Starting the session already injured

We’ve got the next exciting instalment of Thashif’s Dresden Files game coming up this evening, I haven’t got around to doing a session write-up yet but basically we had to clear a nest of ghouls out of a warehouse as a favour we owed to someone, now my character Murdoch wields the powers of hellfire thanks to having a demon inhabiting his body and this power is great for licking out the damage, however it also puts a terrible mental strain on the character meaning that I can only use the power for so long before I’m pretty much useless. During the last session I used the power about as much as I could to take down these ghouls and promptly passed out at the end, not realising one of them was still going, the ghoul then through itself on me and did some serious injuries and well as pulling one of my characters eyes out.

My character has some increased healing abilities, but I’ll be starting this session still on some pretty heavy damage, this got me thinking about the way lasting damage is handled in Fate and some other games. I really love the way Fate handles healing, essentially you are at a disadvantage during the game until you reach your next milestone at which point (assuming you have IC justification) the wound (or consequence as it is called in Fate) is healed. That milestone might come at the end of your next session or even in a few sessions time depending on how the plot of your game develops.

This is a great way of doing it IMO and helps get rid of one of something I’ve often seen in other games, players rushing their characters in recklessly heedless of the vast amounts of damage they’re taking because they know that they can rest up for a day or two, heal up and then get back to doing what they are doing best. I’ve always thought that if you take damage it should have some actual lasting effect during the sessions, when it does people in my experience tend to be less willing to fling themselves heedlessly into danger or, if they do, they are at least aware of the potential cost.

So in tonights session I’ll be starting off pretty beaten up, but that’s fine, it’s the price I pay for taking down the ghouls last session, it gives the characters who are healthy more time to be in the spotlight, adds some interesting complications for the session and also, above all else, gives me something a bit different and interesting to roleplay. How does my character react to being injured? How is his mood affected? Does he still behave in the same way? Will this have affected how he views situations in the future?

All these questions and more both help you to play the character during the session whilst injured and even considering them means that you’re adding extra depth and richness to your character portrayal.

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