Trauma and Forced Retirement in DCC

This rule replaces the permanent loss of stamina for bleeding out (DCC 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 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.

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.