Balancing Damage

Finding the right balance for wounds in combat is always a challenge. If nobody gets hurt, every mission feels like a cake walk and there isn’t really a sense of risk. If everybody walks away from every battle with a half-dozen wounds, you quickly start wondering how that person is even still alive.

Third edition tried to combat this by tuning down lethality on PCs considerably. Statistically, most wounds are flesh wound / graze. But even that feels like a bit much sometimes.


I like the addition of Grazes that demonstrate a near-miss/near-hit but don’t actually impede your actions. I think that’s a great addition, especially for a Western game, Pirate game, or some other genre that doesn’t have much armor.

I wonder if we’re seeing more Flesh Wounds and fewer Grazes than you might have expected because the default location (Body) has a lethality bonus?

The concern may also be descriptions of various wounds. I know that there’s been some confusion as to what an Impaired wound means versus an Incapacitated (or several Incapacitated), maybe there needs to be more definition of what each wound descriptor means? Or maybe more obvious/frequent reference to those definitions (since I seem to recall them existing somewhere already)?

Generally, I would like to see most Marines come back from a fight with (on average) a Graze or two and maybe a Flesh Wound. So in a mission, 1-2 with Impaired/Incapacitated wounds, 1-2 with no wounds, and 1-2 with a Flesh Wound or two and some Grazes would generally be ideal for me. That mileage will undoubtedly vary for everyone.

But when you’re facing machine guns all the time and rockets every 4-5 missions… people are gonna get messed up. Maybe some more encounters with non-Centurion Cylons with clubs/pistols if you’re feeling like there are too many wounds? Just the lack of burst/autofire would cut prospective wounds by 2/3 or more.

Actually the default locations (Body/Chest) don’t have a lethality bonus. Limbs have a reduction in lethality.

Right now it’s basically a 20/40/40 split between Graze/Flesh/Impair. So impaired wounds happen pretty frequently. That felt right to me because bullets do hurt. :slight_smile: But I dunno, maybe it’s too high for Hollywood standards? But then again, Impaired wounds heal pretty quickly.

How can I make the damage levels more clear? I don’t disagree that there’s confusion there, but I’m honestly at a loss on how to clarify it further without writing a bookd about it that nobody will read. For reference: BSGU damage descriptions. They’re also in the FS3 player guide.

Having more bad guys with single-fire weapons does, of course, cut down the number of wounds. But it also makes the combat a bit lopsided when the good guys are using grenades and burst fire and fullauto fire and the bad guys are just there getting mowed down. Especially if they’re Goon npcs. It’s a tricky balance.

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I’m running a ton of tests in a low-armor environment right now, with a bunch of NPCs mostly. That’s clearly not the environment the system is designed for, but it’s providing some interesting results. I think I might like a 30/40/30 split Graze/Flesh Wound/Impaired, but I’m not sure, still have to see how it works out. I also think that I might drop the NPC lethality penalty to 20%, because without a lot of armor, I’m getting a ton of Incapacitated results.

I’ll have to see how much of that is necessary or desired.

For the BSG environment, it might be good to have a post on the actual game just noting the general difference between the four wound levels, just because people never read what’s right in front of them, and the more times it’s put in front of them, the more likely they are to glance over it (and because we’ve seen some confusion on the game).

NPC firing… yeah. You have to have nearly equal weight of fire on both sides. Totally understood. Things get tricky when you’re at the intersection of two systems that each need balancing: wounds and the scene.

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Yeah, good point. The system is definitely tuned for modern military themes where everyone’s in vehicles or has armor.

I added a note to the Tweaking FS3 section of the configuration guide to note that you may want to reduce the lethality levels in games where there’s no armor or low-tech healing (a wild west game, for instance). On Sweetwater in 2nd edition I turned off Critical wounds completely and toned down Serious wounds.

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