Sunday, 5 October 2014

Deadly Paralysis

"Paralyzed: Frozen in place and unable to move or act, such as by the hold person spell. A paralyzed character has effective Dexterity and Strength scores of 0 and is helpless, but can take purely mental actions. A winged creature flying in the air at the time that it becomes paralyzed cannot flap its wings and falls. A paralyzed swimmer can’t swim and may drown. A creature can move through a space occupied by a paralyzed creature—ally or not. Each square occupied by a paralyzed creature, however, counts as 2 squares." Player's Handbook, page 311.
Yes . . . and no.
One of the games I'm currently running on RPoL is "The Lost City of Barakus." My Players are in the sewers and a Carrion Crawler damn near caused a TPK. Three of the party members were paralyzed. I played it according to the "Rules" and found it . . . bogus.
You see the "Rule" above and the portion that I highlighted. So, here's the question:
Since when did the heart and lungs cease to be muscles?
How long can you live when your heart stops beating and your lungs stop pumping oxygen through your body? Or, to make it simpler, how long before you pass out? The "Rules as Written" do not account, nor allow, for either scenario. As we all know, when your heart and lungs cease to function, both outcomes are inevitable.
Curare is known to paralyze skeletal muscles, but only in low quantities. Too much and it stops the diaphragm and heart too. The Carrion Crawler attacks with eight tentacles. Getting an "over-dose" of Carrion Crawler venom is quite easy . . . it just needs to hit you multiple times.
I don’t think I'm going to do the R.A.W. with this one anymore. In future, I think some Characters are going to pass out and some are going to die. Paralysis is far more deadly than the books allow for. Of course, I will raise the CR for the Carrion Crawler by "1" for that same reason.
Anybody know why I shouldn't do this?


  1. First:
    Describe those potions & poisons in D&D that kill as acting through a real world mechanism of paralysis if you like, but the specific paralysis described above conforms to common fictional depictions and has a valuable place in the game. There's no more reason to alter Carrion Crawler paralysis to mimic curare than to force a Lightning Bolt spell to conform to the behaviour of real electricity.
    In fact, paralytic neurotoxins can take from minutes to hours to kill, can leave their victims conscious & lucid (allowing purely mental actions, one would guess) until shortly before death, & can yield these symptoms & yet lead ultimately to recovery. So the action of Carrion Crawler paralysis is not unprecedented, if you require that sort of thing.

    1. I didn't realize I had Anonymous readers. Thanks for reading!

      First: "It's a fantasy world!" doesn't fly with me. My readers and friends know that. I don't cared that it's a "common fictional depiction." So what?

      Second: I used Curare as an example of dosage. The Carrion Crawler conforms to caterpillars and centipedes of the "real world." Most are as long as a human finger, but not as big. Many are poisonous, but not lethal. Why? Try Google or the local library: They don't produce enough venom to be lethal to us.

      The Carrion Crawler is NOT as "small" as your finger. It is ten (10) feet long and weighs five hundred (500) lbs., meaning it is three times the size of an average man. The Carrion Crawler is going to produce significant amounts of venom. The description given in the rules is fine -- for a single hit -- but multiple hits are going to multiply the effects.

      Saying that it won't simply because it is a "fantasy world" means that you are playing in the wrong game and with the wrong DM. I don't do "Legion of Superheroes" games. Nope, no supermen or women in my games. If the Player's Character receives multiple hits from the Carrion Crawler -- which makes eight attack rolls -- and fails more than one Fortitude Save, well, that PC is going to be in trouble.

      You and I will simply have to disagree on this one. But thanks for reading!

  2. How we travel depends on where where we want to go. All games conform to some narrative conventions, some fictions, some approximations, some fantasies. Does a PC bleed from depleted hit points? Suffer broken bones from falls? Sweat from exertion? Have ingrown hairs from shaving their neck or their armpits? Do they slay dragons, or take care of bookkeeping for Manorial economics? Tame pegasi or argue about the encumbrance of barding? Deliver spell ink to arch-magi or abortificants to brothels?

    Saying it's a fantasy world isn't an excuse... it's because it works that way that the world is fantastical.