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    Default On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    Here's an idea I've been developing to either change a significant part of 3.5, or serve as part of a derivative system. (I doubt I have the creative umph to develop an entire system, sadly, although I do have a good few opinions about what one should look like.)

    Hit points are a traditional way to represent a progressive physical wearing down of health, occasionally morale, and perhaps luck or other more elusive qualities; similarly, AC generally represents the most basic binary defense against being worn down. I generally assume HP is primarily a measure of physical durability. Suppose then that spells and special abilities that target aspects other than physical health -- such as will to keep fighting, ability to see or hear, or speed of movement -- use a similar pairing of progressive and binary defense, rather than the 3.x style of save or die, save or lose, and so forth. You might have will points (WP), attacked by spells like bane, skills such as Intimidate, or abilities such as despair. To avoid loss of will points you would have some sort of binary defense; whether it's called a "save" or something else is largely cosmetic, but for now let's assume it's called a Will save. When your WP reach 0 or below, the last attack has the effect listed. For example, if you are successfully hit by a crushing despair spell that does enough WP damage to bring you to -2, you suffer the full effects of that spell. Any subsequent spells that hit will also apply their effects, of course, unless you recover WP in some way.

    Note that I'm not entirely sure what additional general conditions should apply if you drop below 0 WP, or if there should be a particular lower threshold with still more significant penalties (e.g. -10 or -Wisdom).

    There are some attacks that target neither hit points nor will points, such as poison. Whatever form it takes, poison generally must be fended off by your body, and yet it does not usually care how much damage you may have taken, or how much force of will you may have (exceptions might be made through feats that switch your defenses around, of course). What pair of defenses should be used for this?

    Further, are there any other major categories of attack/defense that should be separated out?

    And, of course, finally: is the merging of magical or supernatural attack forms against one paired defense (with multiple possible outcomes based on which attack is successful) a useful mechanic, or a confusing one?
    Last edited by TuggyNE; 2012-04-24 at 07:04 PM.
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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points

    If you're introducing a parallel HP stat, it'd be simpler to have everybody trying to deplete the same score. If some people are trying to deplete physical HP while others are trying to deplete mental HP, one group's contribution will end up irrelevant. Better to say that physical wounds make it harder to keep your will steeled, while psychological rattling makes it harder to defend yourself and press on properly.

    At which point, you have 4e's HP/defenses setup. (Which, FWIW, I happen to like. Evil wizards instagibbing bystanders shouldn't come from an instagib property of the spell, but rather from the bystanders being so comparatively weak that they're taken out by any attack. Minions are a useful concept.)

    If you wanted to go gritty and use wound tracks, there's a point to tracking damage types separately. Heroic HP depletion is best kept in the same pool to keep everyone playing the same game.

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points

    Thanks for the remarks

    Quote Originally Posted by Reluctance View Post
    If you're introducing a parallel HP stat, it'd be simpler to have everybody trying to deplete the same score. If some people are trying to deplete physical HP while others are trying to deplete mental HP, one group's contribution will end up irrelevant. Better to say that physical wounds make it harder to keep your will steeled, while psychological rattling makes it harder to defend yourself and press on properly.
    You could say that, but I happen to dislike systems that conflate the two. Therefore I am attempting an alternate route.

    It may help to note that, under this system, it should be rather more practical for martial types to attack WP in various ways, direct and indirect. Also note that, in all likelihood, collapse of one stat to 0 will make the other stat follow almost immediately due to reduced defenses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reluctance View Post
    At which point, you have 4e's HP/defenses setup. (Which, FWIW, I happen to like. Evil wizards instagibbing bystanders shouldn't come from an instagib property of the spell, but rather from the bystanders being so comparatively weak that they're taken out by any attack. Minions are a useful concept.)
    I have not tried 4e (which may be why I don't consider myself fully qualified to create an entire system), but what I know about it makes me strongly ambivalent. In particular, I don't want to go the route of having someone take "36 petrification damage to HP", or something, because HP do not include that particular abstraction to me. (I would not have such a problem with, say, "fortitude points" or similar, tracked separately.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Reluctance View Post
    If you wanted to go gritty and use wound tracks, there's a point to tracking damage types separately. Heroic HP depletion is best kept in the same pool to keep everyone playing the same game.
    Expand on this, if you would?
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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points

    If you're using a multi-health system, you're going to run into one of two problems:
    • Everybody now has more effective HP, and combats will last longer assuming not everyone is going to focus-fire a single kind of health bar.
    • Intelligent parties will focus-fire a single kind of health bar, which is boring and promotes party homogeneity instead of party diversity.


    I do respect the "WP<0, take full effect", though that will encourage using big-damage, but minimal effect abilities until their WP is below 0, at which point the best strategy is to smack them with low-damage/high-debuff effects.

    Is this a modify-D&D idea?

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    If you're using a multi-health system, you're going to run into one of two problems:
    • Everybody now has more effective HP, and combats will last longer assuming not everyone is going to focus-fire a single kind of health bar.
    • Intelligent parties will focus-fire a single kind of health bar, which is boring and promotes party homogeneity instead of party diversity.
    Good points. I expect I'd prefer to adjust things so it's more of the first, but that may require a pretty comprehensive overhaul, which is not terribly encouraging.

    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    I do respect the "WP<0, take full effect", though that will encourage using big-damage, but minimal effect abilities until their WP is below 0, at which point the best strategy is to smack them with low-damage/high-debuff effects.
    Indeed; these and other observations of second-order effects are what I'm looking for, since obviously this is not a completely thought-out system

    On the other hand, I suspect that most of the time damage and effect should be roughly synchronized in magnitude, to avoid just this sort of stunt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    Is this a modify-D&D idea?
    Largely, yes, since I doubt I'm up to designing a new system from scratch, and there are a lot of good things in stock 3.x, say.
    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Bear View Post
    That's RAW for you; 100% Rules-Legal, 110% silly.
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    Anyone knows blue is for sarcas'ing in "Take 10 SAN damage from Dark Orchid" Use of gray may indicate nitpicking Green is sincerity

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    One way you can have two parallel tracks without making one end up being useless is to have them use different timescales. Here's an example:

    In a system I run, characters have something called 'Interrupts' which refresh by 1 per round. To avoid an AoE and certain other types of attacks, you _must_ spend an Interrupt. There are other things that influence Interrupts - for instance, a Taunt can cause the enemy to lose 1 or more Interrupts. This means that its a valid tactic to try to wear down an enemy's Interrupts and then throw big AoEs at them.

    So you could do something similar with WP. Basically, WP pools are small, and refresh quickly, on the order of one-two rounds at most. Have Fighter-types have at least one choice of a combat maneuver that does HP and WP damage. Now, everyone gets their current WP pool as a bonus to all saves, and save DCs of spells are increased by half the average value of a WP pool, and all Will-negates spells do WP damage on a successful save.

    So a concrete example of this would be: Everyone has a WP pool equal to their Wisdom score. This refreshes by an amount equal to their Wis modifier per round, and completely after combat. Will saves gain a bonus of current WP, and all Will save DCs are increased by 8. Will-negates spells do WP damage equal to their spell level on a successful save, or have their normal effect on a failed save.

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    So, I dropped this for a while because I wasn't sure what direction to take it in, but the last month or two I've been thinking that I might have to put this in a whole new system after all.

    A major factor in my recent ponderings has been the idea of Stamina: the energy to keep fighting/dodging/casting/running/whatever. Essentially, every active ability is powered by expending Stamina (and some, like magic, also require some other power source). Tentatively, then, we could have four main stats:
    • hit points/HP, representing physical durability; this stat grows very slowly, at most 1 per level or thereabouts
    • will points/WP, representing mental toughness; this stat grows at different rates between different classes, and probably also grows faster based on highest mental ability score
    • stamina/SP, representing physical and mental endurance and ability to keep going; this stat grows at different rates between different classes, and probably grows faster based on Constitution or similar
    • lux/LP, the name for magical energy, like power points or spell points or mana; max lux pool size grows at different rates for different classes, but everyone has one, and recharging it costs SP at varying efficiencies, as does spending it to power magic


    (As a side note, magic items require a certain amount of lux every so often to remain functioning, and more powerful or less efficient items require more, so there's a certain practical limit on the number of items you want to use; generally, martial characters will have enough lux gathered to charge their items, and that's about it.)

    Each class has abilities to spend SP to achieve various things: heal HP, charge LP, regain WP; strike an enemy to damage their HP, WP, or even LP, or perhaps drain those for your own use, or whatever. There are also basic, low-efficiency abilities anyone can use to accomplish certain things: anyone can hit for HP damage, anyone can burn their own HP to regain SP, anyone can recharge LP at the cost of SP, and so on. Further, there are certain defensive maneuvers that generally require SP (and sometimes LP, or even WP) as well, such as parrying a weapon attack (probably available to nearly anyone), catching an arrow, creating a shield of magical energy, shrugging off a brutal blow by sheer force of will, and so on.

    Finally, lux use tends to be more magitech-oriented than arcane or divine; it may be possible to make fireballs or impressive spears of light, but it's not necessarily very efficient. In particular, lux is generated by living things, and gathered by mental effort; it's channeled through certain materials more easily than others, leading to runecrafting and several other disciplines. (Inspired by Tales of the Questor's magic system.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Bear View Post
    That's RAW for you; 100% Rules-Legal, 110% silly.
    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    "Common sense" and "RAW" are not exactly on speaking terms
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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    On the general topic, what about making each points-total involved in the depletion or defenses of another? Have side effects when you deplete them in the wrong order, or even have positive running totals for other effects?

    A few examples:

    A fighting-type character could have reserve MP (morale points) which he can tap into, meaning that when his HP would be reduced to 0 or less, he can spend some of these MP to boost himself and evade death, even perhaps going into an undying rage where he becomes a more fearsome fighter. On the other hand, if you drain his morale somehow, his physical defenses are lowered, and it gets easier to take down his HP.

    Lets say you have a fiend with HP and IP (infernal points) representing his hellish power, which he depletes whenever he uses his SLAs, heals himself, or resists your spells. Your goal is to slay the fiend, so if you just reduce his hit points to 0, his body is destroyed, but because you didn't drain him totally of his IP, he reincarnates 24 hours later, and he comes after you with a vengeance.

    Now for an increasing effect-point total idea: You're fighting a necromancer/enchanter who is controlling townsfolk. He's got a rider-effect on his mind-control spells that applies some number of NP (necrotic points) to his victims each round they're under his control, which turn them into zombies if they are slain while having them. If their NP (which could be reduced/removed via cure spells) exceed their Con or Cha (or other score or point total of your choice) they automatically die and become some other form of undead, perhaps something far tougher. So, do you cure the townsfolk (who are resisting you violently), allowing the necromancer to escape, or kill the necromancer, which means some of the townsfolk may turn into that worse undead, or do something else?

    Just something to think about. The idea of having multiple points-sets need not be a case of divisive defenses. Interaction between these points sets could recommend different tactics to drain or affect the varying numbers. Figuring out the proper combo for the type of opponent(s) could be a challenge unto itself.

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    Communicating the system in some intuitive way is really important here too. You want to be able to introduce these things logically a bit at a time so new players don't get swamped with fifty different 'health' tracks and have no idea what they need to attack or what they're doing. Then things can become more convoluted as you get to higher level play.

    So maybe Lv1-3 you only deal with HP stuff, but your character might have a single extra track that only powers abilities. At Lv4-5 you start encountering stuff that targets your extra track. At Lv6-7 you start encountering stuff with its own extra track. At Lv8-10 you start seeing a few sensible interactions pop up. And so on.

    Its an interesting design space to consider classes which not only become stronger in some ways (new abilities) but actually become more vulnerable in others (new track that can be attacked). It might help to balance out the tendency that things with more options can do everything better than things with fewer options, including defense if you also have to defend on as many fronts as you have options.

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    Quote Originally Posted by RedWarlock View Post
    A fighting-type character could have reserve MP (morale points) which he can tap into, meaning that when his HP would be reduced to 0 or less, he can spend some of these MP to boost himself and evade death, even perhaps going into an undying rage where he becomes a more fearsome fighter. On the other hand, if you drain his morale somehow, his physical defenses are lowered, and it gets easier to take down his HP.
    Roughly that interaction is actually planned for SP; martial classes will tend to have more efficient ways of avoiding damage by spending SP (because their HP aren't much more impressive than they were at first level), so if you have the ability to target SP directly it can be more efficient.

    Lets say you have a fiend with HP and IP (infernal points) representing his hellish power, which he depletes whenever he uses his SLAs, heals himself, or resists your spells. Your goal is to slay the fiend, so if you just reduce his hit points to 0, his body is destroyed, but because you didn't drain him totally of his IP, he reincarnates 24 hours later, and he comes after you with a vengeance.

    Now for an increasing effect-point total idea: You're fighting a necromancer/enchanter who is controlling townsfolk. He's got a rider-effect on his mind-control spells that applies some number of NP (necrotic points) to his victims each round they're under his control, which turn them into zombies if they are slain while having them. If their NP (which could be reduced/removed via cure spells) exceed their Con or Cha (or other score or point total of your choice) they automatically die and become some other form of undead, perhaps something far tougher. So, do you cure the townsfolk (who are resisting you violently), allowing the necromancer to escape, or kill the necromancer, which means some of the townsfolk may turn into that worse undead, or do something else?
    Some interesting food for thought there.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Communicating the system in some intuitive way is really important here too. You want to be able to introduce these things logically a bit at a time so new players don't get swamped with fifty different 'health' tracks and have no idea what they need to attack or what they're doing. Then things can become more convoluted as you get to higher level play.

    So maybe Lv1-3 you only deal with HP stuff, but your character might have a single extra track that only powers abilities. At Lv4-5 you start encountering stuff that targets your extra track. At Lv6-7 you start encountering stuff with its own extra track. At Lv8-10 you start seeing a few sensible interactions pop up. And so on.

    Its an interesting design space to consider classes which not only become stronger in some ways (new abilities) but actually become more vulnerable in others (new track that can be attacked). It might help to balance out the tendency that things with more options can do everything better than things with fewer options, including defense if you also have to defend on as many fronts as you have options.
    Hmm. My original intent was just to have a few set tracks (and I hadn't given any particular thought yet to making it easy to learn, beyond making interactions consistent), but the advantages of class subsystem tracks or something are certainly intriguing.

    One other point is that I intend for all characters to have to pay some attention to all their stats; lux is fairly important for everyone, everyone needs stamina, everyone needs at least some willpower, and everyone needs hit points. No "ironguard + friendly fire + ruin delver's fortune + astral projection" or "polymorph" stat-negating combos here.

    On the other hand, it's likely that certain stats will only be directly attackable at later levels; a lux-draining attack, for example, is not suitable for level 1.
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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    Roughly that interaction is actually planned for SP; martial classes will tend to have more efficient ways of avoiding damage by spending SP (because their HP aren't much more impressive than they were at first level), so if you have the ability to target SP directly it can be more efficient.
    Some interesting food for thought there.
    Oh, certainly, I was just throwing out general concepts for the topic.

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    Actually, "Hit Points" is an abstraction of many factors.

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsi View Post
    Actually, "Hit Points" is an abstraction of many factors.
    I've read that before; I still have trouble accepting some of its premises. Whether or not hit points were in fact intended to include, say, "skill, luck, toughness, divine favor, magical protection" when originally introduced, I find that several of those factors simply do not fit my conceptions, and I am continually annoyed by the necessity of suspending my disbelief for these various factors. (I noted this in passing in the original post, in fact, and I could go into more detail if needed.)

    In short, those don't work for me.

    If it works for you, that's fine; I don't necessarily claim that hit points can't and shouldn't ever represent anything other than physical toughness in any system ever, only that I greatly prefer a system in which they are strictly limited in extent. A pleasant side effect* in this particular set of ideas is in allowing better cooperation with more tactical complexity between characters of different types: it's practical for almost any character to target HP, but often practical for them to instead target WP, SP, or even LP but in each case, the advantages of using a progressive defense similar to HP are preserved, and cooperation-unfriendly "save-or-die", "save-or-lose", and even "save-or-gimp" abilities are eliminated.


    *Actually, it was more of the other way around, since I didn't feel like taking the time to invent a couple new subsystems just to fix HP abstractions. So the HP fix rode along with the binary save-or-X elimination.
    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Bear View Post
    That's RAW for you; 100% Rules-Legal, 110% silly.
    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
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    Anyone knows blue is for sarcas'ing in "Take 10 SAN damage from Dark Orchid" Use of gray may indicate nitpicking Green is sincerity

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    You do understand that this will require a significant overhaul of A LOT of spells and conditions, and will completely turn character-design strategy on its head, right ?

    Furthermore, your players will need to adapt to (and adopt) completely different game tactics.
    It will also change everything they know about character balance.
    Neither you no your players will have any clue regarding the scope of things this will affect and in what manner.

    Btw, how will martial combatants target WP/SP/LP, and more important, what will be their motivation for doing so, when they're already good at targeting HP ?

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    As for your concern regarding SoS effects - just houserule that saves don't automatically fail on a d20 roll of 1.
    Now most of the low level spellcasters will not be able to turn off properly optimized high-level melee characters like a switch.
    Check out my codex for how I deal with natural 1s/20s. You can also probe "Unified Codex Update.zip" in that same post to see some useful ideas I had regarding HP.

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsi View Post
    You do understand that this will require a significant overhaul of A LOT of spells and conditions, and will completely turn character-design strategy on its head, right ?

    Furthermore, your players will need to adapt to (and adopt) completely different game tactics.
    It will also change everything they know about character balance.
    Neither you no your players will have any clue regarding the scope of things this will affect and in what manner.
    In my opinion, that makes things a lot more fun, especially for people who like optimization. Most of the optimization tricks in D&D 3.5 are really well known now - totally change tactics and character design, and its a new system to discover tricks in while still having some of the old familiarity of D&D.

    Turning things on their head occasionally can be great fun. I had a player who loved E6 for that reason (as opposed to the balance reasons normally cited) - it made it so lots of traditional build considerations had to be thrown out the window.

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    Default Re: On introducing stats to parallel hit points (design-space exploration)

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsi View Post
    You do understand that this will require a significant overhaul of A LOT of spells and conditions, and will completely turn character-design strategy on its head, right ?

    Furthermore, your players will need to adapt to (and adopt) completely different game tactics.
    It will also change everything they know about character balance.
    Neither you no your players will have any clue regarding the scope of things this will affect and in what manner.
    I am aware. It's an unfortunate result of this chain of thought, but that's why I said this will probably require a new system; it might still be possible to retrofit will points into 3.5, but I've given up on that for now.

    Btw, how will martial combatants target WP/SP/LP, and more important, what will be their motivation for doing so, when they're already good at targeting HP ?
    They will have abilities to sap strength (damaging SP), demoralize (damaging WP) and some classes may have the ability to directly disrupt held lux (damaging LP). The reason for this is that HP damage will almost always be negated or reduced by spending SP (or sometimes WP or LP) at varying exchange rates, and it is therefore often more efficient to target SP directly, especially for a high-level foe with highly efficient conversion.

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsi View Post
    As for your concern regarding SoS effects - just houserule that saves don't automatically fail on a d20 roll of 1.
    Now most of the low level spellcasters will not be able to turn off properly optimized high-level melee characters like a switch.
    I don't think that's enough in itself to fix the problem, because it's by no means limited to low-level casters blowing away high-level mundanes: rather, the main issue is in the lack of cooperation between party members, some of whom target binary defenses (saves) and win by iterative probability, and some of whom target a progressive defense (HP) and win by chipping it away. (In high-op 3.5 there's a third category: those who target AC as a binary defense for "enough" HP damage, which also lacks cooperative potential.)

    For example, hideous laughter either ensures that the targeted creature loses the battle (and probably its life), or does nothing whatsoever, and in either case cannot be combined with anything else to ensure progress. (Aside from the obvious "attack it while it's nigh-helpless" part, which merely confirms what's already been done by the spell.)

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    In my opinion, that makes things a lot more fun, especially for people who like optimization. Most of the optimization tricks in D&D 3.5 are really well known now - totally change tactics and character design, and its a new system to discover tricks in while still having some of the old familiarity of D&D.
    Indeed, although I'm not sure how closely I'll be able to stick. We'll see, I guess?
    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Bear View Post
    That's RAW for you; 100% Rules-Legal, 110% silly.
    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
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    Projects: Homebrew, Gentlemen's Agreement, DMPCs, Forbidden Knowledge safety, and Top Ten Worst. Also, Quotes and RACSD are good.

    Anyone knows blue is for sarcas'ing in "Take 10 SAN damage from Dark Orchid" Use of gray may indicate nitpicking Green is sincerity

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