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Principles of Hit Points

 
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Aycarus
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 9:22 pm    Post subject: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

With more random thoughts on things, I was wondering what a simple/realistic/fun hit point system would look like. Worth noting is Frank's hit point system, of course, which I do like, but was hoping to explore a bit. For D&D, I was thinking of a mechanism to generalize this to a vitality/wound system unlike the terribly designed one (imo) proposed in the unearthed arcana.

Anyway, I thought up a few "principles" that I think should govern hit points. I'm curious what people think on these and if they have any others that should be applied.

Note that I assume here that “hero” means high-mid-level character, while “peasant” means very low level character.

1. A peasant should be able to die from falling off of a horse, if he's particularly unlucky. A peasant should also die from a well-placed hit with a sword or other weapon.

2. A hero should not die from falling off of a horse, even if he is particularly unlucky. The chance of spontaneous death in this fashion should decrease as character level increases.

3. Healing of physical damage should not be readily available and automatic. A character who takes physical damage should be forced to temporarily suffer as a consequence of their injury, or pay extra for pure physical healing (as opposed to vitality healing).

4. A hero should become increasingly difficult to kill as he gains levels. Similarly, although this is not directly related to hit point mechanics, a hero should find killing peasants easier as he gets to higher levels. In particular, a characters ease of killing should be linearly proportional to the difference between character levels.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 6:18 am    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My damage system applies this based on the concept that a hero is going to have a higher Strength and Elan as they go up in power. Thus:

1. A "peasant", or other unnamed character takes approximately 25 damage from a bad fall from a horse. They have a strength of about 2, so they roll a d20 and on a bad roll they take 10+ wounds and hit the ground bleeding and unconcious. Without intervention of any kind, they are dead in a few minutes. Without actual medical attention, they are dead in a while.

2. A "hero" or villain, or named character of any kind is going to have a higher strength score. A reasonably decent hero is looking at a strength of more like 6 or 8. Maybe they even have some defensive abilities of note, such as a pile of Earth Resistance or something. In any case, they roll a d20 and add some number that is more than 5, so there's no way they can take more than 9 wounds, so they don't even pass out no matter how poorly they roll.

3. That's subject to taste of course, but since everyone is getting 10 wounds before they pass out, healing can become statically available or not. There's no need to increase healing availability because the number of wounds people are taking isn't going up as they go up in power.

4. Every 2 points of strength the Hero picks up effectively adds one wound to every strike he lands on the peasant, and subtracts one wound from every strike from the peasant. Linearly.

-Frank
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Neeek
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 6:32 am    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
They have a strength of about 2, so they roll a d20 and on a bad roll they take


That seems too low(taking account the house cat assassin team thing), or do you allow negative strength values?
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 6:39 am    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't see any possibility of not having negative strength values. Otherwise you'd have to give PCs strengths in the 60s just to account for the fact that termites get a 1. In this system there is nothing special about zero strength, it's just the handy baseline for a minimal human.

-Frank
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Neeek
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 7:21 am    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
I don't see any possibility of not having negative strength values. Otherwise you'd have to give PCs strengths in the 60s just to account for the fact that termites get a 1. In this system there is nothing special about zero strength, it's just the handy baseline for a minimal human.


Okay then. I just thought you had said awhile back about having no penalties to stats. Though, in retrospect, I think you were refering to the D20 stat system.
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MrWaeseL
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 11:37 am    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
I don't see any possibility of not having negative strength values. Otherwise you'd have to give PCs strengths in the 60s just to account for the fact that termites get a 1. In this system there is nothing special about zero strength, it's just the handy baseline for a minimal human.

-Frank


If you do that, when does someone die/become incapacitated from strength drain?
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Murtak
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 3:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

MrWaeseL wrote:
FrankTrollman wrote:
I don't see any possibility of not having negative strength values. Otherwise you'd have to give PCs strengths in the 60s just to account for the fact that termites get a 1. In this system there is nothing special about zero strength, it's just the handy baseline for a minimal human.

-Frank


If you do that, when does someone die/become incapacitated from strength drain?

Either
- never
or
- after an arbitrary amount of strength drain

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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 4:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Actually I have it that there are some damage tracks that cause you penalties on your strength checks (other than damage resistance). When that track reaches 10, you are incapacitated. There is no "strength drain" exactly, and there is no number of strength that makes you incapacitated.

We are trying to not have sleepy squirrels become paralyzed here.

-Frank
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Murtak
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 5:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List


Maybe I am missing something here, but how does strength drain incapacitating you at some arbitrary number differ from 10 strength damage incapacitating you?

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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 6:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

One is a separate tally that subtracts from many strength-based rolls, the other is a subtraction from strength. That's a very big deal when Strength is your inherent resistance to sword-based death.

-Frank
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Aycarus
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 10:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Here's the system for vitality and wound points that I was hoping to work out at the beginning of this thread. Note that this is combined with the previous discussion on Principles of Learning to include 0-level NPCs (characters that only have profession levels - they have a +0 BAB and +0 Saves). Under this system, I wanted to maintain damage dice consistent with D&D - not because they're a particularly good way of doing things, but because I didn't want to stray too far from the original d20 model.

Vitality: A character's vitality points measure how well he is able to shrug off, dodge, deflect or otherwise reduce physical damage to a negligible level. This points are lost first whenever a character is damaged. By default, a 0-level NPC character has 0 vitality points. Otherwise, a character has a cumulative number of vitality points determined by his class hit die, as follows:

[code]Hit Die Vitality Points per Level
------- --------------------------
d12 10
d10 8
d8 6.5
d6 5
d4 3[/code]

Wounds: A character's wound points measure the amount of raw physical damage a character is capable of taking before becoming injured or disabled. By default, a character has a number of wound points equal to his constitution score multiplied by his size multiplier, as follows:

[code]Size Wound Point Multiplier
---------- -------------------------
Fine x1/8
Diminutive x1/4
Tiny x1/2
Small x1
Medium x1
Large x1
Huge x2
Gargantuan x4
Colossal x8[/code]

Zero Vitality Points: When a character reaches zero vitality points, he is no longer able to deflect any more damage dealt to him and so all further damage dealt is taken from his wound points.

Injury: Whenever a character's wound points are damaged, that character immediately experiences Shock. On the following round, but only on that round, his attack rolls, armor class and skill checks are all at a penalty equal to the amount of damage he has taken in wound points.

Critical Hits: This is probably the most contentious issue for any vitality/wound system as there are many ways to approach it. Critical hits no longer deal double damage. Instead, a critical hit deals 1d4 points of damage to the target's wound points for each level of the weapon's critical multiplier (x2 = 1, x3 = 2, etc.). This result is also modified by the attacker's strength adjustment.

Death and Dying: If a character drops below 0 wound points, he must immediately make a fortitude saving throw at DC10 + 1 for each point of wound damage sustained below 0. If he fails that saving throw, he will immediately fall unconscious. Further, a failure on that saving throw by 10 or more indicates that your character has died.* A successful saving throw indicates that he is still conscious, but can only take a single standard or movement action each turn (since he is reeling from injuries) and move at half his movement rate.

He must continue to make his saving throw at the beginning of each subsequent round as long as he remains below 0 wound points. In addition, after a character makes his saving throw, he loses an additional wound point from bleeding unless he is stabilized. If a character is conscious, any activity that requires exertion (moving, fighting, defending, etc.) results in his wound points dropping by one additional point each round (thus he loses two wound points each round).

* Note that if a character was reduced to less than 0 wound points by nonlethal means, he will only die if he fails the save by 10 + # of nonlethal wounds sustained.

It clearly needs some work... but thoughts?
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 10:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Aycarus wrote:
Under this system, I wanted to maintain damage dice consistent with D&D - not because they're a particularly good way of doing things, but because I didn't want to stray too far from the original d20 model.


The original d20 model has no hit points or damage dice, just a to-kill roll that becomes increasingly difficult to make as your opponent is more and more badass, and easier and easier as you do.

In short, Damage Dice and Hit Dice were experiments just like any other, and were not in the original writeup of this game. There's no particular reason why you should feel welded to a particular failed experiment from any particular edition.

We don't keep track of alternate "large target" damage codes for weapons or "weapon speeds" (AD&D), in third edition. Third edition came up with a novel experiment in Diablo-style item management that I think we are all prepared to admit was a colossal failure and should not be repeated in further incarnations of the game.

Damage Dice have stayed on for a while now, but there were Dungeons with Dragons in them before they were around and there will be some after they are gone. Don't put anything into the game because of legacy if you can see a better way to do it. Tradition is not, by itself, a reason to do anything.

-Frank
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RandomCasualty
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I would think that if you want peasants to sometimes die falling off a horse, you're going to want something similar to Frank's system, but on a bell curve (3d6 or something similar) as opposed to a d20.

In this case, the problem with Frank's system, or any linear damage system for that matter, is that most of the time you probably don't want someone seriously hurt for falling off their horse, even a peasant. Given that it's possible to die, under Frank's system, that would mean that you've got 20 other numbers at least that leave you wounded. Which means that if you are capable of dying from this fall, then you will always end up wounded.

And this is rather problematic, because a fall from a horse is only a 5 foot fall. And most of the time even a peasant should get up from that totally unhurt. And this is one thing that a single dice system does very poorly, since it lacks the ability to represent truly unlucky breaks. It becomes very difficult to write a coherent wound system where 90+% of the time anyone can take a fall like that uninjured, but sometimes you end up taking damage from it and sometimes that damage can even be fatal. The best you could do is possibly throw in some kind of second roll for dramatic failure when a natural 1 or 2 is rolled. Thus creating a quasi bell curve effect for extreme failure or extreme success.

One such system is something like this.
1. Roll a d20 normally. If it comes up a natural 1 continue to step 2.
2. roll a second dice (this is entirely depend on how often you want critical failures). If that dice comes up a natural 1, then continute to step 3.
3. roll a d20 and consider it a negative result. Apply results normally.

So apply this to Frank's system, you could apply your damage DCs such that a hero never takes damage on a normal failure and a peasant maybe takes 1 health level of damage. On a dramatic failure, A peasant might die, and a hero still most likely wouldn't. But in any case, most of the time anyone who takes a fall off a horse probably isn't going to be badly injured.

Of course before you do that, you should be sure you're willing to live with the possibility of extreme failure and extreme success first.
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Aycarus
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 4:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

RandomCasualty wrote:
I would think that if you want peasants to sometimes die falling off a horse, you're going to want something similar to Frank's system, but on a bell curve (3d6 or something similar) as opposed to a d20.


Well, the wound/vitality system proposed also does fulfill this principle. In fact, the typical D&D hit point systme fulfills this principle as well. It's just worth noting that a fall from a moving horse deals about 2d6 points of damage (which is somewhat consistent to what Frank proposed for damage under his system). Thus a peasant will likely be reduced to < 0 wound points under the vitality/wound system, or < 0 hit points under the D&D system.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 5:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Principles of Hit Points Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Remember that a fall has to itself be generated somehow. I have no problem with skill check results being "you fall but don't take any damage", for instance. To a powerful enough character, that result and the "you fall and take damage" resuot would be about the same - no damage. But for an unnamed character, the fall + damage result is potentially incapacitating.

-Frank
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