Earlier this week, I was reading through the tropes page for Dwarf Fortress, and I remember reading about how different tissue layers and organs are handled, and how death is (or was, at one time) based primarily on a creatures bleeding to death. It’s therefore hard for zombies and skeletons to die.

I also remember reading that so long as a dwarf or other creature isn’t killed by bleeding to death or losing a vital organ, it’s possible for it to live out the rest of its natural life. Just about any non-lethal injury can heal (though not regrow), except nerves. Nerve damage doesn’t repair itself.

So, what follows now is less a critique of Dwarf Fortress, I mean, mostly because I’m not about to search the code and see how things actually work, and more what I thought about what I read, combined with something I thought about following a conversation from this morning. Uh, right.

This morning, a conversation about nerves came up, in conjunction with some stomach pain I experienced. I’m only vaguely familiar with how the nervous system actually works, so I wasn’t sure if this was a suggestion of actual nerve-damage, or say, stress. It could go either way, right?

Well, I started to think about what exactly stress means when you consider its impact on a person and their nervous system. I mean, the way a person feels has a physical effect. Whether you want that to be described as biological stimulants flooding the brain or a more ephemeral “feel good” kind of thing is up to you.

While I was walking to and from the train this morning, I was thinking about how environmental effects (like temperature) might have a direct, and still abstract, effect on a character. My thought was to first hit them in the Exhaustion condition, and if that condition is maxed out, they can choose the condition that comes next.

So, how do I account for stress and nerve damage? I imagine fatigue is a great way to represent it for the time being. When you feel fatigue rushing through your body, it’s a combination of your muscles reporting back as sore, and your nervous system checking out for the day. They take a lot of strain over the course of a day.

Wow, that was a rambling post.