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I'll give a short explanation for those non-familiar with Forbidden Lands.

There are no hit points as such, damage goes to attribute points.

Simplifying a bit, when you fail a roll you can "push the roll", which means you can reroll some dice but any 1 will cause you damage to the related attribute (it's a dice pool system).

Attributes are Strength, Agility, Wits and Empathy. Physical combat damage goes to Strength.

Damage to Strength and Agility is usually easy to explain. E.g. if you fail a dodge throw, push it and get damage to Agility, maybe your leg got cramped.

I think I can manage charisma but haven't had the need yet. People get sick of putting a nice face to negotiate with others. Maybe someone said something that hurt you. Looks relatively easy, depending on the situation.

I do not know how to explain Wits damage in most cases, though. I used "You try so hard to remember that your head starts hurting" after three damage in a single Lore roll (that's a lot). It was good for comic relief but it would get old quick.

The books seem to associate Wits damage with fear, which does not help much.

How can I realistically explain damage caused to wits when pushing the roll?

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    \$\begingroup\$ For answers: Mind to adhere to our guidance on subjective questions without simply doing idea generation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jun 12, 2021 at 10:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see some people are voting to close. I think my question is answerable as is, and can be useful for other GMs. I'm not sure how I could improve it to be less subjective. Any specific suggestion would be greatly appreciated. \$\endgroup\$
    – raven
    Jun 13, 2021 at 11:55

1 Answer 1

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It helps to look at what skills wits covers- scouting, survival, lore, insight. People whose wit is low can't spot danger, can't find useful resources, can't recall useful facts, and can't read people well.

One easy way to model this is high stress. This as symptoms as below.

weight gain, mostly around the midsection and upper back
weight gain and rounding of the face
acne
thinning skin
easy bruising
flushed face
slowed healing
muscle weakness
severe fatigue
irritability
difficulty concentrating
high blood pressure
headache

Some work better for long term damage, some for short term. In the short term, severe fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, and a headache works well.

Here are some examples.

For scouting. "You try to focus on the watch, but you find your mind tired and distractable. Sleep looks much more attractive than hours of staring out into the forbidden lands. As you blink to clear your eyes, you see the glint of blades in the dark- someone is ambushing you, and you missed them."

For survival. "Another damn poisonous plant. As you try to focus on which plant is poisonous and which is not, you find yourself loosing your temper more and more. It's hard to maintain the focus you need to find supplies with how long you have been working. As you swear at the next set of samey plants, you realize you've managed to wander back into camp, without food."

For lore. "You try to remember the poetic combination the ritual uses to optimize etherical energy flow, you find your attention slipping onto less complex things. Did you leave the stove on? Who would win, a gryphon or a giant? Is my arm itchy? You can't get the right level of focus to do this."

For insight. "As you try to read which of the two groups is lying and which is telling the truth, you are distracted by the pulsing of blood in your temples. You just want to lie down and resist, but your pulse keeps racing."

That's what I've done, and it's been well appreciated by players who live stressful lives.

For long term damage, as the book notes.

Being Broken is always bad, but having your Strength or Wits Broken is especially dangerous – it can trigger long term effects and even cost you your life. The critical damage tables are found at the back of this book. Roll D66 on the table relevant to the latest form of damage you have suffered: slash wounds, stab wounds, or blunt force (for Strength), or mental trauma (for Wits)

You can use the existing critical damage tables on p196 of the PHB or adapt the above longer term symptoms like weight gain from stress eating, slower healing from long term stress, acne breakouts, or muscle weakness.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Than you, greatly appreciated. Could you clarify what you mean with "long term damage"? According to RAW, all damage is healed after a good night rest IIRC. \$\endgroup\$
    – raven
    Jun 13, 2021 at 11:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ See p196 of the PHB. You can suffer critical injuries that take longer to heal. "Being Broken is always bad, but having your Strength or Wits Broken is especially dangerous – it can trigger long term effects and even cost you your life. The critical damage tables are found at the back of this book. Roll D66 on the table relevant to the latest form of damage you have suffered: slash wounds, stab wounds, or blunt force (for Strength), or mental trauma (for Wits)" \$\endgroup\$
    – Nepene Nep
    Jun 13, 2021 at 13:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I added it to the body. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nepene Nep
    Jun 13, 2021 at 16:17

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