Stun lock is caused by any one hit that equals 25% or more of the combatant's hit points at the time the damage is done. If sufficient, the character or combatant is "stunned." While stunned, the combatant cannot act that round, letting the enemy attack again. It is assumed that the stunned character is still defending (armour class unchanged) and is aware of what's happening. Stunning should be seen as the character staggering, off balance, perhaps falling to one knee and attempting to regain another chance to attack. In effect, the character is "too busy" to take fight back. Combatants that are stunned round after round may be killed before they are ever able to attack again.
If a character is hit multiple times in the space of a round, each individual hit is calculated against the target's hit points separately. This calculation is made according to the order in which each hit lands.
- For example, Lisbeth has 29 hit points and is hit three times in succession. In order, these hits cause 7, 5 and 3 points of damage. The first hit, 7 damage, stuns up to 28 hp, not quite enough to stun Lisbeth. She loses 7 h.p., leaving her with 22 remaining. The second hit, causing 5 damage, stuns up to 20 hp; again, Lisbeth comes through all right. She has 17 h.p. left. And the third hit, 3 damage, is still less than 25% of Lisbeth's remaining hit points. Lisbeth avoids being stunned this round, even though she suffered three hits and a total loss of 15 hit points.
- If, however, the damage had been done in the order of 3, 7 and 5, the first hit would have reduced Lisbeth to 26 h.p. The second attack, for 7 damage, would stun Lisbeth. The third hit, for 5 damage, would also stun Lisbeth. However, she can be stunned only once; she can't be "more stunned." However, she can be repeatedly knocked backwards (see below).
Damage from Wounds
Wounds can cause continuous damage, which may themselves cause a combatant to lose 25% of their hit points. Wound damage will stun lock a combatant, who will be considered weakened and unable to act. Once wounds are enough to stun a combatant, that will continue every round thereafter until the combatant receives outside help, binding or otherwise closing the wounds.
Because 1 h.p. damage is sufficient to stun anyone with 4 h.p. or less, any damage to persons with less than 4 h.p. (including those with less than zero hit points) is considered sufficient to stun.
Stunning versus Multiple Attacks
|# Attacks||H.p. to Stun|
|4||67% (two thirds)|
|5||75% (three quarters)|
|6||80% (four fifths)|
|7||84% (five sixths)|
|8||86% (six sevenths)|
In combat, there are characters and monsters who possess more than one attack. This provides some resistance to stun lock, as it increases the required percentage of the combatant's hit points needed to stun. The table shown indicates the percentage of hit points that are necessary to stun lock all possible attacks.
- For example, a lion with 36 hit points attacks the party and has three attacks: two claws and a bite. If Lisbeth is fighting the lion, she will need to cause 18 damage in a single hit to keep the lion from having any attacks the following round. If, however, she causes 12 damage with one hit, she will take away two of the lion's attacks, reducing it to one. If she causes 9 damage, she will take away one of the lion's attacks.
- Attacks lost are always those in order of causing the greatest damage. In the above example, Lisbeth's causing 12 damage took away the lion's bite and one claw. In causing 9 damage, she would take away the lion's bite, leaving it with two claw attacks.
Thus, combatants with multiple attacks are more difficult to render harmless. This also applies to higher leveled characters who possess multiple attacks, such as fighters, paladins, rangers and monks. In the case of fighting with two weapons, the primary weapon is the first to be stunned; it requires 33% of the combatant's hit points to stop the use of both weapons.
When a combatant is completely stunned (all attacks are lost), they are effectively "driven back" one combat hex, as though staggering back from the force of the blow that stunned them. If the blow is delivered by an attacker that is three times the physical weight of the defender, then the latter will fall back, or be knocked back, two hexes. If the attacker has sufficient movement in the melee, they may advance into the vacated hex; and if the attacker has an additional attack, they may again attack the stunned combatant, potentially stunning them again and knocking them back another hex (and potentially advancing again).
Combatants may not be forced back into an enemy-occupied hex. However, if the hex back of the combatant is occupied by a small or medium-sized ally, then the stunned combatant is driven into the ally's hex. This could enable the attacker's second attack (if there was one) to be used against multiple defenders in one hex. However, even if the defender was, again, stunned, there would still be an ally to hold the hex, so that the attacker could not advance. This is a simulation of "fighting in ranks," enabling forces with deeper ranks to forbear attacks more effectively.
If the hex back of the combatant is occupied by a large creature, by two medium-sized allies or three small-sized allies, or by a wall or someother structure, then the stunned combatant cannot be forced back and the rule does not apply.
If the hex back of the combatant is a drop, or would cause the combatant to most probably die (from, say, a pool of acid), then the stunned combatant is entitled to a dexterity check. Success indicates that the combatant truly does not want to die (i.e., is specially motivated) and the combatant holds their ground; a failure would indicate that the combatant is forced back into the consequences that await. There are numerous situations that might apply: the character being forced to fall back into water along a shoreline, up or down stairs, into line-of-sight where they could be targeted by archers, etcetera.
Note that if there is some separation between the combatant and falling back, such as a railing, fence or merlon, the combatant is allowed a dexterity check with a +2 modifier for every foot of height the barrier possesses. Any barrier that is 4 ft. or higher is counted as a wall and the combatant would not fall back. If, alternately, there was something in the combatant's hex that could be grabbed (such as a pole, a rope or an outcropping), then the combatant is again entitled to a dexterity check to avoid falling back, with a +1 modifier. Characters being forced up stairs are entitled to a dexterity check without modifiers.
Direction of Falling Back
The first choice of falling back should be in the hex that is opposite the direction of the stunning attack (the stunned combatant's "rear" hex). If that hex is "full," because it is supported by allies or a physical structure, then the character should be forced back left or back right (the "flank" hexes), either determined randomly or that being opposite of the enemy's right-hand attack or left-hand attack. If none of these three hexes can be fallen back into, then the rule of falling back is ignored.