GURPS101: Wound Absorption

Sitting around a table with your friends after a good game is some of the best times to breed ideas. Hell, they replicate like rabbits in such a situation. While gaming recently I had several ideas “fall” into my lap, but the most radical of them came from a conversation about a old World of Darkness character which got me thinking: How could I represent their “soak” mechanic? The actual rules didn’t hit me till I was half way home and I hurried to scribble them down.

The Idea
Loss of HP in GURPS means that a damaging attack has penetrated the DR of a target as well as his other protections and now becomes injury. Injury can sometimes happen from other means, but usually it’s from being attacked or a accident or the like. What if you could reduce the injury you take after it’s penetrated your DR? An idea like this might work well in supers campaign or one where everyone plays monsters (e.g., World of Darkness).

The Mechanics
After DR is penetrated and the total HP is tallied, but before applying the injury to the target’s hit points he gets to make a HT roll at a penalty equal to half the damage. Subtract his margin of success from the damage he took (to a minimum amount of damage that that attack could have inflicted on him), but add his margin of failure to the total (up to the maximum amount of damage that that attack could have inflicted on him).This is entirely optional, he may choose to take the damage “as is” if he wishes, but he doesn’t get to know what the penalty is (i.e., how much HP he lost) until he actually makes the roll. This tends to simulate the drama of super-tough creatures and being able to shrug off near any attack that affects them (which could also be a result of Injury Tolerance).

How Can I Do This?
Depending on the genre/tone of the game it might be best to simply allow it as a cinematic rule (“Wound Absorption”) that only applies to a select group (a “monster hunting” campaign) or to everyone in general (in supers campaign). It might also be appropriate to create a new form of Injury Tolerance as well.

Injury Tolerance (Wound Absorption)

p. B60

You may attempt to make a HT roll to shrug off any injury you have sustained by making a HT roll at a penalty equal to half the amount of damage you just took. Subtract your margin of success from the damage you took (to a minimum amount of damage that that attack could have inflicted), but add your margin of failure to the total (up to the maximum amount of damage that that attack could have inflicted). You don’t have to do this, for instance you may choose to take the damage “as is” if you wish, but the GM should tell you what the penalty is (i.e., how much HP you are going to lose) until you actually make the roll. Each level of Injury Tolerance (Wound Absorption) after the first gives you a +1 bonus on HT rolls to use the Wound Absorption rules to resist damage. 10/level.

Picking Over the Bones
This is more or less a direct analogue (with the serial numbers filed off) of White Wolf’s “Soaking Damage” mechanic. It might not work outside of the World of Darkness that well (whether it uses GURPS rules or not) and could be entirely unbalanced. I don’t know. It’s theoretical and I jotted down the idea as fast as I could before it disappeared. If you happen to play with it at all, please drop me a line. I’d be keenly interested in knowing if it sank or swam. It does invoke some more die rolls (which can be the death of a campaign), so the traditional methods of supernatural hardiness (Injury Tolerance, Supernatural Durability, etc.) might be a better way to go than introducing a entirely new mechanic. Additionally, the GM could decide that Wound Absorption doesn’t affect certain types of damage (e.g., damage sustained by silver for werewolves). If so, he could add Cosmic at the +100% to represent the ability to affect such damage and can freely mix and match levels of Injury Tolerance (Wound Absorption) with and without the modifier. GMs should also note that characters with Weakness can never absorb that damage – if they can, give the disadvantage a Limitation: “Affected by Wound Absorption, -80%.” Doug also goes into a much more toned down idea in the same vein here.

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  1. I want to like it, but HT is already too good for its price. When it's a purchasable advantage, what about DR with the Limitation "Roll against your DR value; it blocks damage equal to the margin of success, down to a minimum of the attack's minimum damage" [-70%]? You could just call the limitation Wound Absorption.

    I like the idea of it being a campaign switch, but if it were a switch in my campaign, I'd base it on ST.

  2. Basing it on ST would result in supernaturally strong or massive creatures being unkillable. That said, HT is about taking damage past what your mass (HP) would otherwise indicat. It's why you roll your HT when you go past a multiple of your HP. As for DR – that's all about dealing with damage – this is about injury (what happens after damage type multipliers, vulnerabilities, and so on).

  3. Maybe a limitation on Extra HP then?

    I'm wary of adding another roll to combat, but if it replaces another ability, then the impact might be interesting.

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