Damage (Action)

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Heroic Action Role-Play

Damage in Action is cinematic; heroes can take vast amounts of damage while others collapse from a single punch. The size of the weapon matters much less than the hand that wields it.


An attack has an Outcome and a damage value. Add the outcome to the damage value, this is the final damage inflicted. Compare this to the target's soak attribute, most commonly Toughness, but different Damage Types use different soak attributes, and some powers use special rules.

Soak Attribute: If final damage is equal to or greater than the soak attribute, the target takes a Hit.

Damage Setback: If final damage is ten greater that the soak attribute, the target also suffers a Damage Setback.


Damage is measured in hits. Each attack that does any damage inflicts one hit. The number of hits you can take before serious injury is determined by your Role. Only when you have taken this much damage do you actually suffer any actual injury.

This table lists the number of hits and fortune points by role.

Role Hits Fortune
Hero/Villain Body* Mind*
Henchman 3 3
Victim/Minion 1 0
  • A Hero/Villain always has at least 3 Hits and 3 Fortune points.

Hits disappear once the scene is over. You brush yourself off, wipe your brow, and examine yourself for damage, finding that what looked like serious injury was only superficial bruises. Sometimes, a scene will be a series of fights in sequence, but a break or rest of 5 minutes or more generally means there is a new scene.

In most campaigns the player characters are heroes, with hits equal to their full Body, but if a grittier game is required they can be extras or even victims.

Damage Setback Threshold

Some attacks are severe enough to cause additional effects. If the attack roll was a critical success (Boxcars followed by a hit) or the attack inflicted enough damage there is a damage setback in addition to the Hit. If the damage of the attack matches the sum of the targets Toughness, Mind, and Reflexes the attack inflicts a damage setback. This is called the Damage Setback Threshold.

A damage setback works much like a normal Setback, but the creature taking the setback has more of a say in what it is; it is more dramatically appropriate that the player describes the effects of injuries than that the game master does so, tough the GM must approve all suggested damage setbacks.

If you cannot come up with a good setback that fits the situation, the easiest solution is to inflict an additional Hit. To make the story exciting PCs will often suffer interesting handicaps as damage setbacks, while opponents often take the two Hits to resolve the scene faster. Only in fights where the PCs stand a real chance of losing is inflicting two Hits on player characters really interesting.

Toughness and thus armor is not a factor in the Damage Setback Threshold. Armor decreases the risk of Hits but not of deadly damage. This is decidedly un-simulationist.

Zero Hits

A character that takes their last hit is knocked out of the action. Depending on the situation and the GMs whim, they might run away, be knocked out, lie screaming on the ground holding their guts, or otherwise make a scene of it. They no longer have the will to fight or oppose their opponents in any way. They might rally and return later, usually hours or days later.

Recovering from zero hits occurs at the end of the scene. Named characters bind their wounds, grit their teeth, and get back into the action, possibly with a scar or bandage but otherwise unhurt. Unnamed characters generally need someone to rally them, as described in schticks like Minion Gang.

Mortal Wound

A creature that takes a Damage Setback on the attack that took them to zero hits is more severely injured. Unnamed NPCs generally die horribly in this situation, a reminder that combat really is lethal. Depending on the campaign named characters either die or get away with severe damage, similar to a Damage Setback but more lasting, generally comparable to a Curse. This is a good time to think up new Limitations or perhaps a cybernetic prosthetic. Any permanent changes wrought this way still has its normal point cost or rebate - this is just a cool way of getting them, a memento of your moment of peril.


Most damage is very temporary. Hits disappear at the end of the fight or action scene, when scene powers end. This generally involves a 5 minute break in the action.

Serious Damage Setbacks might require recuperation, which takes a few days and generally happens between adventures. The GM might make a short montage in a hospital or the character might just lie low for a while depending on the needs of the story. This can also be a good time for characters to make changes to their characters, changing attributes to reflect injuries or adding mental scars, prosthetics, or other Limitations.