Damage System for Having Skills Linked to Attributes

Something I want from the game that I am designing is the ability to damage a character in ways other than just physical damage. If two characters are having a battle of wits one should be able to befuddle the other. The confusion could be considered mental damage. Likewise, two characters trying to one up each other at a social event may be trying to damage each other’s status. The loss of reputation could be considered social damage.

So I started using very broad categories for the attributes in my Fudge game, and they are as follows:

Physical – Anything having to do with the character’s build and athletic abilites.

Mental – The character’s ability to reason and recall knowledge.

Social – The character’s ability to read others intentions and influence them.

Spiritual – The character’s ability to channel and focus otherworldly energies.

Now if you want to play a clumsy character who is amazing with swords (fans of Fudge know who I am referring to here) you assign the character a low Physical attribute rank and very high rank in the Swords skill.

The Swords skill can be linked to the Physical attribute if that is appropriate, but you can also have that skill linked to the Spiritual attribute for the Zen type warrior, or the Mental attribute for the calm, cool, and calculating type. I can even see stretching this to link the Swords skill to the Social attribute for the Zorro type of character who is flamboyant in his tactics. It is a stretch, but hey – this is Fudge!

When an attack is made against a character, item, or other form of in game entity the damage is determined by comparing the offensive result against the defensive result of the attack and the countermeasure. If the offensive result exceeds the defensive result, then the target of the offensive result has been damaged somehow. The number by which the offensive result exceeds the defensive result is how much damage the target has taken.

Each attribute is the buffer for how much damage a character may take. When a character takes damage it is possible to reduce how effective an attribute is.

Attacks can target a particular attribute, or they can be open where the player decides how the damage is taken to one or several attributes.

All skills are not based upon an attribute, but they are linked to an attribute. As an attribute is damaged all linked skills suffer.

Damage is recorded in the form of damage slots. Capacity is how much damage can be taken by a damage slot. Higher ranks have a higher number of damage slots at each level, and the damage slots also tend to have a greater capacity as well. Each rank is shown below with its capacity in the form of a number or range followed by a slash and the number of damage slots that the rank has at that level.

Superb – Scratch 1-3/3, Hurt 4-6/3, Very Hurt 7-8/1, Agony 9-10/1, Incapacitated 11/1
Great – Scratch 1-3/3, Hurt 4-5/2, Very Hurt 6-7/1, Agony 8-9/1, Incapacitated 10/1
Good – Scratch 1-2/3, Hurt 3-4/2, Very Hurt 5-6/1, Agony 7-8/1, Incapacitated 9/1
Fair – Scratch 1-2/3, Hurt 3-4/1, Very Hurt 5-6/1, Agony 7-8/1, Incapacitated 9/1
Mediocre – Scratch 1-2/2, Hurt 3-4/1, Very Hurt 5-6/1, Agony 7/1, Incapacitated 8/1
Poor – Scratch 1-2/1, Hurt 3-4/1, Very Hurt 5/1, Agony 6/1, Incapacitated 7/1
Terrible – Scratch 1-2/1, Hurt 3/1, Very Hurt 4/1, Agony 5/1, Incapacitated 6/1

If an attack causes 2 points of damage, a character with a rank of Fair in that attribute would mark one of the three damage slots that the character has at the Scratch level. A character with a rank of Terrible in that same rank would mark the only damage slot that the character has at the Scratch level. A character with a rank of Superb could take up to 3 points of damage and still lose only one Scratch level damage slot, but still loses a damage slot at that level even though the damage is only 2 points.

An attack that causes far greater damage against an attribute may immediately reduce a character into one of lower damage levels. An attack that causes 6 points of damage would render a character with a Terrible rank in the targeted attribute to Incapacitated immediately. The same attack would reduce a character with a rank of Superb in the targeted attribute to the level of Hurt.

Damage results in a modifier being applied to the attribute and all skills linked to that attribute.

Scratch: No modifier applied.

Hurt: -1 modifier

Very Hurt: -2 modifier

Agony: -3 modifier

Incapacitated: Once an attribute is Incapacitated the character may not use that attribute or any skills linked to that attribute.

If an attribute is reduced to Agony then all other rolls receive a -1 modifier which is cumulative (2 attributes at Agony results in a -2 modifier to all rolls). If an attribute is reduced to Incapacitated then the character may not be able to perform any actions at all, or all other rolls receive a -2 modifier which is cumulative (1 attribute at Incapacitated and 1 attribute at Agony results in a -3 modifier applied to all rolls).

Characters can die if an in game event would most likely result in their death. The game master has the final say on player character death, but all of the players should make a brief case either for or against the character’s demise first. In the event that a character may die the game master should declare that the event is most likely a fatal one. Each player then makes their case for or against the character’s death based on plausible reasons within the game world. The game master then declares if and how the player character dies, but the player who controls the character is given the right of Famous Last Words.

Famous Last Words is when the player is given limited narrative control of the story to describe the player character’s final moment. This is a chance for the player to ensure that the character’s final moment is fitting with the player’s vision of the character.

This is a bit complex, but I am working on a character sheet that makes this easy to understand and keep track of. I hope to have that posted sometime later in the week.

What are others doing for damage in their games? Share what works for you by leaving a comment below. I look forward to hearing how others handle damage in their Fudge games.