Dismemberment

By its nature, this campaign has the likelihood to be extremely lethal. Rather than having everyone keep several back-up PCs ready to bring in, the following rule may be invoked by any player at any appropriate time to save their character.


Dismemberment before Death

A quickly interposed arm stopping the axe from taking you life, a turn of the head causing the loss of an eye rather than your scalp, or a lucky tumble causing the falling block to crush your leg rather than your torso. Sometimes dismemberment is better than death…sometimes.

Any time an attack would kill a currently conscious and active PC (i.e. reduce them from 1 or more hit points to an amount negative hit points equal to their Constitution score), the character may choose to take a permanent injury rather than being killed by the blow. If a PC invokes this ability they are immediately reduced to -1 hit points (regardless of the amount of damage dealt), leaving them unconscious and bleeding. You cannot stabilize without outside aid while in this state. They must then roll 1d20 and consult the table below to determine what horrible deformities they suffer (see below for details).

d20 roll Maiming
1 Loss of head (you still die, tough luck).
2-3 Lose a leg (DM’s choice).
4-5 Lose a foot (DM’s choice).
6-7 Lose an arm (DM’s choice).
8-11 Impressive Wound.
12-13 Lose a hand (DM’s choice).
14-15 Lose an eye (DM’s choice).
16-17 Lose 1d4 fingers (from the same hand).
18-19 Major Scarring.
20 Moderate Scarring (you lucky s-o-b).

Notes:

  1. This rule only applies to death from hit-point loss. Poisons, death effects, or other attacks that kill you without dealing damage (and thus without injuring the body) cannot be avoided in this way.
  2. This option might save your character but once you are down there is nothing stopping the person that took your arm from finishing you off.
  3. These injuries are cumulative. If you are almost killed in this way several times you may find your character battered, broken, blinded, and limbless, but still alive. At some point you may wish you were dead, though prosthetics might be available to remedy some of these.
  4. The regenerate spell heals scars and restores lost limbs, removing both positive and negative effects.

Effects of Wounds

Moderate Scarring: You have a significant blemish in a clearly visible place (such as your face, neck, or chest). Most people are impressed by such marks, granting you a +1 bonus on all Charisma-based skill checks.

  • Special: While people might be impressed by one good scar, having multiple scars is a sign that you are either accident prone or incompetent. Each moderate scar after the first causes a cumulative -1 penalty on Charisma-based skill checks (though you still gain the bonus from the first, so the second scar cancels out the first, and each additional scar imposes a penalty).

Major Scarring: You have suffered a major, clearly visible, but not debilitating, deformity (such as a cleft lip, lost nose, severed ear, or the like). You suffer a -1 penalty on all Charisma-based skill checks.

  • Special: This penalty is cumulative with itself, as well as with any penalties from moderate scarring.
  • Special: At the GMs discretion, this penalty might be inverted to a similar bonus when dealing with specific characters that are impressed by having numerous battle scars (such as orcs, pirates, or certain mercenaries).

Lost Finger: Losing a single finger has no noticeable detrimental effects. For every 2 fingers lost you suffer a -1 penalty to your Dexterity score. Losing five fingers equates to the loss of a hand (see below).
Special: The thumb is always assumed to be the last one to go.

Lost Hand: A character who has lost a hand incurs the following penalties:

  • -5 penalty on Climb, Craft, Disable Device, Sleight of Hand, and Use Magic Device skill checks.
  • -4 penalty on CMB when attempting to initiate a grapple.
  • Unable to wield two-handed weapons or make two-weapon attacks, but may still wear a shield on the affected arm.
  • Carrying capacity is not reduced. However, the maximum weight a character can lift over head or off the ground is reduced by one third. These penalties do not stack with other penalties for losing limbs.

A character who has lost both hands, or one hand and one arm, cannot use any of the listed skills, wield weapons, cast spells with somatic components, or handle objects, without the aid of prosthetics or magic. The loss of a single arm or hand does not affect a spellcaster’s ability to cast spells with somatic components.

Impressive Wound: You suffer a grievous wound to the torso. You suffer a permanent -1 penalty to your Constitution score and this leaves a Major Scar (see above).

Lost Foot: Keeping upright becomes a chore with the loss of the foot. Uneven legs, no pivot point, and a smaller base affect land movement. A character who has lost a foot incurs the following penalties:

  • -5 penalty on Acrobatics, Climb, Ride, Stealth, and certain Perform skill checks (GM’s discretion).
  • Cannot run.
  • Cannot bull rush or overrun and takes a -4 penalty to resist these combat maneuvers.
  • Land movement rate is reduced by half, and characters can no longer benefit from the fast movement class feature.
  • Carrying capacity is reduced by one third and the maximum weight a character can lift over head or off the ground is halved. These penalties do not stack with other penalties for losing limbs.

A character who has lost both feet, or one foot and one leg, is always considered flat-footed, cannot use any of the listed skills, and can only move 5 feet as a full round action, without the aid of prosthetics or magic.

Lost Eye: A character missing one eye suffers a -4 penalty on all sight-based perception checks and on all ranged attacks. In addition, characters with only a single eye suffer a 20% miss chance on attacks against opponents that are flanking them.
Special: A character that loses both eyes is permanently blinded.

Lost Arm: Losing an arm at the elbow (or higher) severely limits what that side of the body can do. With a markedly shorter reach and range, the arm is practically unusable. A character who has lost an arm incurs the following penalties:

  • -10 penalty on Climb, Craft, Disable Device, Sleight of Hand, and Use Magic Device skill checks.
  • -8 penalty to CMB when attempting to initiate a grapple.
  • Unable to wield weapons two-handed or make two-weapon attacks, and may not wear a shield on the affected arm.
  • Carrying capacity is not reduced. However, the maximum weight a character can lift over head or off the ground is reduced by one third. These penalties do not stack with other penalties for losing limbs.

A character who has lost both arms cannot use any of the listed skills, wield weapons, cast spells with somatic components, or handle objects, without the aid of prosthetics or magic. The loss of a single arm or hand does not affect a spellcaster’s ability to cast spells with somatic components.

Lost Leg: Losing a leg at the knee (or higher) strips it of its fundamental purposes. Walking is replaced by hopping, standing is replaced by balancing, kicking becomes impossible. Very little can be done in an upright position without aid from a prosthetic, magic, or fellow adventurer. A character who has lost a leg incurs the following penalties:

  • -10 penalty on Acrobatics, Climb, Ride, Stealth, and certain Perform skill checks (GM’s discretion).
  • Cannot run or charge.
  • Cannot bull rush or overrun and takes a -12 penalty to resist Bull Rush, Trip, or Overrun combat maneuvers.
  • Speed is reduced to 5 feet, and can no longer make a 5-foot step.
  • Carrying capacity is reduced by two thirds and the maximum weight a character can lift over head or off the ground is halved when sitting, impossible when standing. These penalties do not stack with other penalties for losing limbs.

A character who has lost both legs is always considered flat-footed and prone, and can only move 5 feet as a full round action, without the aid of prosthetics or magic.


Expanded Uses

Massive Damage: If you ever sustain a single attack that deals more than half your maximum hit points in damage and it doesn’t kill you outright, you must make a DC 15 Fortitude save. If this saving throw fails, you suffer a significant injury (as above) regardless of your current hit points. Significant injuries sustained in this manner do not reduce your hit points to -1, but do bleed (for 1 point of damage per round) until treated.
If you take more than half your maximum hit points, or more, from multiple attacks, the massive damage rule does not apply.

Severing Limbs (on purpose): If you want to inflict these kind of injuries on your enemies intentionally, the Sever combat maneuver is completely kosher in this campaign.

Dismemberment

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