House rules on damage and the consequences of such #DnD

So I recently was on the receiving end of a rather nasty burn, I started thinking about damage in dungeons and dragons.  Your players are always taking damage from one source or another, and while it’s their major concern, not a lot of detail is put into WHAT happens.

DM: Roll your save.

PC: Uh… I got a 17.

DM: Oh, so close, but you take 12 points of damage from the rolling ball of spiky flaming doom.

PC: Darn.  Heal me up, cleric!


Yeah, that’s how it goes.  But what about that flame damage?  Have you ever been burned?  It takes a LONG time to heal.  My not really so terrible burn on my hand is STILL healing a full three weeks after I set off a grill-based fire trap.  AND I made my reflex save to take half damage, it could have been worse.  So this got me thinking, why not make damage more realistic in D&D?

Burns take weeks, sometimes months to heal depending on their severity.  Salves and magic could speed it along, but what about the sub-dermal damage caused by heat?  Nerves can fry, muscles can cook themselves into near paralysis, and bones ache as the injured party member has to bind their arm across their chest to keep from moving it, putting pressure on the joints.  It’s with this in mind that I conjured up this little doozy of a house rule.

Damage heals differently and with different effects depending on the source:

Fire damage adds 1d4 days to the total for natural healing per 1d6 of fire damage taken and additionally reduces the PC’s total HP by 1/4 the total damage taken (no less than 1) and persists until natural healing of 1 point/day brings HP back to full.

Frost damage results in slow status on a failed save, halving speed, making it impossible to run and subjecting the PC to a -3 on reflex saves and initiative.  The chill also slows natural healing to half normal speed for 1d4 days per 1d6 of frost damage taken.

Shock damage causes muscles to spasm and lock, resulting in a 25% chance to not be able to move or take actions for 1d4 rounds per 1d6 of shock damage taken.  Electrical damage also addles the wits subjecting the victim to a -3 on will saves for 1d4 rounds.

Negative energy damage corrupts the flesh, dealing 1 point of constitution damage on a failed save and persisting for 1d4 days.  The foul energy also causes the victim to look sickly and sallow, incurring a -5 on all diplomacy and bluff saves.

On a failed save, positive energy damage causes the body to react in overdrive, the victim becoming twitchy and restless, acting hastily.  This adds a -1 to any roll due to the victims jittery nerves.  This persists for 1d4 days and affects sleeping/resting habits, causing the victim to become fatigued in half the normal time.

Physical damage reaction is calculated by location of the damage.  For each part of the body [legs, arms, head, chest] calculate 1/4 of the total HP for your PC.  On a called shot or direct hit, roll 1d6 [1-left leg, 2-left arm, 3-right leg, 4-right arm, 5-torso, 6-head] to determine the area damage is dealt to.  Armor does absorb a portion of the damage directly to the part of the body depending on its hardness.  At 1/2 HP for a body part it is broken, requiring 1d6 weeks to heal naturally.  At 0 HP, the limb is lost, requiring a regenerate miracle to restore the body.

Now that we can see how damage can negatively affect your PC beyond simple HP loss, let’s see how it can become beneficial to your player over a long period of time.

Upon healing naturally a total of 50 points of elemental based damage, the PC gains the feat Firekissed, Iceborn, Lightning Rod, Corrupted One, Godtouched, or Thickskin respectively

Effect: The hero gains resistance 5/fire as their skin thickens and becomes tougher.  They however take this with a -1 to Charisma

The hero gains resistance 10 to frost damage as their body acclimates to dealing with intense temperature drops.  This incurs a permanent -1 to reflex saves.

Lightning Rod
Prerequisite: Special
Effect: As a minor action, the hero can attract and redirect any shock-based damage that takes place in a burst 5, dealing 1/4 of the damage to themselves and dealing 3/4 to their intended target.

Corrupted One
In unholy places the hero has a +5 to defenses and saves and gains a resist 5 positive energy.  Their appearance however is sunken, and they cannot seem to gain weight as their bodies wither from the stains of their soul, taking a permanent -1 to Strength.

The hero gains +5 to attack and skill checks when on hallowed ground.  The infusion of sanctified power causes their body to radiate a faint light, imposing a -5 to any stealth checks.

The hero’s skin is traced with webbed scars telling of their many brushes with death.  They gain 5/- resistance to damage and a +5 to intimidate checks.  However their tough skin is not as flexible now, imposing a -1 to reflex saves and 1 less to their maximum speed.

So, we see how damage can be dealt, healed to add realistic consequences to the game, and how the heroes can become stronger by surviving it.    Of course this doesn’t effect how magical healing or potions can heal damage, but certainly adds an element of drama to that ordinary no-fuss flaming ball of spiky doom you threw at them last round.

~ by darkpatu on February 17, 2012.

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