Friday, September 13, 2013

Leave It In

This wouldn't be the first game rule to occur to me in a dream ... but then, I was on a percocet cloud when I conceived of the mass hit points per hit die rule, those being the pain killers I was on when I snapped my quadraceps tendon back in '08. Take note that the linked post was written on August 12; on the evening of August 8th I snapped the tendon, on August 9th I was in surgery and the night after the surgery I thought the idea up ... then had to wait three days to have the strength to write a post about it. Wrote that post laying on my back, touch-typing, percocet knocking the pain down.

About five hours ago I woke from a dream where I was sitting at table, running a game (yes, I do this in my sleep, too), spontaneously coming up with this combat suggestion. I don't think I'll run it though; my combat system is difficult enough as it is, and it is nothing like as good an idea as the mass thing was. Still ...

There's Boromir with three arrows stuck in him; Inigo Montoya with a dagger in his shoulder; Carrie White with a dagger in her back; King Arthur in Excalibur working his way down the spear to put it into Mordred. Images of people with weapons stuck in their bodies. Where's the rule for that?

Now, only a couple of days ago I was mentioning that hit points were exhaustion - except, of course, the last ones that actually kill the character. And I've just said I'm not going to use this rule, so I'm not screwing with my own perception ... but still, suppose we consider a rule that allows for certain weapons to remain in the body - stabbing, bladed weapons, including the spear and javelin, but discounting anything fat and blocky or heavy and cumbersome. The obvious mechanic for it would be the natural 20 on the die, indicating that the instrument thrown or used has sunk into some part of the body that - if it doesn't kill - pierces and sticks. Through Inigo's shoulder, say.

For anything thrown, that's simple enough ... but suppose the option for a stabbing weapon such as a sword or spear is to leave it in.

Most of my parties carry numerous weapons, so it wouldn't be any problem to pull something else; it might even increase the benefit of those weapons, so that the spear in particular increases in value not because it does more damage, but because it's harder to pull out than a dagger or a sword. I've always felt the spear got short-changed in the game.

Of course, it does say the uruchai rolled three 20s in succession when he shot Boromir, but I've had party members do that in a fight. Not impossible.

Rules, then. Does the weapon cause damage while it remains in the body? I'd say yes, if the victim continues to fight or take action beyond slowly moving away. A small weapon (dagger) would cause 1 damage per round; a medium weapon (short/long sword, javelin) would cause 2; and a spear or pike would cause 3 (mostly due to the long handle of the weapon which produces greater stress on the internal musculature/organs).

What effects does it cause to fight with it? I'd rather not increase the effect of the larger weapons by giving them a higher negative modifier, also; perhaps a random die roll, a d4, could be rolled for any weapon to determine the particular encumbrance the weapon is causing, thus removing the necessity of hit location and the like. "Ah, the spear seems to have gone through nothing vital, you're -1 to hit" or "The dagger has clearly hit something important; you're -4 to hit."

Difficulty of pulling out the weapon. A dagger takes half a round (in my game system, 2 action points, but that's only going to mean anything to my players); the medium weapon, a full round to remove it. For the spear, 2 rounds, and for the pike, perhaps 3. But this could be worked out by a random roll also. Keep in mind my rounds are 12 seconds, so if you're still using 1 minute rounds, it would probably be equal across the board.

Damage upon removing. It's tempting to say it causes a wound, but I have a system for that already, which I don't want to increase. I might argue for my own purposes that the wound doesn't start bleeding (-1 hit point per round) until the weapon is actually removed. On the other hand, massive bleeding all over the place might make a fun change to combat. I suppose I'd play it both ways and see how it went.

Sure would be a fast return to swords and other similar striking weapons, I think. It would be an especially great tactic for monks ... and clerics would definitely get the short end of it.


Kismet Korkmaz said...

Or the long end if they're particularly unlucky....

Kyle said...

I like the idea. Adds another step towards realism.

Only problem I have with it is arrows staying in the body on a critical roll. Wouldn't arrows, by their very nature, stay in the body on any hit? A critical with an arrow, I propose, would be a hit that completely exits the body, leaving a hole that could more easily bleed out, because there is not something to put a bit of pressure against the tissue.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Arrows can strike armor or the body obliquely as can any other weapon. It is Hollywood that produces the trope that all arrows hit square and straight, sticking out pleasantly and photographically - but if you think of the way armor or a helmet is curved, you'll realize that a great many arrows would hit hard but yet be deflected.

Kyle said...

That does make sense now. I have watched too many cartoons/movies that either show the arrow just grazing the body, or just hitting and sticking.

Anonymous said...

1st edition Runequest had a whole system around this ... I believe they called it "impalement." Interesting combat implications, not only for the wounded, but for the attacker who can no longer use the weapon (unless they dig it in deeper, or twist it around).

Alexis Smolensk said...

Runequest based the idea on a punishment - not being able to get your sword back, disarming yourself.

But most characters in my world carry several weapons, and can draw and use those weapons in the same round.

So I'm presenting it not as a random event in which you lose your sword, but a random event in which you critical, then CHOOSE to leave your sword there (drawing something else), or simply pulling your sword out.

Not Runequest.

Kismet Korkmaz said...

This was one of those ridiculous punishments in GURPS for using impaling weapons, and yet another reason I don't play GURPS.

I like the idea of having it as an option. I love options. It's also great for giving fighters 'effects' instead of straight damage.

JDJarvis said...

Having a hand weapon stuck in a foe isn't an advantage in combat, it's an unfortunate circumstance that folks really want to avoid. Sticking arrows, javelins, and such in a target is a perk becauuse they do continue to hamper/harm the foe at range.
In RQ impalemnet is more likely then a critical and is offset with the chance of losing a weapon. It works okay for RQ but when played straight RQ combat is often a comedy of errors.

JB said...

Regarding arrows...I would think that a high damage roll would be a better indication of the arrow (and possibly other weapons) hitting square and "sticking" than a high attack roll, since overall "quality of attack" is really a function of the damage roll, no?

I used a similar "bleeding" rule (1 point of damage per round) in the past for a maximum damage roll. My rounds are simpler than yours, but a character could spend one round to "stop the bleeding" (however you determine that).

(unrelated to the post: I used a similar "knockout" rule for blunt weapon attacks that scored a maximum damage to remain conscious)

kimbo said...

this is an interesting idea, additionally there is something to be said for weapons getting stuck fast in shields, clothing and worn equipment, even if there wasnt any damaging hit. Was it the Roman pilum that was specifically designed to stick in and bend upon entry to bodies and shields alike, encumbering the recipient and not being able to be thrown back?

You have rules for dropping the weapon (Nat 1), damaging/breaking (weapon clash on a 7, I think) and now getting stuck in (on a Nat 20).

But what about also dropping/losing the weapon on a hit, breaking/damaging the weapon on a hit, getting it stuck on a miss.

What if you had the secondary effects independent of the to-hit roll, say based on a second d20 rolled at the same time (crit die).

Then you can have six conditions: hits with good or bad added effect, misses with good or bad added effect, hits and misses with no added effect.

These secondary effects could depend on weapon type, quality and user proficiency. Some other effects could be attached to this second d20 for specific weapons: the disarming quality of certain polearms, the armour piercing quality of flanged mace or longsword used at "half sword", tangling effects of whips,rope or cloaks, the unhorsing effect of grounded polearms. The extent of the effect could be based on the damage die.

My first post, like the blog alot, appreciate the scholarship and the articulate straight talk. Makes me want to play 1e again after not gaming for 20yrs, shit it even makes me want to DM again, but better, much much better. K from the Duchy of Etela