Home Forums General Game Design Hit Locations – Roleplaying

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  • #173247
    Mike
    Keymaster

    I am looking for a set of hit locations for fantasy games.
    I am mostly happy with most of the melee ones, but I can’t help think that hit locations for missile attacks should be different?

    In that an archer is more likely to hit the torso than a close combat attack?
    I always thought HTH would be upper body in general, arms being quite likely to be hit as people use them to get in the way of incoming attacks.
    I kind of feel missile attacks should be more torso bias than HTH?

    #173249
    Mike
    Keymaster

    This seems fair?
    I have no idea what bits get hit most often in combat:

    #173250
    Paint it Pink
    Participant

    I shoot longbow, or did before the corona virus stop everything, and would posit that it depends on the distance the shot is taken at.

    Close up, probably more main torso, but anything over 60 yards I would expect the confounding variable to make hits pretty random. Longbows are not sniper rifles.

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    #173251
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    I agree with PiP.

    Having, a very log time ago, been into target archery with a recurve bow I might extend that 60yd a little, maybe 80yds? Any hit over 100yds however, with my abilities at least, was miraculous rather than random!

    I did some clout shooting (200yds max) which is lofted shots at a small flag in the ground. You scored if you got within c 12 feet and highest score was within a couple of feet I think (I rarely needed to bother with that end of the score table!)

    I thus became somewhat sceptical of the ‘Shoot the French knight Peterkin? Why it’s only 300 yards, which joint in his armour do you want me to take?’ approach to 100 Years War histories.

    It depends how much detail you want.

    I reckon your distribution for missile hits is pretty good for 40-100 yards. Beyond that is pretty much equal distribution I would have thought, nearer than that I might up the head and torso percentages a little.

    Your melee figures might benefit from a look at actual medieval battle data. Visby is the old favourite, but there are reports from a Towton mass grave and some other burials that suggest left arm was most frequently injured, followed by head and then possibly leg wounds but its not clear the latter is statistically significant. Of course you’re seeing the people who died in these figures rather than all hits. Many hits on extremities may have been survived and thus the head trauma figures are distorted.

    I’d probably up the head hits a little. You could preference left arm over right arm as well but maybe we’re getting a little too granular? :^)

    #173256
    Don Glewwe
    Participant

    Along the lines of “too granular”… ; )

    Will some sort of dodge/defense modifier be applied?  If so, perhaps the table should be arranged so as to reduce hits to the torso/head when applied?

    Another ‘perhaps’: Roll first for the severity of the hit and ignore the location if ’tis but a scratch?

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    #173289
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    As PiP said, really good spread of locations at farther distances.  Many moons ago I did a little competitive archery, and we did some testing on various formations and distances.  You’d be surprised at the number of leg and foot hits at even moderate distances and somewhat loose formations.  Of course, tighter formations produced a lot more upper body and head hits as lower body was obscured.

    But going to RPG style shooting, which is generally much closer and at individual targets, you could still get a spread of locations.  We used to practice walk-shooting and even “Hollywood style combat” (as 2 of the team instructors occasionally work under contract with movie studios) and I can say that it is both easier and more difficult to hit someone when both shooter and target are moving, depending on distance.  One of the odd things we noticed was that the arrow warp (the wiggle in the arrow itself when fired) can actually cause a “straight flying” arrow that is travelling at a target’s face to “go around” in a very magical looking way!  Or you could have a weird result where the fletching smacks the target but not the tip even though it looked to be flying straight and true.  Probably not relevant to what you’re doing but fascinating to watch and experience.

    Anywho, if you want to get granular then perhaps having close, mid and long range tables for hit locations with greater spreads as you go farther out.

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    #173292
    Thomaston
    Participant

    You might be able to get the ballpark results by using multiple dice for hit location rolls. Example short 3d6, medium 2d6, long 1d6. Your table would have 1-18 results but the distribution will be different depending on range. higher numbers would be uppwe body parts and can also use 3d6 for melee too.

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    #173293
    Mike Headden
    Participant

    If I need a hit location in an RPG I use one of Koplow’s Hit Location D12’s but frankly I’m rarely sure it matters where the hit is unless you need to factor in armour. I tend to assume armour is much the same all over rather than bother with plate for head and chest, chain for arms and legs, leather for feet and hands, or whatever.

    Looking at recent incidents there have been people hit in the chest at short range with multiple pistol bullets who kept going and a policeman who, while hurdling fences, accidentally shot himself in the toe and died of system shock.

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    #173296
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    If I need a hit location in an RPG I use one of Koplow’s Hit Location D12’s but frankly I’m rarely sure it matters where the hit is unless you need to factor in armour. I tend to assume armour is much the same all over rather than bother with plate for head and chest, chain for arms and legs, leather for feet and hands, or whatever.

    Ya, it really depends upon the combat and damage/healing system.  Games like Harn that have and extensive injury and illness system (really close to simulation level at times) have some seriously complicated result-finding, accounting for not just armor per location but bone and muscle as well.  From a roleplaying aspect your character can end up with some lifelong injuries or disabilities, which is great for hardcore RPGers but way less likely in games like WFRP, D&D and Pathfinder as those are more “Hollywood” systems.

    I do like Thomaston’s suggestion, makes a lot of sense.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #173299
    Mike Headden
    Participant

    I loved the Harn background but the RPG was way too detailed and too much of a simulation for my group. Two guys in plate armour hacking at each other for a full play session until one collapsed from exhaustion and the other finished him off, only to die of infection, due to his wounds, in the next few days may be realistic but fun gaming it was not.

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    #173301
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    I can’t remember where I saw/read it, but I seem to recall that injuries to arms/hands were more prevalent in melee combat than you would expect from the surface area, whereas the surface area did fine for missile combat.  WFRP used 15% Head, 20% each arm, 25% torso, 10% each leg, which seems about right (or they had read/seen the same stuff I had) and if I were making a specific one for missile weapons, I would decrease the top two a little and boost the bottom two.

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    #173307
    John D Salt
    Participant

    I have figures for distribution of hits from a number of historical sources; “Wounding Patterns for U.S. Marines and Sailors during Operation Iraqi Freedom” by Zouris et al., the areas used in Kokinakis and Sperrazza’s incapacitation model, and figures from Beat Kneubeuhl’s “Wound Ballistics”. I am fairly sure there are more figures in a WW2 US paper on wound ballistics and Krivosheev’s book on WW2 casualties of the Soviet Union, neither of which I can put my hand on right now. These one can typically expect to show survivor bias, in that the figures are for sites of wounding for casualties who made it to the regimental aid post or similar facility, so head and chest wounds will be understated. On the other hand, people get wounded on body parts exposed to fire, so that may bump up the rate of head wounds a bit more. Even so, there is rough agreement with the surface area of the various parts of the body. For a long time I have been happy with a 1d6 model of hit location that goes like this:

    1	Head
    2	Arms
    3	Thorax
    4	Abdomen
    5	Leg
    6	Leg
    

    A good basis for surface area calculations can be thieved from a couple of methods used in the medical assessment of burns.

    The first is Wallace’s rule of nines, which divides the body into zones each of 9% of total area. The head counts as one zone, arms, thorax and abdomen as two each, and the legs as four, so:

    Head		9%
    Arms		18%
    Thorax		18%
    Abdomen		18%
    Leg		36%
    

    This would obviously be ideal for anyone with access to a d11.

    A good deal more detail is to be had with Lund & Browder’s chart, which has different percentages for children of various ages and for adults, and assigns weirdly variable-sized areas, from 1% for the genitals through 4.75% for each thigh and 13% for the torso. Rolling up all of these into bigger lumps more like those given in other sources, and correcting for the fact that the total area seems to add up to 101% on all the charts I can find, gives this distribution for adults:

    Head and neck	10%
    Arms		21%
    Torso		27%
    Legs		42%
    

    I would suggest that excellent numerical agreement can be achieved with the following table using 1d10, which is also not too far off Beat Kneubeuhl’s figures for surface area:

    0	Head
    1	Thorax
    2	Abdomen
    3	Pelvis
    4	Left arm
    5	Right arm
    6	Left leg
    7	Left leg
    8	Right leg
    9	Right leg
    

    As people have mentioned, the probability of striking any body part with a missile weapon, at any sort of range, should probably be proportional to the presented area. I have no data of any kind on the distribution of wounds from hand-to-hand combat, and I expect that most people killed in hand-to-hand combat are hacked down from behind while trying to run away. However, assuming an active fighter is more likely to take a blow on the arms, a simple adjustment to the above table for hand-to-hand combat would be to swap the probabilities for arms and legs, which does not seem unreasonable. It also gives results very similar to those in Mike’s original proposed table.

    This would give the following final tables, which I commend to you. If you have no need to distinguish thorax, abdomen and pelvis, simply lump them together as “torso”.

    	Missile		Hand-to-hand
    ---------------------------------------
    0	Head		Head
    1	Thorax		Thorax
    2	Abdomen		Abdomen
    3	Pelvis		Pelvis
    4	Left arm	Left arm
    5	Right arm	Left arm
    6	Left leg	Right arm
    7	Left leg	Right arm
    8	Right leg	Left leg
    9	Right leg	Right leg
    
    

    I doubt that it is possible to justify any more detail than that.

    All the best,

    John.

    #173332
    Andrew Rolph
    Participant

    Taking account of the above (I particularly appreciate the real world archers’ input) and stealing flagrantly from my preferred RPG, RuneQuest, might I suggest

    1-4 left leg

    5-8 right leg

    9-11 – abdomen (squishy bits of torso and, for amusement, 9 – genitals)

    12 – chest (vital bits of torso – heart and lungs)

    13-15 – left arm

    16-18 – right arm

    19-20 – head

    Roll 1D20 for melee and shooting at 60/80/100 yards plus (or whatever range you want to define as ‘close’ for different weapons) and 2D10 for shooting within close range.

    Additionally, if you wish to, you could allow aiming within the round. Have a calculation based on Dexterity which generates a number no greater than 5 or 6 (DEX divided by three?). The shooter specifies he is aiming at a location and his shot is delayed by that calc’s number of seconds (or whatever fits your system). If he rolls half his chance to hit then he rolls the location die or dice as normal but may modify the result by that DEX based calc towards his aiming location. If he rolls over half his hit chance then he just rolls his hit location die or dice.

    So Mr Shooty the archer has a DEX of 15 and shoots at 70%. He declares he is aiming at his opponent’s chest. His shot is delayed by 5 seconds. If he rolls below 35% he rolls 1D20/2D10 (according to range) and adds or subtracts up to 5 to move the result closer to 12 (chest). If he rolls 36-70% he rolls the D20/2D10 and just uses the result rolled. If he rolls 71%+, he’d better be quick getting another arrow.

    Cheers

    Andrew

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    #173341
    Patrice
    Participant

    If I need a hit location in an RPG I use one of Koplow’s Hit Location D12’s but frankly I’m rarely sure it matters where the hit is unless you need to factor in armour. I tend to assume armour is much the same all over

    This.

    Real people keep moving all the time (unless tied to a tree as St. Sebastian martyrdom) so at different moments different body parts could be more exposed, you cannot include everything in a chart; for exemple an archer would expose his left arm when shooting, does it make a difference, it would never end.

    I use a location D12 when a player (or other important) character is wounded in skirmish.

    From a roleplaying aspect your character can end up with some lifelong injuries or disabilities, which is great for hardcore RPGers

    You can have this with a simple roll after the character is healed, a small probability that he/she keeps a disability where he or she has been wounded.

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    #173349
    Andrew Rolph
    Participant

    If I need a hit location in an RPG I use one of Koplow’s Hit Location D12’s but frankly I’m rarely sure it matters where the hit is unless you need to factor in armour. I tend to assume armour is much the same all over

    This.

    Depends on granularity, again? If the system distinguishes minor cuts from wounds causing loss of function from proper limb/head severing mighty blows (and all stages between) then whether your head/chest is no longer functional is of more interest than whether your leg or arm is giving you a bit of gip. Also, non functional left arm might allow a right handed character to continue to hit or defend himself?

    Obviously there’s pain, shock and blood pressure crash from (otherwise) non killing blows to critical body systems, not to mention magical healing and what its effects are (anaesthetic, analgesic, complete repair, blood loss recuperation). However those factors are broadly ‘simulatable’ – functional loss in non limb – do nothing til you die or somebody heals you; functional loss of limb – don’t use limb (fall over if leg) and halve chances at doing anything (it smarts a bit) until healed; severing blow to non limb – dead, severing blow to limb – in shock, do nothing til dead or someone else heals you.

    Personally, those sorts of consequences of hit locations and severity of wound are considerably more satisfying than a whole body HP total where lost hp have no, or limited, special consequences e.g fight normally until half up then fight at half, die on zero.

    Having said all that, I am hopelessly out of touch with any rpg from this century. I may be missing a brilliant general system. YMMV

    Cheers

    Andrew

     

     

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