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Author Topic: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds  (Read 648 times)

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Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« on: May 18, 2013, 03:22:33 PM »
This is for my setting, Alabastra (which can be found by clicking the World Yard button in my signature). This is D&D-3.5-based, by the by.

So I've been tooling around with various wounds systems and this is very broad-strokes and kind of nebulous at the moment. However, there are three categories of debilitating wounds:

Temporary: A general loss of stats or skills for a period of time, but it will reverse itself given time and healing. (i.e. burns to the hand would confer a penalty to that hand, and any skill that takes two hands (lockpicking, use rope) would suffer a -2 penalty. A -2 to hit with two handed weapons.

Major: A permanent wound that could only be cured by a potent cure spell. These include things like improperly set bones, major piercing wounds, horrendous burns. They would normally confer a small but permanent hit to a stat-score (usually the physical ones). They could also generate random rolls for pains interrupting skill use and whatnot.

Catastrophic: What better way to prove what a bad ass hero your character is by having him survive and otherwise lethal blow.

These basically include amputations of a wrist or larger. I know right now that I only want them conferred on critical hits. They could only be healed by the most potent spells and within a limited amount of time. (xd4 hours or something). They would confer stat loses as well as the inability to walk or wield items properly.

If you're thinking that this might seem too harsh, well... you're right. It's an attempt to get players to not think of HP as something that protects you from the bitter clutches of Dolmascus (my setting's god of death) until the -10 mark. It's supposed to make them think about situations just a little more and to spend more time healing.

However, I do allow a fix non-magical (well maybe not entirely) answer. Clockwork prostheses. That's right. You can pay certain people to forge you a replacement limb. Any limb is replaceable in this fashion: Hands, feet, forearms and forelegs, entire arms and legs, eyes, ears, gills, and wings.
(For my merfolk and buteos, winged-humanoids).

The average one restores a catastrophic wound to full functionality. However, if you can pay for it there are masterwork versions that can confer a stat bonus. They can also be outfitted with several hidden blades from Complete Scoundrel, or small spikes. as well.

They typically don't allow AC bonuses, but they could if one forgoes a shield. Also they could break (see wounding above but apply more breaking).

I'm using the wounding system in Unearthed Arcana as a base for the wounding system, but I would like to hear what everyone here would do with and how they would implement such a system.

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2013, 06:32:08 PM »
I ran my past campaign with a similar system in place. Since it was using the One-Roll Engine, every hit location has its own points it can take. Being hit in one location reduces the stress it can take.
I just added an extra wound box to each location, and called it the "overkill" box.
If you only have your overkill box, the location is unusable, but can be healed. However, "unusable" head or body means knock out, and death if no medical help is given. Anyone can finish you off. If it was an extremity, it was still attached, but needed healing. The character was at a penalty due to not being able to use the hand, in pain and well-advised to consider whether this fight is winnable.
If you had lost the overkill box to lethal damage, the location is destroyed. It might be severed, ripped off, or whatever, doesn't matter. When that's your head, upper or lower body, you make a new character. When it was an extremity, the character was knocked out, and bleeding both internally and externally. Death follows again if no medical help is given. Anyone can finish you off.
Special characters, including all NPCs and antagonists of similar ability, didn't suffer from non-lethal damage overflow from a single attack (meaning a non-lethal attack didn't become accidentally lethal, since it didn't fit the genre). Anyone else was out of luck if taking a lot of non-lethal damage >:).

If you can implement something similar in your favourite system, go ahead. I predict it would be easier if you use some variant of the Massive Damage and probably replacing HPs with a Toughness save Save. Barring that, you can use the Wounds and vitality option. Also, it's IMO preferable to use the Armour as damage reduction option with those.
A look at the injury rules might also be useful.
Either way, good luck, and have fun >:)!

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2013, 06:45:59 PM »
Yeah, I'm not opposed to giving PCs scars. I actually make them take a charisma based save if they don't want it. (Seeing as charisma determines general good looks).

What would be your view on the prosthetic devices? I think I've got it okay by treating them like weapons. I don't want them too desirable because then I know one PC is gong to get his limbs removed to replace them. I know you can see it too.

EDIT: Actually, I need help pricing these suckers. How much should a clockwork arm cost? They're complex workings of artifice and in some cases magic (eyes and wings.) I'm kind of floating around 500gp for arms and legs, and 750 for eyes and wings) maybe 350 for hands and feet.

Oh, and you can't have a prosthesis for any limb you didn't get born with. So no wings for non-buteos.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2013, 08:34:20 PM by Inkidu »

Offline Ebb

Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2013, 12:22:21 AM »
Just as a data point, in Pathfinder the cost of getting an NPC to cast a spell is 10 x spell level x caster level. The Regenerate spell, which regrows a limb, is a 7th level cleric spell. So 7 x 13 x 10 = 910 gp. So by the rules as written, for 910gp you can get a brand new arm or leg that's as good as the old one. Assuming you can find a caster, etc., and obviously it will vary from campaign to campaign.

It seems to me that having a clockwork limb made would be much more difficult than that, but again that's entirely up to how you build your world. I think that if they're really going to be as good as normal physical limbs, then you have to say that they're magic. Even with today's modern technology we can't get replacement limbs that are as good as biological ones. I think it would take some real suspension of disbelief to say that a medieval smith could create one. Just for instance, how is it controlled? Is it tied into the nerve cells somehow? Can you feel things through it?

And if you have versions that are even better than biological limbs, then I think you really have to jack up the price a lot. If there are no downsides then of course people will be lopping off limbs and replacing them with the effectively bionic versions. Even if your players don't, it would be unreasonable to assume that NPCs wouldn't.

Perhaps a better way to go would be to have the prosthetics give some kind of balanced tradeoff. A plus to strength but a minus to dexterity, for instance. Or make changing weapons or drawing an item with the prosthetic hand take a full round action. Or make them subject to malfunctions, so on a critical miss when attacking using that hand it seizes up and becomes useless until you unjam it. Things like that.

Last point is that if you have these technologically advanced artificial limbs in your world, then it would stand to reason that you would have other objects of equal technological sophistication. So do you want to have horseless carriages, airplanes (or ornithopters), steam shovels, etc? If someone can build a mechanical clockwork arm, they can certainly build a mechanical clockwork siege engine. Unless you have some campaign reason for the technology to be strictly limited to these limbs, I think it will be hard to justify keeping the rest of the world the same. Now you could always have these things being exceedingly rare, perhaps only created by a single mad inventor in his faraway mountain lair, etc., etc., and then not worry about widespread implications. But it doesn't sound like that's the route you're going down here. So I'd urge you to carefully consider the implications on the world as a whole, and decide if you want that to be a thing.

Apologies if you've already thought about all of this stuff. I haven't looked at the link you mentioned to find out anything about Alabastra. Maybe it's already a steampunkish world. If so, then go wild.


Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2013, 07:43:40 AM »
Mostly it's rule of cool, but I do do some explanations.

You can't go to any old blacksmith and get them made, you need to find an artificer, which means either hauling yourself before what is essentially a dwarven high priest and paying him a highly inflated price (because wealth equals standing in my dwaves' culture. They literally get together when the last king dies and compare bank accounts). You can try and find an artificer in the gnomish community or the human communities but they're much rarer, and they might not be sufficiently skilled to do it.

They're sufficiently advanced clocks are more common in cities. Also there are giant snow plow ships that work on two ship-length screws to cut through giant snow deserts. And a few fully functioning steamships, most are half-steamers but that's more an issue of time and money of kingdoms, not tech.

The magic is good enough to give the person full functionality of their limb, but not good enough for sensory input. You're never going to feel in that limb again.

Also, the chances of you outright dying if you decide to go hacking at your limbs is incredible. You need a critical hit. You need a critical hit (I haven't worked out the details) so bad that it takes out a huge chunk of your HP (proportionately speaking). So you're probably just going to end up causing trauma that cripples your limb terribly making you have to have a cleric waste several healing spells to remove all the bad stuff (only one major wounds spell removes one major wound at a time) so that's a lot of money or party resources. If you don't outright die of shock from constantly hacking at your own body. (I will roll that).

These top tier wounds will cause bleeding even if you're still up and aware. (-1hp ask if you were negative). Also, in my setting the the regeneration spell has a time limit. it's Xd4 hours where x is the targets con score or casters casting stat (not sure yet) I just don't like a flawless regen spell. It bugs me like Glibness and the Stupid Cabin O'Leaves, Five-star resort and Hotel. :\

Also the reason the stat bonus is awarded without penalty is because in theory it's so damn expensive:

They're masterwork (I know the regular are semi-magical but, come on) so you're paying double. You only get one point of stat bonus and it's dependent on the limb eyes don't, they get +2 to spot and search checks or you can get dark vision.

So you're mostly picking between +1 dex or str.

So you have price*2 (masterwork)

You need one ounce of star-metal which is considered a high level drop, damn lucky find, or worth twice its weight in platinum if you find someone willing to sell it. So that's 1/16th of a 100gp.

+taxes, tithes, and whatever else my NPC typically throw on the price.

You're looking 1500 plus GP to replace a limb with a bonus. Add that I am a consummate miser when it comes to my PCs and gold and will beseech players of this setting to be the same (it's got story reasons). I just don't think PCs should be able to buy everything they ever need. Plus this a Renaissance-style society you don't unbalance the economy by inundating the market with gold thus driving down the price to dirt. You sell off old relics at auction or to private parties to make some money which you invest in caravans or in a bank and let it get interest. 

Offline meikle

Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2013, 08:49:25 AM »
Quote
The average one restores a catastrophic wound to full functionality. However, if you can pay for it there are masterwork versions that can confer a stat bonus. They can also be outfitted with several hidden blades from Complete Scoundrel, or small spikes. as well.
Is there an incentive for not chopping off all of your limbs and getting them replaced with magic item/technobonus robot-arms beyond sentimentality?

Quote
I'm using the wounding system in Unearthed Arcana as a base for the wounding system, but I would like to hear what everyone here would do with and how they would implement such a system.
I like the way that certain FATE games allow a character to choose to suffer a major setback in exchange for not getting themselves killed.  I'm not sure how you'd do it in a game where HP constantly scales upward, though.  Maybe reduce HP progression, so that characters who are reckless are forced to accept losses (up to and including permanent ones) rather than lose their character, perhaps with severity based on how far below 0 an attack would have taken their HP.  If the fighter's HP is, like, 50, and it never gets much higher, that only gives them a few hits before they're bleeding all over the place and losing eyes and fingers and legs.

Quote
The magic is good enough to give the person full functionality of their limb, but not good enough for sensory input. You're never going to feel in that limb again.
A limb without sense can't be fully functional.  Sense tells us where the limb is without us staring at it, allows us to know how much force is enough but not too much, lets us not accidentally break it from over-exertion.  Sense lets us balance and not feel our limbs as idle weight dragging us down.  There's got to be some degree of that, yeah?  Otherwise, these things ought to be a huge liability, and without any sense of them, there's no way they should ever qualify for a dex bonus; probably a huge dexterity penalty, instead.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2013, 09:02:00 AM by meikle »

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2013, 09:41:57 AM »
Is there an incentive for not chopping off all of your limbs and getting them replaced with magic item/technobonus robot-arms beyond sentimentality?
Read the post above you. Long story short: It requires a critical hit, no one is going to amputate a totally healthy limb for you. So you're more than likely just going to kill yourself or send yourself into shock and die, or mutilate your own limb racking up debilitating injuries, each of which requires an individual cure major wounds spell to remove It's considered a form of suicide by all the gods (none of which want their followers to selfishly kill themselves. Even the most evil ones would rather you sacrifice yourself doing evil. So no cleric outside of your party is going to touch your body for over a year (the generally perceived limbo time... well a cleric of Scarmiglione might, but he's going to extort the hell out of you on top of the spell's cost. Death is not a slap on the wrist in my setting.
 
Quote
I like the way that certain FATE games allow a character to choose to suffer a major setback in exchange for not getting themselves killed.  I'm not sure how you'd do it in a game where HP constantly scales upward, though.  Maybe reduce HP progression, so that characters who are reckless are forced to accept losses (up to and including permanent ones) rather than lose their character, perhaps with severity based on how far below 0 an attack would have taken their HP.  If the fighter's HP is, like, 50, and it never gets much higher, that only gives them a few hits before they're bleeding all over the place and losing eyes and fingers and legs.
I don't have it nailed down, but percentages remain the same regardless of the whole for all intents and purposes. Also, I'm thinking about using the VP point system mentioned by Thurfir Hawat as it gives a second pool that allows people to take inconsequential damage. It represents more in line with things like luck and Providence that is protecting them over sheer physicality. The point is to be that lighter injuries are more common and will hamper in battle or while trying to push on recklessly and the more sever injuries represent a career of adventuring, with the catastrophic being the worst (and rarest) among them. Though in theory we could end up with Black Knighting, but unlikely.

Quote
A limb without sense can't be fully functional.  Sense tells us where the limb is without us staring at it, allows us to know how much force is enough but not too much, lets us not accidentally break it from over-exertion.  Sense lets us balance and not feel our limbs as idle weight dragging us down.  There's got to be some degree of that, yeah?  Otherwise, these things ought to be a huge liability, and without any sense of them, there's no way they should ever qualify for a dex bonus; probably a huge dexterity penalty, instead.
They've got limiters, they're incredibly engineered. In theory you could over-clock them, but that's not advisable at all. People with prostheses manage incredibly well for not having any sense in the extremity. It doesn't feel pain and it doesn't feel wind. I meant full functionality in that it can wield a weapon, turn a doorknob, or hold a delicate china figurine. You don't get feedback, but you get a close "sense" from the superior engineering and magical artifice. Also, don't look at it too closely please. :\

Offline Ebb

Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2013, 10:34:18 AM »
"Rule of Cool" and "Don't look too closely, please" cover an awful lot of ground, to be sure. For me these prosthetics don't pass either the realism or the game balance sniff tests, but for you they clearly do. I have to ask, though: If you didn't want criticism, why did you post here asking for it? Did you want to talk more about the wound system you've outlined, and the note about prosthetics was just an aside? What sort of help are you looking for here?


Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2013, 10:52:23 AM »
"Rule of Cool" and "Don't look too closely, please" cover an awful lot of ground, to be sure. For me these prosthetics don't pass either the realism or the game balance sniff tests, but for you they clearly do. I have to ask, though: If you didn't want criticism, why did you post here asking for it? Did you want to talk more about the wound system you've outlined, and the note about prosthetics was just an aside? What sort of help are you looking for here?
It's like advice. It's always amazes me that people get upset when someone doesn't take his or her advice when asked for it. People are just asking for it; you can't be upset when someone asks for it, judges it, and finds they don't think they need it. I wasn't actually looking for criticism, I was looking for help and ideas in implementation. There's nothing to critique but broad-stroke ideas, and this thread has been helpful in letting me flesh out the ideas. I'm grateful for the that. 

Offline Ebb

Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2013, 10:54:41 AM »
It's like advice. It's always amazes me that people get upset when someone doesn't take his or her advice when asked for it. People are just asking for it; you can't be upset when someone asks for it, judges it, and finds they don't think they need it. I wasn't actually looking for criticism, I was looking for help and ideas in implementation. There's nothing to critique but broad-stroke ideas, and this thread has been helpful in letting me flesh out the ideas. I'm grateful for the that.

I'm certainly not upset, and I'm happy that the thread has had some value for you. Best of luck.

Offline meikle

Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2013, 10:56:27 AM »
Quote
Read the post above you. Long story short: It requires a critical hit, no one is going to amputate a totally healthy limb for you. So you're more than likely just going to kill yourself or send yourself into shock and die, or mutilate your own limb racking up debilitating injuries, each of which requires an individual cure major wounds spell to remove It's considered a form of suicide by all the gods (none of which want their followers to selfishly kill themselves. Even the most evil ones would rather you sacrifice yourself doing evil. So no cleric outside of your party is going to touch your body for over a year (the generally perceived limbo time... well a cleric of Scarmiglione might, but he's going to extort the hell out of you on top of the spell's cost. Death is not a slap on the wrist in my setting.
Though you presumably disagree, this all seems incredibly arbitrary.  The idea of a land where people can build complex clockwork limbs that are fully functional but don't know how to tie a tourniquet or cauterize a wound is really baffling to me.  You may find that players who are familiar with human anatomy and medicine feel the same.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2013, 10:57:52 AM by meikle »

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2013, 11:14:14 AM »
I'm certainly not upset, and I'm happy that the thread has had some value for you. Best of luck.
I didn't mean to imply that you were, and thanks.

Meikle: I never said that they couldn't, but I'm implying that societal norms of the at large would look on that person as a total nutcase. So you're pretty much on your own if you want to attempt a self-amputation. Something that is incredibly dangerous. Your average person in the world would not do it, nor should your average PC, and no matter how good your healing skill is it takes more than a bathtub operation. Also, you're deliberately putting yourself out of action for months while you're fitted for one of these things. Even with tourniquets and cauterization would still leave a person susceptible to shock.

Of course if some loses an arm in battle they're going to get the nearest available help or not, but I'm saying that there are a number of greater risks involved in DIY limb removal, because no one in their right mind would help you with that. Even some of the evil people (who would think you catastrophically stupid). :\

But the short of it is: Yes I'm going to make you role an attack on your own limb and if you do not score critically you're just going to wound yourself (plus other factors). Even if you tie a tourniquet. :| If you want to keep trying that's your prerogative. There is a bit of transhumanism involved in this setting (one of the main themes is old faith v. new science).

On another note: I've decided that you have to take some form of negative stat for a masterwork prosthesis. If it's +1 str it's -1 dex. I don't think the stats for the eyes are particularly breaking.

Also, you can only have prosthesis equal to 1 plus your natural (what you rolled at the beginning of the game, or leveled up on the multiples of 4) con bonus. In theory the higher you con gets the less likely you are to lose limbs.

Also, Meikle's post gave me an idea for an atheistic machine cult of sorts.

Also, I've decided that magic lets the prosthetic feel pressure. That's the key sense we use in determining grip and force so it should be sufficient.

See, this thread helps. :D

Offline meikle

Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2013, 11:34:17 AM »
Transhumanism is a theme but attempting to behave transhumanistly is suicide.  There are no surgeons, surgery kills you.  The reason that people don't attempt surgery or transhumanism is arbitrary (nobody will help you with it, Just Cuz; nobody in your setting is willing to buck societal norms in the name of transhumanism.)

These are things you should address, though.  Limb amputation was performed successfully by surgeons in Ancient Greece and Rome.

Making the prosthetics both beneficial and penalty-some is a good way to mechanically disincentive it without contorting your setting around driving people not to use the technology available within it though.  Edit: Long downtimes is a good way to keep PCs from pursuing it, too, but it seems like there probably ought to be some people out there who decide that the drawbacks outweigh the costs and go through with it intentionally!
« Last Edit: May 19, 2013, 11:45:43 AM by meikle »

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Re: Prostheses: Mechanics and Major Wounds
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2013, 11:53:16 AM »
Transhumanism is a theme but attempting to behave transhumanistly is suicide.  There are no surgeons, surgery kills you.  The reason that people don't attempt surgery or transhumanism is arbitrary (nobody will help you with it, Just Cuz; nobody in your setting is willing to buck societal norms in the name of transhumanism.)

These are things you should address, though.  Limb amputation was performed successfully by surgeons in Ancient Greece and Rome.

Making the prosthetics both beneficial and penalty-some is a good way to mechanically disincentive it without contorting your setting around driving people not to use the technology available within it though.
Let me phrase it more correctly: Transhumanism is the logical extreme of one side of the major them of Old Ways v. New Science.

Did you miss the part where you gave me the idea for what amounts to a transhumanistic cult? There are surgeons, in fact there are even a few non-cleric surgeons, I never said there weren't. What I said was they're not going to help you cut off a perfectly good limb. It's hardly arbitrary. Go to a hospital and tell them that you want to cut off your arm just because you think the prostheses are neat. Go on, I'll wait.

I'm not saying no surgeon would never turn down a lot of money to do it. I'm talking about in general society it's not seen as normal sane behavior. Prostheses are new. They're still seen as optimistic ways of helping disabled people. Druids, elves, and orcs would see it as a perversion of nature. The idea that someone would do it just to do it is new and scary. Bad, good? I'm not really concerned with  that at this point.

Transhumanism is seen as suicidal because even with magic it means that a person with perfectly capable limbs wants to cut them off and replace them. It's new, it's scary, and to some it's evil. They want to risk dying because of their beliefs. It's not cut and dry it wrestles with both sides.

I don't drive my players to do anything beyond providing the framework. I'm saying that when you want to follow the transhuman way through the most blunt-force method possible. Your words, "Lopping off their own limbs" you're exposing yourself to a lot of risk both physical and societal.