The purpose of this page is just for me to talk a bit about the reasoning behind some of the choices I made when writing Trauma and answering frequently asked questions.
Why do I need this book?
Because the surgeon in your party needs to know how he can fix a ruptured spleen. Because an arm was severed and you need to know how long before she goes into shock and the limitations of microsurgery. And because your hothead of a warrior demandsto know exactly why his character is dead!
There are books out there for designing vehicles, many tomes on spells and magic rituals, and a wealth of manuals for weapons and armour. So why should there not also be a book that expands on the marvellous, but very vulnerable, machinery that is the human body? The characters are after all the centre of the story.
What is this book all about anyway?
The first part of Traumadeals with handling diagnosis and surgery. Details on how to resolve both, and in the case of surgery, details on how to handle infection risks, anaesthetics and nasty complications. Then surgery for various time periods is discussed. Equipment, field kits, techniques, managing infection, anaesthesia and more is considered for surgery both today, in medieval times and in the future. Special techniques are also discussed in greater detail for microsurgery, nanosurgery, primitive surgery and spells and healing magic. With difficulties, uses, special equipment and techniques discussed for each.
So it’s all about medical treatments?
No, it’s all about shattered bones, severed limbs and gangrene. About broken noses, brain damage, severed arteries, dislocated jaws, rib fractures, intestinal tears, acute kidney failures and ruptured livers. And sucking chest wounds, nothing like a pneumothorax to leave your characters gasping for air.
Indeed, so lucky for your characters then that for every misery, and there is plenty of misery, there is also a glimmer of hope. Every condition can be explained and roleplayed by the symptoms listed. Then it is the doctor’s or healer’s
It’s not. You can simply determine the details of any trauma by rolling on the appropriate table for location, severity and type of trauma. The description there will give you index numbers that allow you to look up the exact trauma. There you will find a description of what the risk is, what the symptoms are and possible treatments.
How might it affect play?
The grizzly complications of inflicted Trauma is only determined for the players and important non-player characters once combat is over. This keeps combat as fast as ever. There are vivid descriptions in the trauma tables that can be used during combat to describe the gore of inflicted wounds when this adds to the drama.
The biggest change might be in player behavior. They may be less likely to foolishly charge into dangererous encounters when they can no longer hide behind a vague health stat. The reality of combat really hits home when you might lose fingers, eyes and other precious body parts rather than just some hitpoints. A broken pelvis might mean a limp for the rest of the character’s life.
Wounds and the handicaps they cause may even lead to quests to find a healer or to raise enough cash to have a severed limb regrown or replaced. Perhaps such treatment is illegal or only available to the ruling class? It may just encourage your risk averse party to take up that suspiciously lucrative assignment so they can afford to keep paying their medical insurance.
It works the other way too. Only the cruelest blow will kill with no hope of recovery. With a skilled and well equipped surgeon or healer the death rate could easily drop.
What roleplaying games can I use it with?
Pretty much any system will work with Trauma. The difficulties and wound severities used are those from the Fantasy Dice system used in the Crimson Exodus roleplaying game, but they are briefly explained and easy to understand. Difficulties are simply: easy, tricky, hard, severe, extreme and insane. The wound severities are superficial, nasty, grievous, grim and mortal. You should be able to adapt them to almost any system and a free pdf for how to use it with some popular systems like D20, GURPS, The Riddle of Steel and the Storytelling System is available on the downloads page.