Saturday, 13 September 2014

Injuries for Dungeons & Dragons 5E

"I'm OK, all I need is one long rest and I'll be good as new!"

What ho, Adventurers! I've been looking at the way damage and healing is currently handled in Dungeons & Dragons 5E, and I'm finding it... insufficient. My aim here is to outline a slightly more realistic system, one that will attach more threat to being reduced to zero hit points. 

The system I am proposing to use in my upcoming campaign would be as follows. Once you are reduced to zero hit points, you roll on the wound table below, using this formula:
  • roll 1d20 + CON mod
Then you consult the table to see the effect. These effects are in addition to the usual death saving throws from being knocked down to zero. Of the effects, the most likely outcome is that you will simply gain a permanent scar. I love the idea of adventurers sitting around telling stories and showing each other their old wounds. Some outcomes require a second roll to determine if the limb can be saved. The ongoing effect is described underneath the injury. Higher rolls are better, lower rolls are worse. 

1) Lost nose 

  • Disadvantage on all social charisma based rolls, unable to detect scents and aromas. Permanent.
2) Lost eye 

  • Disadvantage to all perception rolls involving sight. Disadvantage on social charisma rolls unless eye is covered by some sort of patch. Permanent.

3) Lost ear / deafness in one ear 

  • Disadvantage to perception rolls involving sound. Permanent.

4) Leg broken  (roll 1d10, and on a roll of 1-2 lose leg)

  • For 1d8 weeks the character's movement is halved, and they have disadvantage on Dexterity checks. Effects are permanent if leg is lost, and requires the use of a crutch or some form of prosthetic such as a wooden leg.

5) Arm broken (roll 1d10, and on a roll of 1-2 lose arm)

  • For 1d8 weeks the character cannot use a shield, fight two handed, or use two handed weapons. Effects are permanent if arm is lost.
6) Hand broken (roll 1d10, and on a roll of 1-2 lose hand)
  • For 1d8 weeks the character cannot fight two handed or use two handed weapons. Effects are permanent if hand is lost. Character may gain a special attack or feature by adding a prosthetic such as a hook.

7) Foot broken (roll 1d10, and on roll of 1-2 lose foot)

  • For 1d8 weeks the character has their move reduced by 1/4. Effect is permanent if foot is lost, and requires a crutch or prosthetic such as a custom boot.

8) Broken rib

  • For 1d8 weeks the character only has 3/4 of their normal maximum HP.

9) Blurred vision (concussion)

  • For 1d6 days disadvantage to all perception checks involving sight, and no proficiency bonus to attack rolls.

10) Ringing ears (concussion)

  • For 1d6 days disadvantage to all perception checks involving sound. Magic users have more difficulty maintaining concentration, and any attack that strikes them will cause them to lose a concentration spell currently in effect.

11) Amnesia (concussion)

  • For 1d6 days the character has no memory of anything that occurred prior to their injury. They can conduct themselves normally, but have no idea who they are, what their goals are, or who anyone else is. 

12-20) Scarred

  • The character has a distinctive scar that can used to identify them. 
I hope that this system will add a greater threat to being knocked unconscious than what is in place at the moment. It will also add some nice flavour and role playing opportunities to the campaign. I really hope we get a one eyed, peg legged, hook handed character with amnesia at some point in our game!

Any thoughts or suggestions are much appreciated.

Edit - If you're looking for a more detailed and sophisticated system for healing and injuries in 5E, check out this awesome system from R. Scott Kennan.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Fear checks and Insanity for Dungeons & Dragons 5E

What ho, Adventurers! Today I wanted to discuss incorporating some form of fear based insanity mechanic into my upcoming D&D game.

My inspiration comes from Call of Cthulhu, and that style of gaming will be a big part of what we do. I also thought it would add a little bit of realism. In the low magic world we will be playing in, seeing shambling undead and gore drenched demons will not be such an everyday occurrence that folks just shrug their shoulders and get on with killing stuff. It should be frightening (at least to those that fail their wisdom checks). 

Reading through the Players Handbook, I noticed the rules for exhaustion (p.291). These line up perfectly with what I wanted to accomplish with insanity. There are 6 levels of exhaustion, and each level brings a greater penalty, leading up to death. For our purpose, it would be 6 levels of temporary insanity, leading up to permanent insanity rather than death. Whether that final state is curable would be up the DM, and that might be a quest in itself. Regardless, the player would probably need to roll up a new character, so in practical terms it is about the same as dying.

Fear checks would be conducted whenever something frightening happens. This can be a terrifying event or fearsome monster, and some creatures already have fear effects built right in, such as the ghost and it's horrifying visage. Successive events of the same type or monster would not provoke a further check for 24 hours, as the characters are temporarily inured to that particular horror. 

My formula for the check would be this:

  • roll 1d20 + WIS bonus + level - current level of insanity

My reasoning for adding your current level to the roll is that as you become more experienced (higher in level), you are more jaded and less likely to be affected by frightening events. Also, someone with a low Wisdom and a negative modifier will be more likely to fail, as will someone who is already slightly insane.  

I would probably apply a DC of 10 for most circumstances, unless they were especially horrifying. Of course, each character may have their own weaknesses that might call for a higher DC. In addition, they may have unusual phobias of situations that might not normally call for a fear check. The halfling may have a fear of heights, or the plate clad dwarf that doesn't know how to swim may cringe at the sight of a boat. 

For those still waiting for their Players Handbook, the levels run as follows:

  1. Disadvantage on ability checks (eg. too jittery to pick the lock well)
  2. Speed halved (eg. looking over their shoulder, tripping over their feet)
  3. Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws (eg. seriously panicked and unable to think clearly)
  4. Hit point max halved (eg. nervous breakdown)
  5. Speed reduced to zero (eg. hiding immobile in a corner from the terrors all around)
  6. Permanent insanity (eg. taking off all their clothes and running screaming through the night)

These effects would be distinct from actually being "frightened", which is a separate condition with its own rules. "Frightened" refers to being afraid of one creature, whereas these insanity conditions are more general.

To recover, a short rest would be enough to bump a character down a level of insanity, and a long rest should be sufficient to wipe out accumulated levels completely (except for permanent insanity).

I hope this will add a bit of extra flavour to our campaign, where physical damage isn't the only potential negative outcome. I'm anticipating that my group of low level adventurers will be nervously opening every door, and daring each other to peek around corners for fear of what my lie around them.

Any thoughts or suggestions are much appreciated.