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    Default A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    So, in a couple of threads I've been reading recently, the topic of what hit points are, what they represent, and how they work has come up several times. And it is true, hit points are a very abstract concept. What I am proposing here is a slightly new take on the old Vitality and Wound Point system.

    Simply put, the Vitality and Wounds system is conceptually nice, but in practice results in characters dying anytime they are crit. It makes the system far more lethal, which I don't think was really the intention, but the fact is the details were very poorly thought out. So what I have here is a more tweaked version of it. This incorporates elements from the WP/VP system, but also draws from other sources, such as Shadowrun and also to some degree the size system from Dungeons: The Dragoning (I'm reasonably sure the mechanic also exists elsewhere, but I'm not familiar with the original source if so). Anyway, here it goes:




    Health Points-Your HP represents actual wounds your body is capable of taking. All characters have close to the same amount of HP, and this value increases very slowly as you increase in power. Your health points are equal to 5+1/2 your HD+size modifier+your constitution modifier. Health points may not go below 1.

    Example: A 4th level Human Fighter with 14 constitution would have 9 Health Points. A 4th level Halfling Wizard with 10 constitution would have 3 Health Points.


    Vitality Points-Your VP represents some combination of skill, luck, and stamina that you possess. This is the value that is set by your hit die. You start with hit points equal to your highest attribute, and gain extra hit points at every level based on your hit dice. A first level player character maximizes his hit die, every level thereafter is rolled.

    For example, a Wizard with 18 Intelligence begins play with 22 vitality points. A Fighter with 16 strength begins play with 26 vitality points.

    Note: You use your highest stat to determine this value rather than your constitution because Vitality Points aren't necessarily just how tough you are. A Wizard's VP might be based on his intellect, as he uses that to position himself to avoid the brunt of an attack, preventing him from taking physical harm. The rogue's agility allows him to dodge away from an attack, and so on. If you prefer the lower VP values, this could be made back to being based off constitution, but I feel this may make Con too strong of a defensive stat.

    Damage Threshold-Your damage threshold is how much damage you take prior to taking HP damage. Your Damage Threshold is: Constitution Score + 1/2 Level + Armor Bonus + Size Modifiers.

    If an attack deals more damage in a single hit than your damage threshold, in addition to taking damage to your vitality points, you take 1 HP damage. For every 10 points of damage your damage threshold is passed, you take 1 additional HP damage.

    Example: If you have a Damage Threshold of 15, and take 25 points of damage in one hit, you would take 2 hits points in damage, because the damage exceeded your threshold by 10.


    Critical Hits- A critical hit automatically deals damage to HP equal to their critical multiplier -1, in addition to any health taken away from damage. So a long sword that crits for 18 damage against a target with a Damage Threshold of 15 would deal 2 hp damage, in addition to the 18 VP damage.

    Out of Vitality-A character who has run out of VP falls unconscious. If left unattended, the character will recover on his own after approximately 5 minutes, at which point he regains 1 vitality and may stand back up. While unconscious, the character is vulnerable to coup de gras attacks. Additionally, while unconscious your damage threshold is considered 0, any damage you sustain automatically causes at least 1 health damage.

    Penalties-For every 3 points of damage dealt to HP, you take a cumulative -1 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws, and AC. Additionally any of your abilities that grant a saving throw have their DC reduced by the same amount.

    Disabled and Dying-This works as normal. At 0 hit points, the character becomes disabled, moving may be done without further injury, but taking a standard action inflicts 1 point of HP damage, causing you to begin bleeding out if the action does not increase your HP.

    If a character reaches negative hit points before hitting 0 VP, he falls unconscious. A character with negative hit points takes 1 HP damage every round until stabilized. An unattended character has a 10% chance to stabilize each round.

    Nonlethal Damage-Effects that deal nonlethal damage deal full damage to vitality points, but do not cause any damage to health points, regardless of damage done.

    Recovering VP-Vitality is easy to recover. All spells that currently restore HP recover VP. Additionally, VP is recovered with a full night's rest.

    Recovering HP-HP is harder to recover, typically requiring longer periods of time to recover, days to weeks recovering naturally. 1 Hit Point per 4 HD (round up) is recovered with 8 hours of rest naturally, or 1 HP per 2 HD with a full 24 hours of bedrest. The Heal Skill increases the rate of healing as normal. Additionally some higher level healing spells may recover HP. (Haven't determined details on if it should be bonus HP healing from higher level cure/heal spells, or a separate new spell line.)
    Last edited by Seerow; 2011-10-11 at 06:06 PM.
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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    I like the premise. I know you weren't looking for as lethal as the UA system, but on first glance, this looks like it substantially lowers lethality, especially at the low levels. A little too much, I think.

    Figure, an unarmored 1st level wizard, Con 14 (typical Elite array secondary stat), Int 15. Vitality is 6, HP 7, DT 15. Orc with a falchion deals 2d4+3.

    The first hit should run the wizard out of vitality, lowering DT to 7 and guaranteeing +1 hit point per shot. On a non-critical, it will probably exceed the halved vitality, but won't double it. It's looking at 2 hp per hit with average rolls, meaning four solid "this is your unarmored body taking damage from a two-handed edged weapon" hits to drop the wizard. Even a max-damage critical hit only does 5 hp, not enough to drop any character with a positive Con modifier in one blow.

    I think running out of vitality has to have a greater impact. Either removing the DT, causing all further damage to spill over to hp, or massively lowering it. Simply lowering DT in general could also help with this - maybe make it Con Mod + Level * 2 + Armor Bonus, or something.

    A couple rules you also might want to factor in are for environmental effects and effects triggered on a hit. Two of the big complaints about "hit points as not-really-getting-hurt" systems, as I understand, is that hazards don't affect characters realistically, and things like poison mean that even the slightest hit has to cause some degree of damage. The latter isn't as big of an issue - it's quite possible to draw blood without causing significant physical trauma - but you might want environmental hazards to either reduce DT, or deal some direct hp damage - maybe something like one hp per d6 normally rolled, or maybe roll the dice and say something like...0 hp per 1, 1 hp per 2-5, and 2 hp per 6. Would actually make it possible for miraculous survivals, but would also mean that these hazards remain hazardous (barring great luck, a 200' fall or lava bath would take out even a 20th level character with Con 20 or less).

    Overall, though, the theory is sound. Just needs some math tweaking. What level of lethality are you going for?
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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    Quote Originally Posted by Quellian-dyrae View Post
    I like the premise. I know you weren't looking for as lethal as the UA system, but on first glance, this looks like it substantially lowers lethality, especially at the low levels. A little too much, I think.
    I figured being a bit more survivable than default was a given, since VP becomes higher than HP is currently, and HP itself is harder to damage. My thought was that it was counteracted to some degree by the penalties for taking HP damage and running out of VP. Basically, it's harder to kill a character, but there's more of a gradient between up and fine, and dead.

    Figure, an unarmored 1st level wizard, Con 14 (typical Elite array secondary stat), Int 15. Vitality is 6, HP 7, DT 15. Orc with a falchion deals 2d4+3.

    The first hit should run the wizard out of vitality, lowering DT to 7 and guaranteeing +1 hit point per shot. On a non-critical, it will probably exceed the halved vitality, but won't double it. It's looking at 2 hp per hit with average rolls, meaning four solid "this is your unarmored body taking damage from a two-handed edged weapon" hits to drop the wizard. Even a max-damage critical hit only does 5 hp, not enough to drop any character with a positive Con modifier in one blow.

    I think running out of vitality has to have a greater impact. Either removing the DT, causing all further damage to spill over to hp, or massively lowering it. Simply lowering DT in general could also help with this - maybe make it Con Mod + Level * 2 + Armor Bonus, or something.
    This however does seem pretty extreme, you're right that it seems like the DT when out of VP is probably a bit too high. On the other hand, I don't want a single hit when your VP hits 0 to kill you outright like it does in the UA system. 2-3 hits seems like the sweet spot.

    However, given that, it may be that the VP simply needs to be reduced some to compensate, so you run out of VP sooner, but you can still keep going a bit when you do.

    Maybe something like all HD sizes go down by 1, and have a lower contribution from stats (not sure how that would work offhand.


    A couple rules you also might want to factor in are for environmental effects and effects triggered on a hit. Two of the big complaints about "hit points as not-really-getting-hurt" systems, as I understand, is that hazards don't affect characters realistically, and things like poison mean that even the slightest hit has to cause some degree of damage. The latter isn't as big of an issue - it's quite possible to draw blood without causing significant physical trauma - but you might want environmental hazards to either reduce DT, or deal some direct hp damage - maybe something like one hp per d6 normally rolled, or maybe roll the dice and say something like...0 hp per 1, 1 hp per 2-5, and 2 hp per 6. Would actually make it possible for miraculous survivals, but would also mean that these hazards remain hazardous (barring great luck, a 200' fall or lava bath would take out even a 20th level character with Con 20 or less).
    I had considered that, and while it makes sense, it is outside the scope of a quick insert house rule. I've been toying with the idea of making a new system, and if I did then those sorts of things would be accounted for. Things like poisoned weapons only taking effect when they cause HP damage, poison gasses and diseases bypassing VP completely, falling damage going straight to HP, etc.

    It also opens up room for new feats/abilities that affect DTs, similar to how there's some that let you bypass DR.

    Some magic effects I think would also tie in nicely to the VP/HP system. For example rather than Finger of Death requiring under 50 HP, it would require running out of VP. I could see many other save or suck abilities being altered to either have no effect, or lesser effect, until the target has run out of VP, so the fight isn't to whoever fails a saving throw first.

    But the point is the things you can potentially tie into the system get larger the more you think about it. When making a new system you can do that, but for simply inserting a system into an existing game, you're looking at a ton of random changes that brings the alternate system to a level of complexity that makes people say "Why bother?", so it's better to keep it simple and the things it changes to a minimum.
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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    This looks like some past versions of my VP/Injury system (the latest draft of which, if you're curious, you can read here. Warning: my system has gotten less and less like D&D over time, so it might not make much sense without looking into the rest of the system).

    On the whole I think it's going in a good direction, especially if increasing your Damage Threshold is the only (or the dominant) effect of Armor. (I.e., something else, like a level-based bonus, is what makes your "AC" increase.)

    A couple possible issues that jump out at me:
    • Dividing damage by damage threshold to determine hp damage. I know it's easy math, but math still slows things down in my experience. It might be easy to do in your head when the threshold is 15, but what happens when it's a number whose multiples are less familiar, like 17?
    • This system does make it pretty impossible for anyone to die to, like, one attack. Even a giant attacking a commoner will be hard-pressed to drop him in one hit. This may not bother you, depending on how simulationist you want the system to run. (It is, after all, kind of bad game design to make one-hit-kills possible.)
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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    This looks like some past versions of my VP/Injury system (the latest draft of which, if you're curious, you can read here. Warning: my system has gotten less and less like D&D over time, so it might not make much sense without looking into the rest of the system).
    I'll take a look at it.

    On the whole I think it's going in a good direction, especially if increasing your Damage Threshold is the only (or the dominant) effect of Armor. (I.e., something else, like a level-based bonus, is what makes your "AC" increase.)
    I actually wasn't going to go this route, but I actually like it. I was kind of worried that this system would make Heavy Armor a no-brainer, as it has the highest DT, and roughly the same or better AC than light armor... making the Armor bonus a straight up DT increase, then lets you choose between having a higher dex bonus to AC (and thus getting hit less if you have higher dex), or having a higher DT and taking less damage. Sort of like armor as DR, but less binary.

    A couple possible issues that jump out at me:
    Dividing damage by damage threshold to determine hp damage. I know it's easy math, but math still slows things down in my experience. It might be easy to do in your head when the threshold is 15, but what happens when it's a number whose multiples are less familiar, like 17?
    It's still relatively easy unless numbers get really high. Like until you're breaking 100-200 damage an attack, and by the time you're capable of that, your DT should be similarly pretty high to the point where the multiples are still pretty easy (ie given a DT of 47 and a damage of 110 you can eyeball it and see it's going to be 2 damage relatively easily).

    Though looking at it, the DT may not scale well enough with level. It seems as though it may be slightly high at level 1, but at mid to high levels it hasn't increased enough to deal with increased damage output. It also seems to unfairly punish damage from a ton of weak attacks vs one really strong attack. The DT and VP formulas could both use some tweaking.

    This system does make it pretty impossible for anyone to die to, like, one attack. Even a giant attacking a commoner will be hard-pressed to drop him in one hit. This may not bother you, depending on how simulationist you want the system to run. (It is, after all, kind of bad game design to make one-hit-kills possible.)
    I'd imagine NPC classes like commoners and such simply don't get VP. Monsters and people with real classes do, but since VP represents the ability to deflect/avoid attacks, and is to some degree a skill, I'd imagine average every day people just have their AC to avoid attacks, and if they get hit, it's doing damage. Given that, and that the Commoner likely has no armor, and say 10 con, you're looking at 5 HP, with a DT of 5... so he has to hit for 20 damage to bring him down in one shot.

    Okay, maybe that is too high for one shotting a commoner. It's not difficult for a giant to hit, but it takes a lot for a couple level 1 humans to kill each other.
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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    I actually wasn't going to go this route, but I actually like it. I was kind of worried that this system would make Heavy Armor a no-brainer, as it has the highest DT, and roughly the same or better AC than light armor... making the Armor bonus a straight up DT increase, then lets you choose between having a higher dex bonus to AC (and thus getting hit less if you have higher dex), or having a higher DT and taking less damage. Sort of like armor as DR, but less binary.
    Yep, that's what I had in mind. And "sort of like armor as DR, but less binary" is exactly how I think armor should function. (Armor shouldn't make you harder to hit, it should make a hit have less effect on you. But Armor as DR is a clumsy way to implement it: not only is it an annoying mechanic to communicate across the game table, but it can too easily make some folks invincible against e.g. hordes of kobolds with slings.)

    It's still relatively easy unless numbers get really high. Like until you're breaking 100-200 damage an attack, and by the time you're capable of that, your DT should be similarly pretty high to the point where the multiples are still pretty easy (ie given a DT of 47 and a damage of 110 you can eyeball it and see it's going to be 2 damage relatively easily).

    Though looking at it, the DT may not scale well enough with level. It seems as though it may be slightly high at level 1, but at mid to high levels it hasn't increased enough to deal with increased damage output. It also seems to unfairly punish damage from a ton of weak attacks vs one really strong attack. The DT and VP formulas could both use some tweaking.
    Good luck! I worry that you'll run into the overall difficulty that, in 3.5e, the scaling of damage (per attack) with level is extremely inconsistent from one character to another.
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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    A few things.
    1. Creatures of larger or smaller size need more hp. Dragons, for instance. Maybe only 1 or 2 more/less for Small and Large, as those are sometimes PCs, but pixies should be squishy and giants should be tough as bricks. I'm not sure how much more for bigger creatures, though. A dragon shouldn't be able to survive being impaled on a tower unless the dragon is seriously massive or especially hardcore. But they should be able to survive some direct cannon fire.
    2. I highly suggest taking out the casting check at no VP. It makes you fatigued; if you want a concentration check for casting system, you should probably include that separately so that it doesn't seem so tacked-on.


    Otherwise, this system looks really cool. I may include it in my own homebrew "3.75" system.

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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    I am actually working on a similar system for a homebrew game of mine. It shares some elements with your system, but it it a little closer to a more traditional wound system. Basically, there are three wound levels before death: fine, moderate wounds, and critical wounds. A player is in fine condition if the have greater than 2/3 of their maximum HP value, moderate wounds if between 1/3 and 2/3, and critical wounds if they have less than 1/3. Fine condition causes no penalties, obviously. Moderate wounds give players a -2 penalties to all rolls(including damage). Critical wounds increases the penalty to -4, and spellcasters can only cast spells of a level equal to the highest spell level they can cast -1, with a minimum spell level of 1. Defenses are determined by what kind of attack it is, with a bonus to the defence equal to 1/2 their highest mod(this is still apllied if your highest mod is the one that correlates with the defence that you are using). For example, let's say that Krunk is being attacked by a kobold wearing a headdress made of human ears. The kobold is a brave one and decides the throw a punch at Krunk. This is a melee attack against Krunk's Strength, which is 12, which gives him a mod of +6. This makes Krunk's defense for the attack equal to 12+3(half highest mod)+6(correlating mod)+1(for armor), or 22. the kobold makes an exceptional attack and manages to land the punch. Before calculating damage reduction, the punch will do 7 damage to Krunk. The damage is reduced by 3(1/4 of the correlating skill value)+2(1/3 of the highest mod)+1(1/2 armor rating, round down, minimum of 1), or 6, reducing the amount of damage that Krunk takes to a measly 1 point.

    This system is still very much in the works and has not been play-tested, but I hope it can be on some use to you with your system or something. Also, please feel free to comment on the system I described above. All criticism is appreciated.
    (math fixed)
    Last edited by sojikai; 2011-07-03 at 04:14 PM.

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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    Will reply in a bit.

    But first I want to request if any moderator is reading this and about the lock for thread necromancy to please not. I do intend to update this when I get an opportunity to playtest and tune the numbers, and I'd rather not be opening up another new thread.
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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    I just realized I royally screwed up my math. This will soon be fixed.

    Okay, so it was really just one little misplced number, but anyway, it's fixed now.
    Last edited by sojikai; 2011-07-03 at 04:15 PM.

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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    Quote Originally Posted by Tatsel_Ganav View Post
    A few things.
    1. Creatures of larger or smaller size need more hp. Dragons, for instance. Maybe only 1 or 2 more/less for Small and Large, as those are sometimes PCs, but pixies should be squishy and giants should be tough as bricks. I'm not sure how much more for bigger creatures, though. A dragon shouldn't be able to survive being impaled on a tower unless the dragon is seriously massive or especially hardcore. But they should be able to survive some direct cannon fire.
    2. I highly suggest taking out the casting check at no VP. It makes you fatigued; if you want a concentration check for casting system, you should probably include that separately so that it doesn't seem so tacked-on.


    Otherwise, this system looks really cool. I may include it in my own homebrew "3.75" system.
    -Maybe 1/2 size bonus to damage threshold? That would give a colossal creature +8 DT, and a fine creature -8.

    -You're right that fatigue/exhaustion being rewritten is probably a better solution than tacking on a concentration check. The default fatigue unfortunately primarily harms melee, and making a subsystem that lets casters significantly stronger was not the intention. I'll probably put up a modified fatigue/exhaustion later.



    @Sojikai-Your system is interesting, but vastly different from this. Basing all the stuff on multiple stats seems to me like it would lead to a very wide range of effects, and thus a wide damage range, which is a problem my system already suffers from that if Im reading right yours exacerbates.
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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    I rather like how most of you're system works, but I have one criticism:

    As you have things currently written the concentration check a mage has to make when out of vp gets harder to make as a result of them being a higher level, and while mechanically this has the desired effect of getting harder in proportion to the characters strength intuitively it feels a bit backwards and more than a bit annoying. This is compounded by the fact that the DCs are incredibly low especially at low levels; if we use Quellian-dyrae example wizard from the second and give him max ranks in concentration (a fairly common practice) we find that he needs to roll a -7 to fail, in fact he would need more than 4x as much cp before he would need to roll more than a 1. Unfortunately by the time he has an VP that high his check will have gotten even higher.
    Personally I would make this some kind of caster level check that's tied to the hp/wound system, just like most of the other penalties.
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    Default Re: A slightly different take on the HP mechanic [D&D]

    I've been letting this stew in the back of my head for a while, and finally decided to get around to revisiting it, prompted by a couple other recent topics on the issue.


    1) I changed how VP is calculated. It now works closer to 4e, where you get the attribute+HD, instead of HD+attribute mod*hd. This makes for more durable first level characters, who may survive a hit or two, but somewhat squishier high level characters. (Your average level 20 fighter will now have something like 150 vp, where currently that number is more like 250. Average level 20 wizard has more like 90ish. So this makes hit dice in general more important)

    2) I changed how HP damage is handled. Rather than division, which was pretty much universally complained about, I changed it to be increments of 10. For every 10 your threshold is exceeded, you take one extra HP damage. This means heavily armored fighters will typically be capable of being dropped to 0 VP without taking significant wounds, but the guy in a robe who gets hit is probably going to feel it.

    3) Hitting 0 VP now makes you fall unconscious rather than making you significantly weaker and having you keep fighting until death. This means most encounters will actually end with enemies defeated, but not outright dead.

    4) Size modifiers now matter in both HP and Damage Thresholds. This means that bigger creatures are harder to kill, which is to be expected. I am still debating also increasing their VP, because being harder to kill doesn't matter much if they fall over unconscious at the same time. Maybe a +1 bonus VP per HD per size category (so the Tarrasque goes from 315 vp in this system up to about 505, without significantly skewing most player VP)



    5) Not a change put into the first post, but I am considering making healing surges an official part of these rules. I am personally fond of the mechanic, and think VP is particularly well suited to it. This would tie in with the lower player HP, making in combat healing a viable role again.
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