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So, every game I run into anymore, I find myself asking this question when it comes to weapon damage (or other damage rolls, honestly) - why are there ever situations where it is impossible to only do a single point of damage?

Example: A character is hit by a short spear (1d6+1 damage). The lowest damage roll possible with that spear is 2. It is literally impossible to cause only a single point of damage. It gets worse if the wielder has a +1d4 db, when now that spear can't do any less than 3 damage. Heaven forbid he's got a naginata (2d6+2) and is a giant with +2d6 db!

This sort of thing makes players happy - I have a higher guaranteed damage factor - but it makes me a little twitchy as a "realistic" gamer who wonders "what ever happened to grazes, or flesh wounds?" - I don't care how strong you are with that spear, if you only manage to score me along my fleshy belly with the point of that spear, I shouldn't take as much damage as an average hit from a sword cane or worse, a .22 pistol!

So, has anyone looked into alternative systems for dealing with stacking damage like this? Replace all +1's with a "increase die size" mechanic, maybe?

Okay, so my gut says that some mechanic could be arranged that based damage not on dice, but on weapon damage classes. You divide the d100 roll for your to-hit by the damage class, take the remainder (modulo), and add 1. Great strength leads to a higher damage class, rather than flat adds or additional dice. Its' very math-heavy, but it could probably be handled with a chart as well as a formula.

Edited by d_ns
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It's something of a mixed blessing. On the one hand. the adds prevent some weapons from doing 1 point of damage, and make a dagger just too effective against leather, but on the other hand no adds and a high variable makes it harder to simulate armor. For instance, no real, current armor that can be worn, is going to stop a .50 cal.

I've been working on a Damage Class idea to address this, based in part on the risk system and EABA. Basically as the DC increases the damage dice goes up, but armor takes off the DC before rolling damage, rahter than absorbing points. .

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It's something of a mixed blessing. On the one hand. the adds prevent some weapons from doing 1 point of damage, and make a dagger just too effective against leather, but on the other hand no adds and a high variable makes it harder to simulate armor. For instance, no real, current armor that can be worn, is going to stop a .50 cal.

I've been working on a Damage Class idea to address this, based in part on the risk system and EABA. Basically as the DC increases the damage dice goes up, but armor takes off the DC before rolling damage, rahter than absorbing points. .

I'd not thought of that, but it does make some sense. I don't want to get too Rolemaster, but it might even make sense for some weapons to have a bonus to Damage Class based on armor type, as well as points. I'd be keen to see what you've come up with, if it's remotely ready to share.

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It's something of a mixed blessing. On the one hand. the adds prevent some weapons from doing 1 point of damage, and make a dagger just too effective against leather, but on the other hand no adds and a high variable makes it harder to simulate armor. For instance, no real, current armor that can be worn, is going to stop a .50 cal.

Well I think the OP's point is that a 1 HP damage roll represents a graze. It is just as possible to be grazed by a .50 cal as it is by a dagger. The 'problem' is that the effect of a successful hit is, random and largely independent of the skill. (Obviously criticals and specials influence the amount of damage.)

Although it seems oddly pedantic, it is hard to know what represents a "graze" in BRP. Is a graze a 'near miss' that does effectively no damage but maybe leaves a cut or a bit of a burn? In that case it is a failed attack. On the other hand, if a graze is defined as 1 HP of damage then the majority or weapons and anyone with a damage bonus, can't actually cause a graze. Personally, I tend to think of grazes as 'near misses' i.e. inconsequential damage. I think of any HP damage as significant.

Personally I'm all for losing +/-'s from damage rolls. I'm old enough that when faced with a weapon doing 2D6+2, a 1D4 damage bonus and +2 damage from a spell that I start to lose the will to live when asked to roll damage.

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Personally I'm all for losing +/-'s from damage rolls. I'm old enough that when faced with a weapon doing 2D6+2, a 1D4 damage bonus and +2 damage from a spell that I start to lose the will to live when asked to roll damage.

In most cases, I'd prefer to simplify the damage roll down to 1 or 2 dice. For the example you gave above, I'd figure the max damage (20 pts) and then either go with a 1D20 roll or 2D10. Minus the spell bonus you roll 1D10 + 1D8. I prefer the much wider range of potential damage versus the minimum of 7 pts to max of 20 pts you get rolling and adding those bonuses.

I've pondered, every so often, a damage system that allowed you to use whatever weapon you wanted, and based the damage pretty much only on the effectiveness of your attack roll. Dagger versus battle axe? A .22 pistol versus a .50 machine gun? Any of those weapons could take out a human with one attack, but just as in realty, it all comes down to location, location, location! :)

If you guys have a chance, check out the hit location charts for Stalking the Night Fantastic or Fringeworthy. If you want "realism" then you might want to go with these charts. I prefer a smoother, quicker, less quasi-reality damage system myself. I play RPGs in part to enjoy a more heroic world, I don't need the reality of what even a .22 bullet between the eyes (fired by a scrawny junkie with sores on his face) would do to my STR 18 DEX 17 Judo Master.

Any RPG damage system is a balance between realism, ease of gameplay, and genre concept. There is no ONE answer to make everyone happy, we just need to find the particular balance that works for us and our gaming group.

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Well I think the OP's point is that a 1 HP damage roll represents a graze. It is just as possible to be grazed by a .50 cal as it is by a dagger. The 'problem' is that the effect of a successful hit is, random and largely independent of the skill. (Obviously criticals and specials influence the amount of damage.)

Although it seems oddly pedantic, it is hard to know what represents a "graze" in BRP. Is a graze a 'near miss' that does effectively no damage but maybe leaves a cut or a bit of a burn? In that case it is a failed attack. On the other hand, if a graze is defined as 1 HP of damage then the majority or weapons and anyone with a damage bonus, can't actually cause a graze. Personally, I tend to think of grazes as 'near misses' i.e. inconsequential damage. I think of any HP damage as significant.

You're close to where I'm coming from, but I think that my question remains valid in either interpretation. If a graze is a 1HP hit, why can't I do that with a dagger (1d3+2), ever? If it's a near miss that causes no damage, what of the tip slash that causes a tiny bit of damage? I still can't do that with the 1d3+2 dagger. I can't do anything short of 3 points of damage, while a short sword can do 1 or 2 in the right (no db) hands.

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I'd not thought of that, but it does make some sense. I don't want to get too Rolemaster, but it might even make sense for some weapons to have a bonus to Damage Class based on armor type, as well as points. I'd be keen to see what you've come up with, if it's remotely ready to share.

Weapon vs. Armor type makes some sense, but it gets complicated. In some cases it's required (like HEAT rounds) but in others it's not really necessary. As a houserule, I've been assuming that any armor defaults to half value against other types of attacks. So a tank will get some default protection against attack types other than kinetic.

As for what I got, It's not quite ready to share. The big obstacles trying to put all the damage methods (firearms, melee, falling, fire, etc.) all on the same scale, as well as armor. Over the years, each new manner of attack got it's own damage scale and progression, and they don't all match up, even when they should.

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Well I think the OP's point is that a 1 HP damage roll represents a graze. It is just as possible to be grazed by a .50 cal as it is by a dagger.

Uh, not. It isn't "just as possible" to be grazed by a .50 cal as it is by a dagger. It is possible, but it is significantly less possible, as with the .50 cal, a graze in almost entirely due to bullet trajectory, while with a dagger a graze can be the result of several factors such as the force behind the blow, effects of a partial parry and so on.

Now, I agree that there should be a for somebody to get hit by a .50 cal and not have a hit location automatically disabled by the adds, but we also don't want to make the damage roll so random that weapons loose the ability to consistently penetrate armor that they can penetrate constituently. It's a tough balancing act.

The 'problem' is that the effect of a successful hit is, random and largely independent of the skill. (Obviously criticals and specials influence the amount of damage.)

Yup. That is one of the problems. I've raised that issue before, too. IN BRP as in RQ before it, the biggest factor for damage is the weapon being used, rather than the skill in placing the attack. In BRP, a guy with a 50% skill using a rifle that does 3D6 is a greater threat than a guy with 100% skill using a weapon that does 1D6 damage. Skill does not translate well into damage in BRP. Yes there are specials and crticals, but they do not come close to weapon damage rolls.

Although it seems oddly pedantic, it is hard to know what represents a "graze" in BRP. Is a graze a 'near miss' that does effectively no damage but maybe leaves a cut or a bit of a burn? In that case it is a failed attack. On the other hand, if a graze is defined as 1 HP of damage then the majority or weapons and anyone with a damage bonus, can't actually cause a graze. Personally, I tend to think of grazes as 'near misses' i.e. inconsequential damage. I think of any HP damage as significant.

That is one of the flaws of the HP{ mechanic. By the rules, an average human can be killed by a dozen 1 point knife wounds to the arms or legs. Realistically, it just can't happen that way. The guy might bleed out after a time, or the wounds could go septic. but in real life a dozen 1 point hits really do not equal one 12 point hit.

Personally I'm all for losing +/-'s from damage rolls. I'm old enough that when faced with a weapon doing 2D6+2, a 1D4 damage bonus and +2 damage from a spell that I start to lose the will to live when asked to roll damage.

I agree with you, up to a point. I think if we do drop the modifers, then we need to differnate between armor penetration and damage. Otherwise we won;t be able to simulate armor decently in the game.

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In BRP as in RQ before it, the biggest factor for damage is the weapon being used, rather than the skill in placing the attack. In BRP, a guy with a 50% skill using a rifle that does 3D6 is a greater threat than a guy with 100% skill using a weapon that does 1D6 damage. Skill does not translate well into damage in BRP. Yes there are specials and crticals, but they do not come close to weapon damage rolls.
One way to handle this is to double the chance of incurring a Special Success with a weapon. It would only be simple during a session if you amend your own success table accordingly, as not to slow down actual gameplay with mathematics. It may not be the most accurate way to handle things, but I think it could be a reasonably simple fix and doesn't break the system, I'ld advise against actually changing the damage values too much to save on grief down the track.
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Although it seems oddly pedantic, it is hard to know what represents a "graze" in BRP. Is a graze a 'near miss' that does effectively no damage but maybe leaves a cut or a bit of a burn? In that case it is a failed attack. On the other hand, if a graze is defined as 1 HP of damage then the majority or weapons and anyone with a damage bonus, can't actually cause a graze. Personally, I tend to think of grazes as 'near misses' i.e. inconsequential damage. I think of any HP damage as significant.

1 point of damage is very significant. On average it represents about 1/11 of the ability of the character to take damage. That means that 11 single point hits will kill most characters! In the real world, a single point hit would probably hurt like hell, enough to temporarily distract a person from what they were doing if they were not used to dealing with notable pain. Even if you are using the heroic hit point option, it is still a significant amount of damage.

Like you, I've always considered a graze as an attack that just barely missed. Thus, if the dude with the .50 cal misses by 2 percentiles, then the target felt the round pass, if the miss it by 1 percentile, then it probably penetrated their clothes and perhaps left a scratch or burn as it passed if they were wearing no ballistic armor.

I would consider a graze by a dagger or other weapon to be the same. A miss by the attacker, but just barely. I would consider grazes and whatnot to also be inflicted when the attacker is pulling their blow to perhaps annoy or subdue.

Personally I'm all for losing +/-'s from damage rolls. I'm old enough that when faced with a weapon doing 2D6+2, a 1D4 damage bonus and +2 damage from a spell that I start to lose the will to live when asked to roll damage.

It would work, but then we would have to find another way to differentiate between weapons, some very powerful compared to the baseline, with a finite number of die types. I'm not really one that likes rolling tons of dice.

And, honestly, while skill should help determine how well an attack is placed, even a master can be thrown off by angle, etc, in dealing a definitive blow. Perhaps certain weapons should have more impact in Special and Critical situations, masters being able to hit these thresholds more often.

SDLeary

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So, every game I run into anymore, I find myself asking this question when it comes to weapon damage (or other damage rolls, honestly) - why are there ever situations where it is impossible to only do a single point of damage?

Well, someone who is weak and small could have a negative damage bonus, so that could reduce damage to 1 point.

Also, weapons in BRP and RQ in general are assumed to be sharpened metal. Wooden equivalents would not get the +1 damage. A fire-hardened spear, for example, does 1D6 damage.

This sort of thing makes players happy - I have a higher guaranteed damage factor - but it makes me a little twitchy as a "realistic" gamer who wonders "what ever happened to grazes, or flesh wounds?" - I don't care how strong you are with that spear, if you only manage to score me along my fleshy belly with the point of that spear, I shouldn't take as much damage as an average hit from a sword cane or worse, a .22 pistol!

If it makes you that unhappy, just change the damage dice. So, 1D4+2 becomes 1D6, 2D6 becomes 1D12 and so on. Drop all +1s and use 1D12, 1D18, 1D24 and so on for large damage bonuses. It still doesn't help with the giant with a Naginata doing more than 1 point of damage, but this way he would do 1D14 + 1D12, so would do 2 damage as a minimum rather than 6.

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If it makes you that unhappy, just change the damage dice. So, 1D4+2 becomes 1D6, 2D6 becomes 1D12 and so on. Drop all +1s and use 1D12, 1D18, 1D24 and so on for large damage bonuses. It still doesn't help with the giant with a Naginata doing more than 1 point of damage, but this way he would do 1D14 + 1D12, so would do 2 damage as a minimum rather than 6.

If I'm going that route, I'm going balls out, and that giant is going to do a d26 damage. Or maybe I'd start looking at it differently and deal with multiple dice with minuses, to keep the 1 minimum value, but also keep the curve.

So while a 1d4+2 can become 1d6 easily enough, 2d6+2 (3-14) becomes 2d6+1d4-2 (1-14) maybe.

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What I plan on doing is making the skill roll's success level affect the amount of damage done. So basically higher and lower success levels than "normal" would give +/- to damage equal to success levels above or below the norm.

That's already factored in there. The special and critical success rules up the damage for such hits. For instance a implae does dobule damage, and a crtical can ingore armor or do max (depending on which set of rules you are using).

The thing is, since crits and specials don't occu that often (less than 20% of the time, for success chances below 100%) they don't mean as much as the weapon damage die.

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One way to do it would be a "6 step system"

You have 6 damage dice: 1d2, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12

If damage exceeds 1d12 you simply add the next dice step so it becomes 1d12+1d2, 1d12+1d4 and so on.

1D6+1 would be 1D8 in this system. Damage bonuses/penalties would step the damage dice up or down as appropriate. Atg's armour system presumably works similarly, stepping damage up or down rather than subtracting from damage done.

If you want to you can say that any result that rolls all 1's only counts as 1 point of damage.

That would probably work best with locational hit points as that tends to be the most lethal flavour of BRP.

It is roughly the system I use in my very lite CoC variant I use for running coC with non-rpgers.

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In the shower, where I do all my best thinking, I realized why I have issues with the armor reducing damage classes idea - it means that light armor can't ever protect you from taking damage from a heavier weapon. 2 point leather would make a d10 weapon into a d6 weapon, say, meaning that you're taking damage, where if you had 2 point leather on versus a d10 roll, you'd have a 20% chance of avoiding damage altogether.

Not sure which is closer to realistic, but it feels wrong to say that your leather can't ever protect you from damage from a larger weapon, even close blows.

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In the shower, where I do all my best thinking, I realized why I have issues with the armor reducing damage classes idea - it means that light armor can't ever protect you from taking damage from a heavier weapon. 2 point leather would make a d10 weapon into a d6 weapon, say, meaning that you're taking damage, where if you had 2 point leather on versus a d10 roll, you'd have a 20% chance of avoiding damage altogether.

Not sure which is closer to realistic, but it feels wrong to say that your leather can't ever protect you from damage from a larger weapon, even close blows.

d10-2: 0, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 8 - average 3.6 median 3.5

d6: 1 2 3 4 5 6 - average 3.5, median 3.5

The difference is fewer extreme results so your leather armour prevents you from ever taking 7 or 8 points of damage. Say you have a 5 HP head then would you rather have a 40% chance of being knocked out by a single blow or a 33% chance?

I'm not sure there is a 'realism' element here. Reducing damage steps means that armour tends to "muffle" the impact but rarely fully negates it.

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That's already factored in there. The special and critical success rules up the damage for such hits. For instance a implae does dobule damage, and a crtical can ingore armor or do max (depending on which set of rules you are using).

The thing is, since crits and specials don't occu that often (less than 20% of the time, for success chances below 100%) they don't mean as much as the weapon damage die.

Sorry, was in a fog when I wrote that and was thinking about someone's optional rule that adds more success levels than just 2 types of success and failure.

Edited by Link6746
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1 point of damage is very significant. On average it represents about 1/11 of the ability of the character to take damage.

Except it doesn't really work like that in the real world. People aren't just lumps that give out after a certain amount of damage. Its' not so much how much cumulative damage you take as it is what specific parts of you get damaged.

That means that 11 single point hits will kill most characters! In the real world, a single point hit would probably hurt like hell, enough to temporarily distract a person from what they were doing if they were not used to dealing with notable pain. Even if you are using the heroic hit point option, it is still a significant amount of damage.

Yes, although in the real wolrd how much it hurts isn't the same as how significant the damage is. Often minor injuries can hurt worse than serious ones.

And, honestly, while skill should help determine how well an attack is placed, even a master can be thrown off by angle, etc, in dealing a definitive blow. Perhaps certain weapons should have more impact in Special and Critical situations, masters being able to hit these thresholds more often.

SDLeary

Yes, a master can be thrown off, but that is part of what the skill roll represents, right? A guy who rolls a critical hit wasn't thrown off. Perhaps if the special and crtical bonuses were tied to the weapon damage rating as much. Placement is probably more important with small light weapons, that with larger heavier ones.

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Sorry, was in a fog when I wrote that and was thinking about someone's optional rule that adds more success levels than just 2 types of success and failure.

I think it might have been my optional rule. I had an idea about using 1/10th the difference between the attack and defense as a effect value, and getting rid of the current success levels.

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Except it doesn't really work like that in the real world. People aren't just lumps that give out after a certain amount of damage. Its' not so much how much cumulative damage you take as it is what specific parts of you get damaged.

No, of course not, its an abstract. But it is one that is fairly straightforward, easy to understand. The amount of punishment a body can take does vary from body to body, what an HP represents is a portion of that. Thus in my example a body could take 11 of that type of hit and end up in a state where the body would die before long.

Locational hits matter, but even there you have people in real life that get shot thru the heart, lungs, brain, and are still able to function. Long metal pipes thru the brain and live with no visible brain damage, etc.

The way the body functions is very very complex, and there is NO game system that models it well, at least one that most people would consider playable.

Yes, although in the real wolrd how much it hurts isn't the same as how significant the damage is. Often minor injuries can hurt worse than serious ones.

Also true. But I can almost guarantee you that if suddenly you were injured for 1/11 of the physical damage that your body could take, that you would feel it. You could be in a state when it happens where adrenaline helps you to push the pain to the side, or perhaps a mental state that allows you to feed off of the pain (Bloodrage/Berserk), but it would still be felt, and significant. Being drugged in some way could negate things.

Yes, a master can be thrown off, but that is part of what the skill roll represents, right? A guy who rolls a critical hit wasn't thrown off. Perhaps if the special and crtical bonuses were tied to the weapon damage rating as much. Placement is probably more important with small light weapons, that with larger heavier ones.

I've always seen a special/critical in BRP as somewhat independent to the defense. A master hits really well in a given round, well enough that he delivers a debilitating or fatal blow. This does NOT preclude the defender from doing just as well, or bing aided enough (armor, magic, etc.) to negate the effects of the blow of the master.

If you don't want to use crits and specials based upon weapon damage, then perhaps a Special allows the attacker to migrate a hit to one adjacent location with normal rolled damage; a Critical the same with the old cRQ2 special effects (for some weapon variability).

SDLeary

Edited by SDLeary
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I really like this discussion on damage. As far as melee weapons i agree there should be a chance to do 1 point of damage. However firearms get more complicated. grazes from high powered rifle or pistols are very unlikely to do only one point of damage. example a graze from a .50 BMG will never do 1 point of damage even if it was a grazing hit, we are talking about a weapon that hits with such incredible force. i do like idea of grouping max weapon damage and damage bonus into one die roll for certain weapons. I think it is great that we can rethink things reverse engineer stuff, maybe not everything we come up with is practicle, but sometimes a treasure of a idea can spring from such conversation.

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With powerful firearms you will, by necessity, be using multiple damage dice in any case - once you're past 1D20 you're into the more exotic polyhedral dice, which I tend to avoid because most people (including myself) don't have them in their dice bag. So, in practice, this is not much of a problem. It's at the lower levels (1D4, 1D6, 1D8, 1D10, etc.) where you should be able to get away with just one point of damage. Adds a bit more fear and hope to the game.

YMMV, as always. :)

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