“Man has killed man from the beginning of time, and each new frontier has brought new ways and new places to die. Why should the future be different?”- Col. Corazon Santiago
As the GM you have the ability, nay, the duty, to come up with new, delightfully horrifying ways for your player characters to get maimed and killed. The purpose of this section is to give you a hand in coming up with game mechanics to handle your hazards in a consistent and fair, yet brutal manner. There are also a few ready made hazards to get you started, and to give you ideas.
Fire burns things, including the human body. At its simplest fire can be handled by simply dealing damage at the start of each turn to the target based on the intensity of the fire:
1d6: Having a welding torch applied to you (before anything catches fire). Putting out TD 5/10 depending on the tools at hand and the co-operation of the person on fire.
2d6: Being thrown into a camp fire (before anything catches fire). Having a single body part on fire. Putting out TD 10/15 depending on the tools at hand and the co-operation of the person on fire.
4d6: Being completely on fire. This is the intensity of most serious incendiary weapons, and the maximum intensity you normally get for just burning. Putting out TD 15/20 depending on the tools at hand and the co-operation of the person on fire.
8d6: Completely engulfed in flames, eg. a collapsing burning house, immersed in molten metal, etc. Being on fire does not normally get this bad. It takes a true inferno to deal this much damage during a single turn. Putting out TD 20/25 depending on the tools at hand and the co-operation of the person on fire.
As a rule of thumb under normal conditions fire goes usually up or down one level of intensity per turn, unless it has reached a stable condition. If a human being is set on fire the ignition source deals its damage on the first turn, and the intensity usually increases one level each subsequent turn until it reaches 4d6. If you want someone to burn 8d6 per turn you usually need to apply an accelerant.
Conversely extinguishing a burning person (intensity 4d6) normally takes three turns: 4d6 → 2d6, 2d6 → 1d6, 1d6 → fire goes out. Assuming everything goes well the victim takes a total of 7d6 damage during the process. Being on fire is, obviously, very bad for your health.
Burns are not pretty and tend to heal slowly. Without modern burn treatment the wounds caused by fire heal at half rate. Consider applying a level of Ugly to anyone who suffers burns, particularly to the face. If it was particularly bad you might want to apply more than one level. Modern cosmetic surgery can of course repair the damage but it might cost you a fair bit of money.
Poisons are essentially drugs where fucking you up is a feature, not a bug. See Drugs for more details on drugs.
Poison saves are normally equal to your BODY, modified by the Stun Save Modifier of your current [Wound State] and the Strength of the poison.
Deadly poisons can kill you in two ways: by destroying tissue or by inducing organ failure. The ones that destroy tissue are generally indiscriminate and simply deal damage. The ones that are a bit more subtle usually deal no damage but force the target to save or die.
If the poison is not deadly it has some other nasty effect. (Doh.)
When designing a poison there are usually three levels of effect to consider:
Successful save: Many poisons have some kind of milder effect even if the target passes the save.
Failed save: The usual effect of the poison.
Overdose: What happens if the target is drenched in the poison. These are very bad, often deadly even for the “less-than-lethal” poisons.
Some poisons (for example Nerve Toxins) do not let the target make a save. They merely list their usual effect and what happens on overdose.
Don’t forget to consider the cost of your poison: new high tech poisons are expensive, while old and crude ones are usually cheap. Manufacturing poisons is dangerous and all the serious ones are very illegal: the price on the streets is extremely high if they are available at all. Below are some ready made poisons for you to complicate your player character’s lives with:
Tear gas is a lachrymatory agent which causes tears and pain. The stronger ones also cause temporary blindness on a failed save. Tear Gas usually has a low strength to avoid accidentally overdosing and killing the target, but of course in the modern day and age stronger stuff is available for indiscriminate use.
Successful save: The target has -2 to all actions.
Failed save: The target has -4 to all actions.
Overdose: Breathing is difficult to impossible for the target. Target makes a Death save with a +1 modifier. Failure means target can not breathe and will slowly choke to death.
Mustard gas causes blistering on exposed skin and in the lungs if inhaled. Although pure mustard gas is both colorless and odorless the kind that is used in chemical weapons is usually yellowish-brown and smells of mustard plants, garlic or horseradish. Mustard gas takes a while to deal its damage: make the save d10 hours after exposure. Without proper modern treatment damage caused by mustard gas heals at half rate. Normally the damage is only evident once it is too late to apply countermeasures: unless someone has a chemical analyzer simply do not tell the players anything is wrong until they are forced to make the save.
Successful save: Target takes 2d6 damage.
Failed save: Target takes 2d6 damage and saves again 2d10 hours later.
Overdose: Each hour the target takes 3d6 damage and must save against Death.
Instead of causing direct damage nerve toxins interfere with the proper functioning of the nervous system. Symptoms include: runny nose, tightness in the chest, constriction of the pupils, difficulty breathing, nausea, loss of control over bodily functions, gastrointestinal pain and vomiting. Soon after the initial symptoms there will be convulsions, epileptic fits and finally death via complete respiratory depression. How much time you have depends on the particular toxin, but it probably isn’t more than a few minutes at best (d10 minutes). The modern versions are lethal in well under a minute (1 round) and a perennial favorite amongst high-tech assassins.
Effect: The target makes a death save modified by the strength of the nerve toxin.
Overdose: The target starts dying. Death is certain without medical aid. The exact task difficulty of saving the victim varies between nerve toxins but is usually at least 20.
Even if the target survives, most nerve toxins cause neurological damage. Permanent damage to INT, REF, EMP or COOL is not uncommon after exposure.
Acids and other caustic substances
Although most acidic substances are nowhere near as dangerous as portrayed by Hollywood chemical burns are not a laughing matter. Apply the same logic as with fire, with the exception that the damage usually goes down one level of intensity per turn, unless the substance is particularly vicious.