Monday, December 23, 2019

Confirming Death in AD&D

One thing skirmish games have, generally, are rules for checking if lost skirmishers are really dead. Oh sure, your archer/ork/barbarian hireling/apprentice wizard/familiar got killed in the battle, but are they really dead?

You go and roll on a table, or make another check, etc. to see if they're dead.

I think that in D&D/AD&D games, this might be a useful way to go. You "die" at -0 HP. Unless you get taken straight to complete death (-10 HP in AD&D, different scores in different variations and house rules), you're merely out of the fight (and the adventure.)

But you might not be dead.

An arbitrary random table might work. He's one that's cribbed from games like Frostgrave and others.

Roll 1d20:

1-3 Dead
4-6 Lose 1 from any chosen attribute or from permanent HP total.
7-9 Badly Wounded: Temporarily reduce Movement to 75% of normal and HP to 75% of total.
10-12 Unconcious: Character was only unconscious. Reduce movement and max HP to 75% of total for the current adventure only.
13-18 Fine, fully recovers between adventures.
19 Unconscious - recovers to 1 HP immediately and is ready to continue adventuring.
20 Stunned - recovers to HP total prior to the final hit, and is ready to continue adventuring.

Alternatively, you can make it a targeted roll. Say, target is roll under your level + CON bonus:

Make with a 1: Recover after the immediate combat with 1 HP.
Make it: Recover after the adventure, fully.
Miss by 1-3: Movement and max HP are 75% normal for next adventure.
Miss by 4-6: Recover after the adventure, but wounded badly - lost 1 from any chosen attribute or from permanent HP total.
Miss by 7+: Dead!

Or just roll System Shock right then and there. Fail it? Dead. Succeed? Alive and needs to recover between sessions.

I haven't playtested these or fully explored the ideas, but I figured I'd get it out on my blog and see who can do more with it.


  1. I think such tables are perfectly acceptable.

    1. Thanks! It means a lot to me that you think so. I think they need work, but the idea seems a reasonable one.

  2. These tables remind me of the Incapacitation rolls in Savage Worlds when a character exceeds 3 Wounds. In that game Extras have a flat 50/50 chance of surviving after being Incapacitated (while Wild Cards roll on the table for more effects, and outright death is very hard to get).

    I've played with similar rules in OD&D. In BD&D it is usually "dead at 0" by the book but I ran it as "incapacitated at 0, and the DM will decide what ultimately happens to you by how you got incapacitated." In AD&D and later games on that lineage there are official rules for negative hit points being a dying state. In AD&D 0, -1, and -2 are unconscious and bleeding with death at -10 from blood loss but reach -3 or lower directly from damage and you are straight dead. I always found that too complicated and the AD&D2 / D&D 3E rules much better: 0 is unconscious and stable, -1 to -9 is unconscious and bleeding, -10 is outright dead. But I think the System Shock mechanic is perfectly suited for this purpose. I would have liked to see a SS roll after combat ends for anyone that reached 0 hit points (don't track negatives). Failed roll and the character is dead while a successful roll means the character will live but is out of action for some significant time.

    What I never liked was the yo-yo mechanic: character goes down dying, receives a minor healing spell and stands back up instantly and continues fighting with no sign anything bad happened (repeat multiple times in a row in some D&D 3E games I played in).


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...