More Lethal Combat?

edited February 2013 in Mutant City Blues
I'm starting up a Mutant City Blues game this weekend and I was considering making combat a little more lethal. As it is, it's highly unlikely that any PC or NPC will die except in cases were powers are being used in combat. Even a gun is going to do at most 7 damage, and in order for that to kill, a person has to already be on -5 Health.

I'm considering a few options:

1: Have a Survival roll as well as a Consciousness roll. If you drop below 0 Health, you have to immediately roll to see if you stay alive, then roll to see if you stay conscious.

2: Allow the margin by which you hit your target to add to damage, or allow points from a combat pool to be applied to damage.

3: Use the actual damage rules for PCs only, and for NPCs, once they're below 0 Health, they're dead or unconscious as befits the manner in which they were injured.

Any thoughts?


  • "3: Use the actual damage rules for PCs only, and for NPCs, once they're below 0 Health, they're dead or unconscious as befits the manner in which they were injured."

    I don't have the MCB rules, but that's the default setting for Night's Black Agents, and I assumed it was true for all Gumshoe games.
  • I usually use your 3rd option for NPCs, human or otherwise, in GUMSHOE games, deciding on if it's unconsciousness or death by what seems to work for the story. Sometimes, I'll use the more complicated Health rules for a particularly important NPC, but just tacking on more Health points is generally simpler.

    Speaking of adjusting Health points, another option, especially for minor NPCs like mooks, is to give them a small amount of Health. With or without using the option to disable them at 0 Health, if they have Health 4 (or less, even), they won't be stand up to much punishment. It may seem counterintuitive to give a thug a low Health rating, but all GUMSHOE rules are in service of emulating narrative concerns more than they are realistic ones (the latter, of course, informs the former).

    Some other GUMSHOE games give rules for deadlier firearms. Basically, you can increase damage (perhaps doubling it or using your second option), upgrade Hurt results to Seriously Wounded, or some combination. This is a way to make things deadlier for all concerned.

    Personally, I don't worry about making things deadlier for the PCs (I've never used the deadlier firearms option). I don't mind narratively protecting protagonists in a game like this, especially before the climax. I am, however, strict with the seriously wounded effects. Players who've reached that point are injured to such a degree that they aren't going to be fighting back until they've been in the hospital. This ratchets up tension and danger without necessarily ending a PC's life.
  • So far, when the going got tpuch I never had a need to want for more deadly firearms rules in this setting. The heroes are supposed to be a special kind of (low-powered) super-heroes so I think this is nicely enforced by the rules. And I already ha dat leats two incidets were one character did not die only due to the fact that he is a mutant with a pretty high Regeneration Rank. Another spend several days in hospital.

    No, I don't need to increase the lethality for the pcs in the game. Try the rules as is - you can always change it to "more lethal" later.
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