Everyone have probably heard the criticism leveled at AD&D, that with escalating hit points jumping off a mountain was always an option when a fight with a dragon went bad. Later editions have exacerbated the phenomena, and it sure can get silly sometimes.
Then we have those games where your stalwart hero marches into combat, only to be slain by a fist to the jaw. I own a few of those as well. DragonQuest made me think of another way to kill characters.
How many of your fantasy rpgs have rules for infection and gangrene? Harn probably have it, and maybe you, dear reader, can mention a few more. In DragonQuest the rules say like this:
The Base Chance of infection is equal to 10%. If the figure took any damage to Endurance, add (20 + the amount of Endurance damage in points). If the damage was inflicted by bite, claws, or talons, add 20. Specific Grievous Injuries may rise the Base chance even further.Tough going! So if a Troll manage to rake you with his claws for 1 point of damage (note that there's less serious Fatigue damage before taking Endurance damage), you suddenly have a 61% chance of infection! I wonder what will kill most characters, infection or the damage points?
In comparison I decided to check GURPS, which usually have a rule for everything. To my great surprise it was not that detailed, and the chance to avoid infection was a simple HT+3, which for a average human with 10 HT would mean roll over 13 with 3d6. Sounds very doable. I tried to calculate the percentage chance of success on that roll but my math skills just wasn't up to it.
Another game I checked was my old BRP derived Drakar & Demoner which had rules for infection, but far less tough than DragonQuest. 1% per hit, or 3% for dirty or natural weapons, and 5% to develop the infection into gangrene in 1d4 weeks. Those 61% start looking very grim indeed.
I am amazed by these numbers! While I am no longer very concerned by realism in my games, I start to wonder which of these games actually provide a picture of how it really works?
I guess everyone have heard of Papers & Paychecks, the rpg that they play in one illustration in AD&D? I am getting these ideas of a rpg where most of the time is spent is bed, coughing or lying on a battlefield with your guts spilled out, and the big drama is not combat, but the hours spent rolling on tables for disease, disfigurement and permanent injury. A new game called Injuries & Illness, maybe? Grim, is the word. It almost goes into silly territory for a moment there. Still, I find it fascinating.