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Falling objects

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  • Falling objects

    Hello all!
    What guidelines would you use for damage by falling objects?

  • #2
    That depends on too many factors to describe.

    It doesn't matter how many hundreds of tons of loose feathers are dropped from thousands of feet in the air, they do no damage.
    Hail storms might force a roll to resist Bumps & Bruises, with a Wound on Critical Failure. Penalties would be based on storm severity.
    Cannon balls and catapult stones already have defined damage when launched from their respective weapons. 3d6+1 and 3d6, respectively, both at AP 4 and Heavy Weapon.

    Human-ish characters falling into the ground take 1d6+1 per 4" of fall, maximum 10d6+10 at 40" (80 yards or 240 feet).

    Factors of falling damage:
    • Density of object. Denser objects apply force over a smaller area and have a higher terminal velocity due to reduced air resistance. That combination makes them vastly more dangerous.
    • Length of fall. The further something falls, the longer it accelerates, increasing the velocity and the impact forces. This does have an upper limit based upon the resistance of the fluid being moved through - but in a vacuum there is virtually nothing to resist acceleration and virtually no terminal velocity.
    • Medium moved through. Air resistance is real, but so is water resistance, and both are significantly greater than the resistance in a vacuum. That affects terminal velocity, and thus how much things will hurt.
    The other concerns are on the target side of the equation, and factor into why falling damage usually has a random component.

    Assuming objects at least as dense as flint or limestone, I'd have them deal 1dX per 4" of falling, maximum 10dX. X is based upon the weight of the object, using d4 to d8. I'd probably use the Improvised Weapon rules as a damage guideline. A few pounds would be d4, ten or so pounds for a d6, and thirty or more pounds for a d8.
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.


    • Deskepticon
      Deskepticon commented
      Editing a comment
      Great post!
      Definitely a lot of good brain-candy for GMs to chew on.

      One errata:
      Falling damge in SWADE is 1d6+1 per 4 yards, not 4".

      And one addendum:
      Aerodynamic objects are, by definition, designed to minimize drag force, and such objects almost never reach terminal velocity before they hit the ground. While I doubt such things will come up often (if at all) it might be pertinent in some settings.
      As a hard-n-fast rule, I'd allow such objects to exceed to normal Falling damage cap.

  • #3
    I'd use the modifiers used to calculate ramming damage (page 116).


    • ValhallaGH
      ValhallaGH commented
      Editing a comment
      Also a great suggestion. Probably saner than what I proposed.

  • #4
    Savage Worlds already has rules for falling (1d6+1 per 4 yards) and I would use that as a base, just to keep things simple.

    The rule is designed for characters that fall, but the law of equal-but-opposite forces can make this work both ways. Anything about as dense as the ground (rocks, dirt, logs, scrap metal, etc.) would deal 1d6+1 damage to whatever it hits for every 2" (4 yards) it falls.
    Material density can increase or decrease the die type, like ValhallaGH suggested. An eight-pound cannonball dropped from the crow's nest 6" above might deal 3d8+3 damage, while a bundle of rope hurled from the same height might deal 3d4+3.

    Note that while objects designed to be weapons have their own damage values, these should probaby be ignored if the object simply falls. A catapult slug that simply rolls off the cliff loses it's AP value since that value is inherent to being launched via device.


    • #5
      The falling and ramming rules give similar results.

      A person hitting the Earth at terminal velocity under the ramming rules takes
      Size of Earth, Gargantuan => 5d6
      Toughness of Earth, twice that of PC => +2d6
      Moving greater than 120MPH => + 2d6
      Total => 9d6

      I advocate using the ramming rules; otherwise, items such as cannon balls will do more damage if they are dropped that if they are fired.


      • Deskepticon
        Deskepticon commented
        Editing a comment
        Terminal velocity of a human is 54 m/s2 (on average), which converts to 60 yards/second. The damage cap on Falling is 10d6+10 from 20" (40 yards)... far short of the distance needed to reach TV.

        Sorry, but 9d6 and 10d6+10 are not comparable.
        IF a character were falling at TV (about 120 mph) then you can probably add the extra +2d6, for a total of 12d6+10. Somehow, though, I don't think it would matter.

        Re: Cannon balls
        Cannons are Heavy Weapons. Simply dropping a cannonball is not.

    • #6
      Thank you all for the ideas! It is of much help