Friday, 22 July 2011

Damage Thresholds: An Optional Tool for Armour

I am the Warden!!

I love my nighttime walks. Though I might not enjoy it as much when I come home and my busted foot throbs like a snake bite victim, it's always the perfect time to review the day's events and ponder all those random thoughts running through my head. Every now and then, an idea pops into my head so suddenly and voraciously, I literally stop on the street and proclaim "Holy shit, that's brilliant!" Hence the reason why I walk at midnight: fewer witnesses.

While reviewing my internal notes for tonight's playtest, I started thinking about a supporting character's armour rating and an archer PC's weapon damage when it struck me. Damage thresholds. What happens as a character get wailed on time and time again? Are they struck by each failed defense roll or do we use the Star Wars application of hit points and vitality? Shouldn't there be a limit to just how much damage a character can take before something starts to slow them down?

Seeing as we've covered the basics of the Optional System thus far, it's time to enjoy the original purpose of this blog. Discussing new concepts and rules. Let's crack some knuckles and get started. Ow.

How Much Pain Can A PC Take If A PC Can't Take Pain?
Armour provides a hit cushion during combat, reducing the amount of damage a character takes with every blow. In its simplest form, that works, but there's always been the intention to incorporate more into armour. For many combatants, it's the final defense when skill, training, and luck fail. If an opponent just barely breaks through your parry, the armour will deflect the impact of his sword and keep you in the fight. Over time, your armour and your body will only be able to take so much. It's like being shot while wearing a bullet proof vest; you still feel the impact, it just keeps the bullet from tearing you a new one.

Remember the OSRPG character sheet from yesterday? Just left of the hit tally was a space for Conditions, something not yet devised. Until now. As you continue to take damage, your armour and body begin to suffer. The stronger your armour, the more abuse it can take before you feel the effects. I call it damage threshold.

Each hero in OSRPG has 10 hits before they fall. These hits are divided into five levels (which happens to be displayed on the character sheet already). Each level defines a state of well-being for the hero and his armour. When the damage brings the hero into a lower level, he can begin to suffer penalties. By wearing heavier armour of steel plates and chains, for example, it delays these effects until a later level.

Break out the crappy text chart!!

Damage Threshold         Penalties
Normal (no damage)         None
Battered                             -2 to all dice rolls
Wounded                          Half penalty(*) to all Body, Sense, or Mind rolls (Director's choice)
Bloodied                           Half penalty to all base dice
Dead                                 Uhm, you're dead

* Half penalties are inflicted on a particular stat, skill, power, or dice category. When you have a half penalty, those particular dice are divided in half and cannot explode.

The chart above demonstrates the effects of damage without the benefit of armour, so if you simply walk onto the battlefield in your Sunday best, you'll suffer in this order. As your character drops down to the next line of hits on your character sheet, you suffer from the next damage threshold. When you regain hits through healing or other benefits, you rise back up the chart. Therefore, if you wear no armour, you are considered Battered when you lose 1-3 hits, Wounded at 4-6 hits, Bloodied at 7-9 hits, and Dead at 10 hits.

Wearing armour increases the range of the Normal damage threshold. Leather armours, for example, increase the damage threshold by one level. So you'll be Battered at 4-6 hits, Wounded at 7-9 hits, and Dead at 10 hits. (Death always comes at 10 hits.) Chainmail and scale armour offers better protection, meaning you're not suffering any penalties until you've taken at least 7 hits.

The idea is less than 24 hours old (actually, less than 12 hours), but I'm adding it to the playtest tonight. Not that I needed a better reason to pound on some heroes tonight, but I'm REALLY looking forward to beating the shit out of someone now.