Trauma and Forced Retirement in DCC

This rule replaces the permanent loss of stamina for bleeding out (Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC đź“–) p93). It builds on Goblin Punch’s “Death, Trauma, and Retirement: I’m Gettin' Too Old For This Shit." I have only established an algorithm, I have not brought this to the game table.

A character that was bleeding out suffers trauma from their near fatal injuries. Anyone that is saved from bleeding out gains one point of Trauma, adds a question mark to their Trauma score. They also gain a terrible scar from the wound that downed them.

When the characters come to a place they could conceivably retire, the Judge may call for a Trauma check. All characters with a question mark by their Trauma score must roll a d20. If they roll equal-or-less than their Trauma score, the character decides to retire. Otherwise, erase the question mark as the character is ready to continue adventuring.

When a character retires, the Judge records the following:

  • The character’s Luck score and modifier
  • The character’s Trauma score at the time of retirement
  • Complication score - it starts at 0
  • A Complication die indicating the potential severity of the complications the character might experience (d3 is minimal, d30 is Orcus knows their true name)
  • Possible complications - unfinished business, debts, patron bonds, etc.

Between each session the Judge should check how retirement is treating each retired character.

Retirement & Complication Procedure


Check the character’s Trauma
    If the character’s Trauma is greater than 0, roll a Luck check
      On success, reduce Trauma by one. If Trauma is 0, reduce the Trauma die by one step.
      On failure, roll the character’s Complication die
        If the result is 3 or greater add the result to their current Complication score
    Otherwise, if the character’s Trauma is 0
      Decrease the character’s complication die one-step
Check for any complications
    If the complication die is a d3 or greater, roll Luck again, with a Difficulty Class (DC 📖) equal to the character’s complication score
      On success, no new complications occur.
      On failure, if a retired character is Desperate, that characters complications have taken out the character.
    Otherwise mark the character as Desperate.

Characters with 0 Trauma are free to begin adventuring again. When a character reaches 0 Trauma, the Judge should ask if the previous player would like to play that character.

There are a lot of moving parts in this algorithm, but the key considerations are:

  • What was their trauma when they failed their Trauma check?
  • What is their luck score?

I decided that a person still recovering from the trauma of adventuring is ill-prepared to cope with the complications that come from adventuring.

I also wanted a point when desperation sets in for retired characters. Their complications have finally caught up with them. It is a chance for them to reach out to the heroes.

Table 78: Complications and Probabilities
Staring Complication Die Uneventful (Average Checks) Dead (Average Checks) Checks While Desperate
d3 54.9% (7.42) 45.1% (9.65) 3.12
d4 42.33% (6.96) 57.67% (7.95) 2.56
d5 34.36% (7.1) 65.64% (7.08) 2.25
d6 28.8% (7.55) 71.2% (6.52) 2.09
d7 24.75% (8.17) 75.25% (6.15) 1.96
d8 22.0% (8.86) 78.0% (5.84) 1.87
d10 18.78% (9.52) 81.22% (5.34) 1.72
d12 16.98% (10.3) 83.02% (4.98) 1.6
d14 15.76% (11.18) 84.24% (4.71) 1.52
d16 15.04% (12.07) 84.96% (4.49) 1.45
d20 14.26% (12.97) 85.74% (4.13) 1.34
d24 13.76% (13.84) 86.24% (3.9) 1.28
d30 13.44% (14.79) 86.56% (3.7) 1.21

The average checks in parentheses is the average number of retirement procedure iterations required to get to that state – dead or uneventful.

For those interested, I wrote a Ruby script to simulate through these procedures.