Vrusk Medic

This is from a comment in an article, reprinted here for my convenience.

Injuries in the SF game are healed by medics using either First Aid, Minor Surgery, or Major Surgery;

First Aid can heal a maximum of 10 STA per day, due to the 20-hour limitation of biocort. The skill also uses “any appropriate items from the medkit”. If the injured character has suffered 11+ points of damage, they need surgery to heal the rest. If a character is injured after the healing, First Aid has no in-game effect (because of the biocort limitation), but is needed “fluff-wise” to prevent infection or further damage; to actually heal damage, the medic needs to perform surgery; for minor injuries, this is essentially the same as First Aid (but with an actual skill roll), so that “the new stitches don’t interfere with the earlier ones”… so to speak.

If someone has been injured by, for example, a sonic sword in a serious manner (leaving him with only a couple of STA points), First Aid involves: securing the injury site, cleaning the wound, applying disinfectant, applying local anesthetic, applying plastiflesh, and giving a shot of biocort.

Notice that this just restores 10 STA; so the First Aid didn’t “bring him back to life”… unless he was at 0 to -9 STA, in which case, it is just enough to “keep him together” at 1 to 10 STA. In game terms, you are just as active and useful with just 1 STA as you are with full STA, but just how badly injured you are is not really a function of how much damage you received, but how much STA you lost; it can be interpreted as: the guy with 20 STA and the guy with 80 STA each get hit with a sonic sword for 25 damage; the 20 point guy is on the floor, dead; if he doesn’t get First Aid (or a shot of staydose) in the next minute, he will stay dead; there is a second minute of grace to put him in a freeze field, but after that, get the dice and a clean character sheet. OTOH, the 80-point guy is barely fazed.

Let’s now assume each gets First Aid within the first minute of the hit; for the 80-point guy, it is a relative “flesh wound”; First Aid restores 40% of the damage received, which is just 12.5% of his total STA; his guts were not “just torn up” at all. OTOH, the 20-point guy just had 50% of his STA restored! No. Not quite; remember that SF does not have “negative STA”; it is tracked for purposes of getting restored to life, but does not count as actual stamina for any other purpose; in this case, First Aid will restore 25% of total STA (the character is not at 5 STA)… but does that mean he had “his guts hanging out”? No; there are many reasons why someone might end up with 0 to -9 STA; ranging from hydrostatic shock, to blood loss, to simple shock, to psychological (they “think” it’s a terminal wound, so their mind makes it so); their guts are not hanging out either.

Guts start hanging out at -10 STA. Until you get to that point, all conventional (i.e. non burn, disease or infection) damage can be treated with a medkit to the point where the injured character can be put back into action.

So what about surgery? Minor surgery is not “putting on bandages”; it is actually thoroughly cleaning the wound, cutting out dangling bits, dosing out the plastiflesh to close up the injuries correctly; not just spraying plastiflesh to staunch bleeding, but stop the bleeding at the source, for example. It is not an accident that AD states that minor surgery heals up to 20 STA in addition to the 10 points healed by First Aid; this is so that First Aid can be incorporated into the minor surgery if it has not been done before.

The medic has five tools at her disposal to deal with wounds: if time is of the essence or if the damage is relatively minor, First Aid is the go-to skill. It is also useful to put someone at 0 to -9 STA “back in action”, though the “revived” character will have only a maximum of 10 STA, meaning that nearly any damage could put them at 0 or less; this is best used to get the injured character to a more secure location (moving under their own power) to receive minor or major surgery.

Second, If the injured character is at 1 STA or above, AND the time can be spared (our house “rule of thumb” is 1 combat round per STA point restored with minor surgery, 1 minute per STA point restored with major surgery), then surgery becomes an option; assuming that more than 20 STA damage has been received, the medic determines whether major or minor surgery is better suited. This decision is made based on available time, available supplies, and whether or not the leftover damage will be an issue.

For purposes of healing conventional injuries, major and minor surgery are not mutually exclusive; a medic can perform both on the same patient. However, since each consumes its own supplies, if there is a lot of damage, major surgery will be performed; this has the additional benefit that if the skill check fails, minor surgery can then be immediately attempted. Major surgery (the third of the five options I mentioned) is just what it sounds like; it is not the kind of healing that is done while under fire on a sandy beach.

Often, a medic will choose to do the quicker minor surgery first, leaving the remainder to major surgery at a later time… or left to First Aid and/or a second minor surgery after 20 hours have passed. Or, of course, the remaining injury can be left to heal on its own.

The fourth option is the old standby: Staydose, which can be applied only to a character with 0 to -30 STA; this must be applied within a minute of the injury and bust be reapplied every 20 hours. A character who has been given staydose may receive First Aid within the next 20 hours, but ONLY if STA is between 0 and -9; if STA is between -10 and -30, only surgery (minor or major) can be used to heal the character (without the benefit of the extra 10 STA from First Aid). Stimdose will neutralize staydose before the 20 hours are up; otherwise, the injured character will wake up at the end of the staydose’s effect.

The fifth option is the freeze field; once applied it can only be removed at a well-equipped medical facility, like a hospital.

Staydose and freeze fields apply once guts are hanging out, and as I mentioned, this happens only at -10 STA and lower.

Canonically we have first aid kits, which have everything a medic needs in order to use the First Aid skill… except biocort.

A simpler house rule would be to say that First Aid and each surgery type can be applied only once per wound session; once the injured character gets First Aid, she cannot benefit from First Aid again unless she gets wounded again, and the second First Aid cannot heal the old damage; for example, a PC gets nailed with a gyrojet rocket for -12 STA; the party’s medic applies First Aid, restoring 10 STA. Two hours later, the unfortunate PC gets stabbed with a knife for -8 STA, and the medic again applies First Aid; this second First Aid can use biocort, but it will only heal 8 STA from the new injury, because the remaining two points are from the earlier wound, and can only be healed using surgery or through the passage of time.

Let’s assume instead that the stab wound was 12 points, rather than 8; the second First Aid application would then heal a full 10 STA, leaving a total of -4 STA from both wounds to be healed through surgery or natural healing through time. In this case, a single application of minor surgery would be needed to heal all four points… or the house rule could be expanded to say that each remnant needs its own minor surgery roll.

A house rule we use is that the standard first aid kit can be used “unskilled” to restore 1 STA before it is exhausted and must be refilled. A skilled medic with the kit, but no biocort, can use it to heal 1-5 points (d10/2) of STA instead (these points are normally subsumed by the First Aid skill’s use of biocort; effectively, biocort “fills in” the rest of the damage up to 10; the First Aid skill can never heal more than 10 STA).

Quote: “Oh, one thing you did miss: there are other effects that make the total amount of Stamina relevant. Remember, if you're below 1/2 Stamina, you have significant penalties to your rolls.”

Yes, but the “0 to -30 STA” range is beyond that: a character at 0 or less stamina does not make rolls at all; one could say that they automatically fail any ability check they might need to make.

As far as healing rules go, there are four levels of stamina:

  • Full functionality = 51% to 100% of STA
  • Wounded = 1 STA to 50% STA = -10% to rolls (note that a dose of anesthetic cancels this penalty; AD pp 23)
  • Dying = 0 to -9 STA; character is incapacitated and will die within the next 1-2 minutes without medical attention; if the medical attention brings the character to 1 STA or more, the character is considered Wounded
  • Dead, but recoverable = -10 to -30 STA; character is functionally dead, but staydose (and freeze fields) can delay the death process enough to apply higher medical techniques to the character, like minor surgery. If the character is then brought up to 1 STA or more, the character is considered Wounded. House rules can be applied that require rest, of inflict additional penalties to the character, but given the nature of the technology involved (i.e. can get a mortally wounded soldier back into action in a few minutes… with zero penalties thanks to the wonders of high-tech painkillers), I have no issue with it as a general rule.
  • At -31 STA, the character is irrecoverably dead; damage to the brain, central nervous system, and/or internal organs is so extensive that recovery is impossible. At the “dead, but recoverable” level, guts may be hanging out, but at the -31+ STA level, the heart and lungs are hanging out with them.

Edit: FWIW, Zeb pp 21 states: “A patient successfully treated by Medical Treatment: Wounds III [the Zeb equivalent of AD’s Major Surgery - SWS] is laid up for at least 10 hours. The patient has a -1 CS to all actions for 1d10 days after major injury treatment of 40 or more STA points.”

Edit 2: Regarding incapacitation from injuries. This from a question in Facebook.


The first thing to keep in mind is that as a character takes damage, their performance degrades in combat; under 50% starting STA, the character receives a -10 penalty to hit in combat (which can be negated by anesthetic).

HOUSE RULE: In my group, the -10 penalty applies to both combat, and to all skill and ability checks (including automatic ones... pain sucks).

The second thing to keep in mind is that 0 STA *does NOT* equal “dead” in the Alpha Dawn Rules-as-Written (RaW)... just “mostly dead” (thank you, Miracle Max).

Characters in Star Frontiers, much like characters in D&D/A&D using the “Death's Door” rule, have a 'zone of grace' for STA below 0. While AD pp. 28 states: “If a character's Stamina score is reduced to zero or below, the character is dead”, the rules and equipment allow for characters to have a STA score as low as -30 and still survive if given prompt attention.

In practical terms, a character with STA 0 to -9 is badly injured; incapacitated and unconscious, and will eventually die without medical attention, but can be brought back into action (fully conscious) through the use of Biocort and first aid.

A character with a current STA score of -10 to -30 is badly injured and requires surgery to recover. Mere First Aid/Biocort will not cut it in RaW because the character needs to have at least one point of STA to... not die.

At a STA score of -10 to -29, Staydose is your friend, automatically stabilizing the character long enough to get help. Of course, this must be administered within one minute of injury to help, but it gives up to 24 hours (a 20-hour GST day plus a 20% safety margin) to get the character up to a STA score of 1... or get the character into a freeze field.

NOTE: Keep in mind that (RaW) the Staydose that is part of the Standard Equipment Kit needs to be administered by a medic too, but it *could* be interpreted that this is a dose pre-measured for the person it was assigned to, so it could be administered by anybody... but only to the owner! A medic would be required to administer that dose to someone who is not the owner.

HOUSE RULE: Generally speaking, in our group minor surgery takes one combat turn (6 seconds) per point healed and major surgery takes one minute per point healed. Without this houserule, you could theoretically perform major surgery on an injured character within the one-minute Staydose window without needing to use the drug.

Following this house rule, a character with a current STA score no lower than -15 could be saved by First Aid + minor surgery without the use of Staydose, and major surgery would not help. Staydose of Freeze Field would be needed.

At a current STA score of exactly -30, Staydose becomes a necessity, since the only options would be major surgery (First Aid + minor surgery could only bring the character up to 0 STA) or First Aid, minor surgery, and a second First Aid dose of Biocort after 20 hours have passed, but before the 24 hours of the previous First Aid dose of Biocort expire.

If the first minute passes, and the character is still between 0 and -30 STA, then a freeze field is the only solution.

In any case, for all intents and purposes, a character with a current STA score of 0 to -30 is not dead but incapacitated.

HOUSE RULE: In my group we use a variant on the D&D Death's Door rule:

At 0 STA - Character is unconscious and stable. Without aid (or getting eaten by a wandering beast), the character will wake up 20 hours later after naturally healing one point of STA.

At -1 STA or lower - the character is incapacitated and will lose 1 STA point each turn until stabilized (through First Aid with or without Biocort, or a dose of Staydose) or until STA -31 in reached, when the character is irretrievably dead. Note that the Staydose/Freeze Field time limits still apply; is the character reaches -31 before one minute passes, neither Staydose or a Freeze Field will save their life.

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