Age of Heroes
Injury and Death
Injury and Death
This section covers the effects of physical trauma on a character, such as damage sustained in combat.
All characters and objects have a certain number of hit points, determined by Hit Dice, character levels or construction. These represent inherent resistance to injury and, in the case of living beings, the ability to avoid critical damage through exertion and skill. Hit points are an abstract concept and do not always reflect the true physical condition of a creature. Instead, a being’s hit point total is a sum measurement of health, fatigue and combat awareness. When a character’s hit point total reaches 0, he or she is disabled. Further damage is deducted both from a character’s hit points and from the character’s Constitution ability score. When a character reaches zero Constitution, he or she dies.
When characters suffer damage and lose hit points, this is recorded as a series of ‘wounds’, not just as a steady reduction of the hit point total. Every time damage is dealt, a wound of that point size is recorded on the character sheet in the Wounds box. Wounds are a way of keeping track of what has happened to the character. Characters are not simply homogenous masses of hit points and all damage is not alike. A single sword slash that inflicts 10 points of damage is much more serious than ten thrown rocks that each inflict one point of damage. Although the net loss to hit points is the same, the former could plague you for days and kill you if it became infected, while the effects of the latter would probably wear off overnight. Ten little cuts heal much more quickly than one big cut. The amount of damage you take (after reductions for armour, if applicable) results in a wound of that size. For example, if a character took eight points of damage from a spear thrust, that character would record an eight-point wound as well as reducing his total hit points by eight. Most of the time, wounds do not slow a character down. As he progresses, he suffers numerous small bumps, scrapes and cuts that wear away his hit points but do not in themselves spell any particular trouble. Grievous wounds, by contrast, spell serious danger to the character.
Wounds heal up over time. Unless a wound is grievous (see below) you may reduce it by a point in size after a full night’s rest, restoring that amount of hit points to your character’s total. This applies to all of your ordinary wounds, irrespective of how many wounds you have. All of them heal at the same rate. A wound that has healed completely is still visible; it does not disappear from your body altogether, it simply ceases to cause you any pain and trouble. The scabs, bruises and other legacies of wounds can linger for weeks before finally disappearing.
For example, if a character has two four-point wounds and one six-point wound, after a full night’s rest he would have two three-point wounds and one five-point wound, recovering three hit points on his total. This assumes that you are able to rest for at least eight hours in relative comfort. If something happens to disturb your night’s rest, you do not benefit from natural healing. A day spent resting, during which you take no stressful activity, allows you to recover an additional number of points from your wounds equal to your level of experience, above and beyond the ordinary deduction of a single point, though you may heal no more than one extra point from each wound. For instance, if a fifth-level noble warrior had three eight-point wounds, a night of rest would enable him to reduce each of them to seven-point wounds (for normal healing) and a subsequent day of rest would then reduce them to six-point wounds, with the two additional points of healing going to waste.
Some effects cause characters to lose hit points without suffering wounds, such as blood loss, spell casting or falling from a height. If a character has no remaining wounds but is still below his maximum hit point total, he may continue to recover hit points at the rate of one per day of normal activity. Resting for eight hours allows him to recover a number of hit points equal to his level of experience plus one. A Heal check can reduce the size of a normal wound by one point if it is administered within one hour of the wound being suffered, including healing a one-point wound altogether. The DC of such a check is 10 plus the wound’s size. If the check is successful by more than 10 points, then the wound is healed by two points instead of one. See the Ancient Skills chapter, for more information on the use of the Heal skill.
This represents the use of bandages, salves and similar treatments to clean the wound, bind it and help it to heal naturally. As detailed in the Craft skill description, a character may use the Craft (herbalism) skill to prepare a poultice, a one-shot parcel of healing herbs that adds a +2 circumstance bonus to any Heal skill check to reduce the size of a wound. Any single wound may only be bound once with the Heal skill, whether the check is successful or not.
When a character suffers large amounts of damage at once, he may have taken a grievous wound. Grievous wounds are traumas such as deep slashes, broken ribs, punctured organs, extensive third degree burns and the like. They are a stage beyond the cuts, scratches and bruises represented by ordinary wounds. Any wound that exceeds the character’s Grievous Wound Threshold counts as grievous. Your Grievous Wound Threshold is the average of your Strength and Constitution ability scores, rounded down. For example, if you had a Strength ability score of 11 and a Constitution ability score of 10, then your Grievous Wound Threshold would be 10 and a 12-point wound would be a grievous wound for you. If you receive a grievous wound, tick the ‘Grievously Wounded’ box on the character sheet.
The Heal skill cannot help with grievous wounds, as they are too severe; Heal only covers the application of what we would call ‘first aid’ in the modern era. You can use the Heal skill to reduce a grievous wound by a point, but it is still considered grievous. Only the Medicine skill can assist with grievous wounds. Note that your base Constitution and Strength ability scores are used to determine your Grievous Wound Threshold, not your current Constitution and Strength ability scores. For example, even if you have taken sufficient damage to lower your Constitution, a wound must still exceed your Grievous Wound Threshold to be considered grievous.
Effects Of Grievous Wounds:
The moment a grievous wound is received from a bludgeoning source, the character who has suffered it must make a Fortitude saving throw against a DC of 10 or be knocked unconscious. (See ‘unconsciousness’ in the section below for how you recover from unconsciousness.) Grievous wounds from slashing or piercing sources do not have this effect. Grievous wounds weaken characters physically. Every grievous wound a character sustains inflicts a point of temporary Strength damage that cannot be recovered by resting until the wound is no longer grievous. If a grievous wound is twice as large as your Grievous Wound Threshold when inflicted or deteriorates so that it reaches that size, you suffer an additional point of Strength damage; a wound three times as large inflicts a further point and so on.
Recovering From Grievous Wounds:
When a character is grievously wounded, the wound does not heal over time like ordinary wounds. Instead, the character’s condition is liable to worsen. Wounds severe enough to be counted as grievous begin to fester, widen and mortify if they are not properly treated. Characters are exposed to infection and other secondary damage. In the ancient world, you can die from your wounds days after you actually receive them. This is one reason why journeying far from civilisation is so dangerous.
At dawn every day, a grievously wounded character must make a Fortitude saving throw against a DC equal to the grievous wound’s size. This must be done once for each grievous wound, if he has more than one. Success means that the character’s condition gets no worse, but he does not improve either. If the saving throw fails, the wound increases by one point, causing the character’s hit points to be reduced by the same amount. If the saving throw fails by more than 10 points, the wound worsens by 1d4 points instead of only one. Grievous wounds never heal without medical attention except in the case of a miraculous recovery, for which see below. As ever, if the character’s hit points are reduced below zero, he begins to lose points of Constitution every time he loses hit points; if he reaches zero Constitution, he dies. If the character rolls a natural 20 when making his Fortitude saving throw to avoid his wounds worsening, he may have made a miraculous recovery. He must immediately make a Constitution ability score check with a DC equal to the size of the grievous wound. If the check is successful, the wound is no longer considered grievous.
You cannot spend Divine Points to turn the Fortitude saving throw into a natural 20, as it must be an unmodified score of 20, though you may spend Divine Points to increase your Constitution ability score check. A character that receives medical attention from a barber-surgeon or similar expert has a chance to recover from grievous wounds. A Medicine check can turn a grievous wound into a normal one. The DC of this check is the size of the wound. If the Medicine check fails by more than 10 points, the wound increases in size by one point. For a Medicine check to be attempted, the patient must have remained in bed for a whole day and engaged in no stressful activity. A character may attempt a Medicine check more than once on the same wound, but no single wound may receive more than one treatment attempt in any one day.
Grievous Wound Threshold
Your Grievous Wound Threshold is the average of your Strength and Constitution ability scores, rounded down. It determines how serious a given wound is for you. If an attack deals damage in one blow that is less than your Grievous Wound Threshold, then it is recorded as a normal wound. If the damage scores equal to or higher than your Grievous Wound Threshold, then it is recorded as a grievous wound. Grievous wounds are more disabling than ordinary wounds and will not heal without medical attention.
Grievous wounds that have healed often leave scars behind. When a grievous wound that was received from any damage source other than bludgeoning is turned into a normal wound by the use of the Medicine skill or by a miraculous recovery, roll 1d6. On a roll of 1 to 3, the wound has left a scar. (Exception: grievous wounds caused by fire always leave a scar.) It is up to the player to record where on his body the scar is; refer back to the circumstances in which the wound was received. For example, an arrow wound might leave a round scar on the character’s shoulder, while a wound received from a labrys could leave a scar shaped like a broad streak across an arm or leg. Scars in the ancient world have two roles.
Each scar has a story attached to it, which can give you credibility when dealing with warriors and similar fighting men. For every scar that you can show, you receive a +1 circumstance bonus to any Charisma-based skill check when interacting with people whose main concern is with fighting, to a maximum bonus of +5. Scars prove that you have been in fierce battles and come away alive and that gains you respect, whether the people you are talking to like you personally or not. The other role of a scar is as a means of identification. If a select few people know that you have a scar in the shape of a lightning stroke down the back of your left calf, then it prevents anyone from being able to impersonate you to these people. Creating a real scar for disguise purposes is possible but painful!
The treatment of grievous wounds with fire is common practice in the ancient world; we retain the medical term ‘cauterise’ from the old term ‘cautery’, the art of healing by fire. Cautery is a swift, drastic, risky method of turning a grievous wound into a normal one. It can only be applied to wounds that were received with slashing or piercing damage. Hot metal is applied to the wound in order to seal it. This is agonising for the recipient but may mean the difference between life and death. As a substitute for hot metal, molten pitch is sometimes used. If there is no fire source to hand, then cautery cannot be applied. A flaming torch or burning oil is not sufficient, as intense heat must be applied to a specific area to achieve cautery. Cautery has to be applied within an hour of the grievous wound occurring.
A successful Heal or Medicine check is needed against a DC of 20, irrespective of the size of the wound; the recipient of the cautery must make a Will saving throw against a DC of 15 or fall unconscious because of the pain, if he was not already unconscious. Administering cautery is a full-round action that requires concentration. When a grievous wound is cauterised, it is worsened by 1d6 points of damage but if the Heal or Medicine check is successful, the wound is no longer grievous. If the check fails, the wound is both worsened and remains grievous. In either case, the additional damage dealt is removed from the patient’s hit points (or Constitution, if he is already below zero hit points), which may kill him even if the check was successful. If the check fails by more than 10 points, the temporary Strength damage caused by the grievous wound becomes permanent, the wound remains grievous and the fire damage is still suffered. Such a serious failure is a disaster for any character, as a large grievous wound can make multiple points of temporary Strength damage permanent.
Additional points of temporary Strength damage resulting from the wound’s worsening do not automatically become permanent, even if they were caused by the cautery itself. For example, the hero Temocles has been gored badly by a wild bull, suffering a 14-point wound from the bull’s horns, which do piercing damage. This is higher than Temocles’ Grievous Wound Threshold of 12, so the wound is grievous. The artificer Xemothrax, who is working in his forge, offers to use a hot poker to seal the wounds and prevent Temocles from dying an unpleasant, lingering death. Xemothrax has no ranks in either Heal or Medicine, but Heal can be used untrained, so he has a chance of success. The hot poker is applied to the wound and Xemothrax rolls for additional damage; five points are applied to the wound, turning it into a 19 point wound. He then makes his untrained Heal check against a DC of 20 and to his great relief, he succeeds. The point of temporary Strength damage will be restored as soon as Temocles has had a chance to rest and he will now recover at the usual rate of one hit point removed from his wound per day. Cautery can be attempted more than once on the same wound, inflicting fresh damage with each attempt. However, each repeated attempt is made against a DC of +2, as it becomes steadily more difficult to do any good. Botched cautery can turn a grievous wound into a horrible mess that it is next to impossible to treat.
A wound that has been unsuccessfully treated with cautery can still be treated with the Medicine skill. The great advantage of cautery as a method of dealing with grievous wounds is that it is quick. Medicine checks to treat grievous wounds take a whole day and do not allow the character to do anything other than rest. Cautery requires only a swift application of hot iron. For this reason, it is used on battlefields. Wounds that have been cauterized always leave scars, as fire damage is added to the damage that caused the wound already.
Cautery On An Unwilling Patient:
For cautery to be applied at all, the recipient must be stationary. He can either be holding still because he is willing, because he is unconscious or because his comrades are holding him in place. Characters are not always willing to be cauterised, as the treatment has a chance of making them worse rather than better. A patient who is being held still but is fighting against this, such as a patient who is being pinned in a grapple or is tied to a bench is considered to be struggling. Administering cautery on a struggling patient applies a –2 penalty to the Heal or Medicine check.
Contracting Fever From Wounds
In any other place than a clean, sheltered location (such as a temple, home of good quality or military hospital tent) a grievously wounded character is considered to be exposed to disease because of his wounds and must make a Fortitude saving throw each morning against a DC of 10 to avoid catching fever. (See the Diseases section in the Adventuring chapter.) In areas where pestilence is common, such as swamps and filthy city districts, the DC of the saving throw is increased by +4.
Damage Not Recorded As Wounds
Certain kinds of damage are removed directly from a character’s hit point total, instead of being marked as wounds. Non-lethal damage never creates a wound. The following sources of lethal damage always reduce hit points without creating a wound: damage from falling, heat and cold damage from exposure to the elements, damage from inhalation, damage from gas effects, damage inflicted by an unarmed attack, blast damage, damage from cave-ins and avalanches, crushing damage and drowning damage. As a rule of thumb, assume that any damage that would be spread evenly across the body or that represents general debilitation does not create a wound. Damage caused by magic, such as the evil eye, does not cause wounds unless specifically stated in the spell description. Hit points lost because of working Witchcraft or Hekau spells are not wounds. They represent the loss of energy and physical exhaustion that results from working magic.
Wounds and Non-Player Characters
It is not generally necessary to record individual wounds for Non-Player Characters unless they have a major part in the campaign. For instance, if the players mount a raid on an enemy position and rain arrows down upon their warriors, the Games Master can simply mark off damage against hit points instead of recording wounds. However, a sage who accompanies the group on their journeys and who takes a thrown javelin in the chest should certainly have this recorded as a wound, as his survival or demise is important to the game. Monsters that present significant threat should have their wounds recorded. Managing to inflict a grievous wound on a monster can turn the tide of battle. Multiple ordinary wounds can wear a monster down but will not dissuade it from attacking, but a single grievous wound will make it stop and think. Wounds have an effect on morale (see below) and many creatures will try to escape when they suffer grievous wounds, so that they can hide in their lairs and attempt to recover.
Loss of Hit Points
The most common way that your character gets hurt is to take lethal damage and lose hit points.
What Hit Points Represent
Hit points mean two things in the game world: the ability to take physical punishment and keep going and the ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one.
If you ever sustain a single attack that deals 50 points of damage or more and it does not kill you outright, you must make a DC 15 Fortitude save. If this saving throw fails, you immediately die regardless of your current hit points. If you take 50 points of damage or more from multiple attacks, no one of which dealt 50 or more points of damage itself, the massive damage rule does not apply. Undead and constructs of any kind are immune to massive damage death.
Disabled (0 Hit Points or fewer but 3 or more Constitution)
When your current hit points drop to 0 or fewer, you are disabled. Any hit point damage you sustain after this point is both deducted from your hit points and your Constitution ability score. You must make a Fortitude saving throw at DC 15 every time you sustain such damage; failure means that you fall unconscious. You must also make this saving throw if damage takes your hit point total from a positive to a negative figure. For example, if you had three hit points left and you suffered six points of damage, you would be on –3 hit points, would take three points of Constitution ability damage and would need to make a saving throw to avoid falling unconscious. While you are disabled, you can only take a single move or standard action each turn but not both, nor can you take full-round actions. You can take move actions without further injuring yourself, but if you perform any standard action (or any other strenuous action) you take 1 hit point of damage and thus one point of Constitution ability damage after completing the act and must make the usual Fortitude saving throw or pass out. You can also become disabled when recovering from dying. In this case, it is a step toward recovery and you can have fewer than 0 hit points (see Stable Characters and Recovery, below).
If you sustain hit point damage from an attack or effect (including spellcasting) and are left with less than zero hit points, you must make a Fortitude saving throw against a DC of 15 in order to remain conscious. (Damage from worsening wounds does not force this check.) An unconscious character may make a Fortitude saving throw every hour against a DC of 15 to recover consciousness, so long as he is not dying. You can help an unconscious character wake up as a standard action, but only if he has more than one hit point. Slaps, shaking, cold water to the face and similar attempts to revive an unconscious character allow him to attempt an additional Fortitude saving throw. This may be done once per round.
Dying (1 to 2 Constitution)
When hit point loss has reduced your character’s current Constitution to 1 or 2, he’s dying. A dying character immediately falls unconscious (no saving throw allowed) and can take no actions. A dying character loses 1 hit point and thus one point of Constitution every three rounds. This continues until the character dies or becomes stable (see below).
Dead (0 Constitution or Lower)
When your character’s current Constitution ability score drops to 0 or lower or if he takes massive damage (see above) and fails the requisite Fortitude saving throw, he’s dead. A character can also die from taking ability damage (such as from poison or disease) or suffering an ability drain that reduces his Constitution to 0.
Stable Characters and Recovery
On the third turn after a character with fewer than zero hit points is reduced to 1 or 2 points of Constitution and on every third turn thereafter, roll d% to see whether the dying character becomes stable. He has a 10% chance of becoming stable. If he does not, he loses 1 hit point and thus 1 point of Constitution. A character that is unconscious or dying cannot delay his death by using any special action that changes the initiative count on which his action occurs. If the character’s Constitution ability score drops to 0 or lower, he is immediately dead.
Stabilising Characters With Healing:
You can keep a dying character from losing any more hit points and points of Constitution and make him stable with a DC 15 Heal check. If any sort of herbal or magical healing cures the dying character of even 1 point of damage, such as by binding a wound, he stops losing hit points and points of Constitution and becomes stable. Note that ordinary healing can only restore lost hit points; it cannot restore lost points of Constitution. A healing effect that raises the dying character’s hit points to 0 exactly makes him disabled and allows him to make a saving throw to regain consciousness; see Unconsciousness above. Healing that raises his hit points to 1 or more also allows him to make a saving throw to regain consciousness; in addition, it makes him functional again and not disabled when he wakes up, though as ever it does not restore any lost Constitution. A stable character who has been tended by a healer or who has been magically healed eventually regains consciousness. He does not suffer hit point loss for failing his hourly saving throw to regain consciousness while he is being tended by a healer, though any grievous wounds he has still stand a chance of worsening every day. If the character has no one to tend him, however, his life is still in danger and he may yet succumb to his injuries and slip away.
Recovering without Help
A dying character left alone without medical aid almost always dies. He has a small chance, however, of recovering on his own. A character who becomes stable on his own (by making the 10% roll while dying) and who has no one to tend to him still suffers gradual damage to his hit points and his Constitution, albeit at a slower rate. He may make a Fortitude saving throw each hour at DC 15 to become conscious; failure to make this saving throw results in one hit point of damage and one point of Constitution ability score damage. If he becomes conscious, he does not lose any more hit points or points of Constitution, except from grievous wounds becoming worse. If the character has grievous wounds, he must also make the usual daily checks to see if these worsen. These can push his Constitution back below 3, in which case he falls unconscious (if he was not already) and is dying again.
After taking damage, you can recover hit points through natural healing or through magical healing. In any case, you cannot regain hit points past your full normal hit point total.
With a full night’s rest (8 hours of sleep or more), each of your normal wounds heals by one hit point, both reducing their size and restoring that amount to your total. Any significant interruption during your rest prevents you from healing that night. If you undergo complete bed rest for an entire day following a night’s rest, you may reduce your wounds (and thus increase your hit point total) by additional number of hit points equal to your experience level, though you may not reduce the size of any one wound by more than one point with this extra healing.
Various abilities and spells, as well as ointments and herbal concoctions, can restore hit points. These usually work instantly and cannot be further improved by rest conditions or the use of the Heal skill.
You can never recover more hit points than you lost. Magical healing will not raise your current hit points higher than your full normal hit point total.
Healing Ability Damage
Ability damage is temporary, just as hit point damage is. Ability damage returns at the rate of 1 point per night of rest (8 hours) for each affected ability score. Complete bed rest restores 2 points per day (24 hours) for each affected ability score. Certain spells and magical preparations can heal ability damage but no magical or mundane effect does so unless it specifically states that it affects ability damage.
Non – lethal Damage
Non-lethal damage inconveniences a character but does not hurt her seriously. It represents fatigue, stunning, concussion and similar punishments.
Dealing Non – lethal Damage
Certain attacks deal non-lethal damage. Other effects, such as heat or being exhausted, also deal non-lethal damage. When you take non-lethal damage, keep a running total of how much you have accumulated. Do not deduct the nonlethal damage number from your current hit points and do not record non-lethal damage as a wound. It is not ‘real’ damage. Instead, when your non-lethal damage equals your current hit points, you are staggered and when it exceeds your current hit points, you fall unconscious. It does not matter whether the non-lethal damage equals or exceeds your current hit points because the non-lethal damage has gone up or because your current hit points have gone down.
Non-lethal Damage with a Weapon that Deals Lethal
Damage: You can use a melee weapon that deals lethal damage to deal non-lethal damage instead, but you take a –4 penalty on your attack roll.
Lethal Damage with a Weapon that Deals Non-lethal
Damage: You can use a weapon that deals non-lethal damage, including an unarmed strike, to deal lethal damage instead, but you take a –4 penalty on your attack roll.
Staggered and Unconscious
When your non-lethal damage equals your current hit points, you are staggered. You can only take a standard action or a move action in each round. You cease being staggered when your current hit points once again exceed your non-lethal damage. When your non-lethal damage exceeds your current hit points, you fall unconscious. While unconscious, you are helpless.
Knocking A Character Out
It is possible to knock a character unconscious with non-lethal damage. A character who suffers non-lethal damage from a single attack or effect in excess of his base Constitution ability score must make a Fortitude saving throw against a DC of 15 or fall unconscious. He is allowed a Fortitude saving throw every hour at DC 15 to recover consciousness as usual and other characters may attempt to revive him.
Healing Non – lethal Damage
You heal non-lethal damage at the rate of 1 hit point per hour per character level. When a spell, a miracle or a magical power cures hit point damage, it also removes an equal amount of non-lethal damage.