A Semi-cumulative Wounding System

In GURPS, wounds accumulate in a linear fashion, with undesirable effects occuring once you pass set thresholds. In real life, wounds do not accumulate like this. People can take many small wounds without any real danger - twenty chicken pecks, bruises or cigarette burns do not accumulate and cause unconsciousness or death. With gunshot and knife damage, the placement of the individual wounds is all important. People can survive many ill placed stabs or shots, but a single penetrating blow to a major blood vessel or vital organ is deadly.

However, damage clearly can accumulate to some degree. When you chop down a tree, you don't go for a single well placed or exceptionally powerful blow. Instead, you whack away until enough of the tree is missing that it falls over. Likewise, if you shoot a person enough, eventually he will be blasted into hamburger even if, miraculously, every single shot misses the heart, brain, spinal column, and major vessels. This latter effect can be important when dealing with constructs and undead that lack blood and vital organs, or when you are being eaten alive by rats.

Here, then, is a system for tracking wounds that falls somewhere between the linear "ablative hit point" model of GURPS and an independant wound system proposed by some other authors.

When you take damage, compare the points of damage sustained to your HP score. Do not subtract from your current HP! Under this system you always have "maximum HP."

Impairment: When you are first injured for a Moderate or greater wound, make a HT roll. If you are not in an emergency situation you have a -3 on this roll. If you succeed, you are so juiced up on adrenaline and endorphines that you feel no pain. If you fail, you suffer from the effects of pain. The degree of pain depends on the injury you took. The penalty from the pain does not stack with the shock penalty, use only the larger of the two. Only make additional impairment rolls when you suffer a wound of greater effect that what you have already taken or every time you take a critical or greater wound. Once out of combat for a minute, the effects of adrenaline and endorphines wear off, and you automatically suffer from impairment. Notes - High Pain Threshold halves the penalty from pain and gives you a +2 to resist impairment. Hard To Subdue adds to your HT to resist impairment. If you have Injury Tolerance (unliving, homogenous, or diffuse) you never suffer from impairment.

Once you take a wound, you can ignore shock penalties from equal or lesser wounds.

An option to reduce the granularity of this system is if you take damage that is one quarter of the way or more from one wound threshold to the next, take two wounds of that severity instead of one. If the damage is halfway or more from one wound threshold to the next, take three wounds. If it is three-quarters of the way from one threshold to the next, take four wounds. Only roll once for the bad effects of these multiple wounds - the only effect of taking multiple rather than one wound is for wound accumulation purposes, crippling, dismemberment, and bleeding (see below). When rounding to whole numbers of HP, the threshold for one wound always takes precidence, then for three wounds.

Keep track of each wound individually. However, if you take six wounds of the same severity to the same location (head (including brain, eye, face, and neck), torso (including vitals), right arm, right hand, left arm, left hand, right leg, right foot, left leg, left foot), they combine to form one wound of the next higher severity. Erase those six wounds that were combined. Immediately apply all effects of the higher severity wound you just took instead of the effects of the lower severity wound. To conveniently keep track of these wounds, you can write out a chart on your character sheet or a separate sheet you keep with your character sheet:
Hit Location
Head Torso R. Arm R. Hand L. Arm L. Hand R. Leg R. Foot L. Leg L. Foot
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _
Under the HP column, write the HP threshold at which you take one, two, three, or four wounds of that severity. Simply mark off the appropriate entry as wounds occur. Once you fill up one row for a particular body part, if you take another wound of that severity erase all the wounds on that row and mark off one wound on the row below it. Note that this can lead to a cascade effect if all five wounds of that severity are already filled.

Large-Area Injury

When you take large area injury as defined on p B400, roll damage once but apply it to every hit location. DR protects each location normally. Reduce wound severity by one for the head, arms, and legs, and by two for the hands and feet.


Rather than treating fatigue beyond -1 × FP as a wound, use the following rules:

Any attack that causes "fatigue" type damage and that is not resistable does not cause fatigue directly. Roll damage normally and find the wound severity. Do not mark off this wound, its only effect is to tell you how much fatigue is lost:
SeverityFatigue points lost


Wounds bleed to cause FP. The rate at which you take FP depends on how badly you are wounded. You bleed separately from each wound.
Severity 1 FP lost every
Scratch 1 day (cutting damage only)
Minor 6 hours (not crushing)
Moderate 1 hour
Major 10 minutes
Critical 2 minutes
Massive 30 seconds
Gawdawful 5 seconds
For the purposes of bleeding, all bites are treated as cutting even if they technically cause crushing damage in game terms.

You can avoid fatigue from bleeding by making a HT roll plus any levels of Hard to Kill. If you succeed, you do not take any FP this time interval for that particular wound. If you critically succeed, or succeed normally twice in a row, your rate of bleeding for that wound decreases by one level of severity. Exception: For Minor wounds and Scratches, roll every hour. Any one success means you do not take FP this time interval. Any two successes means the bleeding stops. For simplicity, you can ignore bleeding from Minor wounds and Scratches unless you have the disadvantage Hemophilia. A hemophiliac always fails HT rolls to avoid bleeding.

Bandaging a wound will make it bleed at one level lower severity if the bandager makes his First Aid roll. This takes one minute. By spending extra time as listed on the First Aid Table p B424, the healer can make a second First Aid roll to stabilize his patient and prevent any further bleeding. These First Aid rolls are at -2 for a Critical wound, -4 for a Massive wound, and -6 for a Gawdawful wound. Only one bandaging and one stabilization attempt are allowed for any given patient.

Surgery can be used to completely stop bleeding. This takes one hour, with the penalty to Surgery skill for wound severity the same as for the First Aid rolls. On a success, the patient no longer bleeds.

Fatigue from bleeding does not recover normally. Make a HT check each day. On a success, you recover 1 FP. On a critical success, you recover 2 FP. The Rapid Healing advantage will affect this normally. If you get blood transfusions of the correct blood type, all your bleeding fatigue is recovered as soon as enough blood is put back in your veins.

Poisons and Disease

Only poisons or disease that causes actual physical damage will cause HP of damage and thus wounds. Rattlesnake venom, spider venom, caustics such as lye or acid, and flesh eating bacteria fall into this category. All other diseases and toxins cause FP instead of HP. Symptoms occur either when you reach a certain fraction of your FP or when you take a wound of a given severity.


Every week in which you are wounded, make a HT roll for each wound. On a success, that wound decreases in severity by one level. All wounds heal at the same time. If you do not have sufficient rest, food, and water, you are at -4 on the HT roll.

If you are under the care of a competent healer, you get a +1 on your HT roll for recovery. In addition, the healer can roll periodically to help you recover. The frequency at which the healer rolls depends on TL:
TL Frequency of healing rolls
0 - 3 Monthly
4 Every 3 weeks
5 Every 2 weeks
6 - 8 Weekly
9 Every 3 days
10 Every 2 days
11 Daily
12 Twice daily

Other Notes

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