Core Questions


I am still fairly new to 5th edition (used to play 3rd a lot) so forgive me if these questions are repeats, but I couldn't find answers in the FAQ or in the errata.

First (and I actually had this answered before on the old forum, but it never made it to the errata), on page 98, upper left, the example of the enchanted item is wrong. A small wooden object take 4 pawns, not 2. The incorrect example confused the hell out of me for a while there.

Second, nowhere in the book does it say that wound penalties don't apply to Soak totals, except in the combat example on page 172 where it says "does not apply to Soak because Soak is not rolled", but under Wound penalties on 178 it says it applies to all "rolls and totals". Is it to be inferred from the word 'actions' that Soak isn't affected? This is confusing, but my gut tells me that Soak is not affected, it just really isn't clear. A nice "Soak totals are not affected by Wound penalties." clause on 178 would be great - much like it says under Fatigue.

Finally (for now), if I have a character with one Light and one Heavy wound (-6 to all actions) and on my next action I attack with an Attack Total of 10 + stress die result of 3, is my total 7? [10 + 3 - 6 = 7] Or do the penalties just reduce the roll to 0 and not negatives, for a result of 10? I couldn't find an example anywhere in the book that dealt with negative roll results.

Thanks for any insights.


(edited for spelling)

Looks like you're looking for rule answers rather than "this is what I do" answers.

The wound penalty isn't specifically attached to the die roll so the result of the roll in your least question should be 6 rather than 10.

I can't give you solid rules answers on the second question (I don't play with damage penalties to soak but I don't have anything to back that up with apart from what you've already found).

Soak shouldn't be affected by wound penalties. The wording is a bit ambiguous, but no game I know of (including Ars) makes soaking more difficult as you get more wounded. The main effect though is that as you get more wounded, you get lower defense totals meaning the opponent will get higher damage adds. Since that's the case there's no sense IMO to penalize you twice.

Have to disagree here. It should be 7 either way. If you subtract 6 from 10 you get 4. 4+3 is 7. Or if you subtract from the die 3-6 = -3 -3+10= 7.

The math principle is the same either way, whether you subtract from the total or the die roll, or the die roll + total, you'll get the same result.

If it goes into the negatives, but you didn't roll a '0' then your total is 0 IMO, which is bad enough, especially in a fight. If it's negative AND you rolled a 0, get your next character sheet ready.


Think of it this way:

Someone is dressed in full armor, (and assuming the armor is coming apart) does it get any easier to beat through the armor. Said person could have fifty arrows in his back, but shoving a sword through his gut would be just as hard...though it would be easier to line up a good shot (the penalties) because he is wounded...


No worries. I am not trying to rationalize it, I just want to get the ruling/errata. I think I have it right, but the book is pretty fuzzy.

Thanks for the replys so far guys.



Hey all,

How often to the writers respond to questions like mine? Is this an active board, or fairly infrequent in that regard? I don't want to be a nuissance, so I thought it good to ask.


I've observed that David Chart (the line editor) stops by on occaion and he tends to answer questions in regards to why things have been done the way that they were done. Both John Nephew and David have answered questions here regarding the production schedule (John less frequently than David).

If a question regarding rules has been answered by the fan community David has not frequently chimed in to agree with the consensus.

On occasion David has updated the Errata page with clairifiations that were prompted by discussions on both this list and on the Berk list.

Here's what Andrew the FAQ maintainer has to say on the issue:

Thanks Erik,

Okie doke. I am certainly not trying to win any rules arguments as we haven't started playing yet! :smiley:

I just want to make sure I understand the rules so I can adjudicate "correctly" when these situations arise, because I know they will!


Just to make sure everyone knows, you can find the FAQ from the Project: Redcap site (

-Andrew, Your Friendly FAQ Maintainer

I can't speak for the writers, but the community is more than happy to help with rules questions. By all means, post them here (you may want to check the FAQ first).

-Your Friendly FAQ Maintainer


I'm new to the game. I had the same question about wound penalties and Soak, and it's been pretty answered by this thread.

It seems to me that Damage totals also should not be affected by wound penalties: the damage total is already lower because the wound penalty affected the Attack Total.

Am I wrong?

Thanks in advance,

Damage totals are not rolled in combat but they're still a total. I've never heard of anyone penalizing both the attack roll and docking the damage total as well. I certainly wouldn't. I also wouldn't alter spell damage.

Idem here.

Something that has come up before, and some people get confused about, is that wound penalties apply to anything that is rolled.

So, soak in normal combat is not rolled (the wound penalties were already applied to defense total) so there is no further reduction.
However, soak vs spell damage IS rolled, therefore wound penalties are applied.

A few people don't apply this, with the result that many spells cannot kill an enemy no matter how many times they are hit by it. This is absurd, but there are some players who think it is better that way.


How it is absurd? Why should a fireball be more damaging if you are already wounded? Roll better next time for damage and that is all. Eventually you will roll a 1 and fry the guy :mrgreen:

Gilaru's comment is why I think the previous edition's boxed damage was way better than the current system. But that is a personal pet peve

Anyway, it's raw that "non combat damage" (which mean spell damage) are rolled and that soak is rolled.
Combat damage (= when you do an attack roll vs a defense roll but not from a spell) are not rolled: it's Attack advantage + damage modifier vs soak.

But nothing RAW say that the wound penalty apply to those. Since there is an explicit example of wound penalty not applying to wound recovery (but disease penalty do apply to wound recovery, and vice versa), each troupe decide what is or not with and without penalty.

Some say that "knowledge" skill are not penalised, other says that "awereness" skills are not penalised... each troupe his style.

See? I said that some people prefer it. Please don't take the following personally, it is just an example of why I prefer what I think of as the 'proper way' of applying wound penalties.

Absurd example: You have a minor spell that does a light wound on the target. You cast it 50 times. The target has minus 50 to all dice rolls. You need to crit to get heavier wounds, with a double crit to actually kill the target. This means that you are quite likely to botch and harm yourself rather than kill your target.

Another absurd example: you put an incapacitated enemy on a natural fire. He never dies, because the damage caused by the fire does not exceed his soak. Again, with the crit vs botch problem.

To address Xavi's actual question: If I hit you with a hammer, repeatedly, it will eventually kill you. Does it actually do more damage each time? Or is the game mechanics method of representing cumulative damage applied in the form of wound penalties to your defense total? (the answer is yes, by the way :wink:)

In the same way, wound penalties apply to rolled soak (p181 of AM5), representing cumulative damage from spells or other non-combat damage.

Overall, play the game how you want to - but the version where many spells cannot kill even mundane enemies has to my personal knowledge put several players off using 5th edition at all (and they are sticking with the alternative absurdities of 4th edition instead).



I had never seen it that way.

Then you are telling me that if I hit you repeatedly with a dagger I cannot kill you, but throwing the same dagger at you over and over again with magic will turn you into a dead body? :stuck_out_tongue:


That's what I remember of 3rd edition. But on page 178 of the 5th edition the handbook states: "The character suffers a penalty to all actions (rolls and TOTALS) equal to the sum of all penalties due to his wounds".

(the capitals are mine).

Agreed that Soak Totals are unaffected by Wound Penalties, I still had a doubt about Damage Totals. I think this should be addressed in the FAQ, because it's really confusing.

Soaking isn't really an action. OTOH Deprivation isn't either but Wound Penalties should apply. I think no bonus should apply twice. If it was in the attack/defense total, you shouldn't double it up. (Yes Xavi, your knife will kill as the Attack Advantage goes up with the Wound Penalties.)

I think if the penalty applies to Deprivation, it will also apply to spell/Non-combat Soak Totals.