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Gametime
2010-05-17, 11:50 AM
I'm starting an Iron Heroes game soon, and was thinking about using the Vitality and Wounds Points (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adventuring/vitalityAndWoundPoints.htm) variant. Mostly, this is because 1) it's cool, and 2) it gives me a justification to restore the character's vitality points to full after every fight, leaving only wound points as needing to be healed.

However, I'm worried that the system might be a little too lethal. Is there anything I should watch out for? Does the system, as presented, generally work? Should I increase the wound points offered to players? Twice their constitution, constitution plus level, something similar?

On a related note, I'm thinking about changing sneak attack to deal only normal damage, but automatically be a critical threat. (It would also cease to trigger from flanking, since that seems too easy a way to eviscerate a foe's wound points.) Is this a terrible idea? Everyone is going to be single-classes, so dipping to immediately pick up all the benefits of this version of sneak attack won't be a problem.

Any opinions or advice you can offer would be appreciated. Thanks!

Amphetryon
2010-05-17, 12:00 PM
I'm not as versed on how criticals work in IH, but critical hit optimization + vitality and wound points = rapid death to the one on the pointy end of the rapier. Sneak attacks also become really frightening.

Mastikator
2010-05-17, 12:03 PM
On lower level it makes the game less gritty, on medium it does its job, on high... people need to start wearing fortification-granting magic items.

Draz74
2010-05-17, 12:03 PM
(Disclaimer: I know little about IH specifically.)

If you increase the number of WP, you start getting into the "I'm invincible" syndrome, where characters can do incredibly stupid things with no fear of death. WP = Con score is generally enough.

The system works OK at low levels. The higher level you get to, the more you have to worry about (1) the effects of bonus damage, in case it happens to be on a crit, and (2) all sorts of crit-related rules (e.g. the Fortification armor mentioned above being very overpowered). For example, a fighter with a Keen Falchion who always power attacks for +10 damage or so is scary lethal in VP/WP.

Eldariel uses a modified version of VP/WP and loooooves it. The VP/Injury system in my sig also was originally a spin-off of VP/WP, but it's ... changed a lot, and intended to be used with a lot of other system changes. (Though one person playtested it as a stand-alone houserule, and said that it worked pretty well at low levels.)

Benejeseret
2010-05-17, 12:08 PM
I just tried a new way to do Vitality and Wounds this past weekend in a pickup game and I think it was great.

Criticals - on a confirmed critical damage it treated as normal 3.5 rules. ie. x2, x3 or x4 etc according to weapon. This massive damage is applied first to Vitality (then to Wounds if Vitality depleted)

But, a ADDITIONAL 10% rounded down (minimum 1) of that damage is also directly applied to Wounds.

The nice thing about this is that it avoids the whole issue with sneak attack or other massive damage being a straight auto-kill, but does not horribly nerf sneak attacks etc and they remain a very scary possibility.

Example: Dwarf Rogue rushes up and sneak attacks a lvl 1 barbarian guard with an battleaxe.

Say he rolled a 15 = normal sneak attack damage of 1d8+1d6S SNA which averages 7 damage and under Vitality Wounds pretty much halves Vitality.

Say he rolled a 20/confirmed = critical SNA of 3d8+1d6 which averages 13+3=16 damage and a further 1 damage to Wounds. This means that even a tough lvl 1 barbarian is still A ) nearly depleted of Vitality and B ) Wounded and thus fatigues.

Say he rolled a 20/confirmed normal Wound variant = all 16 of that damage straight to Wounds. Most likely killed outright. And, oddly even if he hangs on by a thread he still have Full Vitality??

I found the 10% additional to wounds on a crit worked out great, made crits more frightening and battle changing, but did not overly unbalance toward rogues etc

Draz74
2010-05-17, 12:38 PM
On a related note, I'm thinking about changing sneak attack to deal only normal damage, but automatically be a critical threat. (It would also cease to trigger from flanking, since that seems too easy a way to eviscerate a foe's wound points.) Is this a terrible idea? Everyone is going to be single-classes, so dipping to immediately pick up all the benefits of this version of sneak attack won't be a problem.

I actually really like this idea conceptually. I see a couple problems with it in practice, though:

What if you want to use these rules again in another campaign, but some players want to multiclass?
Rolling twice for practically every attack roll could get annoying for the Rogue.

Benejeseret
2010-05-17, 12:49 PM
I like the injury table idea.

Here is what I am adapting and using in my current game: E6 game

1) Vitality:Wounds - but with criticals as stated earlier (10% to wounds)

2) Divine Magic changes - all Healing spells are switched to an Incantation type casting requiring special RP and very limited.
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/incantations.htm

3) Wound Natural Healing - greatly nerfed. It now takes weeks to naturally regain Wounds

4) Wound Buyoff - If stressed and needing to get Wounds back quickly players can buy them off in exchange for Injuries (scarring, movement limiting, ability loss etc)

Gametime
2010-05-17, 01:08 PM
I actually really like this idea conceptually. I see a couple problems with it in practice, though:

What if you want to use these rules again in another campaign, but some players want to multiclass?
Rolling twice for practically every attack roll could get annoying for the Rogue.


1. My main response to that is that I'll deal with it as it comes up. My group is very low optimization; they tend to take a class and stick with it, perhaps going into an interesting prestige class. (Prestige classes that offer sneak attack might also be problematic, but there aren't any in IH...so yeah.) I'm not worried about dips.

If it became a problem, I'd likely have to either abandon the idea or implement a clunky, Improved Uncanny Dodge-style solution. Levels granting sneak attack would be compared with the level of the target, and unless you came within 4 of their level you wouldn't be able to sneak attack. Again, that's really clunky, so I'm going to be relying on a gentlemen's agreement for the most part.

2. That is a concern. The idea is to make the sneak attack classes really dangerous under the right circumstances, and inferior but still worthwhile under other circumstances. Not triggering off of flanking means the thief/executioner needs to hide, feint, or use a class ability after the first round of combat to make the target flat-footed. There are a lot of ways to do those things consistently, but none of them are guaranteed and almost all require giving up a full attack until high levels, so I don't think there will be as many sneak attacks as normal.

The Executioner also has other ways of dealing damage (notably, access to both dex-to-damage and Power Attack at a 2-to-1 damage-to-attack ratio while dual wielding), so the loss of Sneak Attack isn't as crippling as it is for the 3.5 Rogue. The Thief has fewer options, but is meant to be a little weaker in combat; they get some sick skill bonuses, instead.

Magic items basically don't exist in IH, so Fortification (or spells replicating it) isn't a concern. The only way to gain crit-immunity is only available at reasonably high levels to a tank-specialized character, so I'm willing to let them be tougher than normal. Bonus damage is also hard to come by; since this change would remove sneak attack damage dice, and there aren't any magical buffs or weapons enhancements, damage is going to be weapon + stat + Power Attack almost all the time.

A few follow-up specific questions:
1. Should I just make all weapons crit on a 20, perhaps allowing Improved Critical to make it 19-20 (eventually 18-20, as IH has a feat that triples threat range)?
2. Should I keep the spread of weapons up to 18-20 natural crit range, and just remove Improved Critical? Keep Improved Critical and remove the tripling followup feat?
3. Should I make normal monsters effectively unable to crit, and reserve the ability to attack wound points for bigger monsters and special fighters? "Elites," to use a video-game term?

Eldariel
2010-05-17, 01:20 PM
Bonuses to damage should generally not apply to critical WP damage. Bonus damage dice (and other large singular sources of bonus damage) mean you're quickly autodropping anything on a crit; I've found doing +1 WP damage per bonus die, and dealing the dice and other sources to VP as per normal to be functional. I also found success in +1 WP per level. Not ridiculous scaling, and well within realistic limits, but enough to avoid every crit being lethal.

Ostien
2010-05-17, 02:50 PM
This idea intrigues me...

I'm thinking about Benejeseret's suggested variant but I'm not sure if it makes the system much less deadly as it really takes out the disable/kill on one hit (unless you do 100 vitality damage to do 10 wound damage, which if that's happening you have other concerns). Though the status effects for simply taking WP and the possibility of being stunned from a hit may over-ride my concerns.

The idea of reducing extra damage dice to 1 per dice is another idea that is good but what about extra damage from STR, damage that is doubled on a critical?

Definitely going to play test these variants in any case.

Eldariel
2010-05-17, 03:25 PM
Here's precisely how we've been running it in our game (the one in the journal):

Your normal HP is basically your VP
Your WP total is Con + 1/HD [recent change due to lethality]
VP damage grants scaling penalties to...basically all rolls. your full VP is -1, 1/4th is -2 and 0 is -3.
Criticals deal the weapon damage and 1 point per any bonus dice (Sneak Attack, maneuvers, etc. - could apply to spells too, but we don't use spells) to WP. Rest is dealt to VP as per normal (the rolled dice, bonus damage, etc.) [recent change due to lethality]
Whenever a character takes WP damage (critical or otherwise), roll 1d20 to determine which bodypart the hit lands at. 1-2 for head, 3-5 for left arm, 6-8 for right arm, 9-12 for left leg, 13-16 for right leg, 17-20 for torso. Torso is a standard crit, leg hit s movement, arm hit screws up using that arm and head hit grants penalties to the Fort-save vs. stun/death. All also apply -4 to anything using the bodypart in question; skills, attacks, etc. These heal when you've healed as much WP damage as the hit dealt to you.
You naturally heal WP at the rate of 1/night as opposed to 1/level/night.
Fort-save to avoid going to "Dying" is 15+damage taken over 0 WP as opposed to static 15.

Benejeseret
2010-05-17, 08:03 PM
* Your WP total is Con + 1/HD [recent change due to lethality]
* VP damage grants scaling penalties to...basically all rolls. your full VP is -1, 1/4th is -2 and 0 is -3.
* Criticals deal the weapon damage and 1 point per any bonus dice (Sneak Attack, maneuvers, etc. - could apply to spells too, but we don't use spells) to WP. Rest is dealt to VP as per normal (the rolled dice, bonus damage, etc.) [recent change due to lethality]


I like these, they seem pretty much in line with what I had been implementing. I have not tried the +1Wound/HD, but then again the games I am running are E6 so the high level balance has been less of a concern for me. I like that one though.



The idea of reducing extra damage dice to 1 per dice is another idea that is good but what about extra damage from STR, damage that is doubled on a critical?

I see this one a lot, but the basis for it I'm not a fan of, why should an attack do LESS overall damage when you roll an awesome critical?? ((because really, from a total numbers point of view a Vitality point is equal to a Wound point in terms of total points you have to loose))

Eldariel's suggestion to have all access damage go to VP would be a good comprise in my view.

If I understand that way properly, it would mean (using my earlier example):
(rogue with +1d6 SNA)

Say he rolled a 20/confirmed = critical SNA of 1d8+1(1/SNA) which averages 5.5 damage goes straight to wounds and all the further normal crit multiplier damage and rolled SNA damage would go to VP being 2d8+1d6 averaging 12.5 to VP on top of the 5.5 to Wounds.


So if we break that down in my examples we have:

Normal VP/WP crits = 100% to Wounds. Very Deadly

Bene's VP/WP crits = 100% to Vitality and extra 10% to Wounds. Slightly more damage then normal but much, much less to Wounds

Eldariel's VP/WP crits = Splits damage between Vitality and Wounds depending on weapon multiplier range but 50%+ goes to Vitality. Overall lethality due to straight Wound damage is somewhere between my variant and the classic VP/WP crit rules. Crits with power attack or other straight high base damage attacks still going to wounds could still be very, very deadly.