Healing Lethal Damage

I’m currently running a superheroes game, in which there is an NPC hero who has an extremely painful healing power. One of the PCs took lethal damage for the first time last session, so I wanted to lock in the rules for it so I can be consistent. The intent is to offer a way to heal lethal damage quickly, without becoming an option that gets used each and every time they suffer lethal damage. Below is the rule I think I’ll be using, feel free to borrow it for your own games and I’d love to hear any critiques you might have.

Phoenix’s Price

When you are healed by Phoenix, your wounds burst into flame as your body regrows the damaged parts. This is extremely painful, and leaves you vulnerable for a few days as your new flesh has heightened sensitivity.

Remove all your lethal damage. For each full or partial 5 damage healed this way, you take 1 level of Phoenix’s Price. Each level reduces your defences by 1, and the GM can tell you to take disadvantage equal to the level for rolls where the sensitivity may might make you struggle. Remove 1 level every 24 hours after you are healed.

Example: If Phoenix heals 12 lethal damage, you take 3 levels of Phoenix’s Price (5+5+2). This reduces all your defences by 3 and can give you disadvantage 3 in some situations. In one full day, you will have 2 levels. In three full days, you will have 0 levels.


  • My first thought was to use Fatigue, but this seemed kind of harsh at higher levels. Above is still dangerous and will make them think twice before accepting, but removes the sudden jump in severity at 4.
  • This might end up being used to save a character who has been recently subject to a finishing blow (the criteria is “some living tissue”) in which case the price could be set via max HP, or maybe to a specific, large amount so as to not punish high HP characters. Something like 10 levels.
  • How much you make use of the disadvantage clause will have a large impact on how severe the punishment is. I would suggest only once or twice per session, primarily on non-combat rolls. If an enemy targets the weak points in combat, maybe apply the disadvantage to the PC’s next action.
  • The Price could be a Flaw in addition to the above. If your player suggests times when the disadvantage could be relevant, or roleplays to their detriment, offer them a Legend point for it.

Does this mean you don’t do the normal recovery for Lethal Damage (healing fortitude over night, and/or having an attendant nearby)

or do you do that as well, but this is more for an extreme case of having quite a bit of Lethal stacked up?

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Not at all, this is primarily a flavourful mechanic for an existing NPC and beyond that was meant to be an accelerated way to remove lethal damage, especially since Fortitude has tended to be quite low in the campaign this was written for (0, 1 and 2 for the three PCs). A character with higher Fortitude would likely choose to tough it out and heal normally, which is very much part of the intent. With Fortitude lower than 5, this method works out faster; it’s up to the players to decide whether the penalty for rapid healing is better or worse than the reduced maximum hitpoints.

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what about the recovery of a full time attendant adding their Learning/Logic/Creation/etc score to your lethal recovered as well?

I figured it looked like a more rapid thing meant for much higher lethal damage numbers.

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Like I said, it’s a specific mechanic for an existing NPC. It’s not designed to rebalance the campaign, or as a replacement. All the normal rules are still in effect.

As for the differences there, this requires a few minutes at most and then the recovery is passive. The additional recovery using the core rule requires full-time attendance and the avoidance of strenuous activity. It was never specifically intended for higher lethal damage numbers, but as I mentioned above rapidity was definitely something I had in mind.

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Sure, was just curious if you modified the normal rules any to make things stricter/harder.

Wanted a full picture for how you were making the comparison for the decision to be weighed on the player end.

sounds pretty interesting overall, and I could see it as an interesting potion or syringe injection item for some games.