Biblyon the Great

This zine is dedicated to articles about the fantasy role-playing game Gods & Monsters, and other random musings.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Brawling weights in Villains and Vigilantes

Jerry Stratton, October 23, 2011

Villains and Vigilantes uses real-world weights for determining damage when throwing non-weapons. Thrown rocks do damage according to how much they weigh and how fast they’re going.

I personally find it difficult to visualize how much a rock or slab of cement will weigh. What does a 6-inch diameter rock weigh? What about a two-foot diameter rock?

The way to determine the weight of something is to multiply its density by its volume. The more dense something is the more it weighs, and the bigger it is the more it weighs.

Densities are almost always given in grams per cubic centimeter, or g/cc. Grams and cubic centimeters are pretty small; your superhero isn’t likely to be tossing pebbles at the villains very often. Grams per cubic centimeter, if you choose to do the math, can be multiplied by 1,000 to get kilograms per cubic meter.

However, Villains and Vigilantes uses the English system of pounds and inches and feet. It will probably be easiest to convert this to pounds per cubic foot. Convert kilograms to pounds by multiplying by 2.2. Convert “per cubic meter” to “per cubic foot” by dividing by 3.28 cubed, or 35.3. Thus, multiply grams per cubic centimeter by 62 to get pounds per cubic foot.

Lots of rocks are relatively round. It’s easy to imagine the size of a rock by way of its diameter. The volume of a spherical object is four-thirds times Pi times the cube of the radius; radius is half of diameter.

In general, if you know a brawling weapon’s density in grams per cubic centimeter, and what its approximate diameter in inches would be if it were spherical, you can multiply the density of the material by the cube of the item’s diameter in inches, and divide by 53, to get its weight in pounds.

Which leads us to a table of diameters to weights:

6 in9 in1 ft1 ft 3 in1 ft 6 in1 ft 9 in2 ft2 ft 3 in2 ft 6 in2 ft 9 in3 ft
concrete (2.3 g/cc)9 lbs32 lbs75 lbs147 lbs253 lbs402 lbs600 lbs855 lbs1173 lbs1561 lbs2026 lbs
marble (2.5 g/cc)10 lbs34 lbs82 lbs159 lbs275 lbs437 lbs653 lbs929 lbs1275 lbs1697 lbs2203 lbs
granite (2.7 g/cc)11 lbs37 lbs88 lbs172 lbs297 lbs472 lbs705 lbs1004 lbs1377 lbs1832 lbs2379 lbs
basalt (2.9 g/cc)12 lbs40 lbs95 lbs185 lbs319 lbs507 lbs757 lbs1078 lbs1479 lbs1968 lbs2555 lbs
iron (7.9 g/cc)32 lbs109 lbs258 lbs504 lbs870 lbs1382 lbs2062 lbs2936 lbs4028 lbs5361 lbs6960 lbs

So, if The Tenth Saint hurls a two-foot diameter marble ball, that ball weighs 653 pounds. It will do 1d8 points damage at +2 to hit.1 Since The Tenth Saint can lift 1,223 pounds he can toss it 57 inches2; so the total damage (if he hits) will be 1d8+1d4. If he had found a slightly smaller piece of marble, he would have thrown it a few inches faster and his damage would increase to 1d8+1d8!

The densities used in the table are mid-point between the normal density range for that material, except for iron, which is an element.

October 23, 2011: Villains and Vigilantes falling damage off the charts

Can someone explain Villains and Vigilantes falling damage? I can’t be reading it correctly.

Falling speed seems to make sense. It is calculated per turn rather than per second, which makes things easier to calculate at heights lower than 500 feet, but that’s a decent abstraction.

Damage, however, is wacky as described.


For background, the average human has about 40 power points and 4 hit points. That means 8 points of damage will knock them unconscious1 and 44 points of damage will kill them. A large bomb will knock the average person unconscious (21 points average, from 2d20) but not kill them. A small nuclear bomb will kill the average person (53 points average, from 5d20).

A large nuclear bomb will kill just about anybody, doing 20d20 points damage for an average of 210 points.

Given comic book physics this makes sense. Bombs throw heroes around, knock some of them unconscious, and leave a few conscious to survey the carnage.

Falling damage

Falling damage is in another league altogether. Damage taken is the distance fallen during the last turn (fifteen seconds), in “inches”, where a V&V inch is five feet, times the square root of the character’s basic hits2. Falling off of a 500-foot building will mean 100 points damage times 2 (the square root of basic hits) for 200 points damage.

That’s a large nuclear explosion. But it gets worse: if you have size change to small and you’re down to a quarter inch, you multiply by your height factor of 288 for a total damage of 57,600 points.3 That can’t be right. What am I missing?

Falling from an airplane has crazier numbers. Depending on height fallen, the height number will be anywhere from a hundred (as in the above example) to a thousand (terminal velocity in Villains and Vigilantes). Two thousand points damage for falling ensures death, even if you’re lucky enough to share it with the ground. That’s five large nuclear bombs.4

A solution

The thing is, there is already a system in Villains and Vigilantes for damage from high-speed impacts. Brawling weapons do damage based on both weight and velocity. Assume that falling means maximum damage, and falling from 500 feet does 12 points damage, ensuring unconsciousness for the average person. Terminal velocity means 44 points damage, killing the average person.

  1. See page 27 of Villains and Vigilantes 2.1 for the brawling weights and projectile velocity damage bonuses.

  2. For those unfamiliar, an “inch” in Villains and Vigilantes is a miniatures measurement that corresponds to five feet.

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