A character botches a Hack and Slash roll against a monster with Messy Forceful claws.

A character botches a Hack and Slash roll against a monster with Messy Forceful claws.

A character botches a Hack and Slash roll against a monster with Messy Forceful claws. You decide that it is time for the character to lose an arm (due to the “Messy” tag). Would you do damage AND have it rip the arm off? Or just rip the arm off (doing no damage)?

22 thoughts on “A character botches a Hack and Slash roll against a monster with Messy Forceful claws.”

  1. Unless you are the Black Knight of course!

    That said perhaps you should start a little lighter like taking a finger or something temporary, such as:

    “Your own blood sprays into your face from the vicious claw attack, blinding you. Defy Danger vs WIS to act.”

  2. I’d ask myself “self, does having an arm violently ripped off by this monster place this character closer to death right at this moment than they would be after healing from a careful surgical amputation?”

    The answer is “hell yes”, so I would inflict damage as well.

  3. I would do the damage, and if it resulted in the character’s death, I might make “coming back with one arm” part of the bargain. I don’t think I would ever arbitrarily remove a limb. I’d want the player to buy in.

    Alternatively, I’d make them choose it in active play: “Look, this attack is incredibly messy. This thing is going to tear you apart. Either you’re unconscious from shock and blood loss, and the creature is dragging you back to its lair, or you’re taking its damage and losing an arm. Up to you.”

  4. Damage should be dealt as the fiction requires it. low Damage on thus would be a clean cut, high damage the arm was pulled out of socket with veins and muscles trailing it before they too snap off

  5. I recently did a limb loss move without rolling damage.  In hindsight, I should have done damage AND the limb loss.  It just feels “right”

    The scene ended up playing out perfect anyway but in the future I am probably going to lean toward doing Both.  

    Each situation can be unique though.  If you are fighting Elves with Lightsabers then you can loose limbs all day without blood loss =)

  6. Oh, yeah, that’s another option: on the fly custom move.

    On a 7-9, pick one. On a 10+, pick three:

    -you remain conscious

    -you don’t take damage

    -your limbs are all intact

    -you’re not in shock, healing will be normal

  7. Regarding messy in genral it is not always limb loss a broken spine so the char can’t walk, puncture to the lung. Defy danger con to act or start drowning in your own blood, or damage to an eye or even a worse fate…. Like removal of the jaw or just muscle shredded and the limb is useless

  8. Ovy Ortega not without Damage, but without a loss of HP. If a wound is grievous enough, I’d say it’s fair to simply take the character out of combat; they’re on the verge of death…  they’re done until they can get help.

    Adjusting HP would only really be beneficial if you plan on chopping a player character’s arm off AND STILL letting them act in combat.

    That 2nd scenario feels a lot more Monty Python to me (which, incidentally is OK in my books).

  9. A severed arm is likely fatal, so I wouldn’t take it unless the damage is mortal or nearly so. If the damage is moderate, I’d have the monster begin to rend the arm and inform the player exactly what is happening. This allows the player some agency in his fate. Generally I don’t like to cripple characters without player buy in, but if he had fair warning (or he’s dying anyway) it’s fair game.

    Also, Defy Danger is being suggested almost like a saving throw. My understanding is that moves are only triggered as the result of player action, not imposed by the GM. I only use Defy Danger if there is a chance that by taking an action you are potentially exposing yourself to something bad.

    I would probably handle it something like this:

    GM: The monster finishes with Joe the Redshirt and turns to you. Seeing what it did to Joe you figure it is likely to tear your limbs off! What do you do? [first warning]

    PLAYER: I duck under the claws and slash open its belly to disembowel it! Got a 9, damage is 6.

    GM: Your sword slices into its belly, but not enough to open it up. The monster seems to hardly notice, and grabs your arm in its jaws. You feel a little sick its teeth scrape on the bone. It shakes its head, savaging the arm, and you feel the bones in your elbow coming apart. Roll a 2d10 for damage. What do you do? [second warning]

    PLAYER: 10 damage. Ouch. I scream “let go” and stab my sword into its neck! Oh no, got a 5…

    GM: Mark an XP. Your elbow gives way and the monster tears off the arm with a savage twist of its head. The Stump is a mass of twisted and torn flesh, and blood sprays everywhere. The world spins and time seems to slow down, and you realize you are going to bleed to death. Roll another 2d10 for damage. What do you do?

    PLAYER: 13 damage. I’m almost dead! Is it going to swallow my arm?

    GM: Yes.

    PLAYER: Okay I grab the arm out of its mouth.

    GM: Blood is spurting out with every heartbeat and you’re in shock. You’ll have to Defy Danger, and if you fail you’ll take 1d6 bleeding damage.

    PLAYER: It’s worth the risk. Got 7 on Defy Danger. And took 2 damage. Still alive, barely.

    GM: Your knees give way and you fall in a pool of your own blood, clutching your arm. You feel strangely lightheaded and your vision dims. Player2, the monster is now looking at you, preparing to strike. Player1 is bleeding out, and will keep taking damage, but if you help him the monster will likely bite you. What do you do? [hard decision: Defy Danger to help player 1, or hack and slash with the monster, or something else?]

  10. Personally, I would start with a soft move or hard choice first. Telegraph the shit out of the possible limb loss before you do it. But that’s just me.

    Forewarned is fore armed!

  11. Scott Alvarado, agreed, for this hard move to make sense, you would need to play a soft move prior. Maybe you’ve called out that there are a number of skeletons in he vicinity without limbs, for example. 

  12. Ya, obviously I am going to foreshadow the limb loss. I am not a complete dick 🙂 The story was simplified. My questions was just “Is HP loss on top of limb loss just adding insult on injury, or is that just going with the fiction?”

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