Monday, July 8, 2013

Drama and die size

For the past few sessions, I've been using the Good Hits and Bad Misses table, from Delta's D&D Hotspot for everyone's critical hits, and running handling death as no fighting at 0HP, bleeding out each round until -10HP, when you die.

I've noticed that the act of scrambling for percentile dice and looking up the result tends to add some drama to each critical or fumble - which is usually incommensurate with the fact that about 60% of the results are simply x2 or x3 damage. Which has made criticals and fumbles fairly anticlimactic.

On the other hand, death and incapacitation has been fairly low-key - the goblins and bats the PCs have been fighting never take more than a few rounds to kill, and it hasn't been difficult for someone in the rear of the party running back and stabilizing wounded individuals. Especially since I keep forgetting to keep track of people bleeding-out. I'm going to try to reverse these situations by using d20 tables for criticals and fumbles, and then using the Arduin Grimoire critical hit table as a 0HP "death and dismemberment" results table.

You roll a d20 on the appropriate table for crits and fumbles. "Special" results can be healed as a light wound, forgoing HP healing. When you hit 0HP, roll on the d100 table and apply the results. I reorganized the table so that, generally, worse effects are higher up on the list, allowing damage in excess of 0HP to be added to the roll. To my mind, this removes the need for an instant death threshold - the more overkill, the fewer merciful options available and the more likely it is you'll get Irrevocable Death. The tables are here.

Depending on the effect, I'll require a save vs. Paralyzation to retain consciousness, and since all the effects are actual injuries, I can leave healing/stabilization up to player decisions and creativity, in addition to my fading knowledge of First Aid merit badge.

Hopefully this retains the uncertainty and drama of crits/fumbles in combat that Delta discusses and makes hitting 0HP dramatic and terrifying.