Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wounds

Let's talk Wounds.  My first experience with them was playing in the Star Wars RCR (Revised Corrected Revision or somesuch) where a player character had Vitality Points (Basically hit points that could also be used to power your Force Wizardry) and Wounds which equaled your constitution score.  Wounds represented how much actual damage you could take and not simply avoid.  For those situations where being hit was unavoidable.

This was pretty cool since people get maimed and chopped in half in Star Wars happened all the time.  It did have one tiny problem though.  You see a critical hit meant that you ignored Vitality and did damage straight to wounds.  Well that's not too terrible provided weapons did not do in excess of 10 damage per hit (they did, frequently).  Now your constitution was anywhere between 3 and 18 if you were a real man or  in the 8-18 range if you rely on point buy tomfoolery.  So when that 3d6 blaster pistol deals damage directly to your 3d6 generated constitution, well, things generally didn't end well.  In the first session of our first campaign the resident sniper critically hit Darth Maul and successfully atomized his head.  We decided to stop using wounds after that.

Still that was not the end of wounds.  In my homebrew game I've been fiddling around with ideas that allow people to navigate through the tumultuous tides of hit points to successfully sucker punch someone knocking them out or to allow an assassin to take out unsuspecting victims without relying on percentage based mechanics.  In my game all heroic character have wounds equal to two stats representing health and hardiness (Non-heroics including minions and mook generally have lower stats and no hit points making it likely for even the begging player character to one shot them without relying on 1HP monsters).   In most cases a character's wounds just acted as additional hit points improving survivability of starting characters without relying on the Triple hit dice SAGA uses.  However, wounds have a much more insidious purpose; whenever you critically hit a target on a surprise attack you deal damage directly to wounds. Replicating the mechanic but adding another requirement (surprise attack) changes this from random death blows to planned random death blows.  A small difference but still a difference.

This allows anyone with a great deal of luck to take out even an important or legendary figure.  Since there are a few ways to initiate a surprise attack outside of the surprise round the odds of these wounding attacks can be improved by careful allocation of character resources lending credence to certain archetypes (Assassin, Spy and Scoundrels spring to mind.)  There are also a few other ways to deal damage directly to wounds, poisons, coup-de-grace and mortal wounds (think uber crits) also fit the bill.

Sum it all up and it introduces a healthy dose of lethality to the game.  I hope this rendition addresses the flaws in the previous encountered incarnation but the only way to find out is to test it out on my players.  I'll consider it a success if they grant me the title of killer DM again.

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Here's a quick  house rule for Saga edition players looking to add wounds back into their game and increase the perceived lethality of a lightsaber.

A character's wounds are equal to their constitution plus their heroic character level.
Optional: You can set first level HP to the maximum of a single classes HD.
On a critical hit a lightsaber deals half of its damage to the target's Wounds.
Note: Lightsabers do not benefit from a Strength modifier to damage.
Lightsabers deal maximum damage to targets with 0 Hit Points.
Optional: Mooks (Non-Heroics) do not have Hit Points merely wounds.
This turns the lightsaber into a weapon of awe against minions as it hacks droids in two and takes the arms off of walrus men at cantinas.