On Damage systems

  • 11 Replies
On Damage systems
« on: July 28, 2014, 10:20:30 AM »
I've been trying to come up for a way to remove the damage die rolls and the HP system. Its just something that i feel that goes totally against all the DW spirit; and i've come up with some idea; sprouted from the "fiction first" spirit

When you attack, instead of rolling damage on a hit, your opponent (or you, if you like the GM not touching the dice) rolls +Armor. On a hit, the opponent is unscratched. On a 7-9 is undamaged but his armor is broken, or he's wounded and takes a -1 to the next roll. On a fail, the opponent is KO (if you attack with fists), or dead (if you used a cutting edge, an arrow or a heavy mace)

Whenever YOU suffer damage, you must make the same roll +con and + armor. On a 7-9, you must take a debility. On a fail, you automatically trigger the Last Breath roll, or you just fall unconscious (if the weapon was non-lethal)

On how this would affect weapons:

Weapons can have modifiers TO HIT, not to damage. However, masterwork weapons and very sharp swords can reduce the armor value of the opponent by a given number.

Any thoughts on this? Im new to the forum, id like to know if has anybody come up with a similar premise.

CAPTCHA: Wwpnuk; a good name for an inuit character someday



  • 417
Re: On Damage systems
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2014, 01:24:49 PM »
I think the best way to handle this is the way it's done in Apocalypse World; weapons have an established amount of damage that they do.  On a hit, they inflict that damage, less armor.  It's super simple.  The kicker here is that "hit points" (or whatever you're using to measure how much damage a character can sustain) would not increase as the character gains experience, because otherwise you rapidly get to a silly situation where the characters can weather a direct hit to the chest from a seige ballista and not bat an eye.


As If

  • 142
Re: On Damage systems
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2014, 04:43:46 PM »
I feel like added crunchiness is getting in the way of the fiction, not making it more "fiction first". 
I think a simpler solution might involve a progressive cross-off list, or a set of Conditions that can be checked (like Lady Blackbird).  In other words, don't roll damage at all.  Describe it.  That's just my 2 cents.

That said, there are lots of approaches to this, and some of them have been codified into rules or subsystems.  Check out this amazing thread: http://story-games.com/forums/discussion/19273/a-descriptive-damage-hack-for-dungeon-worldworld-of-dungeons

Re: On Damage systems
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2014, 05:01:49 PM »
Im looking into Apocalypse World damage and that's not quite what i was looking for. I liked a lot more the AS IF post; that three variants (hurt damage, deadly damage and insane damage)

I want to rework it a little more so i dont have to remind that lists of options (i want to make it a little simpler). There are 4 main harm stats: incapacitating damage, knocked off, dying and dead.

something like

When you recieve Barfigth damage, roll + con (+ armor if any)

on a 10, you're allright
on a 7-9, you receive a debility, you trip or you're pinned
on a 6, you're knocked out, or have a broken limb

When you receive lethal damage, roll + con
on a 10 you're lucky: you only get a debility
on a 7-9, you're severely wounded and need immediate medical attention; each turn fighting requires a CON defy danger against blood loss.
on a 6, you're dead.
You may sacrifice a limb, weapon, armor or object to treat a result as 1 level higher.

When you receive insane damage, roll + con
on a 10, you can choose to sacrifice something to avoid getting hurt (a weapon, a limb; should be explained from the fiction)
on a 7-9, you're dead, but you get a last move. Make it epic.
on a 6, you're desintegrated and beyond resucitation.

Any thoughts?
The difference between a goblin armed with a sword and a captain master elf swordsman attacking you (both just lethal damage) may be that the elf swordsman may have special moves (negate PC's armor; create shadow copies of himself, etc)

I still have to find an equivalent for the "on a 10+ on a hit roll, you can choose to do 1d6 additional damage by taking an attack to yourself". In this version, that choice is much harder being that any blow may kill you, so the bonus should be also higher.



  • 417
Re: On Damage systems
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2014, 06:49:13 PM »
I'd actually go for less damage, not more.  If something as simple as a goblin armed with a sword is killing you dead on a missed roll+CON, you're going to go through a lot of characters.  And yes, you can sacrifice something, but I suspect you're going to end up with a lot of maimed characters, because even a 7-9 sets you up for blood loss and probably further injury.  And do I sustain this damage every time that goblin swings at me?  Yikes!

Don't get me wrong, I dislike the DW system of hit points and variable damage.  But the direction you're going is (statistically speaking) likely to be way more lethal.

The question you need to be asking yourself is, "what is the goal of my damage system?"  Is it to keep track of how much damage a character can take before he needs to break off from combat and retreat?  Is it to slowly whittle away a character's combat capabilities?  Is it to impose fictional elements to force the player to make hard choices?  Is it to establish things that will be themselves used to drive the story?  And regardless of its intent, does it ultimately turn into simply a way to punish the players for crappy rolls?

And once you've decided what your overall goal is, you need to ask yourself, "does the rule I am proposing help me reach my goal or hinder it?"  What does damage represent?  What does it bring to the table?  Why is it interesting?  What effect does it have on the story?  Because death on a failed roll+CON is not at all interesting (unless of course death is no big deal in your setting).  Gritty realism is cool, but having to make a new character every other session because the last one is now a one-eyed, one-legged, tongueless cripple isn't terribly exciting.  Unless character turnover is one of your intended goals, look for ways to damage the PCs less, not more.

Re: On Damage systems
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2014, 04:45:45 AM »
The setting i have in mind is one with all the PCs being mainly non-combatants. They're travelers that, because of their condition, have sometimes to face unexpected trouble. What i mainly want with that system is to have them come up with their own alternatives to a direct fight; to highlight the value of fistfights (when there is no other way to settle a discussion) and when there is no more options, the combat to death. One of this kind is portrayed like an epic quest in itself. There are always consequences to a swordfigth. And i think that it would be cool to have a legless or a blind PC, ┬┐why not?
The game im planning is not about players cleaning dungeons, the main goal is the exploration and traveling.



  • 417
Re: On Damage systems
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2014, 09:43:45 AM »
Ah, OK, now we're getting somewhere.  So essentially the goal of your damage system is to discourage physical combat.  That's great, and parenthetically how I used to run Shadowrun 3 back in the day (when the lethality of combat is high, it forces players to think outside the box to accomplish their goals).  That being the case, I think the system you've outlined here accomplishes the goal.

But that leads to the next question, which is: "what are the central conflicts of the game?"  And I only use the term "conflict" here in its loosest sense of opposed goals.  What is it that the players are trying to do, and what opposition are they likely to face?  The opposition doesn't have to be the aforementioned sword-armed goblins, it could be environmental for instance.  What are the central activities in which the PCs will engage, and what rules will apply to those activities?

Because while travel and discovery are cool, something needs to be happening to make that travel and discovery worthwhile.  It could be argued that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are about travel and discovery, but at every step along the way the characters face danger and opposition.  Absent opposition, those books become, "Went to Mordor, saw Mt. Orodruin.  Will post pics to InstaGram tomorrow."

Re: On Damage systems
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2014, 01:48:11 PM »

I intend to make with all this a hack based loosely on Loom, a fantasy videogame of the 80s (if you're not scared by pixel-art games, i reccomend it to you 1000 times).

As i picture it,  the big idea of the game is traveling across the world searching for a mystic things known as "patterns" or "drafts", that are the setting equivalent to spells. They're encouraged by their own guilds to catch some of them and thus become full right guild members (maybe a bit like Pokemon). The PCs each represent a guild (weavers, glassmakers, blacksmiths, shepards, assassins, miners, etc) and the civilization is formed by distant city states, and between them, wilderness.

The main conflicts i want to portray is nature: predators, sickness, the weather and natural disasters, scarcity and resource management, and monsters (there are some, too. I plan on having lots of colossus and things built by the "ancients" of the setting). The "patterns" are learnt by directly confronting their sources (surviving a hurricane, for example, lets you attempt to learn the "twisting" pattern. Chasing and finding a white fox on the snow lets you learn the "invisibility" pattern). I want to make gold and encumbrance two important things on the game, and remain important as the PCs level up.

Of course that there will be combat and human foes (every guild is hated by another specific guild), and after all, PCs always know the way of make enemies. But as you see, there is no warrior class among them; they're young students searching for their patterns to graduate, not hacknslashing machines, so i want to portray this; and make them use their lateral thinking and pondering their options always before each combat.

I made a thread for the whole hack in this same forum, too, sorry if i explained too much. Thank you a lot for your comments, they help me a lot putting my thoughts on perspective.



  • 417
Re: On Damage systems
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2014, 04:53:23 PM »
No worries!  Good luck with your hack.  I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

Re: On Damage systems
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2014, 04:33:51 PM »
Thank you a lot for yor help! i hope i can show the paperwork here soon

Re: On Damage systems
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2014, 06:58:45 PM »
Here's a final craft of the unified "to hit roll+damage roll" move; a little more complex but its a one-for-all. The idea is that each weapon has an intuitive description of what it does, instead of a damage die. I couldnt help using the "on a 12+" clause for it. 

Whenever you hack and slash an enemy, roll+STR. (any weapon bonus is added here too. If the enemy has armor or is specially hard to hit, take also -1 or -2)

On a 10+, you take an advantage over you opponent; describe how (you wound him, trip him, grapple him). You can choose to totally finish your enemy (kill or incapacitate him depending on your weapon) by exposing yourself to an enemy attack.
On a 7-9: you take an advantage over you opponent; describe how, but you suffer an attack or a complication (your GM chooses it).
On a miss, you're dealt damage or something bad happens (you're caught in a net, you trip, etc).

On a 12+, your opponent is finished or defeated. Describe how.

Once you're hit: If the outcome of an enemy's attack is not clear, do a Defy Danger +CON to see its effects. Add +armor if it would be relevant to the result.

On weapons: the different effects of the different weapons are explained in the fiction. If you attack a soldier with a dagger, you cannot choose to behead him. You cannot stab somebody with a chair leg; instead you knock him to the ground. Some weapons can add +1 to the hit roll to represent that they are armor piercing, they're long enough to give an advantage or just appropiate for the situation.

Any opinions?

Re: On Damage systems
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2014, 02:50:39 PM »
Since i cant find how to edit a post, i add this here:

You have +1 when attacking or resisting a wounded or highly beaten enemy, or a +2 if we're talking serious wounds here; that, and all effects applicable in the fiction (a stabbed enemy is bleeding and will eventually pass out if not healed, etc). If he is helpless enough, you can just straight kill, stun or trap him.

You have -1 ongoing when you're badly hurt; -2 if you're very very hurt, and you suffer all the effects that derive from the fiction (if you have a broken arm, you cant attack normally. If you're bleeding, you need to make CON rolls to avoid falling unconscious)