HARP: A closer look at falling

Eventually, things in adventuring go wrong, and you need to deal with them when they do. I will focus on falling, likely to the character’s death, and the various charts and equations for dealing with the impact.

Things were going fine for a while, but now you’ve tripped over something near a ledge, lost the reigns of your flying mount, or been pushed out the airlock in atmosphere. You’re now in a free fall, and this is going to hurt.

How far you fall determines the size of the Impact Critical when you hit.

  • 1′ – 20′ / 0m – 6m: Tiny
  • 21′ – 50′ / 7m – 16m: Small
  • 51′ – 100′ / 17m – 33m: Medium
  • 101′ – 200′ / 34m – 66m: Large
  • 201’+ / 67m+: Huge

Armor, Shields, and your Quickness bonus won’t help you against the impact at the end of your fall. Skill in Acrobatics can increase safe falling distance, a few psionic disciplines and spells can do the same or turn the fall into flight, and your magical and psionic bonuses to Defense will be subtracted from the critical.

In most situations, things that are falling don’t hit the ground instantly. Below is the Falling Table from Martial Law in list format.

  • Round 1: Speed 30’/rnd, total distance fallen 30′
  • Round 2: Speed 60’/rnd, total distance fallen 90′
  • Round 3: Speed 150’/rnd, total distance fallen 240′
  • Round 4: Speed 210’/rnd*, total distance fallen 480′

At round 4 and after, the character will continue falling at terminal velocity until the fall is stopped.

On round 4 and after, the falling character will continue to fall at terminal velocity until the fall is stopped. Gravity can affect both terminal velocity and how long a character has to be saved. HARP SF uses 70 times (the square root of local gravity divided by the square root of local atmospheric pressure) to determine terminal velocity in meters per second. To get the time until a falling character hits terminal velocity in seconds, take divide the the local terminal velocity by ten times local gravity.

Remember, you can fall father safely on low gravity worlds, and falling on high gravity worlds is a bad idea. Good luck, and watch out for that first step.

5 Replies to “HARP: A closer look at falling”

  1. Cool article. 2 second rounds make a lot of sense, see the article I am goung to publish on Thursday.

    In this case you gain more opportunities for falling characters to act before impact and a smoother acceleration curve. 10 second rounds that RM2 and RMSS used go from fall to impact effectively instantly.

    1. My argument to my players on why a fall always calls damage runs pretty much similar. I got around the 10sec fall not being physics accurate by giving the player a reaction roll to grab something or cast an instantaneous spell based on the distance of fall and any terrain (a fortunate tree). Like HARP, the crush critical increased with distance 50′ resulting in a C crush critical. Worked both in MERP and RM.

      1. 70m/s for terminal velocity is an average between a skydiver in freefall with a parachute, in normal position, and the 200m/s of a head down skydiver. Of course, there are a lot of other variables left out for simplicity.

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