Saturday, 24 January 2015

The One Death & Dismemberment Table to Rule Them All

After spending many a scraped together spare minute over the last few months I've finally finished The One Death & Dismemberment Table to Rule Them All (TODADTTRTA).

Click here and behold the carnage (the image above is low-res and does not have the supporting notes and sub-tables)

Thanks go out to the authors of the many fine Death & Dismemberment tables abounding the interwebs, I have riffed and ripped off mightily from lots of you (consider the honour roll in previous posts as a pretty clear reference list. If any folks feel like I have overstepped the mark please let me know and I'm happy to give more overt credit or remove offending items). The version linked is a .pdf, however if you would like a word version to tinker with for yourself please drop me a line. 

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of the Death and Dismemberment Table, I'll direct you to some recent posts detailing what they are and some good examples of tables available online, and a brief analysis of some design issues I considered in putting TODADTTRA together.  If that's too much work, the short story is: instead of the usual process for resolving what happens when PC's hit points are reduced to zero you roll on the table to decide your fate and may be spared for a while longer, accrue permanent injuries or be killed. 

Ok, so how did it turn out? 

Overall I'm pretty happy with it. Specifically:

The good

  • I like how repeated rolls on the table uses a Disadvantage like mechanic, increasing the risk of a bad result but not guaranteeing it.
  • I'm really happy with how I was able to implement the Adrenaline Surge feature from Trollsmyth's (and many others) Death & Dismemberment table. Using 5E's Hit Dice as a hit point recovery mechanic worked really well here and I'm particularly pleased with how an Adrenaline Surge result always counts despite repeated rolls on the table, enabling the classic heroic last stand (in fact it actually becomes more likely). 
  • I'm also quite pleased with how Shields shall be splintered and what I'm calling Helmets shall be rent integrated into the table.
  • I'm pretty happy with the overall flavour of the table.
  • It looks purdy, and I think I've captured the 5E style pretty well - I'm keen for feedback about whether this works for ease of readability, and just in general about how accessible and understandable the table is. 

The so-so
  • I have lingering concerns that it may be too complex for folks wanting a simple table. That isn't necessarily a problem as there are so many good tables of varying complexity and deadliness out there that anyone wanting to use a Death & Dismemberment Table should be able to find one that's a good fit for their game. 
  • The table is lacking in playtesting, so the numbers could be way off for the levels of permanent injury and deadliness I'm aiming for, again feedback is welcomed. 
  • I personally find the shunting off of extra detail into sub tables highly useful, however this again may make things too unwieldy for some. 
  • I like the Destroyed Item result, however I would've liked to have a non-locational equipment damage chance which included armour damage, but struggled to do so without adding too much complexity.
  • I'm hoping the use of a number of 5E'isms in the table isn't a turn off for folks that just aren't that into it - I feel like I've used the best bits to add to the table rather than shoehorning it into 5E and losing the old school Death & Dismembery goodness. 

The bad
  • I would've really loved to get the supporting notes down to a single page rather than two. 
  • I'll need a new project to start working on now! If there is interest I would consider tweaking the table for other editions. I don't really think this is necessary but it could be fun to play around with the formatting style. I've been toying around with the idea of replicating the process of TODADTTRTA but for other game tables (or things that aren't usually tables but could be cool as tables)

I'd love to hear any comments on how TODADTTRTA has turned out, or feedback if anyone happens to use it in play.