A Shot in the Arm
A special damage system for Star Frontiers games

by Jason Pamental and David Packard
Dragon Magazine, #124, pg. ?

The combat system used in the Star Frontiers game is generally realistic and simple, but the damage system lacks that realism. You never see anyone with a broken limb, a wound, a concussion, etc. The only damage taken is to one's Stamina. The following rules make the damage system more realistic and provide information about broken limbs, wounds, and cuts, and how this damage can be healed. It also provides realistic damage to robots, computers, weapons, and equipment. Vehicle damage is already covered in the game rules.

The System

Each character has a percentage chance to cause special damage to an opponent when that character performs a "to hit" roll. This chance is figured out by the formula: 3% + (skill level X 2), where the skill level refers to the appropriate weapons skill. For example: Fl'remp, a female Vrusk, fires a laser pistol at a Human. She has a level 4 Beam Weapons skill, so her chance to cause special damage is 11%. She rolls a 06 on her "to hit" roll (less than her chance), so she has scored special damage. A character can add 1% to his special-damage chance for each round spent aiming at a target. A maximum of 10% may be added this way. If a character's chance to hit an opponent is less than the chance to cause special damage, then special damage cannot be scored.

After a character has caused special damage, the player must find out the type of damage done (this special damage is in addition to normal Stamina-reducing damage). To determine damage, the player rolls 1d10. Add or subtract any applicable modifications to this roll, as shown on Table 1. The referee may modify this number with modifications not found on Table 1 as seen fit. Note that a target in an activated defensive screen cannot take special damage. There are two damage-type tables: one for living beings and one for robots. Computer damage is explained elsewhere.

To read the damage tables, go from left to right. The first column on the left is the number a player rolled. The next column shows how much extra damage is taken to the target's Stamina score. The third shows what kind of special damage is taken, and the final column shows how many pieces of equipment have been destroyed. There is a 10% chance that a weapon will be destroyed instead of equipment. The victim's player can pick which piece of his equipment has been destroyed. If the character has more than one unit of a certain type of equipment, then two units of the equipment are destroyed (two clips, two rations, etc.).

Special damage need not only occur due to an attack using weapons. Vehicle accidents, falling, and fires are just a few of the other possibilities, although this article is only concerned with weapon-related damage.

The referee should keep track of damage for NPCs, creatures, robots, and computers, while players should keep track of their own damage themselves (unless the referee does not trust them). If the referee feels that damage to a character might greatly lessen the other players' chances for completing their mission, then he may alter the damage taken by that character.

Computer Damage

Computer damage is easy to determine because a computer has no major moving parts. Take the modified 1d10 roll generated above and divide by 5, rounding down; this represents the number of programs which have been destroyed. The lowest-level programs are destroyed first, highest level last. If the computer has a Computer Security program which has not been destroyed, then any alarms it controls are set off.

A computer may be repaired, but the programs may not be brought back unless a computer specialist knows them (as per the Computer skill). A computer which has more programs destroyed than it possesses will explode, causing 6d10 damage points to anyone within 5 meters of it (Reaction Speed check defense). A computer destroyed in this way cannot be repaired.

Healing Special Damage

Adventurers may find it necessary to heal damage caused to themselves. To heal a wound, all Stamina points of damage caused by the attacking weapon must be healed, and 1d10+1 hours of game time must pass until penalties caused by the wounds are nullified.

A cut may be healed as a wound, but it takes 4d10 hours until the penalties are nullified.

A deep cut may be healed in this way, but it takes 1d10+1 days until those penalties are nullified.

A broken limb may be mended if all the Stamina points are healed and the limb is set in a cast or splint. If it is not set within two hours, the limb does not heal until the character enters a hospital (costing 50 Credits per day for 3d10 days). A limb set in a cast or splint takes 3d10+1 days until the penalties are nullified.

A concussion may be mended if all Stamina is healed and the PC rests at least 10 hours per day for 1d10 days. Hospital fees for this time amount to 200 Credits.

The back wound is special. It may be mended if all Stamina is healed, major surgery is used to repair paralyzation damage, and the PC rests for 2d10 hours. Otherwise, it heals in 3d10 days. A hospital charges 200 Credits for these services.

A Dralasite cannot have a broken limb, but it loses the ability to grow one until the spot heals where it was hit. This healing takes 3d10 days. The Dralasite still suffers the same penalties as if it had broken limbs.

If a character has multiple damage, such as a chest wound and a broken leg, it still takes 1d10+1 days for the leg to heal. Healing times are not cumulative.

A Vrusk with a damaged arm requires a 1d10 roll to find out which arm was hit: 1-5 is the left arm, 6-10 is the right.

A Dralasite is not able to absorb a paralyzed leg until it is healed. Because of this, the Dralasite suffers the special penalties caused by the paralyzed limb.

An electrostunner does not break a limb. If a broken limb is indicated because of an electrostunner or other electrical damage, then the limb has excessive nerve damage instead. The same penalties occur, and the nerve damage may be healed the same as would a broken limb.

Repairing a Robot

Repairing a robot is easier that healing a living creature. A character with Robotics skill is required.

Damage to a robot takes 2d10 minutes to repair. A broken part takes 5d10+5 minutes to fix, while a cracked item takes 4d10+5 minutes. Add 10 minutes to the repair time for each joint which is damaged or broken, and 20 minutes if the brain casing has been hit. If the brain casing and the body have been cracked, add 1 hour to the repair time.

Table 1: Special Damage Modifiers

Modifier Reason

+1       Short range

+2       Point blank range

+2       Explosive weapon

+1       Careful aiming *

+2       Firing a burst

+1       Per 5 SEU used by weapon

+1       Target hit twice in same

+1       Small target

+2       Tiny target

+1       Per skill level with

+2       Per Robotics or Computer
         skill **

-1       Large target

-2       Giant target

-1       Long range

-2       Extreme range

-1       Moving target ***

-2       Suit-type defense

-2       Target is underwater

-2       Target makes RS check

* +1 is added for each round spent entirely aiming, up to the max of +5.

** This applies only to attacks against robots or computers, respectively.

*** This modifier is counted only once, even if both attacker and defender are moving in any manner.

Table 2: Weapon Modifiers

Weapon type       Modifier

Projectile           +2

Projectile rifle     +3

Heavy projectile     +5

Beam rifle or        +3

Heavy beam           +4

Gyrojet pistol       +2

Gyrojet rifle        +3

Heavy gyrojet        +6

Short melee *        +1

Long melee *         +2

Fist                 +1

Grenade **           +4

Other thrown         +2

Bow or crossbow      +2

Tooth, claw,         +2

* Whips, sword, polearms, spears, chairs, and big clubs are long; axes, bottles, small clubs, knives, nightsticks, pistol butts, shock gloves, etc., are short.

** Only a fragmentation or incendiary grenade can cause special damage. Each counts as an explosive weapon on Table 1.

Table 3: Damage Results Table: Living Beings

Modified  Stamina                             Units of
  1d10     damage  Special damage               lost
  roll                                       equipment

  1 or       0     None                          0

    2        5     Chest wound                   0

    3        5     Leg wound                     0

    4        5     Arm wound *                   1

   5-6       8     Shoulder wound *              1

    7        9     Arm wound **                  1

    8        10    Head wound                    1

  9-10       10    Leg broken                    1

   11        15    Chest deeply cut              1

  12-13      8     Arm broken *                  1

   14        8     Arm broken **                 1

  15-16      15    Abdomen deeply cut            1

   17        15    Back wound, leg               2

   18        12    Shoulder deeply cut **        2

   19        15    Side deeply cut               2

  20-22      30    Head concussion               2

   23+     1,000   Head removed, body            5
                   falls apart, target
                   vaporized, etc. (pick

* Secondary side (i.e., the left side if on a right-handed person).

** Primary side (i.e., the right side if on a right-handed person).

 Special Damage Effects

Chest wound: -5 to hit.

Leg wound: -3 meters/turn on movement

Secondary-side arm wound: -5 for firing rifles, can only fire one weapon, -10% for doing tech, robotics, medical, demolitions, or computer skill.

Primary-side shoulder wound: -10 for firing rifles, same other modifiers as a secondary-side arm wound.

Primary-side arm wound: -30 to hit, cannot use rifles, -15% on above-mentioned skills.

Head wound: -5 INT/LOG, 50% chance to be unconscious for 1d100 minutes.

Leg broken: Only 2 meters/turn movement.

Chest deeply cut: -10 to hit, -5 DEX/RS.

Secondary-side arm broken: No rifles can be fired, -10% to all skills mentioned for a secondary-side arm wound, may only fire one weapon.

Primary-side arm broken: Same as with secondary-side arm broken, but with -25% to all above mentioned skills, -10% to hit with all other weapons.

Abdomen wound: -3 meters/turn on movement, -5% to hit with all weapons, -8 kg on limit for carrying items.

Back wound, leg paralyzed: Only 2 meters/turn movement, -15 kg for carrying items.

Side deeply cut: -8 DEX/RS, -10 kg for carrying items.

Head concussion: -10 INT/LOG, -5 DEX/RS, 75% chance to be unconscious for 1d10 hours.

Dead: Dead beyond a doubt, no chance of revival.

Table 4: Damage Results Table: Robots

Modified  Stamina  Special                    Units of
  1d10     damage  damage                       lost
  roll                                        equipment

  1 or       0     None                           0

    2        5     Body damage                    0

    3        5     Leg damage                     0

    4        5     Arm damage                     1

   5-6       8     Arm joint damage               1

    7        9     Arm joints damage              1

    8        10    Brain casing damage            1

  9-10       10    Leg broken                     1

   11        15    Body cracked                   1

  12-13      8     Arm broken                     1

   14        8     Arm joint broken               1

  15-16      15    Brain casing cracked           1

   17        15    Movement center damaged        2

   18        12    Arm joints broken              2

   19        15    Body and brain casing          2

  20-22      30    Brain casing broken            2

   23+     1,000   Explosion (cannot be          15

Special Damage Effects

Body damage: -5 to hit with weapons because of internal damage

Leg damage: -5 meters/turn on movement (unless robot has alternate movement system, such as rocket movement).

Arm damage: Attacker can choose attacked arm or tentacle, -9 to hit with any weapon held in that arm.

Arm joint damage: -14 to hit with a weapon in that arm, -2 damage for melee attacks.

Arm joints damage: No weapons may be fired from that arm, no melee attacks.

Brain casing damage: 50% chance of robot being stunned for d100 minutes (even if A-S implant is installed), -5 to hit with all weapons, 20% chance of malfunction. All robots have brains, but a noncybernetic robot's brain is a computer.

Leg broken: -10 meters/turn on movement, -5 meters/turn to movement using alternate movement system because it also has been hit.

Body cracked: -10 to hit with all weapons, -5 meters/turn on movement, 20% chance of a malfunction.

Arm broken: No weapon can be fired from that arm, -5% to chances to repair.

Arm joint broken: Same as arm broken, but a -25% to chances to repair it.

Brain casing cracked: Stunned for d100+20 minutes, 50% chance of being deactivated, -10 to hit with all weapons, 35% chance of a malfunction, -30% to chances to repair it.

Movement center damaged: Robot cannot move, -30% to chances to repair it.

Arm joints broken: No weapons can be fired from the arm, -20% to chances to repair it.

Body and brain casing cracked: The same effects as body cracked and brain casing cracked combined. All damage and penalties are cumulative.

Brain casing broken: Automatically deactivated, -20 to hit with weapons, -20 meters/turn on movement, 55% chance of malfunction, -50% to chances to repair.

Explosion: Everyone within 10 meters takes 7d10 damage (RS check defense).