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dspeyer
2018-07-13, 12:27 AM
Every RPG I've played uses numeric hit points. And every one equivocates as to whether they're abstracted physical damage or ablative plot armor. Are you full strength at 1hp? Plot armor! Did a crossbow bolt get venom into your veins? Guess it broke skin after all. I find it frustrating that I don't know what my character is experiencing.

I realize that realistic frailty would make for dubious gameplay, and needing to keep medical textbooks at the table would be worse. Still, I wonder if there's something better than this.

Has anyone used a system they really liked?

Koo Rehtorb
2018-07-13, 12:57 AM
In Burning Wheel you have a wound scale based on a combination of your power and forte stats with numbers assigned to "nothing", "superficial" "light" "midi" "severe" "traumatic" and "mortal" wounds. A normal person with 4 forte and power would have a wound scale of:

Superficial B3
Light B5
Midi B7
Severe B8
Traumatic B9
Mortal B10

Where the toughest person in the world with 8 forte and power would have a scale of:

Superficial B5
Light B9
Midi B11
Severe B12
Traumatic B13
Mortal B14

You track each wound individually so a strong person getting a good hit on you with a longsword might give you a B12 wound, enough to instantly kill most people and enough to put a severe wound on a very tough person. Each wound individually subtracts dice from all your skills and stats ranging from 1 to 4. If any of your stats drop to 0 you're incapacitated. Wounds stack for purposes of penalties, but you still track them individually for purposes of treatment and recovery so while four light wounds would give an equal penalty to one traumatic wound, you'll be healed of those light wounds inside of a day where you'll be injured for multiple months with the traumatic wound.

Kaptin Keen
2018-07-13, 01:19 AM
Shadowrun has a health track, going from lightly wounded, over moderate, to serious, to dead. With associated penalties to all things. So you really shouldn't allow yourself to get wounded in that game.

I like the Shadowrun thing, but personally I don't really care. I'm fine with D&D full strength a 1 HP too.

MrSandman
2018-07-13, 01:33 AM
Fate has stress and consequences. Stress tracks battle strain that doesn't result in real damage (or at least not very long lasting) and consequences track injuries and stuff that you'll need to heal afterwards.

Thrudd
2018-07-13, 01:35 AM
You must not have played many games. Some games use a wound track that gives you penalties. Some games have injury charts for specific wounds and statuses. In many, damage minus resistance is calculated to determine if a wound occurs and how severe the wound is.


D&D's treatment of HP and damage types is strictly a game convenience, not meant to be realistic. Originally, more than 1 HP was heroic/super - in battles, every person in a unit was represented by 1HP, each point of damage meant one person dead. So for D&D, a PC was a single character that was as powerful as an entire unit of soldiers, or at least multiple soldiers. Combat wasn't modeled down to individual blows, you rolled a die to see who wins the fight. Following the original model, every single point of damage you take should be enough to kill a normal person. You are getting stabbed, crushed, burned, poisoned, etc. enough to kill a normal person every time you take 1HP of damage. But for some reason, you just don't die - the gods probably like you, or you're a super hero.

I agree, it is silly for poison and similar things to do HP damage, but they've borrowed that from video games. Poison used to be saving throw or die (or get a status effect) - the saving throw decides whether you got scratched enough for the poison to get into you (regardless of how much damage was done).

Knaight
2018-07-13, 02:34 AM
There's lots of wound systems which handle particular wounds, or which use small numbers of HP which represent discrete injuries. On the small numbers of HP end GURPS and HEX are both solid, and for wounds I've got a soft spot for Fudge's methodology.

Glorthindel
2018-07-13, 03:52 AM
I am a fan of WFRP's model - damage reduced by armour, few hit points, then a variety of minor to grisly critical effects on hits once the small hit point buffer is depleted. Since the critical effects cover everything from small cuts, stuns, all the way to breaks, loss of limbs, and death, its easier to view pure hit point loss as inconsequential, since all "real" injuries are handled on the critical table.

Pelle
2018-07-13, 04:27 AM
In Torchbearer you get different conditions like Hungry, Angry, Afraid, Sick, Injured, etc with certain penalties, until you get the Dead condition. It's fun if you enjoy your character suffering...

CharonsHelper
2018-07-13, 12:43 PM
There are Vitality/Wound systems (a variation of which I chose for my own system).

In them, the Vitality acts as the abstract, and Wounds are being physically hit. Generally all hits go to Vitality until it's gone (with exceptions for special attacks or critical hits etc. - depending upon the system). A lot of them have some sort of death spiral for the Wounds only.

I do like how it works for things like poison/venom - where they only activate when your Wounds take damage. I did something similar with a lot of psychic attacks. (I have a 3rd pool - Psyche, which is the mental version of Wounds. A lot of psychic attacks have their secondary mind control effect only if they deal Psyche damage.)

John Campbell
2018-07-13, 02:40 PM
Hit points represent how awesome you are. The more awesome you are, the more numerous and extreme the traumas you can shrug off with no more ill effects than some contusions that are purely cosmetic and don't actually hamper your actions in any way. Maybe you have to favor the leg that just got an arrow through it for a little bit, but that's only for flavor. As soon as you actually need your leg again, it'll be back at full strength! Because you're that awesome.


I'm fond of the damage system from the older editions of Shadowrun. Characters have two 10-box damage tracks, Physical and Stun, and overflow boxes equal to their Body. One box of damage on either track adds a +1 TN penalty to basically all your tests. Three boxes raises it to +2. Six boxes is +3. Fill either of the tracks, and you fall down unconscious. Fill the Stun track, and further Stun damage overflows into the Physical track. Fill the Physical track, and further Physical damage overflows into Body. Fill your Body overflow, and you die. The penalties from the two tracks stack... if you've taken 1 box of Physical and 3 boxes of Stun, you take a +3 penalty... +1 from the Physical damage and +2 from the Stun.

Though everyone (and everything) has the same number of damage boxes in their damage track (though not necessarily the same number of tracks... for example, vehicles don't have a Stun track and can't take Stun damage, while spirits have a single combined track that all damage goes to), damage is resisted with Body (usually; sometimes other things like Willpower for magical damage), so tougher characters take less damage from the same attacks. Really tough characters may take little to no damage from weapons that would kill an ordinary person outright.

It's a d6 dice pool system, so a +1 TN penalty is significant, and the +6 it's possible to get to and still be up and theoretically functional is "ha ha you're useless". You really want to avoid getting hurt, because once you do, things start going downhill rapidly.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-13, 05:25 PM
I tend to use a system I've seen in several games and works quite well.

You have a certain amount of hp. Above X% (I've seen 50%, 75%, and 66%, and for a grittier game have considered using 80% to 90%) you function as normal. It might just be a 'below here you take penalties', or there might be several levels that give escalating penalties. Then at another level, normally 0, you fall unconscious, then at a lower level you become dead.

It has the advantage of being about as easy to track as D&D style hp, not making every got give penalties, but still making losing hp more meaningful than 'up or out'.

My homebrew system (originally a houseruled D&D 5e, blue very different) uses this. At 1st level you determine your hp, which will normally be in the 20-30 range, and then except for CON increases it's static. You start taking penalties at 75%, 50%, and 25%, drop at 0, and die at -CON. Magical/medical healing can also only restore you to 75%, those last few points have to come back via natural healing.

Anymage
2018-07-13, 06:35 PM
More realistic damage systems have to acknowledge that wounds tend to be somewhat debilitating, and model this with a penalty. This has the side-effect of creating a death spiral, since being injured makes you less effective which makes you more likely to take another serious hit than inflict one. Most players want their characters to be more heroic, so penalties tend to be minimal to nonexistent.

Hit points in the sense of D&D or video games are generally easier to grasp than alternatives. One number that increases as you get tougher is less mental overhead than everybody having a flat amount of health levels, but systems to soak damage with natural toughness, mitigate it with armor, and/or negate it with an active defense. Active defenses on every action are just extra dice rolls for the sake of extra dice rolls.

Morty
2018-07-13, 07:00 PM
D&D's ever-escalating, "mushy" hit points that are sometimes physical and sometimes not are really an oddity among tabletop games. After finally trying out Exalted 3E, I find myself fond of its initiative system, which has characters build it up with "withering" strikes that represent near-misses, cuts and bruises etc. then use it to strike decisive attacks that actually hurt.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-13, 07:35 PM
A few things about HP:

1. Penalties on being wounded work best if one or more of the following is true:
** Fighting is rare
** "health" (whatever you call it) is restored easily out of combat
** it's relatively easy to soak/avoid damage. This has the problem that your fights go like block-block-avoid-dead.

Without this, they are worse against PCs than NPCs, because NPCs in a D&D-style game only tend (on average) to get in one real fight. So they always have their full allotment, while PCs can get worn away slowly and so are likely to start in the penalty range.

They also encourage short working days and rocket-tag/nova play-style. 3e D&D devolves to this (supposedly) at high levels due to Save-or-Die effects and huge hits (>> average HP). While this is what some people prefer, it isn't for everybody.

2. I came up with a way to rationalize HP for a single 5e D&D setting. It certainly doesn't work for everybody, but it fits my setting quite well.

Full details here on my setting blog (https://www.admiralbenbo.org/index.php/the-council-lands/11-metaphysics/50-worldbuilding-hit-points-and-healing).

Basically, HP represent a pool of energy (the same energy as is used for magic; physical objects are compressed bits of this energy) that the body uses to repair itself. It can be spent very quickly (in seconds), and while it's available the body won't suffer significant impairment. Below half health or so, the body saves resources for potential mortal wounds, so things like cuts and bruises (and potentially broken bones, but that's abstracted away. They're still broken but held in place temporarily.) don't heal. Magical healing is literally replacing the body's reserves. Being reduced to 0 means that hit caused serious injury that the body no longer can heal. Stabilizing naturally might involve a long-term injury or you might get lucky.

Restoring this energy naturally (from ambient energy) requires sleep--the soul can't maintain consciousness while focusing on replenishing stores of energy. While this isn't tracked for PCs (for game purposes), being dropped to 0 might cause lasting injuries. These the body can't heal quite so easily because they're not fresh when it has the reserves to devote to them. Hit dice are the long-term stores--harder to use or replace but a secondary store of energy.

As one gets stronger, their soul is able to maintain larger reserves of energy (more HP/HD). Classes who focus on training the body get bigger reserves (HD) than those that focus on storing spell-available energy in their souls (the two are similar mechanics). A commoner can be knocked out/drained of HP by a good punch, while a dragon takes a pounding before giving up.

In this model, a hit is a hit. This makes the "on hit" effects (like poison) make sense. It does have other worldbuilding consequences though. Diseases become more spiritual (attacking the body at a level other than purely physical); since there are no cells the basic physics and biology must be different (although that's a given, since dragons and all).

Mastikator
2018-07-14, 04:14 AM
In the game trudvagn each hit was against a specific body part (arms, legs, head, torso, stomach) and if any one of them reached zero they were disabled, if they hit -1 they're destroyed with all that comes with that. Wearing a helmet was very important. Just like in actual real combat.

Calthropstu
2018-07-14, 06:32 AM
Well we could always be realistic.

1 hit from a deadly weapon and you're incapacitated or worse. Seriously, even someone with a bullet in their leg isn't going to be much use in a fight.
Pain from a fresh stab or gunshot is overwhelming. Most people can only hold their leg and moan. They might be able to fire blindly, but aiming with that kind of pain would be difficult at best but probably impossible for most.
Then, of course, there's shock and blood loss.

Yeah, one hit out of fight is pretty realistic. But people don't want realistic, they want epic... the toe to toe slugfest between hero and dragon, the exlosive power of withstanding wave after wave of enemies as you mow them down with.swords and spells.

Cluedrew
2018-07-14, 07:14 AM
Hit Points work great in systems... just a notch or two more abstract than I like me role-playing games to be. So yeah I have been trying to find a way to add just a bit more detail to the system. The trick is that most of my solutions end up being too punishing or slow things down too much. It is a delicate line to walk. My search for my perfect solution continues.

RedMage125
2018-07-14, 10:21 AM
Every RPG I've played uses numeric hit points. And every one equivocates as to whether they're abstracted physical damage or ablative plot armor. Are you full strength at 1hp? Plot armor! Did a crossbow bolt get venom into your veins? Guess it broke skin after all. I find it frustrating that I don't know what my character is experiencing.

I realize that realistic frailty would make for dubious gameplay, and needing to keep medical textbooks at the table would be worse. Still, I wonder if there's something better than this.

Has anyone used a system they really liked?

As other posters (notably Thrudd's excellent post) have said, D&D HP are an abstraction. I've got a system I use that helps with the narrative aspect of using HP, without having to change the mechanics at all.

Hit Points are (and always have been in D&D), simply put, a measure of your ability to stay in the fight. Just as Armor Class is an abstraction of your ability to protect yourself. So loss of hit points does not necessarily mean you were struck directly, but it might. Saying that until you've dropped to 0 HP that you've "taken no hits" makes things like poison work awkwardly, as you pointed out.

I have continued to use 4e's status effect of "Bloodied". Which means under 50% HP. Above 50%, a character is (usually) relatively unharmed. Once a character or creature is "bloodied", it has taken some damage, perhaps is bleeding from a shallow flesh wound, or took a shot in the mouth and had to spit out some blood, but is otherwise able to continue. A note here: I will always tell my players when an NPC or monster is "bloodied", and I ask that they try not to give out HP totals for themselves in combat (just a table preference to keep metagaming down, I don't punish them if they forget or anything). So if the healer asks "do you need healing?", the fighter might say "I was bloodied 2 hits ago, I'm pretty bad" instead of "I'm down to like 8 HP out of 65".

ANYWAY, what helps keep the narrative of this system going is this: a "hit" can be anything from a close call that made you spend a little more energy to dodge it (thus making it harder for you to dodge more strikes like that), or a solid blow against your shield that makes your arm tingle a bit, or even a minor cut or laceration (after all, in order to get "bloodied", SOMETHING must have made contact). I find that when something does poison damage in addition to regular damage (such as a venomous bite or sting), it is best to narratively call that physical contact.

I also insist that critical hits are always physical strikes, even if they are narratively a flesh wound (ex: arrow wound that doesn't even drop the Ogre below 50% HP could have lodged in its shoulder, which it might pull out, or even just ignore and keep fighting. Or it may have deply grazed its leg, which now bleeds freely, etc).

Using this works with energy damage as well. Take a party getting hit by an NPC sorceror's fireball:

Rogue (made her save, has Evasion): The blast of fire expanding out is not a perfect sphere, there are gaps between the flames. She jumps and spins mid-air like an acrobat through the gap. Completely unharmed, and ready to put a dagger through that sorcerer's eye.

Fighter (made his save, still above 50% HP): The fighter, wearing full plate, crouched and raised his shield, ducking his face behind it to minimize exposed skin. He felt the blast of heat wash over him, and he's sweating a little bit more inside his armor, which is now hotter, but he's okay. He stands back up, coughs once, and resumes the fight.

Cleric (made his save, was "bloodied" by the attack): The cleric also crouched and tried to shield his face, also instinctively calling forth to his goddess to protect him. He feels her power flow through him, shielding him from the worst of the blast, but nonetheless, that HURT. When he again stands, he winces. His skin is flushed and sensitive, even the sweat now covering his body stings on his skin. He spares a quick look around to his comrades, to see if anyone else got that hurt.

Wizard (made his save, dropped below 0 anyway): The wizard, intimately familiar with how a fireball works, thought "oh, crap", and also tried to protect his face and hands, summoning up a minor field of arcane power to try and protect him from the worst of it. His last-minute energy shield DID absorb a lot of it, and he did not catch fire. But the intense heat was to much. As he drops his hands and looks up, his companions note some burn marks on his hands and face, already starting to blister. The wizard's skin is extremely red. He wobbles, falls all the way to his knees, then his eyes roll up into his head and he passes out, face-first. The cleric knows he needs to get to him soon. He may have less than 20 seconds to stop the wizard's organs from complete failure.


And all of that narrative does not require using a different system or really altering the default of HP at all.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-14, 11:10 AM
Well we could always be realistic.

1 hit from a deadly weapon and you're incapacitated or worse. Seriously, even someone with a bullet in their leg isn't going to be much use in a fight.
Pain from a fresh stab or gunshot is overwhelming. Most people can only hold their leg and moan. They might be able to fire blindly, but aiming with that kind of pain would be difficult at best but probably impossible for most.
Then, of course, there's shock and blood loss.

Yeah, one hit out of fight is pretty realistic. But people don't want realistic, they want epic... the toe to toe slugfest between hero and dragon, the exlosive power of withstanding wave after wave of enemies as you mow them down with.swords and spells.

This is why I like the idea of a certain amount of hp to represent 'nicks and bruises' where you've suffered a near miss our really minor wounds, and then a lower 'actually meat' part that comes with severe or escalating penalties.

Another thing is differentiating between a minor hit and a good hit. I like Unknown Armies, where most hits are probably scrapes or not as hard as they could have been, and so deal the sum of your attack roll digits (so in practice up to 19, as a 00 is a critical failure). Plus your weapon modifiers, which can be up to +9 if it's big, sharp, and heavy. A good hit (any doubles) will deal the attack roll in damage, but only if you're using a weapon. Guns always deal the attack roll in damage, but have a cap (of which the lowest is still enough to send you from 'fine' to 'screaming on the floor'), so while a 13 might mean the flask in your shirt pocket somehow managed to stop the bullet from actually connecting a 31 will send anybody without a high 'tough guy' style Identity to the ground (or potentially still acting, but suffering penalties from the pain despite all this adrenaline).

Not to mention that with weapons one in a hundred strikes kill, no ifs, ands, or buts. While with fists a critical success can be a knockout that's just not an option with weapons. Probably one of the reasons it's combat chapter literally begins with 'six ways to stop a fight'.

Quertus
2018-07-14, 01:01 PM
I generally prefer HP.

However, one version of Star Wars, IIRC, had D&D-style HP, which represented cinematic dodging with only minor scratches to show for it, and Vitality Points (equal to con, IIRC) that represented actual meat. Most "hits" damaged HP; critical hits (or damage beyond HP) damaged Vitality.

Sounded playable.

Calthropstu
2018-07-14, 02:26 PM
Ya know, I like the idea of one hit and down. Instead of HP, you get a number of resources to avoid that potential killing blow. Your first line of defense is your weapon or shield used to block the attack. Your next line of defense is to dodge the attack. Finally, you can hope your armor absorbs the blow. You get a number of abilities to enhance those three defenses, and hope for the best. Add some random elements for dice to determine and I see potential for a solid combat system.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-14, 02:55 PM
Ya know, I like the idea of one hit and down. Instead of HP, you get a number of resources to avoid that potential killing blow. Your first line of defense is your weapon or shield used to block the attack. Your next line of defense is to dodge the attack. Finally, you can hope your armor absorbs the blow. You get a number of abilities to enhance those three defenses, and hope for the best. Add some random elements for dice to determine and I see potential for a solid combat system.

Two issues:

* This forces all characters to be SnB, heavily armored and nimble to have any chance of survival.
* Unless those defense numbers are crazy high, the PCs will die quickly.

At 80% success for each layer, the PCs die 50% of the time after 90 attacks over a lifetime. At 70% per layer, the PCs die 93% of the time after 90 attacks over a lifetime. 5% of the time, they'll die on the second attack.

And this means that enemies must have a much lower success probability or combats are mostly misses, which is padded sumo without the illusion of progress. That, to me, is boring.

If combat is going to be a major part of your game, you have to decide.

Either the PCs can survive a lot of hits that would kill ordinary people OR the PCs have to be easily replaceable (meat-grinder style). The first is the route D&D took, the second is more realistic but a bit harder on the whole role-playing thing (more wargame, where the characters are just tokens to be pushed around the board). You can have "gritty" combat if combat isn't a major focus, or if combat means you failed earlier. But you can't have a high combat focus, high-lethality combat, and a focus on individual characters. At least, if you can't, I can't see how.

Mendicant
2018-07-14, 05:02 PM
As other posters (notably Thrudd's excellent post) have said, D&D HP are an abstraction. I've got a system I use that helps with the narrative aspect of using HP, without having to change the mechanics at all.

Hit Points are (and always have been in D&D), simply put, a measure of your ability to stay in the fight. Just as Armor Class is an abstraction of your ability to protect yourself. So loss of hit points does not necessarily mean you were struck directly, but it might. Saying that until you've dropped to 0 HP that you've "taken no hits" makes things like poison work awkwardly, as you pointed out.

I have continued to use 4e's status effect of "Bloodied". Which means under 50% HP. Above 50%, a character is (usually) relatively unharmed. Once a character or creature is "bloodied", it has taken some damage, perhaps is bleeding from a shallow flesh wound, or took a shot in the mouth and had to spit out some blood, but is otherwise able to continue. A note here: I will always tell my players when an NPC or monster is "bloodied", and I ask that they try not to give out HP totals for themselves in combat (just a table preference to keep metagaming down, I don't punish them if they forget or anything). So if the healer asks "do you need healing?", the fighter might say "I was bloodied 2 hits ago, I'm pretty bad" instead of "I'm down to like 8 HP out of 65".

ANYWAY, what helps keep the narrative of this system going is this: a "hit" can be anything from a close call that made you spend a little more energy to dodge it (thus making it harder for you to dodge more strikes like that), or a solid blow against your shield that makes your arm tingle a bit, or even a minor cut or laceration (after all, in order to get "bloodied", SOMETHING must have made contact). I find that when something does poison damage in addition to regular damage (such as a venomous bite or sting), it is best to narratively call that physical contact.

I also insist that critical hits are always physical strikes, even if they are narratively a flesh wound (ex: arrow wound that doesn't even drop the Ogre below 50% HP could have lodged in its shoulder, which it might pull out, or even just ignore and keep fighting. Or it may have deply grazed its leg, which now bleeds freely, etc).


...

And all of that narrative does not require using a different system or really altering the default of HP at all.

This is how I do it too. I've flirted with various wound/vitality systems or wound tracking or what have you and I just never felt like it added much. HP as a combination of luck, plot armor, physical hardiness, divine favor, skill and whatever else seems narratively appropriate for that character at that time pretty much covers all my need for immersion without being hard to track or adjudicate.

Sometimes I think I want to add wound tracking back in if you take a crit or drop below 0, but I haven't spent the time to think through how I'd do it.

Cluedrew
2018-07-14, 06:57 PM
Two issues:

* This forces all characters to be SnB, heavily armored and nimble to have any chance of survival.
* Unless those defense numbers are crazy high, the PCs will die quickly.Having played a game that did use a one hit and down system I have to say you might be wrong on both cases. The might because it depends on the particular implementation. In that game I played it didn't hold true.

First off I have a very funny story about how, in my slow but tough army, the enemy forced cornered the head of my ranged line. After three turns they disengaged and left to try and attack targets they could kill. So yeah, just being one can be enough.

Second down doesn't have to mean dead. Actually it doesn't even have to mean out. Notably you could just lose a turn (with which the enemies would likely just attack you again and then kill you because you couldn't defend as well) and even if you were taken out the character rarely died, there would be a roll after the battle to see just how injured they were. You had a good chance of rolling "full recovery", a punch of lasting injuries and then a chance of rolling dead.

I think that cycle could work well in D&D. Certainly I know I have had plenty of first level characters go from full to down in a single hit and then made a full recovery. I would try to cut it down though. The system I played could go up to 6 rolls, and 4 was not uncommon. That could take a while. So I would say an attack roll if it succeeds then a defence roll and if that fails the defender is down.

You would have to play with the numbers other nuisances, for instance does a really good attack role make the defence roll harder?

Deophaun
2018-07-14, 07:34 PM
Well we could always be realistic.
If we're being realistic, then we have to take everything you said after and throw it in the waste basket, because adrenaline is amazing. People have been shot in the heart and still needed to be chased down for two blocks before they've dropped dead. There's a reason it's standard practice to keep shooting until the target is on the ground. One and down is more Hollywood mythology than anything else.

Mendicant
2018-07-14, 09:23 PM
If we're being realistic, then we have to take everything you said after and throw it in the waste basket, because adrenaline is amazing. People have been shot in the heart and still needed to be chased down for two blocks before they've dropped dead. There's a reason it's standard practice to keep shooting until the target is on the ground. One and down is more Hollywood mythology than anything else.

For every person who ran for two blocks after being shot in the heart there are hundreds of people who just died. "One and down" might not be true, but Calthropstu is right about the debilitating nature of real wounds.

Deophaun
2018-07-15, 08:02 AM
For every person who ran for two blocks after being shot in the heart there are hundreds of people who just died.
I see. And which of these groups tend to be emulated in heroic RPGs?

"One and down" might not be true, but Calthropstu is right about the debilitating nature of real wounds.
After the adrenaline wears off, sure; continuing on your adventuring day as if everything is fine isn't likely to happen. Otherwise, he's completely wrong. The heart case was an extreme example, but not noticing that you've been shot is remarkably common.

Jay R
2018-07-15, 11:48 AM
Every RPG I've played uses numeric hit points. And every one equivocates as to whether they're abstracted physical damage or ablative plot armor.

It's a simple-to-use game mechanic that is more simplistic than the effects of actual combat, and therefore makes the game work smoothly. But what it actually simulates cannot be described because it doesn't in fact simulate anything. It's just a simplistic game mechanic.

As my Mathematical Simulations professor said, "A simulation is supposed to be simpler than what it simulates. If we wanted to observe reality, we'd observe reality."


Are you full strength at 1hp? Plot armor! Did a crossbow bolt get venom into your veins? Guess it broke skin after all. I find it frustrating that I don't know what my character is experiencing.

I realize that realistic frailty would make for dubious gameplay, and needing to keep medical textbooks at the table would be worse. Still, I wonder if there's something better than this.

Champions, or any other Hero Systems game, has Stun, Endurance, and Body, each tracked separately. Many people don't like this game, because it's too complicated.

Chivalry and Sorcery was the most realistic system I ever saw. It tracked Fatigue Points and Body Points separately. Only critical hits did Body damage, which was actual damage. Most hits just did Fatigue points, which you could recover (while not doing anything strenuous) rather quickly. When you run out of Fatigue Points, then all attacks reduce Hit Points. Casting spells also uses up Fatigue Points.

Also, you begin losing one Fatigue Point per round after a certain number of rounds of combat, determined by Constitution and level.

Fatigue Points regenerate quickly, but Hit Points take time to heal.

It was the most lush, vivid, glorious, realistic, carefully detailed, immersive, unplayable mess I ever saw.


Has anyone used a system they really liked?

Hit points. It's a simple-to-use game mechanic that is more simplistic than the effects of actual combat, and therefore makes the game work smoothly.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-15, 12:03 PM
It's a simple-to-use game mechanic that is more simplistic than the effects of actual combat, and therefore makes the game work smoothly. But what it actually simulates cannot be described because it doesn't in fact simulate anything. It's just a simplistic game mechanic.

It was the most lush, vivid, glorious, realistic, carefully detailed, immersive, unplayable mess I ever saw.

Hit points. It's a simple-to-use game mechanic that is more simplistic than the effects of actual combat, and therefore makes the game work smoothly.

These are all very good points. I find a lot of appeals to realism lacking in that they forget that first and foremost it's a game. And games need to be playable, which means they have to abstract things to one degree or another. Where the dividing lines are will vary from person to person. More realism/simulation isn't always better.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-15, 12:32 PM
These are all very good points. I find a lot of appeals to realism lacking in that they forget that first and foremost it's a game. And games need to be playable, which means they have to abstract things to one degree or another. Where the dividing lines are will vary from person to person. More realism/simulation isn't always better.

Also from genre to genre. I find hit points more acceptable the more superheroic the game, while the grittier the game the more I want a death spiral.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-15, 12:35 PM
Also from genre to genre. I find hit points more acceptable the more superheroic the game, while the grittier the game the more I want a death spiral.

True. I had lumped that in with the individual variation, in part since I have relatively narrow genre preferences.

Calthropstu
2018-07-15, 06:01 PM
I see. And which of these groups tend to be emulated in heroic RPGs?

After the adrenaline wears off, sure; continuing on your adventuring day as if everything is fine isn't likely to happen. Otherwise, he's completely wrong. The heart case was an extreme example, but not noticing that you've been shot is remarkably common.

You've never been seriously injured before have you? Or been next to someone who has been.

The priority, once wounded, is instinctively to nurture the wound so that it doesn't kill you. Yes, in life or death situations adrenaline can push you past your limits but RARELY. An argument could be made for a round by round adrenaline check, but in most cases it literally is one and down. Not one and dead mind you, but you WILL see most injured people writhing or moaning in pain, clutching at the wound in an attempt to stem blood flow... Assuming they are concious.

People in shock might be able to move around, but they won't think straight and will inevitably cause themselves further harm. Adrenaline may be able to keep someone up and thinking, but they will also cause further harm.

Jay R
2018-07-16, 08:18 AM
Hit points are actually a decent simulation for fist fights in old low-budget westerns. The good guy and the bad guy take turns punching each other until one or the other falls down and doesn't get up.

Psikerlord
2018-07-17, 02:22 AM
Shadowrun has a health track, going from lightly wounded, over moderate, to serious, to dead. With associated penalties to all things. So you really shouldn't allow yourself to get wounded in that game.

I like the Shadowrun thing, but personally I don't really care. I'm fine with D&D full strength a 1 HP too.

yeah I quite like the SR system, but the penalties you accrue while wounded (even if more realistic) does tend to make for a pretty severe death spiral, from what I recall playing. I dont mind death spirals in games like 5e, with bags of hp, but not in something like SR that is so deadly, where you can be two hit dead very quickly.

I think my ideal game would have about 4-5 wound levels, with a chance for a persistent injury/setback at about the 4th wound level.

Psikerlord
2018-07-17, 02:24 AM
I am a fan of WFRP's model - damage reduced by armour, few hit points, then a variety of minor to grisly critical effects on hits once the small hit point buffer is depleted. Since the critical effects cover everything from small cuts, stuns, all the way to breaks, loss of limbs, and death, its easier to view pure hit point loss as inconsequential, since all "real" injuries are handled on the critical table.

Yeah I prefer this too. Your hp is minor nicks etc, then potential serious trouble when out of hp.

Segev
2018-07-17, 10:02 AM
Yeah I prefer this too. Your hp is minor nicks etc, then potential serious trouble when out of hp.

I also would suggest that, as you grow closer to 0, they become less and less minor. The "penalties" people say you don't suffer aren't represented by difficulty on your die rolls; they're represented by less and less ability to keep dodging and otherwise avoiding serious injury.

So the fighter at 3 hp out of 70 is breathing hard, and he is moving more slowly, with wounds that are inhibiting his movement. But it's mostly his defense that's suffering. This is because the attacks that you roll every round don't represent every swing of your sword; they represent the one or two good solid strikes you have a chance of getting a real impact out of. Bruising the arm through the shield, or nicking the torso with a painful scratch, etc. Even though you've slowed down, you still get those potential openings in the enemy's defenses. You're just doing less feinting and the like.

Where the injuries really screw you up is in inhibiting your ability to dance around and dodge. To bring armor into place between you and the enemy's attacks. That bruised shield arm makes you a little slower to raise it, allowing the next hit to crack a rib. That cracked rib means you can't twist and roll the way you normally could, so what would have been a glancing blow off your helmet if you'd been as nimble as usual was instead a deep cut at your shoulder.

Until, finally, at 3 hp, the next blow - something you could have easily taken on your pauldron if you'd been in top form - slashes across your neck, leaving you bleeding on the ground as you desperately try not to choke on your blood and hope your chainmail's neck piece keeps the wound blotted.

Morty
2018-07-17, 10:09 AM
This is why I like the idea of a certain amount of hp to represent 'nicks and bruises' where you've suffered a near miss our really minor wounds, and then a lower 'actually meat' part that comes with severe or escalating penalties.

Another thing is differentiating between a minor hit and a good hit. I like Unknown Armies, where most hits are probably scrapes or not as hard as they could have been, and so deal the sum of your attack roll digits (so in practice up to 19, as a 00 is a critical failure). Plus your weapon modifiers, which can be up to +9 if it's big, sharp, and heavy. A good hit (any doubles) will deal the attack roll in damage, but only if you're using a weapon. Guns always deal the attack roll in damage, but have a cap (of which the lowest is still enough to send you from 'fine' to 'screaming on the floor'), so while a 13 might mean the flask in your shirt pocket somehow managed to stop the bullet from actually connecting a 31 will send anybody without a high 'tough guy' style Identity to the ground (or potentially still acting, but suffering penalties from the pain despite all this adrenaline).

Not to mention that with weapons one in a hundred strikes kill, no ifs, ands, or buts. While with fists a critical success can be a knockout that's just not an option with weapons. Probably one of the reasons it's combat chapter literally begins with 'six ways to stop a fight'.

Quite a few systems use "soft" health for scrapes, bruises and near-hits and "hard" health for when things get real, in many forms. That D&D doesn't do it yet is mostly due to all of its designers' stubborn refusal to change things.

JNAProductions
2018-07-17, 10:16 AM
I made Fighting Spirit (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?531771-Fighting-Spirit-(An-Unoriginal-Idea-For-HP)&p=22243345#post22243345), and its sequel (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?558375-Fighting-Spirit-II-Electric-HP-A-Loo), which is largely the same, but with some minor changes.

It's for 5E, but could probably be reworked pretty easily for other editions. Not sure how well it transfers to other systems, though.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-17, 04:56 PM
Quite a few systems use "soft" health for scrapes, bruises and near-hits and "hard" health for when things get real, in many forms. That D&D doesn't do it yet is mostly due to all of its designers' stubborn refusal to change things.

Sure, others assume hp is mostly meat but that the scratches have to add up before they give penalties (I like The Dark Eye's method of every quarter of your LP lost giving a level of the pain condition, and the final level that knocks you out at 5LP). It allows you to have HP be 'serious damage avoidance' and meat, because not every hit when you're low on LP will give further penalties. It all heals at the same rate, but not every hit is immediately serious.

I'm actually in the position of trying to switch from D&D to TDE entirely for Fantasy gaming because of such things, but petite are reluctant to deal with the character creation.

To be fair, very few systems scale health in the way D&D does. In most systems raising HP is trustingly costly and requires sacrificing other aspects of your character.

Telwar
2018-07-17, 08:22 PM
I generally prefer HP.

However, one version of Star Wars, IIRC, had D&D-style HP, which represented cinematic dodging with only minor scratches to show for it, and Vitality Points (equal to con, IIRC) that represented actual meat. Most "hits" damaged HP; critical hits (or damage beyond HP) damaged Vitality.

Sounded playable.

That was the d20, non-Saga version.

It was okay. The problem is that armor did nothing to VP damage, only WP, and PCs were encouraged not to wear armor. And on a crit the damage bypassed your VP entirely, and with the high damage numbers of blasters, with a good roll you could go from fine to dead in one hit. In our campaign, we had two deaths like that, and both replacement characters had *significantly* higher Con scores than before.

Which may be okay, but to be perfectly honest, I'm used to being battered around a bit before going down in a game. It's a little like the 3e phenomenon of being one-shot by a raging orc berserker, but you don't level out of that.


The benefit to HP systems is that they're fast and simple. It's a declining balance, and easily understood. You trade off realism for simplicity and speed.

For games where you have penalties from wounds, it's usually somewhat easier for characters to both not be hit and ameliorate the effect of hits in the first place, but it takes time. Like in Shadowrun, yes, you have wound penalties, but you have (at least as of SR4) three separate die rolls, between the opposed combat test (attacker and defender roll) and then the defender rolls to soak damage. Each of those rolls takes time, especially when you have That One Guy Who Can't Do Math. In Iron Kingdoms, you only have two rolls (attack and damage), but you soak a lot of damage with your armor and physique and have Feat points to reduce incoming damage and heal.

Psikerlord
2018-07-17, 10:23 PM
I also would suggest that, as you grow closer to 0, they become less and less minor. The "penalties" people say you don't suffer aren't represented by difficulty on your die rolls; they're represented by less and less ability to keep dodging and otherwise avoiding serious injury.

So the fighter at 3 hp out of 70 is breathing hard, and he is moving more slowly, with wounds that are inhibiting his movement. But it's mostly his defense that's suffering. This is because the attacks that you roll every round don't represent every swing of your sword; they represent the one or two good solid strikes you have a chance of getting a real impact out of. Bruising the arm through the shield, or nicking the torso with a painful scratch, etc. Even though you've slowed down, you still get those potential openings in the enemy's defenses. You're just doing less feinting and the like.

Where the injuries really screw you up is in inhibiting your ability to dance around and dodge. To bring armor into place between you and the enemy's attacks. That bruised shield arm makes you a little slower to raise it, allowing the next hit to crack a rib. That cracked rib means you can't twist and roll the way you normally could, so what would have been a glancing blow off your helmet if you'd been as nimble as usual was instead a deep cut at your shoulder.

Until, finally, at 3 hp, the next blow - something you could have easily taken on your pauldron if you'd been in top form - slashes across your neck, leaving you bleeding on the ground as you desperately try not to choke on your blood and hope your chainmail's neck piece keeps the wound blotted.

Yes that all makes sense to me

CharonsHelper
2018-07-18, 06:41 AM
The benefit to HP systems is that they're fast and simple. It's a declining balance, and easily understood. You trade off realism for simplicity and speed.

Yep - HP is the KISS method. A system should have a good reason for doing something else - and tie it deeply into the rest of the mechanics.

Just slapping a death spiral onto D&D would be a bad decision.

Jay R
2018-07-18, 08:50 AM
Like everybody else, after playing D&D for about 6 months, I tried to write a more realistic combat system. I began by compiling a list of principles for realistic combat, from which I would begin designing the mechanics.

One of the principles I came up with was, A single blow, from any weapon, has a significant probability of killing the target.

Eventually I realized that

1. Any realistic system must include this principle, and
2. Neither I nor almost any other gamer wanted to play with any system that included this principle.
That ended my quest for a realistic combat system.

Morty
2018-07-18, 08:57 AM
Sure, others assume hp is mostly meat but that the scratches have to add up before they give penalties (I like The Dark Eye's method of every quarter of your LP lost giving a level of the pain condition, and the final level that knocks you out at 5LP). It allows you to have HP be 'serious damage avoidance' and meat, because not every hit when you're low on LP will give further penalties. It all heals at the same rate, but not every hit is immediately serious.

I'm actually in the position of trying to switch from D&D to TDE entirely for Fantasy gaming because of such things, but petite are reluctant to deal with the character creation.

To be fair, very few systems scale health in the way D&D does. In most systems raising HP is trustingly costly and requires sacrificing other aspects of your character.

I'm not really talking about a more gritty and realistic model like TDE uses. Unlike the general assumption in this thread, the choice isn't between "D&D" and "realistic". D&D's way of handling it is pretty much one of a kind, and there's plenty of non-realistic system that use different, generally better, models. The one I'm talking about here involves having two health tracks, one of which is easily lost and regained, and another you lose when things get serious.

CharonsHelper
2018-07-18, 09:12 AM
Like everybody else, after playing D&D for about 6 months, I tried to write a more realistic combat system. I began by compiling a list of principles for realistic combat, from which I would begin designing the mechanics.

One of the principles I came up with was, A single blow, from any weapon, has a significant probability of killing the target.

Eventually I realized that

1. Any realistic system must include this principle, and
2. Neither I nor almost any other gamer wanted to play with any system that included this principle.
That ended my quest for a realistic combat system.

Arguably that's true in a Vitality/Wound system - since losing Vitality points is NOT being hit.

In addition - it can work in a system where combat is designed to be avoided and lethal - like CoC. But definitely not slapped onto a dungeon crawler.

Kardwill
2018-07-18, 09:28 AM
Arguably that's true in a Vitality/Wound system - since losing Vitality points is NOT being hit.

In addition - it can work in a system where combat is designed to be avoided and lethal - like CoC. But definitely not slapped onto a dungeon crawler.

Yeah, Runequest has this (a critical from any weapon will very likely cripple or kill your character, so a drunken peasant with a pocket knife has 1% every round to one-shot your hardened, armoured hero), and I loved the game when I was younger, but I had to cheat like crazy as a GM to avoid destroying the group at every adventure. Nowadays, I don't cheat anymore and I prefer gentler, or at least more predictable, wound systems for games where the characters are expected to get into combat with regularity.

For CoC and other games where combat is to be avoided at all cost, though, it works fine. Or for one shot games, where high mortality during the sole fight of the gamesession is less of a problem than during campaigns where you will have dozens of them.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-18, 10:12 AM
Like everybody else, after playing D&D for about 6 months, I tried to write a more realistic combat system. I began by compiling a list of principles for realistic combat, from which I would begin designing the mechanics.

One of the principles I came up with was, A single blow, from any weapon, has a significant probability of killing the target.

Eventually I realized that

1. Any realistic system must include this principle, and
2. Neither I nor almost any other gamer wanted to play with any system that included this principle.
That ended my quest for a realistic combat system.

Correction, the correct principle is 'A single decent hit, from any weapon, has a significant probability of downing the target.'

What's a decent hit? Well there we get into an iffy scenario, but simply put it's likely a wound that actually affects your ability to function, whether through damage or pain.

But the key difference is that the hit might not kill the target, but does take them out of the fight. This is the hit that knocks somebody out, leaves them on the ground crying out in pain, or anything else that stops them from being able to contribute. This may or may not lead to death, a realistic system probably also requires everybody to be patched up after the fight to a greater or lesser extent, but the point is that death is not the only 'down' state.

If we're being even more realistic going down probably affects your ability to fight in the immediate future, and most groups will be getting into one fight a day at most, two on a particularly combat heavy day. It's not a system suitable for a dungeon crawler, but the principles actually work well in a game where fighting is a last ditch effort (which I suppose makes the PCs the incompetent).


I'm not really talking about a more gritty and realistic model like TDE uses. Unlike the general assumption in this thread, the choice isn't between "D&D" and "realistic". D&D's way of handling it is pretty much one of a kind, and there's plenty of non-realistic system that use different, generally better, models. The one I'm talking about here involves having two health tracks, one of which is easily lost and regained, and another you lose when things get serious.

Oh sure, I should have made it clear that I get that, but have a preference for single hp-track and pseudorealistic systems. My problem with such 'dual track' systems is that while I'm whittling down Vitality/Stamina/Plot Armour it doesn't feel any different to whittling down hp (which I understand is the goal).

As I said, it's not the only place where D&D is weird. Most systems that have 'simple' hp tracks or dual tracks still don't scale hp as quickly and easily as D&D does.

But yes, leaving behind 'simple' hp there's a lot of variation between realistic and unrealistic. I've seen everything from several tracks, both of which initiate a death spiral, but of which one heals faster, I've seen 'short track that represents 'real damage', large track that represents 'plot armour'', I've seen a single track where it's assumed damage only starts to affect you at X, I've seen no damage track, just individual wounds, I've seen individual wounds but if you have more than X you begin dying, I've seen 'one hit and down', and pretty much everything in between.

D&D hp doesn't look bad because of any inherent problem, it looks bad because there's a variety of systems out that that make taking hits important before that last point, some of them without introducing significantly more complexity. D&D style hp works for the very specific kind of game it evolved from, or for games where it's assumed that 'real' hits are rare (although I believe many people prefer Exalted 3e's take on that).

Quertus
2018-07-18, 11:33 AM
Like everybody else, after playing D&D for about 6 months, I tried to write a more realistic combat system. I began by compiling a list of principles for realistic combat, from which I would begin designing the mechanics.

One of the principles I came up with was, A single blow, from any weapon, has a significant probability of killing the target.

Eventually I realized that

1. Any realistic system must include this principle, and
2. Neither I nor almost any other gamer wanted to play with any system that included this principle.
That ended my quest for a realistic combat system.

Although this is a good argument to give 3e materials at-will, on-hit SoD/SoS abilities...


Yeah, Runequest has this (a critical from any weapon will very likely cripple or kill your character, so a drunken peasant with a pocket knife has 1% every round to one-shot your hardened, armoured hero), and I loved the game when I was younger, but I had to cheat like crazy as a GM to avoid destroying the group at every adventure. Nowadays, I don't cheat anymore and I prefer gentler, or at least more predictable, wound systems for games where the characters are expected to get into combat with regularity.

For CoC and other games where combat is to be avoided at all cost, though, it works fine. Or for one shot games, where high mortality during the sole fight of the gamesession is less of a problem than during campaigns where you will have dozens of them.

I'd love to see what Runequest would have liked like if you hadn't cheated, and had just played it honest.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-18, 12:24 PM
I'd love to see what Runequest would have liked like if you hadn't cheated, and had just played it honest.

Two words: Meat Grinder.

Knaight
2018-07-18, 07:42 PM
I'm not really talking about a more gritty and realistic model like TDE uses. Unlike the general assumption in this thread, the choice isn't between "D&D" and "realistic". D&D's way of handling it is pretty much one of a kind, and there's plenty of non-realistic system that use different, generally better, models. The one I'm talking about here involves having two health tracks, one of which is easily lost and regained, and another you lose when things get serious.

I'd also contest that a lot of these nominally more complicated systems are often simpler to handle. Discrete wound categories (e.g. scratched, hurt, very hurt, incapacitated) fed into a system that generally operates using single digit numbers for all calculations are often simpler and faster to actually handle than D&D style hit points, which can easily get up to three digits in 2nd edition onward.

There's also room for the use of consistently fewer Hp that don't go up and getting something more concrete that way, without really being "realistic".

Cluedrew
2018-07-18, 09:03 PM
More than direct realism, I think a thing that drives people to pursue more detailed, or at least more concrete systems, is something like representation. Up-thread there was this debate about once & down vs. adrenaline rush and which one was truer. The truth is I don't care, at least not for gaming, I could play either if you turned them into a solid system.

More important than what would happen in real life is what is happening in the game world. Which is why we see "bacronym" explanations for HP, the lack of a consistent way to view what is happening in the world is a problem in and of itself and so people try to fix it. And if that result is closer to reality, well it helps but... for reasons already covered, don't bother trying to go too close. To my understanding, it helps because it makes your original expectation match the result. On the other hand even if it is wildly unrealistic, if it is something easy to understand than it is just fine.

Which is why I think HP has managed to stay. It makes sense on the very surface. But go you don't have to look much further for what is actually happening to be called into question. Like much of Dungeons & Dragons, just good enough they don't have to change it.

lightningcat
2018-07-18, 11:55 PM
This is one spot that I think 4e actually did right. The Bloodied condition adds a extra layer to hit points, without complicating it very much. Even in other versions of D&D I have had DMs mention that the opponent is looking worse for wear at half hp, and often making morale rolls to see if they break and run.

Kardwill
2018-07-19, 04:16 AM
I'd love to see what Runequest would have liked like if you hadn't cheated, and had just played it honest.

Either a cripple factory (most attacks hit arms and leg, and it is trivially easy to lop-off one, even your own on a fumble) or a very short campaign (because starting over with a 17 years old incompetent farmboy loses its charm the second or third time you do it). Probably both.

Seriously, adolescent-me loved that street-level "gritty" feel of runequest, but that game was NOT a good fit to the way I liked to run my campaigns (action and combat heavy). At the time, I didn't mind because I was an "illusionist" GM (a nice word for "cheater"), so rules and dice were only suggestions and the tension they created was a GM-screen-hidden lie.
Nowadays, since I want to "play it honest" as you say (love the expression, btw), I learned to choose rulesets that I don't have to twist to get the mortality I'm confortable with. For example, for a gloranthan game, I'd ditch Runequest (a very descriptive meatgrinder where HP loss and critical dicerolls have predetermined and often very destructive results) and choose Herowar/heroquest (where losing your last "HP" means something interesting happens). And I ditch the GM screen.

It's been... liberating to stop fudging and just roll with the dice to see where they will carry us :)

Florian
2018-07-19, 05:17 AM
Every RPG I've played uses numeric hit points. And every one equivocates as to whether they're abstracted physical damage or ablative plot armor. Are you full strength at 1hp? Plot armor! Did a crossbow bolt get venom into your veins? Guess it broke skin after all. I find it frustrating that I don't know what my character is experiencing.

You're totally wrong when it comes to D&D hp. Keep in mind that the concept originates from wargaming. It mainly represents the morale and endurance of a given unit and their ability to keep on fighting, not wounds or physical damage. AD&D was a bit better at explaining how it works, compared to the later editions, but the basic assumption was, that combat is continuous and everyone will constantly attack, parry, evade and such, with the attack roll not representing one single strike/attack, but rather how you overall wear down your enemy.

Incidentally, 4E handled that concept the clearest, the way the Warlord class handles "martial healing" by bolstering morale and such.

Besides that, the Warhammer-based RPGs, especially the WH40K-based ones, have one of the best damage models that can handle depth without going into unneeded complexity.

The first line of defense is to try and dodge/parry/block an attack, negating it outright.
Each character has some Endurance and Wound points, Endurance and Armor values are subtracted from incoming damage, the rest is compared to Wounds. If there's no damage left, you lose Endurance, if there's damage left, you roll in the critical charts to see what the concrete and real effects are.

Knaight
2018-07-19, 06:06 AM
You're totally wrong when it comes to D&D hp. Keep in mind that the concept originates from wargaming. It mainly represents the morale and endurance of a given unit and their ability to keep on fighting, not wounds or physical damage. AD&D was a bit better at explaining how it works, compared to the later editions, but the basic assumption was, that combat is continuous and everyone will constantly attack, parry, evade and such, with the attack roll not representing one single strike/attack, but rather how you overall wear down your enemy.

This is a very workable abstraction in combat, but when the same resource gets used in other places it can start being weird. Healing spells where it takes more powerful healing to heal more HP, the effects of total immersion in lava or acid, so on and so forth. The mechanic has a lot of representational weirdness.

Florian
2018-07-19, 06:30 AM
This is a very workable abstraction in combat, but when the same resource gets used in other places it can start being weird. Healing spells where it takes more powerful healing to heal more HP, the effects of total immersion in lava or acid, so on and so forth. The mechanic has a lot of representational weirdness.

The original concept was actually quite fine. There was a marked difference between what HP and what Saving Rolls/System Shock do and when each is used. Its 3E that combined both and made HP the primary resource here.

Knaight
2018-07-19, 06:33 AM
The original concept was actually quite fine. There was a marked difference between what HP and what Saving Rolls/System Shock do and when each is used. Its 3E that combined both and made HP the primary resource here.

3e didn't introduce healing spells.

Florian
2018-07-19, 07:26 AM
3e didn't introduce healing spells.

You know, I actually understand what you mean and where this can actually lead to the wrong conclusion about what hp represent.

A "Hymn of bolstering morale" instead of a Cure Light Wounds would be the better fit.

But do keep two things in mind:
1) Early D&D had that thing with "reverse" spells going. There was no Inflight Light Wounds or Harm, you had to prepare and cast Cure and Heal "in reverse".
2) Early D&D borrowed heavily on our regular mythology and the divine ability to heal wounds with a mere touch is a pretty common concept, which they wanted to include.

Segev
2018-07-19, 08:25 AM
With hp-as-ability-to-avoid-lethal-strikes, the higher-level healing spells are restoring stamina and focus as much as healing grievous bodily harm.

That fighter may look less like he got much out of that spell than does the peasant (whose gashed-open torso closed with 4 hp of healing), but the stamina and the two dozen scrapes and cuts and bruises restored really do represent more positive energy consumed. It took a lot to wear him down, and he was much worse-off than he looked compared to his full capacity. Now hes that much further from making that crucial mistake that will get him a lethal wound.

CharonsHelper
2018-07-19, 08:34 AM
This is a very workable abstraction in combat, but when the same resource gets used in other places it can start being weird. Healing spells where it takes more powerful healing to heal more HP, the effects of total immersion in lava or acid, so on and so forth. The mechanic has a lot of representational weirdness.

That was one thing that I did really like about 4e. Healing was mostly based upon 1/4 HP chunks of a character's total.

I wasn't a fan of 4e overall - but there were bits and pieces which I really liked the vibe of.

malachi
2018-07-19, 08:39 AM
A heroic system with a death spiral is Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy (the d6 system, not the d20 system).

Humanoid characters will typically have between 11 and 17 health split between 3 branches. Each attack will target one of these at random (unless the attacker has a particular ability). When one branch is emptied, the character takes a penalty (-2 to damage, -2 to attacks, -2 to defense). When all three are gone, the character rolls on the injury table (very small chance of outright dying, small chance of having a lasting injury like losing an arm, moderate chance of something less severe happening). Unless a character is recovering from something like a broken bone / missing limb, they can spend a Feat point (max of 3, but they get them back from rolling crits, killing enemies, tactical genius, or good roleplay) to heal 2-4 damage (or more with certain abilities) - which allows a character to be heroic and heal their life branches back and remove the death spiral effects for a while.

Additionally, the giant robots of the game have damage grids with their systems set to the grids (movement, arms, 'brain', etc.). Again, each attack targets a certain line of the grid at random, and when a system goes down, the robot starts taking penalties. Robots can't heal the same way as players (but typically have higher armor and more life).

Additionally, characters have separate Defense (chance to not be hit by an attack) and Armor (reduces damage, potentially to 0).

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-19, 10:15 AM
That was one thing that I did really like about 4e. Healing was mostly based upon 1/4 HP chunks of a character's total.

I wasn't a fan of 4e overall - but there were bits and pieces which I really liked the vibe of.

I personally adored Healing Surges as an idea and am annoyed at Hit Dice in 5e because they're a much less elegant way of doing the same thing (although they don't put an effective limit on your healing per day, which was actually a nice touch, and are far more on a tacked on addition rather than being baked into the system). One of the few bits of 4e I wish had materialised earlier, and that had been properly kept in the 5e transition.

The hardest bit got reinserting healing surges into 5e is getting Cure Wounds and Healing Word (and their Mass versions) to work with them, as well as all the other healing spells.

Quertus
2018-07-19, 01:02 PM
More than direct realism, I think a thing that drives people to pursue more detailed, or at least more concrete systems, is something like representation. Up-thread there was this debate about once & down vs. adrenaline rush and which one was truer. The truth is I don't care, at least not for gaming, I could play either if you turned them into a solid system.

More important than what would happen in real life is what is happening in the game world. Which is why we see "bacronym" explanations for HP, the lack of a consistent way to view what is happening in the world is a problem in and of itself and so people try to fix it. And if that result is closer to reality, well it helps but... for reasons already covered, don't bother trying to go too close. To my understanding, it helps because it makes your original expectation match the result. On the other hand even if it is wildly unrealistic, if it is something easy to understand than it is just fine.

Which is why I think HP has managed to stay. It makes sense on the very surface. But go you don't have to look much further for what is actually happening to be called into question. Like much of Dungeons & Dragons, just good enough they don't have to change it.

I think "easy to understand" is right up there next to "fun experience" for the likelihood of acceptance of a given mechanic.

Perhaps In the Beginning was the Command Line is applicable here, too?

As for one-and-down vs adrenalin, I don't think I'd likely accept either system. I play mages. If, even with the aid of magic, it is "systemically" impossible to perform feats as cool as what real people have done, the system is uncool, and unrealistic. If I can't match the PCP junkey who took over 20 bullets, including 2 to the heart, to drop? If I can't match the "one hit, one kill" sniper, or the man who killed, what, 100 soldiers with only his knife? Then the system has only modeled the uncool parts of reality.


Two words: Meat Grinder.

No chance to bypass encounters, prepare better, or otherwise "play smarter", then? Or just a belief that, even if there was, the players wouldn't take it?


Either a cripple factory (most attacks hit arms and leg, and it is trivially easy to lop-off one, even your own on a fumble) or a very short campaign (because starting over with a 17 years old incompetent farmboy loses its charm the second or third time you do it). Probably both.

Are there any resources for manipulating rolls / getting rerolls? Could a low damage, high armor, flying anti-magic archer avoid the worst of it?

Incompetent farmboy lost its charm decades ago, for me. Cripple factory isn't sounding but so much better.


Seriously, adolescent-me loved that street-level "gritty" feel of runequest, but that game was NOT a good fit to the way I liked to run my campaigns (action and combat heavy). At the time, I didn't mind because I was an "illusionist" GM (a nice word for "cheater"), so rules and dice were only suggestions and the tension they created was a GM-screen-hidden lie.
Nowadays, since I want to "play it honest" as you say (love the expression, btw), I learned to choose rulesets that I don't have to twist to get the mortality I'm confortable with. For example, for a gloranthan game, I'd ditch Runequest (a very descriptive meatgrinder where HP loss and critical dicerolls have predetermined and often very destructive results) and choose Herowar/heroquest (where losing your last "HP" means something interesting happens). And I ditch the GM screen.

It's been... liberating to stop fudging and just roll with the dice to see where they will carry us :)

Always nice to hear stories of those who have converted to the "play it honest" side. Glad you enjoy the turn of phrase. :smallbiggrin:

Your story makes me wonder whether changing systems or house rules so that systems inherently produced the "desired" results could be used to drastically reduce the frequency of occurrences of illusionism.

Cluedrew
2018-07-19, 03:36 PM
I think "easy to understand" is right up there next to "fun experience" for the likelihood of acceptance of a given mechanic.Probably. Although I am at times astounded by how bad some mechanics that people continue to play with. Possibly simply because it is easier to ignore them and make something up on the spot to fix the problem than create whole new mechanical system. Which would explain why fudging dice roles became such a thing, playing the game as written/intended wasn't fun and a lot of people don't want to go through the whole process of changing rules. ... You actually said something about that. I think that fudging dice is often a failing of, or mismatch with, the system. If you are playing a good system for you then you should always want to follow the results it gives you.


Perhaps In the Beginning was the Command Line is applicable here, too?I don't know what that means. I know the command line is a text based way to interact with a computer that has been around for a long time, but that fact by itself isn't relevant here so I don't think it is what you mean.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-19, 04:27 PM
If you are playing a good system for you then you should always want to follow the results it gives you.


I'm going to take a bit of issue here.

Any system general enough to support an open-ended game is also not going to be specific enough to always fit the circumstances. Unlike a board game where every interaction can be spelled out, sometimes the system gives a generally good result that isn't good for a very specific case. Having a GM to override the system at those points (and with the wisdom to do so) is necessary and doesn't imply that the system is poor. Just that you're in a corner case (or are doing something the designers couldn't have anticipated, or have a group with particular play styles).

Basically there's a trade-off:

1) General (applicable to a wide array of situations, scenarios, and modes of play)
2) Detailed (gives precise resolutions for each situation that it covers)
3) Playable.

Pick two (at most). For me, 3 is mandatory. The balance of 1 & 2 depends on the situation.

Koo Rehtorb
2018-07-19, 05:29 PM
If you are playing a good system for you then you should always want to follow the results it gives you.

I don't think there's anything especially wrong with changing rules occasionally. A game may be a very good fit other than a few rules which either aren't well designed, or just don't fit the aesthetic of what you're going for and hacking the game to fit better is totally a reasonable thing to do.

This is distinct from fudging dice rolls on the fly(cheating).

Kardwill
2018-07-20, 03:34 AM
Which would explain why fudging dice roles became such a thing, playing the game as written/intended wasn't fun and a lot of people don't want to go through the whole process of changing rules. ...

In my case, it's probably the big reason why I started cheating. I started with D&D redbox, which can be very brutal, and playing "TPK of the week" with my school friends became less and less enjoyable. Then I started making homerules ("0 HP means unconscious. You aren't dead until you hit -5 HP"), whch is good, and fudging rolls to avoid the weekly TPK, which became a bad habit. I started fudging for worse reasons, like protect my story or enhance the tension, and I kept doing "illusionist GMing" for 20+ years. I started playing it honest when I started playing with systems that were a better fit for me (mostly games where losing a fight or having a fumble means "something interesting happen" rather than "the game ends or becomes unfun"), and that insisted on player input on the story.

Ditching my GM screen and rolling everything "in the open" was VERY liberating :smallsmile:

Kardwill
2018-07-20, 03:52 AM
Are there any resources for manipulating rolls / getting rerolls? Could a low damage, high armor, flying anti-magic archer avoid the worst of it?


Nope. No fate point, luck stat nor reroll. A crit with a knife is a max damage x 2, armor piercing, no defense, one shot meatgrinder unless you're a 3m high troll (but even then, you'll still get one-shot by the same crit with a spear). Only way to prevent it is with a crit defense roll (so around 4% if you're a good fighter)

In Runequest 3, If Tom-the-blind-12-years-old-beggar stabs you with his pocket knife (not a dagger, mind, just a basic kitchen implement, a 1d3+1 weapon) and makes a lucky 01 on his diceroll, you'll take 8 damage completely bypassing any defense or armor you have. Enough to lop off a arm or a leg, eviscerate, or send into a coma most human characters. Ironically, your best chance of surviving without a crippling injusry will be to take the hit in the chest : Since it's the location with the most HP, those 8 damage will "only" drop you on the ground, bleeding to death...
If you're facing a serious opponent (let's say a clan warrior with a 60% 1d8+1 sword), your chances to just randomly explode in any random round just goes up exponentially.

And even if you were the one striking Tom with your own weapon, on a fumble, you have a fair chance to crit yourself or one of your friends, with the same result.

That makes every combat a scary and chaotic affair, which can be a boon if you're looking for a semi-pacifist campaign with high anticlimatic mortality, but is less optimal if the concept you want for your game is "let's do heroic badass stuff" ^^

Florian
2018-07-20, 05:31 AM
No chance to bypass encounters, prepare better, or otherwise "play smarter", then? Or just a belief that, even if there was, the players wouldn't take it?

Are there any resources for manipulating rolls / getting rerolls? Could a low damage, high armor, flying anti-magic archer avoid the worst of it?

Ill give you an answer based on the Dark Heresy family of games.

In this system, taking a hit is something you can either absorb and shrug off, or the effect is pretty brutal and grizzly.

On the purely mechanical side, your first line of defense is everything that will fully negate and attack, like the ability to parry, dodge and block. The second line of defense is the ability to absorb the damage, so force fields and armor. The third and weakest line of defense is the ability to be tough enough to simply survive it.

So, I can guess that you know where this leads. "Play smarter" usually means to kill them before they kill you and/or play "rocket tag" by coming up with overwhelming force tactics, or fool-proof ways to bypass encounters.

That leads to the same boring situation that also happens in systems like Shadowrun, so extremely long and detailed planning sessions where nothing actually gets done, the usual problem when a game turns into combat as war.

Satinavian
2018-07-20, 07:20 AM
That leads to the same boring situation that also happens in systems like Shadowrun, so extremely long and detailed planning sessions where nothing actually gets done, the usual problem when a game turns into combat as war.Not only like i this from SR, it is basically the aesthetic i also aim for in other games.

I never really go the combat-as-sport thing.

Cluedrew
2018-07-20, 08:01 AM
I'm going to take a bit of issue here.
This is distinct from fudging dice rolls on the fly(cheating).To the more general criticism: Perhaps I should of phased it as matter of rate. As in better systems require less fudging (or on the spot house ruling). Plus a lot of the time

On Generality: I see generality as a compromise we make for not having time to learn new systems all the time. This might just be me but in some perfect role-playing world, I would be willing to learn a new system for every campaign. But I think I am unusual and in real life that is still a time commitment. But still, having played a system that was designed for exactly one type of campaign, it was magnificent.

On House Rules: Premeditated house rules are different than fudging, because they are actually changing the system. Hopefully bringing it closer to the perfect system for the situation. What is making a new system except accumulating enough house rules?


That leads to the same boring situation that also happens in systems like Shadowrun, so extremely long and detailed planning sessions where nothing actually gets done, the usual problem when a game turns into combat as war.Problem? Compared to rushing in, applying the powers and abilities provided by your sheet that will in all likelihood get you through the battle and by tomorrow it will be as if it never happened, everyone working together to come up with a plan and desperately hoping it works is a lot more fun for me.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-20, 08:06 AM
To the more general criticism: Perhaps I should of phased it as matter of rate. As in better systems require less fudging (or on the spot house ruling). Plus a lot of the time

On Generality: I see generality as a compromise we make for not having time to learn new systems all the time. This might just be me but in some perfect role-playing world, I would be willing to learn a new system for every campaign. But I think I am unusual and in real life that is still a time commitment. But still, having played a system that was designed for exactly one type of campaign, it was magnificent.

On House Rules: Premeditated house rules are different than fudging, because they are actually changing the system. Hopefully bringing it closer to the perfect system for the situation. What is making a new system except accumulating enough house rules?

Problem? Compared to rushing in, applying the powers and abilities provided by your sheet that will in all likelihood get you through the battle and by tomorrow it will be as if it never happened, everyone working together to come up with a plan and desperately hoping it works is a lot more fun for me.

But it's not even at the campaign level. It's at the individual event level that you have to rule. "Do the rules apply here? If so, which one? Does that rule make sense in the fiction?" These are threshold questions that must always be considered. You can't get away from ruling unless you fix all possible options in advance. And then you're playing a board game.

Edit: My preference is for a system that provides a framework of shared vocabulary, resolution mechanics, and some pre-built pieces and lets you put them together yourself. More old-school Legos and less custom-built pieces that only go on one way. Being robust to rulings (as opposed to forcing a rule-centric view) is a necessary and wonderful thing in my eyes.

On the CAW front--it feels like you're trying to avoid a whole section of the game when you do that. It takes (in the best case) all the possibility of the unknown out of it--the ideal is steamrolling the opponent with no issues. And that's boring. You end up with either steamrolling the opponent or being steamrolled; everything's binary. In the extreme, you'd play through the planning and then simply narrate the actual job because your success is pre-ordained. And that feels backward to me.

Plus, some people like combat. Like throwing the dice and having a chance of pulling off amazing things. Systems that heavily penalize this aren't fun for those people. And death spirals penalize combat.

Florian
2018-07-20, 09:21 AM
I never really go the combat-as-sport thing.

The difference can be summed up quite easily: Wheres the focus at, strategic or tactical decisions?

CaW is about strategic decision making, second-guessing the gm and trying to win before you're actually going into an encounter, either by overwhelming force or bypassing it altogether.

CaS is about tactical making on a round-by-round basis and straight up beating an encounter as it is presented.

For the CaS player, the dungeon as presented is the encounter that the game is all about, while for the CaW player, finishing the "goal" of the dungeon in the "best" possible way is what the game is about.

Talking D&D/PF this is also the main difference between groups that like their Fighters and groups that would readily replace their Fighters with Wizards.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-20, 09:46 AM
The difference can be summed up quite easily: Wheres the focus at, strategic or tactical decisions?

CaW is about strategic decision making, second-guessing the gm and trying to win before you're actually going into an encounter, either by overwhelming force or bypassing it altogether.

CaS is about tactical making on a round-by-round basis and straight up beating an encounter as it is presented.

For the CaS player, the dungeon as presented is the encounter that the game is all about, while for the CaW player, finishing the "goal" of the dungeon in the "best" possible way is what the game is about.

Talking D&D/PF this is also the main difference between groups that like their Fighters and groups that would readily replace their Fighters with Wizards.

It (CAW) also feeds into the attitude that it's a good thing to win at character creation (putting a huge emphasis on the character creation minigame and optimization). Giving up that advantage weakens their hand at overcoming the scenario/reaching the goal/"winning".

Basically a journey vs destination distinction. I'm firmly on the side that the journey is what actually matters--I want the unexpected to happen, both in scenarios and in my response to them. I want to see things I never dreamed of, both as a DM and as a player. I want improv and excitement; perfectly executing a perfect strategy with no risk or danger (because you've planned and compensated for those already) is boring and not worth playing.

I also like a mix of short feedback loops (on the scale of a minute or two rather than getting the payoff several sessions down the road after several) along with longer-term payoffs. I want there to be a visible progression of progress without step-changes. No plan-plan-plan-succeed! loop, but try-succeed/fail-try something else-succeed better, etc. loop.

Satinavian
2018-07-20, 11:46 AM
It (CAW) also feeds into the attitude that it's a good thing to win at character creation (putting a huge emphasis on the character creation minigame and optimization). Giving up that advantage weakens their hand at overcoming the scenario/reaching the goal/"winning".I strongly disagree. It doesn't matter ig CAW or CAS, both share the same ideas and requirements of appropriate power level and appropriate challenges, And disregarding those is equally disruptive for both styles.


If you Win at charcter creation there is no need to pay attention to strategy in the game which makes it a boring CAW game the same way as no need to pay attention to tactics makes it a boring CAS game.

Basically a journey vs destination distinction. I'm firmly on the side that the journey is what actually matters--I want the unexpected to happen, both in scenarios and in my response to them. I want to see things I never dreamed of, both as a DM and as a player. I want improv and excitement; perfectly executing a perfect strategy with no risk or danger (because you've planned and compensated for those already) is boring and not worth playing.A perfect strategy perfectly executed is one of the most rewarding things that can happen in an RPG, a thing of beauty.

Also i am quite hesitant to even try a bad plan. Most of the time it would way to risky to act that way from a character perspective, making it the most logical reaction to simply not take the challange. That might be different, if the risk level is low, then even a foolish playn might be tried but otherwise i want my character to actually believe that what he does is the best option in those circumstances.


The difference can be summed up quite easily: Wheres the focus at, strategic or tactical decisions?I should have been more clear.

I do understand what it is, but i don't feel the appeal in an RPG.

It basically requires treating deadly combat as something inconsequential and lighthearted which i find really grating immersion wise. I have no such feeling if it is not combat that is treated like sport but, well, sport. Could even be a combat sport like in some tourney scenario.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-20, 12:44 PM
I strongly disagree. It doesn't matter ig CAW or CAS, both share the same ideas and requirements of appropriate power level and appropriate challenges, And disregarding those is equally disruptive for both styles.


If you Win at charcter creation there is no need to pay attention to strategy in the game which makes it a boring CAW game the same way as no need to pay attention to tactics makes it a boring CAS game.
A perfect strategy perfectly executed is one of the most rewarding things that can happen in an RPG, a thing of beauty.


I disagree, to a degree. Specifically--

* In a CaS game, the appropriate power level is one that matches the party, wherever that might be. This lets you (as a table) explore a lot of concepts that are less-optimal without penalizing the group.
* In a CaW game, building a sub-optimal character is a straight detriment to the group's success, since the challenges are uncoupled from the party. This is true exactly to the same measure that failing to plan for everything is a detriment--it's all planning, just at a different stage.

And I'm not particularly talking about inter-character imbalance, but overall power level of the group. I can run a CaS game at any power level, CaW inherently pushes toward power creep (because it's focused on "winning" vs the DM).



Also i am quite hesitant to even try a bad plan. Most of the time it would way to risky to act that way from a character perspective, making it the most logical reaction to simply not take the challange. That might be different, if the risk level is low, then even a foolish playn might be tried but otherwise i want my character to actually believe that what he does is the best option in those circumstances.


That restricts the types of characters you can play in a way that annoys me. I don't like playing the chessmaster/master planner type. Sometimes I like playing the hot-head, the overly curious, the intuitive, or other types that don't mesh well with "everything must be planned and executed according to plan" types. It feels real one-dimensional and meta--you're always thinking in game terms instead of in character terms. In a CaS game, that same type of character just means that the party gets into different trouble than they would otherwise.

One other issue is that of the illusion of victory. In either game, you "win" only if the DM lets you. In a CaS game that's baked into the framework and you're all participating in a journey (including the DM). So it doesn't matter, because "winning" isn't the thing you're trying to do. In a CaW game, it is. And that's a problem because you keep butting up against this illusion and have to ignore it.

JoeJ
2018-07-20, 01:07 PM
I disagree, to a degree. Specifically--

* In a CaS game, the appropriate power level is one that matches the party, wherever that might be. This lets you (as a table) explore a lot of concepts that are less-optimal without penalizing the group.
* In a CaW game, building a sub-optimal character is a straight detriment to the group's success, since the challenges are uncoupled from the party. This is true exactly to the same measure that failing to plan for everything is a detriment--it's all planning, just at a different stage.

And I'm not particularly talking about inter-character imbalance, but overall power level of the group. I can run a CaS game at any power level, CaW inherently pushes toward power creep (because it's focused on "winning" vs the DM).

I find the exact opposite to be true. In CAW a character's build has very little to do with success or failure because it's mostly about using the resources around you rather than what's on your character sheet. Regardless of build, your party's steel, strength, and brains will not be enough to break into the castle; you'll also need a wheelbarrow and a holocaust cloak.

Cluedrew
2018-07-20, 02:22 PM
But it's not even at the campaign level. It's at the individual event level that you have to rule. "Do the rules apply here? If so, which one? Does that rule make sense in the fiction?" These are threshold questions that must always be considered. You can't get away from ruling unless you fix all possible options in advance. And then you're playing a board game.Diving into this might deserve its own thread, I think we are getting real close to the core of the generic vs. specialty spectrum*. But in brief: Would better system not have rules that more often apply in the campaigns it is made for? Similarly with the results making sense in fiction. Even if they don't get it every time, I think getting it right more often is a good thing.

* If someone created that thread I might join in.


On the CAW front--it feels like you're trying to avoid a whole section of the game when you do that.I suppose it is kind of like trying to avoid using the rules for player character death. They exist but only to show you what the fall out from a previous choice is. But on the wider CAW vs. CAS debate, the both can be fun, my point isn't using the other isn't always going to be a problem. Which is the (perhaps unintended) implication I got from what I was replying to.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-20, 02:38 PM
I find the exact opposite to be true. In CAW a character's build has very little to do with success or failure because it's mostly about using the resources around you rather than what's on your character sheet. Regardless of build, your party's steel, strength, and brains will not be enough to break into the castle; you'll also need a wheelbarrow and a holocaust cloak.

I have to say that this is true.

Also note that a combat as war mentality doesn't mean that you spend ages planning every combat. It means that you're always looking for that extra advantage, and never act too rashly. If the group can only come up with bad plans then just pick the least bad and try to make it work.

Combat as War also doesn't mean you're always outmatched. A lot of it can be taking the opportunities given where you're not outmatched to hit your opponent, or to create those opportunities.

The key difference is that in CaW combat isn't something you get into lightly with no preparation unless you're falling already. You treat combat as something dangerous that might cost you party members, because that's true. It's set up so those who rush into fighting likely don't reach high levels without a lot of help and luck.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-20, 02:42 PM
I find the exact opposite to be true. In CAW a character's build has very little to do with success or failure because it's mostly about using the resources around you rather than what's on your character sheet. Regardless of build, your party's steel, strength, and brains will not be enough to break into the castle; you'll also need a wheelbarrow and a holocaust cloak.

That doesn't make much sense to me, but that might be my own CaS attitude. If it doesn't matter what you build (or not materially anyway), then why play a game with significant character-building? On the flip side, a character's build enables out-of-the-box thinking. This is why wizards (with their vast and versatile options) are rated much more highly for CaW games (from what I can tell) than fighters or other one-dimensional types. It's a different set of build priorities (versatility and utility over direct combat capability), but it still emphasizes building a strong character. Additionally, plans don't always go to plan, and having strong characters increases the team's ability to absorb risk and additionally to take on stronger challenges.


Diving into this might deserve its own thread, I think we are getting real close to the core of the generic vs. specialty spectrum*. But in brief: Would better system not have rules that more often apply in the campaigns it is made for? Similarly with the results making sense in fiction. Even if they don't get it every time, I think getting it right more often is a good thing.

* If someone created that thread I might join in.

I suppose it is kind of like trying to avoid using the rules for player character death. They exist but only to show you what the fall out from a previous choice is. But on the wider CAW vs. CAS debate, the both can be fun, my point isn't using the other isn't always going to be a problem. Which is the (perhaps unintended) implication I got from what I was replying to.

Not necessarily. Because a campaign is the wrong measure here entirely. Unless a campaign is highly one-dimensional, the variety of situations possible is enormous, much bigger than you can provide even cursory rules for. The best systems, in my opinion, focus more on creating a framework and tools with which you can build your own (specific) rules, rather than trying to cover everything. It's part of my preference for multi-taskers, not uni-taskers. I'd prefer each tool the system gives me to be adaptable and the system itself to be modular enough to be able to plug in my own tools as needed.

And as to avoiding parts of the system, my point was that if combat is always the last option and is universally a "something went wrong" option, then why spend lots of time worrying about the exact parameters? Playing CaW style in (for example) 3e D&D, where much of everything relates to combat in some way, seems...pointless. And trying to gussy it up to make it more brutal and deadly to make people more combat averse rather misses the point of the system. You can play a game where combat isn't (much of) a thing. Doing so in D&D will require rebuilding the whole thing from the ground up or wasting a large chunk of the system.

And death rules are simple--you died, make a new character. Or maybe you'll be rezzed. Combat rules are...voluminous. So I don't see the aptness of the comparison.

JoeJ
2018-07-20, 03:02 PM
That doesn't make much sense to me, but that might be my own CaS attitude. If it doesn't matter what you build (or not materially anyway), then why play a game with significant character-building? On the flip side, a character's build enables out-of-the-box thinking. This is why wizards (with their vast and versatile options) are rated much more highly for CaW games (from what I can tell) than fighters or other one-dimensional types. It's a different set of build priorities (versatility and utility over direct combat capability), but it still emphasizes building a strong character. Additionally, plans don't always go to plan, and having strong characters increases the team's ability to absorb risk and additionally to take on stronger challenges.

Different games have different amounts of required prep work. Character building is just part of that. For some of us, it's not an attraction, but if it's not too onerous it might not be a major negative, either. Having spells is always nice, but it's the outside the box thinking by the players that makes the difference. And when the plan fails (which it usually will), the game becomes about how quickly the players can think up Plan B.

DMThac0
2018-07-20, 03:15 PM
Every RPG I've played uses numeric hit points. And every one equivocates as to whether they're abstracted physical damage or ablative plot armor. Are you full strength at 1hp? Plot armor! Did a crossbow bolt get venom into your veins? Guess it broke skin after all. I find it frustrating that I don't know what my character is experiencing.

I realize that realistic frailty would make for dubious gameplay, and needing to keep medical textbooks at the table would be worse. Still, I wonder if there's something better than this.

Has anyone used a system they really liked?

I feel similarly, as such I created a bit of a homebrew rule to make it a little less abstract.

First pool: Every level you gain HP the normal way, so you'll have that running total, I called this your "Fighting Spirit".
-When in combat you reduce your Fighting Spirit first. Any damage that may reduce it beyond 0 simply reduces it to 0, there is no spill over. You then move on to the second pool.

Second pool: at first level, 4th and every 4th level after, you gain 1 maximum HD equal to the class you are (or choose if multi), I call hit your "Hit Points"
-At this point in time you then begin to lose Hit Points, however you are at a disadvantage on any attack type action.
-When your Hit Points are reduce to, or below, 0, you then begin Death Saving Throws.

Excessive damage, such as double your total health, will result in immediate death. Damage that doubles your total Fighting Spirit will knock you unconscious.

---

It seems to work well at my table, they players have an indication that things are going poorly, and it gives the feel that you're weakened from a difficult fight.

Florian
2018-07-20, 03:19 PM
I find the exact opposite to be true. In CAW a character's build has very little to do with success or failure because it's mostly about using the resources around you rather than what's on your character sheet. Regardless of build, your party's steel, strength, and brains will not be enough to break into the castle; you'll also need a wheelbarrow and a holocaust cloak.

That's not something that can be answered with a blanked agreement or denial.

A lot here depends on how the mechanics are done and whether the mechanics are designed in such a way that they will produce self-contained results.

Ok, bear with me on this:

Part of the fun of playing CaW style is that you, the player, is the challenged party, not the character. It is you who have to come up with the whole plan and all that.
The crux of the matter are mechanics-heavy games where you, as the challenged party, shift most of the groundwork over to having mastered the rules, not gained strategic mastery in any way, which is a big difference.

Cluedrew
2018-07-20, 05:47 PM
Not necessarily. Because a campaign is the wrong measure here entirely.I've been staring at this (and the following text) trying to figure what the point of disagreement is. My best guess is: No infrequency of rulings is not the only measure of quality, ease of patching and additions of content or special cases is another. I think if you find yourself frequently ruling directly against what is already there you probably have a problem. Maybe the system is just bad, maybe you picked the wrong one for what you want (and it is good at something else), but I don't think it is the one you should be using right now.


And death rules are simple--you died, make a new character. Or maybe you'll be rezzed. Combat rules are...voluminous. So I don't see the aptness of the comparison.I'm calling Playgrounder's Fallacy. OK I don't because that might hold true in Runescape and ShadowRun which were the two systems explicitly mention in this sub-topic. Still I am referring to a play style in general, in that there is still a purpose to combat rules even when combat is not a primary component of the game.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-20, 07:34 PM
I've been staring at this (and the following text) trying to figure what the point of disagreement is. My best guess is: No infrequency of rulings is not the only measure of quality, ease of patching and additions of content or special cases is another. I think if you find yourself frequently ruling directly against what is already there you probably have a problem. Maybe the system is just bad, maybe you picked the wrong one for what you want (and it is good at something else), but I don't think it is the one you should be using right now.

I'm calling Playgrounder's Fallacy. OK I don't because that might hold true in Runescape and ShadowRun which were the two systems explicitly mention in this sub-topic. Still I am referring to a play style in general, in that there is still a purpose to combat rules even when combat is not a primary component of the game.

I think we're coming at the idea from completely opposite viewpoints. I see RPG rules as opt-in aids to lighten the load (the default being free-form). So it's not "changing an existing rule" that's the exception, it's "deciding to get the rules involved at all" that's the departure from the norm. So I need rules that lend themselves to that. That provide mostly-self-contained (or narrow inheritance hierarchy) chunks of things: resolution mechanics, stat blocks, etc. These get slotted in as needed when I either can't be bothered or find it too difficult to make a sane decision about what happens. Rules that pretend to cover everything end up being restrictive and simply get in the way of the fiction.

The printed rules are not the game. Rulings (which are different than house-rules) are the default, not the exception.

A lot of this is that I grew up with my older brother doing free-form roleplaying just about every day (and well into the nights some times). There were no rules; there were only stories. Worlds. Situations. Images formed by words. I lived in a world of free-form role-play (story-telling, really, answering the question "and then what?") for the vast majority of my waking life. I'd be carrying on a mental narrative while in class, while doing everything else. For various reasons I've turned to more formal systems in the last few years, but the need to explore worlds, to see what's over that hill, to dance in alien breezes is still a driving force in my life. So things that tie that down to hard-and-fast rules, to challenges and competitions, to "the book says..." arguments leave me cold.

Free form is the ideal for me, but is so much effort (and requires a particular set of people to really work), so I have to find a balance between systems that leave me free enough while still providing a framework for the things I'd rather not do (and that can work with a diverse set of people). The amount of rulings/house-rules/etc. needed is rather secondary.

And since I play with people who won't pick up a new system for everything (preferring the ones they know), I find myself adapting the system to my needs. And that's not a sign of a bad system at all in my eyes. In fact, I'd say that a system that's open and robust under modification is a mark of a good system. And that requires that the pieces not fit very tightly together or be custom made. This cuts against specificity for me--that just acts as a set of restraints. More things that have to change, more moving pieces to rework if I change <that>.

Koo Rehtorb
2018-07-20, 07:47 PM
I see RPG rules as opt-in aids to lighten the load (the default being free-form).

But it's not. You're playing an RPG. The G part involves rules that matter. I'm certainly not saying you can't do free form RP, but if you do then you're not playing an RPG, you're doing RP.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-20, 07:49 PM
But it's not. You're playing an RPG. The G part involves rules that matter. I'm certainly not saying you can't do free form RP, but if you do then you're not playing an RPG, you're doing RP.

That's one way of looking at it. I see the role of RPG rules (and thus the "game" part) as being almost completely alien to, for example, a board game. Board games are prescriptive--they define what can be done; anything else is forbidden. RPG rules provide structure to a limitless array of possibilities. In some parts they exclude possibilities, but the whole remainder of the universe is allowed.

It's the difference between a blacklist and a white-list.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-21, 08:57 AM
On the CAW front--it feels like you're trying to avoid a whole section of the game when you do that. It takes (in the best case) all the possibility of the unknown out of it--the ideal is steamrolling the opponent with no issues. And that's boring. You end up with either steamrolling the opponent or being steamrolled; everything's binary. In the extreme, you'd play through the planning and then simply narrate the actual job because your success is pre-ordained. And that feels backward to me.

Plus, some people like combat. Like throwing the dice and having a chance of pulling off amazing things. Systems that heavily penalize this aren't fun for those people. And death spirals penalize combat.

I just remembered this.

To me avoiding combat is the reward. I actually don't like playing combat that much, I find it boring, and would much rather roleplay taking days to plan and prepare before literally resolving the entire combat in a single die roll. To the point where one of my homebrew systems doesn't have any combat rules bar 'both sides make an opposed check and may use assistance (make a low difficulty roll to give +2 to your ally)'.

Plus there can be many ways to get what you want without fighting. Diplomacy, running away, calling in somebody better equipped and letting them deal with it, just stealing what you want and legging it, hiding, poisoning their drink, ruining their business, these are just the ones I can think off just off the top of my head.

The fact that lethal systems that discourage combat can find a fanbase means that there does exist a market for low-combat and no-combat campaigns. While ideally you won't use a combat-focused system for them, the point is that it's a decent style, and works really well with a dangerous Combat as War setup.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-21, 09:05 AM
I just remembered this.

To me avoiding combat is the reward. I actually don't like playing combat that much, I find it boring, and would much rather roleplay taking days to plan and prepare before literally resolving the entire combat in a single die roll. To the point where one of my homebrew systems doesn't have any combat rules bar 'both sides make an opposed check and may use assistance (make a low difficulty roll to give +2 to your ally)'.

Plus there can be many ways to get what you want without fighting. Diplomacy, running away, calling in somebody better equipped and letting them deal with it, just stealing what you want and legging it, hiding, poisoning their drink, ruining their business, these are just the ones I can think off just off the top of my head.

The fact that lethal systems that discourage combat can find a fanbase means that there does exist a market for low-combat and no-combat campaigns. While ideally you won't use a combat-focused system for them, the point is that it's a decent style, and works really well with a dangerous Combat as War setup.

And that's perfectly fine if that's your style. Avoiding combat isn't bad, in and of itself. I have many groups who talk their way out of things even in D&D. But there are people who like combat, so there needs to be a mix of games/styles/systems.

I do think you definitely should use a different system (other than D&D) for those types of games. Modding D&D (of any recent edition anyway) to create this atmosphere would require a lot of work and break most everything else (or require ignoring most of the book). It's saying [exaggeration alert] "CaW is superior and we should force it down everyone's throats" that I object to. Or, to be fair, the opposite.

I'll admit. I'm not a challenge-focused gamer. I play to see what happens, to find the unexpected. So I'd rather have smooth, predictable difficulty rather than more "accurate" or "realistic" difficulty. But that's just my taste.

Hit points (and no death spiral) work really well for the (speaking loosely) expected types of games. In fact, things that bypass that mechanism (3e's SoD effects, for example) cause all sorts of issues with play because it quickly becomes an optimal strategy--do or die. It would not work for something like Call of Cthulhu.

Cluedrew
2018-07-21, 09:08 AM
To PhoenixPhyre: Actually it isn't as different as you think. I also work out free-form (which is where I started and still have a large section of my experience). So I had a reflective moment and decided what was the purpose of adding rules at all. Short answer is to figure out what happens next. If we already know what happens next than there is no need for a rule.

From this view point rulings have two main purposes: To help resolve a situation that we don't know what happens next but the rules don't already cover and to correct situations where the rules produces an incorrect result. There are tonnes of situations that don't need anything more than "do what makes sense" to get through. I don't consider those rulings unless they interact directly with the existing mechanical systems, because... well no one else seems to consider the fact after putting on your armour, you are now wearing armour a ruling (and I have yet to see a system define that, although plenty say what happens once it is on).

I have been here much longer than I meant to be, but hopefully that helps.

Pelle
2018-07-21, 11:22 AM
* In a CaW game, building a sub-optimal character is a straight detriment to the group's success, since the challenges are uncoupled from the party. This is true exactly to the same measure that failing to plan for everything is a detriment--it's all planning, just at a different stage.


I think this only holds true if you are playing with a powergaming mentality. If you as a player instead only care about being challenged, but not about actually winning, or what is the particular challenge the character is facing, then making a weak character is unproblematic in a CaW group. The focus is on challenging the player after all, so making a powerful character is inconsequential, it just change the details of what happens in the fiction.

Lord_Kimboat
2018-07-22, 02:12 AM
I used to play one of the Star Wars systems that had something like endurance and body. You're endurance measured your ability to dodge attacks that would hit you and when it ran out you were exhausted and couldn't dodge anymore. You then took body, which had some fairly dire consequences.

I thought this related well to the system, since it showed that, in the films, the main characters were rarely hit but there were a lot of close misses. These close misses could have been hits, in a game sense, that took away endurance.

Telok
2018-07-22, 04:31 AM
Hit points are fine up to a limit. Past that limit sad things start to happen...
"It's only 120 feet down. I fall off, stand up, and swing my sword."
"Auto-attack the nearest bad guy. If it's over 13 it does the red die plus 9 damage."
"Another fight? Are we going to accomplish anything tonight?"

From personal observation that limit seems to occur at about 80 - 100 hit points in the various modern d20 systems. After that the dice rolling gets tedious and people start looking for ways to skip it. Plus people start trying to justify hit points or provide post hoc explanations for how things happen, which tends to quickly descend into absurdity and whining.

Plus when people make a game, if they don't use hit points then they have to think about how they want combat to work and interact with the rest of the game mechanics. That seems to tend to lead to better integration of combat with other mechanics or systems. I've played several systems where the designers used hit points and apparently spent so much time getting the combat to work that they just sort of skimmed over large chunks of the rest of the system.

For combat as war/sport there's this weird thing where systems that intend for people to play in the CaS style tend to be spawn a sensitivity and obsession around 'balance' in some vague character mechanical sense. It ends up that they either don't 'balance' or that there are whole bunches of "no you can't" places in the systems. It's also the CaS systems that seem to focus on character building and having a 'right' way to make a character.

I've played enough different games and systems that if I'm going to spend my money and effort on a new set of gaming books I want that system to either do something new or to do something better. Hit points aren't new, and the aren't inherently any better then other wound/damage models, so a system had better do something pretty spiffy with them if I'm going to care about it.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-22, 07:07 AM
Plus when people make a game, if they don't use hit points then they have to think about how they want combat to work and interact with the rest of the game mechanics. That seems to tend to lead to better integration of combat with other mechanics or systems. I've played several systems where the designers used hit points and apparently spent so much time getting the combat to work that they just sort of skimmed over large chunks of the rest of the system.

You can tell where a designers priorities are much better by looking at the account of rules text and advice text.

In D&D5e, if we're being generous about 70% of the rules text is dedicated towards combat, and maybe 60% towards spellcasting (with a lot of overlap), with comparatively little space given to skills. This is similarly true is 4e, which was explicitly combat focused.

Meanwhile The Dark Eye fibres a equal focus to the core system, skills, combat, magic, and liturgies (cleric powers). The advanced rules weigh it towards skill use, but not overly.

Unknown Armies dedicates about half of its rules to it's two/three magic systems. It's very focused on weird stuff happening.

CharonsHelper
2018-07-22, 04:26 PM
You can tell where a designers priorities are much better by looking at the account of rules text and advice text.


I actually disagree with this general premise a lot.

Many games just expect a lot of the "slow" scenes to be done more organically and don't think that you need specific rules for most social interactions or need tables to tell you what the weather's like at any given moment. There's a whole argument about how more rules to do with roleplaying means that you're actually roleplaying less. (I tend to agree - but there are valid arguments on both sides.)

But things such as combat are inherently high risk moments, so more specific rules are needed unless you want a much more storytelling vibe.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-22, 04:47 PM
You can tell where a designers priorities are much better by looking at the account of rules text and advice text.

In D&D5e, if we're being generous about 70% of the rules text is dedicated towards combat, and maybe 60% towards spellcasting (with a lot of overlap), with comparatively little space given to skills. This is similarly true is 4e, which was explicitly combat focused.

Meanwhile The Dark Eye fibres a equal focus to the core system, skills, combat, magic, and liturgies (cleric powers). The advanced rules weigh it towards skill use, but not overly.

Unknown Armies dedicates about half of its rules to it's two/three magic systems. It's very focused on weird stuff happening.

Using the volume of rules text is totally misleading and not a good measure of anything. Some things just plain take more space than others. Also, splitting text up into the pillars is really not a well-defined thing. So depending on how you do it, you could end up with almost any set of results. Yes, combat is important. It's also something that traditionally requires a different level of abstraction from the rest of the game and has much more stark consequences. Uses of skills (for example) is unlikely to make you lose a character completely (except in very extreme circumstances). It's also frequently not adversarial. And then if you include the DMG...


I actually disagree with this general premise a lot.

Many games just expect a lot of the "slow" scenes to be done more organically and don't think that you need specific rules for most social interactions or need tables to tell you what the weather's like at any given moment. There's a whole argument about how more rules to do with roleplaying means that you're actually roleplaying less. (I tend to agree - but there are valid arguments on both sides.)

But things such as combat are inherently high risk moments, so more specific rules are needed unless you want a much more storytelling vibe.

I agree with this. For D&D specifically, combat uses a different abstraction level than skills. By design. This involves a more complex set of rules associated with it (due to the other design choices). For me, that's a good thing. I don't want skill tables or social combat rules, preferring those to be more free-form. Doesn't make those more or less important. My tables spend a good chunk of the time on social things--many times they talk their way around combat. But when combat comes, the more complex rules are welcomed due to the peculiarities of that situation.

Quertus
2018-07-22, 05:56 PM
Regarding CaW vs CaS... There are several things being conflated here. I'm going to start with my own notions, and try to tease things apart.

I once played in a group with Thor (figuratively) and a Sentient Potted Plant (literally). There was decidedly no balance between those characters, let alone between them and the campaign (or the rest of the PCs). What you chose to make - as well as the choices you made in the game - really mattered, and made a huge difference on the outcome of the game. This, to me, was the essence of CaW.

For a proper war game, it's much more important that the numbers just work, that everything is as close to balanced as possible, and that what you pick really doesn't matter - you'll be approximately as powerful as everyone else, leading to an enjoyable challenge. Trying to find a huge advantage or otherwise significantly affect the balance would be unsporting, and tantamount to cheating. This, to me, is the essence of CaS.

In an RPG, I want who I bring to matter. I want that to change the types of things I find challenging, and the level of challenge overall. Quertus, my signature academia mage, for whom this account us named, should succeed at anything related to magic theory (and fail at most anything related to tactics) without even rolling. In a war game, I want a very narrow range of challenge levels - defeating or being defeated by my foes without even rolling does not a good war game make.

But that's an oversimplification.

Much like with "Sandboxy", it's probably better described as a range. Say that I present the players with a module, and some sample characters who would have a known level of difficulty with said module.

At the extreme of CaS, the players would express the exact level of difficulty they want to have, and want the GM to very strictly enforce exactly that level of difficulty. The illusionist GM who, halfway through the first session, I could accurately predict exactly how many and which characters would be unconscious at the conclusion of the final confrontation with the BBEG because that's what he believes would make for the best story clearly believed in (the illusion of) the correct level of challenge.

At the extreme of CaW, the players could bring absolutely anything. I find bringing elder gods through a CoC scenario quite entertaining to imagine, but likely rather boring in play.

I, personally, prefer for the GM to have no vested interest in any particular level of challenge, and to play it honest. I prefer groups that have a fairly large range of acceptable challenge levels. One of my favorite groups went through 3 different adventures at 3 very different challenge levels. One set of PCs was fairly close to "normal", a second set of PCs struggled with almost everything, while the third were BDHs, breezing through almost everything that their adventure threw at them.

However, this is different from party balance, and contribution balance, which, intentionally or not, seem to be included in most everyone's definitions of CaW and CaS.

Some groups on both sides of CaW and CaS require the PCs to be roughly equally powerful to one another, whereas other groups are fine with "Thor and the sentient potted plant". I obviously prefer the latter.

Some groups require everyone to have nearly equal narrative contribution; others don't even notice. I struggle with groups that cannot comprehend the concept of balancing to narrative contribution.

But these two variables are largely independent of CaW vs CaS - that is, while how they appear may change, they can still be set independently.


The difference can be summed up quite easily: Wheres the focus at, strategic or tactical decisions?

CaW is about strategic decision making, second-guessing the gm and trying to win before you're actually going into an encounter, either by overwhelming force or bypassing it altogether.

CaS is about tactical making on a round-by-round basis and straight up beating an encounter as it is presented.

For the CaS player, the dungeon as presented is the encounter that the game is all about, while for the CaW player, finishing the "goal" of the dungeon in the "best" possible way is what the game is about.

Talking D&D/PF this is also the main difference between groups that like their Fighters and groups that would readily replace their Fighters with Wizards.

Fighters fail to contribute sufficiently for some levels of CaS play, whereas level of contribution is largely irrelevant to CaW.


It (CAW) also feeds into the attitude that it's a good thing to win at character creation (putting a huge emphasis on the character creation minigame and optimization). Giving up that advantage weakens their hand at overcoming the scenario/reaching the goal/"winning".

Basically a journey vs destination distinction. I'm firmly on the side that the journey is what actually matters--I want the unexpected to happen, both in scenarios and in my response to them. I want to see things I never dreamed of, both as a DM and as a player. I want improv and excitement; perfectly executing a perfect strategy with no risk or danger (because you've planned and compensated for those already) is boring and not worth playing.

I also like a mix of short feedback loops (on the scale of a minute or two rather than getting the payoff several sessions down the road after several) along with longer-term payoffs. I want there to be a visible progression of progress without step-changes. No plan-plan-plan-succeed! loop, but try-succeed/fail-try something else-succeed better, etc. loop.

No, CaW makes it awesome to lose at character creation, because it makes those choices matter. Losing at character creation in CaS either a) puts an unfair burden on the GM to properly challenge your character, or b) represents actually losing, as you'll be required to create a new character, since you cannot compete at a "sporting" level.


I strongly disagree. It doesn't matter ig CAW or CAS, both share the same ideas and requirements of appropriate power level and appropriate challenges, And disregarding those is equally disruptive for both styles.

If you Win at charcter creation there is no need to pay attention to strategy in the game which makes it a boring CAW game the same way as no need to pay attention to tactics makes it a boring CAS game.
A perfect strategy perfectly executed is one of the most rewarding things that can happen in an RPG, a thing of beauty.

Also i am quite hesitant to even try a bad plan. Most of the time it would way to risky to act that way from a character perspective, making it the most logical reaction to simply not take the challange. That might be different, if the risk level is low, then even a foolish playn might be tried but otherwise i want my character to actually believe that what he does is the best option in those circumstances.

I should have been more clear.

I do understand what it is, but i don't feel the appeal in an RPG.

It basically requires treating deadly combat as something inconsequential and lighthearted which i find really grating immersion wise. I have no such feeling if it is not combat that is treated like sport but, well, sport. Could even be a combat sport like in some tourney scenario.

Quertus, my signature tactically inept academia mage, for whom this account is named, has probably not implemented even a single optimal plan in the, what, 30+ years I've played him. And, as my most successful / most requested multi-table-friendly character, I've played him numerous times under both CaW and CaS GMs, in both CaW and CaS parties. So I'm very confused as to where this fear of bad plans comes from. I suppose that the tactically inept individuals who were the inspiration for making Quertus kinda acclimated me to bad plans, and insulated me from such a mindset.

I am curious just which piece(s) you are describing as "appropriate power level and appropriate challenges", that, "disregarding those is equally disruptive for both styles". Clearly, having played and enjoyed a game of Thor and the sentient potted plant, I am leery of assumptions about appropriate power levels, but I don't want my bias to let me overlook the possibility of something I might have missed.


I disagree, to a degree. Specifically--

* In a CaS game, the appropriate power level is one that matches the party, wherever that might be. This lets you (as a table) explore a lot of concepts that are less-optimal without penalizing the group.
* In a CaW game, building a sub-optimal character is a straight detriment to the group's success, since the challenges are uncoupled from the party. This is true exactly to the same measure that failing to plan for everything is a detriment--it's all planning, just at a different stage.

And I'm not particularly talking about inter-character imbalance, but overall power level of the group. I can run a CaS game at any power level, CaW inherently pushes toward power creep (because it's focused on "winning" vs the DM).



That restricts the types of characters you can play in a way that annoys me. I don't like playing the chessmaster/master planner type. Sometimes I like playing the hot-head, the overly curious, the intuitive, or other types that don't mesh well with "everything must be planned and executed according to plan" types. It feels real one-dimensional and meta--you're always thinking in game terms instead of in character terms. In a CaS game, that same type of character just means that the party gets into different trouble than they would otherwise.

One other issue is that of the illusion of victory. In either game, you "win" only if the DM lets you. In a CaS game that's baked into the framework and you're all participating in a journey (including the DM). So it doesn't matter, because "winning" isn't the thing you're trying to do. In a CaW game, it is. And that's a problem because you keep butting up against this illusion and have to ignore it.

You've clearly had very different experiences than I have.

In CaS, if the module requires 1000 "points" of characters, it doesn't matter if that's 4x 250-pt characters, or 3x 200-pt characters plus one 400-pt character - the module is still equally challenging to the party. It doesn't matter who has Diplomacy at +15, only that that's what the party has. So I disagree that the party has to be equal to each other; rather, I feel that the sum of the party has to be equal to the module. But I do agree that most groups prefer those numbers to be fairly close, rather than having PCs of wildly different value.

In a CaS game, you very explicitly want a sporting challenge, and the focus is entirely on winning. In a CaW game, not only is there no such guarantee, but it's not entirely unreasonable to focus on losing, or losing entertainingly

Yes, power gamers who only focus on winning will tend to power creep in CaW (although I'm not convinced that that isn't true in CaS as well), but the important thing is, that's not the only possible CaW scenario. One need not be a power gamer to play CaW.


I have to say that this is true.

Also note that a combat as war mentality doesn't mean that you spend ages planning every combat. It means that you're always looking for that extra advantage, and never act too rashly. If the group can only come up with bad plans then just pick the least bad and try to make it work.

Combat as War also doesn't mean you're always outmatched. A lot of it can be taking the opportunities given where you're not outmatched to hit your opponent, or to create those opportunities.

The key difference is that in CaW combat isn't something you get into lightly with no preparation unless you're falling already. You treat combat as something dangerous that might cost you party members, because that's true. It's set up so those who rush into fighting likely don't reach high levels without a lot of help and luck.

Yeah, In CaS, looking for advantages can take the "sporting challenge" out of the game, so, at times, you have to be unrealistically blind and dumb ("hold the idiot ball") to maintain the fun of the game. Whereas CaW can be played either way (depending on how much the group focuses on wanting to win).


I think this only holds true if you are playing with a powergaming mentality. If you as a player instead only care about being challenged, but not about actually winning, or what is the particular challenge the character is facing, then making a weak character is unproblematic in a CaW group. The focus is on challenging the player after all, so making a powerful character is inconsequential, it just change the details of what happens in the fiction.

Almost entirely agree. The difference is, I believe CaW cam be played even more ways. For example, as a pure simulation, where the GM / players don't care about a specific outcome, and are simply asking, "what if...?". I have, for example, built numerous simulators to answer just such questions. Similarly, when, as GM, I run two NPC groups against one another, or play test my own modules, I'm evaluating the module and the sample characters in what I would consider a CaW framework.


For combat as war/sport there's this weird thing where systems that intend for people to play in the CaS style tend to be spawn a sensitivity and obsession around 'balance' in some vague character mechanical sense. It ends up that they either don't 'balance' or that there are whole bunches of "no you can't" places in the systems. It's also the CaS systems that seem to focus on character building and having a 'right' way to make a character.

How is it weird that, if you want the game to be sporting, you care about balance? :smallconfused:

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-22, 06:13 PM
I actually disagree with this general premise a lot.

Many games just expect a lot of the "slow" scenes to be done more organically and don't think that you need specific rules for most social interactions or need tables to tell you what the weather's like at any given moment. There's a whole argument about how more rules to do with roleplaying means that you're actually roleplaying less. (I tend to agree - but there are valid arguments on both sides.)

But things such as combat are inherently high risk moments, so more specific rules are needed unless you want a much more storytelling vibe.

So the detailed rules which cover a large proportion of the text were not one of the designers priorities?

I'm confused. You're saying they prioritised the less detailed rules?

This isn't about 'slow' scenes versus combat. Although for the record, despite the number of times I've had characters desperately clinging to ledges no system has seen fit to include a desperately hanging onto a ledge subsystem, which can be as high risk as combat.

You know, I'm sick of this 'but combat needs extra rules' approach. No, it doesn't in the exact same way social interaction doesn't need extra rules. In a game focused on them both can benefit from the extra rules, but otherwise you might as well just leave it up to the basic skill system. Or free form combat, people do it just like people free form social interactions.

RPGs tend to have detailed combat because RPGs tend to have detailed combat. That's it. There's nothing mystical that makes combat require a higher level of abstraction, it's just tradition.

CharonsHelper
2018-07-22, 06:15 PM
I agree with this. For D&D specifically, combat uses a different abstraction level than skills. By design. This involves a more complex set of rules associated with it (due to the other design choices). For me, that's a good thing. I don't want skill tables or social combat rules, preferring those to be more free-form. Doesn't make those more or less important. My tables spend a good chunk of the time on social things--many times they talk their way around combat. But when combat comes, the more complex rules are welcomed due to the peculiarities of that situation.

I will say - I do like more concrete rules for social interactions which are inherently adversarial/opposed.

In my own system - I made social skills for Trickery, Intimidation, and Negotiation - but nothing more generic like Charm or Diplomacy.

Cluedrew
2018-07-22, 06:24 PM
I agree with this. For D&D specifically, combat uses a different abstraction level than skills. By design. This involves a more complex set of rules associated with it (due to the other design choices).How does this interact with the "don't avoid combat when there are a lot of combat rules" (paraphrased) thing? This is referring to the sub-topic where I compared combat to death rules.

On a different note I know some people like this, but I have also seen some systems that have gone into... an unnecessary amount of detail on their combat rules. I've rarely talked to the author of these systems (and never in depth) but sometimes wonder if people make heavy combat rules simply because that is the pattern, whether it suits their game or not.

On CaS vs. CaW: CaE for me.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-22, 06:26 PM
You know, I'm sick of this 'but combat needs extra rules' approach. No, it doesn't in the exact same way social interaction doesn't need extra rules. In a game focused on them both can benefit from the extra rules, but otherwise you might as well just leave it up to the basic skill system. Or free form combat, people do it just like people free form social interactions.

RPGs tend to have detailed combat because RPGs tend to have detailed combat. That's it. There's nothing mystical that makes combat require a higher level of abstraction, it's just tradition.

It doesn't need extra rules in the abstract, but particular varieties certainly do. If you want tactical combat, you need more granularity. That is, if you want individual, specific actions on a short time scale to matter, you need more granular, specific rules. This is true for anything. And things that have starker consequences for individual characters often do better with more granular rules. If falling off a rock is likely to kill, you probably shouldn't have a single climb check on a relatively flat probability curve. If saying the wrong word in a social situation means death, you'd do well to have more complex social rules. Combat, in D&D-esque games, is probably the most lethal part of the game. 99% of all skill checks are recoverable. If you did a "roll Fight" combat check and include lethal combat, you're likely to end up with a meat grinder (or one where fighting is the absolute wrong thing to do and if you're fighting, you've likely lost anyway, like CoC).

D&D (partly due to its antecedents) decided to make combat a non-trivial portion of the game and let it have serious consequences. That means that a highly abstracted combat system doesn't fit well (in my opinion, at least). Other games it might work great.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-07-22, 06:31 PM
How does this interact with the "don't avoid combat when there are a lot of combat rules" (paraphrased) thing? This is referring to the sub-topic where I compared combat to death rules.


I'm not saying that combat isn't important in D&D. But it's not 70+% of the game, at least by design intent. So if you have a game where combat is always the wrong thing unless you have an overwhelming advantage (the standard CaW trope) and character design doesn't really matter (as someone else said), then you're leaving a lot of the rule set behind and might as well just do narrative, binary combat. Either you steamroll or are steamrolled. The spectrum of results collapses down to those possibilities.

Most people I've met like a mix of things. They like combat and don't want to simply brush past it, but they also like talking and skills and dislike being restrained by nit-picky systems (in either case). Different things need different approaches. I can see no inherent value in forcing everything to the same level of abstraction. It's just breaking the world on a bed of Procrustes. Balance in all things.

JoeJ
2018-07-22, 07:33 PM
I'm not saying that combat isn't important in D&D. But it's not 70+% of the game, at least by design intent. So if you have a game where combat is always the wrong thing unless you have an overwhelming advantage (the standard CaW trope) and character design doesn't really matter (as someone else said), then you're leaving a lot of the rule set behind and might as well just do narrative, binary combat. Either you steamroll or are steamrolled. The spectrum of results collapses down to those possibilities.

No, not really. After you come up with the crazy plan you need to play out the result to find out if you're able to pull it off. And you almost always have to make adjustments on the fly, because the enemy doesn't do exactly what you expected. And very often you also need to come up with Plan B on the fly, because Plan A didn't work at all like you expected. Steamrolling is possible, but so is just barely pulling off a win by the skin of your teeth, or coming with a hair of winning before you lose.

Thrudd
2018-07-22, 07:37 PM
I think CAW and CAS are insufficiently defined, people aren't really agreeing even on what they mean.
I think there are two basic axes on which we can talk about "war" vs "sport".

One - consequences. "War" could refer to the fact that characters can die in combat - this would imply the players will treat it more seriously/realistically. "Sport" in this case refers to the fact that characters can't or are not likely to die. This lets combat play out more like an action movie, since there are few or no permanent consequences.

Two - balanced challenges - "Sport" on this axis implies that challenges are balanced to be winnable by a particular party. Even if characters are able to die, the players know they can succeed in any given scenario if they play with sufficient skill. If you lose in this sort of "sport" combat, it is because you made a mistake or had really bad luck - but there was a definite possibility of victory. "War" has no guarantees, it is possible to be met with overwhelming odds. The choice of when and where to fight are as important or more important than the tactics used in any given fight.

In both cases, "Sport" means that players never need to hesitate when confronted with a combat scenario. They are expected to engage every time - either because you want them to act and feel like action heroes (knowing they can't die), or because they are supposed to know it is a fair challenge and the game is about pitting your wits against tactical challenges.

"War" usually means players need to think about whether they should fight in a given scenario and will often choose not to fight if conditions are not favorable.

Whether each player has an equally powerful character is not directly connected to any of these styles of combat. The overhead and system-mastery involved in building characters is system specific rather than style- you can have a CAW game where players have little or no choice in how their characters are "built", and a CAS game where player have tons of options and building optimally will be very important. The exact nature of the game's manner of tracking character health isn't directly tied to CAS or CAW, either. In general, the less forgiving/"realistic" injury rules will be favored in a CAW game, but they could also be in a CAS type game that is challenge-focused instead of story/action hero-focused. Having more abstract health can work for CAW, too - it's just another factor/resource to take into consideration when the players make combat decisions.

Telok
2018-07-23, 10:19 PM
How is it weird that, if you want the game to be sporting, you care about balance? :smallconfused:

Oh it isn't. But what's balance?

I don't have a good answer to that, or even one that's neatly packaged or fits this thread. I've just noticed that the systems I've seen which use hp beyond the 80 - 100 limit-ish range tend to lean heavily towards CaS, strive for or tout their accomplishment of 'balance', and don't generally pay as much attention to not-combat aspects of play. This includes DM support and guidance.

Generally, I find that CaS systems try for a mechanic based combat balance that often seems to restrict player agency to the options printed on a character sheet. As a result you get things like being able to shoot fire but not set things on fire with it, dropping a huge boulder on someone does level appropriate damage, or a mounted knight with a lance being the same as if he were on foot but with more movement. And all the combat number balancing still doesn't seem to help designers deal with giving different characters even vaguely equal non-combat options.

I can do CaS, every supers game system is pretty much primarialy a CaS system and I quite enjoy Champions. I just haven't seen any high hit point value systems that don't try for a 'balanced' CaS combat, and neglect non-combat and DM help.

Florian
2018-07-24, 12:46 AM
Oh it isn't. But what's balance?

A game of chess is a good initial example for balance. While the different playing pieces are pretty much "unbalanced" by being more or less tactically useful, both sides of the game have the same number, types and so on, making the match itself "balanced", while the individual moves are not.

Its just an initial example, because a game of chess is self-contained and ends when the match is over, with no spill-over to the next game, when we're basically speaking about what's a whole tournament compared to a single match.

That's basically why most CaS-based game systems are build around resource management, often differentiating between unlimited resources (at will), medium limited resources (per encounter) and highly limited resources (per day), ex: a PF Paladin can always strike with the sword, has some pool-based powers and a couple of spell slots that can each only be used once per day.

In context of the original topic, this is where Hit Points are preferable over more realistic Wounds or other Death Spiral systems, because they're just one resource you'll have to manage amongst many others.

Quertus
2018-07-25, 06:50 AM
Oh it isn't. But what's balance?

I don't have a good answer to that, or even one that's neatly packaged or fits this thread. I've just noticed that the systems I've seen which use hp beyond the 80 - 100 limit-ish range tend to lean heavily towards CaS, strive for or tout their accomplishment of 'balance', and don't generally pay as much attention to not-combat aspects of play. This includes DM support and guidance.

Generally, I find that CaS systems try for a mechanic based combat balance that often seems to restrict player agency to the options printed on a character sheet. As a result you get things like being able to shoot fire but not set things on fire with it, dropping a huge boulder on someone does level appropriate damage, or a mounted knight with a lance being the same as if he were on foot but with more movement. And all the combat number balancing still doesn't seem to help designers deal with giving different characters even vaguely equal non-combat options.

I can do CaS, every supers game system is pretty much primarialy a CaS system and I quite enjoy Champions. I just haven't seen any high hit point value systems that don't try for a 'balanced' CaS combat, and neglect non-combat and DM help.

Marvel FASERIP system: superhero genre, hit points in the 4 to thousands range, absolutely no sense of game balance, players allowed and encouraged to try almost anything. Out of combat, my feeble inventor can make an invulnerable adamantium suit of power armor out of spare parts he found at the junkyard.

But very interesting point about the desire for balance coinciding with restrictive behavior. I'm left to do some critical evaluation, to determine to what extent it's actually the R I like about RPGs over war games, vs to what extent it's actually the freedom from such limitations that I enjoy.

Arbane
2018-07-25, 10:20 AM
I think CAW and CAS are insufficiently defined, people aren't really agreeing even on what they mean.


Oh, that's easy. War is one of the most awful things people can do to each other, while sports can be fun to watch or play.

Semi-seriously, I think it's the 'ROLEplaying, not ROLLplaying' shibboleth of this decade.

Segev
2018-07-25, 10:38 AM
Oh, that's easy. War is one of the most awful things people can do to each other, while sports can be fun to watch or play.

Semi-seriously, I think it's the 'ROLEplaying, not ROLLplaying' shibboleth of this decade.

Eh, I don't see as much snide implied stigma applied to CAS v CAW. Both seem to be viewed as "just fine" by people, with some just admitting a preference for one or the other. Whereas "ROLEplaying, not ROLLplaying" always had a sneer associated with "rollplaying." It's not just a different style of play to that debate group; it's badwrongfun.

I do think you'll get a little more towards it being a shibboleth when you start discussing the kinds of games that tend to house them; you'll find more CAW in Sandboxes, and more CAS in plot-driven games. The sandbox vs plot-driven does tend to get a little into a war as "plot-driven" gets conflated with "linear" gets conflated with "railroad." And those conflations happen because there is a natural tendency that direction, even though there's not an inherent need for plot-driven games to become railroads.

CAW does lend itself more to sandboxes because the sandbox puts where the PCs go into their control, completely, and makes them thus naturally in charge of how much challenge they take on, by virtue of their research and scouting to learn what lies where before they go in and take it on (a key aspect of CAW).

CAS will more often appear in plot-driven games because the point of the combat is the tension it creates. Modulating tension levels is important to plot presentation. You'll get the sorting algorithm of evil showing up here more often.

CAS can also appear in sandboxes, especially if there's an intended "plot" that can be followed if the players aren't inspired enough to har off on their own. CAW can appear in plot-driven games, but will tend to be designed such that the plot has side quests meant to empower the players to better take on the threats, rather than designed with the threats scaled to where the player characters "should be."

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-25, 11:19 AM
Yeah, I'd say the current version of 'Roleplaying not ROLLplaying' is closer to 'story driven means railroad' than 'CaW versus CaS'. Combined with the opposite 'sandbox means aimless'. Oh, and of course 'you need rules for combat, but can just act out social stuff' but I think that one's been around for decades.

As before the problem is that both sides are valid, but the people arguing insist that the other side is doing it wrong, rather than just doing it differently.

RazorChain
2018-07-25, 06:53 PM
How to treat HP is a design principle and even the system that do without still use them as stress, wound boxes or whatever.


I prefer death spirals and fight stoppers because it is the design that I like. Most system that treat HP and wounding that way are systems base that combat on active defense or opposed rolls. The point is not gettig hit rather than chip away a HP pool.

I prefer games where you can't just press the heal button and 10 minutes later you are ready for the next fight. I find it more fun when combat has other consequences that you get a monetary fine from dying or just dust off and take a breather and are fit to fight.

I know this is based on preferance but I find it more compelling when I have to make a choice if and when to fight rather than have endless strings of them. Also when you have to evaluate if your character is fit to fight and what are the consequences for not fighting.

Quertus
2018-07-25, 08:30 PM
How to treat HP is a design principle and even the system that do without still use them as stress, wound boxes or whatever.

I prefer death spirals and fight stoppers because it is the design that I like. Most system that treat HP and wounding that way are systems base that combat on active defense or opposed rolls. The point is not gettig hit rather than chip away a HP pool.

I prefer games where you can't just press the heal button and 10 minutes later you are ready for the next fight. I find it more fun when combat has other consequences that you get a monetary fine from dying or just dust off and take a breather and are fit to fight.

I know this is based on preferance but I find it more compelling when I have to make a choice if and when to fight rather than have endless strings of them. Also when you have to evaluate if your character is fit to fight and what are the consequences for not fighting.

"If and when to fight" is very much a CaW question, which can occur even if one has hit points.

Not liking healing... Hmmm... While less common, Healing can happen in systems without hit points.

So, if the system had hit points, but lacked healing, and you had to choose very carefully whether or not to engage in any given fight, how would you feel about the system? Otoh, If the system had definitive injuries, but they could be healed readily, how would you feel about the system?

RazorChain
2018-07-25, 09:39 PM
"If and when to fight" is very much a CaW question, which can occur even if one has hit points.

Not liking healing... Hmmm... While less common, Healing can happen in systems without hit points.

I have nothing against HP, I just prefer less of them or being hit has more impact. I just like it when getting hurt impacts the game and what choices you make because of it.



So, if the system had hit points, but lacked healing, and you had to choose very carefully whether or not to engage in any given fight, how would you feel about the system? Otoh, If the system had definitive injuries, but they could be healed readily, how would you feel about the system?


It's not that I particularly prefer CaW over CaS, it's just I like games with much lower power curve than D&D. That means it's just closer to CaW because I also like versimilitude in the sense that the bad guys don't grow stronger because of the PC's. It is the PC's choices what bad guys they are going to pick a fight with. If the PC's want to go dragon hunting at the start of the game and manage to sneak a Ballista into the dragon's cave and shoot the dragon in it's eye and impale it's brain while it's sleeping then kudos to them. Or if the mage is a specialist in Earth magic and the Dwarf is a stonemason and together they find a structural weak point and manage to bring down the mountain on top the dragon and kill it, then more kudos to them.

The system doesn't have to lack healing, it just has a treat healing as a resource that is harder to come by than resting for 8 hours or taking a 10 minute breather. For me HP is just as good as wound boxes, stress or whatever to mark what state your character is in. Let's take RuneQuest for example....your character maybe has only 13 HP and he's probably never going to get any more of them. He might get better armor or become better at parrying blows or dodging them, but every time he get's hurt it's going to count. Additionally every limb has HP as well so if somebody hits the character hard in the leg then the leg is crippled.

If played in both types of systems with little or no healing, like Boot Hill or CoC where you have to pick your fights and I've had fun. Also I've played Gurps fantasy campaigns where you have definitive injuries and healing and I've had fun as well. Like I say, death spiral, definitive injuries and limited healing is just a preferance....and not even all of the time. It just opens up a different style of play

Knaight
2018-07-26, 05:12 AM
Semi-seriously, I think it's the 'ROLEplaying, not ROLLplaying' shibboleth of this decade.

It absolutely is - they're two of the most useless terms introduced to the hobby for a while, and I would love to see them gone.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-26, 06:10 AM
It absolutely is - they're two of the most useless terms introduced to the hobby for a while, and I would love to see them gone.

I've managed to get some use out of them, significantly more than some other terms I've seen, but I wouldn't be sad to see them go. Their main problem is that they tend to get people to aggressively defend their preferred one, instead of seeing the two as ends of a spectrum.

We could do just as well asking 'is your game logistical or strategical' rather than 'CaW or CaS'. Which also lets us start narrowing down the noncombat elements, are we focused on the logistics of exploration or the tactics of it. Then half an hour later the rest of the group is looking at me and asking if we can just roll stats and stab the goblins yet.

Florian
2018-07-26, 06:49 AM
@Knaight:

Its more a matter of how you approach this and is more a tool of communication to avoid later friction.
For example, when you're gm wanting to host a game and you're looking for some players, the initial hook might will be the "what" (PF, Rise of the Runelords), but should also be followed-up by the "how" (Roll over role, CaS, not simulations) for clarity. Again, as usual, descriptive not prescriptive.

Quertus
2018-07-26, 08:56 AM
I have nothing against HP, I just prefer less of them or being hit has more impact. I just like it when getting hurt impacts the game and what choices you make because of it.

It's not that I particularly prefer CaW over CaS, it's just I like games with much lower power curve than D&D. That means it's just closer to CaW because I also like versimilitude in the sense that the bad guys don't grow stronger because of the PC's. It is the PC's choices what bad guys they are going to pick a fight with.

The system doesn't have to lack healing, it just has a treat healing as a resource that is harder to come by than resting for 8 hours or taking a 10 minute breather. For me HP is just as good as wound boxes, stress or whatever to mark what state your character is in.

Also I've played Gurps fantasy campaigns where you have definitive injuries and healing and I've had fun as well. Like I say, death spiral, definitive injuries and limited healing is just a preferance....and not even all of the time. It just opens up a different style of play

So, an otherwise "perfectly realistic" system, that happens to have full healing between fights, is something you could enjoy, but wouldn't be your preference? Fair enough.

So, what are the attributes of CaW that aren't covered by your preferences?


It absolutely is - they're two of the most useless terms introduced to the hobby for a while, and I would love to see them gone.


I've managed to get some use out of them, significantly more than some other terms I've seen, but I wouldn't be sad to see them go. Their main problem is that they tend to get people to aggressively defend their preferred one, instead of seeing the two as ends of a spectrum.

We could do just as well asking 'is your game logistical or strategical' rather than 'CaW or CaS'. Which also lets us start narrowing down the noncombat elements, are we focused on the logistics of exploration or the tactics of it. Then half an hour later the rest of the group is looking at me and asking if we can just roll stats and stab the goblins yet.


@Knaight:

Its more a matter of how you approach this and is more a tool of communication to avoid later friction.
For example, when you're gm wanting to host a game and you're looking for some players, the initial hook might will be the "what" (PF, Rise of the Runelords), but should also be followed-up by the "how" (Roll over role, CaS, not simulations) for clarity. Again, as usual, descriptive not prescriptive.

Wasn't there a really short-lived thread about useful terms to describe your game?

So, hmmm... I view CaS vs CaW as closer to...

CaS: war game, or beer and pretzels. There's the assumption that every fight is intended, and intended to be played straight up, because it's all balanced out by the GM to be a sporting level of fun. Looking for advantages to make the game easier is bad sportsmanship.
CaW: simulation / realism. The GM makes no guarantee of the fitness of any given encounter; the onus is on the players to pick and choose their battles, to give themselves every possible advantage to make fights winnable and prevent TPKs. Everything from cakewalk to impossible is on the table.

But even my definition conflates do we have to think, will the GM get upset if we think, will the GM get upset if we waste his prep time by bypassing his encounters, is it possible to determine the strength of the opposition before engaging it, does the GM tailor the world to the PCs, and several other technically independently mutable variables.

And I don't think that it's 'is your game logistical or strategical'; rather, I think it's "how does your game deal with the logistical aspect?", and "how does your game deal with the strategic aspect?".

RazorChain
2018-07-26, 10:00 PM
So, an otherwise "perfectly realistic" system, that happens to have full healing between fights, is something you could enjoy, but wouldn't be your preference? Fair enough.

So, what are the attributes of CaW that aren't covered by your preferences?



I can enjoy most types of games, it depends on my fellow players (and GM). My group had a long running campaign in Advanced Fighting Fantasy and I had a blast, great GM, great players and a lot of fun but still the system doesn't tick any of the boxes I prefer. I also enjoyed a campaign in Exalted 1st ed. where I was a co-GM.

I would say that I like systems that cater to realistic expectations rather than perfect realism. The thing is I didn't know about CaW or CaS until I joined these forums....and that was just 2 years ago but I've been playing for more than 3 decades....not knowing about GNS theory either me and my mates just called CaW simulationism and CoS gamism

I just get irked by games that block my realistic expectations....and no this has nothing to do with dragons or magic. When I want my character to kick somebody in the balls and the system doesn't allow me. My character still has foot and that somebody still has balls but the system is stopping me from putting some momentum into that foot and interconnecting with that somebody's balls.

So CaW allows me to immerse myself better while CaS is constantly reminding me that I'm playing a game

Quertus
2018-07-27, 06:44 AM
When I want my character to kick somebody in the balls and the system doesn't allow me. My character still has foot and that somebody still has balls but the system is stopping me from putting some momentum into that foot and interconnecting with that somebody's balls.

Sounds like another good reason to give muggles everyone at-will SoD/SoS abilities. :smalleek:

RazorChain
2018-07-28, 09:04 PM
Sounds like another good reason to give muggles everyone at-will SoD/SoS abilities. :smalleek:

Nah not really, this is just different design principle. Let's take D&D it's a game first and game only. It doesn't try to model reality not even it's own, you can't kick people in the scrotum except if you are a monk...then it's called a stunning blow. So nobody can kick people in the balls except monks and they can only do it when they are experienced enough and on the virtue of being a monk. I guess male mammals in D&D still have balls but you can't kick them because of game balance and niche protection....you know... monks. For me this is CaS epimitomized;balance is more important than immersion. Yes you can always play it as CaW but it doesn't lend itself to it even though people point at the far fetched story about the bees and the owlbear

The point is in most systems you'd rather want to be kicked in the balls rather than impaled with a sword or stabbed in the eye.