Hit Locations for 4e
Sometimes we GMs want our players to suffer. We want their characters to feel the after effects and pain of battle, and seeing them mark off their Healing Surges just doesn’t cut it. This is especially true when the adventure is set in a mega-dungeon or the Underdark where Our Heroes can’t just head back to the nearest tavern for a warm bed and home comforts.
Here’s a quick Hit Location chart and rules for handling the long-term effects of combat. At the end of combat each Bloodied character rolls to assess their wounds and takes the penalty stated. A Save can be made during an Extended Rest. A successful Moderate DC Heal check by an ally can grant a +2 bonus to the Save. Fail three Saves and the effect is permanent.
All effects are cumulative. Roll a separate Save for each additional injury. For example: Gorn the Dwarf was Bloodied in three Encounters and unluckily rolled two Torso wounds and a Leg wound. He’s currently at –2 AC and –1 Speed. At the end of the day he rolls three Saves. He makes two – one for a Torso wound and the Leg wound. The next day he is at –1 AC. That deep cut to his side is still playing up.
|1 – 5||Flesh Wound||No effect|
|6 – 8||Head||-2 Perception*|
|9 – 14||Torso||-1 AC|
|15 – 17||Arms||-1 to Hit*|
|18 – 20||Legs||-1 Speed|
* Psionic attacks are not affected by damage to the arms. These instead take –1 to Hit from injuries to the Head. Optionally, this can also apply to Arcane & Divine attacks as well though these do generally have somatic elements that require use of the arms to perform.
The long term effect of using this chart is that you’ll end up with characters looking like the walking wounded. Your Epic-level Dwarf might be missing an eye (three failed Saves from a head wound) or your Elven Rogue have a rakish limp (a permanent and bothersome leg injury). And that’s a good thing, right? :D
In the short term, Extended Rests are no longer the automatic recovery device they currently are; the risk of a failed Save means that injuries will persist and take their toll in multiple Encounters. None of the effects will kill you (that’s what Hit Points are for). Not directly, at least. But if a failed Perception check due to having blood dripping into your eyes results in the party running into an Ambush, don’t come running to me.
Fell free to add further effects. I’ve intentionally made them pretty light to keep the game flowing quickly, but if you want further realism apply additional penalties to Skills, damage, etc. I don’t recommend having them directly affect the Attributes. This will involve more working out at the table and directly affect the pace of the game. Not a good thing.
Till next time!