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Combining an Inverse Death Spiral with Targeted Injuries

Octopus Prime

Retired User
First off, I am an absolutely huge fan of Tenra Bansho Zero's style of injuries, and I've made it both a core aspect of my homebrew, and something that I houserule onto nearly every game I run.
As character's take wounds, they gain bonuses to all of their rolls. Thus, as combat goes on, the more heavily injured party becomes increasingly dangerous. It's done a ton for raising dramatic tension and making fights get more interesting with time.
The downside of them, of course, is they make targeted wounds - broken legs and such - very odd at the least. I ran into this in a game over the weekend, when a player broke his foot kicking and Iron Body qigong master in the chin, and then fled with an extra bonus to athletics roll thanks to his broken foot.
It wasn't a huge problem, but it did cause a slight drop in verisimilitude.
I'm chewing over some kind of Fate-style tag system for injuries and conditions, that determines whether your injuries are applied as a bonus or a penalty. So perhaps in this case, we might invoke the "broken foot" as a penalty when he attempts to run or kick, but would've instead given the normal wound bonus if he had stood and fought his enemy. And, like Fate, this would've awarded him some sort of metacurrency for taking on the penalized roll.
My worry is, as with most things, "is this too much complexity for too little depth?" Depth to complexity ratios are my guiding principle with game design, and I want to keep the system streamlined and easy to use while still offering diverse experience.


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"A slight drop in verisimilitude?" LoL Your entire system is aiming for a massive drop in v and you are worried about a slight drop. Do it if it's fun but don't even think about v.


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Yeah, this is a real mismatch. You should be able to escape with a broken foot, but not because it boosts athleticism.

Why not have injuries boost everything *except* what would normally be penalized?


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You could also split injury from complication, where serious injuries that can take you out drive up your fighting spirit, but you can also apply a complication to someone - which can be a more minor injury, but could also be things like getting caught in a bola, or even just positioned poorly.


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It depends on how you're doing the specific injuries and reverse death spiral. Consider a reverse death spiral with its health marked to specific locations and wounded level bonuses based on the location rather generalized ones. So maybe the target gets the reverse death spiral buff to everything except whatever location was hit. So if the attacker can control how the target gets wounded, they're kind of choosing how they get buffed by the reverse death spiral. The person wounded in the leg would then get better at everything except running around and kicking type stuff.

If all wounds are locational, then the hopefully the different buffs from people getting close to defeat give reasons to play around the enemies are relatively weak - if you wounded the enemy in the legs, then it's relatively better to contest them in mobility than in areas where they get the buff. If the location damage/buffs are strong enough to be worth playing around, hopefully you get some depth with that complexity.


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I recently saw an episode of 'Baki' where one of the fighters had his hand completely severed... and it _unlocked_ even greater punching power because now without his hand to hold him back (!!!) he could unleash his full potential. He then proceeded to deliver several awesomely mighty stump punches, naturally. So depending on what you're going for, even a targeted penalty may not necessarily apply. In the Baki universe being no longer being 'constrained' by the rigidity of your bones may enable some kind of previously unachievable speed. Because of course it would! :)

Beyond Reality

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It's not an impossible combination, but it does lead to some issues.

The main one is that in most situations an injury is permanent, at least for the duration of a fight. Even if you only sprain your wrist as opposed to shattering it, you aren't going to be getting over it within the next few minutes and that leads to balance issues.

If targeted injuries inflict a significant penalty (and if you want them to be worth the book-keeping they probably will) then the ability to inflict scene-long status effects is a big deal. And while adjudicating things like a broken limb is simple enough in most cases, then that opens up the can of worms with a blow to the head and the possibility of a cracked skull or concussion and that moves from crippling to fight endings, to the degree where you'd have to be really good at balance to avoid fights turning into a series of crippling headshots.

Personally, my system allows for both reverse death spiral and doing things like cracking ribs or busting a joint...but that's because its hyper-anime nonsense and treats those injuries as temporary conditions which aren't likely to last more than a few rounds. Not even necessarily healed quickly...just no longer important.
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