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Around the D&D Hit Point Conundrum 
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Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:16 pm
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Post Re: Around the D&D Hit Point Conundrum
flyingmice wrote:
If I were doing such a thing, I would rename Cure spells as "Refresh" and allow them to work only on Luck, with HP damage being affected only by natural healing. But then I'm not going anywhere with this. :D

I think the main difference is going to be the concept of a "Hit". On a "hit", you would have hit the enemy, but the enemy is using his Luck to get away. Can't do that cleanly with HP only.

-clash

Well, therein lies the rub. One of the things I thought about with respect to all of this was the fact that it's called "to hit", but really isn't. I mean, that's the point of hit points (to some extent). That is, it's a way to ameliorate the successful attack.

But what if the attack is not successful to start - if it's a hit, then it really hits. Then what? Step in HP to do this very thing - it's meant to represent the hit being successful but not really doing damage (at high levels, the hit is merely a scratch as opposed to a mortal wound at low levels).

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Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:42 pm
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Post Re: Around the D&D Hit Point Conundrum
This is one of the things that drove me in developing Iridium. I wanted more concrete damage sepaqrated from what I felt was an arbitrary hit mechanism. What I ended up with was:
1. A Luck stat that is just that, Luck.
2. Fortitude as a damage track linked to areas of the body and prorated as such. The head takes less damage than the hand.
3. Defense based on the character's STR, AGL, and CON making it a measure of how hard you are to hit.

In V2 I am thinking of the going even further and making Defense based on AGL and STR but then have a Dodge skill that will advance with the advancement of the character. To me, it makes more sense to have the difficulty to be hit advance with the experience of the character.

Now, Jim, you really wont like my thoughts on Karma. That is based on the idea of a spendable luck stat alongside the static Luck stat. So, in this way, again, we are looking at extracting the Luck from combat and handling it differently. Here, it can affect both combat and other actions.

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Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:55 pm
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Post Re: Around the D&D Hit Point Conundrum
I've never had a problem trying to justify hit points or making them make sense. The problem is the linearity. They are boring. Anything that makes a richer, more complex and interactive mechanic (Savage Worlds, ORE, FATE and Iridium above are all good examples) is an improvement for me.

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Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:16 am
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Post Re: Around the D&D Hit Point Conundrum
Gods I was tired last night. that might be one of the worst posts I've ever written. Didn't make any sense to me upon re-reading!

I'll try again...
flyingmice wrote:
If I were doing such a thing, I would rename Cure spells as "Refresh" and allow them to work only on Luck, with HP damage being affected only by natural healing. But then I'm not going anywhere with this. :D

I think the main difference is going to be the concept of a "Hit". On a "hit", you would have hit the enemy, but the enemy is using his Luck to get away. Can't do that cleanly with HP only.

-clash

IMHO, clash, that's exactly what is going on. That is, hit points at higher levels are meant to allow for a 'hit' to occur, but then have some other...reason...to explain why the character is not dead on the ground. In come ideas like luck, increased skill, divine intervention, etc. as justifications - all represented by hit points over and above what is necessary to represent the physical. So, what essentially happens is exactly as you describe - the enemy is 'hit' but there exists a reason (whatever justification you decide) that allows the enemy to 'get away'. All of which is represented by increasing hit points with level.

So my question starts with wondering if there is a better way to represent this to remove this abstraction. I'm not looking for some gritty simulation approach or arguing that it's not 'real' enough. I'll leave that excluded middle to a really good flame war thread. I'm just wondering if there are other approaches and if anyone has increased AC as a way to do it. Mr. Wilen points out the interesting then-you have-to-rethink-magical-healing, no matter what choice leaves you with hit points a strictly a representing physical damage.

As you point out, is there a way to do this that allows for the character to be hit, but to not be dead on the floor? What about area effect spells?

It's just one of those things that crops up from time to time - especially as characters are higher in level in my games. Can't help my mind from thinking about this...

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Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:28 am
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Post Re: Around the D&D Hit Point Conundrum
Jim Skach wrote:
But has anyone seen a D&D hack, in any edition, that leaves HP alone (that is, provides a base line at first level, say, Con) and alters other things based on level to represent these other aspects in a different way?

Yeah – it was called RuneQuest.

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Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:37 pm
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Post Re: Around the D&D Hit Point Conundrum
For some reason that escapes me, I never played, nor even read, Runequest.

So enlighten this heathen!

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Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:55 pm
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Post Re: Around the D&D Hit Point Conundrum
Gawd help us!

RQ takes the average of CON and SIZ as HP. Without upping your CON (limited possibility) or magic, that's it for the rest of your career.

Stats are on the same baseline as D&D (3-18).

Increasing your survivability is possible by increasing your parry skill, getting better armour, or getting appropriate magic. In RQ3 you can also increase your dodge skill, but experienced players will recommend parry instead.

RQ doesn't work on levels, however. Each weapon attack and parry skill is noted and increased separately.

To answer your question, the toughest chr in our old group had over 300% attack and 200% parry in his main weapon, and ridiculous armour, but there was still a small chance that he could be killed outright with one hit. If I as the GM ganged up on him, there was a much less than small chance.

So it leads to a much tenser experience than D&D combat, and more subject to fate, from my memories of both.

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Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:09 pm
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Post Re: Around the D&D Hit Point Conundrum
Jim Skach wrote:
Gods I was tired last night. that might be one of the worst posts I've ever written. Didn't make any sense to me upon re-reading!

I'll try again...


I was wondering what all you were aiming at! :D

Quote:
IMHO, clash, that's exactly what is going on. That is, hit points at higher levels are meant to allow for a 'hit' to occur, but then have some other...reason...to explain why the character is not dead on the ground. In come ideas like luck, increased skill, divine intervention, etc. as justifications - all represented by hit points over and above what is necessary to represent the physical. So, what essentially happens is exactly as you describe - the enemy is 'hit' but there exists a reason (whatever justification you decide) that allows the enemy to 'get away'. All of which is represented by increasing hit points with level.


Yes. I ran (A)D&D for 20 years, and though I never will again, I'm familiar with the old concepts. All I did was make the abstraction explicit, because no matter how I explained it, some people could not grasp the concept. By splitting the abstraction into static HP and Luck, it is much clearer, but mechanically identical. I had thought that was your problem, as it's one I faced many times.

Quote:
So my question starts with wondering if there is a better way to represent this to remove this abstraction.


I like - I mean REALLY like - abstractions, so wouldn't be at all interested in removing them. :D

As an alternative, how about any hit does only one HP damage, but it's damage to Luck varies. More interesting?

Another. have several pool points - Luck, Avoidance, Parry Skill, etc. - all of which can go up separately, but all of which fuction identically. "The monster hit you with it's great claws - take 12 points of damage." "I'll use 12 points from my Parry pool and parry that blow."

You could drop either or both into D&D with minimal adjustment, almost entirely to the healing magics.

-clash

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Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:23 pm
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Post Re: Around the D&D Hit Point Conundrum
Jim,
I have seen two solutions that work pretty good:
1) Static HPs and Increasing DR with level. the D20 game Jeremiah (from Mongoose) does this. It worked really well.
2) Static Wound levels and Would levels. My understanding was M&M 1e used this (I think other games have used it too). I haven't played it, but I hear it is very effective at balancing it takes X to kill you, but it is harder to do X at higher levels...
I dunno, I mean, if HPs bother you, maybe d20 is not your bag... I mean, when I play d20 games, I just accept it as part of the flavor of the game. But that is just me, HPs dom't bother me THAT much...


Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:24 am
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Post Re: Around the D&D Hit Point Conundrum
True20 uses a damage track, and a damage save. This can result in instant death- which is somewhat mitigated by conviction points which can be used for a reroll on the damage save (or any other die roll, for that matter).
Damage tracks/saves also work better for minions imo, because you, as the the GM, can roll a fake damage save behind the screen, which the minion can "fail" and thus never give away which npc's are minions and which are not.
Fooling with S&W I have once again become more or less anti- hit point, of for no other reason than they lead to longish combats at higher levels, ime.


Wed Aug 26, 2009 12:10 pm
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