View Full Version : Falling damage

01-31-2011, 12:10 AM
This came up recently, I can't remember which thread. This news story reminded me of it.


The crux is a hiker fell 1000 fee to suffer only minor scraps and bruises. It really is a complicated issue to simulate. The next guy could fall down that same hill in the same place and come up dead.

01-31-2011, 07:43 PM
I'm usually shaky when I get to a mountain top. Best thing to do is just give the mountain a spread-eagle hug when you get there. :)

He probably spent an action point or two on the way down.

01-31-2011, 11:26 PM
Yup - and all the damage dice came up with snake-eyes.

This helps counter the young lady that fell off a chair, hit her head and died - from a 2' fall.

02-01-2011, 01:46 AM
And a butt load of saving throws too.

It's incidents like that that make systems so difficult to build. A fall in your bathtub can kill you. It won't 9,999 times of of 10,000. A 1000 feet down the side of a mountain should kill you, but didn't this time. He was not even significantly injured.

You can try and simulate the physics the law of 32/32, but that isn't the whole of the issue. Even from just the physics end of it. Air resistance, terminal velocity, and more factors not even starting on want interrupts you on the way down and what do you land in. I don't know anyone that wants two pages of falling tables to resolve a ten foot tumble. "Now roll your saving throw vs Tuesday." I'm not even suggesting we go there.

I would be happy to admit that we are not even really trying for a 'realistic' simulation ant leave it at that. At best we are getting a grossly averaged approximation of possible events. And an approximation leveraged to the kind of game we prefer.

02-01-2011, 04:25 PM
That's like the 85 year old guy that we spent all night searching for in June of last year. When the search dog finally tracked him down, he was at the bottom of about a 250 yard, heavily wooded hillside. He had lots of cuts and scrapes but nothing broken. We figure that he didn't fall the whole way down the hill, but he had to take quite the tumble. He said he was about halfway up when he slipped, but we weren't sure that he actually fell that far.

Scribe of the Realm
02-03-2011, 08:01 PM
As a safety professional, I can tell you that a 6 foot fall carries a significant risk of mortality.

On the other hand, one of my friends was a para rescue jumper in Vietnam. He was on the hoist when his helicopter was shot down. He survived the fall through the triple canopy jungle and survived being crushed by the helicopter. He's still a tough guy. These days he's recovering from hitting a deer on his quad runner.

You really don't have to look too hard to find exceptional stories. I guess that's why I like the GM to occasionally depart from a strict application of a game's mechanics and take an active role in determining a situation's outcome.

02-04-2011, 02:13 AM
And there is the rub. Six foot fall, it all depends on what you hit, what you hit it with, and how you hit it.

And then you have the other story. Humans are remarkable beasts. We can endure stuff you think would kill a moose and then die in a slip and fall on a wet bathroom floor.

Simply the rules and the let the GM call it.

02-04-2011, 01:38 PM
It's not just the fall, folks. It's the faller, too. Some people have fit bodies, some think "fit" is how the new diet-cola box takes less room in the refrigerator. I'd say this is the major factor in how dangerous a six foot fall is. Or in game terms: how many hit points do you have? What's your agility?

02-10-2011, 07:17 PM
And sometimes even "fit" doesn't matter.

An old friend was in the Air Force, just graduated from his career field school and got to his first base of assignment. The first weekend there was a command-sponsored party that he attended. When he got there, he grabbed a cola and went to sit down on a folding chair. Since he was the new guy, one of the guys next to him kicked the chair out from under his butt as he sat.

Four CRUSHED vertebrae, four poly-vinyl replacements and a fused spine - He's almost 2" shorter than he was and had a medical discharge from the Air Force at the ripe old age of 19.

From a fall of 18".

Yeah, even in real life, falling damage can be pretty unrealistic.

02-10-2011, 09:28 PM
And your current condition. For example drunk people don't tend to be as injured from falls. (Beware all generalities) Something about being boneless stupid protects them from injury.

02-13-2011, 11:28 PM
it is interesting to note that murphy's law applies to itself.

03-10-2011, 07:39 PM
Trying to accurately model the physics of falling in a game system that abstracts things like hit points and saving throws is a pointless endeavor anyway.
Why would a ten foot fall do more damage on average than getting stabbed with a sword? Or the classic example of a housecat potentially being a more dangerous combatant than a full grown human.
Accurate physics is just whistling in the tornado.

03-10-2011, 09:58 PM
I disagree. Why, because game rules need ot be grounded in reality in order to pass the muster of the dreaded "oh come ON!" That has blown be out of the game more than a few times with over the time cartoon physics or monsters..

03-11-2011, 12:27 AM
unless you are actually playing a game like gurps:toon, or something. ^^

03-11-2011, 12:32 AM
Damage dice from a fall is an abstraction in its own right. Sometimes the fall is just not as lethal as it could have been. Other times, it can be devastating. Damage in most systems is usually random with increases based on distance fallen and what you are hitting.

If you survive, sometimes its from pure luck; like if you put your hands out as you fall or turn your body in time to land on a more cushioned body area. You would hope your PC in any game or system would not suffer from consistent bad luck. If my PC could die from slipping in the bathtub then I might reconsider playing that game.

Dumb luck, however, is the essence of good story telling.