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Why on earth would I want to play with dismemberment rules? That’s a good question, especially when I’m trying so hard to make the game simpler and easier to play! Here’s what it boils down to — I want alternatives to death, and I want PCs to spend more time recuperating between adventures.

There are several posts to which I owe credit, which I will link below.

So, death and dismemberment in a 4e-clone? How would one go about it? I’ll tell you how I would do it, and give you a bit more information about why.

Here’s some basic math — 4e starting hit points (Con score plus class bonus) hover right around 20 on average, while damage tends to hover around 9 for a typical monster. That way, it takes 3-5 hits to bring down the average PC.

In a typical encounter where the PCs face off with an equal number of opponents, enemies would have to gang up on a PC — or get lucky with the critical hits and damage rolls — for anyone to be in danger of accidental PC death.

Why is this important? Here’s the thing — in my experience, players can be kind of stupid during combat. It can take them several combat rounds to realize they’re in serious danger — and under other editions’ rules, somebody usually dies.

This wouldn’t be a problem if the people who died were the ones who deserved it. In other words, the players responsible for the fatal error. No, the PCs who usually go down are the unfortunate souls who try and help, and it’s rarely heroic.

A little padding goes a long way — that extra couple rounds can help the players figure out they’re in over their heads. The smart ones can actually get away.

This may undergo some change while I work on the numbers.

2d6 – Effect

  • 12 – Use your Second Wind as a free action.
  • 10,11 – No effect.
  • 8,9 – Knocked down.
  • 7 – Fail 1 death saving throw.
  • 5,6 – Condition rating penalty (results in a penalty to d20 rolls).
  • 3,4 – Continue to make death saving throws as normal. If you are alive at the end of combat, you die.
  • 2 – Fail 3 death saving throws.

  • Here are several links for credit.
    Link: Playing With Death & Dismemberment
    Source Trollsmyth

    Link: Deadlier Death and Dismemberment
    Source Troll and Flame

    Link: Classic D&D Injury Table
    Source Robert Fisher