Real combat is fast, deadly, and dangerous, not something to be taken lightly. Critical effects reflect that reality. This is an optional system and may not be suitable for all campaigns.
Critical effects make for a combat system that is more realistic than the standard do rules. With critical effects, there is the risk that a single injury could incapacitate or kill a character regardless of their hit points. Such a single blow might inflict only a superficial external wound (i.e. relatively low hit point damage), but sever an artery, puncture a vital organ, or inflict other such wounds that may result in death. A dagger may only inflict 2 points of damage on a critical, but it takes very little damage to destroy a human heart.
Such lethal and realistic trauma can be easy to come by in a campaign, especially at higher levels. Therefore this system fosters an understanding of even a high-level character’s mortality. Mostly what the critical effects take into account is the fact that a living body, be it mundane or mutant, simply cannot withstand massive injuries. With critical effects, a single well-placed bullet from even the lowliest thug can fell even the mightiest hero.
Critical Effects are used when a character receives a critical hit or when the character’s hit points are reduced to 0 or lower (such as on a failed Massive Damage check). Note that creatures like constructs or oozes that are immune to criticals for any reason are likewise immune to critical effects. Effects that cause damage on a failed Reflex save (such as autofire or explosives) also make use of the Critical Effects table, but only if the target rolls a 1 on his Reflex save to avoid damage.
Roll on the following table to determine the severity of the critical effect:
It is important to know what part of the body suffers a critical effect. Blows to the head or chest are potentially more lethal than to the arm or leg simply because of the number of vital organs in those areas, and a severed leg will have different consequences than a severed arm. Once it has been determined that a victim will suffer a critical effect, roll on the Critical Hit Location table:
(In addition to the charts listed above, the Critical Tables page also includes a condition summary, severity levels, and specific injury descriptions.)
For Example: A mutant raider appears around a corner and shoots a crossbow at Behzed, receiving a critical hit. The GM rolls the damage, and Behzed takes 10 hit points. Since it was a critical hit, the GM rolls d% on the Critical Effects table in the Piercing column - Behzed receives a Moderate wound (a Deep Stab). Next, he rolls on the Hit Location table, and determines that Behzed took the bolt in the chest/abdomen. Behzed has a crossbow bolt embedded in his belly!
Behzed must make a Fortitude save (DC 17) or be disabled. His result is 18, so Behzed suffers only the -4 injury penalty. Had he failed the Fort save, his hit points would have instantly dropped to 0 and he would be disabled.
Critical effects must be healed separately from hit point damage. The severity indicates the level of special healing required to reduce the effect, as well as the amount of time required to heal the injury normally.
If a character receives special healing (such as from psionics, nanotech, or Ancient relics), the severity of all criticals a character has sustained is immediately reduced. Minor healing effects (such as the Heal Minor Wounds nanotech power) can reduce the severity level of injuries by one. Medium healing effects (such as a 'rubberflesh' relic) reduce the severity by two, while major healing effects (such as the Biofeedback psionic power) can reduce the severity by three.
The effects of multiple applications of special healing are cumulative, so a character who uses rubberlesh and then receives the effects of Heal Minor Wounds would completely heal a Serious wound.
For Example: If Behzed receives the effects of the Cure Minor Wounds nanotech power, his wound would be reduced by one level from Moderate to Light. If he receives Cure Medium Wounds, his wound would decrease by two levels to Superficial.
After a character has received a Treat Injury check or any kind of special healing, any remaining injury penalties are halved. The shock of the injury has passed, the pain is at least partially controlled, and the character is beginning to cope with the injury.
Without special healing, critical effects also take longer to heal than hit point damage. The number in parentheses by the severity is the number of months required for the critical effect to drop to the next lowest severity. When a character’s wound severity drops from one level to the next lowest, they suffer the effects of that wound, not including any chance of being rendered dazed, stunned, unconscious, disabled, or dying.
At the start of healing, and each time the critical severity drops by one or more levels, the character is allowed a Fortitude save (DC 20) to halve the healing time of that level.
Even though the hit point damage may be fully healed, the character will still suffer lingering effects from the injury such as aches and pains, reduced capacity, and perhaps even nerve damage. Naturally, the severing of an arm or leg results in the loss of that limb unless it is specially healed. Without special healing, a character with a severed leg can only walk if they get some kind of artificial replacement.
For Example: Without special healing, Behzed will spend a long time in recovery. Once he is safely out of combat, he can make a Fortitude save (DC 20) to see how well he is going to heal: he rolls an 11, so for two months he has a -2 injury penalty.
After those two months, he rolls another Fortitude save. This time, he rolls a 25 (!), halving the healing time. His Moderate wound drops to Light, and he has a -1 injury penalty for about half a month (say two weeks). After those two weeks he is effectively fully healed, as his wound drops to Superficial and there are no further injury penalties. He may suffer from occasional aches or pains, but they have no effect on game play.
During healing time, body parts that are 'useless until healed' as a result of Serious or Critical wounds can only be used sparingly:
Class Abilities: Several advanced classes (such as medics, juju doctors, and psi-healers) have special abilities relating to critical effects. For example, a psi-healer can 'Lay on Hands' to decrease a critical effect by one at 1st level, by two at 3rd level, and by three at 5th level. See the class descriptions for more details.
Fast Healing: A monster or character with the Fast Healing special quality heals critical effects faster than usual. When allowed a Fortitude save to decrease healing time, a creature with Fast Healing may divide the healing time by 1 + his Fast Healing level (minimum of 2). They may not reattach or re-grow severed limbs.
Regeneration: A monster or character with Regeneration can decrease critical severity by 1 per round per point of regeneration provided they aren’t instantly killed by the critical. Creatures that can regenerate 5 or more hp per rouund are effectively immune to critical effects, but they must still roll to resist becoming disabled or dying. Severed limbs can be instantly reattached by simply holding the severed limb to the stump.
These optional rules (enacted at the whim of the GM) add a touch of further grimness to the critical effects rules, including multiple injuries from falling and the potential for permanent injury as a result of more severe wounds.
Falling: No attack roll needs to be made, but a critical roll must be made to see if the falling character suffers any of the critical effects from the injury. Falling inflicts bludgeoning damage.
The crit range of a fall is 20, reduced by 1 for every 10 feet fallen past the first 10. The location of each injury must be determined as well. Rather than multiplying the damage roll, a critical suffered from a fall deals 1 roll on the critical effects table per 10 feet fallen — a character suffers multiple injuries in a long fall (i.e. a 40 foot fall has a critical threat range of 17; if a critical is rolled, the characters suffers 4 rolls on the Critical Effects table.)
Permanent Injury: If a character suffers a Serious or Critical wound, they must make a Fortitude save (DC 20) or suffer the permanent loss from one ability: a 1-point loss from a Serious wound, and a 2-point loss from a Critical wound. Serious or Critical wounds as a result of sonic damage result in the character being permanently deafened if he fails the Fortitude save.
Permanent injury to an arm results in a loss of Strength, while permanent injury to a leg results in a loss of Dexterity and the character’s speed is reduced by ¼ (the character has a limp). Permanent injury to the chest results in a loss of Constitution. Permanent injury to the head can result in a loss of Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma, determined randomly. Surgery can heal permanent ability score damage, as will special healing of any kind at the time of the injury. An injury of Moderate, Serious, or Critical severity to the chest or head has a 5%, 10%, and 15% chance of causing permanent paralysis; the character’s Speed is reduced to 0, and their Dexterity (for Defense purposes only) likewise is reduced to 0. Advanced healing techniques are required to repair this damage.