Below is a table to add gruesome effects and a death spiral for when characters reach 0 hp. Rather than dying, they see what horrible effects happen upon their character. Mechanically this characters a greater chance of surviving combat, but still discentivizes getting into combat recklessly.
|Art by Caravaggio|
Hit Points are not "meat points" instead they represent your ability to survive blows that are potentially lethal through luck, skill, or toughness. When your HP reaches 0, you are unable to defend yourself properly, and any blow is a potentially lethal one. There are no mechanical effects for being reduced to 0 HP. However, any damage in excess of this is potentially lethal and incurs a Severity Roll on the Perishing and Perdition Table and may result in you gaining Fatal Wounds. Fatal Wounds are what kill a character. Unless you can get rid of one, a fatal wound kills you three rounds after you receive it.
If you have a Fatal Wound your character is still conscious but is moments away from death and is likely screaming as they bleed out. You may continue taking actions as normal or you can instead attempt to remove a fatal wound. If you choose to get rid of a Fatal Wound you have a 1 in 6 chance of removing it, succeeding on a roll of 1. The only other way of losing a Fatal Wound is having other characters performing surgery (see Author's Note) or receiving magical healing which removes 1 Fatal Wound for every 2 points of damage healed.
|Author's Notes: In my games there is a surgery skill which works on the basis of a X in 6 chance of success. If you roll greater than your X in 6 when attempting surgery you deal that much damage to some one, but if you roll equal or less to your X in 6 chance you heal that much damage.|
Perishing and Perdition Table
If the damage source is not from Burns, Eldritch Effects, or Surgery you must roll a 1d10 for hit location. Each severity scale is cumulative so if you roll a 13 on a severity roll you'd gain both the effects of the 11+ and the 1+ Severity Roll.
|Value Rolled||Hit Location|
|Severity Roll of 1+||Effects|
|Skull||Automatically lose initiative for a number of combat rounds equal to Severity Roll|
|Neck||Must spend a round to recover yourself before you can perform any other actions|
|Arms||Drop weapon/shield held in hand and cannot use that arm for a number of turns equal to Severity Roll|
|Torso||-2 to Attack and Defense Scores / To Hit and AC until you spend a round recovering your breath|
|Legs||Fall prone and cannot use the leg to support your weight for a number of turns equal to Severity Roll (reduce movement score by 6 / base movement speed by half)|
|Burns||Gain only half the Defense /AC bonus from your armor for a number of days equal to Severity Roll|
|Eldritch Effects||-4 to Saves for a number of combat rounds equal to Severity Roll|
|Surgery||Half Maximum HP for a number of days equal to Severity Roll|
|Severity Roll of 11+||Effects + 1 Fatal Wound|
|Skull||Save else randomly lose 1 point of intelligence, wisdom, charisma, or an eye (roll a 1d4) permanently|
|Neck||Lose 1d10 teeth and Save else mute permanently|
|Arms||Save else lose either the left or right arm|
|Torso||Save else randomly lose 1 point of strength, dexterity, or constituion permanently|
|Legs||Save else lose either the left or right leg (reduce movement by 6 permanently / base movement speed by half)|
|Burns||Save else permanently lose 1d6 points of charisma and 1d2 points of dexterity|
|Eldritch Effects||Save else gain a curse|
|Surgery||Save else permanent +4 bonus on all further severity rolls|
|Severity Roll of 16+||Effects|
|Any Source||Gain Severity Roll - 15 Fatal Wounds|