Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Perpetual Dilemma Of Falling Damage


Most of the writing I'm doing for the game right now focuses on specific situations that may arise over the course of a campaign: i.e., chases, disease, encumbrance, etc.  All of it will be considered optional rules, offered for the BM as suggestions.

In that vein, I've decided to bring back the falling damage rules as they were apparently meant to be: with a geometric progression of damage dice, rather than a linear one.  Here's the text for the section on "Climbing & Falling": 
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Climbing sheer surfaces requires a Tough Trickster lore check. “Sheer surface” is defined as any surface without clear hand-holds or other protrusions.  Some species receive bonuses to their climb checks, detailed in their species description, and of course any character with levels in Trickster lore will have a great advantage here.


Any creature who flies under her own power and suffers an attack while airborne that inflicts 50 percent or more of her total maximum HP should make a Challenging Trauma save, or fall to the ground.

There are two ways a BM can model the physical consequences of falling.  One method should be chosen and used consistently.

Characters and creatures suffer compounded damage from falling, 1d5 [1d6] for each 10 feet.  In other words, falling 10 feet inflicts 1d5 [1d6] damage, while falling 20 feet inflicts 1d5 [1d6] + 2d5 [2d6], falling 30 feet inflicts 1d5 [1d6] + 2d5 [2d6] + 3d5 [3d6], and so on.  This geometric progression continues to a maximum of 21d5 [21d6], which represents terminal velocity.

Alternately, the BM can choose a particular height as a threshold, and rule that any character who falls that distance or greater and hits the ground needs to make a Trauma save or be instantly killed. A successful save means she suffers 1d5 [1d6] damage per 10 ft. fallen (in a linear progression), to a maximum of 20d5 [20d6] for falls of 200 ft. or more.

This second method can assign Threat Levels to the Trauma save based on every 10 feet fallen, like so:

Table 4.2:  Falling Distance and Trauma Save Threat Levels 
Distance Fallen                                 Threat Level 
10 ft.                                                   Easy 
20 ft.                                                   Average 
30 ft.                                                   Tough 
40 ft.                                                   Challenging 
50 ft.                                                   Formidable 
60 ft.                                                   Heroic 
70 ft. +                                                Epic
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Falling damage is a difficult thing to model in an RPG, because the real-life situation seems so arbitrary.  Sometimes, people die simply while tripping over a curb and landing the wrong way, while someone else survives a fall from thousands of feet after their parachute doesn't open.

Still, the consequences of falling in the real world are terrifying for most people to contemplate, and the same should be true of characters in a fantasy world.  So these suggested rules are meant to address that.  Sure, they're arbitrary, but then, aren't all rules?

2 comments:

  1. creature who flies under her own power and suffers an attack while airborne

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