Saturday, 8 September 2018

A Death and Dismemberment table for 5e only just now hits me that "Death and Dismemberment" abbreviates to D&D. Anyway.

As soon as I get Trail of Cthulhu out of my system, D&D is probably next on the menu. In brief: I love me some GLOG, my players prefer something more robustD&D 5e. Table fun trumps rules details, so 5e it will be - with some other mechanics ported in.

Here's a table to track character injuries and death, based with gratitude on the good work by +ArnoldK (core idea) and +Skerples (additions and further horrification).

Most useful site while writing this up:



Let's pretend you haven't heard this argument a thousand times before. Why not indeed? D&D hit points are a pretty bloodless affair with you and your opponent stoically trade blows to bring each other down to 0 hit points. You can add flavour when you narrate, but those hit points basically represent the effort you can make to not get hit too badly. I get why this runs faster at the table than checking for lost digits with Every. Single. Attack. Roll. But it does up the expectations for when the hit points run out and the hurting starts. Something interesting should happen and "game over" is just one of the options.

So how does D&D handle a character dipping below 0 hit points?

In D&D 3, you drop unconscious and wait to bleed out, get a lucky roll and stabilize, or get healed. 5th edition has you KO again, rolling death saves to see if you recover or die at three failed saves.

Notice the conspicuous absence of scorched flesh, smashed skulls and shattered limbs.

I love throwing my players skull and scarab tokens for each death save.

Death and Dismemberment tables add real consequences and long term risk to combat. These rules stay out of the way until hit points run out and you can have them basic or insanely complex. The version by +ArnoldK / +Skerples is pretty fast. I've expanded it by adding effects for all of 5e's many damage types. Also upgraded nonlethal damage - I don't care if you're kicking instead of stabbing, hit someone too hard and things will break.

Enough talk. Let's get slicey.


Damage you take to your hit points represents the effort of turning big blows into grazing hits. Track as usual. Once you hit 0 hp, you start to take really fun Injuries.

Roll Severity (X) to see how bad the wound is:
        Severity (X) = 1d10 + damage beyond 0 hp + number of existing injuries

Find the line for the damage type you took in the table below, or the body part hit by a weapon (d6). Take this Injury and any lower category ones. Example: you roll X=12 for a hit to a (d6=2) arm, and you get not one, but two Injuries: "Disabled 12 days" AND "1 Fatal Wound + Mangled".

Damage to/by
(lesser injury)
(greater injury)
Arm (1-2)
Disabled X days
1 Fatal Wound, Dex 15 or Mangled
X-15 Fatal Wounds
Leg (3)
Disabled X days
1 Fatal Wound, Str 15 or Mangled
X-15 Fatal Wounds
Torso (4-5)
Cracked ribs X days
1 Fatal Wound, Con 15 or Crushed
X-15 Fatal Wounds
Head (6)
Concussed X days
1 Fatal Wound, Con 15 or Skullcracked
X-15 Fatal Wounds

Acid / Fire
Burned X days
1 Fatal Wound, Dex 15 or Blind
X-15 Fatal Wounds
Frostbite X days
1 Fatal Wound, Con 15 or Frozen
X-15 Fatal Wounds
Cracked ribs X days
1 Fatal Wound, Str 15 or Crushed
X-15 Fatal Wounds
Burned X days
1 Fatal Wound, Con 15 or Seared
X-15 Fatal Wounds
Anathema X days
1 Fatal Wound, Con 15 or Abomination
X-15 Fatal Wounds
KO'd X rounds
Mangled, Crushed or Skullcracked (d6)
1 Fatal Wound
Wracked X days
1 Fatal Wound, Con 15 or Harrowed
X-15 Fatal Wounds
Wracked X days
1 Fatal Wound, Wis 15 or Shattered
X-15 Fatal Wounds
Burned X days
1 Fatal Wound, Wis 15 or Marked
X-15 Fatal Wounds
Concussed X rounds
1 Fatal Wound, Str 15 or Deaf
X-15 Fatal Wounds


With the exception of going KO, these leave you sort of functional. Enough to run away or get yourself into worse trouble. Can be removed with a lesser restoration spell, or their duration shortened by 1 day with a day of rest and care (heal check, difficulty 15).

Anathema - Cannot benefit from healing magic. Remove with Blessed or Remove Curse.
Burned - Cannot wear armor; disadvantage on all checks (not saves) while wearing one.
Concussed - Disadvantage on initiative checks. Spells have a 1-in-6 failure chance.
Cracked ribs - Maximum hit points reduced by character level or hit dice.
Disabled - A disabled arm drops anything held; a leg collapses and reduce your speed by half.
Frostbite - Fingertips, ears, and nose go black and (Con save, difficulty 10) 1d3 may fall off. Disadvantage on checks for purposes of delicate tasks (card tricks, lockpicking, tying shoelaces).
KO - Unconscious, incapable of any action, autofail all saves except Con. If suffered again, add the new duration to the existing one.
Wracked - 20% chance of fumbling an action due to palsy or fugue.


A Fatal Wound is deadly after three rounds. On your turn, roll a Death save (Con save, difficulty 20) for every Fatal Wound you have: a succesful save gets rid of it. Every 5 hp of magical healing doesn't heal hit points but instead gets rid of a Fatal Wound. A Heal check DC 15 also gets rid of one (you can receive Heal check-care from one person each round).

Fatal Wounds incapacitate you: you may go unconscious, scream at the stump of your arm, or gibber like a lunatic, but you cannot move, take actions, cast spells or even talk coherently.

You can push yourself to move, talk or take on action, but you then go KO and automatically fail the next round's Death saves. It takes a Constitution save, difficulty 20 to cast a spell or perform first aid on yourself - the spell fizzles if you fail your save.


Roll the indicated save in the table against difficulty 18. If no specific scar is spelled out under the fail effect, you get the scar under the pass effect. These are permanent until removed through specific means.

Abomination - Pass: wicked scar tissue forms unclean glyphs. Fail: cannot benefit from divine magic. Getting the bad juju out will take a donation at the temple for a purification rite (remove curse, banishment, hallow). Or fall in love with an angel.
Blind - Pass: cool facial scar. Fail: permanently blinded. (Lesser or greater restoration, heal, regeneration.)
Crushed - Pass: scar. Fail: roll d6 below. Can be cured with greater restoration, heal, regeneration.
  1. Permanently lose 1 Str. Tendons or muscle hit. Scar.
  2. Permanently lose 1 Dex. Broken bones not set properly. Scar.
  3. Permanently lose 1 Con. Pierced lung. Scar.
  4. Crushed throat. You cannot speak louder than a whisper. Evil scar.
  5. Crushed ribs. Disadvantage when performing gross physical actions (combat, athletics). Scar.
  6. Your spine is broken and you are paralyzed from the neck down. You can recover from this by making a Con 15 save after 1d6 days, and again after 1d6 weeks if you fail the first check. If you fail both, it is permanent. Regeneration or Heal spell helps. A Heal check by an expert, difficulty 18, gives you advantage on this save. Evil scar.
Deaf - Pass: no effect. Fail: permanently deaf. (Lesser or greater restoration, heal, regeneration)
Frozen - Can be cured with greater restoration, heal, regeneration. Pass: scar and 1d6 digits lost (fingers and toes). Need at least one hand with 4 digits to cast spells. Fail: roll d6.
  1. Lose 2d6 digits (random chosen). Scar.
  2. Lose all but 1 digit (randomly chosen). Evil scar.
  3. Lose a hand. Evil scar.
  4. Lose a foot. Scar.
  5. Lose two hands or feet, and nose (-2 Charisma). Evil scar.
  6. Lose both hands, both feet, nose, and eyes (-2 permanent Charisma, Blind). Wicked scar.
Harrowed - Pass: wicked scar; sickening, discolored flesh. Fail: disadvantage on Constitution checks and saves. Cure with lesser or greater restoration, heal, regeneration. Or hunt down a bezoar to cleanse yourself.
Mangled - Pass: scar - digit lopped off. Fail: limb lopped off or otherwise permanently inoperable. Evil scar. Cure with greater restoration, heal, regeneration.
Marked - Pass: wicked scar - bleached scar tissue forms glyphs of censure. Fail: disadvantage on saves versus divine spells. Undergo a purification rite to remove (remove curse, banishment, hallow) or undergo the Seven Trials of Purgation.
Seared: like this, but faster and in your skin.
Lichtenberg figures are scary. (source)
Seared - Pass: awesome scar - full body marked by discharge. Fail: disadvantage on Dexterity checks and saves. Can be removed with lesser or greater restoration, heal, regeneration.
Shattered - Pass: scar - hair turns white. Fail: disadvantage on Int and Wisdom checks and saves. Can be removed with greater restoration, heal, dream, modify memory, true seeing, mind blank.
Skullcracked - Pass: Scar on head or face. Fail: roll d6. Can be cured with greater restoration, heal, regeneration.
  1. Permanently lose 1 Intelligence. Scar.
  2. Permanently lose 1 Wisdom. Scar.
  3. Permanently lose 1 Charisma. Evil scar.
  4. Left eye lost. -1 to ranged attacks. If both eyes lost, Blind. Scar.
  5. Right eye lost. -1 to ranged attacked. If both eyes lost, Blind. Scar.
  6. Coma. Save to recover after 1d6 days. If failed, Save again after 1d6 weeks. If both Saves are failed, the PC is permanently unconscious. Evil scar.


Did you take enough damage to get a scar? Then you can use these for bragging. Good for intimidating brawlers, impressing barbarians, getting a meal for your tale. Not all scars are created equal - the lower on this table, the more awesome. Save the best for last when you're trying to outbid someone.
  • scar - could be you saw combat. Could be you're a klutz with the kitchen knife.
  • evil scar - impressive scar tissue shows your mettle.
  • wicked scar - something deeply unwholesome happened to you and it puts people off.
  • awesome scar - you were either blessed or cursed to survive such punishment.


There - isn't that better than just falling to the ground?


  1. Like this think I’ll try it with my group. Just wish it was in pdf. Thanks