Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Realism II

I can see this subject becoming a recurring topic on this blog, as I think of things that just don't seem "right" – to me.

I'm rethinking Fortitude Saves.

I was watching an episode of RivermonstersUnhooked this morning. Jeremy Wade was hunting for river dwelling sharks and rays. The rays are what got me to thinking. Their spines contain flesh rotting venom as well as flesh rotting bacteria. You will get lifesaving medical attention promptly, or cut your leg off at the knee. There is no amount of "constitutional fortitude" that will let you survive it. So . . . why an automatic Fortitude Save in the game?

It has been suggested that I go "back" to 1st Edition's "Save or Die" method, but that's not really the case either, since you can be "saved." No, I'm just thinking that there needs to be some adjustment, at least in my game. In some cases, you're going to need a successful Heal check – or a Cure Light Wounds – or your companions will be amputating your leg/arm. Such a situation adds realism to the game, even more, it adds spine tingling suspense! Will your character survive? Don't touch that dial!

Where Fortitude Save will come into play is . . . buying your character time! Will the poison kill your character before your companions can get him/her some help? In real life, some people make it to the doctor . . . but some people don't. To me, that represents "constitutional fortitude." So, the Fortitude Save roll will indicate whether or not you survive long enough to be saved by "medical treatment" (Heal and/or Cure Light Wounds) or whether your character dies before your friends can get you any help.

At present, I'm thinking that Heal or Cure Light Wounds will be sufficient to stop the progression of the damage, but something stronger -- like Cure Serious Wounds -- will be needed to reverse the damage. Haven't quite decided that point yet.

This position adds the right amount of Realism to the game for me. The way 3.5 Edition does it . . . doesn't. Roll a Fortitude Save and the poison doesn't even take effect, except that's not how it really works. That method isn't even close. I think the method that is evolving in my mind is a truer representation of how it really plays out.

Then there's the DC 15 Fortitude Save to see if you remain conscious while they remove your leg. Another Fortitude Save DC 15 to see if the poison spread past the leg. Leg removal will grant a +5 to the player's roll.

I feel another "House Rule" coming on. Yeah, my players are going to love this!



  1. While looking at Heal spells, maybe Neutralize Poison Spell and you can purchase Anti-Toxins.

    1. Sorry, use to computer games. I wasn't referring to "Heal spells," but the ability to perform "first aid" that each character can do, or take as a Skill -- herbs and poultices and such-like. This is also why I said that such an action would only "halt" the spread, not reverse the damage.

      Thanks for the links, Talyn!

  2. MS,

    For poisons of high potency you could for go a Fortitude save and instead allow the PC to withstand the effects for a number of rounds equal to their Constitution score. After that time frame the PC would roll a DC fortitude save to see if they could withstand the onset of the poison. This will only work a number of rounds equal to their Con bonus + 1 rd. Then the save DC should increase by 5 before another save must be made. If one does not receive a bonus then they can only prolong the onset for 1 rd otherwise one can prevent the full onset for a number of rounds equal to half their bonus this continues until the save ifs failed or one's bonus becomes less then one round.



    1. Admittedly, this is a possibility, still, even this procedure would eventually have to end. Remember, I'm discussing a poison that IS going to kill the character, a poison that the character cannot survive without "help."

      Neutralize Poison and other Cure spells apply, even the "first aid" Heal that I'm talking about can stop death. I just don't accept the "I made my Fortitude Save! The poison didn't kill me!" thing. Fortitude Save represents real world "constitutional fortitude," which everyone has a degree of. But there are poisons out there that "constitutional fortitude" is not -- and cannot -- save you from.

      There are creatures in the game that are far more powerful than those found in real life. The poison they produce should reflect that. I'm not about "buffing" the character to the point where they cannot be seriously harmed -- which I am discovering 3.5 is all about.

      I admit that 2nd Edition needed some fine tuning, but 3.5 went way too far for my taste.