the MC will have to work pretty hard not to tell you you're decapitated. The rules create an expectation.

I think I'll need to write up some healing rules too, which will be something like:

Roll +stock spent

10+ choose 3

7-9 choose 1

- Bring someone back from recent death
- Stop serious bleeding (harm 3+)
- Put someone's outsides back inside
- Stave off infection and death

As well as: Spend one stock to:
- Set a broken bone
- Stop minor bleeding (harm 1-2)
- Prevent infection



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Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2011, 08:18:22 PM »
4-harm is rare, definitely, but even in the rare circumstances when it would occur, I'm not going to be able to tell a dude that he's a paraplegic now, or that he's in a coma and might never wake up. It's one of those circumstances where I feel I'd be exercising too much control over the player character, if that makes any sense - it'd take a hell of lot of trust to assume what the MC was saying wasn't antagonistic in its agenda. Unless we had a Savvyhead in the game with the life support workshop add-on, then I could see some wacky shit happening which would fit in the fiction.

The rules certainly make the harm/healing factor in the game far more gritty, and that's something which, in the right group, I could see going down really well! Maybe I'm not at that stage yet (I do not even have an AW group in real life right now), but I could see how these rules and suggestions could make for an interesting game.

Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2011, 08:26:47 PM »
Ideally, the rules are compelling enough, and the expectation is powerfull enough, that if you don't tell the player their character is a paraplegic now, they'll say "hey! why aren't you following the rules?"

That's maybe not an easy place to get to though, and I don't know if these rules create that expectation well enough.

Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2011, 11:58:27 PM »
Oh! There should definitely be a "It's worse than you thought" move for wounds. So you want to get them checked out as soon as possible.



  • 166
Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2011, 10:56:49 AM »
How about you treat harm as hold and allow a shopping list approach? For 4-harm+, you'd get:

"You're bloodied and torn and head is ringing like hell, and fuck, what? You're missing a digit, where did it go?"

"Your head exploded. From the nose up."

Warning, opinion:

As an MC, I don't really need help in determining how to end a character's existence (which a lot on the 4+ section does). I'm a roleplayer, creative ways of describing death and mutilation is in my blood already!

Now, complicating stuff for the players, on the other hand... "And then THIS happens and my god, what are you going to do?" is hard and I need help with it. 0-3 harm does that for me, 4+ does not.

Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2011, 12:22:04 PM »
For complicated stuff, describe the wound from the character's perspective, offer an opportunity, and ask: "what do you do?"

Not: "He smashes your arm with the club and your hand flies off."

But: "he smashes your arm with the club--it looks really bad, just flopping around and you can't move it, you can't even feel it anymore. What do you do?" If the player says "I gather it up and get to the Angel," the arm can be saved, obviously. If the player says "Fuck it, I chop that bastard's head off," make a hard move. Buddy can pick his arm up off the floor later.

Not: "You take a bullet through the lung, another through the kidney, few more in the guts. You're down."

But: "You get shot. It hurts, you feel like you're drowning, and there's A LOT of blood. What do you do?" Don't describe the full effects immediately, drag it out, give them the full 4+ harm wound description over the course of several actions. That gives them a chance to deal with the effects, or die heroically.

Especially of you're in the middle of a battle, and unless you've been literally torn apart, you can't just immediately diagnose wounds, other than realizing pain and when parts don't work like normal anymore.

Also, keep in mind that if a PC goes past midnight, they can't be revived, so you can freely narrate any kind of death. If the player doesn't like it, they can trump what you say with their own narration by marking a debility.

Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2011, 03:39:32 PM »
Johnstone, I like that! I'm thinking about how to make that happen with the rules.

Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2011, 11:13:32 PM »
Well, this list you've made up is a pretty good start, especially combined with John Harper's advice.

To get closer to what DWeird wants, you could maybe create a flow-chart style aid, which starts with a rough wound description, like the descriptions you have, or even more general (smashed arm, head trauma, deep cuts, etc).

Each could have a short description, and then a list of possible further complications, like:

Deep cuts: Immediate problem is bleeding, staunch it or take more harm later. Secondary problem is lost mobility from cut muscles. Tertiary problem is infection.

Head wounds are the perfect opportunity to introduce complications later, or even delay consequences now. You can take a small knock to the head that inflames your spinal cord, and then damage it by moving your head and end up paralyzed. So, if a PC takes 1-harm to the head and then misses a roll later on, throw in some concussion symptoms. Or, if a PC takes 4-harm to the head, delay the symptoms and let them walk around for a bit before they collapse, and give them the opportunity to get medical aid and not end up permanently screwed.



  • 166
Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2011, 11:45:00 AM »
Silly idea: Maybe it would be neat to have little paper dolls for characters (a very basic human-ish shape). And then when you get damage, you mark that area with a pen or pencil (or just punch a hole straight through, if you're mean and the harm is high).

Then, during healing, you'd cross out pen marks or erase pencil marks, ducttape anything torn, un-crumple broken limbs, and etc.

That way, just by looking at someone's little paper self, you'll be able to immediatelly see what kind of stuff they went through earlier - even if they are at good health right now.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 11:57:00 AM by DWeird »

Re: Blood and Guts: Alternate Harm Rules
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2011, 02:41:31 PM »
That's cool. It fits with my group's practice of having pictures (not just names) for every NPC, and Vincent's admonishment to draw maps like crazy.