Apr 9, 2012

Hit Locations in Openquest

One of the worst-designed elements of BRP (which I otherwise consider an excellent system) is that it is a system with hit locations but with 7 of them. Hit locations are tremendous fun as they allow PCs to determine where specifically on a foe they have hit, but having 7, instead of 6 or 8, slows down gameplay. In Legend / Mongoose Runequest II, this is resolved by rolling on a d20 chart, which is too complex to be memorised easily. My personal preference is to merge the "abdomen" location with the "chest" location into a "torso" location and use a d6 to resolve it. I would use the following chart:

1: Head
2: Right Arm
3: Left Arm
4: Right Leg
5: Left Leg
6: Torso

In Openquest, without locational HP, the main reason to use hit locations is just to add some concrete detail to the hit. I actually recommend against locational damage, as I find that it requires a complex chart that is a hassle to check in play, especially when players heal to full and must check each location's max HP on the chart to make sure they aren't shorting themselves or suddenly gaining HP.

Addendum 05/05/12: If one did want locational damage, I would add SIZ + CON + POW and divide it equally amongst the six locations (round up). Remainders go to the torso. This would give an average of 5 HP per section (other than the torso), which would make armour much more important.


  1. Hit location systems tend to cause players to create armoured tanks for PCs.

    The thing about hit locations is that it leads to a depressing number of crippled or missing limbs in PCs.

    Historically and even today, combatants tend to wear armour on their head or torso, but not their limbs, since hits on limbs have less fatal consequences, and hits on torsos are relatively common (especially in firearms combat where soldiers are trained to fire at "centre of mass").

    They could wear limb armour but get hot and tired schlepping it about. So they don't bother unless they're in a static defensive position or disposing of explosives, etc. Plus the gear is expensive so whoever supplies them tries to minimise it.

    The trouble and expense of dragging crap around all day tends to be ignored by players, who treat their PCs are stoic Spartans indifferent to discomfort, pain and fatigue.

    Thus, hit location systems tend to cause players to create armoured tanks for PCs.

    1. Openquest and Runequest have rules for fatigue, which addresses your point about wearing armour all the time in those systems. I'm otherwise in total sympathy with you, and it's one reason I proposed adding fatigue checks to D&D.

  2. I do like the D20 system that MRQII uses, simply because it can then easily be translated to other (particularly non-humanhoid) races. Centaurs for example would have more than 6 hit locations so the D20 can be split up easier. Admittedly this doesn't deal with the fact that 7 hit locations on humans is probably fiddlier than it needs to be.

  3. I'd change the die type in those cases. In fact, I'd categorise creatures based on whether they have 1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, or 20 hit locations, for the most part, with very few getting beyond 10.

  4. The other thing I've just thought of is that the D6 gives an equal chance to each location being hit, which seems a little unrealistic. With the larger dice, different probabilities can be given to each location based (probably) on size.

    1. One alternative might be a bell curve of some sort. 2d4 in particular would allow one to keep the 7 positions. If I was going to use that system, I would set it up to look something like the following

      2 Head
      3 [Inferior Arm]
      4 [Dominant Arm]
      5 Chest
      6 Abdomen
      7 [Dominant Leg]
      8 [Inferior Leg]

      Where [Dominant Arm] is the right-arm in right-handed individuals, and left-arm is the "inferior" arm in the same. This would represent individuals in combat presenting their dominant arm and leg in most combat situations (to extend their reach to more easily strike their opponents).

      Personally though, I'm fine with a roughly equal distribution of possibilities. I tend to picture fights as involving multiple changes in posture and positioning, so that which parts are exposed or not roughly equalises across all the various possible stances and movements.