Friday, April 25, 2014

Death and Dismemberment

I have what would probably be regarded as a very lenient methodology in terms of handling death and gross disfigurement for an OSR game; however, it is one that lends a fair bit of flavor the game in terms of producing grizzled murderhobos. Originally, I planned to use Chris' Death and Dismemberment table from Hill Cantons and then, uh, I managed to not be able to find in the heat of a session and instead wound up winging it. Rather than backtrack, I decided to formalize what happened when I winged it, and this is what I got:

- Rolling on the Death and Dismemberment table happens if you drop to 0 HP or below.

- If you go to negative HP, you lose 1HP per round until you're healed/medically treated.

- If you reach negative HP equal to your CON score, you roll a Saving Throw vs. Death -- if you fail, you die, if you save, you live another round.

Death and Dismemberment! (With apologies to Chris Kutalik)

Firstly, where did you take that hit? Use the back cover on Vornheim, with the player rolling a die to determine where they were smote.

Secondly, how bad was it? For this, we use the Critical Hit Chart on p.340 of Warhammer Fantasy RPG 1st Edition. Take the number of HP below 0, divide by 3, then add 1. That's the column that you're rolling on on said chart.

So for example, Hankella the barbarian takes a huge shot from a lizardman's spear and drops to -9HP. Luckily, the party's cleric is standing right there and gets off a good enough heal that she stabilizes that very same round. The player rolls on the Vornheim chart and gets right arm. The DM then rolls d100 on the 4th column of the WFRPG Critical Hit Chart (9HP below zero/3 = 3, plus 1 = 4). The roll is a 57, which is a 15 on the chart -- the shoulder joint is destroyed and a bone splinter severs an artery, killing the character almost immediately from shock and blood loss -- even if the heal repaired the artery, it's too late. Had the DM rolled a 10 or less, Hankella would only have suffered a dislocated shoulder, rendering that arm useless until popped back in.

One thing I really like about this system is that there's lots of results that cripple the player without killing them, creating a situation where you have a gimpy wizard who can't run that well after nearly getting his hip taken off with a giant scimitar, or the fighter who takes a die-step negative on all bow damage rolls because he has a nagging rotator cuff injury from that run-in with some gnolls. Still not entirely sure how to handle possibly healing these sorts of things -- that would require a refactor of how healing magic works, which is still very vague as of now.


  1. I’m writing a series of blog posts on Death & Dismemberment Tables and have linked to yours in my latest post here

  2. The player rolls on the Vornheim chart and gets right arm.

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