Getting shot in the throat(A health/wounding mechanic)

edited December 2007 in Story Games
In the context of the game I'm working on(Codename ''Van Dread''), I was thinking about going with a more realistic approach to getting hurt. In order to avoid making assumptions, this is how one my CoC sessions would go:

GM: You get shot in the gut, you lose 5 hit points(enter description, blablabla)
Player1: Shit, I only have like 5HP left. I better not get hit again.
Fight ends, players win against bad guys.

This is how I want it to go:
GM: You get shot in the gut. It hurts alot but you can see no blood. There's just a small hole where the bullet went in.
Player1: Shit. Why is there no blood? Is this bad?
Player2: Better help him, I have first aid skills.
GM: Roll First Aid. (Rolls, succeeds)You lift him off the ground and see that there's a wound on his back and he's bleeding. You don't know how bad he is but you manage to stop the bleeding for now.
Fight ends, players win.
Player2: We better take him to the hospital, I don't know if he'll make it.

Basically, a health system where players can't tell how badly they're hurt(like in real life) except if they have a related skill that can possibly help them. And rules for bleeding.
Does this sound cool or is it like common knowledge that this is how you're supposed to play out wounding in story games?

-George

Comments

  • edited December 2007
    Unknown Armies does something like that, but only halfway. The players know the maximum number of Wound points they have, and know if they're hurt, but don't know how many are taken off. However, they also know how much damage they do to other people when they attack, because its based directly on their roll.

    I assume your goal for this mechanic is to make getting hurt scary and to be avoided (as you say, like in real life)? If that is, you may want to consider a healthy dose of "fickle" in your mechanic -- enough to make any wound chance-y, but not enough to make the game utterly un-fun -- which can be a hard line to walk down.
  • Posted By: Ryan MacklinUnknown Armies does something like that, but only halfway. The players know the maximum number of Wound points they have, and know if they're hurt, but don't know how many are taken off. However, they also know how much damage they do to other people when they attack, because its based directly on their roll.

    I assume your goal for this mechanic is to make getting hurt scary and to be avoided (as you say, like in real life)? If that is, you may want to consider a healthy dose of "fickle" in your mechanic -- enough to make any wound chance-y, but not enough to make the game utterly un-fun -- which can be a hard line to walk down.
    Yeah that's a potential problem. I have no idea how to tackle that, right now. It's just that I'm making a horror game and getting stabbed should be fucking horrific, not shrugged off. I think it will create a more dramatic game and possibly add some urgency(first aid skills actually matter, player afraid for character's life) to fights.
  • Posted By: northerainfirst aid skills actually matter
    I'm just gonna through this out there, because the idea struck when reading those five words: first aid isn't about saving someone -- it's about saving someone at a cost of time. First aid always takes time, and there's the tension between "we gotta help him!" and "they're coming for us!"

    But if that's not your vision, please toss it away. I don't want to muck things up for you. :)
  • edited December 2007
    Posted By: Ryan MacklinPosted By: northerainfirst aid skills actually matter
    I'm just gonna through this out there, because the idea struck when reading those five words: first aid isn't about saving someone -- it's about saving someoneat a cost of time. First aid always takes time, and there's the tension between "we gotta help him!" and "they're coming for us!"

    But if that's not your vision, please toss it away. I don't want to muck things up for you. :)

    Thus the urgency! I'm thinking of a wound system where sucessfull first aid roll only gives you more time to get to a hospital and nothing else.

    Again, the main problem is making this not end the game 10 minutes in.
  • The Morrow Project had rules for bleeding. You tended to die of blood loss after a lot of tedious accounting.

    If dying of blood loss is important, make it important without tracking Blood Points or whatever. If you are bleeding out you are certainly going to die - there's a start. If the default assumption is A SERIOUS WOUND IS GOING TO KILL YOU, and you work backwards to mitigate that, any roadblock in mitigation is going to add a huge amount of tension.

    Handy reference.
  • Yeah, you want a bleeding mechanic.

    You get wounded, take some damage up front, but then you start bleeding. First aid will get you stabilized. Maybe you're good after getting a bandage, maybe you need surgery. Somebody with skills can splint a broken arm and it will heal - internal bleeding kinda requires surgery, at a hospital.

    Go with Jason's suggestion. Serious wounds will kill you after a bit of suffering unless you get the right treatment.
  • When a character takes a wound, assemble a quick pool of red and black tokens: red tokens equal to the character's health/constitution and black tokens equal to the threat quality of the wound. Then pull three stones. More black than red and the character is incapacitated. On every subsequent turn the character isn't receiving first aid, whether the character is active or not, pull two stones. If the character is receiving first aid, pull only one stone. Black represents bad news: "your condition sucks." When there's nothing left to pull, the character is dead. At the end of the conflict when the character is receiving medical attention, pull stones equal to the quality of the medical attention, and if you get no red stones the character dies on the slab.

    Paul
  • edited December 2007
    Posted By: Paul CzegeWhen a character takes a wound, assemble a quick pool of red and black tokens: red tokens equal to the character's health/constitution and black tokens equal to the threat quality of the wound. Then pull three stones. More black than red and the character is incapacitated. On every subsequent turn the character isn't receiving first aid, whether the character is active or not, pull two stones. If the character is receiving first aid, pull only one stone. Black represents bad news: "your condition sucks." When there's nothing left to pull, the character is dead. At the end of the conflict when the character is receiving medical attention, pull stones equal to the quality of the medical attention, and if you get no red stones the character dies on the slab.
    This is gold.

    While depending on the pacing of the game, it might be a bit aggressive. But then, maybe not. I do like that it makes field first aid a bit more like what it is -- a way to keep you around long enough to get to a hospital/surgeon, not a cure for being wounded. Though, it seems like the system would encourage people to get larger wounds, as they would last longer -- 10 red tokens + 10 black tokens = between 6 and 20 draws before death, depending on first aid. 10 red + 5 black = 5 to 15 draws before death. (Of course, the ratio is more favorable for the latter from being incapacitated.) I would probably change it to "Run out of red stones and you're dead."
  • I think any game that places heavy importance on wounding, wound management, and (especially) life-saving is ultimately going to be about those things. Maybe that drifts the original intention, but there's the germ of a very compelling sirenhead/combat medic game in here.
  • edited December 2007
    Quick, someone write me a game about a group of Harvard medical school students trying to take over a Colombian drug cartel.
  • Roll 1d6:

    6 = Narrate how your Harvard medical student successfully takes over a Colombian drug cartel.

    2-5 = Narrate how your Harvard medical student is brutally slain by angry Colombian narcotraficantes.

    1 = Narrate how your Harvard medical student narrowly escapes being brutally slain and is now living in hiding.
  • Posted By: Paul CzegeWhen a character takes a wound, assemble a quick pool of red and black tokens: red tokens equal to the character's health/constitution and black tokens equal to the threat quality of the wound. Then pull three stones. More black than red and the character is incapacitated. On every subsequent turn the character isn't receiving first aid, whether the character is active or not, pull two stones. If the character is receiving first aid, pull only one stone. Black represents bad news: "your condition sucks." When there's nothing left to pull, the character is dead. At the end of the conflict when the character is receiving medical attention, pull stones equal to the quality of the medical attention, and if you get no red stones the character dies on the slab.

    Paul
    I really like this. But wouldn't it be simpler to have character health be represented by a pool and then just draw from that? Black tokens are wounds and red ones beeing bleeding.
    So when a character is wounded, you pull one(or 2, depending on severity) black token and a few red ones. Each round after that with no first aid you pull red tokens as needed. Though this goes against my idea of players not knowing how badly they're hurt.

    Posted By: Jason MorningstarI think any game that places heavy importance on wounding, wound management, and (especially) life-saving is ultimately going to be about those things. Maybe that drifts the original intention, but there's the germ of a very compelling sirenhead/combat medic game in here.
    I think it fits a horror game. To be honest, I don't plan for the game to be about getting shot or stabbed(it's a supernatural horror game, there are other things you should be afraid of), so if a character actually does get shot, it would be an important story event.
  • I see where you are coming from, George. Maybe consider making the same token-drawing mechanic (cards would work, too) work for everything. Wound severity and blood loss is also, I dunno, terror and will to live in different circumstances.
  • edited December 2007
    Posted By: northerainThough this goes against my idea of players not knowing how badly they're hurt.
    Yes and no. The pulling of beads is random, so there's missing information that causes tension -- it's not just a game of playing subtraction. Maybe instead of that, it could be the case that what you want is for the players to not be certain how much more punishment they can take, looking at it from the other side. If that's the case, knowing the punishment they've taken could craft a feel you're looking for, because one isn't able to determine from that information alone.

    There is also a sense of wincing and horror when people in this sort of mechanic are handed a bunch of black tokens -- they know how badly they just got hurt in a tangible-to-the-player way as they dump those beads into their bag. I've seen some UA games fall flat because the GM didn't narrate the severity of the wound enough or over-did it.
  • You know, Ryan's right - this would function with a deck of cards, but I think you really need to reach into the bag. Trust Paul's instincts!
  • Hey George,
    Posted By: northerainBut wouldn't it be simpler to have character health be represented by a pool and then just draw from that? Black tokens are wounds and red ones beeing bleeding.
    So when a character is wounded, you pull one(or 2, depending on severity) black token and a few red ones. Each round after that with no first aid you pull red tokens as needed.
    It's simpler, but it's a spending mechanic, and so you'd be working against your goal of creating tension and uncertainty. Spending against a known pool isn't tense. Drawing against an unknown pool is. The player should only know the number of red stones in the bag...not the number of black stones representing wound threat/quality. And allow the character to take action whenever there are an accumulation of more red stones showing than black ones, at the cost of a two stone pull. So if they're healthy relative to the wound/threat quality they can keep acting, but there's always a chance they'll end up dead at the end.

    Paul
  • Or, you give the wound a severity rating, a number, and have the player roll against it at appropriate times. First aid gives you a better chance of beating that number.

    If you fail a roll against the number, it gets worse. Either through bleeding, or because now that you look at it, it's really bad. Worse than you thought.

    Succeed on the roll, and the number stays the same.

    In that case, nobody knows really how severe the wound is - not players or GM. They just know how much it affects the character at any moment.

    I'm sorta thinking of Cyberpunk 2020 here, with Body checks vs dying (where a minor wound + really bad roll = death).

    And you could add some mechanism for players (including GM) to alter it - adding to the number based on a failed conflict, spending currency to make wound less severe, etc. so there's less certainty attached to the number representing wound severity.
  • Paul, I sometimes imagine you just sitting at breakfast with friends, drinking coffee, and suddenly sitting at attention and spouting mechanics that change our hobby the way some people cough.
  • I'm riffing on Paul's idea some with the thought of adding in green tokens for Infection (but then, I'm on a zombie horror kick).

    I think I'm doing something similar with the, for lack of a better term out of context, mental will of characters in Damned Anonymous. Instead of beads and a bag, I have a straw-drawing mechanic with painted lines around the center of wooden sticks. When dealing with a scene about resisting temptation, you have three black straws and a number of white straws equal to your Will. You draw from that one or more times, depending on what's going on, and you deal with the situation presented by the draws. Here's the kicker -- you want white straws drawn because that means you're less likely to hurt someone, but you take out any white straws drawn from the system. That's your will being sapped away in all these little battles. You always have three black straws, though, because the Evil is relentless. Eventually, if you don't get some "mental first aid" from the support group, you're going to run out and succumb to the Evil.

    With that in mind, maybe you wouldn't want to take black tokens out of the system without first aid -- you draw a black token, have to deal with being incapacitated by your wound, and put that black token back in the bag. After all, you're still wounded.
  • When we play TSoY we use glass beads to represent bonus dice and there's one - out of like 60 - that's a different color. It's the Owl's Eye, and it's got special powers. If you need infection in a zombie game, there's got to be some measured admixture of green tokens, and the amount steadily increases. Maybe you power other aspects of play by screwing your future and upping the infection rate. It's absolutely not a big deal as long as you aren't hurt.
  • Posted By: Paul CzegeHey George,

    It's simpler, but it's a spending mechanic, and so you'd be working against your goal of creating tension and uncertainty.
    Paul
    Now I get what you meant. Yeah this sounds awesomely awesome and it should work really good in terms of tension and player terror.
  • Posted By: Ryan MacklinI'm riffing on Paul's idea some with the thought of adding in green tokens for Infection (but then, I'm on a zombie horror kick).
    That sounds cool to be honest. Maybe it can also work as a disease, curse, etc.
  • Paul ftw. This mechanic just might mutate into something heavily usable in a project of mine.
  • My quick idea for this: The gm makes three rolls on a d10 in secret. One is for how bad it hurts, two is for how bad it looks, and three is for how dangerous it is.
    The average is how much shock it causes.

    Simple and gamist, but sometimes simple and gamist might just work.
  • Honestly that sounds a lot more like what George is looking for.
  • I'm a firm believer in multiple divergent answers to a game design question. The more ideas my buds and I bounce off each other when talking about system the more helpful it is.
  • It's kinda what I'm looking for but maybe a bit too gamist...we shall see!
  • Thanks for this thread. A good read. Though I earlier started a thread about combat in horror games in general, I think in some ways damage is my biggest single concern.

    The problems as I see it are that:

    (i) a horror game should feel dangerous, but constantly having to start again with a new character is a pain.
    (ii) taking damage should feel gritty and realistic, but the system needs to be rapid and not too complicated.
    (iii) damage should have lasting consequences, but playing a character who has essentially been crippled for the next 6 months is not most people's idea of fun.

    I'm attracted to the idea of players not having perfect information in horror combat, or at least there being a trade-off between information and other concerns. So a system that can do what George proposes would be very interesting, I think. I'm not sure about Paul's suggestion. I mean, it's brilliant (as usual), but maybe a touch too elaborate for what it achieves? For me, if you're going to have special equipment for something, it probably ought to be the core of the game, not just something that might sometimes happen.
  • Hi Dave.
    Although I'm not sure I will be using this mechanic, I'm assuming I will, while working on the game. Your three concerns are accurate, but the way I'm seeing things, they're unavoidable since this is how any wounding system would work in my game. I want players to feel that combat is deadly and has consequences. I want getting shot in a session to leave a long lasting impression and have dramatic impact. In that sense, Paul's idea does just that, I just need to alter it a bit to fit my needs and style.
    But I won't say no to a different mechanic that might be perfect for someone else or even for a more ''lite'' version of my game.
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