How do you handle unconsciousness in your games?

How do you handle unconsciousness in your games?

How do you handle unconsciousness in your games? It seems the rules don’t have some method for handling non lethal damage (aside from perhaps stunning?). While I don’t necessarily want to create new rules and tack all that on, I am interested in how you handle these type of things in your own games. Do PCs or NPCs ever get knocked unconscious before they hit 0 hit points? Do players get angry that they are knocked out? (But I have Hit Points left!). 

Please share your thoughts and experiences! Thank you!

10 thoughts on “How do you handle unconsciousness in your games?”

  1. In our last game the clockpunk pistol whipped a guard from behind. He was unconscious. Period. It was all in the fiction, and nothing to do with hitpoints. 

  2. If forget what exact phrasing from the rules is, but getting knocked out (and captured or whatever because of it) certainly falls under being put in a hard spot.

  3. That’s an excellent example – the equivalent of a move reading something like “When you approach undetected and totally brainpain a dude…”

    Another example would be throwing a status effect on an already battered player, the way the Ranger’s Called Shot  (“Head: the target stands there drooling”) works. It can be interpreted as one way of Putting them in a Spot where you could say something like, “Yeah, Bjorn doesn’t dodge the swinging log trap – it knocks his helm right off and he falls over to the side with an awkward wobble. You’re completely out of it for a bit. Everyone else, what do you do?”

  4. I’ve used this in play, for what it’s worth. A player did something aggravating and the NPC shouted for the guards who were already there, searching her house. They weren’t going to slaughter a minor troublemaker and the player wasn’t going to try and take on a whole patrol of guards with nothing to work in his favor. So we cut back to him later:

    “They must have given you a good beating, considering how much it hurts every time your head bounces against the flank of the mule. Oh, wait, what? You appear to be bound wrists-to-ankles, thrown over the back of a pack mule. You can’t make out what they’re saying thanks to the ringing in your ears. What do you do?”

  5. I’ve used what I think is the D&D (recent edition) rule of knocking the character out when they get to 0HP if they’re attacking with the intention of knocking the target out. The target was quite aware he was being attacked, and I wanted there to be a chance of missing or glancing blows that didn’t instantly K.O. him, or whatever.

    Which is what happened; the glancing blow from the tankard (1 HP damage) left him active, he called for help, and was murdered with a Magic Missile from an impatient player.

  6. I’ve used the same method as Adrian Brooks.  If the PCs are clearly attacking with the intent (and means) to KO, deal damage as normal. If they drop the foe to 0 hp, they’re KO’d.  If someone gets antsy and hucks a spear at them, 0 hp = dead (or at least bleeding out).

  7. Great suggestions. Thanks! 

    I was originally thinking this could be a hard move in cases where the player is about to run out of HP from an attack, but the attackers would rather capture them or incapacitate them instead of killing them outright.

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