Damage Threshold

This is something I saw in the Star Wars RPG: each PC has a value called "Damage Threshold", which is equal to your constitution score, or 10 + con bonus, or something like that.

This is the damage you can take from one single attack. If a single attack does more damage than this, you are winded, and drop one space on the "condition" track. Only proper healing and/or a full night's rest can restore it.

A similar concept could be applied here: once the Damage Threshold is determined, simply rule that if a single attack does more damage than that, you suffer some kind of penlty for being "winded" - however it's best worked. Could be just for that fight (until you're able to take a breather), could be for a few rounds, could even be negated with a Fort save (DC is the amount of damage you took).

What does that do? It helps make combat less predictable, and potentially more dangerous:

Him: "I have 100 hitpoints and 50 potions! You can't hurt me!"
You: *crit for 15 damage*
Him: "Ow! That hurt! Oh no, I have *insert penalty*! I no longer have the advantage!"

It's a concept I really liked anyway. Could be another optional rule for hardcore players.
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!
I've been using some sort of Damage threshold in various games since 2e   It works very nicely.  HP can then be "vitality," representing all sorts of abstract things--footing, stamina, ability to endure getting knocked around some, etc.  HP can be recovered quickly, even like the 5e rules.  But fix it with real "Wounds" that cause impairments. 

In 4e, the first time you got bloodied, I figured that was a Wound.  Your Damage Threshold for other attacks was (neatly enough) your Healing Surge value.  If you drop to 0hp, that's 2 Wounds.  Wounds are most simply represented by -1 penalty to all rolls for each one, explained however you wish.  They are harder to heal, and what the real magic is for (Ritual healing spells).
Actually I'd forgotten about the "bloodied" mechanic - that's another 4th edition concept that I liked!

I'd be quite happy to bring that back too - when dropped to 50% health you're "wounded" and have some penalties to attack or whatever, which then stay until you have a full night's rest (even if the short-rest healing thing does bring you back up to +50% ). That way, it'd simulate a real wound, that you can bind or whatever in the field, but you still feel the effects of it until you've managed to rest properly and sleep it off.

I always hated how, in D&D, you were either "at full capacity to fight at your very best" or "dead", there was no in-between
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!
Actually I'd forgotten about the "bloodied" mechanic - that's another 4th edition concept that I liked!

I'd be quite happy to bring that back too - when dropped to 50% health you're "wounded" and have some penalties to attack or whatever, which then stay until you have a full night's rest (even if the short-rest healing thing does bring you back up to +50% ). That way, it'd simulate a real wound, that you can bind or whatever in the field, but you still feel the effects of it until you've managed to rest properly and sleep it off.


Yeah, sounds good.  Conditions would be even easier to track if there were an action economy they could feed off of, but that would require a big restructuring of D&D (Movement Points/dice and Action Points/dice that you use to conduct your actions each round and represent part of your success chances, so that taking them away with conditions represents impairments to your ability to function).

I always hated how, in D&D, you were either "at full capacity to fight at your very best" or "dead", there was no in-between


x1,000.  Anything that helps address this should be on the table.
I'd been thinking about something similar as well.

My initial thought was that perhaps in-combat healing, or short-rest healing can only bring you up to the nearest multiple of your Con score. Once your HP drops below one of the numbers on th list below, it can't be healed past that until you're out of a fight and have long rest or out of combat ritual-style healing.

A fighter with Con 17 for instance, would have thresholds at 17/34/51/68/85/102

The rogue with Con 12 would be 12/24/36/48/60/72/84/96/108

The Wizard with Con 9 would be looking at 9/18/27/36/45/54/63/72/81/90/99/108

Honestly, I like the idea of some kind of descending penalty better than the one above. I'd love even more if the status slider varied by class. A fighter would deal with injury differently than a rogue or wizard might, and it offers the chance to get really creative with the barbarian in particular. It would definitely give folks an extra thing to keep track of, which I know a lot of folks would rather not worry about, but I think it might be worth the added complexity.

Though it's not really the same type of Threshold you're talking about above, the other mechanism which I used in some games previous, was to make your Con score equal to the threshold of damage you can ignore. It's not the same as DR however... If you take damage =/< your Con bonus, you can ignore it (so between 0 and 4 pts for most characters), but if you take damage > Con bonus, you lose HP as normal for the full amount of damage.

The fighter with Con 17 (+3) gets it for 2 pts of dmg and loses 0 HP. He gets hit for 3 pts and takes 0. Hit for 4 pts and he loses 4 HP.

It never comes into play fighting big, hard hitting bad guys, but it makes high-Con characters more resistant to the "death of a 1,000 paper-cuts".
I think a lot of people (including me) don't want more to keep track of in the game, but it would be nice if there was a more concrete moment when a PC or creature actually gets wounded.  People are also afraid of "death spiral."

If there is a wound system, there will have to be a "death spiral" of some sort.  

In my 4e campaign, I'm applying a Wound (-2 to all actions until magically healed or weeks of rest) only when a PC or creature is critically hit.  This adds a level of concrete wounding to my games, but doesn't require a wound track.   It also happens 0-2 times per session so it gives flavor, but doesn't become too annoying.

With critical hit systems, the Natural 20 usually favors the monsters because they will be rolling more vs. the PCs in any given session, but since the Wound in my games can be healed by healing, it gives the PCs a fighting chance.  Many times, the monsters don't have access to healing, so in that regard they are at a disadvantage.

If people want, this Wound rule could also be applied if a PC drops to 0 hp and is revived.  That could simulate a more serious injury.

Perhaps "Wounded" could just become a condition, and it could be applied through critical hits and when a character is revived from dying.  There may also be other ways to get "Wounded".  Perhaps special monsters have horrible attacks that can "Wound."  Magic items may be enchanted so that they can "Wound."  Poison can "Wound," etc.

Just a thought.

 

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Though it's not really the same type of Threshold you're talking about above, the other mechanism which I used in some games previous, was to make your Con score equal to the threshold of damage you can ignore. It's not the same as DR however... If you take damage =/< your Con bonus, you can ignore it (so between 0 and 4 pts for most characters), but if you take damage > Con bonus, you lose HP as normal for the full amount of damage.

The fighter with Con 17 (+3) gets it for 2 pts of dmg and loses 0 HP. He gets hit for 3 pts and takes 0. Hit for 4 pts and he loses 4 HP.

It never comes into play fighting big, hard hitting bad guys, but it makes high-Con characters more resistant to the "death of a 1,000 paper-cuts".



Nice concept, really like it! I think its expandable to an ignore pain ability overall. Putting a fighter class were it should be!
I'd been thinking about something similar as well.

My initial thought was that perhaps in-combat healing, or short-rest healing can only bring you up to the nearest multiple of your Con score. Once your HP drops below one of the numbers on th list below, it can't be healed past that until you're out of a fight and have long rest or out of combat ritual-style healing.



I like that idea...though I think the majority of players won't, because it creates more complications, and most players seem to want to simplify the rules for combat.

Though it's not really the same type of Threshold you're talking about above, the other mechanism which I used in some games previous, was to make your Con score equal to the threshold of damage you can ignore. It's not the same as DR however... If you take damage =/< your Con bonus, you can ignore it (so between 0 and 4 pts for most characters), but if you take damage > Con bonus, you lose HP as normal for the full amount of damage.



That's a good idea too. I quite like the idea of a con bonus helping to absorb damage - another thing that Warhammer does.

Anyway, I think there's a lot of food-for-thought here, for WotC to come up with something - either hardcoded or as an optional add-in - to make the wounds/dying/death system more interesting than "Watch as I fight my very best and...oh, no. Sorry. That last rat bite did me in." :D
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!
I like that idea...though I think the majority of players won't, because it creates more complications, and most players seem to want to simplify the rules for combat.



That was my worry as well. It's something great to put into an optional module though. I really like the two options combined, since it would keep high Con players from fearing a cloud of mean mosquitoes could kill them, but it'd also keep a strong healer or large consumables stockpile (wands and potions) from keeping a party alive forever in a fight.

If there is a wound system, there will have to be a "death spiral" of some sort. 



You're right about that, and I don't mind it that much but you have to be really careful not to make it too severe. I'm not a fan of a persistent -x penalty to rolls if you're wounded since #1 it's boring, and #2 it feeds directly into the death spiral.

I'm more a fan of non-persistent penalties, or persistent effects which don't directly limit a character's ability to perform their role in combat. The type of penalties I'm talking about are more like this (and in no particular order either)...

#1: Hindered. -5 ft to movement. Inconvenient and limiting, but not crippling.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />#2: Dazed. You move down in the turn order. This isn't like a stun, since you don't actually LOSE your action. It's more like holding the action to let others go ahead of you... you just don't get the choice.

#3 Staggered. You're incapable of gaining Advantage on rolls during the following turn. It doesn't reduce anything you can do normally, just limits other situational boosts.
If the damage threshold is set up to avoid taking damage entirely, like some form of damage reduction unless it is exceeded, it still nullifies the threat of lower level monsters ("minions" at higher levels)--something that WotC was trying to avoid.

By that type of threshold, if I'm 1st level with CON 17, I can ignore most Goblins and Kobolds, even if I'm vastly outnumbered by them (their average damage is around 3).  If I'm swarmed by 10 Kobolds, I could just wade through them to get to the real baddie in the room.

I'd much prefer it if 10 Kobolds swarming my 10th level character could rather easily pull me to the ground and shiv me to death.  Then I have to watch out and do something about them instead of scoffing and stomping through them.


As has been mentioned, any system has to be low on math and low on tracking.  Conditions are a problem because they require a lot of tracking.  A LOT.  While they may be realistic, I'm not much a fan of conditions for that reason.

It's also easier to add modifiers than subtract (which is why ability damage went the wayside in 4e).  If there were an action economy in D&D, where you spend movement or action points to conduct your actions (and these points contribute to your success rolls), it would be easy to just cut back on action or movement points as part of being wounded or fatigued.  But I'm not sure that would "feel D&D" enough for people.


What's wrong with the "death spiral," btw?  If you don't want 100% fighting ability at 1hp, and dead at 0, then whatever effect you have from being wounded necessarily creates a "death spiral" of some sort.  So what?  That's the point.  That's much more tactical and realistic.  You have to actually care about getting hurt.

In a combat, if I get a bad cut on the arm or the leg, you better believe I'm in a lot more danger, a lot more vulnerable to getting killed and less likely to hurt my opponent than when I started fresh.
By that type of threshold, if I'm 1st level with CON 17, I can ignore most Goblins and Kobolds, even if I'm vastly outnumbered by them (their average damage is around 3).  If I'm swarmed by 10 Kobolds, I could just wade through them to get to the real baddie in the room.

I'd much prefer it if 10 Kobolds swarming my 10th level character could rather easily pull me to the ground and shiv me to death.  Then I have to watch out and do something about them instead of scoffing and stomping through them.



In this case using the mechanic I offered above, the average damage of a goblin shortbow is 4.5, and average on their club is 3.5 which means that 2/3 bow hits still injure a CON 17 character fully, and 1/2 of their club attacks do so as well. Enough of them will still be very dangerous to even a very High CON character, but he'll never die from blow dart attacks, unless there's poison involved.

Likewise, you can apply some common sense too. If you're swarmed by a dozen of anything, they're likely to be able to pull you to the ground and immobilize you by wight of numbers (which the games may or may not offer specific mechanics for, but nothing about the rule above actually affects it at all, in any way). Once you're immobilized, they can essentially coup de grace you if they choose, and neither CON nor anything else matters at that point. Voila, your preference is still met.
What's wrong with the "death spiral," btw?  If you don't want 100% fighting ability at 1hp, and dead at 0, then whatever effect you have from being wounded necessarily creates a "death spiral" of some sort.  So what?  That's the point.  That's much more tactical and realistic.  You have to actually care about getting hurt.



I generally agree, I just also think it's something to keep a very close eye on, because too steep a death spiral heavily shifts the balance of certain abilities and attributes. Also, if it applies to monsters as well as players, then it can easily invalidate otherwise challenging encounters if a player gets high initiative and gets a good hit in off the bat. That's just frustrating for a DM, especially in a custom made campaign where they may not have content prepared past where they thought the session would end. If it ends in half the time expected and the players are still healthy and rearing to go, it puts them in a uncomfortable spot.
So the CON threshold rule invalidates weapons that do low damage or minor collateral damage.  I think it still needs work

As for the swarming, I think Trip, Disarm, Grapple, etc. (which are coming as standard actions, from what i've been hearing), should permit double damage to be dealt to the victim when a weapon connects.  From what I've seen about reconstructions of real medieval combat, a LOT of grappling and tripping was involved, particularly with heavily-armored opponents.  Your best bet to take down a knight in heavy armor (even if you were another knight) was to get his dangerous weapon out of the way or get him on the ground where he couldn't move away from you as much (letting you more easily jam your weapon in the seams of his armor) and bring your full weight to bear on your attack.

Thus you sacrifice damage on the attack to Trip, Disarm, Grapple, Restrain, Bull Rush, but if you succeed, you should have Advantage AND the chance to do double damage.  You set up your own attack.  That really enhances the tactics of combat.

To your other point, I am quite sympathetic to the DM, since I am one.  I'm trying to work out how to use morale realistically without making combats a pushover (since PCs will generally fight much harder than they should ).  So I'm sensitive to what impairments could affect my creatures.  But that does also mean that combats can be more dramatic--bigger, meaner creatures because you can actually impair them before you kill them; more foes, because they will run away when you get the clear better hand.  Just need failsafes to avoid TPKs. 
Oddly enough, I don't mind when a character dies, as long as it's not an arbitrary or capricious death, whether as a player or GM. Not even TPK's, though they do kind of tend to stall a campaign if you had stuff planned out for later. But lots of players and GM's don't like them at all, and so I'm all for keeping any kind of death spiral mechanics out of the core set. No reason not to throw some into the "extra gritty combat and damage module", though.

Anywho, the CON bonus as a light damage threshold is something that can easily be modified, or removed altogether. Actual damage and mitigation numbers are the easiest thing in the world to balance. You just figure out what an appropriate number would be based on average incoming damage and how much you actually WANT it to absorb, then you make sure the number falls within whatever range you come to mathematically. I haven't done any number crunching on it. Drop it to half Con bonus and it really only makes them immune to "trivial" damage sources. Non poisonous insect bites, blow darts, possibly ninja stars (I wanna say their base dmg was either D2 or flat 2 in 3e), and so on. Shattering glass or masonry, etc. Stuff that's not generally going to swing the tide of battle.

And yes, there are supposed to be some rules for stunts and maneuvers next time around that are more fleshed out than "make an opposed roll of X vs Y". I don't like the idea of double damage, since it's likely to make combat very predictable... "Fighter tricks enemy, party dog piles enemy, enemy dies. Next round, Fighter trips next enemy, party dog piles enemy, enemy dies." and so forth.

I think it's quite adequate to offer advantage to attacks vs downed targets and/or deprive them of Dex to AC. Likewise, unless they're grappling, they can't really effectively attack anything until they get back up, which can be very tough with somebody looming over you who wants to keep you on the ground.
I think your CON bonus idea works best as part of a more formal Damage Threshold raising the bar beyond which Wounds are sustained, along with other things like armor.  But that requires some sort of condition track or Wound system.

As for the double damage, consider that it's still less risky (usually) than a straight attack.  If you make 1 attack in each of 2 rounds, with straight attacks you've got 2 chances to hit and inflict damage.  If you make 1 attack to trip, instead, you're risking failure on tripping at all, pinning all your hopes on hitting with the second attack.  Works best if the enemy is hard to hit and you need the bonus for getting him on the ground--like when fighting a warrior in heavy armor, which is exactly when this tactic was used in real life. 

You wouldn't bother knocking someone in leather or even chain mail to the ground.  You'd just try to hit hard and kill him.  But that freakin' big shield and breastplate or plate armor...lets take him down and then jam our swords into his fleshy parts.  Or rob him of his weapon and beat him to death when he can't effectively threaten us.

Likewise with the big baddy monsters--what ever happened to trying to attack the "soft underbelly?"  In this case it may not be a trip or disarm, but effectively a grapple or bull rush into the same space (or underneath) to strike at a stone giant's groin or abdomen, or a dragon's belly.  Lots of risk, but potentially commensurate reward.

And if we're talking about Damage Thresholds, setting yourself up to do double damage somehow works nicely with the system, because it represents how you set up a more devastating blow that gets past that threshold (which is likely armor or CON soak).
And if we're talking about Damage Thresholds, setting yourself up to do double damage somehow works nicely with the system, because it represents how you set up a more devastating blow that gets past that threshold (which is likely armor or CON soak).



I have no problem with this in and of itself, however if multiple attacks can benefit from it BECAUSE the target is knocked down for instance, it makes trip attacks amount to a conditional SoD mechanic. Now, as far as verisimilitude is concerned, heck yeah if you're surrounded by guys (or even just 2 or 3) and you get knocked to the ground, they're about to throw you a beating and you're not likely to forget any time soon.

From a game mechanic standpoint however, it will trivialize waaaaaay to many encounters. I know as a GM, these kinds of mechanics are tough to deal with because if I design an opponent to be a tough knock-down drag-out fight, I HAVE to make him immune (or nearly so via appropriate resistances) to moves like that, or that's how they'll die every time. That's no fun either way. I like leaving tactics like that as viable options for players, so making them too strong throws a wrench in things.

Also, if you look at it in the paradigm of D&D (in which armor makes it more difficult to land a solid blow, and does not directly absorb any damage), any action or weapon which "penetrates" armor more effectively would make it easier to HIT the target, not deal extra damage. If the target is thrown to the ground, then they'll be deprived of any AC from DEX, and they will either have an additional flat penalty to AC or the attacker will have Advantage.

Lastly as far as carefully attacking the soft bits, Mike Mearls (at least I think it was him) has said that all characters will be able to potentially benefit from a sneak-attack like mechanic (which would quite adequately represent stabbing for a really vulnerable spot). He also said (before anybody freaks out) that rogues would still be better at it.
I think you could realistically limit bonuses to damage to one individual, because if you gang up, that one individual doesn't have the room anymore to maneuver for the optimal blow that warrants the extra damage.  But ganging up will still take advantage of it being easier to hit a prone or disarmed target, even though damage is normal.  3e and 4e already had the latter scenario.  3e's Improved Trip was similar, but allowed a follow up in the same round rather than requiring a delay until next round, which is more tactically significant.

I'd rather change the AC paradigm some   Don't know that it would happen, but at least include some sort of Damage Threshold, DR, Resistance, or Save mechanic into at least medium or heavy armors--and thus heavily protected monsters, as well.  That's what armor penetration would overcome, but wouldn't need a separate mechanic.

Honestly, I don't think AC is going anywhere. I wouldn't be opposed to alteration either, but it's one of those parts of the game that makes D&D "what it is". AC is here to stay, so if we want something else, we'd better try and fit it in around AC rather than trying to fight it.
Honestly, I don't think AC is going anywhere. I wouldn't be opposed to alteration either, but it's one of those parts of the game that makes D&D "what it is". AC is here to stay, so if we want something else, we'd better try and fit it in around AC rather than trying to fight it.



True. There are lots of RPG systems that use DR, and asking D&D to join them is like trying to turn it into a different game. I also wouldn't be opposed to it, but I think it's unlikely - it's a big step to take, and could prove unpopular with the fans.

I quite like the idea that Dragon Age uses for outnumbering, where the person's Defence (their AC stat) was reduced for every person he was outnumbered by...or something like that. That way, a person surrounded by 8 kobolds could find themselves in very real danger! In 3rd edition, it didn't really matter how many you were outnumbered by, as long as two of them weren't geometrically opposite each other.
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!
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