View Full Version : So a Jedi wants to cut an arm off....

15 July 2002, 06:49 PM
I am GMing a group of Jedi and one asked to cut off the arm of one particular thug instead of killing him. What is the modifier for the role? Also, can anyone tell me how to run called shots (i.e. a sniper trying to shoot someone in the head) and how that changes damage and the attack roles. I looked in all my books and found nothing. Thanks!!

Matt Richard
15 July 2002, 07:01 PM
That really depends on several things. Which system are you playing? Is the thug in a position to fight back or is he captured? If he is in a position to fight back, Id just simply add to the difficulty to hit. Also, in d20, if he is captured, and you decided to cut his arm off, he doesnt add his dexterity in his defense. And if you hit, it automatically goes to Wound Points (this is all how our group does it, so that may not be the official way of doing it).

For called shots, in both d6 and d20 you can roll 1 six-sided dice if the shot hits the target and use the following (again, this is what our group uses, and it may not be official)to determine what part is hit, then deal damage.:

1- Head
2- Chest/Torso/Back (if facing opposite way)
3- Right Arm
4- Left Arm
5- Right Leg
6- Left Leg

Hope that helps!

15 July 2002, 07:14 PM
Oops, sorry about the vagueness. I am playing the RCR which is d20.

Scenario 1: The Jedi and the thug are in the middle of a fight and the thug is brandishing a blaster. Instead of trying to kill the thug, the Jedi just wants to cut his arm off (like Obi-Wan does all the time...) to spare the thug's life. I want to know how much more difficult the attack role is and does the damage skip directly to wounds or does the VP still apply? Also, how much damage needs to be done to cut an arm off? 20% of total VP, 50%, etc?

Scenario 2: A sniper is aiming his gun at the head of a senator. He wants to make a single shot that kills him. Again, I want to know how much more difficult the attack role is and does the damage skip directly to wounds or does the VP still apply. Also, what is the sniper is a police sniper and is trying to shoot a subject in the leg or arm instead of the head.

Hopefully that clears up my questions and thanks for the quick reply!!

evan hansen
15 July 2002, 07:29 PM
It sounds like this guy is making sure to stay in character -- no accidental "Hey, let's chop this guy's head off and argue it's not a DSP" junk. While it may seem like every good RPGer should play in character, it's often the case that people DON'T. (Grrrr.)

So, for the sake of good relations and fast gameplay, I'd probably just have him make a quick roll. If the guy hits the guy, he lops his arm off. Simple solution, no pesky mechanics issues. No percentages, no strength rolls, nothing. Just a satisfied player, a quick scene, and a good story point.

Just my 2 credits. :)

15 July 2002, 07:34 PM
Eh, you stole my lines, Evan. I was just going to say the same thing :)

I am a very fast-and-loose DM, so if a player wants to make a called shot like that, I will generally let them. However, I would probably either demand that they reduce their opponent to 0 VP (effectively incapacitating them) in order to do it, or apply a generic penalty to the roll, like -4 or something.

After all, taking an enemy alive usually makes my job as a storyteller easier...

15 July 2002, 09:19 PM
My best estimate is that hitting a specific part of the body works just like hitting an object that the character is wearing. Page 168 says that the defense for such objects is 10+size modifier+character's dex modifier+character's class defense bonus. In other words, it's the character's defense (for medium size characters) plus a size modifier. This has to be at your discretion, but you can look at the table on page 162 for comparison. Arms would be diminutive, so that's a +4 size modifier to defense. Vitality would definitely apply. I'd figure that a characters arm has roughly 75% of the WP of the character, but that's just a complete guess.

I wrote up a hit location system for d20 a while back. It's dice intensive, but I think it's fairly accurate. I can post the file or e-mail it if you're interested.

As for snipers, you have to rule whether the target is helpless or not. See page 163 for details.

Part of the solution to this issue depends on how technical you want to be. I've tried to give you the "letter of the rules" explanation, which is what I usually do in my games. evan hansen and dgswensen's take on the situation are equally valid (and are probably more useful if that's the type of game you run).

Just for future reference, this sort of thread should be in the d20 forum. Gamemaster discussion is non-system specific.

Hope this helps!

15 July 2002, 09:46 PM
I have been GMing for all of 3 weeks. I have been gaming for about 4 months. I have been a stickler for the rules (i.e. I spend about 10 minutes sometimes looking up the rules), which is not my personality but is how I was introduced to d20 systems. If someone has the time, I would LOVE to hear about this more informal style of play (i.e. role and you cut an arm off). Thanks!!

15 July 2002, 11:07 PM
Well, the thing to remember is that Star Wars is about telling stories. The rules are there to help you tell stories, and to prevent arguments over what should or shouldn't happen (at their most basic level, they exist to prevent "did not!" "did too!" arguments).

If everyone agrees that it would be cooler, in-character, and serve the story, then let PCs get away with stuff. For example, let the Jedi cut off an arm with a straight, unmodified to-hit roll. The idea is that you want to encourage your players to do cool Star-Warsy stuff, not make it harder for them (and have to choose between doing it the cool way and failing, or the boring way and succeeding).

Now, you shouldn't let them get away with EVERYTHING, or before you know it, you'll have characters who are more powerful than the Heroes of Yavin. If there is no challenge, there is no story. Learning where to strike the balance is part of learning to be a good GM.

Does that help?

Matt Richard
15 July 2002, 11:11 PM
Im like you, I am a strict rules follower, until I forget them. What I mean is I spend a lot of preperation going over rules that I know I don't understand. And then some more time re-affirming what I already know. Then come game time, I leave the book to the side, but rarely look at it unless I absolutely have to. If a call comes where I dont remember the rules, I make them up.

One example:
A space battle occured, my first time gming d20, and I couldnt remember how to fire your weapons. A player said they fired their missiles, and not remembering if there were any special rules or not, I just said to roll d20 + dex. modifier. It worked for the time being, and after the session I went back and re-read the space combat rules several times.

Another example:
My first time gming d6 (LONG before d20), and I mixed up what skills were mechanical and technical, so I simply "combined" them. Bear in mind that this was the first time my group had played, and we really had NO idea what we were doing exactly. We were playing a game we didnt quite understand, but it was Star Wars and that was all that mattered to us.

16 July 2002, 06:59 AM
Lobbing off the hand of a minor or genric NPC wouldn't be a problem in my game. The common thugs and what not have you are there pretty much as fodder... if it serves to make the game more fun go for it... Now the changes of cutting off the hand of my uber bad guy... very very slim. And very diffcult. Can't have someone disarming my baddie (figuratively and literally) right away can we?

Lord Diggori
16 July 2002, 12:30 PM
When I run sessions with players doing this classic Star Wars move I figure as close to the rules as I can recall: Thug's defense + 5 for being "held" + 2 for arm size (slightly shorter than an ewok). Since the arm isnt vital and sabers cauterize I figure it like D&D subdual damage, if the damage exceed's the WP the thug screams and passes out from shock. Otherwise he'll just sit there whimpering.

evan hansen
16 July 2002, 01:26 PM
Originally posted by Chase1848
If someone has the time, I would LOVE to hear about this more informal style of play (i.e. role and you cut an arm off). Thanks!!

What you'll find is that the rules are literally made to be broken. :-) Like Kelly said, the point of having them there is to make it easy for the game master to create a fair way of letting everyone have fun, play their character, and tell the part of the story that their character is inherently responsible for.

But if those rules cease to serve that purpose, why bother using them?

What you'll find as you "hang out" a bit more in this online community is that people have rewritten and re-rewritten rules and stats and ideas for almost everything -- and for both dice systems for which there are Star Wars games available.

So this arm thing is a perfect example. We had kind of an informal, almost unspoken house "rule" about things like that. After playing it by the book for a few adventures, we decided that shooting or slicing at certain parts of the body intentionally in order to incapacitate, stun, or injure players isn't something worth haggling over dice numbers and such for. So we began to allow anything you wanted as long as you made the targeting roll. Conversely, if you were aiming for the headshot to get the kill, you had to roll and hit a +10 modifier. Why? Who cares? :-) It worked for our style of play.

So find out what that style of play is for your group!

Make careful mental note of what causes arguments or what slows gameplay way down. Then think about ways to fix that. Or ask people on here. You'll find that lots of us have work arounds for every situation you can come up with. Or, in some cases, entire sets of alternate rules.

However, beware making rules up on the fly. Always propose them and discuss them with your group. For example, if you're going to use an alternate set of rules for starfighter combat, then bring a copy of those rules to a session and ask people to look at them for use in the following session. Ask for suggestions or possible spots where those rules will break down. Play test them on your own. Really think about the positive and negative impacts on the game.

Then, if it works better than the existing rules, just pull one thing out and put your new idea in. That's the beauty of gaming systems. They're somewhat modular. Every type of roll has its own governing principles. So you can alter bits and peices without completely altering the game.

Anyhow, I hope that helped. It's kind of general, but it's reasonably good advice for starting out. Regardless, stick around here. You'll find that there are lots of good ideas for lots of situations. And you can always start a new thread to ask questions. Best of luck!

16 July 2002, 02:40 PM
i.e. I spend about 10 minutes sometimes looking up the rules
I'm a rule person myself. I like the balance it brings to the game, and I'm a math nerd, so I like the numbers. However, spending time looking up rules is almost always detrimental to the game. Try to learn all the basic rules, and the rules you'll need for specific sequences in your adventure, before the game begins. If you forget something, or come across a rule that you hadn't anticipated needing, you can look it up if you're very fast. GM cheat sheets help, and so does knowing the format of the book. If you can't find what you're looking for within a few seconds, ask your players to start rolling dice and make up what happens.

I would LOVE to hear about this more informal style of play
Informal play requires a lot of GM improvisation and a mature group of players, but when it works, it works well. Effectively, the campaign uses the core mechanics, but no one stops to worry about any of the details. The GM makes up a rule, then the players use it. The rule need not be the same in each circumstance (the GM isn't explaining it, just describing success or failure), because the GM has probably forgotten what he or she did the last time. :)

Here's an example. The heroes are standing outside a window, watching a meeting between a pair of Imperial officers. They decide to break the window and ambush the Imperials. Instead of flipping through the rule book for the wound points and hardness of a window, an improvising GM would just ask the player to make a Strength check. In his or her head, the GM is thinking DC12 (for example). The player gets a result of 13. The GM describes the hero smashing the window in with the butt of his blaster, and the game goes on.

17 July 2002, 05:00 AM
Well, I have a character that had his arm chopped off by a lightsaber a while back. I just talked to the GM who did it to me, and he said that all he did was (now keep in mind this was in d6):
Made a roll to hit on me with a plus 6 modifier to difficulty (it was a while ago, he said he's pretty sure it was +6) then since it was a called shot and there wasn't really much resistance (no armor or anything), he just assumed that, since a lightsaber can cut through pretty much anything, it just cut my arm off. It's as simple as that, if you ask me. Let the player "call" his shot. Make a roll to hit. If the hit is successful, he loses the arm. You could make like a str check against the "to hit" roll, if you wanted to. But that wouldn't be as much fun.

20 July 2002, 04:19 PM
Ok, first of all, let me say that I am not sure what the specific rules on this would be....

But, on the idea that you just make it a called shot, and if he hits the arm, assume that it is chopped off....that I disagree with.

There has to be some sort of damage roll involved.

In d20, what if the hit was so lame, it did no real damage?
You are then allowing a serious injury to be delt, when the damage indicated a very minor (if any) wound.

In d6, I would say that the player would have to get at least a wounded result, but if HE hit the arm, then maybe the str dice would be less to resist...

The other thing I might do, is increase the difficulty to hit, and if the hit was made, and a KILLING damage was done, let the player reduce the damage....they paid for that ability with the increased difficulty.

but that is how I would handle it...


Wade Trenor
20 July 2002, 05:43 PM
I only played d6 for a short time, but from what I remember, a called shot with a high damage roll would sever the limb, or at least weaken the attriubutes of the player.

In d20, Gamer #4 has a list of critical hits and limb damage (pages 92-3). Basically, you can't slice of a limb, etc, unless you score a critical hit on the character. However, since most NPCs will be from GM classes, they don't have any vitality, so I suppose that each hit could be considered critical.

21 July 2002, 02:49 PM
Let the player "call" his shot. Make a roll to hit. If the hit is successful, he loses the arm.
I worry about this approach. You could feel free to use it so long as the opponent does not have vitality points. If you rule that attacking someone's arm bypasses VP, then the players will never attempt normal attacks. Every attack against an opponent with vitality will target a limb, thereby disabling the opponent without having to worry about knocking down their vitality.

22 July 2002, 04:10 PM
D20 has no called shots unfortunatly, I'm sure there's a reason and I read it once long ago from one of they guys who developed the system but never mind that. When Ben Kenobi sliced off that guys arm in the bar, he did that rather than kill him. From a game perspective, Kenobi is a high level character who deals out crazy amounts of damage with one strike of his sabre. So rather than kill the man he simply taught him a lesson.

Called shots can be used in the same way. If the attack would have killed your opponent, then feel free to hack off whatever limb grabs your fancy. He was going to die anyways, make his death dramatic, or be merciful and just take an arm if that's your desire. :)

And for the sniper who's aiming for someone's head. Well if he rolls well enough, doesn't do enough damage to kill him, then he missed the head and blasted a shoulder, or maybe just grazed his head. Even if you did half his total damage in one shot, a grazing shot to the head is going to hurt at least that much. If he was aiming for the head, and does enough damage to kill, well it'll be messy. ;)