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Dethklok
2013-06-25, 08:55 PM
Hi everyone, I'm noticing a problem with the game I run and I'm curious to see what the Giant in the Playground forum thinks.

I play a low fantasy bronze-age game. As you might expect from a low fantasy game, there is magic, but it's very rare, and there are no playable nonhuman races. The problem I notice is that the adventurers often get hurt and have no means of refreshing themselves to complete their task. They are learning to be very careful, and I like that in my games; it makes them feel intense. But the corollary to that is that when the adventurers lose most of their health, they then make the entirely reasonable decision to give up rather than finish the scenario while risking probable death.

Often the story offers no chance to escape, such as when they slide into a chasm or are trapped in a forest when night falls. But I shy away from pulling that on them since it has such a high chance of turning out to be deadly, and usually what I do in that case is find some way to get them healing salves or something of that nature. But such salves only heal minor wounds, and more importantly, there's only so many times another healing salve makes any sense plot-wise.

What is the solution to this? Should I GM differently? Is there a rule tweak you can suggest that might work?

Scow2
2013-06-25, 09:12 PM
I'd suggest looking at rules from other systems, like grabbing D&D Next's "Hit Dice" recovery mechanic.

erikun
2013-06-25, 09:14 PM
Are you looking for advice on how to change something (probably D&D) into a system that still plays like D&D, but just doesn't have a dedicated healer character? Or are you asking how non-D&D games play without having dedicated healers?

Games without healers tend towards challenges other than combat. Combat tends to be short and rare, there are frequently non-combat options, and rest between missions tends to be a matter of weeks or months.

If you're looking for some way to play D&D3e without spellcasting healers, there are a few tricks or abilities that will give characters or party slow but continuous healing.

Dethklok
2013-06-25, 09:24 PM
I'd suggest looking at rules from other systems, like grabbing D&D Next's "Hit Dice" recovery mechanic.
I don't know it; does it mesh with a low fantasy game?


Are you looking for advice on how to change something (probably D&D) into a system that still plays like D&D, but just doesn't have a dedicated healer character? Or are you asking how non-D&D games play without having dedicated healers?

Games without healers tend towards challenges other than combat. Combat tends to be short and rare, there are frequently non-combat options, and rest between missions tends to be a matter of weeks or months.

If you're looking for some way to play D&D3e without spellcasting healers, there are a few tricks or abilities that will give characters or party slow but continuous healing.
I don't play D&D. I'm more curious to see what the forum thinks of this as a point of discussion than how I might somehow turn a low fantasy game into D&D.

Slipperychicken
2013-06-25, 09:43 PM
Well, if you want inaccessible healing, you have to make up in other areas. Like making things not quite as urgent (more time to have bed rest for 13 weeks to heal), or just letting them swap characters in and out as they take unacceptable damage.

You could also encourage players not to develop strong attachments to characters, since they'll just become casualties and get replaced anyway.

You could have the PCs recruit a bunch of henchmen to help out with the dungeon (or just be camped outside of it), so the PCs themselves don't take so much damage. If a PC dies or is temporarily retired from wounds, he can pick up a henchman as a new PC. After all, it's kind of crazy IRL to only bring 3 men for an important mission.

Scow2
2013-06-25, 09:44 PM
I don't know it; does it mesh with a low fantasy game?Well... it works as long as you treat Hitpoints as abstract. It essentially allows someone to regain most if not all of their HP every day, if you use a Hit Dice system.

Madcrafter
2013-06-25, 10:09 PM
Presuming there is some alchemy in the setting, healing potions. Powered only by handwavium (and the ingredients that promote clotting) , they are more effective than mere salves.

They're not really much different, but a little easier to justify having a little more effect.

Dethklok
2013-06-25, 10:53 PM
Hey! These are all pretty good.

I don't want a lot of potions because that would ruin the low magic feel of the game. But obviously having the rare opportunity to acquire "free health" to carry with you helps a lot.

Slipperychicken, I never encourage players to get attached to their characters, and I do kill them. (Although very rarely without them having a sense that "Darn it, I shouldn't have done that.") They also typically have at least one NPC hanging around for the eventuality that someone dies or is incapacitated. But maybe the real idea is to try to introduce new NPCs as the game progresses. Freeing captives or saving people from a fight can constantly add new blood to the game. And letting people occasionally switch characters even when one doesn't die is great idea. I've never done that, but I don't see why it couldn't work, so long as it wasn't abused.

As far as "abstract" hit point systems go, I don't usually like mixing luck and psychic reserves with health. Although... it doesn't seem unreasonable to have something like luck points on top of and distinct from health. Maybe characters could spend luck to avoid getting bitten by that snake or falling into that river, and then these could recover quickly even though health doesn't. But once a character's luck runs out, he or she starts taking that grim and painful damage.

Jay R
2013-06-25, 11:56 PM
The amount of healing needed is a direct function of the amount of damage taken.

Logic dictates that if you want to limit the amount of healing available during a sequence of encounters, the amount of damage dealt needs to be similarly limited.

Ideally this means encounters that can be avoided, finessed, or run away from, like original D&D.

But in modern D&D terms, the CR rating assumes massive healing available. If the healing is limited, all encounters have a higher effective CR

Ravens_cry
2013-06-26, 12:18 AM
I think you should still have a priestly class, even if they aren't clerics. You could make them more a scholarly type, valuable for their knowledge and skills, not their spells.

Edge of Dreams
2013-06-26, 12:20 AM
One option is to tweak how you handle hit points. For example, several games use Vitality and Wounds.

Vitality represents endurance, luck, bare misses, etc. It's abstract. Most characters will have a lot of Vitality points and can gain more as they level up or gain experience. Damage dealt is subtracted from Vitality first. Vitality points also recover quickly - in hours, minutes, or even immediately at the end of the fight, depending on the setting and system.

Wounds, on the other hand, represent actual physical injury. Most characters will have very few Wound points, and cannot gain more after character creation (or very few). When you take damage and have no Vitality left, or get hit with a critical strike, you lose Wound points. Run out of Wound points and you're dead (or bleeding out or unconscious or whatever, depending on system and GM). Would points also take a long time to recover - days at least.

Totally Guy
2013-06-26, 02:33 AM
Have them play injured. They're going to give up? You can play to see how far they will go before giving up. When they do, have some downtime and rework the situation in a way that interacts with the player's motivation and get them back in the fray. If the players do end up dying then you can be proud that the situation was so compelling that the the character was willing to risk thier life for it.

Dethklok
2013-06-26, 02:44 AM
The amount of healing needed is a direct function of the amount of damage taken.
Of course. But sometimes attempts to avoid, finesse, or run away from danger doesn't work. And even minor threats like vipers, wild dogs, or falls from a tree can take hits away. They don't have to kill, just damage the heroes to create a deterrent to continuing the adventure.

In other words, what I notice my players learn - indeed, what I want them to learn - is that they should approach my games as though they were real. Normally that creates a lot of tension, and makes their actions wise and well thought out. Unfortunately, that also means going home when one of your friends has a snakebite and the other has a sprained ankle. As a gamemaster, I want to reward them for being careful and engaged in the game, without discouraging them from actually adventuring. So far it hasn't happened, but only because I've contrived ways of restoring their health mid-game.


I think you should still have a priestly class, even if they aren't clerics. You could make them more a scholarly type, valuable for their knowledge and skills, not their spells.
You know, I really shouldn't have put the word "Cleric" in the title of this thread. I'm sorry; I can see that was just confusing for people.

I play an ancient world game, usually in an Egyptian setting, so in fact there are very powerful priests, much like you just described. What they don't have are the abilities typically associated with clerics to heal major wounds or resurrect the dead. (Though they do possess certain powers. Fear the Eye of Horus!)


One option is to tweak how you handle hit points. For example, several games use Vitality and Wounds.

Vitality represents endurance, luck, bare misses, etc. It's abstract. Most characters will have a lot of Vitality points and can gain more as they level up or gain experience. Damage dealt is subtracted from Vitality first. Vitality points also recover quickly - in hours, minutes, or even immediately at the end of the fight, depending on the setting and system.

Wounds, on the other hand, represent actual physical injury. Most characters will have very few Wound points, and cannot gain more after character creation (or very few). When you take damage and have no Vitality left, or get hit with a critical strike, you lose Wound points. Run out of Wound points and you're dead (or bleeding out or unconscious or whatever, depending on system and GM). Would points also take a long time to recover - days at least.
I can see this. I don't think it has quite the right feel for the game that I run, but it would definitely work, particularly in a game with lots of armor, where most hits will batter and bruise without breaking the skin. I'll have to think about that next time I run a medieval game.

Anyway, I talked to some of the other players, and what we decided to do is add trinkets and talismans that function as good luck charms, allowing players to reroll bad rolls. The talismans represent the favor of the gods, and require sacrifices to renew their efficacy; the upshot being that adventurers can recover luck quickly, even if they can't heal quickly.

Dethklok
2013-06-26, 02:49 AM
Ninja'd

Have them play injured. They're going to give up? You can play to see how far they will go before giving up. When they do, have some downtime and rework the situation in a way that interacts with the player's motivation and get them back in the fray. If the players do end up dying then you can be proud that the situation was so compelling that the the character was willing to risk thier life for it.
Wow, you are hardcore.

...I mean, yes it has actually happened, but that's usually the climactic end of the campaign.

Cespenar
2013-06-26, 02:56 AM
Have you considered the Reserve Points (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adventuring/reservePoints.htm) variant?

Totally Guy
2013-06-26, 03:16 AM
that's usually the climactic end of the campaign.

Climactic ends are my favourite parts so I favour games that have a predefined number of sessions. I tell the players that I know they want to do cool things in the game and they've only got this limited number of sessions to do it, so don't dawdle, don't save it up, instead bring it to the table.

The "this game will last forever" model does nothing for me.

It also helps to have a game that supports legitimate crushing failure in a way that doesn't involve killing the characters.

I'm also of the opinion that no one should die without knowing that death is at stake before it happens. That way I'll know that I did indeed have such a compelling situation.

Ashtagon
2013-06-26, 03:19 AM
I normally play that hp represent light scratches and "flesh wounds". Negative hp represent actual threatening injuries (and I don't play that negative hp mean you automatically drop; background NPCs tend to, but major NPCs and PCs get to choose).

For a low-magic setting priest, you could start with archivist (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ex/20051007a&page=3), then replace the spellcasting progression table with that of a paladin (but use the general spellcasting rules described under cleric), add turn undead and BAB as a cleric, and combine the skill lists of RAW cleric and archivist. Optionally, add two cleric domains.

And then a) encourage him to optimise his Heal skill, and b) allow Survival skill to be used to hunt out herbs useful for making "healing salves" (homebrew alchemical potions of CLW).

Bulhakov
2013-06-26, 06:32 AM
A houserule I've used in several games relates to more realistic healing potions and could be applicable to a low-magic game:
- healing potions don't work immediately, they require rest, but the characters can recover in hours instead of weeks
- healing potions can be splashed directly onto wounds to provide a fast fix - but there are two downsides: one, such quickly healed wound results in terrible permanent scarring, and two, the wound has a high chance to open up again in the next few days if the character overexerts him/herself, returning around half of the damage

The separate hitpoint + wounds system is also a good idea I've seen in a few systems. Wounds serve as negative modifiers to various rolls and need time to heal up, while hitpoints can be recovered faster, allowing a wounded character to keep on fighting.

CarpeGuitarrem
2013-06-26, 08:58 AM
Warning: heavy hacking below. This may or may not gel with your system.

I'm gonna steal something from Mouse Guard/Torchbearer here, and suggest modifying your "loss" conditions. Instead of flat-out killing characters at 0 HP, figure out a list of conditions/injuries, and slap one on a character who loses a fight/drops to 0 HP. Throw them out as consequences for certain failed rolls. A condition (like Angry/Exhausted/Terrified) hinders a character in some significant way (maybe penalties to a specific stat or skill?).

Then, only generate HP at the start of a fight. It doesn't matter outside of combat, because conditions and injuries measure lasting harm.

I get the feeling that, with so many conditions piled up, characters will desire death before the end. :smallwink: But there's always chances to overcome them.

Morty
2013-06-26, 12:13 PM
If you don't have abundant, easy healing, then the players will simply need to do their best to avoid injuries. This is perfectly natural and reinforces the low fantasy feeling. Once they do get injured, they'll simply need to heal naturally. Maybe some magic could be used to speed up the healing process - it's more appropriate for low fantasy while still reducing the time the character spend weakened or out of commission.

Barsoom
2013-06-26, 01:21 PM
Hi everyone, I'm noticing a problem with the game I run and I'm curious to see what the Giant in the Playground forum thinks.

I play a low fantasy bronze-age game. As you might expect from a low fantasy game, there is magic, but it's very rare, and there are no playable nonhuman races. The problem I notice is that the adventurers often get hurt and have no means of refreshing themselves to complete their task. They are learning to be very careful, and I like that in my games; it makes them feel intense. But the corollary to that is that when the adventurers lose most of their health, they then make the entirely reasonable decision to give up rather than finish the scenario while risking probable death.

Often the story offers no chance to escape, such as when they slide into a chasm or are trapped in a forest when night falls. But I shy away from pulling that on them since it has such a high chance of turning out to be deadly, and usually what I do in that case is find some way to get them healing salves or something of that nature. But such salves only heal minor wounds, and more importantly, there's only so many times another healing salve makes any sense plot-wise.

What is the solution to this? Should I GM differently? Is there a rule tweak you can suggest that might work?

If there's no clerical healing, I'd suggest to make mundane healing and mundane rest bit better.

Examples:

* A normal rest period of 8 hours heals (Level+Con bonus) hit points, instead of just (Level).

* A DC 15 healing check, performed as part of a normal rest, heals +1d6 damage - in addition to what you would have healed normally by resting. For each 5 points this check exceeds 15, it heals additional +1d6 damage.

Ashtagon
2013-06-26, 02:46 PM
Actually, when you said low-fantasy, does that mean PCs have weak access to personal magic, or no access to personal magic? And the same question wrt to magical devices?

Hanuman
2013-06-26, 02:50 PM
4E's healing surges do this

Omegonthesane
2013-06-26, 06:30 PM
You might want a look at SIFRP's hitpoint system. The system-agnostic bits are as follows:

You have a tiny pool of Hits. And by "tiny", I mean "if you're really really unlucky and/or aren't at least minimally geared to fight, you'll have it all carved off in one good swing from any seriously statted combatant". But, you can recover Hits for free with full-round actions, so you may safely assume you enter every threat situation on full Hits. However reaching 0 Hits means you are defeated and at the mercy of the victor, who can kill you if they like.

When hit you can take an Injury to reduce the incoming damage, representing, well, an injury. There's a limit to how many Injuries you can ever take, and each one is a -1 to all checks. You automatically try to remove an injury once a day, either with the help of a healer, typically a maester with mundane medical science rather than a priest with a dildo of CLW, or through your own toughness - but doing the latter and crit-failing gives you another injury, or a wound if you're at your cap, and injuries & wounds penalise this check.
Alternately, if things really go south, you can take a Wound to ignore all damage from one attack. Wounds are a much bigger penalty to all checks, and the roll to either remove them or have them fester is made once a week - but you're still alive.

Seems to work well enough for making players play carefully, avoid risks, yet not actually be amazingly killable from just a bad run of luck.

Emmerask
2013-06-26, 06:48 PM
Hi everyone, I'm noticing a problem with the game I run and I'm curious to see what the Giant in the Playground forum thinks.

I play a low fantasy bronze-age game. As you might expect from a low fantasy game, there is magic, but it's very rare, and there are no playable nonhuman races. The problem I notice is that the adventurers often get hurt and have no means of refreshing themselves to complete their task. They are learning to be very careful, and I like that in my games; it makes them feel intense. But the corollary to that is that when the adventurers lose most of their health, they then make the entirely reasonable decision to give up rather than finish the scenario while risking probable death.

Often the story offers no chance to escape, such as when they slide into a chasm or are trapped in a forest when night falls. But I shy away from pulling that on them since it has such a high chance of turning out to be deadly, and usually what I do in that case is find some way to get them healing salves or something of that nature. But such salves only heal minor wounds, and more importantly, there's only so many times another healing salve makes any sense plot-wise.

What is the solution to this? Should I GM differently? Is there a rule tweak you can suggest that might work?

If thats the style of game you and your players like then no! you are doing everything just fine.
Having to avoid major injuries is part of what makes the game experience, removing that and you remove an integral part of such a game/setting.

So in the end there is no solution because the solution would also destroy what you seem to like.

Dethklok
2013-06-27, 01:45 AM
Have you considered the Reserve Points (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adventuring/reservePoints.htm) variant?
No; I don't play d20 games. (OK, OK. I don't play d20 games Lately / anymore.)


Climactic ends are my favourite parts so I favour games that have a predefined number of sessions. I tell the players that I know they want to do cool things in the game and they've only got this limited number of sessions to do it, so don't dawdle, don't save it up, instead bring it to the table.

The "this game will last forever" model does nothing for me.

It also helps to have a game that supports legitimate crushing failure in a way that doesn't involve killing the characters.

I'm also of the opinion that no one should die without knowing that death is at stake before it happens. That way I'll know that I did indeed have such a compelling situation.
Wow. I like the way you run games. It reminds me of the way I run them, but you have a somewhat different perspective which feels very refreshing. I would probably really enjoy playing in your campaigns.


I normally play that hp represent light scratches and "flesh wounds". Negative hp represent actual threatening injuries (and I don't play that negative hp mean you automatically drop; background NPCs tend to, but major NPCs and PCs get to choose).
I understand that this is actually something like the way hit points were intended in D&D. Obviously it's ridiculous for people to have 80 hp when a typical melee attack does less than 20 damage; it's only the last one or two attacks that actually hit and cause physical damage.

The downside to these kinds of rules is that they can make it hard to imagine what's going on. Making hit points blend from psychic reserves and personal manna at the high end, into physical health at the low end, gives rise to questions like, "Why does having a high constitution improve my hit points past 10," or, "Why does a two handed sword place a greater strain on my psychic reserves than a dagger? Is it because it has more metal in it or something?" I experience these kinds of rules as defiant of my attempts to see past the dice and the numbers and the character sheets, put myself into the action, and see what's going on in the fantasy world.



Actually, when you said low-fantasy, does that mean PCs have weak access to personal magic, or no access to personal magic? And the same question wrt to magical devices?
The idea is to recall Egypt as experienced by ancient Egyptians. The last campaign we played, the adventurers had a Was (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Was) early on that they used to pass safely through the desert and curse enemies with blindness. Towards the end, they found a Wedjat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_of_Horus) and used it to send a ray of lancing green energy into the heart of their nemesis. But use of these talismans is pretty restrictive - they're very rare, and a failed spell roll will offend the gods, preventing you from using magic again until you appease them. Thaumaturgy only becomes more difficult when one lacks such a talisman.


If thats the style of game you and your players like then no! you are doing everything just fine.
Having to avoid major injuries is part of what makes the game experience, removing that and you remove an integral part of such a game/setting.

So in the end there is no solution because the solution would also destroy what you seem to like.
I disagree, and am very pleased with the advice I've received in this thread and the idea to add good luck charms to the game. Again, the issue isn't avoiding injuries, but rather avoiding situations where the players are discouraged from actually adventuring. When a player looks at his or her character sheet, notes the wounds marked there, realizes that one final hit will do him or her in, and wisely decides, "I'm not going to stay and have fun, I'm going home and staying alive," The solution is:

1. Have a resource such as luck or vitality that is used up before health, which can be recovered in an adventure by something like a day's rest. This allows characters to rest and recover their resources quickly so as to be at or near full strength before continuing a game.

2. Offer salves or healing potions (although this really needs to be limited, to preserve the special feel of magic and herbalism in a low fantasy game).

3. Create a compelling hook or draw in the situation that inspires the character to go forward and risk death.

And of course, gamers who have no problem with solutions that strain verisimilitude can also use:

4. Characters heal magically using healing surges and the like.

(Although I'm guessing that such gamers wouldn't really want a low fantasy game anyway.)

Ashtagon
2013-06-27, 02:08 AM
No; I don't play d20 games. (OK, OK. I don't play d20 games Lately / anymore.)

What rules system are you using for this game? It may well be that there is something in those rules you are not using.

Emmerask
2013-06-27, 09:04 AM
I disagree, and am very pleased with the advice I've received in this thread and the idea to add good luck charms to the game. Again, the issue isn't avoiding injuries, but rather avoiding situations where the players are discouraged from actually adventuring. When a player looks at his or her character sheet, notes the wounds marked there, realizes that one final hit will do him or her in, and wisely decides, "I'm not going to stay and have fun, I'm going home and staying alive," The solution is:


The problem is that you need to hit the exact mark where its not too easy to heal up, else injuries will become meaningless and it should not be too hard/time consuming/limited too, else you will have the same problem as you have now... just one combat later :smallwink:

And even if you add a system that exactly fulfills the criteria above the adventures where your group did not struggle at all will become a cakewalk since the threat of injuries is pretty much nullified.

Jerthanis
2013-06-27, 02:03 PM
You could also simply structure your game such that those battles the PCs cannot avoid or maneuver to their advantage are few and far between. Perhaps the typical 'combat encounter' is "The PCs have 10 bows pointed at them and must talk their way out of it" or "The PCs have 10 bows pointed at their enemies and the enemies surrender"

The idea that the typical D&D encounter is "Both sides draw steel and begin fighting to the death" is actually quite strange when you think about it.

ngilop
2013-06-27, 05:07 PM
I know most seem to have gleaned over you ' this is not D&D/d20" and so keep answering as if you were playing D&D/d20 still.

But you have done a diservice by just staing thats not the system I use' and then for whatever reason in your several post letting us know that the system is not D&D or D20 and (rudely I feel) just completely leaving out what system you are using so rendering any help all but moot.

Just let us know what system you are playing would go leagues on helping us. and you game don't sound as much low magic as it does 'gritty and deadly' why you want to get rid of the 'gritty and deadly' part of it whilst you have stated several times thats what you want to play and want you players to understand is beyond me.

because basically what you are asking is thus " I have a game where death is very real and very easily attained by the player's characters., I enjoy that type fo game and want my player to understand that fact. But, I am finding that my players just dtop wanting to acheive a goal becuase they are injured and might die, How do i make the game still deadly and somehow make player keep conituing even though they are gonna die, i need to keep them healed so they (the players0 do not just give up and go onto something different"

Mr Beer
2013-06-27, 05:54 PM
Yeah, just say what the system is, someone will probably have a system specific solution.

Waar
2013-06-27, 06:45 PM
I have found that the PCs (and Players) in a System with slow and limited healing need to treat combat differently, cleverness, stealth and when possible superior force can (most of the time, dice are still a huge factor) get the PC through combat without serious injury. Additionally I have often found that combat takes on a more quick,deadly and infrequent nature in these kind of games but this requires the GM to make sure that the last part is in effect (Having the PCs clear out several dungeons infested with dangerous enemies in a short time frame is clearly inapropriate when a character can require a week (or more!) to recover from a (non critical) injury)
So make sure that the way you GM a game fits with that games mechanics (GMing drakar och demoner like its dungeons and dragons or vampire the requiem like vampire the masquerade is just going to get PCs killed)

Dethklok
2013-06-28, 02:09 AM
What rules system are you using for this game? It may well be that there is something in those rules you are not using.
Our game is homebrewed from the ground up. But really I'm hoping this is a topic for anyone who wants a low fantasy game, or just to think about what it means when healing is limited, and what healing does for a game - just as high hp and good armor encourage fighting by reducing the threat of death, easy availability of healing increases the frequency of battles and physical threats.


The problem is that you need to hit the exact mark where its not too easy to heal up, else injuries will become meaningless and it should not be too hard/time consuming/limited too, else you will have the same problem as you have now... just one combat later :smallwink:

And even if you add a system that exactly fulfills the criteria above the adventures where your group did not struggle at all will become a cakewalk since the threat of injuries is pretty much nullified.
Of course. I doubt I'll go overboard there, but we'll see how it plays out.


You could also simply structure your game such that those battles the PCs cannot avoid or maneuver to their advantage are few and far between.
Ooh! I've done it, but it can be mean. Usually I reserve that for veterans whom I trust will appreciate a challenge rather than just feel overwhelmed.


The idea that the typical D&D encounter is "Both sides draw steel and begin fighting to the death" is actually quite strange when you think about it. Yep. Although I don't know how typical that is supposed to be in D&D. Even as early as Chainmail they had morale rules, and those carried through for a while. (I don't remember - do they have morale in 2nd or 3rd Edition D&D?)

Kiero
2013-06-29, 03:35 PM
Hi everyone, I'm noticing a problem with the game I run and I'm curious to see what the Giant in the Playground forum thinks.

I play a low fantasy bronze-age game. As you might expect from a low fantasy game, there is magic, but it's very rare, and there are no playable nonhuman races. The problem I notice is that the adventurers often get hurt and have no means of refreshing themselves to complete their task. They are learning to be very careful, and I like that in my games; it makes them feel intense. But the corollary to that is that when the adventurers lose most of their health, they then make the entirely reasonable decision to give up rather than finish the scenario while risking probable death.

Often the story offers no chance to escape, such as when they slide into a chasm or are trapped in a forest when night falls. But I shy away from pulling that on them since it has such a high chance of turning out to be deadly, and usually what I do in that case is find some way to get them healing salves or something of that nature. But such salves only heal minor wounds, and more importantly, there's only so many times another healing salve makes any sense plot-wise.

What is the solution to this? Should I GM differently? Is there a rule tweak you can suggest that might work?

I'm running an Iron Age historical game (so even lower fantasy than you, there's literally no magic at all) using ACKS, which I've tweaked in a few places. It seems to work pretty well so far.

ACKS itself does make PCs a little more durable through the Mortal Wounds table. Essentially hitting zero hit points does not mean death, but a roll on that table with modifiers depending on how long it took you to get medical attention, how deep into negative you went, and so on.

I've tweaked things so that the first half of your hit points is just minor wounds and fatigue, with the second half representing more serious injuries and strains.

I also mandate full hp at 1st level and 1/2HD for every level thereafter, to remove the randomness. Course I also started my lot at 5th level, but 3rd might be more appropriate for a less-intentionally-heroic game.

A big shift is making shields more important, by varying them more than just a flat +1AC regardless. Medium shields (like the scutum and Celtic-inspired thureos) give +2AC and +3AC vs missiles (arrows and sling stones/bullets); large shields like the aspis give +3AC and +5AC vs missiles.

Otherwise henchmen are the saving grace. Both for spreading out the pain, and offering "backup characters" should a PC go down with a wound they need to rest their way out of.

Dethklok
2013-06-30, 12:06 AM
I'm running an Iron Age historical game (so even lower fantasy than you, there's literally no magic at all) using ACKS, which I've tweaked in a few places. It seems to work pretty well so far.

ACKS itself does make PCs a little more durable through the Mortal Wounds table. Essentially hitting zero hit points does not mean death, but a roll on that table with modifiers depending on how long it took you to get medical attention, how deep into negative you went, and so on.

I've tweaked things so that the first half of your hit points is just minor wounds and fatigue, with the second half representing more serious injuries and strains.

I also mandate full hp at 1st level and 1/2HD for every level thereafter, to remove the randomness. Course I also started my lot at 5th level, but 3rd might be more appropriate for a less-intentionally-heroic game.

A big shift is making shields more important, by varying them more than just a flat +1AC regardless. Medium shields (like the scutum and Celtic-inspired thureos) give +2AC and +3AC vs missiles (arrows and sling stones/bullets); large shields like the aspis give +3AC and +5AC vs missiles.

Otherwise henchmen are the saving grace. Both for spreading out the pain, and offering "backup characters" should a PC go down with a wound they need to rest their way out of.
Nobody answered you? I think you're doing pretty well. Knowing what I do now about the way shields were used aggressively in combat, not only to tie up an enemy's weapon but also his own shield as well, I'd give medium and large shields bonuses to hit, too. (Seriously, big shields are incredibly good in iron age combat.) But otherwise that all looks pretty tight, Kiero.

Mark Hall
2013-07-02, 11:57 AM
In Hackmaster's GMG (as of the first Alpha, at least), there are certain drinks you can purchase that will restore a number of HP, up to 5 or so per day. Another will restore 1d6 HP, but has a chance of rendering you blind.