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Alent
2016-10-18, 04:34 AM
This question is inspired by the Daos and Dragons thread, but the answers I seek will probably derail the topic in that thread, so I'm starting another one.

The idea of more cinematic Wuxia combat as came up in the Daos and Dragons thread is interesting to me because some of my groupmates want more RP, and one player in particular is really fascinated with the visual aspect of combat. That said, last time my group got together, they were pretty locked in on D&D (3.x or 5e) and while they're cool with homebrew, other systems are just out.

We also are pretty sick of lightning tag, and since I'll be DMing to kick things off again, I want to try something besides HP to try getting to that more cinematic feel, with battles lasting a little longer and having more tension and outcomes.

My current thought to create this play style is to create a fatigue system using PF's non-lethal damage as a starting point, and use a 2e inspired called shots system such that the more fatigue inflicted to a target, the less a bonus to AC that opponent gets against called shots. I'd build a short list of "suggestions and guidelines" for called shots and implement wounds as conditions, with a wound limit based indirectly on con bonus, so no 2e style decapitations or limb loss. Fatigue would be grouped into brackets. (0 to 1/2 HP get full AC bonus, 1/2 to HP get half AC bonus, above HP get no bonus) Knocking someone out would be a called shot option, since all damage would effectively be non-lethal. A confirmed crit or successful sneak attack could optionally cause a wound, but that wound would be prevented by uncanny dodge. Constructs and Undead would use their own rules, being easier to called shot in exchange. (Provided you have the right damage types.) Trolls and hydras would regenerate wounds but not fatigue.

It's a half thought, and with tabletop RP's being as old as they are, I can't be going down a unique line of thought here- are there any similar systems/homebrew or pitfalls down that path? (or just better options altogether?) I'm open to anything that I can bolt on as long as it works well, and am not opposed to reverse engineering things from other games. (I'm actually hunting down some of the Wulin game systems from the other thread for ideas.)

Apologies for slow replies, typos, and ill formed sentences. My right hand is in a cast and sling and so I'm hunt and pecking with my least coordinated limb. :smallredface:

Knaight
2016-10-18, 05:00 AM
Take a look at how Legends of the Wulin handles damage, where most attacks don't actually connect and just build up momentum, which you can then cash in in an attempt to seriously hurt someone. That seems like a more or less ideal approach, and might be doable with less home brewing than others.

Fri
2016-10-18, 05:47 AM
Similar thing is also used in Mutants and Mastermind. To summarize:

1. In LotW, an attack that connect gives cummulative "ripples" on the target (can be rationalized as reducing focus, out of breath, etc). A bigger connect will force the target to roll his defense against all the accumulated ripples. If he fails bad enough, he'll get knocked down, but even if not, he might get minor or major injury that makes the next ripple accumulation roll easier to fail.

2. In MnM, the characters have toughness stat. When they get hit, they roll their toughness against DC15+the attack's damage. What happens depends on the degree of failure. If the toughness check is a success, nothing happens at all. If the toughness check fails by a small number, they got cummulative penalty on all next toughness checks. If it fails by a bigger number, they might get staggered or dazed on top of the penalty. And if finally it fails by a large amount, the character get knocked out.

In Fate, there's stress box.

Basically characters have a number of stress boxes, say 4 stress boxes. If an attack hits, you see the degree of difference between the defense and the attack, and tick that Stress Box or higher numbered Stress Box. Say, there's 2 degree of difference, so you tick the number 2 stress box. If an attack hits again, and you have to tick number 2 stress box, but it's already ticked, you have to tick number 3 stress box. If you can't tick a stress box, you get knocked out.

But other than stress boxes there's also consequences, which is more permanent. Minor, Medium, and Major consequences, which is equivalent of Stress box 2,4,and 6. You can tick them instead of your stress box, and they basically give you permanent or semi-permanent which you have to worked into your character narrative. Say, if you tick a medium stress box, you might get a broken arm for the rest of the session, which other people might take advantage later.

Joe the Rat
2016-10-18, 09:50 AM
Mutants and Masterminds would probably be the easiest to do a full replace, as they share a fair bit of DNA. Or rather, d20.

Star Wars Saga Edition (also a d20 subspecies) had the damage threshold and condition tracks - every time you took an amount of damage that was basically 10+FORT save, you picked up a penalty (-1, -2, -5, -10, "X"). With a big pool of HP or "serious" attacks (there were ways to effectively lower thresholds), you can drop someone without running out of HP. You could also spend an action to shake off "nonpermanent" status levels. I find it to be an elegant system from a more civilized age, and one that can mimic elements of Wu-style fights.

L5R went with (essentially) a stack of meat points, but divided it into wound levels - take x amount total, take a dice penalty. As above, but harder to recover.

lightningcat
2016-10-19, 09:58 AM
Have you looked at the Vitality/Wound system? d20 Star Wars used it and it was also detailed in the Unearthed Arcana book for 3.5 iirc.

Short version: vitality acts much like normal hp, but crits go straight to wounds. run out of vitality and take penalties, and start taking wound damage. run out of wounds and you're dead.

kyoryu
2016-10-19, 10:29 AM
In Fate, there's stress box.

Fate's basically "number of hits you can take", but each hit can only be so big, in terms of pacing. It's pretty blatantly a pacing mechanism and not a damage model. It's about how long fights last, not what happens when a sword hits flesh. Like in movies, these go away after a conflict. As I said, pure pacing.

Consequences allow you, like movies, to have bad things that happen to you that linger on for a bit.

Altogether, it's explicitly designed to create "cinematic" (in terms of pacing/flow, not realism) combat.

CharonsHelper
2016-10-19, 02:26 PM
Have you looked at the Vitality/Wound system? d20 Star Wars used it and it was also detailed in the Unearthed Arcana book for 3.5 iirc.

Short version: vitality acts much like normal hp, but crits go straight to wounds. run out of vitality and take penalties, and start taking wound damage. run out of wounds and you're dead.

That was a system which I liked the vibe of - but in practice it didn't work very well in a 3.x based game.

It also made all but the lightest armor virtually worthless as it only provided DR to wounds - which hopefully wouldn't get hit at all, and heavier armor came with disadvantages which were always on. (movement/ACP)

Past the first few levels it could get really swingy as single big shots could kill you in one hit since your wound pool stayed low.

Plus - Revised Star Wars d20 (the one with vitality/wounds) had massive Jedi/martial disparity issues to put 3.x caster/martial issues to shame. Force users were just better at everything. (Saga Edition was MUCH better on that front. Frankly - it probably had the best balance of any d20 system I've seen.)

I'm actually using a Vitality/Lifepoint system in the RPG I'm working on (sci-fi game - Space Dogs) where PC classes can spend Grit (physical mana) to make a Crit deal x2 Vitality & 1 Lifepoint damage (their vitality pools are much larger than lifepoint pools - and the lifepoint pool has a mild death spiral). My game engine is sort of built around it from the ground up, but something similar might work reasonably well with d20 vitality/wound if PC classes get 2-4 Action Points per day.

PS: If you can convince them to try a new system, I'd be more than willing to LET you playtest Space Dogs - the best RPG EVER!!

Anonymouswizard
2016-10-19, 02:37 PM
One of these again? I thought we had at least another six months to go. Oh well.

TO put it simply, I believe that there are approximately 4 ways to measure damage in an RPG, with various subtypes. How I divide it is:

1) Hit Points: Your standard 'you have X points of hp, attacks deal Y, death/unconsciousness at 0'. Basic, and useful as a placeholder when first designing a system, it's what one of my serious homebrew systems is currently using. For the record M&M uses a weird variant of this system which drags out combat a bit longer than necessary (when the opponent is limited to a standard action and can't actually attack anyone it becomes a slog of forced toughness checks) but is fun in practice. The most gamist of the various systems.
1a) Health Levels: This is essentially the same thing as hit points, except with the added bonus of penalties as you lose them! I actually prefer it to regular hit points, but it leads to an unavoidable death spiral.
1b) Elective Hit Points: an interesting idea I've seen once, in a game to be played with children (First Fable, actually an okay rules light system), at the beginning of each combat you decide how much damage it will take to remove you from combat. However, the larger the amount the more risky combat is, as above a certain point being taken out will cause injury, or death above another threshold.

2) Hit Points and Wounds: you still have hit points, but enough damage causes conditions that give penalties. If you want to know why this is a separate thing to number 1, it's because you have to track two things. It's what my other serious homebrew system is using. It's the most inherently realistic, but not by much to be perfectly honest.

3) Scratches and Wounds: no hit points anymore. Instead you have a value which counts up as you take more attacks, and increases the severity of wounds that particularly strong attacks give. It's more narrativist than the first two, although not by a giant amount.

4) Stress and consequences: you have a 'pool' or a set of 'boxes' that absorb hits with little effort and comes back quickly, but if you can't absorb the damage of an attack you take lasting consequences. It's the most narrativist of the bunch and is basically a pacing mechanism to make it so you probably won't get your arms blown off before your first action.

veti
2016-10-19, 03:45 PM
I'm a big fan of the Hero system combat mechanics. It's complicated, but simplifying hugely:

Every character has a Speed stat, which dictates how many times they get to act per round. A 12-second round is divided into 12 1-second segments; if you have a Speed of 4, you'll get to act in segments 3, 6, 9 and 12. (Everyone goes in segment 12.)
Every character has three kinds of hit points: Body, Stun and Endurance. Body is real, wounding damage; Stun is transient damage, which is painful at the time and cumulatively can knock you out, but will be recovered quickly when out of combat; and Endurance is fatigue. You "spend" Endurance points to make attacks, and generally also to move or use powers.
At the end of every round (segment 12), every character recovers an amount of Stun and Endurance that's dependent (mostly) on their CON. You can also forfeit an action during the round to rest and recover the same amounts then, if you think it's safe to do so. (Body is only recovered in a timescale of days.)
Conditions, including Knockback, Knockdown and Stunned, are easily determined by comparing the attacking numbers with the defending ones.
Every character has various "defence" attributes that basically subtract from the damage they suffer from each attack. (Different types of attacks apply these rules slightly differently.)
There exist a whole range of combat manoeuvres, which vary in requirements (space, time, special abilities and/or equipment required to execute them) and in their effects (bonuses/penalties to hit and damage). For wuxia purposes, it would be a trivial matter to add as many special attack and defence moves as you can think of to this list.

Alent
2016-10-19, 07:50 PM
Thanks for the feedback, all-

LotW: I wish this game had an SRD, it sounds like barrels of fun. It looks like it's $30 on Drivethru, and that's... a pre-release from a year and a half ago? :smallconfused: Is that really the most up to date edition, or is there a better edition somewhere?

Stress tracks - no good, wrong kind of abstraction for half the group. That half needs some kind of mechanical pacing and leaves the narrative/face characters to the rest of us.

D20 vitality - I'll review it after this, for sure. We actually had a fun SW D20 game going last year, but the Vit system confused us as the DM for that game explained it poorly at first, we rarely got into combat as an indirect result, and the energy weapons seemed to be mismatched with it. I don't think it was even relevant to me since I was the skill monkey pilot/hacker and all of my combat turns consisted of skill checks while being covered by the people with actual weapons and armor.

M&M - I'll look into it more, but at a synopsis level, I'm not sure that will have the desired effect. The group is currently burning money on a sacrificial altar of skulls playing Wallethammer $40k, so I think they might further disconnect from the battle narrative they're already barely invested in if they're making a fort save every swing.

SW Saga - I'll ask the other DM about this, pretty sure he has that rulebook since he's complained about the player reaction to it before.

Charon's Helper - love the bluetext. :smallbiggrin:

Anonymouswizard - The effect you're noting under health levels is actually why I was musing to bring called shots into it, so that you don't get less able as you "take damage", but begin to face increased consequences. (Also, most HP alternatives that show up on google for me tend to be "Roll to see where you get wounded" charts, which are just recipes for disaster.)

Elective HP sounds like an amazing solution, and I can think of several ways it might work in addition to what you described. I like the idea of how that could mesh with a Wuxia battle narrative, and make mooks easier to deal with via more discrete morale breakpoints. Regardless, I see First Fable runs on the humble bundle pricing model, so I'll definitely tip the author and take a look.

Anonymouswizard
2016-10-20, 01:57 PM
Elective HP sounds like an amazing solution, and I can think of several ways it might work in addition to what you described. I like the idea of how that could mesh with a Wuxia battle narrative, and make mooks easier to deal with via more discrete morale breakpoints. Regardless, I see First Fable runs on the humble bundle pricing model, so I'll definitely tip the author and take a look.

I actually suggest paying $0, having a look, and then buying putting down money if you like it. I personally always nab the pdfs for free if I legally can, and then make sure I either buy the pdf or a physical copy before actually running it. Just because I know that rules-lite systems aren't for everyone, and First Fable is specifically written to appeal to children (although it's a tad too childish, at that age I was reading the D&D rules and doing okay), so you might feel ripped off if you put down a couple of quid and find out it's not worthwhile (I do plan to buy the ~5+p&p physical book at some point, just because I both plan to use the rules as the basis for a 'serious' swords and sorcery campaign [mainly involving changing a bunch of terms in a word doc to distribute to my group] and because it's the sort of system that'll be good for a light hearted game, but don't feel like you have to just because you like the game).

EDIT:
Types='Classes'
Animal Keeper='Ranger'
Faerie Princess='Mage'
Pirate='Rogue'
Strong='Brawn'
Fast='Agility'
Smart='Intellect'
Shines='Skills'
Special Thing='Extra' (still working on this one)
Star='Success'

The other things are minor changes (I think Game Master should have been used instead of Grown Up) or just aren't worth changing anyway.

Segev
2016-10-20, 04:48 PM
Exalted 3e has an underlying "wound box" system, but typical damage in Exalted has always been so high that this could easily be "one hit and you're dead." The "real" track of how combat is going is measured by what Exalted 3e calls your "initiative," but which I will term "momentum" here to differentiate it from what "initiative" usually means in most game systems.

Momentum is rolled as if it were damage every time you successfully hit somebody. Their momentum is reduced by this damage roll, and your momentum is increased by it. Most attacks deal "momentum" damage. Such attacks are termed "withering" in Exalted 3e. They usually have more bonus to hit, making them easier to land.

When you wish to make a "decisive" attack, you add your momentum to (in Exalted) the damage dice of your attack. In other games, it might just be the amount of damage you do with the decisive attack. This resets your momentum to its starting value, and the decisive attack's damage is dealt to wound boxes or hit points or whatever "real" damage track the target has.


This system is designed to model cinematic fights where the foes exchange blows, clearly gaining advantage as they beat back the other guy, but only one or two massive decisive blows at the end do real damage.

Pauly
2016-10-21, 01:10 AM
One system I saw many years ago had no HP/wounds.

You rolled to hit the target, and how much you beat the target's to hit value was the effect.

How much you beat the target number by was how much damage you inflicted, described as scratch (no effect) minor wound (-1 modifier to everything), serious wound (-2), major wound (-3), incapacitating wound and death.

IIRC the system worked on 3 dice, depending on skills/weapons/attributes determined whether d4.d6 or d8.

So lets say you have a skilled fighter (d8) with average strength (d6) with a military quality weapon (d8) attacking an average orc in basic armor (12 to hit). The player rolls 15, beats the to hit by 3 which would have been a serious wound for the orc.

I forget the exact mechanics, but it made for a very quick and cinematic play experience with zero bookkeeping. You just used colored counters to keep track of wound status.

Psikerlord
2016-10-21, 02:19 AM
For more cinematic "moments of greatness" in combat, you might consider Low Fantasy Gaming and it's improvised Major Exploits/Rescues mechanic (free PDF: https://lowfantasygaming.com/ ).

For a grittier twist, you could also use the All Dead or Mostly Dead checks, and Injuries & Setbacks table, too.

Waddacku
2016-10-21, 04:07 AM
Exalted 3e has an underlying "wound box" system, but typical damage in Exalted has always been so high that this could easily be "one hit and you're dead." The "real" track of how combat is going is measured by what Exalted 3e calls your "initiative," but which I will term "momentum" here to differentiate it from what "initiative" usually means in most game systems.

Momentum is rolled as if it were damage every time you successfully hit somebody. Their momentum is reduced by this damage roll, and your momentum is increased by it. Most attacks deal "momentum" damage. Such attacks are termed "withering" in Exalted 3e. They usually have more bonus to hit, making them easier to land.

When you wish to make a "decisive" attack, you add your momentum to (in Exalted) the damage dice of your attack. In other games, it might just be the amount of damage you do with the decisive attack. This resets your momentum to its starting value, and the decisive attack's damage is dealt to wound boxes or hit points or whatever "real" damage track the target has.


This system is designed to model cinematic fights where the foes exchange blows, clearly gaining advantage as they beat back the other guy, but only one or two massive decisive blows at the end do real damage.

Did they change it around? When I read the rules initiative didn't affect withering attack damage at all (but was obviously affected by it), and decisive attacks didn't use the weapon damage values at all, but just rolled your initiative for damage.

Segev
2016-10-21, 09:13 AM
Did they change it around? When I read the rules initiative didn't affect withering attack damage at all (but was obviously affected by it), and decisive attacks didn't use the weapon damage values at all, but just rolled your initiative for damage.

They haven't changed anything. If I gave the impression you're getting, I wrote it wrong.

Withering damage reduces target's momentum (as I'm calling it here to try to avoid confusion with most systems' "initiative") and increases attacker's. Decisive damage consumes attacker's momentum and converts it to "real" damage (hp, wound boxes, whatever).

Knaight
2016-10-21, 01:29 PM
One system I saw many years ago had no HP/wounds.

You rolled to hit the target, and how much you beat the target's to hit value was the effect.

How much you beat the target number by was how much damage you inflicted, described as scratch (no effect) minor wound (-1 modifier to everything), serious wound (-2), major wound (-3), incapacitating wound and death.

IIRC the system worked on 3 dice, depending on skills/weapons/attributes determined whether d4.d6 or d8.

So lets say you have a skilled fighter (d8) with average strength (d6) with a military quality weapon (d8) attacking an average orc in basic armor (12 to hit). The player rolls 15, beats the to hit by 3 which would have been a serious wound for the orc.

I forget the exact mechanics, but it made for a very quick and cinematic play experience with zero bookkeeping. You just used colored counters to keep track of wound status.

This crops up in a few places - this exact system isn't quite recognizable, but it's very similar to Fudge in how it handles wounds, just not the dice.

Pauly
2016-10-21, 06:19 PM
This crops up in a few places - this exact system isn't quite recognizable, but it's very similar to Fudge in how it handles wounds, just not the dice.

It was the use of the 3 dice that I really liked. One dice roll told you hit, damage, and if it was a critical hit. IMO much better than the roll to hit, roll to save, roll to damage, roll to see if its a critical, roll to find location blah blah blah that infests too many games.
I first came across that method in the old Silent Death miniatures game, but this had simplified the damage system from SD.

Its been many years since I played so I don't remember if it was a published system or a homebrew. Also I think the effect track had a couple of one turn effects in there like "stunned" and "knocked to the ground" but my memory is sketchy.

Arbane
2016-10-21, 06:44 PM
LotW: I wish this game had an SRD, it sounds like barrels of fun. It looks like it's $30 on Drivethru, and that's... a pre-release from a year and a half ago? :smallconfused: Is that really the most up to date edition, or is there a better edition somewhere?


For reasons far too long and complicated to go into here, this game had a very rough time making it to publication, and it looks like the company may have imploded somewhat. (Really a shame - I like this game.)

I asked them on their website if there's a better/cheaper/newer version anywhere, we'll see if I get a response.

Knaight
2016-10-22, 04:52 PM
It was the use of the 3 dice that I really liked. One dice roll told you hit, damage, and if it was a critical hit. IMO much better than the roll to hit, roll to save, roll to damage, roll to see if its a critical, roll to find location blah blah blah that infests too many games.

That also comes up in Fudge (although they don't have criticals per-se), precisely because the damage is based on how much your hit roll beats their defense roll - similar things apply in a few places as well. Then there's ORE, where one roll tells you:

If you hit
Where you hit if you hit.
How hard you hit if you hit.
When you hit if you hit.


It's not quite relevant to this thread, as it does have a hit point system, although it's broken up by body part

Doorhandle
2016-10-23, 02:21 AM
Savage Worlds has it's system, which is basically 3-strikes-and-you're-out. Granted, you need to be shaken before you actually take damage, and may not get the chance to become unshaken afterwards, but it's the basic idea.

kyoryu
2016-10-23, 11:03 AM
That also comes up in Fudge (although they don't have criticals per-se), precisely because the damage is based on how much your hit roll beats their defense roll - similar things apply in a few places as well. Then there's ORE, where one roll tells you:

If you hit
Where you hit if you hit.
How hard you hit if you hit.
When you hit if you hit.


It's not quite relevant to this thread, as it does have a hit point system, although it's broken up by body part

The funny thing to me is that in most "actual" fighting, the hit is the cherry on the top - it's all the maneuvering to get in position to actually land a hit that's the interesting bit.

And I know of no RPG that really shows this.

Nifft
2016-10-23, 12:07 PM
What I want from an alternative HP system:

Consequences for damage. This means that combat is dangerous, so it would not be undertaken lightly, and players would actually try to talk things through with intelligent antagonists. I have seen this work well in several different game systems, and seen players change their characters' behaviors in response to different reward mechanics.

There are consequences other than death. Total loss should be on the table, but I'd prefer if combat were less binary.

Talking before & during combat has a mechanical purpose. In my ideal system, a shocking revelation which happens during a beat-down ought to be as significant as -- or more significant than -- a critical hit or a failed saving throw.

In this system, it would be most effective to both talk fast and hit hard: the optimal strategy is that you beat up the cultist, and also you question his world-view, possibly at the same time.

- - -

I think my favorite unwritten system (because I've not yet written it) would be something like a SW Saga + Fate hybrid.

- Damage Threshold (DT, aka "you must hit THIS hard to even leave a mark").

- Stress Boxes (varying duration consequences for ANY hit). So if you beat the DT, this is how many marks it would take to put down the character.


There would be different types of stress boxes, so you could have Wounds but also model stuff like Honor / Piety / Reputation / Wits / Sanity / Arcane Control. Maybe start with just three (Body / Mental / Social) or maybe a 2x2 grid (Brawn / Wits / Composure / Passion), plus a few class-specific damage tracks.

An example of a class-specific damage track might be an Alienist having a Sanity track. In a non-horror game, nobody would need that damage track by default. (In a horror game, everyone would need that track, and an Alienist would be in a riskier position than she otherwise would be -- which is great, because it's a horror game.)


Other specifics:

- Armor would increase your DT, and would have a few Stress boxes. Armor makes it harder to hurt you, plus it will eat a handful of otherwise damaging hits and then need to get repaired or replaced.

- Weapons & Shields would have their own DT, and a few Stress boxes. You could have an action to Block or Parry a hit, but the hit might damage your shield or weapon, and that might mean you cycle through more weapons per gaming session.

- Some kind of rule for some critical hits to not care about your DT and go straight to Wounds. I suspect this would not work if critical hits were 5% of all hits, so crit would mean something other than "natural 20". (A natural 20 should still be something awesome, of course, especially when it's a PC's roll.)

Fri
2016-10-23, 01:00 PM
The funny thing to me is that in most "actual" fighting, the hit is the cherry on the top - it's all the maneuvering to get in position to actually land a hit that's the interesting bit.

And I know of no RPG that really shows this.

That's what LotW's ripples actually attempt to do isn't it? Ripples are basically little slips your opponent get from near misses, like getting out of focus, short of breaths, scratches on the clothings, etc, and the actual hit is when they actually roll the accumulated ripples. That's the only thing that actually give wounds or injury.

Knaight
2016-10-23, 03:05 PM
That's what LotW's ripples actually attempt to do isn't it? Ripples are basically little slips your opponent get from near misses, like getting out of focus, short of breaths, scratches on the clothings, etc, and the actual hit is when they actually roll the accumulated ripples. That's the only thing that actually give wounds or injury.
It's a solid example of this, although I've seen others.


The funny thing to me is that in most "actual" fighting, the hit is the cherry on the top - it's all the maneuvering to get in position to actually land a hit that's the interesting bit.

And I know of no RPG that really shows this.
The whole method of repeatedly hitting over and over is iffy, but in a lot of actual fighting there's not necessarily all that much maneuvering before a hit happens. Even a lot of duels are over pretty quickly, and once you get into more complicated skirmishes that often only intensifies.

Anonymouswizard
2016-10-23, 05:21 PM
What I want from an alternative HP system:

Consequences for damage. This means that combat is dangerous, so it would not be undertaken lightly, and players would actually try to talk things through with intelligent antagonists. I have seen this work well in several different game systems, and seen players change their characters' behaviors in response to different reward mechanics.

There are consequences other than death. Total loss should be on the table, but I'd prefer if combat were less binary.

Talking before & during combat has a mechanical purpose. In my ideal system, a shocking revelation which happens during a beat-down ought to be as significant as -- or more significant than -- a critical hit or a failed saving throw.

In this system, it would be most effective to both talk fast and hit hard: the optimal strategy is that you beat up the cultist, and also you question his world-view, possibly at the same time.

- - -

I think my favorite unwritten system (because I've not yet written it) would be something like a SW Saga + Fate hybrid.

- Damage Threshold (DT, aka "you must hit THIS hard to even leave a mark").

- Stress Boxes (varying duration consequences for ANY hit). So if you beat the DT, this is how many marks it would take to put down the character.


There would be different types of stress boxes, so you could have Wounds but also model stuff like Honor / Piety / Reputation / Wits / Sanity / Arcane Control. Maybe start with just three (Body / Mental / Social) or maybe a 2x2 grid (Brawn / Wits / Composure / Passion), plus a few class-specific damage tracks.

An example of a class-specific damage track might be an Alienist having a Sanity track. In a non-horror game, nobody would need that damage track by default. (In a horror game, everyone would need that track, and an Alienist would be in a riskier position than she otherwise would be -- which is great, because it's a horror game.)


Other specifics:

- Armor would increase your DT, and would have a few Stress boxes. Armor makes it harder to hurt you, plus it will eat a handful of otherwise damaging hits and then need to get repaired or replaced.

- Weapons & Shields would have their own DT, and a few Stress boxes. You could have an action to Block or Parry a hit, but the hit might damage your shield or weapon, and that might mean you cycle through more weapons per gaming session.

- Some kind of rule for some critical hits to not care about your DT and go straight to Wounds. I suspect this would not work if critical hits were 5% of all hits, so crit would mean something other than "natural 20". (A natural 20 should still be something awesome, of course, especially when it's a PC's roll.)

Legends of the Wulin does some of this, to the point where a correctly built character can win battles by monologing (with the Courtier Secret Art and the Quick Work technique you can use your 'talk to people powers' in battle in a similar way to a physical attack by spending a point of Chi). Actually, you need to homebrew the Technique(s) for it (it would cost 3 Destiny, like other Quick Work techniques), but the game doesn't have anything else stopping you from, in this specific order, getting into a fight, training REALLY hard, and then making demands of the people so impressed by your skill bravery dedication insanity that they surrender.

It doesn't have Stress Boxes, instead attacks add ripples to your character, which on particular good hits/quips/curses/diagnoses/dances/whatever are rolled and used to try to overcome your Chi Threshold (basically your damage threshold), which apply negative Chi Conditions (which give you a penalty if you ignore them). Without the correct Archetype chi conditions linger for quite a while, so combat can be dangerous (especially if you end up with Chi Conditions with mutually exclusive requirements, which is possible), but conditions have a variable recovery time, just increase it if you want a grittier campaign (you have to succeed on X rolls which happen once every [time period]).

All it's really lacking is the different types of damage because honestly, LotW has enough complexity when it comes to damage as it is, a Ripple is just a Ripple. Which is nice when your average round goes like this:

Regain some spent Chi.
Make initiative roll.
Use up to 1 spare set on initiative roll to regain more basic chi.
Use unused sets from your initiative roll to make movement/nonviolent actions.
On your turn roll your attack, one set to make your (physical, social, training, curse, etc.) attack and extra sets to add special effects, stop slower character's nonviolent actions, or occasionally make extra attacks.
Defender makes a roll and uses sets to defend against your various attacks and special effects.
If you hit roll to see if you inflict Ripples or enforce a Rippling Roll (roll ripples in d10s and try to deal damage).
If you force a rippling roll, make that roll and apply conditions.


No critical hits though, and weapons are indestructible because forcing someone to lose their Kung Fu style because it doesn't support unarmed combat isn't fun (or really in-genre, you might disarm someone to affect their confidence, but not to put them at a disadvantage).

TheManicMonocle
2016-10-24, 06:47 AM
Here's an idea, I don't know if it's been done before but here goes:

Suppose players have three modes; undamaged, wounded, unconscious, and dead.

While undamaged, their stats are normal, if they take damage while undamaged, they are wounded. while wounded, they have disadvantage on attack rolls. If they take more damage, they fall to unconsciousness, which is self explanatory, and if they take damage after that they die.

Nifft
2016-10-24, 07:09 AM
Here's an idea, I don't know if it's been done before but here goes:

Suppose players have three modes; undamaged, wounded, unconscious, and dead.

While undamaged, their stats are normal, if they take damage while undamaged, they are wounded. while wounded, they have disadvantage on attack rolls. If they take more damage, they fall to unconsciousness, which is self explanatory, and if they take damage after that they die.

That's a very simple death spiral.

The goodness of having a death spiral at all is questionable.

CharonsHelper
2016-10-24, 07:20 AM
- Armor would increase your DT, and would have a few Stress boxes. Armor makes it harder to hurt you, plus it will eat a handful of otherwise damaging hits and then need to get repaired or replaced.

- Weapons & Shields would have their own DT, and a few Stress boxes. You could have an action to Block or Parry a hit, but the hit might damage your shield or weapon, and that might mean you cycle through more weapons per gaming session.


Having to track armor/weapon HP sounds like a lot of extra paperwork for minimal benefit to the system.

Frankly - it's one of those things which work much better in video games because the computer does all of the calculations.

Nifft
2016-10-24, 07:29 AM
Having to track armor/weapon HP sounds like a lot of extra paperwork for minimal benefit to the system. Welcome to D&D 3.5e, where all weapons and all armor actually do have HP.

That's not the system that I'm proposing, of course, so I'm not sure why you're quoting me other than confusion.


Frankly - it's one of those things which work much better in video games because the computer does all of the calculations. That's a great example of why I'm proposing a few boxes to check as the "damage track" rather than a large number of points.

So... yeah, you're aiming at the wrong target here.

Segev
2016-10-24, 08:57 AM
The funny thing to me is that in most "actual" fighting, the hit is the cherry on the top - it's all the maneuvering to get in position to actually land a hit that's the interesting bit.

And I know of no RPG that really shows this.

That is actually one of the express things that Exalted 3e's combat system is meant to simulate. Withering attacks are all about position, while decisive ones are the big, lethal blow you can make because you're in the winning position.

CharonsHelper
2016-10-24, 09:34 AM
Welcome to D&D 3.5e, where all weapons and all armor actually do have HP.

That's not the system that I'm proposing, of course, so I'm not sure why you're quoting me other than confusion.

That's a great example of why I'm proposing a few boxes to check as the "damage track" rather than a large number of points.

So... yeah, you're aiming at the wrong target here.

You're calling them "boxes" instead of HP.

But... a rose by any other name...

(Also - while 3.x weapons/armor do have HP - they come up vary rarely - not every time you're hit or use them.)

kyoryu
2016-10-24, 09:51 AM
You're calling them "boxes" instead of HP.

But... a rose by any other name...



There's a bit of a difference.

Using Fate Stress as an example, you might have three stress boxes, one of each 1, 2, and 3 stress. This totals 6 stress you can take.

That's not the same as six hit points. A single hit must be absorbed by a single stress box, of at least that amount of stress. So you can't take a four-stress hit at all, and you can't take a three-stress hit if your three-stress box is already marked, even if your one- and two-stress boxes are available.

Basically, hit points are totally fungible, while these types of boxes aren't.

CharonsHelper
2016-10-24, 10:58 AM
There's a bit of a difference.

Using Fate Stress as an example, you might have three stress boxes, one of each 1, 2, and 3 stress. This totals 6 stress you can take.

That's not the same as six hit points. A single hit must be absorbed by a single stress box, of at least that amount of stress. So you can't take a four-stress hit at all, and you can't take a three-stress hit if your three-stress box is already marked, even if your one- and two-stress boxes are available.

Basically, hit points are totally fungible, while these types of boxes aren't.

I didn't mean that they were identical - but from the perspective of being extra paperwork which the players have to keep track of, the problem is the same.

Nifft
2016-10-24, 06:09 PM
I didn't mean that they were identical - but from the perspective of being extra paperwork which the players have to keep track of, the problem is the same.

No, keeping track of three boxes is really not the same as keeping track of 75 hit points.

One is a quick visual scan, the other requires arithmetic.

Quantity is a quality all its own.

Anonymouswizard
2016-10-24, 06:39 PM
I didn't mean that they were identical - but from the perspective of being extra paperwork which the players have to keep track of, the problem is the same.

True, remember in about 90% of systems that use them health/stress/damage boxes are just a more visual way of representing hit points, except making it easier to see the death spiral. In others Stress Boxes involve less bookkeeping (due to each attack being 'do I have a large enough box free', no subtraction), but some other part of the system requires more bookkeeping (e.g. wounds or consequences).

Now I personally like Stress Boxes a lot, but they do make design and in some ways bookkeeping more complex (which is why the system I'm designing currently uses hp, although I plan to change that to Damage Threshold and Wounds or Stress and Consequences at some point).


No, keeping track of three boxes is really not the same as keeping track of 75 hit points.

One is a quick visual scan, the other requires arithmetic.

Quantity is a quality all its own.

Actually, the big answer to this question is 'Stress Boxes are sometimes less paperwork'. Depending on the system used (just for Fate there's 'works like hp', or 'check up to two' in the Fate System Toolkit in addition to how it normally works, and 'check as many as needed' is also theoretically possible). There's also the fact that most games don't make you track more than about 30hp tops, because at some point you're just running number inflation (remind me to hit the guy who decided Anima needed all Zeon totals and costs to be multiples of 10*). D&D past 2e is rather bad about this, even assuming you get first level hp at max, a 2e level 20 fighter is only going to have about (14+8*9.5+11=25+76=)101hp baring magic, assuming he rolled max con (in practice he'll more likely have 60-80hp, depending on Con), and a maximum total possible of 137 assuming 18 Constitution, compare that to 3.X or 5e, where a fighter with a reasonable 14 Constitution is going to have 154 hp (twice that of the 2e fighter with the same Con score), almost 200 (194.5) assuming he has 18 constitution (over 200 if he hits 20), and a theoretical maximum of 280 with 18 Con (300 with 20 Con), enemies do more damage, but there's do difference between five points of damage being subtracted from 20hp and ten points of damage being subtracted from 40hp, except that most people are faster with smaller numbers.

Now I like something like Ripples, where you just tick a number up a digit or two without having to compare it to something. Occasionally a big hit comes in, you do some calculating, and then it's back to hoping the number doesn't tick up too high (also, can fellow LotW fans help me here, I believe Ripples aren't used up by Rippling Rolls and disappear at the end of combat, but I can't find anything that specifies this in the rules).

* As far as I can tell for a rule that I will never use, because ritual spells, while nice in theory, include maths most of the table would rather avoid.

Fri
2016-10-24, 10:38 PM
Now I like something like Ripples, where you just tick a number up a digit or two without having to compare it to something. Occasionally a big hit comes in, you do some calculating, and then it's back to hoping the number doesn't tick up too high (also, can fellow LotW fans help me here, I believe Ripples aren't used up by Rippling Rolls and disappear at the end of combat, but I can't find anything that specifies this in the rules).


Yes, ripples aren't used up by rippling rolls, and disappear at the end of combat, it's at the book, but I won't blame you for not being able to find it, because dang, LotW book layout is nonsense. Seriously, rule's fine, but the book is the worst setup of rules I've ever seen in my life.

Also, slightly unrelated, winning or losing, you roll all your aquired ripples at the end of a battle, to get some sort of consequences, though it's not always physical. So even if you win unscathed, if you get a lot of ripples, at the end of the battle you might got a mental consequence of feeling guilty of the battle, or physical consequence of having your arm so beat up from all those blockings.

Knaight
2016-10-25, 12:22 PM
Yes, ripples aren't used up by rippling rolls, and disappear at the end of combat, it's at the book, but I won't blame you for not being able to find it, because dang, LotW book layout is nonsense. Seriously, rule's fine, but the book is the worst setup of rules I've ever seen in my life.

It makes the Burning Wheel layout look good, and that's saying something. On the other hand it is at least better than Weapons of the Gods, the predecessor to LotW.

Anonymouswizard
2016-10-25, 01:15 PM
Yes, ripples aren't used up by rippling rolls, and disappear at the end of combat, it's at the book, but I won't blame you for not being able to find it, because dang, LotW book layout is nonsense. Seriously, rule's fine, but the book is the worst setup of rules I've ever seen in my life.

Well yes, it seems to be okay up until the end of character creation, but then it goes pear shaped. For one thing the rules Chi Deviations would be nice to know when creating characters, and Chi Conditions would do a lot better next to the Secret Arts (although being next to combat is nice, I'm convinced it should have gone Kung Fu/Combat/Chi Conditions/Secret Arts), and the GM section is a complete mess, starting with stuff that should have been in the setting chapter and hiding the stuff I definitely want right at the end.

Not that most RPGs have good layout, but they generally don't require you to flip between three sections just to work out how difficult a wound is to recover from (not actually listed in the combat section, the Chi Conditions section, or the Secret Arts section, if I ever get to run it I'll be defaulting to 'Rippling Roll' for the recovery).

Oh, and to top it all off, I've rediscovered the lack of index. I hate games that do that, I'm going back to Qin for my Wuxia action, I can at least find all the rules without twenty minutes of searching.


Also, slightly unrelated, winning or losing, you roll all your aquired ripples at the end of a battle, to get some sort of consequences, though it's not always physical. So even if you win unscathed, if you get a lot of ripples, at the end of the battle you might got a mental consequence of feeling guilty of the battle, or physical consequence of having your arm so beat up from all those blockings.

Yep, that's in an easy to find place.