Non-lethal damage question...


Rules Questions


6 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 1 person marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There must be a point to tracking non-lethal damage in game. Could anyone point out what it is?

I understand that if damage that is dealt to you that reduces you below 0 hit points is non-lethal, you are unconscious and stable. However, my concerns arise from the following:

Many environmental effects deal both lethal and non-lethal damage. In such a case, since even non-lethal damage subtracts from the same pools of SP and HP, how should one determine whether the final damage has a PC dying or stable?

And for falling, should one jump, the first d6 is considered non-lethal, and if you do an Acrobatics check, you may be able to further reduce damage. So, if you were to jump a 40 drop and succeed at the Acrobatics check, you could say 0 for the first 10 feet 1d6 non-lethal for the next 10, but 2d6 lethal for the final twenty. If that reduces a character to less than 0 up, there was no point in adding the non-lethal damage to the rules.

I feel I'm missing something...

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Cytoloopy wrote:

There must be a point to tracking non-lethal damage in game. Could anyone point out what it is?

I understand that if damage that is dealt to you that reduces you below 0 hit points is non-lethal, you are unconscious and stable. However, my concerns arise from the following:

Many environmental effects deal both lethal and non-lethal damage. In such a case, since even non-lethal damage subtracts from the same pools of SP and HP, how should one determine whether the final damage has a PC dying or stable?

And for falling, should one jump, the first d6 is considered non-lethal, and if you do an Acrobatics check, you may be able to further reduce damage. So, if you were to jump a 40 drop and succeed at the Acrobatics check, you could say 0 for the first 10 feet 1d6 non-lethal for the next 10, but 2d6 lethal for the final twenty. If that reduces a character to less than 0 up, there was no point in adding the non-lethal damage to the rules.

I feel I'm missing something...

Lets do the math here. Assume level 1 human soldier, 18 Strength, 10 CON, 7 SP, 11 HP, 5 RP

Falling forty feet overall.

First ten feet=0 damage

Second ten feet= 1d6 Non lethal, rolls 6 damage
Current pool 1/7 SP(6/NL), 11/11 HP

Thirty and forty feet= 2d6 lethal damage, rolls 12 damage
Current pool 0/7 SP(1/L, 6/NL), 0/11 HP(11 L)

Human Soldier 1 at this point is stable because of the NL damage taken and does not bleed out in 5 rounds if he spends no RP to stabilize. He gets rescued by his team who heal him.
If all of that damage were lethal he would be at zero and bleeding out, losing 1 RP per round. HS1 could stabilize himself by spending 1 RP because that is 1/3(minimum 1) of his max RP. If he were at 0/5 RP, since he hit 0hp during his turn he would have until the end of his next turn for someone to come and stabilize him before he would bleed to death as he has no resolve with which to continue living.
In starfinder there are no negative con rules, if something drops you to zero you are just at zero. Always have enough resolve to stabilize yourself in an emergency.
If you are employing the massive damage rule on page 250 theoretically if he fell and took enough damage that it would have reduced him to eleven hp below zero he would just die from the fall.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Your interpretation would almost infer that if any damage a character has taken is non-lethal, they are stable if reduced to 0 hp.

The rule simply states, when non-lethal damage would reduce you to 0 or fewer hit points, you are reduced to exactly 0 hp and fall unconscious, but you are stable instead of dying.

So my tracking of your example would be:

First 10 feet, 0 damage, 7 SP, 11 HP.
Second 10 feet, 6 non-lethal, 1 SP, 11 HP.
Final 20 feet, 12 lethal, 0 SP, 0 HP.
The damage that reduced him to 0 was lethal, he is not stable, he is unconscious and dying.

If he started a 20 foot jump with 0 SP, and 4 HP, and rolled a 6 for the second 10 feet of damage, this would be non-lethal damage reducing him to 0, thus he is stable at 0 hp.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Michael J. Card wrote:

Your interpretation would almost infer that if any damage a character has taken is non-lethal, they are stable if reduced to 0 hp.

The rule simply states, when non-lethal damage would reduce you to 0 or fewer hit points, you are reduced to exactly 0 hp and fall unconscious, but you are stable instead of dying.

So my tracking of your example would be:

First 10 feet, 0 damage, 7 SP, 11 HP.
Second 10 feet, 6 non-lethal, 1 SP, 11 HP.
Final 20 feet, 12 lethal, 0 SP, 0 HP.
The damage that reduced him to 0 was lethal, he is not stable, he is unconscious and dying.

If he started a 20 foot jump with 0 SP, and 4 HP, and rolled a 6 for the second 10 feet of damage, this would be non-lethal damage reducing him to 0, thus he is stable at 0 hp.

Except that the lethal damage from the fall wouldn't have dropped him as he didn't take damage over time, that was all one "hit". But since he took the 6 points of damage that was non lethal he is now stable. In all honesty the damage he took from that 40-ft fall was this:

12 lethal, 6 non-lethal.

It applies at the same time, so I would rule that he would be stable . Now if he say took 18 Lethal and 6 non-lethal, then he would be bleeding out because the lethal was the amount needed to drop him to zero alone.
That being said it does appear in a battle situation that only the last hit matters to when it comes to lethal vs non-lethal. Which is a change from pathfinder as the two damage types are stacked side-by-side in pathfinder.


I think as written, any nonlethal damage that doesn't bring you to 0 HP is just regular damage. It only matters if the "last hit" is nonlethal.

I'm not sure if I like this though. Also, if you're at 0 HP any nonlethal is lethal damage. This does support the above interpretation that nonlethal damage is still regular damage.

I'm trying to write some code to handle damage using MapTool and I think I want to keep track of any nonlethal damage taken so if someone is reduced to 0 or lower HP to check it versus the nonlethal damage to see if they die, go unconscious and are dying or go unconscious and are stable. At this point all nonlethal hp disappear.

For example, if Bob has 20 HP, 20 Stamina and takes 10 nonlethal at start of combat reducing him to 20HP/10SP and continues to take normal damage through combat where he's at 5HP. When he takes 10 more damage he's reduced to 0 HP and because his nonlethal damage was greater than the overdamage then he's just unconscious and stable. Note that if the nonlethal was equal to the overdamage, then he would be dying.

This can also save him from massive damage. If at 5HP and he takes 25 damage, this would normally kill him, but the nonlethal reduces the overdamage by 10 making it only 10 overdamage. He goes unconscious and is dying because the nonlethal wasn't sufficient compared to the real damage done.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Charter Superscriber

And so, we see several different GM interpretations of non-lethal damage. That's why I posted. The rules as written seem very clear that if the damage that reduces a character to 0 hp is non-lethal, they are stable and unconscious, but not dying.

Then the book, as written, includes environmental effects that deal lethal and non-lethal at the same time, and has checks associated with among others, the falling damage rules discussed above, it gets muddy as far as tracking damage or stability.

I prefer the interpretation that only the last damage dealt makes any difference, but this seems to be a situation where every GM is going to rule differently.


Michael J. Card wrote:


And for falling, should one jump, the first d6 is considered non-lethal, and if you do an Acrobatics check, you may be able to further reduce damage. So, if you were to jump a 40 drop and succeed at the Acrobatics check, you could say 0 for the first 10 feet 1d6 non-lethal for the next 10, but 2d6 lethal for the final twenty. If that reduces a character to less than 0 up, there was no point in adding the non-lethal damage to the rules.

So going to this specific example, and hopefully this will help-

If Rex the Half-Orc Barbarian goes beast mode and decides to jump onto a dragon's back- lets say the dragon is 10-feet below him. He jumps- but the dragon moves and now his fall is 50 feet.

The "first 10 feet" rule for jumping is generally assuming the character isn't crazy enough to jump further- but still handles the issue of "if things go awry" as in the dragon example.

10-ft non-lethal for the jump. 1d6
^- so the first 10 of 50 is non-lethal. BUT its 50 feet total, so its cumulative.
5d6

Those first ten feet being non-lethal don't really matter in the end. It's not so much the ratio, but the order.

If a 20 foot fall ended up reducing to zero, it would still be the same. That one lethal 1d6 is the character hitting the ground.

Or rather go to a real world example. I jump ten feet- I won't die but I'll be hurt. I jump 50 feet and it doesn't matter that I could survive those first ten feet, those last 40 are what will do me in.

So in short- yes, you are correct. There is no real point in considering those first 10 as non-lethal if the fall is more than 10 feet. The non-lethal falling rule is strictly for 10 foot falls, or instances where a fall can be considered as a 10 foot jump.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
StarSunrider wrote:
Michael J. Card wrote:


And for falling, should one jump, the first d6 is considered non-lethal, and if you do an Acrobatics check, you may be able to further reduce damage. So, if you were to jump a 40 drop and succeed at the Acrobatics check, you could say 0 for the first 10 feet 1d6 non-lethal for the next 10, but 2d6 lethal for the final twenty. If that reduces a character to less than 0 up, there was no point in adding the non-lethal damage to the rules.

So going to this specific example, and hopefully this will help-

If Rex the Half-Orc Barbarian goes beast mode and decides to jump onto a dragon's back- lets say the dragon is 10-feet below him. He jumps- but the dragon moves and now his fall is 50 feet.

The "first 10 feet" rule for jumping is generally assuming the character isn't crazy enough to jump further- but still handles the issue of "if things go awry" as in the dragon example.

10-ft non-lethal for the jump. 1d6
^- so the first 10 of 50 is non-lethal. BUT its 50 feet total, so its cumulative.
5d6

Those first ten feet being non-lethal don't really matter in the end. It's not so much the ratio, but the order.

If a 20 foot fall ended up reducing to zero, it would still be the same. That one lethal 1d6 is the character hitting the ground.

Or rather go to a real world example. I jump ten feet- I won't die but I'll be hurt. I jump 50 feet and it doesn't matter that I could survive those first ten feet, those last 40 are what will do me in.

So in short- yes, you are correct. There is no real point in considering those first 10 as non-lethal if the fall is more than 10 feet. The non-lethal falling rule is strictly for 10 foot falls, or instances where a fall can be considered as a 10 foot jump.

But fall damage is not dealt over time, it all occurs at the same time. If you have enough lethal damage to bring you to zero then yeah, counting the non lethal damage doesn't really matter. However, in a situation where the non lethal would put you under in the same "hit", but without the non lethal you would still be up, you need to count it. Therefore if there is nonlethal in one "hit" then that nonlethal brought you to zero. If you find somewhere that falling damage occurs in each interval of ten feet, and not at the end when you hit the ground, let me know.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Angus_The_Bounty_Hunter wrote:
StarSunrider wrote:
Michael J. Card wrote:


And for falling, should one jump, the first d6 is considered non-lethal, and if you do an Acrobatics check, you may be able to further reduce damage. So, if you were to jump a 40 drop and succeed at the Acrobatics check, you could say 0 for the first 10 feet 1d6 non-lethal for the next 10, but 2d6 lethal for the final twenty. If that reduces a character to less than 0 up, there was no point in adding the non-lethal damage to the rules.

So going to this specific example, and hopefully this will help-

If Rex the Half-Orc Barbarian goes beast mode and decides to jump onto a dragon's back- lets say the dragon is 10-feet below him. He jumps- but the dragon moves and now his fall is 50 feet.

The "first 10 feet" rule for jumping is generally assuming the character isn't crazy enough to jump further- but still handles the issue of "if things go awry" as in the dragon example.

10-ft non-lethal for the jump. 1d6
^- so the first 10 of 50 is non-lethal. BUT its 50 feet total, so its cumulative.
5d6

Those first ten feet being non-lethal don't really matter in the end. It's not so much the ratio, but the order.

If a 20 foot fall ended up reducing to zero, it would still be the same. That one lethal 1d6 is the character hitting the ground.

Or rather go to a real world example. I jump ten feet- I won't die but I'll be hurt. I jump 50 feet and it doesn't matter that I could survive those first ten feet, those last 40 are what will do me in.

So in short- yes, you are correct. There is no real point in considering those first 10 as non-lethal if the fall is more than 10 feet. The non-lethal falling rule is strictly for 10 foot falls, or instances where a fall can be considered as a 10 foot jump.

But fall damage is not dealt over time, it all occurs at the same time. If you have enough lethal damage to bring you to zero then yeah, counting the non lethal damage doesn't really matter. However, in a situation where the...

That ruling implies a character could choose to deliberately jump 400 feet down, and if they pass the DC 15 acrobatics check some of it is non-lethal, so they don't die. Or rather, that you are tracking both non-lethal and lethal at the same time and comparing both to the HP available and saying there was enough lethal to destroy the character on a 400 foot jump.

When I said tracking non-lethal was unnecessary the jumping example wasn't the best to choose. It seems to me that in the case of a deliberate jump, if one is only jumping 20 feet, they have a good chance of only taking non-lethal damage, but beyond that, they are risking death via the massive damage rule.

I'm more worried about some of the environmental effects that deal both lethal and non-lethal at the same time. In those cases, how does one determine which damage brought you to 0...

It's late and I'm enjoying this thread, but I'll have to surf through the rules tomorrow for a good example.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

So, all of the ways to deal nonlethal seem pretty superfluous if we only take into consideration the last damage dealt to a target.

We also have the Owen K.C. Stevens post from June which states we are not to track lethal and non-lethal damage separately.

So, if this is the intent of the way nonlethal damage works, why bother with it at all? The example of a 100hp character taking 99pts of nonlethal, and then dying to a single point of lethal seems counterintuitive to me.

So, I am going to stick with my interpretation, for now... if a character takes any amount of nonlethal damage (to hit points) then they are knocked unconscious instead of dying. If they take lethal damage after they are knocked out, then, sure, they are dying, but the last shot only rule seems way, way, way too arbitrary to me.

Also, from a game play standing, I really don't want to see Starfinder have to be murder hobos like many Pathfinder's were/are.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

For effects that deal a mixture of lethal and non-lethal damage at the same time, the most reasonable solution seems to be to treat the damage as lethal. That damage becomes non-lethal if some effect eliminates the lethal part of the damage (for example, if the distance of a fall is short enough).


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Silbeg wrote:

So, all of the ways to deal nonlethal seem pretty superfluous if we only take into consideration the last damage dealt to a target.

We also have the Owen K.C. Stevens post from June which states we are not to track lethal and non-lethal damage separately.

So, if this is the intent of the way nonlethal damage works, why bother with it at all? The example of a 100hp character taking 99pts of nonlethal, and then dying to a single point of lethal seems counterintuitive to me.

So, I am going to stick with my interpretation, for now... if a character takes any amount of nonlethal damage (to hit points) then they are knocked unconscious instead of dying. If they take lethal damage after they are knocked out, then, sure, they are dying, but the last shot only rule seems way, way, way too arbitrary to me.

Also, from a game play standing, I really don't want to see Starfinder have to be murder hobos like many Pathfinder's were/are.

So many interpretations, hope we get a clarification.

There is one point where it seems a little ridiculous to say that if any amount of damage is non-lethal, they are unconscious but not dying.

That would be someone abusing the system, and saying, I'm going to deliberately jump off this 400 foot high cliff. He has +14 to acrobatics, and obviously passes the DC 15 check. So, that's 20d6 damage, but 1d6 is non-lethal. I'm sorry, but as a GM, I will always rule that someone jumping 400 feet down is dying. And probably completely dead due to the massive damage rule.

There are some environmental effects that deal lethal and non-lethal at the same time. This is one place where I see the idea of tracking the non-lethal, because for some of them, they impose a condition, and there is a rule stating that once the non-lethal amount of damage has been healed, the condition ends.

Other than that, in combat I agree with one of my players yesterday, who was saying, so what if someone knocks the her/him/it down to 1 hp with a pulsecaster pistol. If at that point I choose to stab him in the heart, they are dying. Or the reverse is true, if someone's been blasting him for lethal damage with a semi-auto pistol, and he/she/it is now at 2 hp, a taser shock with a pulsecaster for 4 is going to just knock them unconscious, but not dying.


Another way this could be abused is to have your buddy punch you before a fight. Since you had some non lethal you'd go unconscious instead of dying... As you can see there's definitely a reason that it's only the last hit that determines whether you are dying or not.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Always struck me the obvious way to handle giant falls or other similar
"tiny non-lethal plus vast lethal" situations:

"Yes, you took 5 nonlethal. However, the other 100 lethal would kill you dead even if you took 0 nonlethal. So, your dead."

Basically, nonlethal only matters if its the margin by which you're KOed, or the margin by which you'd be instakilled.


Silbeg wrote:

So, all of the ways to deal nonlethal seem pretty superfluous if we only take into consideration the last damage dealt to a target.

We also have the Owen K.C. Stevens post from June which states we are not to track lethal and non-lethal damage separately.

So, if this is the intent of the way nonlethal damage works, why bother with it at all? The example of a 100hp character taking 99pts of nonlethal, and then dying to a single point of lethal seems counterintuitive to me.

And yet that seems to be the way it's intended. The SP/HP/RP/death rules in this game are terrible, which is unfortunate, since I like the classes.

Silbeg wrote:
So, I am going to stick with my interpretation, for now... if a character takes any amount of nonlethal damage (to hit points) then they are knocked unconscious instead of dying. If they take lethal damage after they are knocked out, then, sure, they are dying, but the last shot only rule seems way, way, way too arbitrary to me.

That is also dumb.

Unfortunately, there's no real way to track nonlethal separately unless you treat Stamina and HP as one pool of points solely for the purpose of nonlethal damage and nothing else, so we have to pick our flavour of dumb.

Michael J. Card wrote:
Other than that, in combat I agree with one of my players yesterday, who was saying, so what if someone knocks the her/him/it down to 1 hp with a pulsecaster pistol. If at that point I choose to stab him in the heart, they are dying. Or the reverse is true, if someone's been blasting him for lethal damage with a semi-auto pistol, and he/she/it is now at 2 hp, a taser shock with a pulsecaster for 4 is going to just knock them unconscious, but not dying.

The latter makes far more sense than the former, unless you meant that damaging someone down with nonlethal opens them up to a fatal attack, in which case that's a completely different rule that is already in place: coup de grace. You can't coup de grace someone who is not Helpless, and the target wouldn't be helpless if they were unrestrained and had HP left.

Tangent:
HOLY CRAP I was re-reading the rules and I noticed that you can spontaneously drop dead for no reason when you're stable but unconscious! Better boost your Con up and make sure at least 2 people in the party have at least a +14 on Medicine!
"Alright, I know you're stable and safe, but your friend's Medicine roll didn't quite make the DC 15 this time. Roll your hourly Constitution check. I'm sure you'll be fine; you've got a 17 Con and you'd gotten at least 10 every time so far. To fail, you'd have to roll... uhh, is that a 4? That makes 7. Oh, s%$~... you suddenly stop breathing and the computer shows no lifesigns. You're dead."


1 person marked this as a favorite.

In the case of falling damage, it being nonlethal is only relevant if they only fall that far.. don't forget, fall damage is measured at a cumulative rate of +1d6/10ft(ignoring the first 10ft).

If I have 4hp and make a jump...
10ft fall= No Damage.

20ft fall= 1d6 nonlethal. If I roll a 6, instead of being negative hp and dieing, im only knocked unconscious.

30ft fall= 2d6 lethal.(1d6 for 10-20ft, +1d6 fit 30-40ft) and if i roll over a 4, im dieing..

40ft fall= 3d6 lethal
50ft fall= 4d6 lethal, etc.

Acrobatics might be able to reduce the total number of d6 the fall deals, but its only considered nonlethal between 10-20ft.


This classic issue has also pretty much broken SF's falling rules, to the point it would require an errata.
Indeed, the ability to cushion a fall now makes very little difference, because nonlethal is regular damage as long as it doesn't down you. And if it does, then it makes little sense that a large fall only knocks you out!

It used to make a difference in PF, beause you could heal nonlethal much faster.

D&D4E had the same "last-hp" nonlethal rule as SF, but the falling rules took that into account: acrobatics would reduce damage, not convert it.

Community / Forums / Starfinder / Rules Questions / Non-lethal damage question... All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Rules Questions