Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hit Points

Ah yes, hit points.

Hit points in D&D have so many unintended negative consequences.  The grind of combat in newer editions, the complacency of combats against known "weak" foes like goblins, orcs, etc...  When you have a bunch of HP, most of the time, you know you've got X hits before you really need to worry.  Combat becomes totally boring.  ODD brings things back down to a lower baseline, but all the same flaws are still there.

I've been thinking more and more about creating my own fantasy heartbreaker.  I really do think it would be therapy for the gamer in me.  I've been looking around alot at how other games handle damage:

1. Gurps/Runequest/Openquest type d100/Warhammer 2nd ed - more or less fixed HP.  Most of the games have a way you can buy a few more HP, but they stay at a low flat level.  A few successful hits against you, maybe just one, can take you to the danger zone.  Optional rules usually included for "major wounds" or hit locations or criticals once you get less than 0 hp in the case of warhammer.

2. Fudge/FATE - death spiral.  Hits have different categories and you fill in boxes which state the effect on your character.  Accumulate enough damage and you become incapacitated or die.  I think Vampire/White wolf games used a system similar to this but I haven't played it in like a decade so I can't really remember.  I've also heard that Ars Magica used something like this.  Risus has a weird twist on this one where you lose dice each time you lose a conflict roll.

3. Rolemaster - you have hit points, but each hit may also create a wound on your character.  These wounds cause stun damage, bleeding, and maybe even instant death if you roll lucky on the crit tables.

I prefer the rolemaster type approach, but the rolemaster system has too much book keeping for me in my old age.  With my limited time for gaming, I prefer simpler sleek games that move quick with less crunch and crumble.

I've been mulling over an alternate combat system for fudge lately that pushes it into the realm of the rolemaster system, but still allows for the speed of fudge character creation.   If I can assemble something coherent enough, I'll post it up here.


  1. OpenQuest (and the like( is pretty quick and crunch free - d100 roll under. And while it is deadly, the equivalent to high-level characters can be very accomplished fighters. Not only will they have the best equipment (especially armour) and magic, they will also have more than one attack (or a certain hit and a certain parry) as their skills pass 100%.

    And the fixed(ish) low HP keeps characters from jumping off cliffs because they have a 50-odd HP, or being expected to survive a knife at the throat (1d4 HP of damage, pah!), etc.

  2. I'm using Open Quest right now for my PBEM game. I really do like it although I haven't run much combat at all yet. I think if I was to play it at the table, I would bring in a Stormbringer rule, and go with variable armor level and the "Major Wounds" to make things a little less certain.

    I got into Open Quest after I saw how quick and crunch free Call of Cthulhu was. I read a lot of d100 roll under systems (a crap ton of them actually) and I think Open Quest might be the best of that sort.

  3. OpenQuest is by far the best d100 roll under systems for fantasy gaming. The low hit point total makes getting into a fight a chancy thing if you don't put yourself into an advantageous situation at the outset!