Alternate Damage Scale

By Jack Gulick.

It's clear to me now that the real issue in "the drop" thread isn't "the drop" or even point blank range attacks in specific but, rather, Feng Shui's damage scale in general. People are upset by the level of invulnerability the rules provide because, in a micro-scale sense, they don't seem to model even the movies while others (myself included) feel that, in the macro-scale, they do a good job.

Let's get the scale clear. Everyone open to page 161 of your rulebook for an illustrative example. According to the rules, being hit by a speeding bus, having a stone temple ceiling fall on you, drinking deadly poison or driving a car off a cliff are all 22 damage, much like being shot point-blank (0 defensive AV) by a Guns 14 character with a damage 10 pistol and a +3 aim bonus. All of these things are about in scale, none of them are instant death (in fact, the only "instant death" hinted at in the rules are falling 5 or more stories, and even there it's 'only' 40-43 points, which many characters will survive, as it would require only a closed-roll CON check vs. a target of 2 or 3 after their Toughness).

So, in general, Feng Shui grants PCs and named GMCs a significant degree of invulnerability. This is in keeping with the movies in general (major characters take a lot of punishment in HK movies) but is, I'll agree, a bit extreme for large (15+ damage) single attacks or other major damage sources; characters in the movies seem worried about these big damage things, but the Feng Shui rules give the PCs no mechanical reason to share this worry. So how could we fix that?

Here's one possibility... It involves changing the Being Wounded rules to re-scale damage downwards to create short-term mortality, then adds an adjustment (a constant healing rate) to restore the desired long-term invulnerability. These rules are untested, but the seem to do the trick...

Change the number of wound points before making Death Checks to 20 (25 for Big Bruisers). The difficulty of Death Checks is likewise based on 20 or 25 not the current 35 or 50. The remaining mechanics of Death Checks are unaffected.

Change the rules on Impairment to give a character 1 point of Impairment every time they are forced to make a Death Check, up to a maximum of 3 (not the current maximum of 2, and the maximum is 4 for Big Bruisers). Characters who have failed a Death Check (and are thus dying) are at maximum Impairment automatically until they receive medical attention.

At the end of every Sequence, each character not currently dying (once you're dying, your wound point total is not significant as you don't make any more death checks, see p.157) recovers 5 wound points (10 for Big Bruisers), but never to better than 5 times their current level of wounds-based Impairment. Note that this is wounds-based Impairment only; Impairment from other sources does not affect your recovery. Note that this also means every character starts a fight at a known wound level, 5 times their current level of Impairment.

Healing is now done by rolling vs. 8 times wound-based Impairment minus your CON (tough, healthy people heal faster, right?). Success removes 1 level of Impairment (and the associated minimum wound points) for every 5 points of Outcome (round up).

This is a fair bit more bookkeeping (sorry, though I did try to keep it mostly in the between-sequences phase rather than during the action), but it significantly increases short-term vulnerability without dramatically affecting long-term invulnerability and, as a bonus, it makes healing effect possible against significantly wounded characters (current rules set the difficulty way too high for anyone to ever succeed).

BTW, if I were using these rules, I'd change the chart on page 161 so the "falling XX stories" went 15 19 23 27 30 34 38 or some such... 40+ points of damage on this scale is most assuredly "instant death" (a closed-roll CON check with a target number of 20 just isn't possible).

Last modified: February 26, 1998; please send comments to