Hit Locations By Damage

This rule was inspired by rules in Killer Crosshairs by Biohazard Games.

Instead of assessing damage and then trying to see where the damage is inflicted, this system takes the damage as inflicted and uses it to determine the location. Not only does this system describe where the damage was done, it also graphically describes the type of damage and the type of first aid that must be applied to it. No longer will a mere quick bandaging bring someone back from the brink of death.

Damage Table

Click here to see the Damage Table.

Note: while this system attempts to be more realistic in its depiction of wounds, this is not an altogether "realistic" system. In reality, a single gunshot wound to the leg would be enough to cause the victim a great deal of pain and limited mobility, probably for the rest of his/her life. It's not the first law enforcement officer who has been forced to retire due to a disability caused by a single wound sustained in the line of duty. This, however, doesn't make for great roleplaying, particularly when players have a tendency to want to continue playing their characters even after one has been seriously wounded. This is fictional or cinematic roleplaying, not realism. As such, the Damage Table is toned down compared to what it could contain.

Using the Damage Table

The damage table lists the categories of damage, an "average" total of hit points needed to cause the damage in that category (based on a character with 12 hit points), four general hit locations (head, arms, body, legs), a description of damage to each hit location based on the amount of damage sustained by the victim, and the effects the First Aid skill has on the amount of damage. Each description of damage is preceded by a range of numbers used in the random method of choosing hit locations. The "average" hit totals is mainly to make it easier to assess NPC damage.

There are two ways of using this system:

  1. The random method. When a player character or NPC is wounded, find the damage's category. Roll 1D10 to determine the hit location. The specific hit location will describe the wound and list notes about blood loss and type of first aid necessary.
  2. The deterministic method. When a player character or NPC is wounded, find the damage's category. Look at the damage locations and descriptions in this category, and simply choose one. The wound description will include notes about blood loss and type of first aid necessary.

The deterministic method is the fastest method. It also allows the Keeper to tailor the damage to his or her narrative. For instance, if an arm wound would make a scenario too difficult to complete, the Keeper can easily choose a different location. However, some players and Keepers don't like their games run in such a manner. For these people the random method may be best.

Damage Categories

Damage inflicted on a human or humanoid target is broken into one of 7 categories, based on the amount of damage inflicted: 10% of hit points or less, 25% or less, 50% or less, 75% or less, 100% or less, 100% +1 or 2 hit points, greater than 100% plus 2 hit points. The 100% +1 or 2 category represents otherwise lethal damage that can be controlled by constant application of first aid. The last category is only there to aid the Keeper in describing the results of a single killing wound.

Damage Descriptions

For each hit location, the damage is given in broad terms. Instead of exact descriptions of damage, the chart gives guidelines for the type of damage done to the target. The specific effects should be decided upon by the Keeper based on the type of weapon doing the damage. A minor cut to the arm might result from a gunshot, but the same amount of damage from a mace should probably result in a bruise instead. The Keeper should use her or his judgement and keep the effects varied.


Handling armour (such as kevlar vests, helmets, etc.) with this system is easy.

  1. Roll damage normally, as though the target had no armour.
  2. Use the rolled damage to find the area of the body (the row of the chart) that was hit. You can use either the deterministic method or the random method.
  3. Subtract the armour value — for the armour worn at that location — from the rolled damage.
  4. Go back to the chart and look up the area of the body that was hit in step 2. Use the modified damage to determine the effects. In other words, the row is the same as found in step 2, but the column is likely to be different.

This will give you a new, modified description of the damage that was done to the character.

Example: Jerry Wylde is hit for 10 points of damage. This falls under the <100% category. Reading the descriptions, the Keeper determines that Jerry has been hit in the chest or abdomen. Jerry is wearing a heavy kevlar vest, worth 8 HPs of protection. This would lower the damage he takes to 2 points. The Keeper has already determined that he was hit in the chest. The modified damage now falls under the 10% category. Reading that category for a body hit, she sees that Jerry has been bruised. He'll be sore, but he'll live.

Specific Hit Locations

Occasionally, players will want to hit a specific hit location on a target. They may want to shoot a gun out of someone's hand, or hit someone in the head. To handle this, the Keeper must determine if the body part was hit, and then determine the amount of damage done to that body part.

First, the player must be able to hit the specific location. To do this use the Call of Cthulhu rules for hitting specific body parts. Our group also uses Killer Crosshairs from Biohazard Games. Whatever method you choose, determine if the player hit the specific hit location. If the location was hit, assess damage.

To assess damage using this system the player rolls damage as normal. Since the hit location has been determined, the Keeper uses the damage rolled to determine the right damage category. Once found, the Keeper looks down through the category until he finds the proper hit location. That will tell the Keeper what damage was done. Sometimes, though, there will be no damage specified for that hit location. If that is the case, move down one category to the left and see if there is listing for that hit location. Keep reducing the damage by one category until the hit location appears on the table.

When damage is reduced from one category to the next in this way, how many hit points are lost? The simplest method is to assume the target took the maximum number of damage points for that category. For instance, the maximum number of hit points lost in the 50% category, for a character with 14 hit points, is 7 hit points. Another option is for the Keeper to assume the target took the minimum amount of damage for a category. This would be equal to the maximum for the category one more to the left, plus 1 hit point. For a 14 hit point character this would be 4 hit points (25% of 14 is 3.5, rounded down to 3. 3 + 1 = 4.)

Example: Franklin fires at the hand of a cultist, hoping to make the cultist drop the weird artifact held in his hand. Franklin fires his rifle and rolls 16 points of damage! Normally, this amount of damage would kill the cultist, but Franklin shot him in the hand so that's not likely. The Keeper looks in the "Instant Death" category and doesn't see "Arm" listed as a hit location. She moves to the left until she comes to the 50% category. The reading states that the target takes a major fracture in the arm. The Keeper determines that Franklin shot the cultist through the wrist, smashing the bone and hitting the artery. The Keeper determines that 6 hit points, the maximum for the 50% category, is a bit high and the minimum of 4 hit points a bit low, for the type of damage inflicted. Instead, she assesses 5 hit points of damage to the cultist, who is now rolling on the ground screaming in agony.

Automatic Weapons Fire

Automatic weapons fire requires a little bit of modification to the above system. Automatic weapons fire bursts of bullets. It's possible for the bullets in a burst to hit different parts of a target's body. It's also likely that a short burst of bullets are all going to hit the same body location, while a large burst of bullets are going to scatter over the target.

To determine where the bullets in a burst hit a character, there are two possible methods:

The Simple Method: Assume that all the bullets in a burst hit the same location. Roll the damage for each bullet, but use the bullet with the most amount of damage to dictate the hit location.

Example: Jerry Wylde is hit with three bullets. The damage from the bullets is 1, 8, and 3, respectively. The most damage is from the second bullet, for eight hit points. The Keeper determines that Jerry was hit in the chest with the entire burst of bullets, for a total of 12 points of damage.

The Advanced Method: Assume that each bullet can hit a different location. Roll the damage for each bullet, and assign a hit location based on the damage rolled. The Keeper may find it better to use the deterministic method for hit locations to avoid the silliness of someone being hit in the head with one bullet and the foot with another.

Example: Jerry Wylde is hit with three bullets. The damage from the bullets is 1, 8, and 3, respectively. The Keeper determines that the first bullet hit Jerry in the head, the second bullet hit him in the body, and the third bullet hit him in the arm. Since the shot was at short range, the Keeper assumes that the bullets are tightly grouped together. The Keeper also determines that the order the bullets hit the target was head, shoulder, chest. The Keeper tells Jerry's player that Jerry was grazed in the neck for 1 hit point, shot in the shoulder for 3 hit points, and hit in the chest for 8 hit points.

Remember to modify the damage of each bullet by any relevant armour protecting the hit location.

A Keeper may wish to use both of these methods at different times. It speeds game play if you assume that each burst of five bullets hit the same hit location. If a character is hit with 10 bullets, assume that two locations where hit.

Keepers may want to represent bullet groupings by having bullets hit one location at close range, but multiple locations when the target is further away than the shooter's base range. The further away a target is, the more likely that the bullets will be spread apart when they hit the target.