Wound Moves

Wound Moves

Wound Moves

Spurred by another conversation about removing HP (and stats in general) from *world games, I started thinking about how wounds could be portrayed as temporary, detrimental moves.

For example;

Broken Arm

Your arm is broken. When you do or experience something that would cause you pain because of your broken arm roll+CON. Take +2 if your arm is somehow stabilized. On a +10 you grit your teeth and pull through. On a 7-9 you still pull through, but your arm is bashed or shaken in the progress. Take 1d4 damage that ignores armor.

I realize this will lead to an unnecessary granularity, and it would probably bog down the flow  of the game and make it unplayable. I thought the thought exercise was nice though, as making the moves forces you to consider how detrimental these kinds of injuries are to a character, helping you to improvise on the fly.

Note the “take +2” bonus; I thought it was nice to include an explicit way to overcome the most gruesome effects.


32 thoughts on “Wound Moves”

  1. There are some alternate harm rules floating around that do much As you say. Unfortunately I forget what they were named right now. We used them in Rachel E.S. Walton ‘s campaign…

  2. We added a second level of Debility to our game, so you could end up with a -2 penalty to a stat. Worked well but I would caution that in DW rolling a stat with a -2 is just begging for trouble.

    Also I ran a one-shot, gritty near-future hack that handled all damage as ever increasing debilities. Players were told that in addition to the normal results (10+, 7-9, 6-) a roll of 0 or less could result in death/coma/incarceration or some other character ending circumstance. Worked out good for a one-shot.

  3. Adrian Brooks First of all, player moves only apply to players.

    Second, DW surely does not even try to make HP a realistic scale of what an average person can survive. If that was the case, a goblin should deal significantly more damage than a mere d6. It’s wielding a spear! 😉

  4. My problem with your move is that you’d need one for every type of conceivable injury. I’d go for one or two moves, with a list of choices (10+, you choose one ; 7-9, the GM choses one ; 6-, you’re screwed).

  5. on damage

    It threatens bruises and scrapes at worst: d4 damage

    It’s likely to spill some blood, but nothing horrendous: d6 damage

    It might break some bones: d8 damage

    It could kill a common person: d10 damage

  6. Kasper Brohus Allerslev What’s wrong with a D6 for a spear? A common person has 3 HP, so a spear strike does enough damage to kill them more often than not. That doesn’t look unreasonable to me.

    The list Tim quotes (the descriptions, anyway) looks dodgy on this principle, I’ll grant you.

  7. Tim’s list if official – it’s somewhere in the book.

    What I think Kasper means is that, playing with ho HP, you’d have to acknowledge that a spear is capable of killing anybody. Which would make a puny gobelin much more dangerous to a player character. 

  8. Well no. How deadly a goblin spear is depends on the fiction. When you play “exalted” then you don’t care. If you play “Song of Ice and Fire” then it ruins your day. 

  9. My problem lately is a lack of certainty on when I should do cool awesome fiction things (remove limbs) in addition to damage or just do one or the other. When is it fair? When is it not. To be specific, if a Sahaguin uses Bite Off a Limb when a PC’s roll lets it make an attack, is it fair to also do damage? Or better, under what circumstances is it fair to also do damage.

    My PCs are passing level 10 now and they tend to succeed a lot. Our fictional world is definitely leaning more toward superheroness than toward gritty. I think I want to push back toward gritty, but I don’t want to jar their sensibilities.

  10. Eric Nieudan I know, that’s what I meant when I said it would become too granular.

    Also, for everyone else: I realize that most people would want to use defy danger for these things, as that would be easier. I wouldn’t use it myself either, I just thought of it as an experiment.

  11. Adrian Brooks Whether or not HP is an accurate estimate of what a typical person can survive was almost considered flame bait on the D&D forums back in the day. People almost died on those battlefields 😉

    Saying that a common person only has 3 hp is correct. He’s only dangerous in a horde since he does not have any true combat training. On the flipside, claiming that 21 hp means that you can withstand 7 times as much punishment as a common person is totally bonkers IMO.

    No one is that tough. A spear to the heart can (and will) kill anyone.

  12. Kasper Brohus Allerslev An elvish warrior only has 3 hp, too.

    My only disagreement with you is that I don’t think the damage is underpowered, it’s the Heroes have stupidly high hitpoints. But then, they’re heroes, they’re fantastically resilient. There needs to be some mechanism which stops heroes (if sensible) dying to the first goblin they meet, which is no fun.

    Of course, you may be not talking about heroic rpgs, in which case you’re maybe asking in the wrong place.

  13. Adrian Brooks I will never play DW as if the heroes were superhuman. Our difference in opinion stem from the fact that you (seemingly) consider HP to be an exact scale of measurement, whereas I consider it an abstract measure that doesn’t translate very well into anything in the real world.

  14. Kasper Brohus Allerslev technically the authors said that hp of PCs represent the actual physical endurance but I agree with your interpretation of luck fate and grit

  15. Kasper Brohus Allerslev Of course I don’t think it an exact scale. It’s an abstraction, obviously.

    Have you ever played Rolemaster? Every wound detailed, say, arrows cutting your carotid artery, broken bones, etc, tables categorised by weapon types, and (if I remember correctly) cross referenced against target armour. Right up your alley. Pages of tables, though, and tricky to convert that to *world. Likewise, hordes of damage results.

  16. I’m not sure you understood my OP. I explicitly stated this might useful be as an exercise, not something that was to be used.

    I have no interest in making use of a long list of such moves, and consequently Rolemaster doesn’t interest me in the slightest. I’m not sure how you got that idea.

    All your posts however indicates to me that you consider HP as a scale of measurement.

    “A common person has 3 hp.”

    “An elvish warrior only has 3 hp, too.”

    “My only disagreement with you is that I don’t think the damage is underpowered, it’s the Heroes have stupidly high hitpoints.”

    Especially the last comment doesn’t make sense in my head if you didn’t consider it a scale of measurement, because you actually compare two values and conclude that heroes have stupid high hit points.

    Note that I never used the wording ” exact measure”. It can still be a scale of measure without being exact. In that case it’s an estimate.

    I don’t even consider HP a fictional measure at all. In my head it’s entirely a mechanical measure meant to tell the people around the table how close a character is to rolling for Last Breath.

    The event that reduces the character to 0 HP is originates in the fiction, meaning that 6 damage might not mean the same in the fiction when reducing you from 24 hp to 18, as when it reduces you from 3 to 0.

    In this case, being reduced to 18 hp from 24 could mean that you received a whack to your helmet. Being reduced to 0 could mean that your skull cracked and brain fluids started leaking.

    As such, the scale measure doesn’t exist in the fiction, but we decide, case by case, what happened to the character more based on how the damage was dealt than how much damage he took, and of course whether this reduced the character to 0 hp or not.

    I understand that the above paragraph is entirely subjective, but there is no rule declaring what 3 hp means, but by your logic, combined with the chart Tim Franzke referred to, “bruises and scrapes” kills a commoner about half the time.

    I’m pretty sure you don’t believe that, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t intended to mean that. I just believe that HP is so heavily abstracted that it doesn’t mean anything in itself, but we just choose to impart circumstantial meaning to it.

  17. You’re right, I suppose. There’s a scale of weapon vs squishy commoner that feels about right to me, and Tims table of effect vs hero I’m more dubious about. The 3 HP hero might allow for more consistency…

    Back to the O.P.; Tags, not moves. The character is tagged “Arm broken”, and let fiction do the rest. Short fiction, if tagged “Carotid Slashed”

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