My level 5 party is currently tasked with defending a small town from a raiding orc party. It is the first battle in a large war between this kingdom and the invading orc hordes. The half-orc paladin PC is on a mission to prevent the war so this is a very important event in the context of the story.

As such I put a lot of effort into setting up this fight. I have multiple types of orcs, a fully fleshed out town map and NPC stats for multiple locals. The party has recruited the townsfolk to help in their defense. The locals will mostly be using the commoner or expert NPC classes, with a couple of warriors for the locals the party had spare weapons for.


The leader of this town is a human retired war veteran with links to other important NPCs. His backstory is that he fought in multiple wars before getting a portcullis dropped on his leg, breaking it in multiple places. Faced with selling everything he owned to afford clerical healing or retiring he chose the latter. He is now the only military minded NPC in town.

When I started creating stats for this NPC I wanted him to be important. So, I followed my normal strategy of giving him PC class levels, 4 levels of fighter. I then added 2 levels of expert to represent his growth after retirement.

I have described him as a strong man of early middle ages. He wears chainmail and walks with a heavy limb. He carries a longsword and uses a cane with his off hand.

My Issue

I want to represent the injury that caused him to retire in a mechanical way. Hopefully in a way that it will be obvious to the players during the fight. My only ideas were to reduce his movement speed to 20ft and giving him some penalty to dexterity. I was hoping for something better than that. I want him to still be a capable fighter but clearly limited by his damaged leg.

How can I create stats for an NPC to show their permanent injury?

If there is an existing mechanical way to do this, that would be the best answer. I would also accept any experience-based answer either from NPCs or PCs.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I realise this could be quite opinion based. Any advice to make it less so is appreciated. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 7:05
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Description of what he is supposed to be able to do, and what he is supposed to have problems with, written in normal language could be objectively translated to game mechanics terms. We don't even know what injury he has, it could be anything from missing most of his leg to something minor like permanently disfigured toes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 7:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Molot you are totally right. I honestly thought I had included it but reading back I clearly haven't. Attempted to include it with the edit. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 12:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ How long ago was his injury? Has he done any training since to compensate for his disability? The reason I ask is because if this were a new injury, I could see a lot of the answers linking to references as more appropriate... a severe wound happens during combat, etc. BUT, if he's had the disability for a while and trained significantly since, some of those penalties may be reduced. I look at many of the modern day disabled athletes and they can do some amazing things even with their "disability." Just something to consider... \$\endgroup\$
    – JeffC
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JeffC it has been 3-5 years. He has adjusted to life with less mobility but not longer actively trains for combat. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 22:46

3 Answers 3


There are a few resources you can reference for examples of how to handle such specific injuries.

Scars and Wounds from Skull and Shackles

The Skull & Shackles Player's Guide includes a sidebar on permanent scars and wounds as an optional rule to support representing the harsh piratical lifestyle; it is reproduced alongside the Injury and Death section on d20pfsrd.com. Specifically, a possible result is:

Loss of leg (speed reduced to half, cannot charge)

The leg doesn't need to be actually lost; the result could still be appropriate even if it's just very badly mangled.

Called Shots from Ultimate Combat

Ultimate Combat includes optional rules for implementing called shots to represent deliberately targeting an opponent's limbs and other features, and the result of a "debilitating blow" can permanently wound a creature. For instance, a called shot to the leg can have the following results:

Called Shot: A called shot to a leg lowers the target creature’s speed by 10 feet for 1d4 rounds if it has two or fewer legs, and by 5 feet if it has three or four legs. In either case, the creature’s speed cannot be reduced below 5 feet per round. Called shots to the leg have no effect on creatures with five or more legs. Hitting the same leg more than once has no extra effect, but the speed penalty for hits on different legs stack. Additionally, any skill or ability checks involving movement (such as Acrobatics or Swim checks) take a –2 penalty for 1d4 rounds.

Critical Called Shot: A critical hit to the leg deals 1d4 points of Dexterity damage and knocks the target prone. A successful Fortitude save keeps the creature from falling prone. The creature also suffers the effects of a called shot to the leg for 1d4 minutes.

Debilitating Blow: A debilitating blow to the leg knocks the creature prone. The blow renders the leg entirely useless until healed unless the target succeeds at a Fortitude saving throw. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the leg is severed or otherwise mangled such that only regeneration or similar effects can repair it. If the save succeeds, the target is instead lamed and moves at half speed until the leg is healed, or until it receives a successful DC 20 Heal check. A creature with a useless or severed leg moves at half speed if it still has more than half of its legs usable; otherwise, it cannot stand up and must crawl to move. The target also suffers the effects of a called shot to the leg (if the leg remains usable) for 2d6 minutes.

Most of the consequences described are temporary but you could make them permanent if you needed to represent the damage long term.

Loss of Limbs and Prosthetics from 4 Winds Fantasy's Strategists and Tacticians (3rd party)

If you're happy to look at 3rd party products, 4 Winds Fantasy produced some rather more developed rules for losing limbs and prosthetics that have much more serious consequences than the other examples:

A character who has lost a leg incurs the following penalties:

  • -10 penalty on Acrobatics, Climb, Ride, Stealth, and certain Perform skill checks (GM’s discretion).
  • Cannot run or charge.
  • Cannot bull rush or overrun and takes a -12 penalty to resist these combat maneuvers.
  • Speed is reduced to 5 feet, and can no longer make a 5-foot step.
  • Carrying capacity is reduced by two thirds and the maximum weight a character can lift over head or off the ground is halved when sitting, impossible when standing, as shown on Table: Modified Lifting Capacity: Leg (for medium creatures). These penalties do not stack with other penalties for losing limbs.

These penalties are very severe and would give the character a pretty hard time in combat, so you'd probably want to mitigate them somewhat by giving the character a suitable prosthetic. You could also use the somewhat less harsh penalties for simply losing a foot, instead.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Would be amusing to have the party cast Lesser Regenerate on the NPC though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joshua
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 15:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Joshua Lesser Regenerate requires you to have the severed part to hand, so he'd have to have been hanging on to it for a long time. Regeneration would definitely do the trick, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 15:23

Reducing speed to 20 feet may be appropriate

There is actually precedent for this in a published adventure, The Segang Expedition. In this adventure there is an NPC that is also a war veteran and has a limp:

He walks with a prominent limp, and carries a finely crafted walking cane to help him amble about.

The effects on his stats are simply given by:

Limp (Ex) Baron Rudyahm’s limp reduces his base speed to 20 feet.

It's not exactly the same cause of injury (this one comes from a nasty encounter in the jungle) but it is a published NPC with a limp that you can base your own NPC on.


Crippling injuries are usually best represented by penalties to Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution, depending on the type of injury. By reducing an ability score, you automatically also reduce all other statistics that are related to it.

Leg injuries are well represented by reduced movement rates.


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