Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Wake up! Time to die!

Anybody remember my Brythunian Age journal project? I got about 30 pages written in the journal before I lost steam. That's about 25 more pages of prep than I have ever done for a campaign prior to running it. Much of the information in the journal is in the form of charts and random dice tables. I've already shared my naughty goblin dice chart with you, but here's another one that I worked up. The idea behind this chart was to introduce some dramatic near-death experiences into the lives of the PCs.

Death's Door
PCs and important NPCs roll a d6 on this chart when their supply of hit points has been completely exhausted. 1st level PCs add one to the roll.

1) Dead as a doornail. Only Raise Dead or Reincarnation can help now.

2) Mostly Dead, just like in The Princess Bride. Character can take no actions until revived by magic. Cure Light Wounds or a healing potion have a 50% chance of reviving the character. Cure Serious Wounds always works. Revived characters are -4 on to-hits, saves, and damage for d12 days.

3) Major Wound . Knocked unconscious for 3d6 turns. Loss of d6 stat points, each point coming from a different random stat. Total debilitation for d6 months, after which time stat loss heals at a rate 1 point per month of complete rest. However, one point of stat loss is permanent. Weekly application of Cure Serious Wounds turns the months of convalescence into weeks, but offers no further assistance.

4) Bleeding Out. Unconscious d6 rounds. Must save vs. Death Ray every round for d6 rounds, then every turn for d6 turns, then every hour for d6 hours. Any failed save results in death. Any cure or a healing potion halts the bleeding. Someone taking one round to make a Wisdom check can slow the bleeding, bumping the time scale for saves to the next category.

5) Knocked Out. Awaken d6 turns later at 1 hit point. All attacks, damage rolls, and saves are at -2 until the character gets d12 days rest.

6-7) Close call. Character still has 1 hit point left. No other effect.

Back in February I used this chart for my crazy ten player Basic D&D con game. I thought it worked very well, and it kept us from having to make a bunch of additional PCs on the spot.


  1. That's a pretty interesting option, and I like the idea...but if 1 is "most severe" and 6-7 is "lucky break" (essentially), then shouldn't #2 be higher on the list? I would much rather have #2 than #3 or #4.

    #2 is still alive (and conscious? I would say of course not, but in the Princess Bride couldn't he still see/whisper?) and then at worst disabled for 12 days. At best, he can be back up on his feet with no negative effects after a single day.

    #3 is unconscious (bad), and potentially disabled for SIX MONTHS, another five months to heal the 5 temporary stat loss points, and on top of that, a permanant ability damage point. At best, you're looking at a week of debilitation, and then no time of stat point recovery since the stat loss point is permanent.

    #4 is unconscious (bad) but is easily remedied with magical healing. However, if not healed, you are looking at, at worst, EIGHTEEN death saves. Hardcore.

  2. It's unclear in my notes, but #2 assumes that you only get one 50% roll. And the chart is written for Basic/Expert D&D, where 1st level clerics have no spells, healing potions and spells can't be bought at the store, and Cure Serious is some pretty heavy duty magic. Imagine the logistical issues of getting your buddy's not-quite-dead body to the nearest high level cleric that will cast Cure Serious for you.

  3. Anonymous6:25 PM

    I wish I had seen this earlier. I've been playing AD&D and the whole negative hit point thing is a little dry and undramatic. Unfortunately I don't think my players would go for it now.