Distant Earth will feature a Wound Track system instead of a Hit Point system. Wound thresholds will be determined by the Base12 system of Constitution governing maximums and bonuses. The wound system will make combat deadlier than traditional HP systems, especially with the lack of “magical” healing found in fantasy settings.
The large boxes on bottom represent Major Wounds, while the three small boxes within each large box represent Minor Wounds. If you sustain three minor wounds, you also sustain a major wound. The reverse is true, too. A major wound automatically fills the three minor wound boxes above it. (It is possible to have additional independent minor wounds. See below.)
The penalties at the bottom of the Major Wound boxes effect ALL rolls, and come into effect only when that box is completely filled by a current unstable wound. For example, if you have one minor wound in the -4 box, you are not necessarily receiving a penalty to rolls from the previous boxes, and you are not receiving the -4 penalty until you have a major wound or two more minor wounds. Same with being knocked out or (gasp) dying. You have to fill the whole box for the penalty to occur. Also, penalties do not stack, so if you have a major wound in the -2 and the -3 box, your penalty to rolls is only -3 (not-5).
Every character starts with a base wound threshold at the line between the -4 and -5 boxes. Moving left to right, an entire major wound box is added for each CON Bonus the character has. Additionally, the CON die is rolled once at character creation and the total is added via minor wound boxes. All boxes beyond that are marked out as unusable, but their penalties are ignored.
Example: A character with a CON of 5 has a Bonus modifier of 2, so they add 2 major wounds to their starting threshold of 2. Their CON Die is a d4, so they roll it. In our example the result is a 2, so they add two minor wound boxes to their threshold. Their character sheet would reflect this by appearing something like this:
In this scenario, you could potentially receive 5 minor wounds before you have to mark off a major wound and take the -3 penalty. The boxes that are blacked out do not come into play at all; the character’s CON was not high enough to use these. No penalty is assigned because they are not “active” wounds. They aren’t anything.
If a character was to sustain a major wound and then get that wound stabilized, they would no longer take the penalty in the box. However, stabilizing a wound does not “heal” it. It would remain marked off, and future damage would continue to the left across the wound track, making the next wound more debilitating. Only during long rests or through high quality medical services can wounds be completely healed.
The higher a character’s starting CON score, the more damage they will be able to receive, and at lower penalties. CON will also affect how much they heal during long rests.