Finally, a post with labels that are precisely descriptive!
Last night, the gang returned to the junglified Caves of Chaos. They'd cleared out the goblin lair over the last two sessions, and were on the hunt for more gold. Everyone's still level 1, because of a TPK early on and a small platoon of mercenaries I gave them as a quest reward, which suck up XP even at half shares.
Entering the ogre cave, they attempt nonverbal communication, but nobody speaks Adrastian jungle ogre. So Benesek, the faithful mercenary, rolls a 74 on his death chart - losing his face and most of his jaw. Now he's Benesek the Ugly, who heroically took the ogre's 1 attack before the mob brought it down.
They search the cave for 20 minutes, after I accidentally say "There isn't anything you've found yet," instead of "There doesn't seem to be anything there" and discover the secret door. They take the staircase up to the hobgoblin caves, and kick down the door at the top, finding a large room and surprising the 13 hobgoblins there.
They kill one, win initiative, and kill another one. There's six goblins in melee combat with the mercenaries' front line. 5 hits, roll for damage.
Four sixes and a five.
The entire front line goes down. The PC's - a ranger and his warhound, a cleric, and a wizard, now have to pull swords and jump in. More mercenaries are incapacitated. One loses an arm - roll for % of arm cut off, starting from wrist? 0-0. A hobgoblin prepares to stab the dog, and the ranger opts to take the blow. I inform him that the goblin does 1d6 damage, he has 5 HP, and the dog has 7, but he does it anyway.
Max damage. Rolled a 95. Now his gray matter is really getting that chance to commune with nature. Not quite dead, but 50-100% memory loss. (By the way, the roll for additional memory loss? 0-2. Only 52%.) He starts rolling up a new character.
The party kills all but the last two hobgoblins, does triage, feeds two healing potions to the ranger, and then scrams.
The grand casualty total was 6 - two concussions, one hand lost, one face and jaw lost, one mercenary with both eyes ripped out, one instant death from a stab directly to the heart, and the aforementioned head crushed. The ranger would normally have -8 CHA, halved WIS and INT, the 51% amnesia (and XP loss), but I've been allowing people to use potions to alleviate injuries if they forgo HP regeneration. I ruled that you can heal most of the CHA damage and the brain injuries(but not all, there are limits to magical regeneration) with two healing potions, but the amnesia is incurable.
I think the death tables have been working out pretty well. I only have one sheet, and push it all the way to to the other end of the table, so as to force the players to roll and look up their own results. The "% arm cut off" and "% memory loss" rolls also caused great consternation - figuring out the exact details of your grievous injury helps give said injury some impact. The tables have so far been fairly forgiving, since the two sessions we've used them have produced probably 10 or 11 rolls but only 2 deaths. But the risk is always present, even with +0. Exactly the feel I think 0HP should have.
The details have also helped everyone come up with methods of triage. Right now, I have stabilization actions universally take 5 rounds, less your DEX modifier, and less 1 if bandages are prepared. We had two mercenaries who were supposed to bleed out faster than that, but one was healed by a laborer who'd rolled up with a +2 DEX mod, and the other I gave a 90% chance of success, since the bleedout time wasn't that much lower than the stabilization time. It worked well for last night - 5 rounds really takes someone out of combat, but there's usually guaranteed success in return for giving up that many actions. And the % chance really adds to the "critical case" feel for the most brutal bleed effects.
Though last night was a pretty straightforward brawl, with little to do but rolling hits, damage, and death results, there's been enough room in previous sessions for innovation, even more than I might have expected for a gang of all-level 1 characters. The goblins were annihilated by the players conspiring to lure them out into an ambush and traps, with pretty minor casualties. The high-casualty "meeting engagement" that occurred last night was a good introduction to the capabilities of the hobgoblins and was a greatly enjoyable mindless bloodbath.