Monday, November 11, 2013

The Critical Injury Table (Edge of the Empire)

Last week our group took a bit of a detour, and thanks to an Astrogation mishap ended up at some "hick outpost" in Wild Space.  Now, my character is actually really AWESOME at Astrogation (just to be clear), but I was pulling a really crazy stunt (making a jump while in a planet's atmosphere to avoid Imperials in orbit), with a slightly damaged navcomputer (next check was supposed to be upgraded), and my GM decided that the difficulty for this was Formidable.  Yep, that's the first time our group has had to face FIVE purples, and the upgrade certainly wasn't helping matters, so you can understand the mishap.  Granted I was able to decrease the difficulty thanks to Master Starhopper, but that's just part of how awesome an Astrogator my PC is!

But anyways, I digress.  The navcomputer was REALLY shot after that (oh, Despairs...), so we landed at this station to see if we could scrounge up supplies for a repair.  Some Jawa junk dealer had what we needed, but we had to return to the ship to get the credits for it, and the half of the party that was guarding the ship were attacked by "salvagers" who had proceeded to tear pieces off of our ship.  In a fit of rage after dealing with that (which only followed a whole string of "the party gets screwed" events, and did I mention the BBEG was a few days behind us in hyperspace?), I decided I was just going to walk into the Jawa's shop and take the parts by force, if need be.  I took the assassin droid as backup.  Our previous encounter with the Jawa revealed that he hit some type of security button in response to our weapons, and I suppose our GM thought that this was enough warning for us.  I figured it would summon some guards, or activate an alarm, or at worst some kind of security system with lasers and stuff.  No.  The button had armed a THERMAL DETONATOR, and when the droid shot the Jawa he dropped the dead man's switch, and BOOM!

The GM called for Coordination checks, and while I disagree on how he implemented the results*, he's the GM so it's his call.  Not surprisingly, both of us go down, and both of us roll really high on our d% rolls.  The thing's got Vicious 4, so the Droid ended up Blinded (which seems to be permanent), and my character got Gruesome Injury (Presence).

I was bitter.  I still am, a little bit, even if I've gotten used to the cool factor of my character being so horribly burned that people can't stand to really talk with her.  I've suggested pursuing some kind of experimental regenerative procedure (equivalent in cost, or in my case obligation, to the Cybernetic options that increase Characteristics) so I guess "permanent" isn't quite as dire as it seems.  It was definitely eye opening, though, especially since even without a prior critical injury I was pretty close to rolling "Bleeding Out," which would have effectively meant death since my only ally in the vicinity was also down.

Even now, I'm not really sure how I feel about the Critical Injury table.  On the one hand, I've always been vehemently opposed to ability score damage in D&D, and one of the pros to 4E was that it was one sacred cow that was slain.  So the fact that I took a permanent reduction to Presence (did I mention Cool and Negotiation are important skills for my character?) really hit a sore spot for me.  I'm also not a fan of "save or die" spells in D&D, and a high percentile roll on the table can be exactly that.

On the other hand, the table does have the neat effect of providing a sense of danger without having combat be too lethal with regards to taking too many Wounds.  It also captures the feel of the setting really well, what with lost limbs being a big thing in Star Wars, and certain weapons (like that Thermal Detonator!) being EXTREMELY deadly.  Besides that it offers a plethora of neat "control" effects when used in combat, and provides a gritty realism without being too crunchy and still allowing for brash stunts, since you won't get badly hurt all the time.

It's not the most "fair" of mechanics because there's so much variability inherent in that d% roll, but overall I think that's probably ok.  Characters SHOULD be in bad shape after being caught in the blast of a thermal detonator, or after taking injury after injury.  It changes the stakes in a way that can't be solved by simply loading up on stimpacks, and I think that's important for the game.  I just wish I hadn't rolled so high with my character.

*Basically, what I would have done was subbed Coordination (or Athletics) in place of Ranged Light as a "defense roll," with a success equivalent to a missed attack roll, threat equivalent to an attack roll's advantage, etc.  Essentially make it no harder to avoid than if he'd lobbed the thing at us.  What the GM had ruled was that success reduced damage by 1 each (I'd rolled 4 successes, but that was still higher than my Wound Threshold so I still suffered a Critical Injury).  Neither way is "wrong," but I do find his ruling pretty harsh.  Especially since the difficulty was either Hard or Daunting, and the only reason I did so well was 2 blank faces on the purple dice.

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