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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Aura instead of hit points

    This is my first post here, so apologies in advance if I missed something important. One of my players asked how narratively adventures could survive falling off a cliff, or getting hit by a giant while in real life stuff like that would carry enough kinetic force to kill anyone, regardless of combat experience. Another player asked me why healing spells are usually much weaker than a damage spell of the same level. Here is my variant rule idea to cover these. Please let me know of any adjustments I should make

    Aura

    Brief Description:
    Above your racial HD, Hit points are replaced with aura points which act the same, except narratively.
    variant: Only one hitpoint per hit dice is actual "meat points", and the rest are aura.

    Less Brief description
    An aura is not just an amount of the nearly invisible energy that surrounds an individual, protecting them from harm, but suffuses them with power, stopping damage of all sorts, re-energising the body and strengthening it against harm. The magical energy within and around someone is why many spells cannot be triggered inside an individual, and as it takes care and effort to pierce an aura. It is for this reason that a healing spell will often be unable to fully heal the damage done by a spell of similar power, and is the reason why adventures can fall off thousand foot cliffs, take a sword to the face, or be crushed by a giant, and still not break any legs. Aura is weaker in some areas, which is why attacks such as caltrops can still slow enemies and why critical hits drain more of the aura’s durability. While an external aura is present, it expends itself to heal you, although its ability to do so is limited. An aura can heal a broken bone in an instant, or even cure the harm of some poisons, but doing so weakens it.

    Even when fully drained, and when no external aura is present, the internal spiritual connection through which your soul is anchored to your body still spreads throughout your body, causing interference in the ability of external magic to pierce you.

    Some items and creatures can condense the aura around them that further hinder spells and their effects on the creature or nearby the item. This is referred to as spell resistance.

    Edit: I guess I should clarify that I am looking for ways to improve this description, rather than reasons why something that has no in game mechanical changes is a terrible idea. I also realize this is not something everyone will want in their games.
    Last edited by chevyboys; 2019-09-08 at 03:04 PM. Reason: Clarifications on poisons and things that damage from within

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Hit Points are an abstract construct and roughly equivalent to Plot Armor.

    How do characters survive falling off a cliff without serious injury, such as the 20d6 damage cap for falling 5e? The answer is simple, poorly written rules that break verisimilitude.

    Why do healing spells not heal as much as damage spells? Well, healing and fixing something is often much more difficult than destroying something. Another explanation is balance, or an at least an attempt at balance.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Quote Originally Posted by Zman View Post
    Hit Points are an abstract construct and roughly equivalent to Plot Armor.

    How do characters survive falling off a cliff without serious injury, such as the 20d6 damage cap for falling 5e? The answer is simple, poorly written rules that break verisimilitude.

    Why do healing spells not heal as much as damage spells? Well, healing and fixing something is often much more difficult than destroying something. Another explanation is balance, or an at least an attempt at balance.
    As much as I agree with you, I am trying to create a narrative reasoning for these things, rather than chalking it up to poorly written rules or plot armor.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Quote Originally Posted by chevyboys View Post
    As much as I agree with you, I am trying to create a narrative reasoning for these things, rather than chalking it up to poorly written rules or plot armor.
    No, Hit Points are literally plot armor. It isn't that the 10 damage from an axe is near fatal at level one but is barely a scratch at level 20, it is because at level 20 the potential lethal blow of the axe is negated by plot armor. It turns hits into misses etc.

    From 5e "Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck."

    Falling is designed to be more damaging as you fall further, but a poorly chosen cap and die size are the simplest solution for why falling breaks verisimilitude.

    Your post literally says that a player asks how a character could survive the fall narratively etc. The answer is plot armor. You can give a thousand examples of movies or books when something happened that should have killed a character but they survive despite the fact they should be dead. The answer is plot armor, both heroes and villains have it and mooks and expendables do not.

    Just going with "plot armor" is way easier than trying to make up an explanation for the inexplicable. Might as well just say its because of the midichlorians or something. That didn't work out for Star Wars, people were more upset with a poor explanation for the space magic than they were accepting the force for what it was, space magic.

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    The entire enterprise of the game mechanics of D&D 5e are game constructs, and any serious attempt to critically analyse them is bound to end in disappointment. They work as "verisimilitude models" only so long as you don't look closely at them at all. I mean, look at the combat rules. In any fight, who actually stands around during any given six-second span waiting to take their turn? Nobody. The rules impose that structure on combat all the same.

    My considered opinion is that the D&D 5e rules are not meant to be taken as a "verisimilitude model", and certainly weren't designed with that intent in mind. (As such I must perforce disagree that they are poorly written.)

    The characters in the game world don't know that they have hit points, or that they are making attack rolls, or that they have a proficiency bonus, etc. etc. etc. Unless you're running a game in a version of the OOTS-verse, I guess.

    The rules of any game are really meant to facilitate a specific kind of gameplay. Those of D&D facilitate heroic fantasy adventuring, where heroes rise from more-or-less "realistic" origins to become truly extraordinary individuals capable of genuinely amazing feats, wield incredible magics that tell physics to shut up and go sit in the corner, and struggle against monsters that make a mockery of anything we know of biology.

    It seems to me that replacing hit points with "aura points" that work exactly the same but try to force the mechanical concept into better fitting a a "verisimilitude model" is also going to end in disappointment, and if your players aren't prepared to set aside interpreting the game rules as "verisimilitude models", you probably just need to keep your games in tier one (levels 1-5), when their hit point totals aren't getting totally out of hand.
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    Playing the Game: Using Ability Score Variants
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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Hit points really don't work as anything but absurdly inflated meat. Treating them as an abstract "luck and plot armor" raises all sorts of new questions, such as "why can't I heal them without magic" and "wait, what the hell is my healing spell doing anyway?" In my experience, the only way to deal with it* is to lean into it. Why can your Barbarian still stand and fight after being stabbed twenty times? Because **** you, he's just that badass.

    (Dropping long rest healing can help keep disbelief from being strained too hard, as long as you adjust the pace of adventuring to compensate. It could alternately be explained as extremely slow ritual magic of some sort)

    -----------

    *Short of overhauling the game to have a vitality-and-wounds system, of which there are a few homebrews floating around out there.

    Spoiler: Tangential Note
    Show

    Speaking of hit points as plot armor, by far the coolest way I've seen it handled has been by Exalted 3e. Basic attacks explicitly don't involve hurting the other guy. Instead, they're all about gaining an advantageous position-- mechanically, by stealing the targets "when-do-I-act" initiative. Striking to kill pretty much totally ignores your weapon, dealing damaged based purely on your current initiative. It's very Street Fighter.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2019-09-04 at 04:59 PM.

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    “It’s like his muscles are made of Cotati metal fibers.”

    Con as an evolutionary adaptation. Increased resilience. Similar with strength and dexterity. So if you have a strength score of 9001 you won't need to look like you shouldn't be medium size category given muscle bloat.
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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    4E had a quite decent system, all you needed to do was rename hit points exhaustion points and call surges woundsand you were good to go. Your character had a number of wounds equal to their con score, but it took more and more effort to injure them as they got stronger. When you spent a surge to heal your HP you were taking a second wind, but injuring your body in the process.
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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Hit Points get discussed A LOT.

    Despite the facts that things like Bloodied existed in 4th and characters only gaining back 1 a day in AD&D and 2nd Ed, there are now a very vocal group of “it’s not meat” crew, only that last hit is meat.

    Attempts to discuss it otherwise are often shot down.

    I like your idea, pursue it!
    Ancient gamer slowly rising from torpor, please forgive my ignorance of these modern times.

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Quote Originally Posted by Malfarian View Post
    Hit Points get discussed A LOT.

    Despite the facts that things like Bloodied existed in 4th and characters only gaining back 1 a day in AD&D and 2nd Ed, there are now a very vocal group of “it’s not meat” crew, only that last hit is meat.

    Attempts to discuss it otherwise are often shot down.

    I like your idea, pursue it!
    You really shouldn't take a "despite the facts" tack and then plough on despite other, contrary facts, such as how the game designers in the very editions you mention explicitly contradict you in the rules' definition of hit points. Indeed, I'm sure these quotes get dusted off and trotted out in most, if not all, discussions on hit points, making your omission all the more baffling.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1st Edition AD&D PHB pg. 34
    Each character has a varying number of hit points, just as monsters do. These hit points represent how much damage (real or potential) the character can withstand before being killed. A certain amount of these hit points represent the actual physical punishment which can be sustained. The remainder, a significant portion of hit points at higher levels, stands for skill, luck, and/or magical factors. [Emphasis mine.] A typical man-at-arms can take about 5 hit points of damage before being killed. Let us suppose that a 10th level fighter has 55 hit points, plus a bonus of 30 hit points for his constitution, for a total of 85 hit points. This is the equivalent of about 18 hit dice for creatures, or about what it would take to kill four huge warhorses. It is ridiculous to assume that even a fantastic fighter can take that much punishment. The same holds true to a lesser extent for clerics, thieves, and the other classes. Thus, the majority of hit points are symbolic of combat skill, luck (bestowed by supernatural powers), and magical forces.
    I won't quote the 4th-edition PHB here; suffice to say the gist is the same. What is more, you also ignore another important "despite the" fact in that edition - the existence of minions, who have 1 hit point despite the fact that their bodies are built in similar proportion to other creatures of their size.

    Hit points have consistently been defined as "more than just meat points" by the designers of each and every edition of the game. If it works for your table to treat hit points, whether generally or just those of the PCs, as "meat points", well and good, but it's no wonder attempts to assert that they are "meat points" in general discussion about the mechanics of the game get "shot down", because it is a plainly false assertion.
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    Playing the Game: Using Ability Score Variants
    New Subsystems: Combat Manoeuvre System
    Monsters: Yogg-Saron

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Quote Originally Posted by Composer99 View Post
    You really shouldn't take a "despite the facts" tack and then plough on despite other, contrary facts, such as how the game designers in the very editions you mention explicitly contradict you in the rules' definition of hit points. Indeed, I'm sure these quotes get dusted off and trotted out in most, if not all, discussions on hit points, making your omission all the more baffling.



    I won't quote the 4th-edition PHB here; suffice to say the gist is the same. What is more, you also ignore another important "despite the" fact in that edition - the existence of minions, who have 1 hit point despite the fact that their bodies are built in similar proportion to other creatures of their size.

    Hit points have consistently been defined as "more than just meat points" by the designers of each and every edition of the game. If it works for your table to treat hit points, whether generally or just those of the PCs, as "meat points", well and good, but it's no wonder attempts to assert that they are "meat points" in general discussion about the mechanics of the game get "shot down", because it is a plainly false assertion.
    Yet at the same time, people would regain only 1 or 2 hp per day, with the justification that healing was slow.

    My point is the game has always been inconsistent. The descriptions of damage in many supplements would indicated blood or actual damage, not just “luck”. Bloodied condition of 4th didn’t make sense unless meat was in there. I don’t knew why options give luck but luck potions don’t give Hp.

    My rule of HP is don’t think about it. I’d never use the OP rules but I’m fine he suggested them.

    I think some people were a bit harsh to the OP who admitted is new to our group.
    Last edited by Malfarian; 2019-09-05 at 06:30 PM.

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Well someone's been watching RWBY. And with good reason!

    When I watched, I totally said "oh yeah, those are hit points". Every action genre, from Western to Anime, has different "settings" so to speak. And a lot of anime has a lot of people being hurled through buildings, falling hundreds of meters, tanking massive explosions...and they're fine, barring some smudges of dirt. It's over the top, and there's nothing wrong with that at all.

    "Aura" in the RWBY context allows people who are physically human to take that level of abuse. It's a great story mechanic that also saves a fortune in animation costs. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it, at all.

    If you go with "hit points aren't just pure physical damage" as the comments above say, well, you can still do this, but you will be forced to create a mechanic similar to

    Quote Originally Posted by Phhase View Post
    The Takea shark has been jumped.
    this thread right here. So aura is a force field that blocks physical abuse. Fine. What happens when they eat toxic food? I don't think RWBY's aura stops that. Will aura stop you from twisting your ankle? What about psionic damage? If you fall unconscious, and someone restores your aura (looking at you, Jaune), do you get back up?

    There is nothing at all wrong with using aura. It could be a lot of fun! It means your PCs could, for example, spar at full strength with no real risk of death. But bear in mind, you will incidentally be creating a split "health pool" situation, in which losing some hit points leaves you unharmed, but losing the others causes you to die. Both will have different recovery systems, and the faster aura comes back, the more fights your PCs can have in a day.

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Quote Originally Posted by Zman View Post
    How do characters survive falling off a cliff without serious injury, such as the 20d6 damage cap for falling 5e? The answer is simple, poorly written rules that break verisimilitude.
    I tend to think of it as more of a superpowers thing

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    What baffles me here is that this changes nothing mechanical here that would need a look-over for balance. You're just naming a batch of points something else.

    Cool. Go do that. It's your home game - you don't need the approval of random strangers on the internet. If you need to ask anyone about this, ask your group - they're the ones that have to like it, so why not cut out the middleman?

    ---

    That being said, because Grod brought it up, the game with the best narrative HP is Nobilis/Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine. There, your Wounds are literally a representation of how much of a narrative veto you have regarding your character. Someone turns you into a cat? Mark off a Wound and you get to say how that turned out.
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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Quote Originally Posted by Amechra View Post
    What baffles me here is that this changes nothing mechanical here that would need a look-over for balance. You're just naming a batch of points something else.

    Cool. Go do that. It's your home game - you don't need the approval of random strangers on the internet. If you need to ask anyone about this, ask your group - they're the ones that have to like it, so why not cut out the middleman?
    I am trying to get feedback on how to tweak this description so I can improve my narrative abilities as a GM. While the general idea is something my group is ok with, I want to create a neat description of how this works for some of the new players joining our group. So the "middle man" is to help me tweek my description to more effectively communicate the idea, and make sure I didn't open a glaring hole in the theory.

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Haven’t been keeping up with the thread but it put me in mind of something.

    You could divide your HP pools into “Magic Resistance” and “Physical Resilience.” And have magic damage pull from one and physical attacks pull from the other. Players could choose how much of each level goes into either.

    You could divide npc hp the same way and have some monsters be chumps to fireballs while others laugh at disintegration but get destroyed by daggers and hatchets.

    You could replace the “Magic Resistance” trait (which I dislike for its “grats casters, you did nothing!”) by just giving bonus “MR” hp.

    Players could do the same. I’d recommend having the first level provide full points to both pools but subsequent levels are divided as desired by players.

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    HP only doesn't work if you imagine the characters as mundane. Whereas at high levels they're more in the territory of legend. You have to imagine something akin to the legends surrounding the death of Rasputin, how supposedly he was repeatedly shot and stabbed and beaten with heavy chains and cut to ribbons and yet still wouldn't stay down

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    I have always liked Bleach's take on hp. It's beyond physical, it's your lifeforce, spiritual force, etc. This has always made the most sense to me and easily explains why some heroes, regardless of size, can take absurd amounts of damage and survive, while others pass out from a nosebleed. It's a far better explanation than "plot armor".

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Quote Originally Posted by chevyboys View Post
    This is my first post here, so apologies in advance if I missed something important. One of my players asked how narratively adventures could survive falling off a cliff, or getting hit by a giant while in real life stuff like that would carry enough kinetic force to kill anyone, regardless of combat experience. Another player asked me why healing spells are usually much weaker than a damage spell of the same level. Here is my variant rule idea to cover these. Please let me know of any adjustments I should make
    Just want to reassure you as a first time poster that you'll get a lot of very salty posts in response to pretty much any homebrew, parse it for any useful criticism and otherwise ignore anyone not actually contributing to your idea. As people have pointed out, it's your table so if you and your players are on board I wouldn't worry too much about the harsher criticisms.

    That said, liking this Aura idea! Reminds me of a few other abstractions I've seen like high-level characters being more (or less, depending on flavor) real, thus making it more difficult to effect meaningful changes to said character. No reason for Aura to not be equally effective against poisons etc as swords.
    Personally I usually fall on the side of "but what *is* plot armour/will to live/non-meat abstraction of your choice?" Anything like your Aura idea goes a long way to fulfilling versimilitude in games in my opinion.

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    Default Re: Aura instead of hit points

    Quote Originally Posted by Onos View Post
    Just want to reassure you as a first time poster that you'll get a lot of very salty posts in response to pretty much any homebrew, parse it for any useful criticism and otherwise ignore anyone not actually contributing to your idea. As people have pointed out, it's your table so if you and your players are on board I wouldn't worry too much about the harsher criticisms.

    That said, liking this Aura idea! Reminds me of a few other abstractions I've seen like high-level characters being more (or less, depending on flavor) real, thus making it more difficult to effect meaningful changes to said character. No reason for Aura to not be equally effective against poisons etc as swords.
    Personally I usually fall on the side of "but what *is* plot armour/will to live/non-meat abstraction of your choice?" Anything like your Aura idea goes a long way to fulfilling versimilitude in games in my opinion.
    {Scrubbed}, I agree. {Scrubbed}
    Last edited by jdizzlean; 2019-10-10 at 10:48 PM. Reason: clean up aisle D&D

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