Death Critical Strike

Copyright Wayne Johnson © 2011

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"Dark and deadly magical weapons, forged from the essence of death itself; terrible necromantic rods; or protective amulets forged by the forces of life. All of these are possible for the more creative GMs to implement with the addition of the Death Critical Strike Table."

The purpose of this article is to spice up encounters with Necromancers, the undead, and others who dabble in Death.

Use

Death criticals can be used as a direct substitute for cold (or other) criticals when dealing with undead or using Necromancer (and similar) spells. Sample Necromancer spells include:

  • Dark Bolt
  • Dark Firebolt
  • Minor Death
  • Greater Death
  • Death True

When the touch of an undead yields additional cold criticals, a direct replacement is appropriate. For example, a Wight's touch delivers an additional 'A' cold critical, this would now read: a Wight's touch delivers an additional 'A' death critical.

In addition to using death criticals as a substitute for other criticals, the Con draining effects of undead can be handled using death criticals. I recommend that each case be considered separately and that undead should not inflict more than a 'C' critical in this manner. For example:

Lesser Skeleton: "Drain 1 con pt/rnd after 3 rounds in a 10' radius" could be changed to "Inflict an 'A' death critical every round after 3 rounds in a 10' radius."

Lich: "Touch drains 5 points of Con" could be changed to "Touch inflicts a 'C' death critical."

New Spells

A GM may allow additional spells to be added to the arsenal of existing professions. Two possible suggestions fall on the Dark Channels (Evil Cleric) spell list:

1- DEATH TOUCH: (F*) Duration: 1 rnd, Range: Touch. The caster calls on the power of the underworld to charge his hands with the power of death. If the caster touches an opponent the round this spell is cast, he delivers an 'A' Death critical.

4 - DEATH STARE: (F*) Duration: - Range: 100'. The caster summons the power of the underworld and unleashes it upon his opponent with a dark stare. The foe must resist or suffer an 'A' Death critical.

New Magical Items

Dark and deadly magical weapons, forged from the essence of death itself; terrible necromantic rods; or protective amulets forged by the forces of life. All of these are possible for the more creative GMs to implement with the addition of the Death Critical Strike Table.

THE TOOTH OF GILMORE

This cruel looking dagger sports a wavy blade of dark, black steel and a hilt of polished obsidian. The blade itself is a +10 magical weapon than delivers a Death critical of equal severity (same roll).

CLEARWATERS

A small crystal vial hanging from a pure silver necklace that contains the holy waters of the Nosam river, thrice blessed by priests of the third order. Its powers are used to protect against the shroud of undeath that often surrounds the priests' sworn enemies, the Wraiths of T'hgirw. The amulet gives the wearer a +20 RR bonus versus spells that inflict Death criticals and reduces the severity of all Death criticals by 1.

Life Levels

Life levels are often referenced by the Death Critical Strike Table; these are featured in Rolemaster Companion 2 (RMCII). The use of this critical table does make the Life Essence Healing spell list much more desirable.

For those without access to RMCII, it is suggested that each life level loss be treated as a -10 penalty to all actions. Temporary loss can be healed naturally at a rate of 1 level per hour and generous GMs would allow the natural healing of 'permanent' loss at the rate of 1 level per day. Less generous GMs may allow healing via 'Lifegiving' spells.

Adding Details

So, we now know how to use and apply Death criticals, how can we breathe a little life into death (pardon the pun)?

Death effects may not be so apparent, after all, how do we describe that some poor fool has just suffered the loss of 3 life levels or 5 points of temporary constitution? It is suggested that you make the victims appear gaunt, pale and feeble. The more damage suffered the more they actually resemble the denizens of undeath.

Items, spells and effects could be described as (or being enshrouded in) a deep shadow with wisps of white mist at the edges. The closer one comes to such items and effects, the colder it would feel and a very slight whiff of rotting corpses would permeate the air.

Death Crtical Strike Table

DEATH CRITICAL STRIKE TABLE
A B C D E
01-05 Oh the horror. No damage. Death breathes deeply. No damage. +1 Con damage. +2 Con damage. +3 Con damage.
06-10 Foe loses 5% exhaustion points for 1 hour as death briefly visits. Foe loses 5% exhaustion points for 1 hour and loses1round of initiative. Foe loses 5% exhaustion points for 1 day as death caresses his soul. Foe loses 10% exhaustion points for 1 day. Foe loses 10% exhaustion points for 1 day and loses initiative for 1 round.
11-15 The brush with death leaves foe reeling. He loses 2 rounds of initiative. The darkness lightly touches foe. He is blind for 1 round. The fear is overwhelming. Foe drops anything he is carrying and remains stunned with no parry for 1 round. A lucky escape leaves foe stunned with no parry for 2 rounds. Foe stares into the face of death and regrets it. 3 rounds of stun with no parry ensue.
16-20 Foe finds anticipating your next moves difficult; loses 5 rounds of initiative. Death's hand reaches out and steals foe's life force. +2 Con damage and 1 round of stun, no parry. Foe breathes a sigh of relief moments too soon as he takes +3 Con damage. Next time foe will not be so lucky. +3 Con damage. Death embraces foe but he manages to break free. +5 Con damage and 2 rounds of stun with no parry.
21-35 Foe can feel his soul in turmoil as he takes +1 Con Damage. The touch of death leaves its mark. Foe loses 1 temporary life essence level and is stunned and unable to parry for 1 round. A look of eternal sadness crosses foe's face; foe loses 2 temporary life essence levels. Foe loses 2 temporary life essence levels and is stunned and unable to parry for 1 round. Foe's soul begins to dissipate. 3 temporary life essence levels are lost and he is stunned with no parry for 3 rounds.
36-45 Your poor victim gasps momentarily as he loses 1 temporary life essence level. Foe chokes as a part of his soul escapes him. +2 Con damage and 2 rounds of stun, no parry. Darkness engulfs foe as he takes +3 Con damage and is blinded for 3 rounds. Foe finds it hard to catch his breath as he takes +2 Con damage and loses 2 temporary life essence levels. Foe's skin pales as his life is drained, 5 temporary life essence levels are lost
46-50 Death's breath relieves foe of 2 temporary life essence levels and initiative for 1 round. Foe is relived of life energy as he is reduced to 40% exhaustion points for 1 hour. Foe's grasp on life weakens; he loses 3 temporary life essence levels. Foe stares blankly into the void as his life escapes him. Foe loses 3 temporary life essence levels and is blinded for 3 rounds. Death's caress freezes foe. He loses 4 temporary life essence levels and takes +2 Con damage. Foe is stunned unable to parry for 3 rounds.
51-55 Foe falls to the floor as he is by reduced by 40% exhaustion points for 1 hour. Death's grip tightens. Foe loses 3 rounds of initiative and 2 temporary life essence levels. Death does not creep up slowly on your foe; he is reduced to 50% exhaustion points for 1 day. Foe is not looking to healthy as he sustains +4 Con damage. Death steals the wind from foe as his exhaustion points are reduced by 75% for 1 day.
56-60 Foe is stunned with no parry for one round as he loses 1 temporary life essence level and takes +1 Con damage. Foe stumbles back 10 feet as he loses 2 temporary life essence levels and takes + 1 Con damage. Foe drops to his knees, dropping anything he holds in his hands. +3 Con damage. Death takes its toll on foe, he is reduced to 70% exhaustion points for 1 day. Foe falls to the ground, stunned and unable to parry for 3 rounds. +5 Con damage.
61-65 Foe looks surprised as his life force leaves him. Foe loses 3 temporary life essence levels and initiative for 3 rounds. Foe is stunned with no parry for 3 rounds as he loses 2 temporary life essence levels and takes +2 Con damage. Foe loses 3 temporary life essence levels and is stunned and unable to parry for 3 rounds for his troubles. Foe suffers damage to 1 permanent life essence level and loses initiative for 2 rounds as he contemplates the issue. True death engulfs foe as he sustains damage to 1 permanent life essence level and takes +5 Con damage.
66 A terrible strike permanently damages 3 of foe's life essence levels and drains him of 3 points of Con. Foe is stunned and unable to parry for 5 rounds as he loses 3 points of Con and is left with 2 life essence levels permanently damaged. Foe is left unconscious for 1 hour as Death drains him of 5 points of Con and leaves 3 life essence levels permanently damaged. Foe is left in a day-long coma as 5 of his life essence levels are permanently damaged. Foe lets out a pitiful sigh as his soul leaves his body. Foe is dead.
67-70 Foe suffers permanent damage to 1 life essence level Foe is forced to parry for 2 rounds as if fighting off the being that has just denied him of 3 points of Con and 2 temporary life essence levels. Foe is left reeling as he suffers permanent damage to 2 life essence levels and is stunned, unable to parry for 2 rounds. Foe's jaw clamps shut as 5 points of Con are ripped from his soul. Foe is stunned and unable to parry for 3 rounds. Foe is stunned and unable to parry for 6 rounds and the wracking pain of permanent damage to 3 life essence levels ensues.
71-75 Foe is reduced to 60% exhaustion points for 1 hour and loses 1 point of Con. For suffers 3 life essence levels of permanent damage and loses initiative for 4 rounds. The cold hand of Death reaches into foe, he is stunned and unable to parry for 5 rounds and loses 4 points of Con. Foe falls to the ground, stunned and unable to parry for 3 rounds. +3 Con damage. Poor fool takes +7 Con damage and is stunned unable to parry for 6 rounds as Death tightens its grip.
76-80 Foe grimaces in pain as he loses 2 points of Con and is left stunned and unable to parry for 2 rounds. Foe is left reeling as he suffers permanent damage to 2 life essence levels and becomes stunned unable to parry for 2 rounds. Foe lets out a pitiful shriek as 5 points of Con are ripped from his soul. Foe is stunned and unable to parry for 3 rounds. True death engulfs foe as he sustains damage to 1 permanent life essence level and takes +5 Con damage. Foe drops to the ground like a lifeless sack, suffering permanent damage to 4 life essence levels and remaining unconscious for 3 rounds.
81-85 For suffers 3 life essence levels of permanent damage and loses initiative for 4 rounds. Death's touch leaves foe at 50% exhaustion points for 1 day and drains the fool of 3 points of Con. Foe is stunned and unable to party for 4 rounds and the wracking pain of permanent damage to 3 life essence levels ensues. Death's breath leaves foe at 75%. exhaustion points for 1 day and permanently damages 2 life essence levels, leaving the fool stunned and unable to parry for 3 rounds. Foe suffers the indignity of being permanently blinded. +10 Con damage.
86-90 Death strikes foe hard, relieving him of 2 points of Con and reducing his exhaustion points by 50% for 1 day. Foe stumbles sideways 5 feet and drops to his knees, quite stunned and unable to parry for 2 rounds as he suffers permanent damage to 3 life essence levels. Death's breath leaves foe at 75% exhaustion points for 1 day and permanently damages 3 life essence levels. Foe's vision is dimmed by the touch of death. He is left blinded for 5 rounds and suffers 3 life essence levels of permanent damage The cold touch of death relieves foe of 90% of his exhaustion points and permanently damages 5 life essence levels.
91-95 Foe is left stunned and unable to parry for 3 rounds and 2 of his life essence levels are permanently damaged. Foe lets out a pitiful shriek as 4 points of Con are stolen from his being. Foe is stunned and unable to parry for 3 rounds. Sharp numbing pain accompanying the loss of4 points of Con causes foe to drop anything he is carrying in his hands and remain stunned unable to parry for 3 rounds. The harsh wind of Death drains 5 points of Con from your victim and leaves the poor fool stunned and unable to parry for 10 rounds. Foe slips into unconsciousness for 1 hour perhaps to avoid the reality of permanent damage to 5 life essence levels.
96-99 Poor victim is left stunned and unable to parry for 5 rounds and 3 of his life essence levels are permanently damaged. Foe staggers backwards 5 feet, is stunned and unable to parry for 6 rounds and takes +5 Con damage. The shock of being drained of 4 temporary life essence levels and 4 points of Con, leaves foe unconscious for 1 hour. Foe drops into a coma for 1 day and suffers permanent damage to 5 life essence levels on revival. Your hapless victim does not even realize his soul has departed until he hits the ground, dead.
100 Foe gasps as he is left with 5 life essence levels permanently damaged and loses 3 points of Con. Foe is stunned and unable to parry for 12 rounds. Foe falls to the ground unconscious for 1 hour. As he awakens, he finds himself with 5 life essence levels permanently damaged and short of 5 points of Con. A contest of wills between the foe and Death itself lasts for 6 rounds before foe finally succumbs to Death. The touch of Death draws foe's' soul from his body. Foe is dead. Foe's soul is utterly consumed (destroyed) by Death's fateful hand.

This critical table is also available as a pdf.