Totally new to DMing; how exactly do I attack my players with pointed or bladed weapons?

Totally new to DMing; how exactly do I attack my players with pointed or bladed weapons?

Totally new to DMing; how exactly do I attack my players with pointed or bladed weapons? Getting hit with a pickax or a sword is extremely dangerous, but given the (smallish) amount of HP they take off, I’m not sure how to describe someone hitting the PC with a pickax and doing 3 damage, for example, especially when that PC has 16 health or more. I can’t really envision a situation where getting slashed or stabbed could be so barely harmful. 

18 thoughts on “Totally new to DMing; how exactly do I attack my players with pointed or bladed weapons?”

  1. Sooooo tempted to make a joke about attacking players with pointed and bladed weapons… 🙂

    But as to your question, you can describe it as “a vicious slash that you manage to almost jump away from, the blade leaving a shallow laceration across your chest, take 3 damage”.  Or “the spear grazes your shoulder and slices open a small wound, but thanks to your quick reflexes it fails to pierce your torso as the orc obviously intended, take 1 damage”.

  2. And remember, they don’t just have to take damage from a single foe when they attack. Did the Barbarian jump into a group of a dozen orcs, then roll a 6 on his hack and slash? How about the orcs knock him down and hold him there, not letting him swing that big sword of his?

  3. Also HP is often portrayed as more abstract than that. Its not really the physical integrity of a character. It is a representation of how close they are to taking a mortal wound. A character that still has a lot of HP is spry his armor’s still intact and he’s taken no or only minor wounds. A character who is low on HP likely has tears in his armor or clothing. He is breathing heavy, moving slower, and likely has at least one semi-serious cut or contusion. And most importantly he’s much more likely to slip and let his enemy impale or decapitate him.

  4. Tom Miskey, your answer helps me out I think. I guess I’m too used to playing MMOs where your character stands there and takes every sold hit that comes his way; I hadn’t thought about how much a person’s going to move about to keep something pointy and dangerous away from him. 

    Josh Harden, it sounds like you’re suggesting PCs taking a penalty to rolls as HP got lower and they get more worn down, beat up, and tired?

  5. No no. That’s what debilities are for. Think in the narrative. Imagine two knights sparring. One bedecked in blazing silver armor. The other encapsulated in dull matte black. They go at one another with gusto. At first they are both full of energy. Deftly swinging and parrying almost in time with one another. (This is full HP) Then as the duel continues they begin to slow. The black knight received a nasty chop to his calve denting the armor there and deadening his leg with pain. The white knight took a pomel to the helm and his ears are still ringing. Neither fighter is yet tired enough to fall but their movements are becoming more clumsy and its only a matter of time before one makes that crucial mistake. (say half HP) More blows are exchanged. Blood now trickles across the white knight’s face from a cut above his left eye. The black knight has lost his right gauntlet entirely and the exposed hand is the recipient of a viscious gash. Finally, they stand across from one another silent and staring, completely worn down. Each knowing that whatever comes next its desperate. Each wondering who will make that critical mistake. They charge. The white knight sends his sword high and stabs down. The black knight swings low. Impossibly, both strikes ring true. The white knight impaling the black and the black knight eviscerating the white. They collapse. (0 HP)

    I guess another way to put it is if you think of it this way HP is shorthand for how close to making that fatal mistake a character is. So when you describe an attack that does 3 damage the level of damage doesn’t matter as much as how much HP it leaves the recipient with. So a character who has full HP and is hit for 3 damage? He took a glancing blow that marked his shield but no actual harm was done. A character takes 3 damage and is now at less than half HP? That could be a superficial wound of some sort. Took 3 damage and it killed you? That blow struck your head from it’s shoulders.

  6. Here is the, admittedly short, explanation of HP from the book. Note the first sentence.

    “A character’s HP is a measure of their stamina, endurance, and health. More HP means the character can fight longer and endure more trauma before facing Death’s cold stare.”

  7. I had a character who lost more clothes the more he was hurt, like Samurai Jack.  Hair got tussled, got covered in dirt, and when he was down to 3hp he got a single slash on his cheek.

  8. Not every hit with a weapon has to kill. It’s possible to be hurt without being dead. It’s true that Dungeon World doesn’t represent debilitating effects from simply being hurt, but that’s partially because it’s meant to emulate D&D, which didn’t do that either.

    So it can be any kind of wound that hurts but doesn’t actually take you out. For example: “The pickaxe hits you right in the shoulder! It hurts really bad, but it doesn’t seem to hit any bone. The adrenaline rages through your body. What do you do?”

  9. Also, watch the result and turn it in fiction. 3 HPs loss? “The assassin try to stab you a couple of times with his knives, meanwhile his body is freaking close to yours… Finally he hits you with a dirty headbutt!”

  10. Figured I’d comment here instead of a new thread:

    What does it mean for the Bandit and Adventurer NPCs (under Folk of the Realm in the rulebook) to have 3hp? If HP is ‘how far are you from a fatal mistake’, does it mean they’re so inexperienced a single mistake on their part likely spells death? That they don’t really know how to avoid a hit?

  11. Joshua Saville all of those things. And, as Sage has pointed out before, the PCs are the best of the best. While a bandit may only have 3 hit points, The Thief is much tougher.

  12. People can die from a small-caliber gunshot to the foot, others can walk themselves to a hospital after a large caliber gunshot to the head. PCs are the latter. That 3 HP hit doesn’t have to be a headbutt; it can be a serious stab through the torso. But a PC can survive that kind of damage (unless it’s the 4th stab through the torso on the same day).

  13. Oh, and don’t forget: A sword isn’t dangerous because its a sword.Its dangerous because The Paladin brandishes it at you and is filled with the flame of truth.

Comments are closed.