Shock: The Rules [∞ Infinity]

SAI, pt. 1

Complexity is a budget: you spend it where you need it. Where you don’t, you simplify, abstract, or just plain ignore. I simplified the combat mechanic, because it isn’t the heart of combat. Initiative is the heart of combat, and Shock the engine. What is Shock?

Wounds represent physical trauma: broken bones, torn flesh, pierced organs, and the like. Shock, as a mechanic, represents the many sorts of injuries or damage that don’t manifest in gross physical trauma: physiological stress, fatigue, shock, pain, exhaustion, and related effects and conditions.

Physical exertion (such as running or climbing) causes Shock, as can extremes of heat or cold. Getting punched in the face can cause Shock (in addition to Wounds), so does severe blood loss. In some settings, so can casting a spell.

Points of Shock are cumulative: a character with 3 Shock who takes 1 point now has 4 Shock. Accumulating Shock eventually impedes characters’ abilities, cripples them, and can even lead to death.

Shock is compared to a character’s Endurance. The higher a character’s Endurance, the more Shock they can take before suffering penalties:

  • A character can take Shock up to their Endurance without suffering any penalties.
  • If their Shock points are higher than their Endurance, they are Impaired.
  • If their Shock points exceed twice (x2) Endurance, they are Incapacitated.
  • If their Shock ever exceeds x3 Endurance, the character starts Dying.

Example: A character with an Endurance of 5 can take up to 5 Shock with no penalties. If they take 6 or more, they become Impaired. If they take 11 or more, they become Incapacitated. If their Shock ever exceeds 15, they begin Dying.

A character with a 10 Endurance can take up to 10 points of Shock with no penalties. If they take 11 or more, they become Impaired. At 21, they become Incapacitated. At 31, they begin Dying.

These categories are noted on the character sheet after character creation. They list 3 numbers: Endurance (Impaired), x2 Endurance (Incapacitated), x3 Endurance (Dying).

Next to each is a space for the calculated number, and atop the column a block for their current Shock. (Typically, they are tracked like Hit Points.) Compare the current Shock with the 3 numbers to see what penalties apply.

If you’ll excuse the crudity, it looks something like the following:

Current Shock: ___
[When your current Shock
exceeds the number below,
you suffer the listed condition.]

Endurance (Impaired): ___
x2 Endurance (Incapacitated): ___
x3 Endurance (Dying): ___

I’ll define the conditions, and explain how they interact with those from Wounds, next post.

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