Defense instead of HPs

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Cloak-n-Dagger
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Defense instead of HPs

Post by Cloak-n-Dagger » Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:57 am

Sitting in traffic this morning, waiting to turn into the gate, I started pondering the abstract nature of HPs and how they are handled in (A)D&D. The biggest complaint I've often heard is that HPs are considered abstract (an accumulation of luck, skill, etc) until you run out at which point your character takes a fatal blow and is dead. The problem stems from the fact that healing directly restores HPs which make them appear to be more than just an abstraction.

So my thoughts turned to the idea that maybe HPs should be or represent something else like defense. It would make more sense if HPs were whittled down just like one's defense until a telling blow makes it through and deals actual damage.

It would probably take a complete overhaul to do but I think an alternate system would have the characters and monsters/npcs knocking out each others "defense points" first then dealing wounds. Actual HPs could be the number of physical wounds or severity one could take before dying. The defense points would remain an abstract number something that is static every combat. Perhaps having tiers or breaks which signify when a damaging blow makes it through the defense.

For example, a low level fighter has 10 HPs and 10 DPs. After the fighter takes 10 dps worth of attack, the monster then gets to either roll dynamic or apply a static damage which then apply to the HPs. After the DPs then reset and it happens all over again. Healing would apply to the HPs and make sense, whereas the DP remain an abstract mechanic. Heck you could even have modifiers, status effects or whatever that could raise or lower DPs based on situations or conditions.

This would make it possible for even low level monsters to remain a threat (since HPs still remain low) and take down a high level fighter given greater numbers or just good rolls. Sure the defense of the fighter goes up as they gain levels to show they are gaining greater combat ability, and it may take a bit longer to get in a wounding attack, but it is still possible to be a threat.

Higher level characters in (A) D&D tend to outrank and outclass lower level monsters as they get higher level, I've always thought it better that all monsters should remain a threat without the need to just inflate attack, HPs, and defense.

Just something to chew on.


“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints” ~ Wilfred Peterson, American Author

Ancalagon
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Post by Ancalagon » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:05 pm

Crypts & Things, a game I'd love to play and may demo one of these years, has a somewhat kinda sorta similar approach. When i have a little spare time I'll hit my copy of the rulebook and post how that game handles it for purposes of comparison.

Cloak-n-Dagger
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Post by Cloak-n-Dagger » Thu Feb 01, 2018 6:30 pm

Sounds good, I look forward to seeing how C&T does it.
“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints” ~ Wilfred Peterson, American Author

Ancalagon
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Post by Ancalagon » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:43 pm

From Crypts & Things Remastered p.82

Damage and Death
When a typical Non-Player Character (or creature) is hit in combat, the resulting damage is deducted from his Hit Points. When Hit Points reach 0, the Character is dead.

The protagonists of classic ‘swords and sorcery’ tales are a remarkable lot. They are a ‘cut above’ the common stock of humanity, physically and mentally superior to most people, although perhaps sometimes less prudent. Even this occasional lack of sound judgement, however, is compensated for with superior luck and drive. Characters such as Conan, Kull, Fafhrd, and the Gray Mouser are capable of overcoming foes and surviving challenges that would easily defeat most common men. Classic ‘swords and sorcery’ tales focus on highly exceptional and powerful individuals, not the ‘little guys’ of the world. Even as neophytes, most ‘swords and sorcery’ Characters are
exceptionally tough and capable.

To reflect this aspect of the ‘swords and sorcery’ genre, it is recommended that first-level Player Characters start with the maximum number of Hit Points possible for their Class, (modified by their constitution scores, as appropriate). Hit Points should be rolled normally after first level.

Only Player Characters and important Non-Player Characters (namely, noteworthy allies and antagonists) should use this system for determining Hit Points. The Crypt Keeper should roll normally for the Hit Points of ‘regular’ Non-Player Characters, as well as most ‘monsters.’

Player Characters’ Hit Points represent only ‘superficial’ damage (i.e. exhaustion, light bruises, minor scrapes, and so forth). Because of this, all lost Hit Points may be recovered by sleeping without interruption for eight full hours. Resting (not sleeping), or sleeping for less than eight hours, will enable a Player Character to recover one Hit Point per full hour of rest or sleep.

Cure Wounds spells and potions of Healing do not heal Hit Points, but only lost points of Constitution (as explained below). However, a draught of ‘strong drink’ (ale, wine, liquor) can ‘invigorate’ a Character, enabling him/her to immediately recover 1D4 Hit Points. Crypt Keepers may also want to allow alchemists to sell ‘Elixirs of Invigoration’ for 200 to 300 gold pieces. Drinking such an elixir might enable a player Character to recover 1D6 + 2 Hit Points. Only one such draught, whether of strong drink or an elixir, will have this effect per day.

Once a Player Character’s Hit Points are gone, any further damage suffered by the Character is deducted from the Character’s Constitution score. Damage taken to Constitution is permanent (until healed) and represents ‘serious’ injury. Every time a Character takes damage to their Constitution, they must pass a Luck Test or fall unconscious. In addition, a Character that has taken damage to their Constitution suffers a -2 penalty to all attack rolls and Skill Tests. If a Character’s Constitution score is reduced to 0 or lower that Character is dead.

Characters who have suffered damage to their Constitution and have fallen unconscious regain consciousness after
eight hours of rest. If that Character’s Constitution is still reduced, they continue to have 0 Hit Points and suffer the -2 penalty to all Skill Tests and Attack Rolls until they can rest and recover. Characters can subsequently recover one
Constitution point for every two days of complete rest (i.e. no travelling or adventuring). The care of a doctor or other non-magical healer can improve the rate of healing to one Constitution point per day of rest. A Character cannot recover any Hit Points until all Constitution points have been recovered.


Crypt Keepers should assume that most Non-Player Characters and monsters are dead or unconscious when they reach 0 Hit Points or lower. Only Player Characters and special Non-Player Characters – important figures in the world, whether allies or antagonists of the Player Characters – should use the complete rules outlined above.


Emphasis mine. Its not exactly what you were describing but its what I thought of after reading your post.

Captain_Blood
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Post by Captain_Blood » Mon Feb 05, 2018 1:32 am

This idea is why a lot of systems lately are using stamina, or something similar, as the first defense pool and health as the second one. Health only regenerates with magic and natural healing. The stamina part is dealt with in different ways, but typically regenerates quickly. The method that Crypts and Things uses actually works out quite well for a table top game. In the video game sphere the latest rule systems I've seen will end up deducting from both pools with each successful attack. That is obviously much easier when a computer is doing it for you.

I think that most people don't like the basic abstraction of HP when they really examine it, but it's a system that works well and is uncomplicated. The lack of complication makes it work very well for games, and it helps foster the view of the hero who gives maximum effort until death, or unconsciousness, finally bring them down.

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