[RPG] Are there rules for handling broken limbs or injuries


One of my players runs the risk of getting ambushed by a bunch of Thugs/Bandits. If he doesn't pay up and fights them, and then kills some of them, I'd like them to break his arm after incapacitating him to send a message to future troublemakers. My question concerns how to handle this mechanically.

I could probably just tell him his arm is broken, he gets disadvantage for everything arm-related until a combination of time and Medicine checks have passed or, some Restoration magic is applied (would the spell Lesser Restoration suffice, or is Regeneration necessary?).

But I wonder if players wouldn't be tempted to just break limbs off every incapacitated prisoner they have in the future, so I'd like to know if there are rules in 5e for this kind of semi-permanent injuries, or even in previous editions provided they can be applied here.

Best Answer

You can use Lingering Injuries

The DMG 272-273 shows the optional rule of Injuries. This section covers both Lingering Injuries and Massive Damage.

While Lingering Injuries are the relevant rules for you, you might also want to take a look at Massive Damage. I have a feeling you might take an interest in it. Now, Lingering Injuries shows you a table of temporary disabilities you may cause to characters upon meeting any of the following criteria:

  • They take a critical hit

  • They are dropped to 0 HP but aren't killed

  • They fail a death saving throw by 5 or more

When you've determined a lingering injury needs to be dealt, you may roll on the Lingering Injuries table. You can also use this as a reference if you want to take some specific effects and apply them to your characters.

For broken arms/legs, the following are the most relevant for you:

  • Lose an Arm or a Hand. You can no longer hold anything with two hands, and you can hold only a single object at a time. Magic such as the regenerate spell can restore the lost appendage.

  • Lose a Foot or Leg. Your speed on foot is halved, and you must use a cane or crutch to move unless you have a peg leg or other prosthesis. You fall prone after using the Dash action. You have disadvantage on Dexterity checks made to balance. Magic such as the regenerate spell can restore the lost appendage.

  • Limp. Your speed on foot is reduced by 5 feet. You must make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw after using the Dash action. If you fail the save, you fall prone. Magical healing removes the limp.