Is taking the slashing damage necessary to get the benefit of Risky Surgery? If the target's resistance1 to slashing completely blocks the damage, is it still a critical success?

  1. like a Cosmos Oracle

2 Answers 2



Skill never explicitly tells you to check if any damage was dealt, it only gives you a choice to throw a dice for damage or not, if you choose to throw the dice the skill works, if u won't throw the dice then the skill don't activate.
To address @brandon's answer the damage roll rules never said that if you skip 4th point the damage never happened, it is just without change to HP.

Step 4: If Damage Remains, Reduce the Target's Hit Points

Source Core Rulebook pg. 453 4.0
After applying the target’s immunities, resistances, and weaknesses to the damage, whatever damage is left reduces the target’s Hit Points on a 1-to-1 basis. More information about Hit Points can be found in the Hit Points, Healing, and Dying section.

From the lore standpoint

While dealing damage seems like the reason the surgery is better actually what happens is the character that performs it takes risks in order to perform better job, if the risk don't result in dealing damage it means it was worth it in the end.
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    – Community Bot
    Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 12:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ In my opinion on RAW rules whether the target HP is reduced is irrelevant as long as you throw damage dice you deal some amount of damage and usually the other party tells you if it had any effect but that doesn't mean the damage wasn't dealt. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 6:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ In the Risky Surgery rulings there is no actual check if HP of the target decreased. Only if the damage was dealt and as I try to argue that 1 damage that reduced HP by 0 lets say after applying immunity is also damage dealt, that would imply the skill would work. Of course if you are a GM you can rule otherwise but I advice you inform your players about that after their declaration and let them choose other action instead if they don't like what they hear. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 6:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I suppose there's ambiguity around "If you do" as either "If you deal 1d8 damage" or "If you choose to deal 1d8 damage". I'm still more convinced by the first, and the "If Damage Remains" quoted seems to prevent the idea of dealing 0 damage. \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 18:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Might need to edit your title \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 22:41

They Need to Take Damage

Risky Surgery

When you Treat Wounds, you can deal 1d8 slashing damage to your patient just before applying the effects of Treat Wounds. If you do, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to your Medicine check to Treat Wounds, and if you roll a success, you get a critical success instead.

Risky Surgery's benefits only apply if you deal 1d8 slashing damage to the target. Damage dealt is defined as equal to the amount of damage taken in the rules for Hit Points, Healing, and Dying:

When you take damage, you reduce your current Hit Points by a number equal to the damage dealt.

Taking damage happens at the last step of making a damage roll, after having rolled the damage and applied any modifiers, immunities, weaknesses, and resistances to it:

When making a damage roll, you take the following steps, explained in detail below.

  1. Roll the dice indicated by the weapon, unarmed attack, or spell, and apply the modifiers, bonuses, and penalties that apply to the result of the roll.
  2. Determine the damage type.
  3. Apply the target’s immunities, weaknesses, and resistances to the damage.
  4. If any damage remains, reduce the target’s Hit Points by that amount.

If no damage remains at this final step then damage is never dealt to the target. This means it's generally impossible to deal 0 damage, instead you'd not be dealing damage at all.

Risky Surgery requires dealing damage, so if the damage roll is reduced to 0 by something like resistance and never dealt then the benefits don't apply.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also note that this makes in-game sense — if you can't cut someone, you can't perform surgery on him. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 20:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot Yes, although in the fiction it may depend on the framing of the resistance or immunity. An adamantine skin is surely going to stop surgical cuts, but a fluid body form maybe not so much. Not that I would rule the latter as helping in any way - surely the body form is so different in that case that the idea of using any standard medical knowledge or procedure is not really on the (operating) table \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 10:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure I agree. If another source said "this deals XdY damage, you'd expect resistance to apply. The surgeon dealing damage just means you have to roll the 1d8, not that it has to do any actual damage. I agree from a lore perspective, but I don't think what you've said actually backs the conclusion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 5:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Right and nothing in Risky Surgery says the result of that calculation has to be > 0 \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 7:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @brandon I see your point, especially after highlighting, however there are still two interpretations to the section. One being "Deal damage, if you do..." The other being "Deal 1d8 damage, if you do..." The big difference being that the trigger requires damage to be dealt, OR damage to be rolled. How can you be sure which interpretation is applicable in this case (AND in that regard, in all other skill cases)? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 6:40

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