Deus Ex – Artillery, and why you shouldn’t use this table.

Several years ago (seven to be exact) the members of the The Black Seal Writers forum were discussing how to handle some of the bigger bangs which players might run into in Wartime Vietnam specifically artillery. This is a product of the discussion which I thought I'd share.

There is an old adage: "A bullet has your name on it, but a grenade is addressed to whom it may concern", which can be equally applied to a fire mission from a battery of 155mm howitzers as to a flight of B52's flying an Arclight mission - although rules for surviving an attack involving the latter would be largely pointless considering its nickname was the grid square removal service. Read on to see what can happen when your bored and have a free lunchbreak.

Now while writing the table below kept me amused one lunch break, it's not a method I would personally use, not only is it extremely lethal but I prefer to use more narrative approach, hence why the results on the table are as descriptive as possible.

However, I appreciate some keepers and some players are uncomfortable with a narrative approach to their game, they like to roll their dice and determine their own fate. Before the advent of precision-guided munitions, surviving an artillery barrage or aerial bombardment was largely a matter of luck. Rolling dice todecide your fate is as fair a way of determining results as any other - anecdotal stories of shells exploding beside two people leaving one untouched and the other a red mist seem to support this approach.

A simple rule for handling artillery and aerial bombardments might be for players to make a POW roll when the keeper declares the investigators are subject to an attack. Any players who roll equal or less than their POW are uninjured, everyone else takes D3+1 damage for every multiple of their POW they fail by. On average PC's will suffer multiple injuries, a fairly typical result. Helmets and flak jackets would protect normally.

For Example: RO Lucky and 2nd Lieutenant Kanonenfutter are both caught in the burst of a series of HE mortar shells after an unfortunate grid reference mistake. both have a POW of 13, PFC lucky rolls a 26, thus succeeding in a POWx2 roll, and only takes D3+1 damage. The 2nd Lt. is less lucky, and rolls a 62, succeeding in a POWx5 and takes 4D3+4 damage. PFC Lucky looks up as the smoke clears and makes a San check as he wipes bits of the lieutenant off his face.

Alternatively, use the table but allow players to make a dodge roll first to hit the ground or dive into cover.


-10 character lying on the ground.
-20 character is in a foxhole.
-30 character is in a position with overhead cover (a bunker, prepared position or cellar)

- 5 soft ground.
-10 swamp, rice paddy.
+15 thick vegetation (woods or jungle).

+0 Weapon is under 100mm
+10 Weapon is under 155mm
+20 Weapon is over 155mm or dropped ordnance

Roll - Result

01-04 Unscratched.

05-06 Unhurt but blast throws player several yards (may wind up in tree or foliage); player may be slightly deafened: 1/2 to listen and communication skills until ears stop ringing after 1D3 rounds.

07-08 Blast throws player several yards (may wind up in tree or foliage) may take falling damage; player may be slightly deafened -15% to listen and communication skills.

09-10 Player unhurt but buried under dirt/rubble/foliage (1 round to dig self out). NB. It might be safer to stay there.

11-12 Player unhurt but trapped under dirt/rubble/foliage (1D3 rounds for others to dig character out).

13-15 Player unhurt but important item/s of equipment may damaged or destroyed.

16-18 Investigator hit by secondary fragments (gravel and dirt thrown by blast) and takes 1D3 dam across body. Investigator looks as though he is suffering from severe acne for next 6+ months as fragments rise through skin, or are otherwise removed in hospital (soap water and stiff scrubbing brush.) APP -2 until healed.

19-21 Investigator suffers multiple (1D3) minor injuries (1pt each) from fragments, each must be treated separately.*

22-24 Investigator suffers injury caused by fragments striking own equipment, 1D3 damage and equipment damaged.

25-27 Investigator concussed by blow to head (fragment or blast); perception/communication/listen skills all halved for 1D3 rounds then at 3/4 for 1D3 hours.

27-29 Secondary fire caused by napalm or flash sets investigator or his equipment alight, lose 1D3 HPs/round until put out; equipment may also be destroyed.

30-32 Investigator buried under dirt/rubble/foliage (1-3 rounds to dig self out). Character must hold breath as
drowning (Call of Cthulhu 6e rules p.XX) or take 1D3 damage a round

32-35 Investigator blinded by flash, 1D3 damage; damage may be permanent unless medical assistance
provided immediately.

36-38 Blast throws character several yards (may wind up in tree or foliage) taking 1D6 falling damage. Character deafened  - no listen and half communication skills for 1D6 rounds (LUCK roll or loss of some hearing may be permanent.)

39-41 Investigator badly concussed by fragment or blast; perception/communication/listen skill all halved for 1D6 rounds then at 3/4 for 1D6 hours. Investigator suffers 1D6 damage.

42-44 Blast overpressure causes collapsed lung. Investigator suffers 1D6 damage, all CON rolls halved,
investigator unable to exert himself in any way, unable to move faster than slow walk.

45-47 Secondary fire caused by napalm or flash sets investigator or his equipment alight, lose 1D3 HPs/round until put out. Equipment may be destroyed, there is a 50% chance the fire may lead to ammunition or grenades cooking off.

48-50 A small fragment penetrates Investigator's body armour for 1D3 dam, however it is red hot to the touch and continues to burn doing 1D3 per round until it is removed. DEX roll for victim to remove, removal may be complicated by victims equipment.

51-53 Player buried under dirt/rubble/foliage (1D6 rounds to dig self out), suffers 1D6 damage from assorted bruising.

54-56 Player trapped under dirt/rubble/foliage (1D6 rounds for others to dig character out), will suffer similar effects to drowning*

57-58 Investigator blinded by flash, 1D3 damage; damage is permanent unless MEDICINE roll or difficult FIRST AID roll can be made immediately.

59-60 Investigator injured by secondary fragments or blast related damage (falling tree, wall, toppling truck) taking 1D6 damage. Investigator may be trapped and require assistance.

61-65 Light injury caused by fragments. Lose 1D6 hit points.

66-68 Blast throws player several yards (may wind up in tree or foliage), take 2D6 falling damage.

69-71 Investigator takes 2D6 damage as a result of blast, 75% chance of perforated eardrums; eyesight may well be temporarily lost due to haemorrhaging of the small vessels in the eyes

72-74 Flash or secondary fire sets the investigator alight. Apply burning rules (Call of Cthulhu 6e rules, p.XX).

74-76 Investigator seems to be unhurt although complains of feeling bruised. However blast has damaged abdominal organs, and probably by end of day the Investigator will have suffered 1D6 damage and a further 1D6 damage in subsequent days unless they receive proper medical attention.

77-80 Serious fragmentation injury. Investigator takes 2D6 dam as a result of fragments.

81-83 Investigator suffers multiple (1D3+1) fragmentation injuries each of which does 1D6 damage.

84-86 Investigator buried under dirt/rubble/foliage (1-6 rounds to dig for others to dig out) player, loses 1D3 HPs a round*

87-90 Investigator suffers a single, very serious fragmentation injury causing 3D6 damage. For additional complications this may be a large secondary item such as a fallen tree that pins the hapless investigator in place, and required a Medicine roll to remove safely.

91-93 Victim suffers massive trauma (lost limbs/dismembered) and is killed (Immediate FIRST AID/MEDICINE and a rapid CASVAC may allow the investigator to be saved). **

94 Victim killed by blast, body is found exactly as left with no visible signs of injury (eyes, nose, ears and other orifices may still be bleeding indicative of massive internal injuries).

95 Blast throws victim like ragdoll against hard object, victim dies from massive internal injuries (nearly every bone in body broken).

96-00 Hapless victim is obliterated. No trace to be found. **

* Flack jackets and helmets provide no protection.

** Requires an additional SAN roll to those who know the investigator.


Personally, I'll stick to the narrative; its one thing to say "Captain Duke calls in a Danger Close fire mission on his position to take down the marauding shoggoth". It's quite another to say "My PC was in a the wrong place, and the wrong time, and I rolled badly". In my game artillery and air power exist to put the fear of god into the players and as a way to demonstrate to the players the war is just as uncaring and arbitary as the Mythos.

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